Mysuru is located in the South Indian state of Karnataka around 140 km from the capital city Bangalore. The city extends from latitude 12°18′ in the North to longitude 76°42′ in the East. Mysuru is well connected through road and rail networks with other parts of Karnataka and India. Mysuru city was the capital of the old royal Mysuru province. The word Mysuru expands to “Mahishasurana Ooru” which means the town of Mahishasura. The story goes that the demon Mahishasura was killed by goddess Chamundeshwari atop the Chamundi hill near Mysuru, hence the name. Ever since, the Mysuru royal family has worshipped Chamundeshwari as the palace deity. Hills dedicated to her stand at the eastern end of Mysuru town today.
The Wodeyar family ruled Mysuru since 14th century except for a short period of 40 years when Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan were the rulers. Throughout the rule of the Wodeyar dynasty, crafts and arts attained its peak and therefore the city subsequently developed into the cultural capital. The Wodeyars had been incredible patrons of art and culture, generally you will discover that in the rich heritage of the city. Mysuru has never failed to mesmerize the tourists with its quaint charm, rich heritage, magnificent palaces, beautifully laid-out gardens, imposing buildings, broad shady avenues and sacred temples. The charm of this city leaves no one untouched. Mysuru city is furthermore typically called the ‘City of Palaces’, the ‘Garden City’, the ‘Ivory City’, the ‘City of Yoga’ as well as the ‘cultural capital of Karnataka’.
1. Chamundi Hills
Chamundi Hills can be viewed from distance of about 8 to 10 kms and from all the corners of Mysuru City. Chamundeshwari temple is situated on the top of Chamundi hill which is about 3,489 ft. above sea level and located at a distance of 13 kms., from Mysuru. The temple is dedicated to Sri Chamundeshwari, the titular deity of the Mysuru Royal Family also described as ‘Mahishasura Mardini’ for having killed the buffalo headed demon Mahishasura. The temple is of a quadrangular structure, built in Dravidian style.
In 1659 Dodda Devaraja Wodeyar built 1,000 steps and huge Nandi, Lord Shiva’s Bull. This colossal Nandi is one of the largest in India, 16 ft. (4.8 meters) tall at the front and 25 ft. (7.5 meters) in length and are located at the 700th step of the Chamundi Hill. Krishnaraja Wodeyar III repaired the shrine in 1827 and made arrangements for festivals and processions and gifted Simhavahana in 1843. A panoramic view of the city is seen from the top of the Chamundi hills.
2. Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens (Mysuru Zoo)
Later proceed for Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens – Mysuru Zoo or Shri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens is one of the oldest zoo in India, and is 3 km from the heart of the city. This Zoo was primarily called as ‘Khasa Bangle’ or ‘Private Bungalow’, and was spread over an area of 250 acres. It was established by the Mysuru ruler Sri Chamarajendra Wodeyar in the year of 1892. Public entry was started in early 1920s. In 1909, zoo was named after the king Chamarajendra Wadiyar Bahadur, as Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens. It houses a variety of flora and fauna not only of this country, but from over forty countries in the world. Adoption of animals under Adoption Programme was a novel scheme launched by Mysuru zoo.
3. Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery
Later proceed to Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery – Also known as Jaganmohan palace, built in 1861 during the rule of Mysuru Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar III; is located at the centre of the city. Later it was converted into an art gallery, during the reign of Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV in 1915. In the year 1955, it was renamed as Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery in the honour of Sri Jaya Chamarajendra Wodeyar Bahadur. Among the items exhibited are oil paintings by artists like Raja Ravi Varma, and Svetoslav Roerich and the traditional Mysuru gold-leaf paintings.
4. Mysuru Maharaja Palace
Later proceed to Mysuru Maharaja Palace – Mysuru Palace or Mysuru Maharaja Palace also known as Amba Vilas Palace, was the residence of the Wodeyar Maharaja’s of the Mysuru state: located in the heart of the city. The present structure is the fourth version of the Mysuru palace, designed by the eminent British architect Henry Irwin in 1912. The first structure of the Mysuru Palace was laid out in 14th century, in wood. The Palace has four entrance, Main entrance is called “Jaya Maarthaanda” to east, “Jayarama” to North, “Balarama” to South, “Varaha” to west. Public Entry is from Varaha Gate.
5. St. Philomena’s Church
Later proceed to St. Philomena’s Church – which is the second largest church in Asia. Church is located in the northern part of the city was built to honour the memory of Saint Philomena, a Latin Catholic Saint and martyr of the Roman Catholic Church. The church was built by Mysuru ruler for the European residents in the city in 1843, to cater to the needs of the European people who were residing in Mysuru then. Earlier it used to be called as the St. Joseph Chavez, later changed to St. Philomena’s Church. The church is said to be designed by a French artist Daly. The construction was in the Neo-Gothic or the Victorian style. The church has been made in the shape of a cross and its twin spires with a height of 175 feet.
6. Ranganatha Swamy Temple
Later proceed to Ranganatha Swamy Temple – The Ranganatha Swamy Temple in Srirangapatna enshrines Lord Vishnu as Ranganatha. It is said that the Ganaga chieftain, Tirumalaiya built this temple in 894 AD. The Ranganatha Swamy Temple was later expanded by the Hoysalas, Vijayanagar monarchs, Mysuru Wodeyars and Hyder Ali. The architecture is a mixture of the Hoysala and Vijayanagar styles. The temple has fort like walls and an intricately carved Gopura in Vijayanagar style of architecture. The idol of Lord Ranganatha is in reclining posture on the bed laid out by the serpent Aadi Sesha is about 4.5 meters in length. The main entrance has Chaturvimsati (four) pillars has the cravings of the 24 forms of Vishnu. There are many other shrines like Ranganayaki, Narasimha, Sudarshana, Gopalakrishna, Srinivasa, Rama and Panchamukha Anjaneya in the complex.
7. Nimishamba Temple
Later proceed to Nimishamba temple – was built at the time of Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar about 300 to 400 years ago on the bank of the river Cauvery. Sri Nimishamba is considered as the incarnation of Goddess Parvathi, the wife of Lord Shiva. The temple has the Shrichakra carved on a stone in front of Sri Nimishamba and pooja is performed. There is a belief that Sri Nimishamba is going to remove all the problems and troubles of her devotees within a minute. That is why she is called Nimishamba. Nimisha means a minute.
8. Tippu’s Summer Palace
Later proceed to Tippu’s Summer Palace – also known as Dariya Daulat Bagh is situated outside the fort, on the island. Dariya-Daulat, “the wealth of the sea”, referred to as the summer palace of Tipu Sultan, was built in the year 1784 AD is situated outside the fort, on the island. The palace is built in the Indo-Sarcenic style. Tipu Sultan laid out a garden here and constructed the Summer Palace in 1784 which was his favourite retreat.
It is built in the Indo-Sarcenic style standing on a square platform. There are excellent mural paintings depicting the war scenes, the British and the French officers, the Sultan, the Kings and others. The palace has been converted into a museum in which are displayed war weapons, paintings and coins of Tipu’s period. One of the main feature of this museum is the famous oil painting “Storming of Srirangapattanam” by Sir Robert Ker Porter made in 1800.
Gumbaz – situated at the end of the town. This is the mausoleum of Tippu Sultan; his father Hyder Ali and mother Fathima Begum. Tippu built this magnificent structure in 1782-84. It is an impressive square structure, surmounted by a dome and surrounded by a corridor supported by pillars of black hornblende. The Gumbaz has a large well-shaped dome, it has beautifully carved ebony doors inlaid with ivory, and the Gumbaz has carved stone windows with excellent work on it and inscriptions. Inside the tomb Hyder Ali has been laid to rest in the middle and on either side are the tombs of his wife and son. Tippu’s tiger stripes cover the walls of the Gumbaz.
10. Brindavan Garden
Brindavan Gardens lies adjoining the Krishnarajasagara dam (KRS Dam) which is built across the river Kaveri. It is located about 12km towards the north west of the Mysuru city. It was built by Sir Mirza Ismail, the diwan of Mysuru state. The garden is laid out in three terraces, and ends in a horseshoe shape. The creation of gardens were began in the year of 1927 and was completed in 1932. The dam is having a length of 8600 ft. and height of 130 ft. above the river bed; was built below the confluence of the three rivers – Cauvery, Hemavathi and Lakshmanateertha in 1924. The reservoir is named after Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV. Sir M.Visveswaraya, as Chief Engineer of Mysuru got the dam built.
11. Jama Masjid
Jama Masjid is a mosque located near the Bangalore Gate of the fort. Tipu Sultan built this masjid in 1787 after he ascended the throne of Mysuru. It is said that he performed the first imamath himself. The Jama Masjid is a grand structure with two lofty minarets, there is about 200 steps leading to the top of the minarets from where one can have a view of picturesque surrounding area. There are five Persian inscriptions, one of this inscription mentions all the ninety-nine names of Allah.
12. Colonel Bailey Dungeon
This dungeon lies North of Ranganatha Swamy temple. The vaulted dungeon measuring 30.5 meters width 12.2 meters height and is built of brick and mortar. The prisoners were chained to the stone slabs fixed on the East, North and West walls. Dungeon is named after Colonel Bailey who died here in 1780 AD this dungeon was used to imprison Captain Baird, Colonel Brithwite, Captain Rulay, Frazer, Samson and Lindsay by Tipu Sultan. During the siege of Srirangapatna, one of the cannons rolled back, pierced the ceiling and fell into the dungeon.
13. Bylakuppe Buddhist Golden Temple
Bylakuppe Buddhist Golden Temple Located at a distance of 90 km from Mysuru. Bylakuppe, along with Dharamsala, is the residing place for thousands of Tibetans, who have been living in exile since many decades. This is the centre of Tibetan Buddhism in South India.
14. Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
The Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is situated at 4 Kms. from Srirangapatna and 19 Kms. from Mysuru. The Bird Sanctuary is named after Sri Ranganatha Swamy, an incarnation of Hindu God Vishnu. It is an island on the river Cauvery and it is spread on an area of 40 acres. The Sanctuary includes six islands and was declared a bird sanctuary in 1940.
15. Shivanasamudra Falls
The Shivanasamudra falls, literally meaning Shiva’s Sea are situated at a distance of 85 kms from Mysuru and 139 kms from Bangalore. The island town of Shivanasamudra divides the river Cauvery into two different falls which display a captivating sight. On the one side, it forms the Gaganachukki falls shaped like a large horsetail and on the other side are the Bharachukki Falls.
Talakadu also Known as ‘Talakad‘ is on the banks of the river Cauvery. Talakadu is situated 45 km from Mysuru and 185 km from Bangalore, is known for its sand dunes. Tradition says that two hunters by name Tala and Kada attained moksha by offering worship to the deity Vaidyanatheswara and the place came to be called after them. The place was also known as Gajaranyakshetra.
Melkote is an important pilgrim center that about 51 km from Mysuru and 133 km from Bangalore. It lies in Pandavapura taluk of Mandya district. According to mythology, the Melkote was known as Narayanadri, Vedadri, Yadavadri, Yathishaila and Thirunarayanapura as the temple of Narayanaswamy is built on granite rocky hill that comprises some of the oldest rock formations on earth known as Yadavagiri or Yadugiri overlooking the Cauvery valley. Melkote is very well known for various famous temples and a festival called Vairamudi.
Somanathapura, a village situated on the left bank of the river Cauvery boasts one of the last and the grandest of Hoysala monuments – Chennakeshava Temple built 742 years ago. There are three temples enshrined within the premises of the star shaped temple standing on a jagali (raised platform) that are dedicated to the Prasanna Chennakeshava, Lord Janardhana and Venugopala, two different incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
19. Bandipur National Park
Bandipur National Park is about 80 kms from Mysuru city and is a peaceful retreat in nature’s lap far from the din of the city. It is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. Maharaja of Mysuru was created a sanctuary of 90 km² in the Bandipur Reserve Forest in 1931.
20. Gopalaswamy Betta
Gopalaswamy Betta (Hill) is the highest point on the sanctuary is about 16 Km. from Gundlupet. It is at a height of 4,770 ft. above the seal level. It is described as Dakshina Govardhanagiri, and the hill is also called as the Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta.
Shravanabelagola is a samll town in Hassan District of Karnataka State. It is one of the important Jain pilgrim center in India. Shravanabelagola is located at an altitude of 3350 feet above sea level in between the Indragiri (Vindhyagiri) and Chandragiri hills.