Mysore, the ancient capital of the Wodiyar kingdom and the legendary Tipu Sultan is Karnataka's cultural capital. The epic Mahabharata refers to this city as Mahismati. The Cholas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagar and Mysore Kings ruled over this area in succession. A city of palatial buildings and tree-lined boulevards, laid-back Mysore is possessed of a quaint charm, a dignified hangover from the days when it was the capital of a rich princely state. It remains a popular destination for travelers, particularly for its Maharajah's palace.
Mysore takes its name from the mythical 'Mahisuru' (means a Buffalo in Sanskrit), associated with demon Mahishasura who was slained by the Goddess Mahishasuramardini, also called Chamundeshwari, the patron Goddess of the city. Yaduraya founded the Mysore's Wodiyar dynasty in 1399 who along with his brother Krishnaraya had moved from Gujarat and married the Princess Devajammanni at Hadinaru on the outskirts of Mysore. Until the mid 16th century, Mysore was a feudatory of the Vijayanagar Empire. With the fall of Vijayanagar in 1565, the Wodiyars of Mysore declared their independence. In 1610, Raja wodiyar ascended the throne in Srirangapatna that was then the capital, from where he and his descendants continued to rule until independence in 1947 apart from a brief period between 1761-1799. During this period Haider Ali and his son tipu Sultan were the defacto rulers. The unprecedented expansion of the Mysore kingdom under them ended with the killing of Tipu in a fierce battle with British at Srirangapatna in 1799. Thereafter the British installed the five years old Prince Krishnaraya Wodiyar as the King Mysore. Soon thereafter, the seat of Government shifted to Mysore and the successive reigns marked a prosperous time for this princely state that covered almost one third of present day Karnataka.
Cauvery and its tributaries-Kabini, Lakshmanathirtha and Suvarnavati, drain forming the southernmost part of the state with the picturesque Chamundi Hills as backdrop Mysore district. The pomp and pageantry associated with its 10-day Dasara Festival in Sept/Oct is legendary. The Dasara of Mysore is the pride of Karnataka. Mysore has everything ooffer the visitors-royal palaces, rich cultural and architectural heritage, nature reserves, museums and art galleries. It is an ideal base for excursions to the exquisite temple sites of Belur, Halebidu and Somnathpur, Jain pilgrimage centre at Sravanabelagola, game sanctuaries at Bandipur and Nagarhole and the hill station, Ooty in neighboring Tamil Nadu (about 160km).
Today Mysore has also developed as an educational center with several medical and engineering schools coexisting with its time-honored institutions. The city has fast developed as the hub of IT industry along with Bangalore. The former capital of the princely state Mysore is known for its shimmering silks, fragrant sandalwood, exquisitely carved rosewood artifacts, incense sticks and the world famous Mysore-style Ashtanga Yoga.
A city of palatial buildings and tree-lined boulevards, laid-back Mysore is possessed of a quaint charm, a dignified hangover from the days when it was the capital of a rich princely state. It remains a popular destination for travelers, particularly for its Maharajah’s Palace. Built over a period of 15 years at the turn of the 20th century at a cost of over Rs 4 million, this astonishing Indo-Saracenic palace is testament to the affluence of one of India’s notably wealthy ruling families. During the 10-day Dussehra Festival, held here during the first half of October, the entire city is dressed up in show-off style; each night Mysore Palace is lit up by 80,000 bulbs, and on the final evening of festivities, the Maharajah himself leads one of the country’s most spectacular processions through the city streets. But Mysore is also an ideal base from which to explore the temples known as the “Jewel Boxes” of Hoysala architecture, which lie some 3 hours north, as well as the nearby Jain pilgrimage site at Sravanabelgola.
Surrounding the palace and within the fort walls are five temples. The Shweta Varahasami Temple named after an incarnation of Vishnu in the typical Hoysala style is near the southern gate of the palace. The stone image of the boar enshrined in the sanctum was the gift of Chikkadevaraya Wodiyar brought from Srimunsha in Tamil Nadu and removed to Mysore from Srirangapatna in 1809 by Krishnaraja Wodiyar III. The murals on the walls and the pillars of the temple depict scenes from the Ramayana and the exploits of Lord Krishna.
Located on the western part of the fort, the Lakshminarayanswami Temple is the oldest among the five temples existing even before 1499. The Prasanna Krishnaswami Temple standing south of the main palace founded in 1825 by Krishnaraja Wodiyar III has an image of Lord Krishna. On the exterior of the temple is the sculpture of sage Atri from whom the Wodiyars are supposed to have descended.
The Prasana Venkataramana Swami Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu has paintings of twelve Wodiyar kings with their names and the period of their reign.
A Dravidian style Trineswara Temple, situated in the south is associated with sage Trinabindu who is believed to have performed penance here. The pleased Lord Shiva appeared before him and the sage consecrated the lingam here. The sculptures of Kanthirava Narasaraya Wodiyar and Dodda Devaraya Wodiyarn stand here.
Other temples include Kodi Bhairavaswami Temple known for its association with the Mysore dynasty. It is built at the spot where the founders of the Mysore kingdom Yaduraja and Krisharaja met the royal priest and the Princess Devajammanni and liberated the kingdom from the harassment of Maranayaka. Sri Bhuvaneshwari Temple and Sri Gayatri Temple with sculpture carved by the famous Mysore sculptor Siddalingaswamy are worth visiting. 18km northwest of Mysore, the 11-century statue of Gomateshwara (son of tirthankar Adinath) at Gomatgiri is a place buzzes with activities during the annual abhisheka ceremony in the month of September.
Chamundi Hill (13km)
The Chamundeswari Temple perched atop the hill is believed to be 2000 years old, but the present structure dates back to 11th century. It is dedicated to Goddess Chamundi, the patron deity of the Wodeyar’s. On the half way up there is a 4.8m tall monolith of ‘Nandi’, the bull, carved out of a single black rock. There is also a gigantic statue of Mahishasura atop the hill, who was vanquished in the battle by Goddess Chamundi.
Chamundi Hill is about 13 from Mysore. The Chamundi Hill (1062m) forming the backdrop to the city houses the 12 century Dravidian style temple with a 7-storey 40m high pyramidal gopuram. It is dedicated to Goddess Chamundeshwari the tutelary deity of the Wodiyars. Midway to the summit is an over 5m monolith of a Nandi Bull the vehicle of Lord Shiva. This sculpture in black stone was carved in one day according to a legend. Phone: 0821-2590027; Timing: 07.00 to 14.00, 15.30 to 18.00 and 19.35 to 21.00; photography not permitted inside the temple.
The temple is reached by climbing the 1000 steps up the hill or by motor able road. There is ahuge stucco figure of demon Mahishasura adjoining the temple and an old Mahabaleshwara Temple to the south of the Chamundeshwari Temple. Panoramic views of the city can be enjoyed on the way or from the top of the summit. Also worth a visit is the Godly Museum displaying various stages of spiritual life.
The 150-acre campus of CFTRI-Central Food Technological Research Institute (formerly Cheluvamba Vilas), a baroque European renaissance style palace) was once the residence of the sister of Krishnaraya Wodiyar. The recently renovated Jayalakshmi Vilas, set in the large Mysore University Campus is another European style building constructed in 1904-05. A blend of Indi-Saracenic and the renaissance styles Karanji Mansion commands a natural view of the Karanji Tank. An elegant building, Lokaranjan Mahal, was a school earlier for the prince and princesses and their closest kin; stands adjacent to the Mysore Zoo. Vasantha Mahal built as a pleasure palace has a wrought iron porch with three graceful arches. Built in 1921 as the guesthouse for the European guests of Krishnaraya Wodiyar, Lalitha Mahal Palace is now a heritage hotel. More than a century old, Oriental research Library is an impressive Roman style structure housing 2300 years old Arthashastra by Kautilya and some rare manuscripts Phone: 0821-2419336, Closed on Sundays.
Mysore Urban Haat
Designed on the lines of Dilli Haat, this aims to be the centre of marketing of art and craft for the tourists. The Annual Craft Bazaar organized here featured art and craft of some 150 artisans from across the country and succeeded in its objective to create significant international exposure.
Museums and Art Galleries
The jaya Chamarajendra Art Gallery housed in the Jagan Mohan Palace, just 1km west f Mysore Palace displays paintings by Travancore ruler Raja Ravi Varma, Nandlal Bose, Venkatappa, Haldenkar, and the Russian painter Roerich along with traditional Mysore Gold lead paintings. It also exhibits ceramics, stone, ivory artifacts, musical instruments and memorabilia from the Wodiyars. The highlight is the famous French musical calendar-clock.
The three building, Jagan Mohan Palace having domes, cupolas and finials was built by Krishnaraya Wodeyar in 1861as an alternative retreat for the royal family. Phone: 0821-2423693; Timings: 08.30-17.00.photography not allowed.
Nearby is the Kukkarahalli Lake, a favourite walking track with shaded stone benches. Home of many species of birds, Lingambudhi Lake is one of the biggest and oldest in Mysore.
Folklore Museum is an impressive repository of folk culture, housed in Mysore University Campus at Manasagangothri. With 6500 folklore exhibits of art, craft, costumes, masks and others on display, the museum is acclaimed to be one of the biggest of its kid in Asia. The original copy of the Indian Constitution with signatures of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and other and the uniform of Field Marshal Cariapp is displayed here. Phone: 0821-2414548; Timing 10.00 to 17.00, Closed Sundays.
Situated near the Railway Station, the Rail Museum set up in 1979 has priceless locomotives, royal coaches belonging to the Maharaja of Mysore, and collection of paintings and photographs narrating the 'Rail Story'. The prize exhibit is the Maharani's Saloon built in 1889 in the UK along with the Austin Rail Motor (1925). There is also a battery operated mini train, which takes visitors for a joy ride. Phone: 0821-286695; Timing: 09.30 To 18.30, Closed on Mondays.
The Regional Museum of Natural History located on the banks of Karanji Lake, opened in 1995 exhibits the flora, fauna and geology of the Western Ghats. The natural heritage is shown through dioramic representation. Phone: 0821-2446453; Timings: 10.00 to 17.00, Closed on Mondays.
Rangayana Museum adjacent to Kalamandira is an theatre and cultural institute of repute and has participated in national and international festivals. It hosts plays and drama by the renowned icons of Karnataka.
A treasure trove of tribal art and craft, the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (IGRMS) is a learning centre and displays include Gujarati embroidery, terracotta items from Rajasthan, Bihar's Madhubani paintings etc.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
Besides Mysore’s most famous palace, the Maharajah’s Palace, and Keshava Temple, you might want to visit Jagan Mohan Palace (west of Mysore Palace, Dewan’s Rd.; daily 8:30am–5pm; Rs 10/25¢), which once served as the royal auditorium. The building now exhibits South India’s oddest assortment of kitsch memorabilia from the massive private collection of the Wodeyars. Southeast of downtown (3km/2 miles away), Chamundi Hill is where you can join throngs of huffing-puffing pilgrims, some of who recite or read Hindu verses along the way. Stop first at the Shiva Temple, where devotees meander around the statue in a clockwise direction while a friendly priest dishes out sacred water and dollops of vermilion paste. The summit of the hill is very active with pilgrims come to pay their respects to Durga. You can buy a darshan ticket from the computerized ticketing booth and join the queue for a peek at the deity inside Sri Chamundeswari Temple (3:30–6:30pm); or you can wander around the hilltop exploring smaller temples, many of which serve as bases for brightrobed grinning sadhus (holy persons) wanting to sell you a private photo opportunity. Finally, no trip to Mysore is complete without getting lost in the dizzying scents of jasmine, musk, sandalwood, frangipani, and incense as you wander through the city’s vibrant market. Mysore is also famous for its silk and sandalwood oil, and you can witness the production of both by taking a side trip to Vidyaranyapuram, 15 minutes away. For an escorted tour of the Government Silk Weaving Factory, call & 0821/ 248-1803 (daily 11:30am–2:30pm); the Government Sandal Oil Factory is right next door (daily 11:30am–4pm).
Mysore is located in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. The city lies 140m away from the state capital, Bangalore.
Due to its high altitude, Mysore enjoys a pleasant weather all round the year. During summers (April-June), the temperature ranges between 23°C and 35°C. The rainy season begins in late June, and ends by August. Winter are not much chilly, the temperature rarely drops below 16°C.
The Wodeyar dynasty which was founded by Yaduraya in 1399AD, has dominated most of Mysore history. Chikkadevara Wodeyar was the man who Mysore empire while Kantareeva Narasimha Raja Wodeyar recaptured Mysore from the Dalavayis. The interim period saw the rise to power of two of India's most famous personalities Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. The modern phase of Mysore began from 1800, with the ascent to the throne of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III. Governor William Bentick took over Mysore in 1831 and in 1881, restored it back to Chamaraja Wodeyar. But Mysore began its phase of development and modernization under the rule of Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV from 1895-1940 often referred to as the 'Golden Age of Mysore'.
Mysore Tourism Information
Maharajah’s Palace (Amba Vilas)
Maharajah’s Palace (Amba Vilas) Generally considered the palace in South India, this was designed by Henry Irving at the turn of the 20th century; 15 years of nonstop construction produced a fabulous domed, arched, colonnaded, and turreted structure with lavish interiors—teak ceilings, carved marble handrails, gilded pillared halls, ivory deities, rococo lamp stands, Italian crystal chandeliers, stainedglass windows, miles of white marble floors, and ceilings made from stained glass brought all the way from Glasgow. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an undecorated section of wall or ceiling; frescoes, paintings, statues, and delicate relief carvings recall religious as well as secular scenes, including glorious state processions. Within the inner courtyards, growling stone felines guard stairways, while elsewhere, elaborately carved rosewood doors mark the entrances of yet more splendid halls and chambers. Paintings by Raja Ravi Varma, golden chariots, gilt-framed mirrors, stately family portraits (including a wax sculpture of the Maharajah), and all manner of ornate fantasy objects add to the spectacle of abundant wealth. Overlooking the parade grounds, brought to life during the Dussehra Festival (Sept or Oct), a terraced grandstand pavilion is covered by a heavily decorated and frescoed ceiling, while huge, decaying chandeliers dangle precariously over the seating. Don’t bother to purchase an additional ticket for the disappointing Maharajah’s Residential Palace, where a sad display of items gathers dust.
Also known as Amba Vilas Palace, this magnificent building measuring about 76m in length and about 44m in height is built in the Indo-Saracenic style. The Kalyana Mandapa to the south of its courtyard, the highly ornated and sculpted colonnaded Durbar Hall and the Golden Howdah (Throne) covered with gold weighing more than 200 kilograms, embellished with silver plating and jewel entrusted, all add to its grandeur. Nearby are the seven cannons used to mark the beginning and end of the Dasara festivities. It also has a museum maintaining an impressive collection of many rare artifacts, painting and royal belongings.The latest attraction is the son-et-Lumiere, a kind of Sound and Light Show held in the vicinity of the palace, showcasing 50 mins of history of Mysore and its culture in three languages; Kanada, Hindi, English. Timing: 19.00 to 20.00 except Sundays and holidays.
Lalitha Mahal Palace (9km)
The charming white coloured double storeyed palace was built by Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar in 1931, to accommodate the royal guest from overseas and has now been converted in to a luxurious heritage hotel.
Brindavan Garden & Krishnarajasagar Dam (19km)
The massive dam near the confluence of Kaveri, Hemavathi and Lakshmanatirtha rivers was designed and constructed by the famous architect M. Visheswaraya in 1932, during the reign of Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV. The dam is about 2621m long and 39 m high, while the reservoir covers an area of 130 sq km. The beautiful terraced Brindavan Garden, built at foot of the dam is famous for its illumination and musical water fountains. The well lit gardens in the evenings look like a fairyland.
Brindavan Garden is about 18km from Mysore these ornamental gardens lay out besides the Krishnaraja Sagar or KRS Dam across the river Cauvery take the name after the mythical beautiful gardens of Lord Krishna. While the 2km dam built in 1932 created a lake of about 130 sq km one side, the other side was sculpted into a series of terraced gardens complemented by innumerable pools and fountains. Modeled on the lines of the Shalimar Gardens of Kashmir, this has been popular setting for many films. In evenings, the area becomes particularly attractive when the colored lights illuminate the fountains and the lit up gardens add a new dimension to its beauty. The highlight is the dancing musical fountains.
The gardens consist of four independent units-Brindavan Garden, Government Fruit Orchard, Naguvana, and Euphorbia. Timings: 10.00 to 20.00, Illumination time 18.55 to 19.55 and 19.00 to 20.30 on Sundays and holidays.
Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary (16km)
Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is about 5km southwest of Srirangapatna is home to a wide variety of birds, many of which are migratory. An early morning boat ride is a great way to watch birds here. It has a rich variety of water birds like cormorant, egrets and spoonbills etc., but the sanctuary is mainly known for herons, who visit the islands for nesting and breeding. Their chicks are generally hatched in July and August. Best season May to Novmber.
The 18th century island capital of Haider Ali and his son Tipu Sultan is flanked by two branches of river kaveri. The battle scarred ramparts of the fort reflects the heroics of Tipu, who valiantly fought the British and delayed their hegemony over Mysore. Within the fort is a mosque and the magnificent Ranganatha swamy temple, dating back to 9th century, an evidence of secular and tolerant nature of Tipu. Tipu Sultan’s summer palace, Daria Daulatbagh and his mausoleum are located outside the fort. The palace is noted for its gilded wall panels, ornate arches and 18th century frescoes.
Srirangapatna is about 16km, Tipu Sultan's erstwhile capital of Srirangapatna takes its name from Sri Ranganathaswamy, the presiding Vishnu deity of this place. the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple was first built in 894AD and later expanded by the Hoysala and the Vijayanagar Kings. Tradition has it that Ranganatha settled here at the request of the river Goddess Cauvery. Legend has it that Tipu Sultan who had a Hindu wife never sat down to a meal until he heard the temple bells.
It was here that the great Ramanuja settled in 1133 after fleeing from the Chola kingdom in Tamil Nadu. From 1610 - 1799 Srirangapatna was the capital of several Mysore kings.
The town set within and around the ruins of Tipu Sultan's Fort has a graceful Jami Masjid built by Tipu in 1784. About one km east of the fort is Daria Daulat Bagh, the summer palace of Tipu. Two km further east is the Gumbaz or the mausoleum of Haider Ali. It is an imposing structure with rosewood doors inlaid with ivory leading to the tombs.
Other places of interest in Srirangapatna include Sangam or confluence of two branches of river Cauvery. a small shrine marks the spot where the waters meet. A short coracle ride takes pilgrims there for a dip. A sacred bathing spot, Dodda Ghosai Ghat, along the Cauvery with a SriRadha Madhawa Temple onits banks is frequented by devotees. the Abbe Dubois Church in Ganjam, a nearby village on the sangam Road is worth a visit. About 10km from Srirangapatna is Pandavapura, home to the only temple in India dedicated to Ahilya. Pandavpura, originally called 'Hiri yede' was the place where the Bhima is believed to have slayed the demon Bakasura during their exile. The lake here is famous for Katla and Kachulu fish.
Somnathpur is one of the three Jewels of Hoysala temple architecture; the other two are Belur and Halebid. The Prassana Chennakesava Temple here was built in 1268, during the reign of king Narasimha III, at the instance of his minister Somanatha Dandanayaka. Like other Hoysala shrines, it is set on a raised plinth with a star shaped ground plan, but unlike the Belur and Halebid temples, it was actually completed. The temple complex has a triple shrine (trikutachala), each with its own stunningly beautiful vimana and sukhanasi (vestibule) and a spacious common navaranga mandapa. The outer walls are exquisitely carved narrating episodes from Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagvatha.
Somnathpur is about 35km. This small village on the left back of the Cauvery River has the star shaped Hoysala temple, Keshava Temple dedicated to Prasannachennakesava, it was built in 1268. Similar in architecture to the Chennakesava Temple in Belur and the Hoysaleshwara Temple in Halebidy this is a trikutachala or a three called temple with intricately carved friezes on its outer walls. The beautifully sculpted images of Venugopala and Janardhana and the life sized of Krishna are particularly worth noting.
Somnathpur is about 7km south of bannur and 10km northof Tirumakudal Narsipur (T. Narsipura). Located at the confluence of the rivers Cauvery, Kabini and the mythical Spatika Sarovara, t. Narsipura is famous for Agasthyeshwara Temple complex, supposedly sanctified by the sage Agasthya.
Kabani River Lodge (80km)
The jungle resort on the eastern fringes of famous Nagarhole Sanctuary has emerged as a popular tourist destination. The lush forest along the Kabani river teems with wildlife and birds and are nature lover’s paradise.
Talakad is about 45km southeast of Mysore, Talakad (Talakadu) earlier capital of the Ganga dynasty comes to life one every 12 years during the Panchalinga Darshan. It has six temples dedicated to Kirtinarayana, Vaideshwara, Pataleshwara, Arkeshwara, Maruleshwara and mallikarjuna. Just about 4km before Talakad is Mudukuthore Betta, the seat of one of the five Shiva lingas.
This historic and religious centre on the left bank of kaveri was thecapital of Ganga from 5th to 10th century. In 116, Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana attacked Talakkad, under the Cholas and attained victory. To celebrate his victory, Vishnuvardhana built five temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu, one of them is the Kirtinarayan temple.
Talakad is also known for the five Shivalingas or the ‘Panchlingas’ enshrined in beautiful temples.
The island town endowed with exceptional scenic beauty is 44km from Mandya. It is famous for the two picturesque falls Ganganachukki and the Bharacukki created by the braches of river Kaveri. The Ranganatha and Someshwara Shiva temple is two important shrine of the island.
Melkote is about 50km north of Mysore, Melkote in the district of Mandya has two important temples of Vishnu one Cheluvanarayana Temple and the other Yoganarasimha Temple located at the top of the hill. The view of the surroundings from the top of the hill is stunning. The Academy of Sanskrit Research has several unpublished works in Sanskrit, Tamil, Philosophy, Maths and astronomy etc. Vairamudi Festival is an important annual event celebrated in the month of March/April. Melukote or the ‘High Fort’ is well known for the Panchanarayana temples, the fie shrines dedicated to Lord Vishnu and built by the Hosala king Vishnuvardhana. The famous Cheluvarayaswami temple atop Yadavagiri hill enshrines a fine statue of Lord Vishnu, holding the Shanku (conch), Chakra ( a disc like weapon) and a Gadh(mace).
Billigiri Rangana (BR) Hills (90km)
BR Hills are a delight for wildlife, trekking and adventure sports enthusiasts. The terrain is dotted with peaks and hill top temples. Billigiri Rangana Temple dedicated to Lord Rangaswamy is the most important shrine. The Ratha (chariot) festival is held here in April. Other places worth seeing are Dooda Sampige Mara, the 2000 year old giant tree and BRT Wildlife Sanctuary.
Bandipur National Park(80km)
It sprawls in the foothills of the Nilgiris and is one of the finest wildlife centres in the country. The park was set-up in 1931, by the Mysore Maharajas and was bought under the ‘Project Tiger’ in 1974. It covers an area of 874.20 sq km, adjoining the famous Mudumalai sanctuary in Tamil Nadu and Wayanad Sanctuary in Kerala. The lush forest full of teak, rosewood, hone, mathi, bamboo and sandal trees teems with elephant, tiger, leopard, panther, dhole (wild dog), bison, spotted deer, sambar, crocodile, cobra and python etc. Birds like peafowl, partridge, quail, hornbill, ibis, eagle, etc can be viewed here. Visitors can take a safari on an elephant back or hire a vehicle to go round the park. Well planned motor able roads close to the perennial and seasonal water points and adequate open spaces in the forest enables a better viewing. Best season- May to June and September to November.
The road from Nanjanjudcontinues south to Gundlupet (35km) and goes to Bandipur (23km). Once the game reserve of the Wodiyars, 80km from Mysore, Bandipur is a tiger reserve with exotic wildlife.
The Madhumalai WLS in Tamil Nadu adjoining Bandipur beyond the river Moyar has large herds of elephants, other mammals and a rich variety of bird life.
Gopalaswamy Betta, is about 15km from Bandipur. It is locally referred to as Himavat (Snow Covered). It has a temple on top dedicated to Lord Krishna. The main deity, the Lord as a Cowherd is an impressive idol, 1.5m tall, with an ornate halo depicting a tree motif. The Kamdhenu (Bounteous Cow); Rukmini and Sathyabhama-consorts of Krishna surround the idol.
The Mysore Palace
Once the residence of the Wodeyars, this structure is one of the largest of its kind in India. Built in 1912, in the Indo saracenic style, this place excludes a grandeur that is unmatched. The Golden Royal Elephant Throne, the Durbar Hall, the Kalyana Mantap and the Gallery are the main attractions here.
St. Philomena's Church
This beautiful cathedral was built in 1956 and is one of the largest churches in the country. It has been built in the Gothic style with beautiful stain glass windows and lofty towers. The illuminated church in the evening is a wonderful site not to be missed.
It is one of the tallest churches in the South Asia built in honor of Saint Philomena, a young Greek princess who was martyred in the 4 century and was sainted later. This beautiful Gothic style building with twin spires is modeled on the Gothic Cathedral at Cologne and its foundationwas laid by Krishna Raja Wodiyar IV in 1933. Built in light fawned color stone, the two spires of it are 53m tall and the bells are located in them. The altarof the church in marble has the St. Philomena state on it. Above the sanctum there are stained glass windows depicting scenes from the life of Jesus Christ. The white walls of the church are endowed with pointed arches and tinted windows. The annual feast of the church is held on August 11, every year. Phone: 0821-2563148.
Keshava Temple Situated 38km (25 miles) from Mysore in the small village of Somnathpur, this is perhaps the best-preserved and most complete Hoysala monument in existence. Also referred to as Chennakeshava Temple, this beautiful religious monument is presided over by Vijayanarayana, one of the 24 incarnations of Vishnu. Built as early as 1268, it is constructed entirely of soapstone and rests on a raised plinth; typical of Hoysala temples, it has a star-shaped ground plan and exquisitely sculpted interiors. It’s really worth exploring in detail; you may have to urge or bribe the caretaker to crank up the generator so that you have enough light to properly observe the three shrines in the temple. Somnathpur is serene and remote, and the lawns around the monument are ideal for picnicking—ask your hotel for a packed lunch.
VISITING RAJIV GANDHI NATIONAL PARK
Originally the private property of the Maharajah of Mysore, Karnataka’s most popular elephant hangout became a national park in 1955, 3 years after the princely state of Mysore was absorbed into post-colonial India. Situated 95km (59 miles) southwest of Mysore, and spread over 511 sq. km (195 sq. miles) filled with teak, rosewood, sandal, and silver oak trees, Rajiv Gandhi National Park is also generously populated by dhole (wild dogs), gaur (Indian bison), antelope, sloth bears, panthers, otters, crocodiles, cobras, pythons, falcons, eagles, and great Indian horned owls. Keep an eye peeled for tiny muntjac deer; they stand only .6m (2 ft.) tall and are crowned by finger- length antlers. The big draw, of course, are the tigers (between 60 and 65 tigers reside here), but sightings are subject to a great deal of luck—although when Goldie Hawn came here to shoot a documentary, she apparently spotted several. Ms. Hawn stayed at the popular Kabini River Lodge, the most practical place to be if you want to have access to the park without any organizational fuss. A charmingly rustic retreat some 6 hours by car from Bangalore (3 hr. from Mysore), Kabini is spread over 22 hectares (55 acres), incorporating lush forest and largely untamed vegetation, just the way a “jungle resort” should. Its centerpiece is the Maharajah’s original 18th-century hunting lodge. Accommodations with the best positions are the river-facing cottages. Expect small bathrooms, dated green sofas, and lumpy mattresses covered with charming Indian throws. Eyeball the skies for birds like hoopoes and drongos, tale part in a program of wildlife safaris, try a brief coracle (boat) trip, go for an elephant ride, and—of course—partake of the meals and tea laid out for you according to a precise schedule. The lodge was set up by Col. John Felix Wakefield, who at 90 still takes his meals on the terrace overlooking the river. A tiger hunter in his youth, now a celebrated sanctuary-tourism reformer, Wakefield can be a lively source of information about the region. Book a room at Kabini well in advance, and plan to arrive there at least an hour before the afternoon safari, which begins at 4:30pm.
Rajiv Gandhi is about 93 from Mysore on the road to west coast through Hunsur is Rajiv Gandhi NP earlierknown as Nagarhole NP. The park located on the banks of river Kabini is built around the hunting bungalows of the Maharajas of Karnataka.
Kutta is about 7m south of Nagarhole. It is a town named after the child of Goddess Kali born here in a Kurua settlement according to a legend. It is also a venue of interesting festival 'Bode Namme' from mid April-May.
Brahmagiri Sanctuary is about 19km from Nagarhole. It is spread over 181.29 sq km almost touches the northwest edge of the Rajiv Gandhi National Park separated only bya a narrow strip of coffee plantations. The wildlife in the sanctuary includes gaur, elephant, tiger, sloth bear, barking deer, lion tailed macaque, and birds like emerald dove, black bulbul and Malabar trogan.
Establish in 1892 by Sri Chamarajendra Wodiyar, Mysore Zoo I one of the best zoos in the country. Situated about a km to the east of the fort the grounds are beautifully laid out and three moated enclosures display most of the 110 different species of wild animals. Spread over an area of 250 acres, the stress is on creating a naturalistic environment for animals rather than cages. White tigers, Bengal tigers, lions, African elephants, rhinos, bears, zebras, gorilla, chimpanzees and birds are the major attractions. Phone: 0821-2520320; Timing: 08.30-17.30, Closed on Tuesdays.
Part of the zoo, located at the foot of Chamundi Hill, the 90 acre Karanji Lake is an avian paradise wit over 90 species of birds, India's largest walk through aviary, the Butterfly Island, and facility of boating. Phone: 0821-2440752.
Nanjangud is about 23km on the main road to Ooty from Mysore or 55km from Bandhipur, on the right bank of the river Kabini, Nanjangud is known as Dakshina Kashi or the Varanasi of the South. The Nanjundeshwara Temple has an imposing gopuram with stucco figures and on impressive array of sculptural pieces. The temple is also venue of the annual car festival, Doddajatre in the month of April. It is said that Haider Ali also had faith in the healing powers of Lord Nanjunda and addressed him as 'Hakim Nanjunda' or Nanjunda the Healer. Nanjangud is also famous for Sadvaidyashala, the first Ayurveda Centre in Karnataka and rasabale (bananas). The Raghavendra Mutt in Nanjangud has a fine collection of Sanskrit manuscripts and copper plate inscriptions.
Suttur is about 14km from Nanjangud on the banks of the river Kabini, Suttur, is the original seat of the Shivarathreeshwara Math with a Mahadeshwara Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Thirumala Sagara (Lord's Lake) at Thonnur (30km) also known as Moti Talab (Lake of Pearls) along with four temples dedicated to Lord Narasimha that date from the Hoysala Period.
Nagamangala is about 30km north of Melkote is Nagamangala well known for the Saumyakeshava Temple in Hoysala style built in 12 century. 20km west of Melkote, Lakshminarayana Temple and 25km north of Mandya, Maliarjuna Temple, both in Hoysala style rival the temples at Belur and Halebidu in artistry.
Shivasamudra is about 65km southeast of Mysore and about 50km from somanathpur is Shivasamudra an island created by the branching of the Cauvery into two streams. Cascading 60m intoa deep rock gorge, the two streams form twin waterfalls, called the Ganganchukki and Bharachukki. The temples of Someshwara and Ranganatha and dargah of a Muslim peer are located here.
Shimsha is about 1.5km from Shivanasamudra is Shimsha, Asia's first hydroelectric project, established in 1902.
Maddur is about 85km. It is an important market for sugar in the state. The entire stretch from Maddur to Srirangapatna has sugar cane fields irrigated by canals fed by KSR Dam. It is an ancient river Shimsa is famous for its annual Jatra (pilgrimage) held in honor of the Goddess Madduramma and the cattle fair. The Narasimhaswamy Temple in Hoysala style and the Chola style Varadaraya Temple are remarkable pieces of Craftsmanship.
B. R. Hills
B. R. Hills is about 110km from Mysore. The Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple is perched atop a hill with a drop of more than 35m into a dense forest. The B. R. Hills Sanctuary is a treasure house of varied animal life.
Kokkrebellur Pelicanry is about 82km from Mysore. This tiny hamlet is paradise for the bird watchers. Come December, one can see birds in their breeding plumage and nesting.
Iruppu is about 14km from Nagarhole at the base of the Brahmagiri are Iruppu Falls wth water (Orginating from river Lakshmana Tirtha) cascading from a height of 52m. Legend has it that the Lakshmana in search of water for Sita shot an arrow into the hills and thus sprang the river. This river plummets down in two stages, flows northwest to join Rama Tirtha has a lingam supposedly consecrated by Lord Rama himself. The temple attracts a large number f pilgrim during the festival of Shivaratri in February. The Ashoka tree in front recalls Sita's captivity by Ravana in Ashok Vatika.
The trail to Iruppu Falls from this temple winds past forests on the outer limits of Brahmagiri Sanctuary. There is atrekking path from Iruppu to the camping site of Narimala, about 5km trek atop Narimalabetta (1570m). Permission is required from the Forest Department for the trek. About 4km from Narmala Forest Camp are the ancient caves of Munikal (1740m). It is believed to be the site of Meditation by many sages of ancient time. The deep valley is an exotic site for bird watching. ikm from Iruppu is Permad, where the Hanuman's Shiva Temple is believed to rank higher than the one at Iruppu.
Kabini is about 80km from Mysore on Mysore-Mananthavadi Road (SH 17 to Karapur) Kabini fringed by Nagarhole and Bandipur parks supports the highest density of herbivores anywhere in South Asia. The 58m high dam at Beechanahalli separates Nagarhole and Baandipur. The 60 sq km static water of Kabini reservoir or Mastigudi Lake inside the forests south of Nagarhole attracts elephants that according to an estimate number over 1500.
Besides these herds of Asian elephants, the area with its quiet flowing Kabini River is home to barking deer, Chital, gaur, sloth bears, langurs and the elusive cats - tiger and the panther. Crocodiles and over 250 species of birds including ospreys grey headed fish eagles, great cormorants, and white belied woodpecker. Malabar pied hornbill etc. flock here. To go safari in a jeep through the forests driving though herds of elephants, chital, gaur and sambars in this animal kingdom is a thrilling experience. Elephant rides are organized in the morning.
A water source named, Tiger Tank, in the Sunkadakatte area offers frequent sighting of big cats in its vicinity. The Bisalwadi Kere Lake with its watchtower is another point to spot the big game soe of the best wildlife spotting can be had from a coracle on the Kabini River. A couple of lodges and resorts arrange for safari, wildlife viewing and boat rides. You can also visit the elephant camp at Balle, about half an hour drive from Karapur.
Travelling west from Hunsur, hills run parallel with the road and the forest cover gets heavier. Crossing Periyapatna, near Kushalnagar, one reaches the largest Tibetan settlement in India at Bylakuppe. There are monasteries with fluttering prayer flags belonging to various sects of Buddhism.
The Namdroling Monastery, about 4km from Bylakuppe has a spectacular Golden Temple holding 12m high statues of Padmasambhava, Buddha and Amitayus. During festivals, it is an amazing site with masked dancers in colorful costumes dancing to the sound of gongs and massive trumpets.
About 2km further Sera Jhe and Sera Mey are two other monasteries belonging to the Yellow Hat Gelugpa sect of Buddhism in the village of Sera besides the most picturesque Kaggu Monastery located on an elevation. The Mahayana Buddhist University is located at Sera Jhe. The Sakya Monastery is just off the road to your left as one enters Bylakuppe. The other important monastery here is the Tashi Lhunpo, renowned as the seat of the Panchen Lama. A string of shops sells colorful Tibetan Paintings, thangkas, Prayer wheels, music and other goods like carpets etc. Staying facilities in small guesthouses are available in the settlements Foreigners are legally required to obtain a Protected Area Permit to Visit these Tibetan areas.
Mysore Distance Guide