What’s there in Mysore they ask? What are the various things to do in Mysore? It sure has a Palace but there are palaces in Rajasthan too. There is not much to do in the city anyway they say. Sure the backwaters of Kerala and the beaches of Goa seem more enticing. And it does not have a pub half as good as the ones in Bangalore. Yeah, you don’t need to travel to this city, unless you have a vital reason. And so, many believe!
Mysore does not seem like much on first glance. Quite like the people of this city, who seem to be in no hurry to do anything, everything in Mysore seem to be understated. But that is only until you take a closer look.
The city centre may seem crowded like any other Indian city. But just drift away for a couple of kilometers into the residential areas. And you will know why Mysoreans live a charmed life. Not every city in India can boast of tree lined boulevards alongside spick and span wide roads. It is not for nothing that a recent survey conducted by the Indian Government has listed Mysore as one of the cleanest cities in the country.
Speaking of that, a must do activity in Mysore is a stroll around the Devaraja Market in the evening. But before you set your foot inside the market, wait! Because “What is this life, full of care, We have no time stand and stare”. Take some time, stand at the market square and look around – the spectacle begins here. The view around is like a beautifully shot scene from a movie with a heritage building in the background. Every person goes about their own business – some standing, some walking around and some sketching and painting. Some great artists who have drawn inspiration from this market are R.K. Laxman, the famous cartoonist and T.S. Satyan, a well-known photojournalist.
And if you think you can load yourself with some calories, head to the iconic Guru sweets. Buy some bright yellow Indian sweet, the famous Mysore Pak. Grab a bench at the market square and relish this along with the scenery around.
Once you think you have soaked into the experience – head inside. An assault on all 5 senses like no other, a couple of hours inside the market will rekindle fire into the most lifeless of souls. Each pile of different colours rises in rebellion, only to be soothed by the vendors smiling behind them. The rows of fruits stacked up meticulously can allure anyone to sample some. And the cacophony here gives everything a character adding to the charm of the market.
But the best arrives when you enter the never ending rows of flowers strewn everywhere. Once here, you will fail to fathom the colour and the aroma around. There are flower garlands hanging till your eyes can see at a distance but even then you end up craving for more.
And rightly so. Because there is much to explore – another of the best being the flower extracted perfumes. You name it and they have it! Beware – you may come out of a store smelling like a concoction of perfumes. Grab a bagful too. They sure make for some great souvenirs for friends back home.
The Mysore Palace – it has been written about, discussed, featured, photographed, and visited. Yet the splendor and the beauty of the Palace make it worth mentioning everytime. True! India has many palaces but few can match the majestic nature of this Palace. But did the Kings stop at one? Well! They did not. The royals did not stop at one or two but they went to build seven palaces in this kingdom. Apart from the main Amba Vilas Palace, few others are worth exploring. The art gallery in Jaganmohana Palace and the Museum in the Jayalakshmi Vilas Palace are some of the few.
Not just Palaces, the Kings of Mysore took good care of their subject. They invested towards infrastructure and education. This has made Mysore one of the most liveable cities in India today. They also patronized a wide variety of artisans, whose tradition continues till date.
To start with, there are the stone sculptors. For generations together they have been carving these masterpieces on stone. To watch them at work is to watch stone come to life. And when you watch many artists work together, the rhythm created by the tools is like music to the ear.
Mysore is also home to a rich tradition of inlay work which produces a wide range of handicrafts. Way before, when use of ivory was in vogue, the artists would embed small pieces of ivory into rosewood. You can see the finest example of this art in the doors of the Private Durbar or the Diwan-e-Khaas in the main palace. It sure will leave you awestruck. These days, instead of ivory, acrylic is used. But to watch the artists intricately carve it out is a sight to behold.
Another thing that Mysore is well-known for is the Mysore Silk. But what is not known is that Mysore Silk enjoys the dignity of being manufactured by the country’s oldest silk manufacturing unit. You can enjoy a tour around the factory and see the workers convert the looms into finest quality of silk cloth. If authenticity has fascinated you here but you are not satiated – worry not! We have the sweet and divine smelling Government Sandalwood Factory awaiting for you. If you are feeling rich, take home the expensive vials of the pure sandalwood oil. Or how about a bar of India’s most expensive soap for INR 750?
One of the little known things to do in Mysore, especially among the foreigners, is the Mysore Zoo. In spite of the big debate on putting wild animals behind cages, the Mysore Zoo is easily one of the best zoos in India.
Also, your list of things to do in Mysore is incomplete without some must-eats in the city. Mysore is home to some of the best food you can find in Southern India. Like the crispy Butter Masala Dosa – bettered only by the Mylari Dosa. Or wait, how about an authentic traditional plantain leaf meal? You will satiate your hunger but your tongue will definitely crave for more. Try it – it is “finger-licking” good!
After a heady day out around Mysore, ride atop the Chamundi Hills and watch the city turn on the lights to welcome in the night. It gets even more surreal on a Sunday night to watch the palace lighting from the top of the hills.
These are just some of the things to do in Mysore. To get the real essence of Mysore, we recommend a few days walking around the streets and hanging around the small cafes in the city centre. Rachael from Hippie in Heels says that “even 10 days isn’t long enough to see this “royal” city and learn about it’s past”.
You can also, check our posts that will help you experience Mysore the local way. Or if you want to trail off the beaten path – head this way! Anna from Global Gallivanting travelled with us and says, “I took a Mysore day tour with goMowgli which gave me such a deeper insight into the rich and glittering history of this fascinating town”. And Alex from Finding The Freedom says, “with the help of my friends at goMowgli, I was able to get off the beaten track in Mysore and really see a side of the city not many get to see”.
So do check our Mysore City Tour. We have spent a lifetime here and we know the well kept secrets about our abode. We put in a lot of passion and enthusiasm in what we do. And sometimes we do love to boast about ourselves. SOME OF OUR TRAVELLERS FIND US AWESOME – CHECK WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY ABOUT US.
Either ways, make sure to take your time to gather the essence of the city. And yeah, walk slow – Mysoreans take their time everywhere.