Mysore, the second largest city in Karnataka, is known for its royal heritage, bustling markets, magnificent monuments and cosmopolitan culture. From museums to wildlife sanctuaries, the city has some of the most picturesque and intriguing locations that one can find in the country. Here’s a list of the best places to see in Mysore:
The domed, three-storey structure in grey granite, surrounded by large gardens, is a fine example of late 19th century Indo-Saracenic architecture. Also known as Amba Vilas, the palace is the official residence of the erstwhile royal family, and is beautifully illuminated every Sunday and on public holidays, between 7pm and 8pm. Photography is prohibited; visitors are required to remove their shoes.
In this excerpt from Lonely Planet’s India’s Best Escapes South India we recommend the top sights and experiences for visitors.
This zoo was established under royal patronage in 1892. Starting out as a 10-acre park, it is today spread over 250 acres comprising large enclosures, a bandstand and an artificial island for birds amidst the Karanji Tank. Besides elephants, the zoo houses rhinos, gorillas, bison, zebras and also a white tiger.
Located atop the Chamundi Hill, this temple is dedicated to the reigning goddess of the royal family of Mysore. Legend states that she slayed the demon Mahishasura (after whom the city is named) in a fierce fight; the Dravidian-style temple honours her feat. A 1000-step approach to the temple is popular with both devotees and fitness enthusiasts. For the less adventurous, there is a motorable road too.
If you’re familiar with Bollywood, these ornamental gardens might just give you that sense of déjá vu – they’ve indeed been the backdrop to many a shimmying musical number. The best time to visit is in the evening, when the fountains are illuminated (at 6.30pm) and made to dance to the accompaniment of popular film tunes!
St Philomena’s Cathedral
Drawing inspiration from the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, this neo-Gothic church with its twin spires,
stained glass and buttresses is a distinctive landmark of Mysore. Built by the Maharaja in 1933, it is
dedicated to a Greek saint.