The Bengaluru Mysuru SH17 is a 4 lane carriageway which is a smooth drive of 2 and half hours with decent restaurants en route. The city of Mysuru is better planned than Bengaluru and has a radial and gridiron pattern road network with arterial roads originating from the city center where the inner and outer ring roads nest the city roads parallel within. The city has 5 arterial roads which are State Highways connecting Bangalore and Ooty, Bannur and Kanakapura, Hunsur and Mangalore, H.D.Kote and Manvantvady but in spite of this the city still grapples with the lack of public transport facilities and insufficient tourism shuttles due to the excessive round the year tourism inflow that has increased the private vehicular population multi fold congesting the otherwise broad streets of Mysuru.
Also in the aftermath of the exploding hub of IT and real estate in Bengaluru, people are now slowly stretching and eyeing this heritage city as an alternate option but even as Mysure, the culture capital of Karnataka grapples bracing up to the ever expansionist urbane culture, it is still a culturally rich heritage haven for rigid tourists like me who still throng the city to soak in its antique splendor.
Mysore was once ruled by the buffalo headed demon Mahishasura as per Hindu puranas, hence the city was called as Mahishana Ooru(Mahisha’s town) which came to be known as Mahishooru which got corrupted into Maishooru , that was later christened as Maisore or Mysore by the British. It is believed that Goddess Chamundeshwari killed Mahishasura atop the Mahabaladri hills, which was then named after the goddess as Chamundi Hills and to commemorate the victory of good over the evil the world famous Dusherra festival is celebrated with grandiosity and festivity in honour of goddess Chamundeshwari.
During the Vijayanagar reign, the entire region of Karnataka was referred as Maisooru but post-independence India was linguistically divided and Mysooru went on to become a city in the state of Karnataka.
This quaint old town of Mysuru that has stood testimony to the rich sagas of royalty and grandeur still exuberate a flavour of flamboyance with its ancient architecture and craftsmanship on its traditional and wide streets that are today abuzz with transport vehicles and tourists from across the world.
Mysuru is a traveller’s den and one of my favorite places to go on a weekend drive from Bengaluru anytime of the year. This humble town of friendly people has a cool and equable temperature and is certainly an all in one stop, travel destination as it is one place that has it all, be it art, craft, artifacts, historical architecture, monuments, temples, palaces, great food, a large zoo, the Krishnarajasagar Dam, Brindavan gardens, St.Philomena’s Church, Balmuri falls, great shopping dens especially the silk sarees, teak and rose wood artefacts with inlay work, sandalwood oil, facepacks, lovely culture and cuisine _ don’t forget to melt some Mysuru Paks into your mouth and don’t miss the Masala Dosa at Mylari hotel but the best part is, the city borders with Bramhagiri hills on the western ghats leading into the Bandipur national park, Nagarhole National park. In fact Mysuru is a compulsory and comprehensive travel gateway that branches out into several tourist destinations as it borders with Tamil Nadu, Coorg giving you a wide range of choices from falls to forests and from historic monuments to hills.
It is the land of geniuses like Sir M.Vishveshwaraiah, the Indian scholar, engineer, statesman and Diwan of Mysore who was responsible for the construction of the Krishnarajasagar dam, who architected the flood protection system for the city of Hyderabad. Although the KRS dam and Brindavan gardens with its musical fountains is a must visit place, the place is very unsafe for women especially if you are a small group or travelling solo as the place is infested with eve teasers and audacious anti social elements, so it is best to travel here in big groups or be geared with metal fasteners to counter any insolent groping! Also it is an expansive area requiring at least 2 hours of walking around but its a tragedy that the toilets here are totally defunct and in a pitiable and nauseating condition.
En route to Mysuru you can also visit the Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangapattinam in the Mandhya district which is just 15 kms from Mysuru, it was the capital of Tippu Sultan and has some structures ruminating around his rule, just 3kms from Srirangapattinam is Ranganathittu, also called the Pakshi Kashi of Karnataka as it is the largest bird sanctuary of Karnataka.
A boat ride is a must here to capture the winged beauties on your camera but beware of the crocs underneath in the Kaveri basin here. It is definitely a mystic ride into nature amidst the myriad migrators in the most exotic hues on this islet especially if you are visiting in the peak migratory season from June to November.
Somanathapura is another hidden treasure with its intricate carvings reminiscent of the Hoysala rulers, just before this temple you can enjoy boating and kayaking at another place called Amblee.
There are at least 200 structures in and around Mysuru that have a heritage tag and each one is worth the visit.
Some of my favourite spots in Mysuru are the Mysuru Maharaja Palace or the Amba Vilas Palace that is located on the Sayyaji road in the old fort that I compulsorily visit each time I travel to Mysore, I love the wide roads and the expanse of the architecture here, the silhouette of the palace makes for a breath taking view when illuminated with 98260 Mysuru Lamp bulbs against a dark sky, It has become the culture identity of Mysuru and is synonymous with the splendour and grandeur of the erstwhile Wodeyar rulers.
Diagonally opposite to the palace is a ground where there is always some kind of an exhibition fair put up and I love to hang around here venturing on the roller coaster rides.
Next best place is the Mylari hotel on the narrow lanes of Nazarbad road, which is close to the zoo. The masala dosas here are so tasty that you just can’t stop at one!
The Mysuru zoo is another star attraction of the city and a favourite spot for my kids so much that the animals here might actually recognise us! Remember Friday is a holiday for the zoo!
You can reach Mysuru by air, road or rail, for local transport you can take a cab, auto or even a traditional tonga(horse cart) to get a rustic feel but buses are off course the cheapest mode of transport. Mysuru has a small airport with modest connectivity and the railway connectivity is being drastically upgraded and extended by introducing many cross country and intercity express trains to Mysuru and the best part is almost every major town has a bus plying to Mysuru.
For me a trip to our own local Mysuru, is essentially a reassertion and recap of the greats and grandiose that once governed us and an opportunity to relive the authentic flavour of kannadigas to its fullest.