Boasting some of the most glorious palaces that recreate the past days of grandeur before the eyes of the stunned beholder, Mysore is aptly titled the ‘Heritage City of Karnataka’. Known for sandalwood, there is a pleasing fragrance permeating the city wherever you go. The broad, clean roads paved with wide footpaths offer perfect ways to explore the city on foot, and the quiet neighbourhoods lend a calm aura to this otherwise commercial city.
The Mysore Palace complex is surrounded by several small and large restaurants which are ideal for breakfast. Mysore Masala Dosa and filter coffee will be a great option from any of these places.
Begin your tour of Mysore by spending your first morning at the most iconic historical structure of Mysore, the Amba Vilas Palace, most famously known as the Mysore Palace. It was the royal residence of the Wadiyar dynasty and the seat of the Kingdom of Mysore from 1399 to 1950. The first palace in this land was built by Yaduraya in the 14th century. When you have worked up an appetite, leave for lunch to Infinit Lounge Bar which serves some great food with good city views from the rooftop. The palace complex also houses 12 major Hindu temples of which the oldest was built in the 14th century and the last in 1953. They boast elaborately ornate gopuras and intricate carvings.
Once you have enjoyed the views within the Mysore Palace complex, head to another palace built and used by the Wadiyar royal family, Jaganmohan Palace. It has been converted into an art gallery and also serves as a auditorium for dance shows today. The Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery housed within the palace boasts more than 2,000 paintings belonging to various Indian styles of paintings. Wrap up the day with dinner in a cave-themed restaurant, Gufha, famous for their Murgh Patiala and Reshmi Kebab.
Start day two with an early morning visit to Karanji Lake which is surrounded by a natural park consisting of a butterfly park and a walk-through aviary. The aviary is the biggest of its kind in India, with an artificial waterfall and two small water bodies. The Regional Museum of Natural History is located on the banks of the Karanji Lake with the beautiful sight of Chamundi Hills in the background. It exhibits include plants, animals and geology of the southern region of India. The Botanical Garden on the museum grounds has a collection of local trees and Ayurvedic medicinal plants.
Next on the list is Mysore Sand Sculpture Museum, a very unique attraction in India. It is the brainchild of sculptor MN Gowri who is said to be the only woman sand sculptor in India. The museum is located on the road to Chamundi Hills and depicts nearly 16 different themes. The visitors are welcomed by a 15-feet-high sculpture of Lord Ganesha.
Close the day’s tour with a visit to the Chamundeswari Temple. Situated on the top of Chamundi Hills, it is another gem of historical importance in Mysore’s crown. The temple is a testament to the Mysore artisans’ propensity to architectural perfection and sculptural intricacy. The original shrine is believed to have been built by Hoysala rulers in the 12th century, while the gopura was probably built by the Vijayanagara rulers in the 17th century.
Begin your last day with a visit to the St Philomena’s Cathedral aka the St. Joseph’s Cathedral which is a Catholic church under the Diocese of Mysore. It was constructed in 1936 in the Neo-Gothic style and its architecture was inspired by the Cologne Cathedral of Germany and happens to be one of the tallest churches in Asia. With a seating capacity of 800 persons, the main hall is adorned with stained glass depicting scenes from the birth and life of Christ.
A few decades back the dilapidated Wellington Lodge was repaired and converted into a museum and office of the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalay with the aim of preserving traditional Indian art and culture. The next point of interest is this structure which is more than 200 years old and is one of the earliest colonial structures in Mysore. The courtyard is an open museum of terracotta sculptures and folk paintings and houses the National Museum of Mankind in the ground floor
The University Folklore Museum is housed in the Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion of University of Mysore. The museum has a collection of 6,500 artefacts which were collected from across Karnataka. A section of museum is dedicated to performance arts such as Yakshagana and Kathakali, housing ornaments, headgears, and masks used in these performances. P.R. Tippeswamy, a folklorist, was the first curator of the Museum. The museum also exhibits Palaeolithic tools discovered during the excavations in Koppa district.
End the final day’s tour in Mysore by visiting R K Narayan House, which is a memorial dedicated to India’s beloved novelist R. K. Narayan. In 2016, Narayan’s residence was opened to the public by the government as a memorial museum dedicated to tell the story of his life and the life of his stories. He is the creator of the fictional town Malgudi and his characters resonated with Indian readers en masse. These stories were realist and narrated the daily trials and tribulations that made a villager’s life.