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Mysore is a shoppers paradise. So if you are a shopaholic like me, you might end up spending a couple of thousands. Here you will get world famous fine Mysore Silk sarees, sandalwood oil, sandalwood soaps, perfumes, incense sticks, sandalwood showpieces, Channapatna Toys, chocolate etc. Apart from sandalwood, Mysore is also famous for the delicacy, Mysore Pak. It's a sweet made of ghee, besan and dryfruits. Even if you are a diet conscious, you should try at least a small bite of it. You can go to Mahalakshmi Sweets as it is famous for Mysore Pak. There is a chocolate factory in the Hebbal Industrial Area. However, due to permission related formalities we were not able to enter the factory.
Next day our flight was scheduled from Bangaluru. So here comes the end to this short Southern splendour trip. On the way to the airport we took one stop at Channapatna. Here on the roadside you will find couple of outlets selling colourful wooden toys. I have wooden toys back at home but when the finishing the toys is really great how can a shopper likr me resist the urge? So I bagged a couple of those also. For the Bollywood lovers there is one spot on the way. The blockbuster Sholay was filmed here. The Ramgarh village which is the primary backdrop of the movie is actually the Ramnagar town. Our driver showed us few hills and mounds where Gabbar Singh might have uttered his 1st dialogue "Kitne admi the".
The trip which started as an official tour ultimately got enriched with the flavours of the southern spices. Mysore has things to offer to all type of travellers. I wish we could have managed to get a couple of more days off from our office and would have covered the nearby destinations aswell.
Mysore Masala !
The shopping bag
St. Philomena's Cathedral.
Dariya Daulat Bagh
Our next destination from the zoo was the St. Philomena's Cathedral. This church is an exquisite example of Non Gothic style and is one of the tallest churches in Asia. There is a donation box kept a floor below the room which is there in the basement of the church. It is believed that wish comes true if money dropped addressing this box crosses the grills and glass covers and enters the donation box. Not sure about the truth, but people there were trying their luck.
It was already 1:30 pm and we had to cover a couple of spots more. So after spending 15-20 minutes in the church complex we left for Srirangapatna. The Dariya Daulat Bagh (Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace) is one of the major attractions of Srirangapatna. There is a small museum inside this teak-wood palace showcasing various achievements of Tipu Sultan and his administration. The palace is surrounded by a well maintained garden. Though I love to visit historical places most,to be honest I found this spot not that appealing. From the palace we went to Tipu Sultan't Tomb. The Gumbaz holds the graves of Tippu Sultan, his father Hyder Ali and his mother Fakr-Un-Nisa. There are graves of his family members in the other chambers.
Our next destination was Srirangapatnam Fort followed by Brindavan Gardens. This magnificent fort is considered to be the second toughest fort of India. Tipu Sultan's residence was inside this fort. Hence, it is also known as Tipu Sultan Fort. The British demolished the major part of the fort. So at resent only the remnants are present. From the fort we left towards Bridavan Garden. Since we were yet to have our lunch, on the way to the garden, our driver took us to Hotel Annapurna. It's a modest veg restaurant with pocket friendly menu.
Mysore Palace- Ambavilasa
Mysore, the Southern Delight in the heart of Karnataka, was our this year's offsite destination. An official trip meant primarily for networking and party in the city of Sandalwood and Tipu Sultan, where history meets luxury, was a gain. Since there is no direct flight from Kolkata to Mysore, we took Kolkata - Bangalore flight. Mysore is around 160 KM from Bangalore and is well accessible by road and train. Approximately it takes around 4 hours in car.
Mysore is a small city with decent hotels. We stayed at Grand Mercure,which was around 2 KM from the Mysore Palace. Though the city is well connected by auto rickshaws and cabs, it's better to stay near the palace as most of the spots, shopping arcades, restaurants would be in close proximity
Outside the Mysore palace there were a couple of peddlers selling old coins, My husband is interested in numismatics so he started checking few coins of Tipu Sultan, Akbar etc. First the seller quoted Rs 3000 for a set of 20 coins, when we ignored him after hearing the price he started reducing the price like anything. He changed the price multiple times and without any bargain from our side he quoted Rs 500, a sharp reduction from Rs 3000 to Rs 500 ! So think before you purchase these.
From the palace our driver took us to Kauvery. In Mysore there are n number of stores with "Cauvery" as name, but the original unit of Karnataka government is Cauvery Handicrafts Emporium. We were so overwhelmed with the beautiful sandalwood showpieces, perfumes, wall hangings etc that we bought a number of items without noticing the difference in name of store! So the first day of our personal trip got completely devoted to the Mysore Palace, shopping, and making our cab driver understand what we are trying to say as he was not comfortable with both Hindi and English.
Next day we had a number of spots to cover. Our day started with the blessings of Chamumdeshwari Devi. The Chamundeshwari Temple is located on the top of Chamundi Hills about 13 km from Mysore. To avoid the rush of devotees, its better to leave for the temple early. The hill top offers an attractive bird’s eye view of Mysore city and far off places. There is a huge monolith statue of ‘Nandi" on this hill. Though there is a motorable road to the Chamundeshwari temple, you may try climbing the steps (approx 300) from this Nandi hill to the temple.
From the temple we went to the Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens. It is a beautiful, well maintained zoo which spreads over 157-acres and houses more than 160 species. Do wear comfortable shoes. Around 1.5 km before the exit there are a couple of food joints. So while walking if you feel exhausted don't let the thought of rest and food spoil the experience of watching these beautiful animals and capturing those moments in your lenses for lifetime. There are battery run vehicles (chargeable) to take you around. This might give comfort to your feet but to enjoy the true beauty of this zoo it's better to walk.
Brindavan Gardens is around 20 KM from Daria Daulat Bagh and it took us hardly 20 minutes to reach. it is one of the most beautifully laid out terrace gardens in the world located in the Krishnaraja Sagar dam site. Like the Shalimar Gardens of Kashmir it is structured in the Mughal style. It is enriched with a number of terraces, fountains, running and cascading waterchannels, water chutes, lush green lawns, flower beds, shrubs and trees. It was one of the most loved Hindi movie shooting destination till late 90's. Even today, the Brindavan Gardens is famous for its ethereal beauty, grandeur and illumination/ musical fountain. It is a place where one can spend quality time with family. If you are planning to stay near Brindavan Garden and is ready to pay the premium, then Hotel Royal Orchid Brindavan Garden is the best option. There is a light and sound show scheduled everyday at 7 pm. So if you are interested to watch that try to come here around 5:30 so that you can enjoy both sun and the show. After spending a couple of hours there we left for our hotel.
Since this trip started as an official one, on day 1 I was only able to get a glimpse of Mysore while travelling to and fro our hotel and meeting venue. But it was followed by a weekend...so I got enough time to taste the flavours of Mysore before I get back to my work on Monday. As a cherry on the cake over the weekend my husband joined me there.
While talking about the places to see, the two things that comes to our mind are the Mysore Palace and Tipu Sultan's palace, but trust me there is much more to see apart from these. On Friday afternoon after bidding adieu to my colleagues when my husband joined me, we headed towards the Mysore Palace. It was already 5 pm and the palace remains open till 5:30 pm ! The Palace is a beautifully made colourful structure which proudly speaks the artistic taste of the Wodeyar dynasty. The main attractions of the palace as per me are the beautifully decorated Ambavilasa (Diwan-e-Khas) and Public Darbar Hall (Diwan- e- Aam). The Sri Shweta Varahaswamy Temple is located at the southern entrance of Mysore Palace. It is a famous ancient temple of Mysore and is a popular tourist and pilgrimage destination. Unfortunately till the time we were there the temple was closed.
Dasara is a major festival of Mysore. It is a 10-day festival culminating on Vijayadashami or tenth day during Navratri. On Vijayadashami, the traditional Dasara procession (locally known as Jumboo Savari) is held on the streets of Mysore city. The main attraction of this Dasara festival is the Mysore Palace which is illuminated with nearly 100,000 light bulbs from 7 pm to 10 pm on all days of the festival.