Mysore Palace: The focus of Mysore city is this palace, which was home to the Wodeyars. Displaying a grandeur that is yet unmatched, the architectural style is largely Indo-Saracenic. It has strikingly beautiful interiors, complete with ornate ceilings, jeweled mosaic floor, paintings of rulers and the royal family and beautiful chandeliers. The Durbar Hall has the famous golden throne weighing 200 kgs! The Ambavilasa was the hall of public audience and its entrance is exquisitely carved in rosewood with gilded interiors replete with floral motifs and jewel-encrusted floors. You would enter the palace through the Gombe Thotti or the Doll’s Pavilion. This houses a wide array of traditional dolls from the 19th and 20th centuries and the 84 kg Golden Howdah or elephant’s seat, used to carry passengers. The Kalyana Mantapa was the marriage hall done in multihued stained glass, peacock mosaic and oil paintings depicting Dussera festivities during the days of royalties. The palace complex also has a Residential Museum, which houses the royal collection of silver, chandeliers, crystal and royal trousseau. The Armoury contains different weapons used by the royal family. There are 12 temples within the palace complex, including the Varashaswamy Temple, whose gopuram is said to be the precedent to the Chamundeshwari Temple. Other important temples include the Someshvara Temple dedicated to Shiva and Lakshmiramana Temple dedicated to Vishnu.
The palace looks particularly enthralling at night when it is lit up by no less than 97,000 bulbs at one time! Remember to take off your shoes to enter the palace and cameras are not allowed inside.
Open from: 10.00 am - 5.30 pm
Entry fee - Adults Rs 15, Children Rs 5
Other Palaces: Jagmohan Palace is located close to the Mysore Palace and was earlier the site of the Dasara Festival. Its features include a beautiful wedding hall and an art gallery that has paintings by the famous Raja Ravivarma. Another palace located close to the Mysore Palace is Jayalakshmi Vilas, which is the administrative office of the University of Mysore.
Lalitha Mahal is another extremely famous and visited palace. It owes its charm to the Chamundi Hill which forms a backdrop and the sparkling white granite that it is made of. Today it is a hotel with the elitist as its guests.
Vasantha Mahal was created as a special school for young princes. It is particularly noted for the fact that the front of the palace is made in soft iron. The Lokaranjan Mahal was the summer palace and has a modern style swimming pool and a zoo garden adjacent to it. Cheluvamba Vilasa is noted for its beautiful dome and today is site for the Central Food TechTap and Research Institute. Karanji Vilasa is built in Indo-Greek style on 38 acres of land. Built in Indo-British style, Rajendra Vilasa offers panoramic views of the BR Hills, Nilgiri Hills and Brindavan Gardens. It is however not open to the public.
Jagmohan Palace – Open from: 8.30 am - 5.30 pm;
Entry fee - Adults Rs 15, children (5-10 years) Rs 8;
Photography not allowed
Chamundi Hills: Named after the Goddess Chamundeshwari (manifestation of Durga), the hills offer you the best view of the city, including important landmarks as the Race Course, Lalitha Mahal Palace, Mysore Palace, the Karanji and Kukkarahalli lakes. The legend that Goddess Chamundeshwari killed the demon Mahishasura renders it its name. You would reach the temple by climbing about 1000 steps, en route passing the 15 ft high monolith of the Nandi Bull. At the top of the hill is a statue of the demon Mahishasura, the Chamundeshwari Temple and several other smaller temples. The Chamundeshwari Temple atop has a seven storey tall intricately carved gopuram. The Chamunda Devi idol is said to be made in solid gold and the gates of silver.
Open for puja from: 7.30 am – 2.00 pm, 3.30 pm – 6.00 pm, 7.30 pm – 9.00 pm,
Vehicle entry fee - Rs 10
St Philomena’s Cathedral: Undoubtedly one of South India’s largest churches, its design is typically gothic marked by beautiful stained glass windows. At a remarkable height of 175 ft, it has two spires and photography inside requires the permission of the parish priest.
Open from: 5.00 am – 8.00 pm
Brindavan Gardens: Located at the KR Sagar Dam, these gardens are spectacular with terraced lawns and a range of fountains. Especially notable are the musical fountains that burst into different colours.
Open from: 8.00 am – 8.00 pm (Weekdays), 8.00 am – 9.00 pm (Weekends)
Entry fee - Rs 10, children below 5 years free
Photography - Still camera fee Rs 20
Sri Jayachamarajendra Zoo: Spare at least two hours to explore this zoo, which boasts of some of the rarest collection of animals, including tapir, chimpanzee, giraffe, zebra and white tiger. Open from: 8.30 am - 5.30 pm, (Tuesdays closed)
Entry fee - Adults Rs 15, Children Rs 5
Photography - Still camera Rs 10, Video camera Rs 150
Srirangapattana: It is renowned for its impregnable fort, where Tipu Sultan fought the British. However, he was killed within the fort, and the spot where he fell is marked by a memorial and his tomb.
Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary: A paradise for ornithologists, Ranganathittu is situated on the banks of River Cauvery. It is an important Asian nesting and breeding ground for migratory birds. In fact, authorities maintaining this sanctuary have made provisions for several more breeding grounds than the original number. The birds frequenting this area are spoonbills, open bill storks, darters, white Ibis, little cormorants, egret, heron, partridge, river tern, stone plougher and snake bird. Hire a boat to take a look at the trees for these species along the river. The oarsmen are also excellent guides and capable of providing you valuable information about these birds.
Open from: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Folklore Museum: Located within the Mysore University Campus, the museum is an excellent storehouse of ancient Mysore Art. Stroll up to the Kukkarahalli Lake Bund, which is Mysore’s favourite walking track, located near the Folklore Museum.
Open from: 10 am - 5 pm, Sundays closed
Nanjangud; Located on the banks of the Kabini River, this town is famous for its Nanjundeshwara or Srikanteshwara Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The main deity is believd to have miraculous ailment healing powers. Watch the beautiful emerald necklace gifted to the lord by Hyder Ali, when he treated his favourite elephant of an eye ailment.
Open from: 6.30 am – 1.00 pm, 4.00 pm - 8.30 pm
Sunday, Monday and government holidays: 6.30 am - 8.30 pm
Abhishekh timings: 7.00 am, 9.00 am and 11 am, noon, 5.30 pm and 7.00 pm <
Note: Photography is allowed only in the outer yard, and the Vasantha Mantap/em>
Somanathapur: A tiny village, Somanathapur is known for its Keshava Temple. Built on a star-shaped platform, the temple is covered with intricate sculpture. The temple has three shrines and three sanctums, which house images of Janardhana, Venugopala and Keshava (idol now missing). Check the beautiful sculpted pillars and ceiling panels of the main hall.
Open from: 9.30 am - 5.30 pm
Entry fee - Adults Rs 10, foreigners $ 2
Mysore is a place known for its south Indian cuisine and the numerous restaurants and moderately priced eating joints affirm this. A must try here is the famous Mysore Tiffin, which is a combination of ‘set’ dosas (in sets of three), masala dosa, rava idli, upma and Mysore rasam. Hotel Dasaprakash in Yadavgiri is known for its thick coconut chutney and spicy sambar. These and more are available at the several tiffin rooms, including Iyengar's Tiffin Centre, Gayathri Tiffin Room (GTR) and Mylari Restaurants.
Hotel Ramya provides you with the most sumptuous masala dosas and bonda sambar, as would Hotel Nalpak. It also provides the yummiest akki and ragi rottis, bisi bele bath and delicious kobbari holige. Bombay Tiffanys is known for their pure and high quality sweets, especially their rava idli and badam milk! Le Olive Garden, in Central Mysore provides a wide range of Indian cuisine, set in an amazing ambience. The Gardenia Restaurant on Vinobha Road serves Indian, Continental and even Oriental cuisine. The Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel Restaurant which was once the ballroom of the Maharajah's guesthouse is a place to dine in. Its immensely high ceiling and live performances at lunch and dinner, together with their range of Indian and tandoori cuisine make it the perfect dining experience.
Don’t leave Mysore before a bite of the famous Mysore Pak, a sweet made of ghee, flour and sugar. Guru Sweets is probably one of the most authentic places to get this from. The Iyengers have several bakery and food joints, and offer the most delectable khara pudina bread, vegetable puffs, potato buns and biscuits. And finally, sip a cuppa of the famous filter coffee, which really doesn’t taste half as good anywhere else!
Shopping in Mysore is an unusual and wonderful experience with its several small bazaars and shopping areas. Of course, what rules these are the exquisitely woven silk saris, sandalwood and rosewood artifacts and innumerable stone carvings. For these, head out to Sayyaji Rao Road, which has some of the finest in fragrant varieties. Visit the Kaveri Emporium on Sayyaji Rao Road or head out to the little streets and by-lanes that offer exciting bargains as intricately designed handicrafts chiseled out by local artisans and arty souvenirs. Don’t forget to get home some authentic sandal wood oil that has phenomenal healing qualities and is widely used in Ayurveda. Remember to bargain though!
An extremely popular item is its hand woven silk garments and saris adorned with vibrant colors and exquisite motifs. Most silk shops are located along Devaraj Urs Road. Visit Krishnaraja Circle and Albert Victor Road, which claim to be some of the best shopping centers situated in the heart of the city. Do not forget to visit the colorful Mysore City Market preserved in its original grandeur. This is where you see the original vegetable, fruit, flower and perfume markets. The market dons a particularly colourful garb during the festive season with its colourful array of exhibits. And a not-to-be-missed item would be the Mysore Jasmine flowers. Also called as Mysooru Mallige in Kannada, this beautiful flower is aromatic in nature. It is used to several purposes – women tie these around their hair and it is offered to the idols in the temples. It won’t be difficult locating a jasmine flower shop, thanks to its unmistakable fragrance.