Mysore city is located at the base of the Chamundi Hills and offers visitors a wealth of natural beauty that is matched only by its stunning architecture. With its namesake World Heritage-listed palace, peaceful yoga practices and intriguing heritage, it is no wonder that Mysore is South India’s most popular tourist destination.
Here is just a small selection of some of the city’s most captivating attractions.
The Mysore Palace is not only the most visited attraction in the city but one of the most popular places in the entire country, coming in second place to the Taj Mahal. Around 2.7 million visitors flock to see it every year, thanks to both its staggeringly beautiful architecture and rich history.
The palace dates back to the 14th century, when it was originally built by the Wodeyar kings. It has since been demolished and reconstructed multiple times. The present structure was completed in 1912 after being commissioned by Maharani Vani Vikas Sannidhna, the regent of Mysore. Its unique Indo-Saracenic style is felt across the three storey building and takes inspiration from Hindu, Muslim and Gothic designs.
The palace boasts features such as pristine marble domes, a distinctive five storey tower and 12 different Hindu temples within its walls. Explore the various chambers, marvel at the elegant royal wedding hall or traverse the surroundings. It is also worth paying a visit during the Mysore Dasara festival between September and October, when crowds travel from all around to watch artists perform, witness the parade and be dazzled by the incredible illuminations.
Escape to the picturesque surroundings of the Karanji Lake. Nestled in the footsteps of Chamundi Hill, this lake spreads across 90 acres and dates back over a century, when it was built by the King of Mysore. With an abundance of wildlife and activities, this attraction offers a fantastic day out for all who visit.
As one of the largest lakes in all of Karnataka, it is home to over 90 species of resident and migratory birds, including pelicans, darters and painted storks. There is also a walk through aviary, which is known to be the biggest in India. These winged wonders aren’t the only creatures who grace the lake though. Karanji Lake’s nature park also features a butterfly park, and attracts an array of mammal inhabitants as well.
In addition to all this, visitors can also enjoy the lake’s boating facilities, fun-filled children’s’ corner and incredible views of greenery from the observation tower. It is an ideal picnic spot, located just behind the popular Mysore Zoo and with the Regional Museum of Natural History sitting right on the banks of the water.
Conveniently situated close to the Mysore Palace, the Mysore Zoo is one of the oldest in the whole of South India. Established under royal patronage back in 1892, the zoo has proved to be one of the most popular attractions in the city, expanding from 10 to 157 acres in size since it was first opened to the public in 1902.
It offers the ideal family day out, with a number of different exhibitions and inhabitants. An artificial lake provides space for a collection of colourful birds. Around ten elephants live in the grounds, with as many as 34 living here in the past, making Mysore Zoo the home to more elephants than any other zoo in the country. One of the biggest attractions is the five green anaconda snakes, that were contributed by Colombo zoo. Visitors can also see baboons, zebras, giraffes, tigers, lions and rare white rhinos.
With around two million tourists making their way to the graceful Brindavan Gardens every year, it is an attraction not to be missed. Set across 60 acres of land, the garden is a touch of paradise, complete with an abundance of fiscus trees, flowers, foliage and sparkling water fountains.
The gardens were built between 1927 and 1932 under the guidance of the Dewan of Mysore, Sir Mirza Ismail. They are situated close to the Krishnarajasagara Dam, which stands across the waters of the River Cauvery. Originally the gardens were conceptualised as being constructed in a terraced design, in a similar layout to the Shalimar Gardens of Kashmir. However, the gardens have expanded and adapted over time to create the breath-taking space it is today.
The grounds feature a 30 acre Nagavana horticultural farm, as well as a 5 acre Chandravana one, where visitors can enjoy an abundance of beautiful plant life. The adjoining 75 acre orchard is full of flourishing fruit trees and the topiary works around the garden are expertly sculptured into different animal shapes. The onsite lake provides a peaceful atmosphere and boating activities. Be sure not to miss the musical fountain. With its sprouting water displays set to music, it is the park’s most special attraction.
Modelled after St Paul’s Cathedral in London, the Lalitha Mahal near the Chamundi Hills is one the the city’s major landmarks. The palace is the second largest in Mysore and was built in 1921 under order of Krishnaraja Wodeyar, the Maharaja of Mysore. It was originally constructed to be used exclusively by the Viceroy of India, but has since been converted to a heritage hotel, where its regal touches can be enjoyed by all.
The remarkable two storeyed structure features renaissance architecture, with a grand double column and central dome design. The exterior is painted in pristine white with a colourful display of stained glass on the exterior facades. Unrivalled views of Mysore’s landscape can be enjoyed from the outdoor grounds.
Inside, visitors will find a handsome Italian marble staircase and floors. The layout includes the Viceroy room, dance floor and banquet hall, all boasting opulent decorations, such as mosaic tiles, Belgian crystal glass chandeliers and Persian carpets. The full length portrait paintings of the Wodeyar kings that hang on the walls are an impressive and imposing reminder of the history of the beautiful Lalitha Mahal.