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Mysooru (Mysore) Information

Mysore is the second-largest city in the state of Karnataka.  It is located at the base of the Chamundi Hills about 146 km southwest of the state capital Bangalore; it is spread across an area of 128.42 km. According to the provisional results of the 2011 national census of India, the population of Mysore is 887,446 and Hinduism is its major religion. Mysore City Corporation is responsible for the civic administration of the city, which is also the headquarters of the Mysore district and the Mysore division.

Mysooru has a number of places of historic importance.  The Hoysalas and Chalukyas have made wonderful contributions, besides other great dynasties, to its richness through their extraordinary architecture and sculpture.  They have constructed a number of wonderful temples with unique designs and ornate carvings all over the walls, pillars and towers.  The circumambulatory paths are flanked by walls replete with friezes.

Until 1947, Mysore served as the capital of the Kingdom of Mysore. The kingdom was ruled by the Wodeyar dynasty, except for a brief period in the late 18th century when Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan usurped power. Patrons of art and culture, the Wodeyars contributed significantly to the cultural growth of the city. The cultural ambience and achievements of Mysore earned it the sobriquet Cultural capital of Karnataka.

The name Mysore is an anglicised version of Mahishuru, which means the abode of Mahisha in the local Kannada language. Mahisha stands for Mahishasura, a mythological demon that could assume the form of both human and buffalo. According to Hindu mythology, the area was ruled by the demon Mahishasura. The demon was killed by the Goddess Chamundeshwari, whose temple is situated atop the Chamundi Hills. Mahishuru later became Mahisuru and finally came to be called Maisuru, its present name in the Kannada language. In December 2005, the Government of Karnataka announced its intention to change the English name of the city to Mysuru. This has been approved by the Government of India, but as of 2011 the formalities necessary to incorporate the name change were yet to be completed.

Mysooru Zoo

Mysooru zoo at Mysooru known as Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens attracts a number of visitors.  The zoo has a good collection of animals and birds of the world.  This garden spread over 37 hectares of verdant land.  There is a separate enclosure for reptiles too.  Tuesday is the weekly holiday.

Chamaraja Technical Institute

Some exquisite specimens of local art work are housed in an exhibition hall.  The chief attractions are the ivory and sandalwood carvings and metallic images.  This institute also imparts training in various crafts and manufactures excellent articles of rose wood and sandalwood.

The Mysooru Palace

The magnificent palace built in 1897 incorporates a number of overwhelming features.  The courtyard contains a gorgeous garden and exclusively architectural temples dedicated to Goddess Gayatri, Goddess Buvaneswari, Lord Gopalakrisna, Navagraha, the controllers of all the happenings on earth, Lord Sri Varaha and Lord Trinayaneswara.  The Hoysala School of architecture has had a beautiful influence in the structure.  The exquisite art and paintings, ancient swords which the kings and soldiers of the olden days wielded against their enemies, crystal furniture and such-like items in the palace takes the imagination of the visitors to hitherto unexplored dimensions.  The portals with astounding workmanship are in an ideal location to view the crest of the temple coated with 18 carat gold.

There is also a ‘Kalyana Mandapa’ or ‘Marriage Hall’ adorned with fabulous murals depicting scenes of the famous Dasara procession and the Durbar of the 1930’s and the 1940’s.  This palace has been the residence of the erstwhile rulers of Mysooru.

The present structure called Amber Vilas with parts of it repaired and parts reconstructed since a devastating fire broke out causing damage to the ancient structure, was the brainchild of Henry Irwin who combined the Hindu and the Arabian style of architecture.  This beautiful palace is further beautified by the lightings during holidays and festival evenings.  Shoes are to be left outside the palace.  Boxes and bags or any other personal belongings are also not allowed inside.  Photography is prohibited.

Mysooru Arts and Crafts Emporium

Alluring articles of handicrafts are displayed and sold here.  The curious purchasers have a large variety to choose from, which include intricately carved products of ivory and sandalwood, lacquer toys, handlooms silk, porcelain and clay articles and a host of other captivating art ware.  It is situated on the Mahatma Gandhi road.

Rail Museum

Situated near the Mysooru railway station, this small but yet exciting railway museum comprises a good collection of old coaches which have been put out of track by their modern rivals.  The queen’s royal saloon is a special attraction.

The Brindavan Gardens and Krishnaraja Sagar Dam

These picturesque gardens have been conscientiously laid out in beautiful cascade.  The garden have a profusion of brightly coloured blossoms, enchanting fountains, musical fountains and slides and swings for children who can always be seen roistering in the place.  These gorgeous fountains are equipped with special lights which make them a sumptuous feast to the hungry eyes.  When lit at night the entire garden is a sheer beauty to behold.  An enthralling glimpse of the illuminated gardens can be had between 19:00 and 19:55 hours on week days and between 19:00 and 20:45 hours on Sundays.

The magnificent Krishnaraja Sagar Dam built across the beautiful river Cauvery extends to 3000m in length and 40m in width.  The serene sheet of waters in the reservoir created by the dam spreads over an expanse of 130 sq.  km and is ideally situated for pleasure boating.  The construction of this he dam, one of the biggest in South India, took 20 long years from 1911 to 1931.  This dam takes care of the water supply to the Simsa Hydroelectric Power Project at Sivasamudram.

It is situated 22km from the Mysooru city, 16km from Sriranga patnam and 153 from Bengalooru.

Chamundi Hill

Atop this beautiful hill 1095m in a altitude stands a marvellous temple built by Krishnaraja Wodeyar III.  The presiding deity her is Goddess Chamundeswary who killed the demon Mahishasur to save the humanity.  The idol of the Goddess had been the personal property of the royal family for 2000 years before it was installed here.  The Gopuram or the portal tower is 7 storeyed and 49m in height.  An old and a new image, side by side, of the demon Mahishasur can also be seen on the Gopuram along with numerous other images.  A panoramic view of the beauties below can be had from the vantage points in the temple.

Mahabala Temple

Close to the beautiful Chamundi Hills, this ancient temple was built during the 10thcentury.  It is learnt that it was formerly known as ‘Marbala Betta’. A huge monolithic Nandi, the sacred Bull of Lord Siva, which measures 16ft * 25ft with an Ornamental chain around the neck with a bell attached to it can be seen on the way to the temple.

Varahaswamy temple

This temple is dedicated to ‘Lord Varaha’, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.  The temple reflects the grand Hoysala type architecture.  There are excellent sculptural words and inscriptions. 

Sri Lakshim Narayana Swamy Temple

This temple dedicated to Lord Lakshmi Narayana, a variation of Lord Vishnu, is believed to be the oldest in the city.

Trineswara Temple

This ancient temple of Dravidian style of architecture is dedicated to Lord Siva.  It is situated facing the palace.

Prasanna Krishna Swamy Temple

Situated on the south of the main palace, this temple dedicated to Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu was built in the year 1825 by Krishnaraja Wodeyar III.

The Lake of Thousand Lights

It is so named because thousand lights are lit during the ‘Teppotsava’ or the ceremonial sailing of the ‘Holy Raft’.  The grand festival with a thousand light illuminations leaves the onlooker awe-struck.  This occurs on the full moon day during the Dasara season in the beautiful evening with the Sun filling the sky with crimson.

This lake is situated on the east of Chamundi hills.

Somnathpur

Somnathpur is about 26km from Srirangapatnam and 40km from Mysooru, this place is sanctified by three ancient wonderful temples in a complex called Prasanna Chenna Keshab.  These three temples known as ‘Trikuta’ built by Somnath Dhandanayaka, the commander in the army of Hoysala Narasimha III the ruler of Dwara Samudra in 1268, on an elevated star-shaped base.  Reliefs of senses fromt eh great epics and life of Hoysala Kings can be seen on the exterior walls of this triple shrine.  The environ of the temples is beautified by the confluence of the rivers Cauvery and Kabini.

Talkad

About 30km southeast of Somnathpur on the way to Sivasamudram, this historic plae, which is now the headquarters of the Taluk was the ancient capital of the Ganga and the Chola Kings.  The ‘Pancha Linga’ or five Lingas comprising the ones at different Siva Temples here are very famous and a grand festival ‘Jatra’ is held once in a dozen years in honour of this five Lingas.  During this festival the devotees have the ‘Darshan’ of all the 5 Lingas.

These temples are built in ‘Dravidian style’.  There are as many as 6 prominent temples.  Talkad is one of the regions nourished by the resplendent river Cauvery.  The ancient temple dedicated to ‘Lord Vaideeswara’, the Healer of all diseases who is a variation of Lord Siva, is a grand granite structure of the 14th century.  Reliefs of Lord Siva in various postures can be seen here.

Kesava Temple

‘Lord Kesava’, one of the forms of Lord Vishnu is the presiding deity of this ancient temple whose courtyard measures 215ft in length and 177ft in breadth.  The row of elegantly carved reliefs of various deities, Natya Ganapathi, Lord Siva, Varaha, one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu, Indra, the head of Devas and so on depict mythical events.  The outer walls are ornately sculptured and the panels bear the sing-manuals of great sculptors like Baleya, Chaudeya, Mattitamma Chamaya, Bharmaya, Yalasamayya and Nanjayya.

Jaganmohan Art Gallery

Beautiful portraits displaying eminent historic personalities and recounting the events in the history of Mysooru are housed in the older of the two edifices.  To the south, in an enclosure, in the ground floor, the nostalgic paraphernalia of the kings of the olden times can be seen.  The marvellous carvings of ‘Dasavathara’ or the ‘Ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu’ on single grains or rice, leave the observers awestruck.

Also known as Chamarajendra Art Gallery it houses some exquisite articles made in 1861 for the special occasion of Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar’s wedding.  This collection was set up in 1875.  The ageless paintings of the legend Raja Ravi Varma graciously fill up a huge hall.  ‘Woman with the Lamp’ a remarkable piece of S.L. Haldekar’s paintings is a living marvel.  There is also a good collection of musical instruments on display.  An imposing clock can be seen at the entrance.

Mahadeswara Betta

This is a picturesque hill resort near the mighty Eastern Ghats, about 142 km and 220km from Mysooru and Bengalooru respectively.  This is the favourite spot of thousands of tourists who come here to get carried away in the natural beauty.  Accommodation facilities are available.

Lalitha Mahal Palace

This beautiful palace which was the residence of the royal family, situated on the highest point in the city and home offering a panoramic view of the magnificent city has been converted into a post hotel now.

How to reach

Road

Mysore is connected by National Highway NH-212 to the state border town of Gundlupet, where the road forks into the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. State Highway 17, which connects Mysore to Bangalore, was upgraded to a four-lane highway in 2006, reducing travel time between the two cities. A project was planned in 1994 to construct a new expressway to connect Bangalore and Mysore. After numerous legal hurdles, it remains unfinished as of 2012. State Highways 33 and 88 which connect Mysore to H D Kote and Madikeri respectively. The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and other private agencies operate buses both within the city and between cities. A new division of KSRTC called Mysore City Transport Corporation (MCTC) has been proposed. Within the city, buses are cheap and popular means of transport, auto-rickshaws are available, and tongas (horse-drawn carriages) are popular. Mysore also has a 42.5km long ring road that is being upgraded to six lanes by the MUDA.

Rail

Mysore railway station has three lines, connecting it to Bangalore, Hassan and Chamarajanagar. The first railway line established in the city was the Bangalore–Mysore Junction metre gauge line, which was commissioned in 1882. All railway lines that serve the city are single track, impeding faster connections to the city. Though there are plans to double the Bangalore–Mysore track at least, as of 2012 the project is unfinished. All trains that connect to Mysore are operated by Indian Railways. The fastest train to serve the city is the Shatabdi Express.

Air

Mysore Airport, which was unused for many years, was put back into use in October 2010, when Kingfisher Airlines started a daily service to Bangalore. However, this flight was cancelled in November 2011 because of low profitability, and the airport does not serve any other flights. A low-cost airline, SpiceJet, began operating flights from Mysore to Chennai via Bangalore from 14 January 2013.