The name Mysore is often used to refer Mysore district, Mysore sub-district, Mysore city and in historic contest the Mysore kingdom that spanned most of the present day Karnataka state.
Here we are talking about the Mysore city which is also the administrative headquarters of Mysore district. This is a mid sized South Indian city with a population of about 7.8 lakh (780 thousand) and spanning an area of 128 sq km (about 50 sq miles). This is the second largest city in Karnataka after Bangalore, the state capital.
With about 2.5 million visitors every year, Mysore is one of the most visited cities in India.
Mysore sits in the south Indian plane ( often referred as the Deccan plateau). Bangalore is some 140km (87miles) northeast of Mysore.
Mysore is one of the top tourism destinations in India. This city itself is a major attraction with numerous popular sites like the Mysore Palace, St. Philomena Church, Chamundi Hill, Mysore Zoo, Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery, Rail Museum and so on. There are close to 200 structures in the city with a heritage tag.
In addition Mysore city serves is an ideal gateway/ base for exploring the numerous places around Mysore which are popular tourism destinations. For example the historic Srirangapatna, Somnathpur known for the Hoysala era temple, the Brindavan Gardens at KRS, the ancient Jain center of Shravanabelagola, Bandipur National Park, the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, the Tibetan center of Bylakuppe , the Coorg district etc are some of the attractions that can be easily accessed from Mysore city.
There are two ways of looking at it. Doing it during the peak season accompanied by the full fanfare of the state festivities. Or doing it during the off season in a leisure manner ( and at the off season rates! ).
The peak season starts from mid October( coincides with the Mysore Dasara festivities) and well stretch into January. The summer holidays (May) too brings large tourist population to the city.
Otherwise Mysore’s attractions are open for visitors round the year.
This is a modern city by any scale, yet conservative traditions are valued. The citizens are proud of its bygone status as the historic capital. The royal traditions still continues, though as ceremonies and festivals. Mysore Dasara is celebrated each year with great pomp and fanfare.
You can reach Mysore city by air, road and rail. The city has a small airport with modest connectivity to the nearby cities (see Mysore Airport).
The city is a major railway junction (see Mysore Railway Station) on the rail map. There are many cross country as well as intercity express trains to Mysore. Places like Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Bangalore are well connected by rail from Mysore.
KSRTC, the state owned corporation , operate many bus services from Mysore city’s central bus station. There is a bus connection to Mysore city from almost any major towns in the state and also from major cities of the neighboring states.
The railway station and bus stands are located in the heart of the city. The airport is some 12km (7miles) south of the city.
The Mysore Palace area located in the center of the city acts like a hub from where radiate all the major roads out of the city. There are 5-6 such atrial roads converging at the center of Mysore city. These are the city’s primary road link to neighboring towns and cities in the region.
A 6 lane circular road called the Outer ring road, encircles the city at a distance about 6km (4miles) from the city center.
The roads inside the city are essentially a grid of numerous parallel roads.
Kannada is the most widely spoken language in Mysore. A large number of the city’s population speaks Urdu too. If you do not speak either, in the city you will not find it difficult to manage in English.
Mysore receive a huge number of visitors from different parts of the country and the world everyday.
Businesses centered around tourism is usually communicated in English, especially when it comes to tourists from outside the state.
You’ll find multilingual guides in Mysore Palace area. For example there are many guides who can speak in other Indian languages like Hindi, Telugu, Tamil or Malayalam. You may even find a local guide in Mysore who can speak in French , Spanish or German.
Mysore Palace has the multilingual audio tour (a gadget with headphone) in English, Kannada, Hindi, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
The signboards in the city are usually in both Kannada and English. So are the boards in the city buses.
In short, the non local language speakers can manage your city travel and tourism affairs in English.
For short distances within the city use auto-rickshaws ( 3-wheeler taxi) or the city bus. Both are popular means of city transport. While the bus option is a lot cheaper, auto-rickshaws can take you to any place in the city at the convenience of a private transport.
Booking a cab for the day is another popular option to explore the sites in and around the city. Usually cabs are hired for a full day through an agency or through the hotel’s travel desk.
Another fancy thing available in the city is the Tonga (horse cart). Mainly aimed at the tourists, Tongas are traditional way to explore the city, as it once was the main mode of transport in this city. You can find them near popular tourist hot spots like the palace, railway station etc.
You can explore a great many parts of this city by walk. In fact heritage walk is an idea promoted to explore the landmarks in the city center. Some places like the market areas are better enjoyed by walk.
Mysore city is 770 meters (2,526 feet ) above sea-level and enjoys a cool weather throughout the year. Those traveling to Mysore tends to bring warm cloths, though the winter day temperatures hardly reaches freezing levels.
Geography: The land is fairly flat with some undulations. A number of lakes (like Karanji Lake and Kukkarahalli Lake ) and other water bodies located in the low lying regions in side the city. The whole of Mysore in fact falls in the delta region of the River Cauvery. The southeastern quarter of the city is occupied by Chamundi Hills, the most prominent landmark of the city.
Being a sought after tourism destination, Mysore has a vary large pool of accommodation ranging from the 5 star type to the budget class.
Most of the hotels aimed at tourists are located around the bus stand area, especially the budget class and mid range accommodations. Apart from the bus stand locality, other hot spots of hotels are the JLB Road, which is at the south of the Mysore railway station, Gandhi Square area, which is 10 minutes walk from the Mysore palace, Harsha Road that faces the palace compound, Hunsur Road and Sayyaji Rao Road that originate from city center, to name a few.
Being a heritage city, Mysore city has its fair share of heritage hotels too. These are erstwhile palaces and royal mansions later converted into hotels without compromising the heritage character. The Lalitha Mahal (5 star), Hotel Metropole, Green Hotel etc are examples of heritage hotels in Mysore.
In addition the city also has a few spa type resorts in its periphery like the Golden Landmark Resort on the way to Brindavan Gardens , the Windflower Spa and Resort at the base of Chamundi Hills.
Mysore has a Youth Hostel part of the International Youth Hostel movement located in Gangothri Layout near the University of Mysore campus. Incidently the first Indian chapter of the Youth Hostel Scheme was initiated in Mysore in 1949.