I once read a blog post about Mysore and what a horrible place it was. The writer painted a picture of a dirty, unpleasant place that you’d do well to avoid. They had clearly never been to any other cities in India. Mysore is by far the cleanest, most orderly city I’ve visited in India. The streets are (relatively) tidy, the piles of rubbish aren’t knee deep and it’s a nice place to walk around. It’s still India obviously, so it’s nowhere near spotless, but it’s good enough.
The main reasons to visit Mysore, located in the southern state of Karnataka, are to visit the opulent Mysore Palace and to learn about and partake in yoga. I’m not a yoga fan at all, so I was drawn in by the palace and the promise of a pleasant city stroll. I did also manage to find some other things to do in Mysore – some memorable and some are well below average. You’ll have to keep reading to see what they are!
When I was an English teacher in Taiwan I learned about the “feedback sandwich”. Basically, when critiquing a student, you wedge a piece of criticism (the meat in the sandwich) in between two positives (the bread). As KFC has now established with its Double Down burger (I’m not getting any money for mentioning that, but I’d love some free KFC), sandwiches don’t always have to start and end with bread. My first point about Mysore Palace, and it is a negative when compared to some of the other famous palaces in India, is that it’s not that old. In fact, construction only started in 1897, making it one of the newer palaces in India.
Despite its recent construction (or probably because of it), Mysore Palace is a supremely detailed piece of architecture. The detail on offer here is incredible, and since I don’t know enough about the individual elements of the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture (and I’m too lazy to research it) I’ll just post some photos.
I had heard that photography was forbidden inside Mysore Palace, but they seemed to have relaxed the rules lately. I’m thankful for that – otherwise I would have had to write several sentences about the interior of the palace but now I can just show you photos (did I mention that I’m quite a lazy blogger already?). It took me around 45 minutes to look around the interior of the palace – there are heaps of halls and arches and colourful details – cue the photos!
Mysore Palace Details
- Entry Fee: It cost me 200 INR to visit Mysore Palace – locals get it way cheaper though. A look inside the main palace is included in the ticket but there are also some other areas where you’ll have to pay extra.
- Opening Hours: Mysore Palace is open between 10 am and 5.30 pm. There’s also a sound and light show – which looks awesome – on Sundays, national holidays and state festivals. I went in the afternoon and the light wasn’t ideal for photos of the main front bit, but it worked out alright and the crowds weren’t too heavy.
A walk around town
There are heaps of old buildings in the centre of Mysore and it’s quite a nice place to walk around. The British constructed heaps of government buildings which mostly line the streets close to Mysore Palace. There’s also a KFC near the palace, and I’m not too proud to admit I ate there. One of the nicest old buildings I saw was the Jaganmohan Palace Art Gallery – I didn’t go inside but it was cool to see from the outside. There’s also a market close to the bus station and some nice parks if you want to find some shade.
I took the bus up to Chamundi Hills one afternoon and it wasn’t a great experience. I heard it was a nice “nature spot”, but any views on offer were greatly affected by the hazy summer conditions. There’s also a temple up there, which is kind of interesting unless you’ve just spent the last few days seeing some of south India’s most impressive temples like I had. It seems like more of a local destination – so hopefully someone who has been there and enjoyed it can leave me a comment and explain the appeal of this place. If you still want to visit you can take a bus from the central bus station – ask around and someone will point you in the right direction.
A day trip to Srirangapatna
The best thing to do in Mysore, besides the palace (and yoga if you’re into that) is a day trip to Srirangapatna. You can catch a bus there (30 minutes) and explore the temples, palaces, tombs and ruins. I started off at Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple and walked the entire way to Gumbaz (the tombs of Tipu Sultan and Hyder Ali, former rulers in these parts), stopping off at several places along the way. It was a hot journey, but if you’re there at a more reasonable time of year it’s a great way to do it.
Highlights include Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace (although annoyingly photography is forbidden inside), an old mosque and the tombs. After walking all the way to the tombs I was completely exhausted. I struggled to find a rickshaw to take me back to the bus station so I forlornly started walking back in the extreme sun. I eventually found a rickshaw, but I was on my last legs. The ice cream I got at the bus station was a huge relief.
Mysore Travel Tips
- Where to stay: I mostly went down the budget business hotel route in south India and for around $15 USD you can get some decent rooms. I paid $12 USD in Mysore (Mannars Residency) which didn’t include aircon – I didn’t really need it though as Mysore is slightly cooler than most other places in South India (apart from the hill stations of course).
- Getting to Mysore: I travelled to Mysore from Madurai, and since I didn’t book my train ticket early enough it was harder than it needed to be. I took a bus to Coimbatore (a big city which is of no real interest to tourists) and then another bus to Mysore the next day. It didn’t work out too bad, but a direct overnight train would be better. If you arrive at the bus station make sure to get metered rickshaw – they are cheap and you won’t get ripped off.
- Where to next? Mysore is close to Bangalore, one of the biggest cities in India, and you can reach heaps of places from there. My next destination was Hampi – I caught the Hampi express from Mysore which left in the late afternoon and arrived the next morning. I booked a 3 AC berth, so it was a comfortable ride. Hampi is home to some of the best ancient ruins in India and I recommend going there if you’re anywhere nearby (it’s also easily reached from Goa).
Did I miss any other cool things to do in Mysore? Do you like yoga? What is your favourite palace in India? Let me know in the comments below!
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