Mysuru : The cultural capital of Karnataka

Mysore, officially now called Mysuru, is a city in the state of Karnataka. Mysore is a popular tourist destination in South India and this time around Mysore was going to be our destination. We were having holidays for a few days and wanted to go a bit far but not very far and that’s how we zeroed on Mysore. Our trip was just going to be a three days tour. 

I always prefer driving early in the morning as it’s very relaxing to drive without much traffic. I am totally the person who finds driving therapeutic. So we started out early. Mysore is around 400 kms from Kochi and we had estimated that we would take close to 10 hours to reach our destination considering time for food breaks and rest breaks. Since we started out early, my little son, Zavi,was sound asleep till we stopped for breakfast. We had a decent vegetarian breakfast from Palakkad and continued our journey. The journey was quite uneventful with Zavi enquiring now and then if we had already reached. Soon we crossed our border and drove into Tamil Nadu and after a while I decided to take some rest. Meanwhile, the others had lunch. We had packed up lunch as we were doubtful if there would be any places for lunch as we were travelling through some rural routes of Tamil Nadu. Our journey was through the famed Sathyamangalam Forest. As we entered the forest, there were a couple of signboards , warning us about the movement of wild animals. Seeing these signboards itself made Zavi very excited and he kept looking out for animals. We were lucky enough to spot some monkeys, wild boars and deers. And then we started our ascend which involved 27 hairpin turns uphill. We stopped at the last hairpin , to take a look at the beautiful nature around us. From up above we could see vehicles coming uphill and really did seem like you cars from our height. Our little Zavi was kinda scared of the height and at first refused even to get out of the car. Finally after much persuasion he got out but even then refused to stand on the ground. We entered the state of Karnataka and we reached Mysore by early evening.

We checked in at Radisson Country Inn & Suites. The hotel was totally value for money. As soon as we reached, we ordered some snacks and tea to our room. The moment we reached our room and freshened up, Zavi wanted to know if we were going to the zoo that evening itself. Zavi, being an animal person, couldn’t contain his excitement to visit the zoo. Later in the evening, we decided to just go in for a night drive around the city. We were just in time to see the illuminated Mysore Palace. It was breathtakingly beautiful. But since it was a Sunday evening and the illumination was only for 15 minutes, it was extremely crowded. We tried to park our car, but with no luck. Finally, we just took two rounds around the palace and saw the brightly lit palace from across the road itself. We had a quick dinner and got back to our hotel and retired for the night. Zavi just would not sleep thinking about the zoo.

Next day early in the morning, I think even before it was 6 am, Zavi was up. We tried to put him back to sleep but he wouldn’t go back to sleep. He wanted to go to the zoo. Since it was a working day, Zavi had an online class in the morning and we could leave only after that. We managed to somehow hold him back till then. And so our first destination was Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Park.

Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Park

The Mysore Zoo is one of the oldest and largest zoos in India. Spread over almost 137 acres, the zoo is a must visit place at Mysore. There are few options for entry tickets available at the zoo. One is an entry fee and you can walk through the zoo at your own pace or you can opt for an electric vehicle which would take you around the zoo. We opted for the walk in option for obvious reasons or Zavi may have jumped out of the vehicle seeing the animals.

Details of Tariff
  1. Zoo Tickets 
    1. Normal Entry Fee
      1. Adults - INR 100 per head
      2. Children (5 to12 years) - INR 50 per head
    2. Battery Operated Vehicle 
      1. Adults - INR 150 per head
      2. Children 5 to12 years - INR 90 per head
      3. Senior Citizen 60 years and above - INR 90 per head
    3. Other Tariffs 
      1. Photography Camera - INR 100 
      2. Videography Camera - INR 200 
      3. Luggage per item - INR 10 
  2. Zoo and Karanji Lake Combo ticket
    1. Adults - INR 120 per head 
    2. Children 5 to12 years - INR 60 per head
We started with birds which included a lot of exotic birds like different types of macaws and parrots. Zavi was too excited. What I really liked was, in front of every animal there was a detailed board with its description, habitat, diet and even whether it’s endangered or not. We took our own sweet time and walked through slowly. This was the first time that I saw lemurs and marmosets. The only lemur I have seen before is King Julian in Madagascar. Zavi was enjoying thoroughly as he got to see zebras, giraffes, different types of deers, bears, monkeys and a lot more. There was a special area called carnivore zone. Here we saw wolves, wild dogs, tigers, lions, leopards, jaguars, foxes, hyenas and much more. Then we walked into the reptile zone. There were huge anacondas, the size of which I can’t explain and it totally made me feel uneasy. There were a lot of different kinds of snakes. I think Zavi loved the snakes as he kept talking about them even after we reached back. We walked through a walk-in aviary with large birds like cranes and pelicans and another aviary with beautiful ducks and swans. There were also crocodiles, alligators, gharials, caimans and different types of turtles and tortoises. By the time we were almost finished, Zavi’s excitement meter had reached rock bottom and finally he wanted to sit somewhere. We sat down and rested for sometime and then slowly made our way out. All of us were totally out and headed back to our hotel for some rest.

Embodiment of Royalty

The Mysore Palace, also known as Amba Vilas Palace, is a historical palace and a royal residence (house). It used to be the official residence of the Wadiyar dynasty and the seat of the Kingdom of Mysore. The palace is in the centre of Mysore, and faces the Chamundi Hills eastward. Mysore is commonly described as the 'City of Palaces', and there are seven palaces including this one. However, the Mysore Palace refers specifically to the one within the Old Fort. 

We reached Mysore Palace quite early the next day and setted out straight to the ticket counter. I noted that the garden was beautifully maintained with not a leaf out of place. The grandeur of the place from the outside itself was mind blowing. It gave us some serious old historic movie vibes. I personally felt that the palace kind of had a western influence in its construction, that is when we see it from the outside. All along to the entrance of the palace, there were a couple of guides who kept dodging us and offering their services. They may be good,but I decided to keep them away and made my way with my family into the palace. As we entered the main Durbar Hall, I just could not stop thinking about how magnificent this place was. The Darbar Hall had warm soothing lights and the pillars were couloured in a beautiful shade of blue and golden. The walls had paintings of some major events during the times of the kings. From here we proceeded to a space with some artefacts and as we walked through the passages, I just could not stop admiring the beautifully painted walls, the unique type of flooring and the whole aesthetic feeling of this palace. We moved into the audience hall, which yet again was mesmerizingly beautiful in its pastel shades. As we walked on into the audience hall, what caught my attention was the unbelievable paintings on the ceilings. I mean, it makes sense to have painting on the walls, but to have such beautiful paintings on the ceilings was out of this world. Inside the palace complex, there are also one or two temples. We visited one of them and made our offerings there. Also we noticed that there were a couple of shops for tourists in the premises which also included a shop of the Karnataka government selling stuff like Mysore Sandal Soaps, perfumes, Mysore silk and the like.

Chamundi Hills

Another place of interest at Mysuru is the Chamundi Hills. The Chamundi Hills is the abode of Goddess Chamundeshwari. The temple is situated atop the hills at around 3500 feet above sea level. Chamundi Hills is a purely religious place, but I would warn you not to fall for the many persons standing there offering puja items like just a flower or two. As you enter, they just put it in your hand and then they would tell you to pay up to Rs 50 or 100. So beware of such persons at the temple. As we ascended the hills, we stopped at a spot to get a view of Mysore. This spot offered a beautiful panoramic view of Mysore.

There are a lot of other places that we can visit at Mysuru like Brindavan Gardens, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Railway Museum and the like. In between we even did some street shopping and walked through the famed Devaraja Market. But since we were there only for 2 days we decided to come back another time for the rest of the places.

Akshay, Pratima, and Abhigail at Country Inn & Suites 

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Rahul Devakumar
Creative Media Studio

We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone.


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