Namma Mysuru: Things to Do and Places to Visit

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Photo of Namma Mysuru: Things to Do and Places to Visit by Hrishikesh Baruah

Mysuru (or Mysore, as it's still called) was my home for 2 years while I was deputed there. Well, it was more than my home, it was a place which I fell in love with and miss a lot till date. I have been to numerous places across the country and Mysuru is one place where I can go back again and again. One of the cleanest city in the country, humble and generous people, greenery and abundance of parks, wide traffic-free roads, and a close proximity to Bengaluru as well as other major cities is what makes Mysuru unique and lovable.

But most notably Mysuru is known for its rich cultural heritage; the capital city of the Kingdom of Mysore ruled by the Wodeyar dynasty for around 6 centuries, rule of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan and their battle for control of Mysuru against the British, the grand Mysore Palace and the pomp celebration of different festivals. Quite aptly Mysuru is also known as the Cultural capital of Karnataka. And then not to mention the famous Mysore Pak, Mysore Masala Dosa, Biryanis, and other gastronomical delights. Mysore is a hotbed of tourism and you won't be surprised to see foreigners staying in the city for months learning yoga.

As a part of my work assignment I was transferred to Mysore back in 2017 while working with Decathlon. This allowed me to explore the various corners of the city, making me fall in love even more with each passing day. Well, Mysuru is also termed as the Retirement City, with people settling down after having worked and earned well across the country and abroad. So, what makes Mysuru so special?

Places to See & Explore

Day 1

Mysore Palace

This architectural marvel needs no introduction. The world famous Mysore Palace pulls people from across geographies. Quite simply stating most people know Mysuru because of this palace. The Royal family still stays in the palace and is the hub of all Dussehra celebrations in the city. The palace has seen many changes in its construction and the earlier wooden palace was ravaged in a fire in 1896. The new palace was completed in 1912. Once inside get ready to be awed by the intricate designs and sculpture of deities. The palace consists of the portraits of the Wodeyar dynasty heirs as well as family members, artifacts collected from across the globe and various rare treasures, paintings, and ceilings designed in various art-forms. Don't miss the golden throne which used to be the King's seat.

The Mysore Palace during the Navratri festivities
The hallway of Mysore Palace

Photography inside the palace was earlier banned, but is allowed now. The most exciting part of the palace is the lighting at night. Be in Mysuru on a Sunday, a National Holiday or during Dussehra celebrations and get enchanted by the lighting of the 1 lakh bulbs fitted all across the walls. The palace becomes the epicenter for all kinds of celebrations; procession taken out with elephants, performances by notable artists and the grand lighting. Ensure to keep ample amount of time to explore the entire palace complex, hiring a local guide is also advisable.

The temple on the other hand is a major attraction amidst devotees. Expect a huge crowd and traffic on the hill during weekend. The temple was built in the 12th century. Dussehra and Navratri are special here and the entire temple complex is decorated with much fanfare. There's also a giant Nandi carved out of stone while on the way up to the hill.

St. Philomena' Cathedral

St. Philomena's Church, at Lashkar Mohalla, was built in around 1936 and is yet another major tourist point in Mysuru and also one of the biggest church in the country. Dedicated to a young girl Saint Philomena the foundation of the church was laid by the then ruler of Mysuru. The church has gone through major repairs and renovation recently. Inside the church there's seating capacity for almost 700-800 people. There's literally pin-drop silence inside and photography is not allowed. There's no entrance fee to the church and is yet another must-see place in Mysuru

Kukkarahalli Lake

Take a walk and spend some time in the many of the parks that Mysuru prides of. One such place is the Kukkarahalli lake, yet another gift by the Wodeyar dynasty to the people of Mysuru. Very close to the Mysore University and in the center of the city the lake provides for breathing space for people and birds alike. The 4 km perimeter around the lake is ideal for jogging or walking as well as sitting next to the lake and spend some time in peace. Unlike the lakes in Bengaluru this one is quite clean and serene.

One of my last pics while in Mysuru, this one at Kukkarahalli Lake

Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens (Mysore Zoo)

This one's for those interested in wildlife. The Mysore zoo was created by the Wodeyar Dynasty (not surprising by now how much this dynasty has done for Mysuru) and is home to a variety of animals such as Tigers, Lions, Leopards, Giraffes, Chimps, Jackal, Himalayan Black Bear, colorful Macaws among many others. The park is huge and takes at-least half a day to cover fully but its definitely spending time here.

Photo of Namma Mysuru: Things to Do and Places to Visit by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Namma Mysuru: Things to Do and Places to Visit by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Namma Mysuru: Things to Do and Places to Visit by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Namma Mysuru: Things to Do and Places to Visit by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Namma Mysuru: Things to Do and Places to Visit by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Namma Mysuru: Things to Do and Places to Visit by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Namma Mysuru: Things to Do and Places to Visit by Hrishikesh Baruah

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary

Another spot growing in popularity is for the folks with an avian interest. The Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is situated at Srirangapatna, lies on the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway and is around 18 kms from the Mysore Palace. The cluster of islets which forms the sanctuary came into existence back in the 17th century when an embankment was made on Cauvery river. But the sanctuary gained protection and fame after much efforts from the 'Birdman of India' Salim Ali. Today this thriving birder's paradise is home to Painted Stork, Openbill Stork, crocodile, civets, black-headed ibis, egret, kingfishers, pelican, heron and others. During summers one can spot nesting of these birds. Govt organized boating tours are organized at regular intervals around the islets, don't be taken aback if you spot a crocodile swimming next to your boat!

A Painted Stork

Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace

While at Srirangapatna don't forget to visit the Summer Palace of Tipu Sultan, also known as the Dariya Daulat Bagh. Home to the once ruler of Mysuru the palace is surrounded by huge gardens and walking spaces that throws light on to the royal living during those days. The architecture of the palace walls and ceilings are worth to note here. A lot of wood has been used here and the rooms, walls, as well as the exteriors include a lot of flowery designs. The palace has been largely converted into a museum with items associated with Hyder Ali and his son to be seen.

Nimishamba Temple

Continue on the road from Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace to reach the Nimishamba temple. Situated on the banks of Cauvery the temple is dedicated to Goddess Nimishamba, an incarnation of Goddess Parvati. The temple was built in the early 17th century by the Wodeyar dynasty and is believed to grant wishes to all the devotees who come to the temple. Right behind the temple the Cauvery flows gently and there are steps made for people to take either a holy dip in the river or just sit on the steps and have a relaxing time.

Triveni Sangam

After you finish offering your prayers at the Nimishamba temple continue up ahead a little to see the confluence of 3 rivers; Cauvery, Hemavati, and Lokapavani rivers merge here. The place is quite dirty and beware of the strong currents of the river.

Chamundi Hills

Chamundi hills offers a panoramic, bird's eye view of the entire city. Chamundeshwari temple is also located at the top of the hill. The city looks marvelous at night from the hill top, and the Mysore Palace also glitters when its lighted. There are regular city buses from the bus stand (right next to the Mysore Palace). One can also check their fitness level by walking or running up to the hill top from the base. There are also stairs from the base till the top. There used to be tigers and leopards in the forest surrounding the hill in earlier days.

Chamundeshwari temple

Karanji Lake

Mysuru and the surrounding areas are blessed with lakes. Another such lake which is in the heart of the city is the Karanji lake. But unlike Kukkarahalli Lake this lake closes by 6 pm and has an entrance fee. The walk up till the lake is surrounded by tall trees on both sides. Sitting on one of the benches in front of the lake gives a peaceful vibe. Or one can take a boat ride around the periphery of the lake as well. The lake also gets avian visitors (the same variety of birds that throng Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary). There's also an orchid park which houses peafowls/peacocks.

Shuka Vana

You'll not hear about this place in most travel forums or blog-posts. This rehabilitation place for birds is a world of its own when it comes to exotic birds, especially parrots and macaws. Quite close to the Chamundi Hills, Shuka Vana has the record for housing largest number of birds in an aviary. I was pleasantly enthralled by the sheer size of these colorful parakeets and macaws, which otherwise I had seen only on TV. Cockatoos, parrots, parakeets, macaws, lorikeets sourced mainly from South America, Africa and Asian countries. Unfortunately, cameras and photography is not allowed inside and the ashram is very particular about it. But you can still get clicked by the in-house photographers by paying a nominal amount. I was particularly awed by the huge red, blue, green, and yellow macaws who are mostly inhabitants of Amazon forests.

Jaganmohan Palace

Quite close to the Mysore Palace is another palace built by the Wodeyars somewhere in 1860s. The Jaganmohan Palace was more of a makeshift home for the Wodeyar dynasty, and when the Mysore Palace was ravaged in a fire the Wodeyars shifted to this palace while the new (and existing) Mysore Palace underwent construction.

The Jaganmohan Palace

Gaganachukki and Barachukki Falls in Shivanasamudra

Shivanasamudra is a small town cum island and around 75 kms from Mysuru. The island is separated from mainland by the Cauvery river. One must visit to witness the majestic Gaganachukki and Barachukki falls on the river Cauvery. The waterfalls are a sight to the eyes during monsoons when there's high volume of water cascading down.

Brindavan Garden

Your trip to Mysuru remains incomplete if not visited the famous Brindavan Garden near the KRS Dam on the Cauvery river and is around 25 kms from the Mysore Palace. While the multi-tier garden is itself impressive one must visit in the evening to witness the play of the colorful musical fountains. The timings for the Light show is 7 pm-8 pm. One can also enjoy a boat ride organized by Govt operators on the river.

Where to Eat?

You'll be left exhausted and hungry after exploring so many sites. And you'd be glad to know that Mysuru offers various culinary delights for each kind of traveler.

RRR Hotel

If you're in for some delicious, spicy Andhra food then RRR is where you should be headed to. This place is quite close to the Mysore Palace and is an iconic eating place in Mysuru. So, don't be surprised if you have to wait in queue for 30-60 mins during peak lunch hours. But the wait is worth it though, and do taste their unlimited Andhra meals or the tasty Biryani. The meals can be coupled with a spicy chicken side dish and I guarantee you'll struggle to walk post this. The food is served on a banana leaf giving it a local touch.

Tina's Cafe

Situated on the quaint neighborhood of Gokulam Tina's Cafe was our favorite in Mysuru during our stay there. The food is simple, home made styled and served with lots of love by Tina aunty. Go there for some simple daal-chawal or the special item of the day. But be there to enjoy and bask in the open-air styled seating layout. And don't forget to strike a conversation with the ever smiling Tina aunty at the counter. Its no surprise that not only Indians but a lot of foreigners also throng here, all longing for that ghar ka khaana.

Fresh Catch Seafood Restaurant

At a walk-able distance from Tina's Cafe is the Fresh Catch Seafood Restaurant. And this place is a paradise for all seafood lovers. Their specialties are Mango Fish curry, Neer Dosa, Appam, Mangalore Fish curry, Tava King Prawns, squids; you name it and they have it. Gosh, I'm already drooling while I'm writing this! This place is absolute worth to your wallet and you'd want to come again and again. My friends drove all the way from Bengaluru just to have lunch here. Besides, you can also buy fresh sea-fish from their shop which is just next to the glass wall. Don't return back from Mysuru without having a meal here.

Hakka

Run by group of sweet fellows from Darjeeling Hakka is a Chinese restaurant, all ready to fill your craving for momos, noodles, or some thukpas. The items are not only reasonably priced but the taste of the food will blow your minds. Plus, huge portions in each plate means you'll never feel like the food will be less.

By The Way

In mood for some drinks but don't want the loud music that normally accompany such places? Then head out here, with a open styled seating arrangement along with good food is where you can unwind.

Kapoor's Cafe

For all those craving for some lip smacking parantha and lassi should be heading here. This ones quite famous in Bengaluru and a branch of it was opened in Mysuru in 2017 and located in Kalidasa Road. The menu is veg but the chole-bhature, lassi, and the paranthas will take you back to Punjab. The decor inside is quite desi and there's a good waiting of people for their turn to get a table.

The Paranthas, the lassis, the chole bhatures; every item on the menu of Kapoor's Cafe is worth every buck

Photo of Kapoor's Cafe Mysore @ Kalidasa Road, Kalidasa Road, 3rd A Block, Jayalakshmipuram, Mysuru, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

SPR Veg Restaurant

Yet another option for a veg menu SPR is located quite close-by to the Fresh Catch Seafood Restaurant. Try their dosa and coffee for breakfast, and South meals for lunch. The place is open seating type and a good place for delicious South food.

Poojari Fish Land

If you're coming in from Bengaluru then you'll find this place on your right just as you are about to enter Mysuru. This place is massive and you'll not have trouble finding a table for yourself. As goes by its name this place is yet another haven for seafood. Pomfret, king prawns, crabs; you'll have a gala time feasting out here. People who return to Bengaluru after a weekend trip to Mysuru, Coorg, or Ooty normally visit here.

Purohit Restaurant

People craving for some Gujarati veg food need to rush to this place. Their unlimited thali is quite famous and lip smacking to say the least. The food is served with lots of love and... ghee! The place is a bit difficult to find and looks a bit shady from outside.

Simply Kodavas

If you're game for some mouth watering Coorgi food and don't mind that extra spice then this is the address you're searching for. Located in the upscale Vijayanagar 1st stage area their pork items served with akki roti, neer dosa, or plain rice will just leave you craving for more.

Basanth's Roving Feast

This place and the surrounding areas are quite popular among the college going folks. Its a small joint with plastic stool arrangements for seating. You can grab some delicious pasta, paneer sautay, vada pav, dabeli etc. Veg place though.

The Barge Restaurant

Located near the Hebbal Industrial area this one is one of Mysuru's very first microbrewery and is a good place to chill and hangout. A bit expensive but the food and the beer more than make up for it. The place is big and sitting under an open sky drinking freshly brewed beer feels good after a long day at work. Atleast now you don't have to rush down to Bengaluru for that wheat beer over the weekend!

Adyar Ananda Bhavan (A2B)

Situated right next to the entrance of the railway station A2B is famous for its dosa, idli, poori-sabji, coffee, and sweets.A very good option for veg food the items are freshly prepared and a good place to fill yourself up once you land at Mysuru railway station.

Where to Stay?

A city that relies heavily on tourism there's a plethora of options, from the budget conscious to the most lavish ones.

Zostel

Located in the Gokulam area Zostel is a backpacker hostel, ideal to meet new people from across the country and world. The rooms are dormitories and rates are for each bed. Zostel is known for being not only cheap but clean and offers a lot of opportunities to socialize with others.

The Green Hotel

Situated in the Jayalakshmipuram area this earlier palace which is now converted to a hotel is favorite among travelers especially foreigners. The interiors of the hotel will give you a royal feeling with its extensive wooden decor and artifacts. True to its name the hotel uses sustainable sources of energy and recycled water. The expansive gardens and lawns is a good place to unwind as well as the restaurant for some tantalizing food options.

Country Inn

This lavish hotel cum resort invites more of the business travelers, situated opposite to the Infosys Mysore training campus. This place is not for the budget centrist travelers.

Royal Orchid Metropole

Another palace built by the Wodeyar dynasty turned into a beautiful hotel this ones near to the railway station. This ones a very lavish and comfortable place to stay, and needless to say is not for the pocket friendly folks. The food out here is exquisite to say the least.

Again, there's ton of staying options. Just head over to booking.com or Oyo to find a place that fits right on your budget.

What Else to Do in Mysuru?

Pedal Around - Rent one of the cycles from the street and take a early morning ride around the city. This is yet another fun way of exploring this beautiful city. Ride around the palace, Chamundi hill, the University area, or the numerous aisles in the Vijayanagar area. In Spring the city wakes up to a bout of colorful flower bearing trees planted on both sides of the roads, especially towards the Vijayanagar area.

Run a Marathon - If you're a fitness junkie then all the more reason to make an excuse to come down to Mysuru. Run the Mysuru Marathon which happens sometime in September and takes you through all the heritage spots of Mysuru. Or even better, step up your game and run the beautiful Kaveri Trail Marathon (KTM) held in November. KTM is a trail marathon and is a fantastic way of exploring the rural life out here. The event takes place near the Ranganathittu bird sanctuary with paddy fields and curious villagers as onlookers. While you revel in the freshness of the village and sugarcane fields just be sure not to step on that fresh cow dung on the trail!

My Half Marathon celebration dab!

Learn & Practice Yoga - Mysuru is also a center of Yoga education and every year thousands of people travel down to this heritage city to learn the trait. Foreigners would stay back for months to learn this ancient practice. Most of the centers are concentrated near Gokulam and Lakshmipuram area.

Get Some Mysore Pak - A sweet which is very famous in the South has its roots in Mysuru. You've got to taste this sweet delicacy when in Mysuru. And what better way than to buy it from the place where it originated. Head out to the busy Devaraja market and ask people for the location of Guru Sweet Mart who are credited to its origin more than 100 years ago in the kitchens of the Mysore Palace.

Get Some Local Handicrafts - You probably might have heard of Mysore Silk Sarees, and is a good idea to visit one of the many shops to get one. You can also visit the Karnataka Silk Industries Corporation's outlets for authentic silk sarees. Yet another famous item on your list will be sandalwood products. But beware of the fake, scented wooden items which are sold as sandalwood. Visit a prominent outlet or the Government Sandalwood Oil Factory for genuine sandalwood products. If you're into handicrafts, paintings then visit the Cauvery Arts and Crafts Emporium, a government owned establishment. You can spend hours out here exploring the exquisite items on display. The items are genuine, expensive, and no bargaining.

Visit the Busy Devaraja Market - This crowded market place which is centuries old is yet another famous spot situated near the palace. Whether fruits & veggies, clothes, flowers, jewelry, sweets you'll get it all here. But visit here to get a taste of the local life & flavors. And if you happen to visit on a Sunday then expect double the rush, but its a good way to see the variety of items on display.

How to Reach?

Mysuru is well connected by road, rail, and decently by air. There are buses plying every 20-25 mins to and from Bengaluru. You can either take an Airavat Volvo AC bus or the economical Sarige buses. Buses from Bengaluru originate from the Satellite Bus Stand which is located on the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway. Else, you can take a Flybus directly from the Bengaluru airport to Mysuru. By road it takes 3-3.5 hours, and the roads are in excellent condition (4 lane highway).

Mysuru also has excellent rail connectivity, with trains frequenting every 1-1.5 hours. Trains like Shatabdi, Mysore Express, Chamundi express, Jaipur express are a good way to reach Bengaluru or other cities. It takes 2.5-3 hours depending on which train you're boarding. The Mysuru Railway station is within the heart of the city and is only 2 kms from the Mysore Palace.

A paddy field on the outskirts of Mysuru

Mysuru has its own airport albeit a bit outskirts. There are flights coming in from Chennai, but overall air-traffic to this airport is minimum. People mostly take the journey from Bengaluru via rail or road.

Mysuru is also a transit point for Ooty, Bandipur, Coorg, Kochi. People self driving to these places often make their itinerary via Mysuru. There are luxury buses originating from Mysuru as well to these places.

Commute Within the City

Just like any other city Mysuru has a well developed commute network. Mysuru is blessed with wide roads, a good municipality governing body, and good array of city buses touching all the major points. Autos could be found everywhere and won't cheat a newbie to the city. Additionally, there's Ola, Uber services as well which further eases your commute concerns.

Best Time to Visit Mysuru?

One can visit Mysuru throughout the year. Owing to the proximity and good connectivity with Bengaluru reaching here is never a problem. However, if you ask me the ideal time to be in the city is post monsoon, till February. October is when tourists starts incoming. The sun is also gentle during this period. However, Mysuru is famous for Dussehra celebrations and you need to be in the city during Navratri period to experience it. The entire city is lighted up like a bride and there are various melas and programs organized throughout. And then there's the Mysuru Dussehra which pulls people from across geographies. There are cultural programs organized every evening in the palace and on the last day the King leads out a procession on elephants from the palace. In the evening the palace complex is lit with 100K bulbs from 7 pm to 10 pm making it for some grand visuals.