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Mysore: Cultural Delights


Mysore is a city located in the state of Karnataka, India and is the second largest city in the state. It is also one of the cleanest cities in Karnataka state and is only surpassed by Mangalore which is the cleanest one in this state. Mysore is a major tourist attraction in India and thousands of people visit the city; especially during the Dasara festival when people from all over India pay a visit to this major tourist destination.

The city is also known as the cultural capital of Karnataka since the ancient kingdom of Mysore encouraged art and culture which thrived under its protection. The festival of Dasara is an occasion that is marked by many festivities and religious performances; many gods and goddesses such as the Goddess Chamundeshwari, who slew the Demon Mahishasura, are enthusiastically worshipped on this occasion. Moreover, there are many palaces that adorn the city and this place is also referred to as the city of palaces.

Places of Interest

Mysore Palace

The Mysore palace is the residence of the former royal family of Mysore, the Wodeyars and has two ceremonial halls where meetings of the royal court took place. This is the most famous tourist attraction in Mysore and although visitors are allowed inside, photography is prohibited. The architecture of the palace is made up of different styles; Hindu, Islamic, Gothic as well as Rajput. The palace is truly a sight to behold during the festival of Dasara which symbolizes the victory of good over evil and the palace comes alive with almost 96,000 lights illuminating it. Moreover there are twelve Hindu temples in the palace and there are many rooms that have exquisite carvings and designs made-up of precious or semi-precious stones. A visit to Mysore would truly be incomplete without taking in the spectacular view of the Mysore palace.

Jagamohana Palace

The construction of this palace was completed in 1861 and was used initially by the Wodeyars for residential purposes. However it was later converted into an art gallery and is an edifice made up of three stories. The interior walls are painted with murals and are the earliest known picture of Mysore Dasara. These paintings are made using the traditional style of Mysore and are unique in nature. The art gallery in this place is home to the largest collection of artifacts in Southern India. This palace has an art gallery that is not only famous for its unique paintings but also for other artifacts such as currencies, sculptures, coins, instruments of war, and musical instruments.

Rajendra Vilas Palace

The Rajendra Vilas Palace is located on Chamundeshwari Hills near the city and was the residence of a descendent of the Wodeyar. The palace was converted to a hotel but was unsuccessful due to labor related problems and subsequently closed down. Now the palace is the property of the ancestor of Wodeyar family and is adorned with a powerful beam light that can pierce the darkness in the sky for 30 kilometers. The architecture of the palace is decorated with four “chattris” which are dome shaped pavilions quintessential to the Indian architecture. The palace dome is similar to the one that is found in the Mysore Palace.

Lalitha Mahal

This is a palace that has a humungous structure that is similar to the St. Paul’s Cathedral in England. The palace is the second largest one in the city and is now converted to a luxury hotel run by the Ashoka Group of Tourism Development Corporation. Built in 1921 by the ancestors of the Wodeyar rulers, the palace was originally intended for The Viceroy of India. The architecture is renaissance style and is similar to the St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. The two storied structure is built in a manner that combines the look of English manor houses and Italian Palazzos.

Chamundi Hills

The Chamundi Hills are located very close to the city at an average height of about 1000 meters. The hill has a temple built on top which is a place of worship of goddess Chamundeshwari who slew a Demon King. A stairway leads to the temple and has approximately 1000 steps; however the view of the Mysore palace and the city from top of Chamundi Hills is worth the effort.

St. Philomena’s Church

Built in 1936 in the Neo-gothic style, this church’s architecture was inspired by Cologne cathedral in Germany. St. Philomena is a martyr of the Roman Catholic Church who is said to be believed to be a 14 year old martyr who was buried in the catacombs of Saint Priscilla at the Via Salaria of Rome.

Regional Museum of Natural History

This museum exhibits various plants, animals, and geology of south India and also depicts the relationship between plants and animals. Inaugurated of 25th May 1995, the Museum is located on the banks of Karanji Lake, from where Chamundi hills are visible in the background. There are various galleries in the museum that enlighten visitors about tropical rain forests, Western Ghats (India), wetlands, mangrove forests, and evolution of life.

Folk Lore Museum

This museum exhibits all the folk art and craft from the state of Karnataka. The museum is located in the University of Mysore and was founded in 1968. The various exhibits in the museum include costumes of folk dramatists from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, masks, various puppets, costumes of Kathakali (a type of folk dance), folk musical instruments, and various folk deities among a plethora of paraphernalia belonging to the folk culture.

Mysore is a place that attracts about 2.5 million people almost every year and the close proximity of famous tourist destinations makes it an ideal place to enjoy the unique delights that are offered by South-India. Many neighboring places such as Ooty and Madikari are also famous among tourists and residents alike. However, the city lacks an international airport and the nearest one is about 90 miles in the city of Bangalore. In spite of this, Mysore is well connected by road as well as rail to most of the big cities in India and is one of the major tourist attractions in the country.

Brindavan Gardens

Located near the Krishnarajasagara dam which is built on the river Kaveri is one of the must-visit places in India. These beautiful gardens are exquisitely maintained and also have musical and colorful fountains that have mesmerized and amazed thousands of tourists who flock here to enjoy the unique ambiance that the garden has to offer. Designed in the Mughal style, these gardens are very similar to Shalimar Gardens in Kashmir.