Mysore has been on our list of ‘things to do’ from quite early on when we moved to Bangalore. We were advised to go at Dusserha when the Palace is ablaze with lights and there is a special festival and elephant parade. Typically though this year’s Dusserha festival was scaled down due to a political fight and was very low key – so we delayed our trip until now.
Mysore has a rich heritage and there is plenty to see and do if you have time. As we were only going for a day, and it’s a 4 hour drive each way, we kept it simple.
Our first stop was about 28 km outside Bangalore city at the Big Banyan Tree in Kethohalli. It is 400 years old and is considered to be the 4th biggest Banyan Tree in India. The tree is without a main trunk (typical of the species) and has several arial roots and is spread out over 3 acres! The tree is inhabited by a large family of monkeys.
Our next stop was Tippu Sultan’s summer palace (“Daria Daulat Bagh” literally ‘garden of the wealth’) at Srirangapatna (an island in the river Kaveri). It was built in 1784 and Tippu Sultan (the Tiger of Mysore) ruled from here for s short time. The palace itself is covered over to preserve the magnificent painted teak woodwork from the sun. The palace is currently undergoing a painstaking restoration of the paintwork. We were able to see a before and after section side by side and it was really very impressive. It will take years to complete the restoration and it will be worth the process when complete. The palace is quite small but we hired a guide to talk us through the amazing murals. He was very well informed and was able to spend 30 mins talking us through each of the murals.
At the recommendation of our driver Waseem we went to Tippu’s Tomb or the Mausoleum of Tippu Sultan at Gumbaz. There are many tombs here of the family (including the very young children who were slaughtered) but Tippu is buried next to his father. The graves are covered in cloths and flowers and Tippu Sultan’s is covered in tiger skin. It is a somber place but beautiful nevertheless. The mosque is a working mosque and is next to the tomb.
In the afternoon we arrived at Mysore Palace, along with half of the state of Karnataka I think. It was extremely busy and crowded. (Our driver Waseem saw the crowds and left us at the gate and refused to come in!).
Located in the Chamundi Hills, Mysore is the second largest city in Karnataka. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Mysore and was ruled by the King of Mysore until 1947. The Royal family were great patrons of art and culture, building many grand palaces. In addition they encouraged traditional crafts and Mysore silk sarees (with gold threads) which are much sought after and are also patented.
The temple is dedicated to the reigning goddess of the Royal family of Mysore.
The architecture is Indo- Saracenic and has a multiple arched facade features a goddess on a central tower. The palace is the official residence of the Royal family and is illuminated at night every Sunday. Shoes are not allowed inside the palace and we had to leave them at the shoe deposit outside. We walked barefoot around the whole place (and our feet were black when we came out!).
Pictures are not allowed inside the Palace (hence the quality of some of these photos) and there are active security guards everywhere – ushering visitors through with batons and man handling them if they don’t move quick enough. It was jaw dropping to see. No one could properly look at the exhibits with the speed people were being pushed through. We were also jostled, pushed, squeezed and regularly hassled for photos outside.
It was beautiful so worth putting up with the crowded conditions. It was exhausting though. As we came out at the back of the palace there were camel and elephant rides being offered. It is worth mentioning at this point that everything here has an Indian price and a Foreigners price – which is typically 100- 200% more than the Indian price. It was the same with the entrance fee for the palace and the rides. Zahra chose a camel ride ( as she had no desire to ride a chained elephant – good on her.) Aunty Mandy was press ganged into riding with her!
There are lots of other things to see and do in Mysore but we had run out of time. Our day trip was lively and we shall be returning at some point to see the other sights Mysore and the surrounding area has to offer.