A charming city

Print edition : October 21, 2011

GIVEN its rich cultural heritage, Mysore is not a city that either the accidental visitor or the avid tourist can afford to skip. It is also conveniently located, just 140 kilometres south of Bangalore.

Taking pride of place among its many tourist attractions are its well-known palaces, all built by the Wodeyars, the princely state's rulers: the Amba Vilas Palace (also known as the Mysore Palace), the Jaganmohan Palace, Rajendra Vilas, Jayalakshmi Vilas and Lalitha Mahal Palace.

Another popular tourist destination is the Chamundi Hills, with a temple of the goddess Chamundeshwari at the top. Climbing up the hill can be both invigorating and rewarding. The view from the top is spectacular. Also on any tourist's itinerary are visits to the Krishnarajasagar dam across the Cauvery and the adjoining Brindavan Gardens.

A famous landmark in the city of culture is the St Philomena's Cathedral, said to resemble St Patrick's Cathedral in New York. Built in 1840, this Roman Catholic church was initially known as St. Joseph Chaver. The foundation for the construction of the present church was laid in 1933. The cathedral is a Gothic structure with beautiful stained-glass windows and lofty twin towers, which stand majestically at 175 feet (53 metres).

Mysore has a number of museums the Regional Museum of Natural History (which has exhibits on plants, animals and the geology of southern India), the Folklore Museum (which has exhibits of over 6,500 items of folk art and craft from all over Karnataka, and the Railway Museum (which exhibits vintage locomotives and is the second such museum to be set up after the National Railway Museum in Delhi). The city also houses the Oriental Research Institute, formerly known as the Oriental Library, which was established in 1891 and contains over 33,000 palm leaf manuscripts.

Another of Mysore's specialties is health and wellness tourism, with a host of products and services on offer.

The city has two well-known theme parks GRS Fantasy Park and Planet-X. For animal lovers there is the Mysore Zoo, one of the largest in India. The city's lakes are popular getaway spots, the best among them being the Karanji and Kukkarahalli lakes.

Mysore can also be used as a base to make quick getaways to the historical fort city of Srirangapatna, the bird sanctuary at Ranganathittu, the wildlife parks at Bandipur and Nagarahole, the picturesque BR Hills, the Buddhist settlement at Bylakuppe, the well-maintained Kabini River Lodge, and Talakad, the town of archaeological treasures. Then there are the temple towns of Melkote and Nanjangud, the Shivanasamudra Falls and the architecturally splendid Belur, Halebid and Shravanabelagola sites.

Ravi Sharma

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