Renowned for its ‘Dussera Festival’, the city of Mysuru is just around three hours drive from the capital city of Bengaluru. Mysuru (old name Mysore) was the capital city of the Wodeyar dynasty who ruled the city mostly except during the brief rule of Hyder Ali and his son Tipu sultan.
Often referred to as the ‘Cultural Capital of Karnataka’ state, Mysuru is famous for not only its palace but also for its unique painting style called ‘Mysuru Painting’. The Silk of Mysuru is as popular as its sweet – ‘Mysuru Pak’. The Mysuru Pak is a rich sweet made in purified butter also called ‘Desi Ghee’. It has a distinct taste of ghee and melts in the mouth. Besides the silk and the sweet, the third most popular item is the ‘Sandalwood’. Mysuru is known for its sandalwood craft and also items produced from Sandal like incense, oil, soap, perfumes etc. The sandalwood is found in abundance in the western ghats forest region around Mysuru. There are many government factories and crafts emporium dealing in Sandalwood. One can find souvenirs made from sandal wood like key chains, pen, photo frames and many other gift articles. Mysuru is also famous for its inlay work and its highly skilled craftsmen.
The most important festival celebrated in the city of Mysuru is the Dassera festival that symbolizes the victory of good over evil. An interesting legend is related to this festival that mentions that when the Hindu God Rama killed Ravana who abducted Rama’s wife Sita, it was a day that marked the victory of good over bad and thus the festival got its beginning. Even today a large edifice of Ravana is burnt to celebrate the festival of Dassera.
Unfortunately Mysuru does not have an airport and hence the best way to reach Mysuru is by flying into Bengaluru.
What to See
One of the places in India where one can still find the Royalty existing is the famous ‘Mysore Palace’ where a part of the palace is occupied by the royal family of Mysore belonging to the theWadiyar dynasty. The palace is also referred as the ‘Amba Vilas Palace’ and is open to visitors except the part occupied by the Royal family.
The Mysore Palace is built in the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture that is supposed to be a combination of different styles like the Mughal architecture, Rajput architecture and the Gothic architecture. The palace was built in gray granite stone and deep pink marble domes which gives a distinct syle to the palace as compared to any other palace in the country. The palace complex is spread across a vast expanse of land and houses numerous uniquely styled rooms along with gardens, a public hall, a marriage hall, an armory and twelve Hindu temples.
As Mysore was mostly ruled by the rulers of the Wodeyar dynasty, it was but obvious that they would have a temple dedicated to their Goddess Chamundeshwari. Legends say that the demon Mahisasura was killed by Goddess Chamundeshwari and thus the hills and temple were named in her honor.
The city of Mysore exists at the foothills of the Chamundi Hills. One can reach the top of the hill either by a stairway of around a thousand steps or by driving through the uphill road for about thirteen kilometers. The temple of Goddess Chamundeshwari or Chamundi is situated at the top of the hill and is believed to be from the twelfth century. On the way from the steps, one can see a huge statue of the Nandi bull who was the carrier transport of Lord Shiva. There is also a giant statue of the demon Mahisasura, whom the Goddess had killed. The demon’s statue holds a sword in one hand and a cobra snake in the other.
Another temple close to the Chamundeshwari temple is the Mahabaleshvara temple. These are important temples of Hindu pilgrimage. During the Dassera festival, the King of Mysore would ride up the hill in a decorated elephant and carry the idol of the Goddess Chamundi.
From the top of the hill one can get a view of the Mysore city and its important structures like the LalithaMahal palace, Mysore Palace and the race course.
Best Time to visit
Unlike its cool counterpart, the city of Bengaluru, unfortunately Mysore does not remain as cool. Summer temperatures rise to around thirty eight degrees Celsius during months of April and May. A good time to visit is during winter months between November to March.