Growing up in Bangalore (Bengaluru) in the late 80’s had its own charm one of them being seeing vehicles with number plates starting with “M” instead of “KA”. I used to wonder why until one day my father told me that once Karnataka was part of the Mysore kingdom and much later after independence did Karnataka as a state emerges with Bangalore as its new capital.
Mysore (Mysuru) and Bangalore is like a twin city for many and there are few people that I know have shifted base from Bangalore to Mysore just to get out of the chaotic life. Mysore is also a place where you could easily go for a weekend break as it’s very well connected by bus and train services.
In this blog, I am going to list the important tourist spots of Mysore which you can easily cover in two days. These are the tourist attractions which are easily accessed by a hired auto or car.
St Philomena’s Church
When I went to this place in August 2016 the church was undergoing major renovation and restoration work even then the Neo-Gothic architecture was mind blowing. When the complete restoration work gets over this church would be a real visual pleasure.
Built in the year 1936 this Roman Catholic Church is dedicated to Saint Philomena. Surprisingly the construction of the church was actually assisted by Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar the maharaja of Mysore.
Make sure you do visit the catacomb near the altar which has the relic of saint Philomena.
If you have children travelling with you then this is a must as I am sure every child likes to hang around railway engines and coaches. This museum has a good collection of locomotives including that of an Austin Railway Car. It’s a good place to spend some time looking at the history of railways in our nation’s history.
Jaganmohan Palace and Art Gallery
Initially, this was the residence of the Wodeyar maharaja while the Mysore Palace was being constructed in 1861 by Krishnaraja Wodeyar III. After the renovation and reconstruction of Mysore Palace, the maharaja along with his family moved out of this place and then this palace was transformed into an art gallery in 1915 which was later renamed as Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery. The main highlight of this art gallery is its collection of Ravi Verma paintings which is a must see if you are in town.
The most famous landmark in the city which most people recognise around the country especially during Dussehra celebrations when the palace grounds can be seen occupied by elephants draped in the celebratory outfit and the whole palace lit up by thousands of bulbs.
This is not the actual Mysore Palace but the second one, the original Mysore Palace was destroyed in a fire and the new palace commissioned in the year 1897 and saw its completion in the year 1912. The architect of the new palace was famous British architect Lord Henry Irwin who built the new palace in Indo-Saracenic style.
Photography inside the palace is prohibited and one needs to deposit camera at a safe room near the gate. The interior has beautiful stone and woodwork along with stained glass.
Mysore Zoo (Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens)
This is the only place that still remains etched in my memory during one of our family visits during the late 80’s. The reason being that for the very first time I saw penguins. These were kept in an enclosure and a constant spray of refrigerated waters was used to keep them cool. Unfortunately, the penguin enclosure is no more present but this place is worth a visit.
This is one of the cleanest and well-maintained zoo that I have seen in India. Its size is relatively small but very well maintained with painted enclosures and actually seeing every enclosure having some life form, unlike other zoos where most of them remain empty.
Ideally, visit this place early morning and you would be able to see the animals enjoying their morning breakfast. Plastic bags and bottles are prohibited thus keep them back in your vehicle. There are also battery operated cars available if you have toddlers or aged people then availing this service is possible.
This lake is actually a part of Mysore Zoo but needs to be accessed separately. This is more of Nature Park with a large lake. It has a very beautiful walkway with trees lining both the sides and occasional bamboo bushes. You can also rent out bicycles at the ticket counter at the entrance and take a small ride if you want to avoid walking. This park is a good place to spend hours marvelling at nature and watching the various species of birds that throng this place. If you want to enjoy boating in the waters of the lake then that option is also available.
This is a small hill which houses the famous Chamundeshwari Temple. After climbing round and round around the hill for around 1000 meters you will reach Chamundeshwari Temple.
Chamundeshwari Temple is actually a Durga temple and this is apparent with the statue of Asura near the temple. Chamundeshwari is revered for generations by the maharajas of Mysore and it’s having a deep importance for them. Such is the importance of Chamundeshwari Temple that even Mysore Palace faces the Chamundi Hills.
This temple is also considered one of the 18 Maha Shakti Pithas thus is of great importance.
Chamundi Hills is also famous for its viewpoints from where you can see a great panoramic view of the city. This hill also has another landmark “Nandi Bull” made of a single black stone.
Lalitha Mahal Palace
While returning from Chamundi Hills make a short detour towards Lalitha Mahal palace. Built in 1921 by Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV for the then Viceroy of India and other European guests. At present this palace is a heritage hotel and guests at the hotel can enjoy their stay with a grand view of Chamundi Hills.
If you are just a visiting this place as a tourist then the guards will not let you enter the gates and you would need to buy a ticket worth Rs. 300 which would let you roam around and also enjoy a cup of tea or coffee at the hotel in-house restaurant.
However, if you request the gatekeeper might have sympathy for you and let you enter and click some photographs from inside. I would recommend tipping the gatekeeper for this.
Technically this place is not in Mysore but in Mandya but nevertheless can easily be visited by bus, car or auto. As the name suggests it’s a garden with lots of fountains which was built next to Krishana Raja Sagara Dam in the year 1932. The waters from this very dam are used in the fountains and also maintaining the gardens.
Many Bollywood movies have been shot here and this garden had featured in many songs where the hero of the movie romances his lovers around the fountains. Apart from the various fountains that dot the garden the most famous one is the dancing musical fountain which is the highlight of the entire park. You can also go for boating in the secondary reservoir of the dam. This is quite a large park and will definitely take a time to look around. The musical dancing fountains start in the evening after sunset thus plan your trip accordingly.
Other Tourist Spots
These are the list of additional places which you can squeeze in if you have time.
Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya
National Museum of Natural History
Folk Lore Museum Mysore
Apart from the above list, you can also visit Srirangapatna this place itself has many tourist spots and I have written a separate blog mentioning all the details there.
Google Map (All the plotted for easy navigation)
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