Mysore, Not Just A City Of Palaces
Malvika Cillanki Krishnamurthy, a guest blogger on Cox & Kings, talks about her love for Mysore and tells you what to see, do and eat off the tourist trail in the City of Palaces.
As you enter Mysore, the first thing that hits you is the deep calm and the greenery. The vast fields with swaying crops, farmers at work, beautiful roads and the exquisite red sunset or yellow sunrise blend perfectly into the frame as though it was meant to be. The calm breeze that always exists, soothes your senses. The weather is a mix between the warm feeling of a quilt and the unexpected sprinkle of water at sea on a hot day.
“February was named after Mysore, if you ask me”
The trees blossom, the flowers blush, the wind flirts and the colours of sunset are mesmerising.
Mysore is a heritage city. It is steeped in history. Right from the Ambi Vilas Palace of the Wodeyar dynasty to the Chamundi Hill with the temple of Goddess Chamundi atop it. From St Philomena’s church to the Railway museum that is educative for automobile enthusiasts, from Mysore silk sarees that are world famous, to the Devaraja’s market that houses the freshest fruits and veggies, the scented agarbatti and sandlewood soaps. From random, horse-trotting policemen on their rounds, to Lansdowne building that is a mecca of books for college and school students, the CFTRI that supplies packed food for the Indian army and a research heaven for science. From the KRS dam built across the Cauvery river that is worshipped by many in the state of Karnataka, to the Botanical Gardens beautifying the dam. The Dasara. And not to miss, the Mysore Zoo where animals can be adopted by commoners and cared for by the keepers, is among the best-kept zoos in the country. With over 245 acres of land and greenery, this is a treat for young and old alike.These are the tourist spots that are available in every brochure on Mysore City.
“Let me take you away from it all & show you what locals like myself, explore”
To begin with, this city is soaked in greenery. Every road is lined with tall trees on both sides whose leaves and branches form a canopy overhead while their shadows dance on the road and protect us from the not-so-harsh sunlight and sometimes sprinkle us with flowers during the shedding season. It is quite a sight. This city also shares its land with water bodies. There are at least 4 lakes that surround the city–a boon for family picnics and lover’s rendezvous. The Kukkanahalli kere stands at the dead end of a busy two-lane road. How many such roads lead to a lake tell me? This lake is a paradise for joggers and walkers alike. The lake lies in the centre of a 10km circle of trees, plants and bare land. It is easy to spot a gardener or two busy at work plucking dead grass, watering plants, cycling by with fertilizer and manure or a swan glazing noiselessly in the water.
The aroma of wet earth captures your senses especially during rainy season from July-Oct. Nothing like standing huddled with your loved one under the shade of a big tree with bigger branches while watching the rain patter down and drench everything in sight. Another famous lake is the Karanji kere, a tourist hot spot. From bird watching to boating, this lake is for photographers and families with children. Young couples cuddle here during the afternoon heat, which rarely sees family and friends.
Come to Mysore & Experience Heritage
“The eateries are very small-town-like, with very affordable food”
The famous Mysore pak is available at every nook and corner of the city and is a must try. A chain of South Indian restaurants serving delicious masala dosas, akki rotti, rava idli, kesari bath is very much in demand. I’d suggest a family gathering for breakfast at GTR (Gayatri Tiffin Room) to kick start a splendid day. Their masala dosa and bisibele bath are to die for! Very reasonably priced and super satisfying, your tummy will thank you for this treat. Another snack item I would suggest is the churmuri that is sold by the local chaat waalas standing on footpaths across the city with their push carts. Churmuri is made of puri, tomatoes, onions, flavoured oil, Fryums and a sprinkle of lemon. It is also available in various other combinations and you would deprive yourself if don’t taste it.
“Mysore is not a shopping hot spot unless you want to buy silk sarees”
Mysore silk sarees should be a part of your collection in any case. I have one in bottle green and treasure it with my heart. Although the retail market is slowly but steadily growing, a Westside or a Fab India is available all over the country. In my personal opinion, buy local handicrafts when you visit Mysore. It helps the locals gain employment and nothing like a souvenir, eh? Channapatna toys are a favourite at my place. Handmade, they use vegetable dyes and are pretty as a souvenirs, and safe for young ones.
“Do take a day to simply hire a bike & cruise the city”
The traffic is thin and well-coordinated, the weather is friendly, the roads are nicely maintained and the views are amazing. If you ask me, I’d hire a bike, pack my camera, throw in a large bottle of water and start pedaling. I’ve done it and captured some shots of ‘truly Mysore’. The flower market in Chamundipuram, the aroma of sandalwood at Kaveri Emporium, the little area that sells cotton fabric by the meter. Read Swami And Friends by RK Narayan, a Mysore veteran. Also read poet Kuvempu in native Kannada. Scream from a giant wheel at the Dasara Exhibition, catch a glimpse of a magnificent palace while you make your way through traffic, laugh with school children writing on slates in their government school classrooms, bump into Isrealis who have left their country and come here for an education; meet foreigners learning Yoga or studying law; witness a banyan tree standing bang in the centre of a road at Srirampura that is protected by the local body; watch the sunset from Chamundi hill as you sit on the parapet wall 3000 meters above sea level; take long walks along the river bank behind KRS dam that is frequented by film crews; watch migratory birds fly south over a red sky; catch the warm sunshine on a cold morning….I could go on.
“If you crave for more, explore the outskirts of Mysore”
The Himavad Gopalaswami Hill is a romantic place, 70kms from Mysore. The Krishna temple atop, is full of stories of caves and magic. For a nature lover like me, this hill is surrounded by a chain of mountains and the land is carpeted by wild grass. Himavad means fog and completes the beauty this place is. Imagine standing there in the cold, surrounded by fog and howling winds! It is at its picturesque best in winter. If you’re lucky, you may encounter a herd of elephants or wild boars crossing the pot-hole filled roads. The place is quiet and magical. Do not forget your camera and monkey cap! Bandipur forest, Najangud Temple, Srirangapatna, BR hills, Talakadu, Melkote, Somnathapura and Beluru-Halebidu are architectural wonders that deserve a post in themselves.
Come to Mysore. Experience Heritage. Take back a wealth of education.See Mysore Tour Packages
About The Author
As a child, I travelled. Through imagination. Reciting Stories that were invented. Entertaining. Funny. That brought people together. I was called a storyteller. I called myself a traveller. 20 years later, I still tell stories. Through photographs. Through words. Through experience. Through heartbreak. Through places I see as they are. Through people. Through my heart. My name is Malvika. I come from a land of colour, festivals, Carnatic music and culture. I enjoy travelling with a backpack and a camera. All my travels are documented in words and pictures.