Mysuru City Guide
The city of Mysuru is associated with many myths and legends, the most popular being the story of Mahishasura (“Mahisha” Buffalo & “Asura” Demon) compelling folklore surrounding the creation of the town. Battle stories of Mahisa Asura –the buffalo demon being slain by the Goddess Durga, echoes till date around the homes of the natives, as children go to bed hearing tales of good’s triumph over evil. A lesser-known and yet logically compelling story is of Mysuru traces back to 245 B.C. We find the first mentions of Mysuru to the period of Ashoka (A then powerful King), who held the third Buddhist conference and sent a team of disciples to spread the teachings of Buddhism. Mahisha was one of the disciples, King Mahisha was a symbol of equality and Justice and loved by the people. The Chola dynasty who took over this land which was then called “Mahisha Mandala” from King Mahisha did not tolerate his popularity and conspired to project him as a demon with baseless stories. Mysuru city is named after him.
A city of stories, Mysuru is a blend of the mythical and the historical; soaked in art and culture tucked away amidst the bustling cities of Karnataka. From royal palaces to stories of war and colonization, and hills adorned with ancient temples serenading anecdotes of a goddess, a walk amongst the local paths of this age-old town feels like taking a stroll through the pages of history books.
A visit to the city is planned best in the autumn and winter months when the temperature is relatively cooler. Months of August to March or even till April sees travellers coming in for prolonged yoga sessions and even stopover briefly in their endeavour to explore India.
How to get there?
Even though the city has its own airport, known as Mandakalli airport, the nearest International airport is the Bengaluru Airport located at a distance of 210 Km from the Mysuru city centre. One can easily rent a taxi from there to reach Mysuru, which will take them around four hours. For the budget-constrained travellers, there are plentiful of buses and trains from Bengaluru city departing for Mysuru. Even though that might take a longer time, the pocket pinch and the local experience almost makes it worth the hustle. It is a city for all. Whether you like to take luxurious vacations or you’re just backpacking through Southern India, Mysuru has something for everybody.
Where to stay?
From backpacking hostels like Zostel or Sonder catering to the budget travellers or Anokhi Garden Guesthouse for all the yoga enthusiasts out there, Mysuru spreads itself to welcome all kinds of travellers. If you want to feel as royal as the city itself, you may choose a luxurious vacation at The Windflower Resort and Spa or the Royal Orchid’s Metropole hotel.
Things to do in Mysuru
To explore the royal city, you can choose to walk, drive, or bike. A 10:00 AM departure on the Mysuru Maharajah walk takes you on the historical route of the many Maharajah’s and Maharani’s who were integral to the growth of the city with a guided tour inside the beautiful Amba Vilasa Palace. If the markets are your thing, then a 4:00 PM start of the Mysuru through its Markets walk will take you through the many markets in the iconic Devaraja Urs Market while you explore the robust Mysuru nugget coffee or the many other GI (Geographic Index) tagged products that are unique to Mysuru. If you have a full day, opt for the “Mysuru in a Nutshell” tour to fully acquaint yourself with the city of Palaces. The Mysore Palace or the Amba Villas is usually the first stop on every traveller’s quest to dig into the depths of the city. The iconic structure that is still a home to the royal family of Mysuru and has descendants living in parts of the palace closed for visitors, has been deemed as a cultural and social enigma with its fusion of architectures from Islamic, Indo–Saracenic and Gothic styles. Take the evening out for a leisurely stroll across the Brindavan Gardens built by Sir Mirza Ismail who had a penchant for gardens.
Day trips from Mysuru
If the city of Mysuru hasn’t completely overwhelmed your senses, you can also head out to the countryside of Srirangapattana for a bicycling or drive based adventure on Unventured India’s Pattana Trail or a day trip to Talakadu – a desert like town located on the Kaveri river and Somanathapura, known for its beautiful Dravidian temple architecture. One of the largest monastery in Southern India is the Namdroling Monastery for Buddhist and Tibetan studies is in the coffee district of Coorg which also doubles as a great weekend getaway option from Mysuru.
What should I buy?
The immergence of the booming silk industries happened within the walls of this very city and as you explore the bustling, colourful markets of Devaraja Urs, do not forget to fill up your shopping bags with the finest silk scarves and or maybe, even a traditional Indian silk saree. As you linger around the market place, allow the aromas of sandalwood and incense sticks to take you on a sensory journey. These markets are a great place to find these exotic ‘must-buy’ products. You may also head out to the neighbouring town of Channapatna, to experience the crafting of unusually attractive and colourful wooden toys, which make for great souvenirs.
What do I Eat?
For the foodies and bloggers out there, do not forget to indulge in the famous Mysore nuggets coffee followed by a taste of the world-renowned Mysore Pak – a legendary sweet whose invention was an accident on behalf of the royal cook.
Mysuru is a city that lingers on in your mind long after you depart. You take back from it the culture and the struggles and many, many stories of war and you realize what a city can endure through thousands of years and still stand strong, beaming with pride and history.