Although India has a plethora of places worth visiting and admiring, the Southern part of India has a unique charm of its own. One such place is the beautiful city of Mysore (officially Mysuru). It is the southernmost city of Karnataka, neighbouring to Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Fondly known as the ‘Palace City of India’, it brims with flamboyance, variety and wonderment. The city bustles with an ancient royal heritage, a multitude of fascinating locations, scent of sandalwood and an aura of harmony. Mysore sightseeing can open up a whole new world for travellers.
It bagged the tag of cultural capital in the state of Karnataka along with being the cleanest city. In India, it ranks second after Taj Mahal as one of the most visited tourist sites in the country. Every year it witnesses around 6 million tourists. Its architectural marvels are a treat for history buffs as well as those who like exploring beautiful things.
To start planning a trip, you will first need to book hotels in Mysore, after choosing from budget or luxury options. Then, decide how you wish to check out the following places for an exciting stay here.
Top 7 Places To Visit in Mysore
- Nanjundeshwara Temple – Nanjangud
- Karanji Lake
- Brindavan Gardens
- St. Philomena’s Church
- Mysore Zoo
- Bilikal Rangaswamy Betta
1. Nanjundeshwara Temple – Nanjangud
In the temple town of Mysore, Nanjangus is a famous one situated on the banks of river Kabini. The architecture of this temple is inspired by Dravidian style of art form, vivid in the 300-1000 CE era. This temple has shrines dedicated to three deities namely – Lord Nanjundashwara, Lord Vishnu and Goddess Parvathi. It was built during the reign of Ganga Dynasty and was then called as ‘Hakim Nanjunda’. This temple has been acknowledged well for its healing qualities amongst worshippers. They take a dip in the backwaters of holy river Kabini after performing the said rite.
It is also known by names like Dakshina Kashi. Nanjundeswara translates to God who drank poison in vernacular tongue and is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Legend states that the Gods and demons were in a quest to find nectar of immortality in the ocean. While they churned the oceans, there were aplenty artefacts that came out, one of which was poison. Lord Shiva decided to drink the whole of the poison before it spread to the universe. That is the reason why his neck is deemed blue-green and he is known as Neelkanth. Goddess Parvathi, his wife, held his throat affirm, preventing its spread to the rest of his body.
You are allowed to carry beverages, snacks, camera and footwear inside. Public transport is never an issue in Karnataka, however, buses are the most common choice.
2. Karanji Lake
Fountain Lake is another name for Karanji Lake, one of the best tourist places in Mysore. It houses India’s largest butterfly garden and is the first walk-through aviary of its kind. If you are passionate about ornithology, then this is your go-to place. It is spread over a vast area and around 80- 100 types of migratory birds reside here. About 40 to 50 species of butterflies have called this place as their home. A planned butterfly park has been set-up on a small island within the periphery of this lake.
The museum named, the Regional Museum of Natural History, is situated on the banks of this lake, as well.
Of the many things to do in Mysore, you will find the boating activity here to be very refreshing. Yes! Boating is a relaxing activity that relieves your stress and worry. At this lake, you will come across different kinds of boating activities involving pedal boats and row boats. The place is closed on Tuesdays, and should be visited before late evening for the best experience.
3. Brindavan Gardens
Welcome to one of the most visited tourist places in Mysore. It is an appealing and extensive garden near the Krishnaraja Sagar Dam. The green spread, cascading water channels, flower beds, and fascinating fountains are a treat to sore eyes. It is filled with soul, love and elegance. It took 5 years to complete the construction of this garden. It stretches over 150 acres and has captivating designs, grass, and topiaries.
The best time to visit the garden is when it is illuminated beautifully in the evenings. Do check the exact timings before you go as they vary by days of the week and seasons. If you are here with your special someone, do not forget to watch the grandeur of the dancing fountains in the backgrounds. Arrays of food stalls are present that serve hot beverages, snacks and ice creams, offering a nice spot for picnics. You can simply relax in the lap of Mother Nature, and feel rejuvenated. It is a perfect spot to bring your kids too. The garden has exciting joy rides and swings. Live in the moment of the present and unwind afar from the shackles of your everyday life.
The best time to visit Brindavan Gardens is in the winters, in the months from October to January. It is a time when the garden doesn’t feel scorching hot like the summers, or you won’t be caught in a shower, like in the monsoons. The temperature stays just right for you to explore and feel great.
4. St. Philomena’s Church
St. Philomena’s Church has been an epitome of history since time immemorial. It has set a benchmark of being Asia’s second tallest church. It was built to pay homage to the martyr of Roman Catholic Church and Catholic Saint, Saint Philomena. It derives its design from the 19TH century Neo-Gothic style. The church has double spires which have a cross that is 12 feet high. The catacomb that lies beneath this stature is entirely made up of immaculate white marble. It is said that the hall is big enough to accommodate a 1000 worshippers inside.
According to legend, this church is dedicated to the 3rd-century saint Philomena who was the daughter of a reputed monarch in Greece. Her parents were childless for several years and they prayed to Jesus to bless them with a child. Next year itself, Philomena saw the light of this world. When Philomena was a teenager, her father took her to Rome to obtain the favour of Emperor Diocletian. The Emperor was enticed by her flawless beauty and proposed her then and there. Nevertheless, she disagreed to the proposition. With vengeance in his heart, the Emperor ordered to have her executed. Therefore, this church not only stands to signify the secular nuances but also the religious accord present in the church.
The church is open from 5 AM -6 PM every day. The mass is scheduled from 5 AM -9 AM every day in the morning and 6 AM- 6 30 PM in the evenings.
5. Mysore Zoo
Mysore sightseeing is incomplete without paying a visit to the Mysore Zoo. This zoo is again one of the most visited tourist places in Mysore. It is usually a part of the Mysore Palace tour package. It is one of the most noted and oldest zoos in southern India. The layout and planning were meticulously done by the Department of Parks and Gardens of the State Government.
The zoo has coverage of over 158 acres of land and is home to myriad homeless animals and birds in the country. Karanji Lake mentioned above is now a part of the zoo’s jurisdiction and offers a serene escapade to boating. The zoo came into limelight globally when an elephant gave birth to its baby with caesarean section delivery, making it the world’s first zoo to witness this wonder. As many as 168 different species reside in this zoo. From aquatic beings to terrestrial animals to primate and reptiles, there is immense biodiversity in the zoo.
The best time to swing by this zoo is during winters, during the day hours. Either you can plan your trip before 11. 30 AM or drop by after 3. 30 PM, when the crowd is a little less. It can be one of the perfect weekend gateways if you are with kids and family. During this time, the zoo conducts certain education programmes such as Youth Club activities, Literary Competitions, and Summer Camp activities. Nonetheless, the Insect Exhibition steals the show. So what are you waiting for? Your weekend is sorted right here, right now!
If you are a history buff, this is the right place for you. Talakadu is a historic destination which is situated on the banks of river Kaveri. It has massive stretches of sand along its circumference. Replete with rich past and heritage, it is famous for its Vaidyanatheshwara Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The place derives its name from two imminent local chieftains Tala and Kada.
There are a number of temples dotting the banks of the River Kaveri. They were buried under the sand and are excavated once in every 12 years. This calls for a special worship called the Panchalinga Darshana. It includes five major temples namely Vaidyeshwara temple, Arkeshwara temple, Vasukishwara or Pataleshwara temple Saikateshwara or Maraleshwara temple and Mallikarjuna temple. It is said that the Pataleshwara Shivalinga change colours according to the time of the day. The colour ranges from crimson red in the mornings, tan black in afternoons to white in the evenings. Bizarre yet true!
The best time to visit this place is in the winter months of November to January. It is when the sands are cool and pleasant to walk on. Summers see formations of sand dunes at times and make it balmy to step on them. Talakuda is said to be cursed. Ensure finding out the reason yourself when you go. You will be shocked to know the truth!
Many private buses ply conveniently from both Bangalore and Mysore. It is your call to choose the one best suited for you.
7. Bilikal Rangaswamy Betta
Are you an adventurer at heart? Do you like to do something different, out of the blue? Cheers to you then because here is what you have wished for. Bilikal Rangaswamy Betta is one of the highest hills in the city and translates to white hills in Kannada. It has an elevation of 3780 ft. and an absolute point for trekking. The path is well marked until its peak. It takes approximately 2.5 hours to climb uphill and another 1.5 hours to reach downhill. The track starts with a half kilometre walk .This is done on a relatively even path. After this point, the elevation of slope increases by a lot. The hilltop view portrays an alluring and picturesque vista. One can notice hillocks from the surrounding Kanakapura range, mainly BM betta, Kabbala Durga and Savanadurga too.
If you wish to take a sneak peek into this striking escape, then plan ahead. You can cover this city pretty much in a day or two which makes it ideal to be included as a weekend gateway on your Mysore trip.
Lastly, tasting South Indian cuisines is one of the many things to do in Mysore. Try Gokulam or Aramane Café, where the food is served on a banana leaf, with a traditional touch. Never forget to eat Mysore Pak which is a delicious sweet, named after the city and has stayed true to its authentic form.
So, book the best hotel which catches your eye, decide which places you wish to explore, plan a budget and get ready for an amazing trip to Mysore.