Mysore is a traveler’s delight and is known for some of the finest palaces that were built here by the former rulers. The full name of the city is 'Mahishasurana Ooru' which literally means the city of the demon king Mahishasur.
Known as the ‘City of Palaces', the history of Mysore is clearly reflected in the rich architecture of the city. The Mysore Palace is a must see for the tourists on their trip to Mysore which is an exemplary instance of the Indo Saracenic style of architecture. There are many other things to watch in Mysore and some of them to mention would be St. Philomena's Church, Mysore Zoo, Jaganmohan Art Gallery, Jayalakshmi Vilas, Rajendra Vilas, and Karanji Lake. The palaces in Mysore exhibit a mixture of Dravidian and Oriental style of architecture. Tourist attractions in Mysore are like a treasure box in which variety of attractions are packed together.
Following are some important places to visit in Mysore which you can see in and around Mysore city:
Brindavan Gardens is one of the most beautiful gardens in Mysore and a center of tourist attraction. This garden was constructed during the period of Krishnaraja Wodeyar. It is built across the Kaveri River and below the Krishna Raja Sagar dam. From Mysore it takes around 30 minutes to reach the place. The rows of musical fountains and the dazzling lights create an enchanting and magical ambiance in the evenings in the garden.
The major attraction of Brindavan Gardens is its Dancing Fountains where the fountains twirl and dance to the tunes of music and creates marvelous color patterns. The musical fountains have a harmonic blend of water, colors and music. One can feel the charm of heaven on earth in the delightful blend of spectacular colors, illumination and vibrant musical fountains.
Mysore is located at the foothills of Chamundi Hills. On top of the hills there is Chamundeshwari temple that serves as a famous landmark. The average elevation of the Chamundi Hill of Mysore is 1065 meters above sea level and approximately 800 meters above Mysore. It is about 3 kms from the City of Mysore.
On the top of the hill stands the Chamundeshwari Temple that has its emergence which dates back to the 11th century. Krishnaraja III during the latter part of the 18th century built this temple tower. He gifted the Nakshatramalika jewel which has 30 Sanskrit slokas engraved on it. There is an awesome figure of the demon Mahishasura whom the Goddess Chamundeshwari is said to have defeated and killed
Maharaja Dodda Devaraja built the flight of 1000 steps in 1659 which leads up to the peak of the hill. The steps are carved out of granite rocks and are built to help the pilgrims ascend the hill easily. On the 800th step on the hill, there is a huge statue of Nandi. The statue is over 16 feet high and 25 feet long, carved out of a single rock.
Folklore Museum in Mysore was founded in 1968 and is situated in the premises of the University of Mysore which also houses the Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion. Folklore Museum houses around 7,000 unequalled folklore (traditional) displays from all over the city. It also displays South Indian playthings, marionettes and house hold objects like regional garments, musical instruments, ceremonial headwear and masks.
The museum can be visited between 10 am to 5 pm from Monday through Saturday. It is closed on all Sundays and second Saturday of the month.
GRS Fantasy Park
GRS Fantasy Park is the only Amusement cum Water Park in Mysore. The park is located at Metagalli, just 6kms away from the city center and can be accessed from various directions. Apart from water games and amusement rides, interactive water based games for the kids are also one of the important attractions of the fantasy park.
Built in 1861, the Jaganmohan Palace is one of the oldest buildings in Mysore. The Jaganmohan Palace was built by the Wodeyars, the former Maharajas of Mysore. This palace is in two parts. The main building lies to the west and a spacious pavilion to the east. This pavilion was used for marriages and other purposes while the old palace was burnt.
Jaganmohan Palace it is a magnificent building with three floors. The first floor contains number of paintings giving the family tree of the Mysore Kings and other articles of great interest. Dasavataras carved on single rice is displayed in the western hall. The second floor adorns the paintings of great painters from different countries of the world. In one of the rooms are displayed the dumbbells and clubs which belonged to and to have been used by the great warrior Kantivrava Narasaraja Wodeyar. On the third storey, the Rung Mahal or picture hall has many quaint and interesting mural paintings.
This Jaganmohan Palace which was built to mark the coronation ceremony of Krishnaraja III, was converted into the Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery which exhibits a rich collection of ceramics, sandalwood, ivory, stone, antique furniture, and ancient musical instruments. You can also gaze at paintings by reputed artists like Ravi Varma and Roerich, as well as traditional Mysore gold leaf paintings.
Jayalakshmi Vilas was the mansion of the eldest daughter of Maharaja Wodeyar. The total building cost of the mansion in 1905 was Rs. 7, 00,000.
What is peculiar about this palace is that the north and south portion of the Jaganmohan Palace is connected by an over-bridge. The other important feature of the mansion is the dancing hall which is called the Kalyana Mantap. This dance hall consists of 12-pillar square and an eight-petal shaped dome.
The 40 feet high roof of the Jayalakshmi Vilas is adorned with painted glasses. The palace also consists of a gold -plated tower known as the 'Kalasha". The mansion also boasts of a sculpture of Goddess Lakshmi in the northern part of the palace while the southern side has a sculpture of Goddess Bhuvaneswari. This palace now officially belongs to University of Mysore.
Krishna Raja Sagar Dam
The Krishna Raja Sagar Dam is approximately 8600 feet long and 130 feet high with a reservoir spread around an area of around one thirty sq.km. The dam got its name from Krishnaraja Wodeyar - the Maharaja of Mysore who financed the project. Krishna Raja Sagar Dam is India's first irrigation dam. This dam was amongst the first in world to use automatic sluice gates and represents the marvel of civil engineering of pre-independent India.
The construction of the reservoir has been beneficial for the production of sugarcane, rice and other crops scattered over thousand acres of land. The dam has also a horticultural nursery providing good variety of fruits and flowering plants. The dam is also an important source of water for agricultural operations of farmers of Mysore and Mandya districts.
Brindavan Gardens is one of the most beautiful gardens in Mysore and a center of tourist attraction. It is built across the Kaveri River and below the Krishna Raja Sagar dam.
Mysore Palace used to be the residence of the Wodeyars - the Royal family of Mysore. Also known as Maharaja's Palace, it the most visited tourist attraction in the city. The palace is located at Mirza Road in the heart of Mysore. The Maharaja's Palace is one of the largest existing monuments in India and is also referred as the Amba Vilas by many historians.
Mysore palace was first built in the 14th century however, after being burnt by fire and lightning twice, the present structure came up in 1912 and was re-redesigned by a British architect Henry Irwin. Irwin built the Mysore palace in the Indo-Saracenic style, incorporating the design elements of Hindu, Muslim, Rajput, and Gothic styles of architecture. Total re-building cost was Rs. 42, 00,000 in the year 1912.
Mysore Palace is a three storied monument which spreads across an area of 245 feet in length and 156 feet in breadth. The palace is well known for its marble domes and five storied tower that is approximately 145 feet tall.
Among the beautiful rooms of the palace, the elegantly designed Diwan-E-Khas is a treat to the eye and was used by the king for private audience. The Kalyana Mantapa or Marriage Hall with its chandeliers and stained Belgian glass ceiling arranged in peacock designs is another main attraction. The magnificent jewel-studded golden throne, made of 200kgs of pure gold, is displayed during the Dusshera festival.
Currently, Mysore Palace has been converted into a museum that is open for public viewing. The palace houses a varied selection of paintings, portraits and royal costumes of the Wodeyars which have been displayed at the three storied palace. Mysore Palace is always illuminated on Sundays, national holidays and state festivals from 7:00 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Mysore Railway Museum
The Mysore Railway Museum is located at the Krishnaraja Sagar Road just beside the Mysore Railway Station and can be easily accessed by the common public. The Railway Museum houses a priceless collection of locomotives, coaches belonging to the fledgling days of Indian railway.
A collection of paintings and photographs narrating the evolution of rail networks in India is also being preserved. The prize exhibit of the museum is the Maharani's Saloon built in the U.K. The museum also displays the first steam engine built in India. A battery operated toy train which takes the visitors round the museum grounds.
Mysore Railway Museum is maintained by Indian railways and the visiting hour for the museum is between 9 am and 6 pm.
Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens
Shri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens which is also known as Mysore Zoo is one of the most popular tourist attractions. Established by Chamarajendra Wodeyar in 1892 is one of the oldest zoos in the world.
The zoo has an excellent collection of animals, a beautiful outdoor stage and a colorful setting with the Chamundi Hills as its background and an artificial lake on its premises. All the animals in the Zoo are well fed, well kept and generally healthy. Arrangements are made for some of the animals, especially for lions and tigers, to roam about in liberty. There is a fine collection of animals, birds and snakes, which include Lions, Tigers, Rhinos, Kangaroos, Hyena, Deer, Elephants, Peacocks, Swans, Pythons, King Cobras, etc.; recently they have added a snake park. The Maharaja in his travel abroad collected rare animals from different countries and brought them to the zoo's collection.
In 1947, Maharaja presented the zoo to the Department of Parks and Gardens of the Mysore State Government. The zoo is open from 9 am - 5 pm and remains closed on Tuesday.
Planet X Park
Planet X is largest family entertainment center in South India and the first such center in Mysore. It is situated at the foot of the picturesque Chamundi Hills and is only 5kms from the Mysore Zoo. This state-of-the-art family entertainment center has been set up over a sprawling 6 acres of land. This recreation center is equipped with bowling alleys, go-carting facility, snooker, billiards, a mini golf course and video games.
Planet X Park also consists of a conference room, bar cum cocktail lounge and a restaurant which can be used for private family parties. A coffee shop is placed inside the center which provides an excellent ambiance with very friendly staffs. The perpetual wind and breeze helps you to relax and unwind yourself.
Planet X Park remains open from 4.00pm to 11.00pm from Monday to Saturday and from 12noon to 11.00pm on Sundays.
St Philomena’s Church
This church was built to honor St Philomena and thus it got its name. The Maharaja of Mysore laid the foundation stone for the church in the year 1933. An essence of neo-Gothic architecture, the St. Philomena's church is one of the largest churches in India. Built along the lines of Germany's Cologne Cathedral, this majestic church was designed by Reverend Rene Feuge. Construction of the church was completed in 1959.
St Philomena Church presents an imposing spectacle by virtue of the twin towers, each standing 175 feet tall. The spacious main hall or nave of the cathedral, endowed with exquisite carvings, can seat up to 800 people. The equally impressive exterior is beautifully decorated with beautiful stained glass windows depicting scenes from the birth of Christ, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and the Ascension of Christ.
The altar of the Cathedral enshrines a beautiful statue of St. Philomena, a 3rd century saint from Greece. The statue was acquired from France. The relics of the virgin St Philomena is saved in an unusual underground chamber. The Holy Mass is held in the morning and evening. Special prayers are held on Sundays and during the festivals.
This magnificent church is visited by a large number of tourists every year and the cathedral is open from 5 am to 6 pm.
In short you have lots of choice in selecting one of the best places to visit during your future Mysore holidays and get immersed in the excellence of this destination.