So after lunch, we proceeded on our Mysore sight-seeing trip. Mysore is the Karnataka’s second biggest city. It was the erstwhile capital of the Wodeyar dynasty and is considered the cultural capital of the state. It is also known as the City of Palaces. From what we saw, Mysore appeared to be a clean and well planned city with a heritage feel and quaint charm to it. The places we visited are
# St.Philomena’s Church - This church is dedicated to Saint Philomena, a 3rd century saint from Greece. The twin spires of the Cathedral, 175 feet in height, are visible from a distance making them a distinctive city landmark. Apparently there was a smaller church in the same place dated back to 1800 A.D. This larger church was built in its place in 1956 and is one of the largest churches in the country. I found the statues of Mother Mary and others dressed in sarees little strange. But the interior of the church is so serene and beautiful. There are steps leading down to a beautiful catacomb right below the main altar which houses the relic of Saint Philomena. The exit is through a tunnel way which opens at the back of the church. Entry Timings 05.00 am – 06.00 pm. Free Entrance.
# Chamundi Hills – Chamundi Hills is the prime landmark of Mysore city, visible from anywhere in the city center. There is a temple dedicated to goddess Chamundeshwari, situated on the top of Chamundi hill which is about 3,489 ft. above sea level. Goddess Chamundeshwari is the guardian deity of the Mysore royal family of Wodeyars. The goddess is just another incarnation/name used to describe Goddess Shakti or Durga or ‘Mahishasura Mardini’ who killed the buffalo headed demon Mahishasura (the ruler of this region and from whom the name Mysore is derived). There are two other temples dedicated to Lakshmi Narayana Swamy and Mahabaleswara (Lord Shiva) which is the oldest temple on the hill dating back to 9th century A.D.
Near the parking lot there is a brightly painted statue of Mahishasura, built in 1659 by Dodda Devaraja Wodeyar. A popular spot for tourists to pose and take photos. :) There is a spot marked “View Point” from where a panoramic view of the city is visible from the top of the Chamundi hills. One can see the Race Course, the Lalitha Mahal palace, Mysore Palace, Karanji and Kukkarahalli lakes. After visiting the temple, on our way back, we took a detour to visit the huge monolithic statue of Nandi, the bull (vehicle of Lord Shiva). This statue of Nandi is one of the largest in India, 16 ft. tall at the front and 25 ft. in length with exquisite pendant bells carved around the neck.
Chamundeshwari Temple Pooja Timings: 07.30 am – 02.00 pm, 03.30 pm – 06.00 pm, 07.30 pm – 09.00 pm
No Entry Charges
# Mysore Zoo – Mysore Zoo or Shri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens is one of the oldest zoo in India. The zoo is spread over 250 acres providing large enclosures for animals and abundant natural vegetation. There are battery operated tour vehicles available till 5 pm. We were late and the last vehicle was full. So we covered the entire zoo on foot which was no problem as the weather was very nice. It was great seeing toucans, tropical parakeets, macaws, pink flamingos, giraffes, gorilla, two-horned rhinoceros, hippos, tigers, tapir, gaur, jaguar and many other exotic species. Also we came to know that Mysore zoo has a lot of programs for conservation of endangered species, rehabilitation and captive breeding. One such program is the Animal Adoption to inspire the visitors to the Zoo and generate empathy for wild animals and for maintaining ecological balance, in a way to involve people in Wildlife Conservation. It was wonderful seeing so many animals already adopted in the zoo. There are restaurants, tender coconut outlets and toy/souvenir shop too inside the zoo.
Mysore Zoo Entry Timings: 08.30 am – 05.30 pm, Tuesday Holiday. Entry Charges: Adults Rs. 40/- Children (5-12yrs) Rs.20/- Camera charges: Rs 20 for still camera and Rs 150 for video camera. Tour vehicle charges Rs 100 for adults. Children (5-12 yrs) and Senior Citizens Rs 50.
# Mysore Palace – Mysore is called the City of Palaces and among all the palaces, the most famous is the Mysore Palace or Amba Vilas Palace in the heart of the city, the home of the Wodeyars who ruled Mysore for more than 500 years. If your itinerary allows just 1 or 2 hours in Mysore, this is the only place to visit. The original palace was built of wood and was got burnt down in 1897. The present one, designed by the English architect Henry Irwin, was rebuilt in 1912 at the cost of Rs. 41 lakhs. The present building is a three-storied structure in the Indo-Saracenic style built with fine gray granite and square towers at cardinal points,with rich pink marble domes. There is a five-storied 145 ft tower which has gold-gilded domes. The palace is surrounded by a large and well-kept garden. The Palace has four entrances – Varaha Gate in the south, Jayarama and Balarama in the north, Jaya Maarthaanda (main entrance) in the east and Karikal thotti and Brahmapuri in the west. One has to give cameras at the entrance and get their bags scanned. There is a supposedly free stand for footwear but the workers ask for Rs 10 tip.
One can opt for an audio tour guide kit which is good unlike Bangalore Palace where it is compulsory and pricey. However the price of the kit is included in the ticket charge for foreigners. Starting from the pavilion of traditional dolls, ceremonial objects, ornate mahogany ceilings with exquisite frescoes, sculpted pillars, intricately carved wooden and ivory doors, costumes, musical instruments, weapons, solid silver doors, white marble floors, stained glasses, glazed tiles, oil paintings, gorgeous chandeliers of Czechoslovakian make to the golden howdah (elephant seat) and the fabulous jewel encrusted golden throne, Mysore Palace is a feast for the eyes. Apparently the erstwhile Royal family continues to live in a portion of the Palace.
The palace complex also has twelve Hindu temples, the oldest being of 14th century and the recent one built in 1953. A silhouette of the Mysore Palace illuminated with ninety-seven thousand bulbs with the night as the background is one of the most famous images of the Mysore city and one which you will come across in any travelogue on Mysore except mine. Sadly during our two visits to Mysore, once we were in a hurry to reach Brindavan Gardens on time and on the second time, it was not Sunday. So we missed seeing the wonderful spectacle of the illuminated Mysore Palace and capturing it in our minds and cameras.
Palace Timings:10am to 5.30 pm daily Illumination 07.00 pm – 08.00 pm Only on Sundays, National Holidays and State Festivals. Entrance Fee: Adults : Rs. 20 Children below 10 years : Free
# Brindavan Garden – The Brindavan Garden is laid out behind the Krishnaraja Sagar dam site at a distance of 24 km from Mysore and is a very popular tourist destination made famous by several Bollywood songs being filmed here in 1960s. One has to leave Mysore by 5.45 – 6 pm if this place is to be covered on the same day. It is a visual delight in the evening only. We were running late and the place was almost closing down when we reached. So we missed seeing the musical fountain show. The garden is laid out in the three terraces, which ends in a horseshoe shape with seating arrangement for the audience. The three terraces contain water fountains (which are illuminated with colored lighting in evening) and various ornamental and flowering plants. The pathway across the boating pond, leading to the garden is very long and may be exhausting especially at the end of the day when all are tired from walking. It is advisable to take the boat instead and save time and energy. But beware! The boat driver will offer to take the boat close to fountains in the pond which kids enjoy a lot but if you are the one to consent, then he will ask you for a tip while dropping off on the other side.
Brindavan Garden Timings All Week Days 06.00 am – 08.00 pm, Saturdays & Sunday 06.00 pm – 09.00 pm
Musical Fountain Show Timings All Week Days 06.30 pm – 07.30 pm, Saturdays & Sunday 06.30 pm – 08.30 pm
Entry Charges -Adult Rs.15/- Children (5-12yrs) Rs. 5/-
After visiting Brindavan Garden, we started our journey back home and it was 11.30 pm when we reached Bangalore. The places we left out of our itinerary are Railway Musuem, Jaganmohan Palace, Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion, Lalitha Mahal Palace, Melody World and National Museum on Natural History at Karanji Lake. You can also include the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary which is 4 kms from Srirangapatna and 19 kms from Mysore.