Mysore General Information
- Area 6,269 sq. km
- Population 3,165,018
- Altitude 776 m above sea level
- Languages Kannada, English, Tamil, Hindi
- STD Code 0821
- Best time to visit October to March
Introduction to Mysore
Situated at around 140 km from Bangalore, the city of Mysore extends from 12°18′ North to 76°42′ East. In spite of being close to the industrialized city of Bangalore, Mysore hasn’t been touched so much by modernization and still retains its serenity and old-world charm. A visitor to Mysore has always been fascinated by the city’s quaint charm, rich heritage, magnificent palaces, beautifully laid-out gardens, imposing buildings, broad shady avenues and sacred temples. Mysore was ruled by the Wodeyars since the 14th century except for a brief period of 40 years in the later 18th century when Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan ruled over the city. The Wodeyar family managed to get back the kingdom when, in 1799, Tipu Sultan surrendered to the British. The benevolent rule of the Wodeyar kings is evident in the city’s meticulous planning. The city’s architectural heritage and its long-held tradition of music and dance, art and literature were nurtured under their patronage. You can visit the city at any time in the year but it is advisable to avoid the rainy season. The city has pleasant weather throughout the year. The summers are warm, with temperatures varying between 21°C and 34°C, while the winters cool, with the temperatures ranging from 16°C to 27°C
Places of Interest:
Forming the backdrop of the city is the 1,100-feet-high Chamundi Hill. On the top of the hill stands the temple dedicated to the Goddess Chamundeshwari, the royal family’s patron deity. To reach the temple one can either drive through the 13-km stretch up to the summit or climb the 1,000 stone steps. Nearby the temple stands the huge statue of Mahishasura, the demon slain by the Goddess. Halfway up along the stone steps stands the majestic 4.8-metre monolith of Nandi the Bull, Lord Shiva’s chosen mount. The statue is believed to be 300 years old and its chief attraction, apart from its size, is the meticulous craftsmanship of its ornaments from its delicate anklets to the magnificent pendant bell around its neck.
About 15 km from the royal city of Mysore lies the town of Srirangapatnam. There are many interesting places here of which the summer palace of Tipu Sultan is a must visit. Built in 1784 in the Indo-Saracenic style, the palace also has a small museum where Tipu’s trivia, including a gold-embroidered tunic, old paintings and a coin collection, are displayed. A little away from the palace is the Gumbaz, the mausoleum of Tipu Sultan and his father, Hyder Ali. Another famous place to visit is Jami Masjid. The slender minarets of this mosque are visible from several kilometres.
A half-hour’s drive from the city takes you to the Brindavan Gardens. The well-manicured steps of these world famous terrace gardens are bordered by watercourses. Musical fountains with soft coloured lights add to the visitor’s delight. The view of the gardens during the nights is a thing to be seen.
Lalitha Mahal Palace
The snow-white Lalitha Mahal was built in the 1930s for the guests of the Wodeyars. The main attraction of the palace is a staircase of Italian marble branching off from a landing to reach the first floor hall. Surrounded by velvety green lawns and stately trees, the Lalitha Mahal is now a prestigious hotel of the India Tourism Development Corporation.
Built in around AD 897 in Saracenic style, the Mysore palace has both Hindu as well as Muslim influences. The palace, designed by an English architect and completed in 1912, was built in place of an earlier palace which was burnt down in 1897. The main palace building is made of massive grey granite with a tower covered by a gilded dome. Colours abound the palace architecture. The huge rooms and the floor tiles are covered with colours like turquoise blue, magenta, golden yellow and leaf green. The central hall, incredible in its beauty, was used for marriages and other major gatherings. A temple is also situated within the royal courtyard. The Dussehra procession, an annual affair in the city in the month of October, starts from here. The palace also houses a museum which has a collection of musical instruments, children’s toys, many paintings, costumes, weapons, etc., belonging to the Maharaja’s family.
On the way to Ooty, about 80 km off Mysore, is situated the Bandipur National Park. The park, spread over an area of 875 km, is a famous tiger reserve. Besides tiger, the other animals you can see here are the barking deer, tuskers, and bison.
One of the three major Hoysala temples still in daily use today is the Channekeshava Temple of Belur. The construction of the temple, which took almost a century, was started in 1116 to commemorate the Hoysalas’ victory over the Cholas. Enclosed in a paved compound, the temple complex includes a well and a bathing tank. It is believed that every major deity of the Hindu pantheon is represented in the temple.
The Hoysaleswara temple at Halebid has a history dating back to around AD 1121. Though its construction spanned 80 years, it was never completed. The temple is set in a well-tendered garden. A small museum adjacent to it houses a collection of sculptures. The Kedareswara temple and three small Jain temples are also located at Halebid.
For bird lovers, Ranganathittu is worth a visit. This bird sanctuary is situated around 18 km from Mysore and offers a close view of the exotic and common birds.
Thirty-five kilometres east of the city lies Somnathpur, a town famous for the temple built by the Hoysala kings. The beautiful building of the Keshava temple built in 1268 is the major attraction here. The walls of this star-shaped temple are covered with sculptures in stone depicting various scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita and the life and times of the Hoysala Kings.
Sravanabelagola, meaning the Monk of the White Pond, is the oldest and the most important pilgrimage centre for the Jains in the country. The town is also the home to the world’s tallest monolithic statue, the 17-metre-high naked statue of Bahubali. Besides the statue, the town also has several interesting Jain temples and monasteries.