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SEE MAP: Karnataka

Travel Destinations: Mysore

Mysore gets its name from Mahishasura, the demon who was slain by the Goddess Chamundeshwari whose temple is atop the Chamundi Hill. The city has played host to the reign of a long line of Wadiyars, Tipu Sultan and the British Raj. It is also called the City of Palaces.

Mysore Palace here is magnificence embodied, a marvel of ornate ceilings, jewelled corridors, open mandaps, stained glass windows, vivid paintings and Wadiyar memorabilia and the jewelled throne. The famous Mysore Dasara is hosted here. Mysore's other palaces are Jaganmohana Palace, Rajendra Vilas, Lalitha Mahal (which is now the Lalith Mahal Palace Hotel) and the Jayalakshmi Vilas.

St. Philomena's Church is awe-inspiring with its Neo-gothic style, built along the lines of the Cologne Cathedral in Germany.

The 12th century Chamundeshwari temple built in the style of the Hoysalas is impressive. It has one of the biggest monolithic Nandi statues.

The Brindavan Gardens, the BR Hills, the lakes and the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary are other attractions of Mysore. The Bird Sanctuary has six islets, and is teeming with painted storks and pelicans. It is located on the banks of the Cauvery. Boating can be done, but one needs to be careful about the crocodiles.

Other places of interest are Chamundi Hill, Srirangapatna and Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery.

Royalty marks Mysore. It is one of the best sights in South India.

BEST SEASON: Round-the-year. Climate is salubrious and moderate. Summer is not very hot. In winter minimum temperature is 15 degrees Celsius and max in summer is 35. During the monsoon from June to September it rains well.

SHOPPING: Mysore is well-known for its sandalwood artifacts, silks and Mysore Eggplant. Silk sarees are in demand.

DRESS: Both men and women use ornaments. Women wear nose-ring. The traditional turban still survives.

CUISINES: For breakfast dosa, idli with sambar; for tiffin vada, dosa, idli with sambar or chutney, kesari bath (sweet) etc; for lunch rice with palyas, tovve, saaru, pappad. Coconut is omnipresent. Most items are rice-based. But there are many permutations. And that is so in whole of South India.

FESTIVAL: Dasara is the most popular festival of Mysore. The 10-day pomp and show fest falls in September-October. A procession is taken out from Mysore Palace and it ends in fireworks of great sparkle and deafening sound.

LOCAL TRANSPORT: Autorickshaws, tongas, taxis, buises

HOW TO REACH: 140 km south-west from Bangalore (3 hrs); bus service is good and safe, roads are excellent. One-day trip from Bangalore. Easily accessible from any city. Train service is frequent. Bangalore is the nearest international airport. Bangalore-Mysore trip is comfortable by bus as well as train. Fare is low.

EXCURSIONS: Bandipur National Park, Sivanasamudra Falls, Shravanabelagola, Coorg, Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple


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