A road trip to Mysore will be a perfect getaway for any Bangalorean to relax in a town where you can reach from one end to another in 15 minutes which is impossible in Bangalore and for its rich cultural heritage, interesting places around to visit, pleasant climate, shopping and also the warm and welcoming crowd and also comparitively very cheap when compared to other cities thus it will not affect your pocket much. If you are looking for a short trip to kick start your solo travel adventures then Mysore is the perfect place for you.
Day 1: My trip started by 5 AM from Bangalore, through a 2.30 hrs journey in my bike in the Bangalore-Mysore Highway alongside beautiful hills and green fields all the way with cool breeze on your side reached straight at the top of Chamundi Hill Temple. The city view from top of the hill early in the morning indeed was a good welcoming sight were one can see the horse race course, the famous Taj Palace and of course the Mysore Palace. Since it was early morning the crowd was very less inside the temple as I could come out of the temple within 15 minutes but the climate and view from the hill will tempt you stay in the hill for a while. At 9.30 I reached the Mysore Palace entrance, as the Palace allows tourists only from 10 AM and since it was a weekday relatively there was very less crowd as expected and I was able to look around the palace in detail and peace without much noise. A truly mesmerizing palace which depicts the rich history of the Wodeyars of Mysore and also the rich heritage and cultural history of the city Mysore via the beautiful wall paintings, portraits and photographs. The palace itself is a treat to the eyes as one can see rich marbles, granite stones and European style flooring tiles/stones on the floors and walls of the building which was built under the supervision of an European Architect as the history says. Behind the palace is a small building within the palace wall which is said to be the residential building of the King where the last heir of the Mysore King is said to be living at one part of this building who will be garnered as the current King during the famous Dasara Festival celebrated in the palace every year. A part of the building is open for tourists as a museum, one can see the personal photographs, the carts, dresses, furniture, personal belongings (such a mirrors, combs, vessels made of gold) used by the King's family. After the palace visit I checked in to my room at Shiv Guru Comforts where I found a stay as cheap as 200 per night, thanks to Make My Trip (Make My Trip really has some good offers when it comes to hotel bookings especially if you are a registered member, this I am confirming after a couple of trips where I looked for rooms in particular hotels in different sites like cleartrip, booking.com and few others) After lunch I headed to one of he largest zoological parks in South India. The 5km walk around the zoo for more than 2 hours was not tiring as one could site few of the rare animals here like Giraffe, African Rhino, African Elephant, White Tiger, Panther, Jackal well you can even find "TIMON" which is not a common scene in other national parks. Besides the Park lies the Karanji Lake which was once a part of the Zoo but now has been separated due to its own added attraction towards tourists. A evening sitting in the stone bench aside the banks of the lake gives you a pleasant feel.
Expenditure for the day- Fuel 800, Breakfast 50, Palace Entry Fee 40, Zoo Entry 20, Parking 10, Baggage 5, Camera Charge 50, Lunch 80, Dinner 150, Stay 200
Day 2: Headed to the Tibetan Settlement in Bylakuppe en route to Coorg from Mysore.
Ever felt like a foreigner in India atleast in South India despite being an Indian!!?? Well then probably you have to visit this place for sure. Bylakuppe a small village placed around 80 kms from Mysore en route to Coorg which will take an hour and half time of travel holds a Tibetan Settlement within the very small hills. The history dates back to 1960s were a group of Tibetan people and also monks moved to India and settled by forming their monastery not only the one found in Dharamshala but also in the south within Karnataka. This place truly gives an overall different and weird experience as you will feel all of a sudden you have entered into a different world where the buildings look different holding the typical Tibetan flags and you can see people who are not so Indian looking driving and walking down the lane looking at you like a foreigner and monks in saffron clothes with smiling faces walking in the streets not to forget the earphones and smartphones they hold in their hands, yes the monks. From the big arch that welcomes people to the Tibetan Settlement Village it takes a 3km of travel to reach the Golden Temple as one can see signboards every 200 mts.
Once you reach the Golden Temple, just a look at the temple from outside will give you a peaceful feel and when you see monks roaming around the temple and the hostels they reside which is inside the temple premises will give you a typical ashram feel. Adjacent to the Golden Temple building is the temple were three big statues of Buddha are there. This temple is where people generally visit to worship. It is very calm and silent place which itself gives you a divine feeling added to the wall paintings and the statues which made me to sit in peace closing the eyes and meditate for a while.
During the meditation I was able to hear the chants of the monks marching around both the buildings towards the entrance of the temple in a large group including the local civilians which indicated the prayer time. I was lucky enough to witness the prayer formalities of the monks and people who were worshiping the Lord Buddha just by standing outside the temple door.
As I wanted to entertain my taste buds with some Tibetan food which I never tasted before, I bumped into a Tibetan restaurant on the way back, a bit far from the temple where there were a large group of monks having their food. The reaction they gave at me once I entered the restaurant still makes me smile just like how a local Indian will react when a foreigner comes inside a local hotel. I got to taste some really delicious hot momos with chilli paste and Tibetan bun with Tibetan beef curry.....Paradise.
As I was about to drive back towards the highways the wanderlust inside me kindled to take the roads within the village which I had no idea where it takes and I will never regret this decision ever as what I saw will remain in my memory forever. A small hilly village with typical Tibetan style houses and streets with a temple at each street. This place had a handicraft center, organic farms, organic farming study center and a Buddhism University what not and all these were developed and taken care by the trust of His Holiness Dalai Lama which was written in the boards and to be more specific the entire village was maintained really neat and clean just like a movie set. I got more pumped and took every other road I came on the way and got to witness two other Tibetan settlements around with big monasteries one built amidst a big stretch of barren fields and one amidst not so misty and mighty hill. The best part was the amazing local crowd who always smile at you, very caring and helpful and they all speak Tibetan, Hindi and English very fluently which gives no restrictions to their hospitality towards the tourists.
P. S: Most of the tourists come all the way to visit the Golden Temple and just leave back immediately but I would suggest if you have a bike or a car (I would prefer bike or a small car not SUV given the size of the narrow roads of the village in the hill side) or you can hire autos that are available near the temple as well as in the village to take a look around the village and other settlements and monasteries to get all together a whole new experience.
Headed back to Mysore by evening to see the St. Philomena Church. The foodie in me wanted to explore the famous Mysore Dosa and Mysore Bonda and thanks to the posts from fellow travelers across various sites as I found Mylari Hotel which serves the authentic Mysore Dosa for ages. The must watch scene in Mysore is the sound and light show at the Mysore Palace by 7 PM where the history of the Palace is described by a excellently choreographed sound and light show after which the Palace is lite completely for the rest of the night which one can see even from the road. There are government emporiums in Mysore where one can go for sandalwood and sandalwood based products shopping which comes in relatively cheap prices and are authentic.
Expenditure for Day 2: Fuel 500, Lunch - 200, Parking 10, Light show 40, Dinner 200, Snack 100, Stay 200
Total Rs 1250
Day 3: After checking out from my room I headed to Srirangapatna which is on the way to Bangalore in the Bangalore - Mysore Highway around 15 kms from Mysore. Speaking about History this place holds an important place as it was the capital city of Tipu Sultan's Empire standing old and devastated on the banks of River Cauvery. The entire town comes under the circumference of the Capital Fort Wall. Daurial Daulat Bagh the palace of Tipu Sultan where one can see the portraits,wall paintings depicting Tipu Sultan's empire and the fall during war,the weapons and dresses used by them,etc and Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple (the reason for the name Srirangapatna), Colonel Bailey's Dungeon (where the said Colonel was held prisoner by Tipu Sultan and died there), Memorial of Tipu Sultan (where Tipu Sultan's body was found after the war), Jumma Masjid of Tipu are the major attractions which depicts a lot of the history of this place. One should visit the War Memorial which lies in the end of the fort wall for which you should head to the small road across a railway bridge behind the temple. You got to trek a bit around the small hilly fort walls which gives you a good view of the River Bank as well as the fort remains. People generally ignore it as many doesn't know about this place and the route isn't proper. Around 2.00 PM I started my way back to Bangalore.
Expenditure for the day - Breakfast 50, Entry Ticket to Palace 5
Total Rs 55
Total Expenditure of the trip for 3 days including stay, food, fuel, sight seeing approx Rs 3000.