Mysore – The City of Palaces
Mysore is located at an altitude of 770m above sea level between the Kaveri and Kabini rivers. It is about 140 Kms away from Bangalore. It is spread across an area of 50 square kilometers. It is often referred to as the city of Palaces. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Mysore is the cultural capital of the state of Karnataka. It is famous for its Dussehra celebrations, which is a ten day celebration. According to Hindu Mythology, Mahishasura, a demon used to rule over Mysore. The anglicized version of Mahishasura is Mysore. Goddess Chamundeshwari later killed Mahishasura. Goddess Chamundeshwari’s temple is situated on the top of the Chamundi Hills, on base of which Mysore is located.
There are many palaces in Mysore, which include the famous Mysore Palace. The famous Mysore style of painting is named after Mysore. King Raja Wodeyar is the patron of the Mysore style of painting. The gesso work with gold foil is the distinctive feature of these paintings. The Mysore style of painting is considered to be an offshoot of the Vijayanagar painting school. Mysore also lends its name to a sweet dish called Mysore Pak and a silk saree – Mysore Silk which is made from pure silk and gold zari. A traditional silk turban worn by men during traditional ceremonies called Mysore Peta also gets its name from the city. The major industry here is tourism but information technology is also emerging as a leading employer. The first private radio station in India is located in Mysore. The most popular sport in this city is Cricket.
One can visit Mysore at any time of the year but it is more preferable to go there between September to March. Winters prevail from October to February. It is cool with the minimum temperature dropping to 10°C. Mysore experiences a short summer season from March – May. It becomes very hot during the summers with a temperature as high as 39°C. Medium to heavy rains are expected from June to September.
How to reach
- Railways – Mysore is connected to Bangalore through trains and all major cities in India are connected to Bangalore.
- Roadways – The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation provides a variety of buses from Bangalore to Mysore. There are deluxe and semi-deluxe buses available.
- Airways – There is a small domestic airport in Mysore and it is connected to Bangalore. One can also take a flight to Bangalore and hire a taxi to Mysore, which is only 140 Kms away.
Mysore was called Puragera till the 15th century and King Chamraja Wodeyar III constructed the splendid Mahishuru fort at this time. During the reign of the Vijaynagar kings, Mysore was used as a feudatory of Mysore Kings and later on, Raja Wodeyar made it his capital. Mysore was the capital of the Kingdom of Mysore till 1947. The Wodeyar dynasty ruled the city. Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan ruled Mysore in the 18th century for a short span of time. The Wodeyars have significantly contributed to the cultural heritage of Mysore.
Mysore became an independent state in the year 1565 during King Narasraja Wodeyar’s rule. The Wodeyars ruled Mysore till 1799 and the city was taken over by British allies. During this time, the administrative status of Mysore was lost. It regained its lost glory in the year 1881, when the British made Bangalore their capital. At the time of independence, all kings had to surrender their titles but Raja Jayachamrajendra Wodeyar was permitted to keep his title and he worked as the head (Rajpramukh) of Mysore till 1974, when he died.
Culture of Mysore
Mysore has a rich cultural heritage. It is called Karnataka’s cultural capital. Dussehra is celebrated with much vigor. The celebration carries on for ten days. King Raja Wodeyar first introduced it in the year 1610. On the day of Mahanavmi, the nineth day, people worship the royal sword and it is then taken on embellished horses, camels and elephants in a procession. On Vijaydashami, the tenth day, the traditional Dussehra procession is carried on in the local streets of Mysore. An idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari is placed on a golden mandapa on an elephant during the procession. There are musical band and dance groups which accompany the procession. It starts from the Mysore Palace and goes till the Bannimantapa. The festivities end on the night of Vijayadashami with Panjina Kavayatthu or the torchlight parade.
The city of Mysore is home to a number of palaces, which is why it is often referred to as the City of Palaces. The Amba Vilas or Mysore palace is the most famous palace. The Jaganmohan palace is used as an art gallery. The Rajendra Vilas is known as the summer palace. The Lalitha Mahal has been transformed into a Hotel. The Jayalakshmi Vilas, which was the main palace of Mysore, got burned in the year 1897. One can see the indo-saracenic architectural style in the Amba Vilas Palace. The palace is maintained by the government of Karnataka. A small portion is used by the royal family as their residence. King Chamaraja Wodeyar constructed the Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion for his daughter Jayalakshammanni but it has been converted into a museum and it displays artifacts and folk culture of the royal family.
The Amba Vilas Palace is the most famous monument of Mysore. Apart from other palaces, the Chamundeshwari temple and St. Philomena’s Church are other noteworthy places in Mysore. The Karanji and Kukkarahalli lakes are popular lakes in Mysore. The Mysore Zoo is much loved by kids. There are many museums in Mysore – The Folk Lore Museum, Regional Museum of Natural History, Oriental Research Institute and the Railway Museum. Another museum that houses musical instruments and wax statues is the Melody World. The Krishnarajasagar Dam is only a short distance from Mysore. A musical fountain show is held in the adjacent Brindavan Gardens every evening. Somanathapura, Srirangapatna and Talakad are other places of importance near Mysore. Bylakuppe, Nanjanagud and the waterfalls at Shivanasamudra are places of religious significance close to Mysore. The hill station of Ooty, Madikeri and Sultan Battery are located very near to Mysore. The Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta hill and the B R Hills are also close by. Mysore also has some attractive destinations for those who like wildlife. Some of the popular places to visit are Bandipur National Park, Nagarhole National Park, Kokrebellur and Ranganathittu bird sanctuaries, Mudumalai National Park, B R Hills and Melkote wildlife sanctuaries. Elephants, chital, tigers, Indian leopards, gaur and other threatened species are found in these sanctuaries.