According to Hindu legend, the area around Mysore city was once the domain of the demon king Mahisha Asura (Mahisha meaning Buffalo), who grew almost invincible and wrecked havoc on the world. The Goddess Chamundeshwari, vanquished the demon Mahisha in a humungous struggle waged over a period of 10 days thus, Goddess Chamundeshwari is also known by the name Mahisha Mardhini (slayer of Mahisha).The battle became a festive event which the annual 10-day Navaratri festival commemorates to this day. The region retains the name of the slain demon; the name Mysore is the anglicized version of Mahisuru
This legend is among the one of the most important in Hindu mythology, and renders the temple of the Goddess Chamundeshwari, located atop Chamundi hills in Mysore, an important place of pilgrimage. The legend is commemorated by several monuments in Mysore, including the temple of Goddess Chamundeshwari on Chamundi Hills and an imposing statue of Mahishasura located nearby.
The city of Mysore offers a visitor an insight into the lifestyles, cultures and traditions of its erstwhile rulers. The palaces and temples around the city speak volumes about heritage and architecture of the medieval times and the kind of patronage the city received from its rulers.
The Mysore Palace:
A silhouette of the Mysore Palace, illuminated with ninety seven thousand light bulbs shimmering against an inky black night is one of the most unforgettable images of the city. Located in the heart of the city, it stands as a reminder of the splendor and affluence of its erstwhile rulers, the Maharajas of Mysore. It was the pride of a kingdom, and is now a priceless national treasure!
St. Philomena's Church is one of the oldest churches in Mysore. Built in Gothic style, the church is among the largest in India. Stained glass windows and lofty towers give this cathedral an imposing look.
Shri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery:
Shri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery was established in 1875 and has a rare collection of some beautiful paintings from the same era. The gallery is located in Jagmohan Palace and exhibits paintings by Raja Ravi Varma, Svetsolav Roerich and traditional paintings from Mysore. The traditional gold leaf paintings and some exquisitely carved statues in sandalwood, ivory and stone are also exhibited in the gallery. The old paintings in the gallery have been done in mineral and vegetable dyes and paints.
The Mysore Zoo:
The Mysore Zoo was set up by the royal family and houses some rare and exotic birds & animals. Situated amidst lush green surroundings, the zoo has acquired fame for breeding some rare animals in captivity.
The Chamundeshwari Temple:
The Chamundeshwari Temple is one of the noted Hindu places of worship and is situated atop the Chamundi Hill. On way to the Chamundi Hills is the Lalitha Mahal, a guest palace now converted into a heritage hotel.
Dasara in Mysore is a sight one would remember for a long time even after leaving the place. It is believed that the presiding deity of the city has the power to conquer evil forces and this has led the citizens to celebrate the festival with much gaiety and fervor.
The tradition of celebrating Dasara with such grandeur started with the 16th-century rulers of Vijayanagar. After the disintegration of Vijayanagar Empire, the tradition was kept alive by rulers of Mysore and continues till now.
During the month of October and November, for ten days the Dasara festival is celebrated and the city is at its colorful best with music and dance, Sports, Literary competitions, fairs and exhibitions all over. All this culminates in the Dasara procession and a torchlight parade on the tenth day.
The hill is 3,489ft. above the sea levels and is 12 km from Mysore city. An energetic visitor will be well repaid by climbing up the 1000 steps, fashioned about 300 years ago, and a good motorable road leads to the top of the hill. The largest and the best know is the large Dravidian Temple, dedicates to Sri Chamundeshwari Devi, the tutelary deity of Mysore and here royal house, generally regarded as an incarnation of Parvati or Durga. One account claims that the Goddess slew two demons, Chanda and Munda , so winning for herself a name combined of both. But the more usually accepts version speaks of here as Chamundi – Mahishasura – Mardini, the slayer of minotaur.
Mysore Zoo (Chamarajendra Zoological Garden) was started in 1892 by chamaraja Wodeyar X, then the king of Mysore. Initially as a private Zoo, and was named as Khas-Bangale. It was also called as Thamash Bangle. The Zoo which has now spread over an area of 250 acres was initially ment for the exclusive visit of the royal family but public entry started as early as 1920. It is located inside the city unlike many other Zoos in India and Mysore Zoo is considered to be one of the best in the world.
This Roman Catholic Church was built in AD 1840. It was initially known as St. Joseph Chaver which later assumed the present name. The twin towers of the church stand majestically at 175 feet, the design is gothic and it is said to resemble the St. Patrick’s cathedral at New York and a church at Cologne. The church is located about I km from Mysore Palace on the Bangalore highway. The then king of Mysore Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV laid the foundation for construction of the church in 1933. It has been designed a French Architect.
The Krishnaraja Sagar reservoir across the legendary Cauvery River is round 18km north-west of Mysore. The Brindavan Gardens are located just a level below the dam.Often described as the best example of illuminated terrace gardens in the country, the idea was brainchild of Sir M.Visveshwaraiah and Sir Mirza M ismail, former Devans of Mysore. The overall design here displays an orientation of Mughal patterns-with garden paths and a shimmering necklace of fountains.On the South bank there is a pavilion, where visitors can get a breathtaking view of the gardens. Other highlights at the gardens include a children’s park, a fisheries station and a hydraulic research station. Adding a touch of sanctity to the place is a beautiful sculpture of Goddess Cauvery at the foot of the dam.
This Art Gallery located to the west with a walking distance to that of main palace, which is famous Art Gallery. It was built during rule of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III in 1861 to celebrate the marriage of his daughter, the princess of Mysore, because the main palace was destroyed in a fire in 1897. The main door of this Museum is it self a master piece of Art with intricate carvings which is said to have been made in just 70 days. The museum was officially started in 1915, and has since been expended adding many artifacts. This Art Gallery was linded to the famous Mysore style of painting of rare original paintings and artiacts and entrusted the Administration of this Museum to a committee. The museum was named after sri Jayachamrajendra Wodeyar in 1955 as Jaganmohn Palace Art Gallery.
Ranganathittu Birds Sanctuary
Just outside Srirangapatna, 4th from Srirangapatna, near Mysore, the Cauvery river meanders around a string of tiny nesting sites of waterfowls. Experiences the excitement of a boat ride that takes you within touching distance of the birds as marsh crocodiles bask in the sun. Delight watching the winged visitors making happy forays into the water. You could also you’re your powers of observation by trying to spot flying branches of the tallest trees at dusk.
Situated in the unobtrusive village of Somanathpur, 35km from Mysore, the exquisitely carved, star-shaped temple with triple towers is a perfect example of Hoysala architecture. The friezes on its outer walls with their intricately cared rows of caparisoned elephants, charging horsemen, and mythological birds and beasts will leave you spellbound. Beautifully sculpted images of gods, godesses and scenes from the epics, as well as the remarkable ornate celings in the pillared hall take your breath away.
Karanji Lake & Park
icturesquely located at the foot of Chamundi hills and adjascent to the Mysore Zoo, the Karanji lake is a beautiful bird sanctuary in the heart of Mysore City which provides a wonderful habitat for more than 70 different species of avifauna. The recently re-developed lake, spanning across 90 acres has a butterfly park, boating, children's corner, a watch tower and India's largest walkthrough aviary.
The Kukkarahalli Lake is Located in Mysore University Campus. This lake has inspired many local poets and writers. The views from the north shore is particularly attractive with the lake and its surrounding trees, the spire of the deputy commissioner's offices rising above them and the low rise of the Chamundi Hill in the background. This lake is home to more than 180 species of birds, some of them aquatic. During the migratory season the lake plays host to a variety of winged visitors, some from as far as siberia. There is a 4.5 km walkway on the periphery of the lake with shaded stone benches for visitors to sit, relax and enjoy the scenic serenity of the lake.
Bandipur National Park
Tread the path of the erstwhile Maharajas of Mysore with a visit to Bandipur, about 80 km south of Mysore on the Mysore-Ooty Road. The reserve is a playground for wildlife, with elephants taking the lead role. Be prepared for an unforegetable experience – you might see a tiger prowling admidst the mix of deciduous, evergreen forest and scrubland vegetation. Set against the picturesque backdrop of the enchanting Niligiri Mountains with its mist-covered peaks, Bandipur was once the Mysore Maharaja’s private hunting ground. It was brought under Project Tiger in 1973. This is one of the best game sanctuaries in India to observe and photograph wildlife in close proximity. A temple perched atop Himvad Gopalaswamy Hill, the highest peak in the Bandipur range, is worth a visit.
Lalitha Mahal Palace
Lalitha Mahal Palace
How to reach Mysore
BY AIR - The nearest airport from Mysore is 140 km away in Bangalore, from where one can take flights for most of the important cities in India.
BY RAIL - Mysore is connected with most of the metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Chennai through regular trains.
BY ROAD - There is a good network of roads that connects Mysore to other important cities of the region.