Famously known as The City of Palaces, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Mysore is one of the most flamboyant places in the country. It is replete with the history of its dazzling royal heritage, intricate architecture, its famed silk sarees, yoga, and sandalwood, to name just a few. Located in the foothills of the Chamundi Hills, Mysore is the third most populated city in the state of Karnataka, and its rich cultural heritage draws millions of tourists all year round.
Mysore is steeped in royal history – it was one of the three largest Princely States in the erstwhile British Empire of India. To this day, the Mysore Palace stands tall as one of the most spectacular palaces all over the country. A very famous tourist spot that sees thousands of visitors milling in and around it every day, the Mysore Palace is renowned for its architecture, design, artisanship and ancient upholstery. A mesmerizing example of Indo-Saracenic architecture, every inch of the palace drips with opulence and intricate details, and every room that you visit stands out in terms of its elaborate architecture, beautiful paintings, rich colours and stained-glass windows. On every Sunday, and during the Dussehra celebrations, the palace is spectacularly lit up once dusk falls.
An incredibly breathtaking example of Indo – Saracenic style of architecture, the Mysore Palace is a magnificent edifice located in Mysore in the state of Karnataka. Also known as the Amba Vilas Palace, it is the former palace of the royal family of Mysore and is still their official residence. Mysore Palace was built in the year 1912 for the 24th Ruler of the Wodeyar Dynasty and is counted amongst one of the biggest palaces in the country.
The construction of the Mysore Palace was orchestrated by the Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV referred as “Rajarishi” (saintly king) by Mahatma Gandhi. It was then further expanded by his son and the last Maharaja of Mysore, Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wadiyar. The facade of the palace is a harmonious blend of Hindu, Muslim, Rajput and Gothic styles which imparts it a regal quality. With the Chamundi Hills towards its eastern side, the spectacle of the Mysore Palace is an enchanting sight to behold. Needless to say, it is the second most visited historical monument visited by both local and foreign tourists after the Taj Mahal. Presently located inside the Old Fort, Mysore Palace is renowned for its light & sound show and vibrant Dussehra celebrations.
On the banks of Holy river Kaveri is a tiny tranquil town of Somanathapura. Here stands the finest and most exemplary monument of Hoysala architecture known as the famous Prasanna Chennakesava Temple or simply the Kesava Temple. Consecrated in the year 1258 CE, it is a Vaishnav Hindu Temple dedicated to might and beauty of Lord Krishna (Chenna= Beautiful and Kesava= Krishna). Tourists from near and far come to visit the temple to get a view of the beautiful place. The Chennakesava temple is one of the 1500 Temples built by the Hoysala Empire kings in different parts of their kingdom, and is said to be the climax development in Hoysala temple style and yet is unique in many other ways.
A classic example of the famous Hoysala architecture, and is one of the three temples of the kind to be nominated in the Unesco World Heritage list. Unfortunately, this temple is no longer used as a place of worship because the idols have been broken and desecrated by the invading Muslim armies. However, the beauty of the temple still charms thousands of visitors who visit the site to witness the magnificent artistic and engineering achievements of the era, to seek the Lord’s blessing and admire the delicate carvings and sculptures, whose beauty is unequal and as unique as the God that it houses.
Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, also known as the Mysore Zoo is one of the best zoological gardens in India. Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar established this Zoo in the year 1892 for the Royals. Furthermore, after the attainment of freedom, it was handed over to the Department of Parks and Gardens of the State Govt. The Zoo’s meticulous planning is responsible for making it a special zoological garden. It tends to create a natural habitat for the animals in it. From Big to small cats, Aquatic to terrestrial birds, and Primates to reptiles, one Hundred and Sixty-Eight species find their place in this zoo. The world’s first caesarian section delivery performed on an elephant in Mysore zoo gave it global fame and recognition.
Located near the palace in Mysore, The Zoological Garden covers an area of 157 acres. It is one of the oldest and most famous zoos in India. It plays the role of an orphanage to the abandoned animals. Various exhibitions are regularly held here with an insect exhibition stealing the show. Following this, the Zoo carries forward certain Education Programmes such as Youth Club activities, Literary Competitions, and Summer Camp activities. The Karanji Lake was put under Zoo jurisdiction in 1976 and since has been a calm and serene place for boating.
One of the more unique attractions of the Royal Mysore, the Bonsai Garden of Mysore is home to over a 100 different varieties of Bonsai trees spread across this vast estate. It is a part of the Avadoota Datta Peetham of the Sri Ganapathi Sachidananda Ashrama. Initially a pet project by the fascinated Swamiji, the garden now hosts 450 miniature tree across an area of 4 acres, filled with these quirky dwarf trees. The beauty of the garden is accentuated by the stream that flows within, as well as the placement of Buddha statues and monkey statues around the area, representative of the zen culture from where the art of Bonsai was evolved. There is also a deer park to cater to the nature lovers who visit.
The garden and the exhibits have been divided into various zones within, representing different Indian traditions and beliefs as followed by the Swamiji. Thus, one can find plants with connections to the Indian zodiac system, Indian classical music, the representation of the 27 stars of traditional Indian astrology, the seven Indian sages or Saptarishi, and five plant gardens closely linked with the concept of the Mother Goddess. The garden is indeed a delight to walk through, and one can’t help but appreciate the fine art and effort required to shape a 100-year-old tree within a lovely terracotta pot.
This garden is also the venue for bonsai conventions held during December. These 3-day seminars see experts from different parts of the world conducting workshops on bonsai plants.
GRS Fantasy Park
Located just 15 minutes drive from Mysore, GRS Fantasy Park is an amusement and water park that serves perfectly as a picnic spot for everyone. Set amid a lush green environment on the Mysore-Bangalore highway, it has been a part of several memorable holidays and unforgettable memories for the past 13 years. GRS Fantasy Park is a theme based amusement park and one of the favourites among the locals of Mysore. It offers some really amusing rides and activities making it a perfect spot for friends and families to hang out.
GRS Fantasy Park offers numerous thrilling fun rides and multipurpose play system for kids and adults. Water games and kid’s pool are the main attraction of the park. There are many inbuilt games at Amazonia which is an interactive river. What is more, facilities such as lockers, changing rooms, restaurants, gift shop, amphitheatre and gift shop are also situated in the premises to facilitate your trip. In short, the experience and the ambience at GRS Fantasy Park is simply exhilarating.