For a novice visitor, Mysore is a pretty easygoing and welcoming city. It's neither too big to comprehend , nor too small to 'finish' quickly.
Mysore is still an old city that refuses to grow young. This is despite that fact that this city is systematically being bombarded with all the urbanization pressures met by a typical growing city.
Mysore still reserves the right to surprise any unsuspecting visitors with its old-world charm. And if you thought Mysore to be a sleepy old city , you are in for a bigger surprise!
Well, Mysore is one of the few cities in India that preserves its modern as well as traditional outlook with ease.
Mysore city sits in the middle of much larger tourism landscape. If your tour is for longer durations, it's more likely that you'll have a larger itinerary to work on. Use this city as the springboard or a base station to cover places and attractions near Mysore.
You can hop from one location to another by walk, auto ricksha or by private car, if you are driving into the city. Also check out the tonga (pony cart) tours , Heritage Walks and Bicycle Tours.
Mysore City has over a dozen main attractions. Keep at least 2 days reserved in your itinerary for city's attractions. Of course you can keep more days and explore the city in leisure. It's not unusual for backpackers to stay at the city for weeks.
Looking at more practical itineraries, the efficiency of the Mysore City tour will depend on at least two things : the list of places you want to see and how you would reach from one place to another.
While Mysore City has good public transport facilities, your city tour will be more efficient if you have some means of private transport, including hiring local taxis or auto rickshaws to travel between places quickly.
Let's get an over view of the attractions in and around the city first.
Mysore Palace. The prime landmark of Mysore is of course the Ambavilas Palace, popularly known as the Mysore Palace. In some sense the palace is located in the center of the city. A busy road encircles the palace complex.And many important roads of the city radiate out of this road that goes around the city. What it means is you are not very far from the palace, wherever you are in the city.
If you are staying at one of the hotels around the palace it's a short walk or 10minutes ride taxi/bus ride.
Palace is open for visitors from 10 AM to 5.30PM on all days.For a decent visit you need at least 2 hours. If you are keen on that residential palace (inside the palace campus) too, reserve another 1 hour. On top of it there are many temples,the handcraft/silk showrooms and the palace garden, all located inside the palace campus. And of course there are a couple of camels and an elephant ever ready to take the tourist for a short ride inside the palace premise.
That's about visiting the palace during the day time. Another important attraction is to visit the palace (outside only) in the evening when it is illuminated. Typically the palace is illuminated from 7 to 8 in the evening on every Sundays. During the Dussehra festival period (9 days around October), palace is illuminated daily and also for longer duration (7PM to 10PM).
Make it a point to return to the palace vicinity by 7pm, if your tour of Mysore city happens to be a weekend. So that is a quick tip on visiting Mysore Palace.
An evening stroll can cover most of the attractions located around the palace environs like the Sayyaji Rao Road, Devaraj Urs Road the Devaraja Market and many historic landmarks scattered in the city center.
Jaganmohan Palace. Though the Jaganmohan Palace doesn’t appear as extravagant as the Mysore Palace (Ambavilas Palace), this houses a treasure trove of paintings that far expansive and dramatic than those exhibited inside Mysore Palace.
Jajanmohan palace is at the west of the Mysore Palace, a 10minutes walk or a short rickshaw ride. The Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery located inside the palace is open from 8.30am to 5pm. You'll need about 2 hours, to tour it diligently.
Mysore Zoo. Officially called Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, the zoo is one of the best kept in the country. This is a sprawling zoo involving considerable amount of walk. You can take bus or auto rickshaw to the zoo from the city center. It's about 1km east of the Mysore Palace.
Keep aside some 2-3 hours for the zoo in your itinerary, especially if you are touring with children. If you want to make the zoo tour a bit quicker and less of walking, they have a battery car (buggy) tour inside the zoo. The zoo is closed on Tuesdays. Carry umbrella / raincoat during the rainy season.
Being a very popular in the city's attractions, the zoo draws phenomenal crowds , especially during those local holiday seasons and weekends. The ticket counter and the entrance is where the queues gets longer, once inside the crowd typically disperses in to the expanse of the zoo campus.
Karanji Lake part of the zoo is another sprawling leafy area in the city. The butterfly park, walking Aviary, boating in the lake are the main attractions of Karanji Lake. Ideal picnic location inside the city.
St. Philomena’s Church located inside the city center is another popular attraction. This church was constructed in 1936 at a place an older church stood for for 150 years.
Mass is conducted in English, Kannada and Tamil. There are quite a few trivia associate with this church. St. Philomena’s Church is located off the crowded Ashoka Road that straight radiate out from the Hardinge Circle northeast of the Palace. It's a 5 minutes ride if no traffic, and usually takes 10-20 during the peak hours to navigate through Ashoka Road.
Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion located inside the University of Mysore (Manasa Gangothri) is often overlooked in the typical tourist. The campus is located on the banks of the Kukkerehalli Lake, which itself is a pleasant place to visit. Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion houses one of the best folklore collections in the country.
Museum is open from 10 am to 5.30 pm Monday to Saturday. Closed on Sundays, Second Saturdays and Government Holidays.
The university campus is about 4km west of the city center. There are city bus services to the university area.
If you are a cricket fan, check out the Gangotri Glades Cricket Ground inside Manasa Gangothiri. The trails around the Kukkarakalli Lake is probably the best trails in the city for a morning jog. It's 4km long trail around the lake.
The Rail Museum located near Mysore Railway station is open 365days the year.Timings is from 10.00 AM to 5.30 PM. Entrance is free.
There are quite a good collection of the rolling stocks from the bygone era. The Royal Coaches used by the erstwhile kings and queens are added attractions. The Rail Museum is at at short walk from the Mysore Junction railway station.
In addition , Mysore city has few more museums and exhibitions : Folklore Museum ( that is Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion, inside Mysore University campus), Regional Museum of Natural History(near diary farm), Museum of Mankind (Wellington Manson, near palace) and even the tiny Godly Museum atop the Chamundi Hills.
The largest bonsai garden in India is located inside the Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji ashram ( the seat of Avadhoota Datta Peetham). The ashram is located on the Ooty road (Nanjangud Road). The museum (Vishwam) of the ashram displays exotic gift articles Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji received from different countries.
If you are a museum fan, check the other museums also in the city, especially the Natural History Museum.
You can get a glimpse of well over a dozen of heritage structures of Mysore if you take a 1 hour ride through Sayyaji Rao Road and the Jhansi Lakshmi Bhai Road ( JLB Road) .
Heritage Walk ( or tonga ride, if you may) is a must do to experience the heritage architecture of the city. There are close to 200 heritage structures scattered in the city scape. A few dozen of them are prominent. The best way to explore is to hire a tonga (horse cart). They are available near Palace, Zoo or railway station areas.
Further a tour to Krishnaraja Boulevard will cover the Mysore University, Law Courts and the DC Office area , you'll see over a dozen majestic and functioning heritage structures of Mysore city.
Cover Krishnaraja Boulevard on foot. This 1km or so long stretch is an ideal heritage walk location. Start either from the Gordon House, located beyond the east end of Devaraja Urs Road or from the Mysore District Cours complex located towards the east end of the Vani Vilas Road. You'll cover may heritage structures including the one of its kind institute in the country, the Oriental Research Institute.
Another must visit attraction is the Chamundi Hill, that overlooks the Mysore city. This 1100 meter (about 3600 feet) tall hill makes the southeast corner of the Mysore city. Thanks to its proximity and height, you can easily locate Chamundi Hill from practically anywhere in the city.
The highlight of Chamundi Hills is the Chamundeswari Temple dedicated to Goddess Chamundeswari, the presiding deity of Mysore kings. Midway to the hilltop is the giant iconic statue of the Nandi.
You've to depend either private cabs or the city bus service to reach the hilltop. It is a 30 to 40 minutes drive from the city to the hilltop. The bus stand and parking area is about 500 meters from the main temple. Check with the conductor about the departure of the last bus from the hilltop to city. The last bus leaves typically around 9 PM to city.
Though the Nandi statue is located close to the road, there are no bus service to this point. The simple option is to take that steps going downhill via the Nandi statue. If you are traveling by private cab, there is a road midway through the hill leading to the Nandi shrine.
It is not unusual to have long queues to enter the temple, though there are paid and free entries. Chamundi Temple opening timings are peculiar, especially the evening opening timing. Morning:7.30 AM to 2 PM; Evening:3.30 PM to 6 PM; Night:7.30 PM to 9 PM.
The state run Cauvery Arts & Crafts Emporium located on Sayyaji Rao Road ( opposite to KR Hospital).
You can do most of the cloths and handicrafts purchases from these to localities.
Of course there are numerous bazar streets located between and around these two locations selling anything from handicrafts to cloths to fruits. For example the 100 plus year old Devaraja Market is a tourist attraction too.
If Mysore Silk is in your radar buy it from the very original place that makes it. The state owned Karnataka State Silk Industries Corporation (KSIC) has its factory in the city (on the Mysore to Wayanad road) and many showrooms in the city, including an outlet attached to the factory. The other showrooms are in KR Circle,near the Zoo and on JLB Road. Beware to buy the original Mysore Silk only from its authentic source.
Mysore has a few malls and shopping arcades. Check out Mall of Mysore (near Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel ), Easy Day SuperMarket (off Hunsur Road), Garuda Mysore (next to City Bus Stand), Big Bazaar and so on.
If you happen to visit Mysore during or the months after Dussehra festival period, make it a point to visit the Dussehra Exhibition grounds. Just cross the road from palace's main gate to reach the ) Dussehra Exhibition grounds. Apart from the numerous curios shops , there are stalls setup by various state institutions. Dussehra Exhibition could be a crowded affair, especially during the weekends and in the evenings.
And lastly, never miss to add a few culinary episodes too in your Mysore city itinerary. There is Mysore Masala Dosa, Mysore Pak and a host of other south Indian dishes to be tried out. There are quite a few traditional joints where the locals go. Join the crowd!
The Outer Ring Road (ORR) or popularly known as the Ring Road is a 32km long 4 lane highway like road that encircles Mysore City, except for the break at the southeast quarter, where the Chamundi Hills is located.The road networks of Mysore city is in a gridiron fashion with numerous parallel roads "grids" the city.