You ask any Kannadiga, “Where was your first trip to?” Very likely, their answer will be Mysuru, aka Mysore. Talk to any non-Kannadiga living in Karnataka; they say they loved it or want to see Mysore. Indeed this cultural capital of Karnataka is s fascinating in many aspects- Heritage, Royalty, nature, wildlife, birdlife, spirituality, art and shopping – You can peacefully experience all these in this sleepy (I mean it literally) town.
I usually don’t say our guide is the perfect guide, But I proudly claim this post to be the finest guide for your Mysore travel because:
So we can even tell you about that little shop or a bakery where you get fine chakli with hot tea for the lowest price & where to get the finest quality micro xerox prints for your exam chits. Plus, my parent’s honeymoon destination was also Mysore in 1981. So we are super qualified to narrate the stories of Mysore, comparing it with the past and how it is constantly changing.
Here is your complete guide to help you craft your Mysore Travel Plans
- Reaching Mysore.
- Why visit Mysore?
- Commuting in Mysore.
- Mysore history
- How many days to spend here?
- Where to stay
- Travel tips
How to get to Mysore
Mysore Palace is India’s second most visited monument after the Taj Mahal.
Is it possible to Travel to Mysore by air?
If Mysore is your first destination in India as a foreign traveller, your first stop or layover will be Bangalore or Chennai. I recommend travelling by train to Mysore from cities more than 300km away. Or hire a cab with the driver as Mysore airport is still taking baby steps in connectivity and not taking flights to Mysore unnecessarily.
Reaching Mysore by train.
The best and most affordable way to get to Mysore is by train, as Mysore junction is on many major railway routes. You won’t regret spending more on an AC coach during India’s summer (March to June). You can reach Mysore the most expensive way using the Maharajas Express train. If you are ok with hopping on -hop off in a city with luxury rather than experiencing a place and ok with spending a fortune, this should be your choice.
The best way to travel from Bangalore to Mysore is by Train
Reaching Mysore by Bus
Nearby cities like Bangalore, Hassan, and Ooty have regular buses run by private and government companies. So, don’t choose buses if the distance to Mysore exceeds 300km.
Why visit Mysore?
Painted Storks in Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Most Indian cities are bustling- always busy. Perhaps Mysore is the only city that takes its sweet time to function. If you want to have a “Chiang Mai” kind of atmosphere (except for vegan cafes) in one of the cleanest cities in India, Mysore must be on your list.
It is one of the most famous tourist destinations among foreign and domestic tourists. But maybe because of people’s laid-back nature and pride in preserving their heritage, the city hasn’t lost its authentic charm. You can make it as expensive as possible by staying in palace hotels and dining in Maharaja style to experience the grandeur. Or have a super budget-friendly holiday by staying in hostels(Yes, hostel culture is pretty famous here).
Travel to Mysore for some village charm
Suppose you love driving around the place by yourself and haven’t been able to do it in India because of our traffic issues; Mysore is the best place to go cycling or driving. To sum it up – the city is super clean, laid back, good for self-drive, has good food, history and heritage and is surrounded by mountains.
Transportation in Mysore
Horse Chariots are found around Zoo and Palace for a few minute rides. Except during crowded Dasara time, a city chariot ride is fun for a few minutes and not for the whole day.
Many hostels and star hotels rent bicycles and bikes. But walking is ideal in the mornings and evenings, provided your place of interest is nearby. A Hop-on-off open-roof double-decker bus will take visitors through the major landmarks and tourist spots that cost around 250Rs/person. This may be good for those in Mysore for a day or two.
Ola and Uber work perfectly and are another easy way to get around the city while paying a little extra.
Walking tours are available in Mysore to take you through historical places, narrating the stories. You get to meet with local artisans making pottery and sculpture in their place. Like any other Mysore business, these tour operators take a while to respond. So book them in prior.
Kingdom of Mysore & its history.
Mysore is the altered version of its original name, “Mahishur or Mahishasurana Ooru”, – Meaning the village ruled by King Mahishasura. In the Hindu religion, we believe that Mahishasura was a demon killed by the goddess Chamundi to restore peace on earth near Mysore.
A painting in Mysore Palace Museum shows Dewans wearing a Turban called “Peta.” – Mysore Peta is usually made using beige silk or any shining fabric lined with a gold border. The Royals and High officials of ancient Mysore wore this. Most Kannada grooms wear this royal symbol during the wedding ceremony.
Travel to Mysore for its grandeur and simplicity!
The most prominent rulers of Mysore were Wadiyars, who once were feudatory houses under Vijayanagara (Hampi)kings. Besides expanding the empire, they are most renowned for patronising artists of various fields. The result is the famous “Dasara Celebration” in October every year, where artists from various fields gather in Mysore to perform.
The last day celebration in front of the palace – You need a special pass to take the front rows during this time.
Narasa Raja Wodeyar-1 is the most regarded ruler to streamline the Dasara celebration by including folk arts and local sports. He is famous as a wrestler king. There are many stories associated with him to explain his physical strength.
The famous one is how he defeated a Trichy wrestler who had hung underwear at the village entrance to humiliate the visitors. After Wadiyar defeated him in Kusthi(Wrestling), Wadiyar left a note that said, “Someone from Mysore came and beat the wrestler” in place of that underwear.
The Cutest /most beautiful painting I have ever seen is the young boy Narasimha Raja Wadiyar with others painted by Raja Ravi Varma.
After Wadiyars, Hyde Ali (the minister of Nizam) and the British also ruled over Mysore. So, many Persian-influenced art forms like Ganjifa and colonial buildings are all over Mysore.
How many days to spend in Mysore?
One of India’s cleanest and most happening markets is Mysore’s Devraja Market.
That depends on why you are in Mysore. Being the birthplace of Ashtanga Yoga, you find many yoga classes in Mysore and Nature cure centres. If this is the purpose of your travel, you may need to stay more than 15 days. Suppose you are on a journey that includes regular yet amazing places like Chamundi Hills and Brindavan Gardens and munch on some Mysore Masala Dosa; we recommend 3 to 5 days in Mysore. It is ideal for soaking yourself with its laid-back vibe and making a few day’s trips from the city.
Where to stay in Mysore
Mysore isn’t a big town compared to its neighbouring cities like Bangalore. Plus, the cost of living for residents and tourists is cheaper here. Hostels to Maharaja suite, there is a variety of accommodations. So, I recommend you not stay in the outskirts as Mysore’s morning of walking/jogging and sipping filter coffee is amazing. You may have to take a public bus/auto for everything. Remember what I call a budget hotel during the “Non-Dasara” season charges you almost double during Dasara. These are the hotels I recommend based on personal experience.
Old Mysore’s neighbourhoods are named – Kheri (Streets), Agrahara (Colony) and Mohalla (Neighbourhood). This picture is taken near Lashkar Mohalla. Lashkar means Military. So this neighbourhood was developed during Hyder Ali’s time as the end place of their fort.
Mid Range hotels in Mysore
- Le Oak Inn – I stayed here with my parents in 2015. The room is better than the review says.
- Siddhartha hotel – This is where my parents stayed during their honeymoon in 1982, and I stayed when I was six years old in 1995. It is one of the oldest hotels in Mysore and still lives up to its hype. Their restaurant food is also great.
- Govardhan hotel. – Perhaps this is the hotel where I stayed maximum with my parents. There was a movie theatre next to it before; fortunately, it isn’t there anymore. Near the temple’s northern entrance and city bus station, this is one of the good hotels for budget travellers.
- Hostels: Roambay is very famous among backpackers. The best part of this is you get to stay in a heritage building for cheaper by sharing a room with other fellow travellers.
The hotel where I didn’t have comfortable stays is – Ayodhya Mysore at Hotel complex.
Luxury hotels in Mysore
I have stayed in two luxury hotels; I love Royal Orchid Metropole (book Maharaja suite room for pure luxury). Almost invisible from JLB Road, this is shielded by high walls and foliage. Built in 1920 by Mysore kings to host his European guests, every corner of the building is adorned with one or the other antiques. With good dinner options and a wide variety of breakfast spreads, the yellow-tiled Verandahs are my favourite place to end the day. Another place you can consider for a Maharaja stay is the “Lalit Mahal.”
Mysore Travel tips
Best time to Visit Mysore
October’s Dasara is the most beautiful time of the year in Mysore.
The city will be gorgeously decked up like an Indian bride. You will find hundreds of cultural and sports events happening during this time. So do expect a huge crowd and high prices at the hotel.
October to March is the best time to visit Mysore as the weather is super pleasant. Summers are super hot. Plus, waterfalls /lakes nearby would get dried up between March-June.
Hiring bikes and cycles is a great way to explore the city because of its wide and neatly maintained traffic.
Mysore food is good, like any other city in South India. Except for a sweet dish called “Mysore Pak”, it is a typical south Indian food.
Tous & travels in Mysore.
Make a lot of day trips with a private vehicle and choose your places. Not everything on the travel agent’s brochure is great. Don’t fall for the scam.
Early mornings near Devraj Urs market is my favourite time to see local life blooming.
Mysore is one of the cleanest cities and safest for travellers. But the city sleeps by 9 PM. So don’t expect a great party vibe for nightlife.
Apart from history, Mysore is famous for its silk and sandalwood products. Auto rickshaws and cab drivers should not be your only recommender. Beware of fake products – they exist throughout Mysore.
Incense sticks at Devraj Urs Market are good, but don’t get fooled if someone charges you 200Rs for this – It is not a Sandalwood one.
Whether food or silk, you find copies of everything in Mysore. For example, the famous and best place for Mylari Dose is in Nazarbaad. But you find at least five more Dose places with the same name. “Bombay Indra Bhavan” is an old place for North Indian and South Indian snacks that confuse many. Because we saw three cafes with the name Indra Bhavan, New Indra Bhavan, and Original Indrabhavan – So when your Mysore friend says, “Let us meet at Mylari Dose”, you must confirm which one!
This is the most famous shop for buying bags in Mysore. I remember my parents shopping here when I was ten years old. You see two shops next to each other with almost similar names. The shopkeepers of both shops sit outside, calling customers, saying, “This is the original Mysore Tarpaulins; come here.”
Mysore outskirt trips
Many day trips and hiking trails have an ancient temple on their way. Some are active, and others are in ruins. It is good to wear moderate clothing.
Wear removable shoes, and carry good sunscreen and cash while going to the countryside. Digital payments are accepted wherever you get a data network, but foreign tourists can’t use most Indian digital wallets.
You can follow google maps in the city for navigation. It is better to cross-check the direction with locals when visiting the countryside. We were lost while going to Nimishamba temple as the place marked on g-maps was wrong.
A village near Nimishamba temple
When you visit temples, you see shops selling baskets of coconuts, bananas, and flowers-offerings to god. This should cost you 50-60Rs. If the seller realises you are a foreigner, they may even charge you double/triple. Don’t pay extra.
By bus, your next destination from Mysore can be Coorg, Chikmagalur, Bangalore or coastal Karnataka.
Most importantly- Mysore People!
If you come to Mysore after visiting places like Mumbai, Delhi, and Varanasi, you may get underwhelmed with the Mysoreans’ attitude. Whether it is an expensive Mysore silk or a streetside flower vendor, Sellers are super relaxed! Most shop owners seem undisturbed by customer presence and may not show enthusiasm to attend to you. You may find this weird on the first day, but once you are used to it, you will love how you are left to enjoy. You can’t expect things to happen quickly in Mysore, which is its beauty. This is one of the reasons why many people choose Mysore after they retire from work.
After listing down “Things to do in Mysore.” I was shocked! Having a tasty Sourdough to Masala Dosa, shopping for Mysore Jasmine flowers to Mysore Silk, Palace to Ruins, Temples and church – You got a lot to see and do in Mysore.
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3 thoughts on “The Complete Travel Guide to Mysore, India.”
Very descriptive and beautiful pictures! Great sharing, thanks!
Mysore always holds a special place in my heart, especially the Karanji Lake and Mysore Palace. Thanks for the very details blog on Mysore.
Same here Gayathri! Thanks for reading through