Mary Ann Issac
Mysore -the essential guide!
Updated: Aug 29, 2020
Small town splendours are what Mysore has in store for a traveller venturing in not knowing what to expect. It is a city known for its royal heritage, but most recently it has gained worldwide recognition as one of the most sought after wellness retreat centres. Mysore is known as the city of palaces because of the seven grand palaces in the city.
Mysore’s charm is in the little things, it lures you in with the grandeur of its palace, and then grips you with the unassuming nature of its markets & old world architecture.
1. Take a horse drawn carriage around town
As you wait to enter the palace, there will be many horse drawn carriages parked outside, and the drivers of which will follow you around until you decide to take a ride with them- and so I did. I thought, I did have a lot of time to kill, and it will help this man make some money.
*Discuss the rate with your chauffeur before you get on.
It was early on a Sunday, and there was not much traffic, so the ride was an absolute pleasure! The ride is around the heritage parts of town, & is a great way to see the colonial architecture (most of which are government offices now) that the city boasts of.
But, he does take you to a couple of shops which are obvious tourist traps, but it doesn’t hurt to look- and if you do like something, buy it.
He probably gets a small commission for bringing tourists to these shops. He took me to two shops that sell handicrafts.
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2. Explore the majestic Mysore Palace
The Mysore Palace built in 1912 is one of the largest palaces in the country, and its Indo-Sarcenic architecture is a sight to behold, especially in the evenings then the palace is lit!
The opulent interiors of the palace are well maintained, with brightly painted colonnaded corridors,& walls decorated with photographs of the royal family. The royal family still lives in a part of the palace.
Outside the main palace building there are other sections that are open to the public. This part of the palace is in complete disrepair, the reason for which is an internal custody battle between the members of the royal family. (according to a guard at the palace)
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3. Dasara celebration in Mysore
Mysore sees a grand celebration for Dasara, the streets are decorated, for the parades, there's music & dance- quite the carnival atmosphere. If you are planning a trip around Dasara to Mysore, you will not be disappointed!
4. St. Philomenas cathedral
Built in 1956 in gothic architecture, this church with a stone facade was beautiful, until recently when they renovated it, and painted it white! I was appalled by what was happening, as I visited during the painting process- one side of the church was stunning, because it was still grey stone, and the painters were inching closer with their paint brushes to white wash the stunning facade. I was so upset I left without taking a picture!
Maybe it looks nice now that the renovation is complete, but I cannot imagine it being as beautiful as its original.
Do visit, and let me know what you think.
People from the whole world flock to Mysore to learn Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga or Mysore Yoga as it is called. Students of all abilities are taught here, and each given a routine to follow according to their ability, and additional postures are added as they gain strength. Do a quick google search to find a school that is best suited for you. Most of the schools are located in the Gokulam area.
My friend did her yoga teacher training at ...and she highly recommends it!
6. Jaganmohan Palace art gallery and museum
Jaganmohan Palace was constructed in 1861, and was used by the royal family, Wodeyars, of Mysore during the construction of the present Mysore palace. It is now an art gallery and a function space. It is one of the seven palaces of Mysore.
7. Devaraja Market
I love going to local markets, & Devaraja market did not disappoint! It was colourful with all the fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers. This wholesale market is frequented by locals, and supplies fresh produce to the entire city. It is a great place to walk about and buy some fresh fruit, flowers, or spices. The sellers at the market are used to tourists walking around their shops. Most of them are friendly, and might even ask to be photographed. Do try to buy something from the market during the visit, as it is why they are there.
8. Mysore zoo for the kids
Though I’m not a big fan of zoos, the Mysore zoo is in the heart of the city, and I had a lot of time in the city, so I visited. It is a well maintained zoo with a lot of species of animals. It is a place frequented by locals with their kids, and the kids really enjoy it, so bring your kids here!
9. What to Shop for in Mysore
Mysore is known for its exquisite silk sarees, and there are plenty of stores in town to buy one that suits your taste.
Sandalwood oil, soaps, and handicrafts are a specialty here. Mysorepak is a sweet dish made with oodles of ghee. If you buy it from a good brand/shop, it will MELT in your mouth! It is one of my favourite sweets!
Mysore has an amazing range of food to offer to cater to any taste. From local kannadiga cuisine to hip cafes and pizzerias, it has everything.
11. Go for a cooking class
There are cafes that offer cooking classes as well. Anu’s cafe in Gokulam is very popular, and offers cooking classes that focus on local delicacies.