Cafe Travelogue - MYSORE (Part 1)

October 30, 2015

Time flies.... Five years back, we had gone to Mysore a week before Dussehra. The entire city was so alive and vibrant that we promised to return here every year around the same time. While planning for this trip, we happened to go through our previous trip pictures and realized that it had been 5 long years since our last visit!! No particular reason except that time just flew and we didn't even realize...
Coming to this trip, it was a road trip just like the previous one. Having your own car at your disposal also means that you get to explore the city at your own pace. The distance between Bangalore and Mysore is around 145-150kms and takes approximately 3 hours. There are hotels, restaurants and cafes catering to all budgets, along the way. So you need not actually carry anything except water, fruits, and some nice music. The roads are smooth and nice too.

We set forth on a Saturday morning. We, by the way, includes myself, Mr. B and Junior. On the way to Mysore, you will come across Channapatna or 'The City of Toys'. Do stop by here if you want to pick up wooden toys and handicrafts. The stores are located along the highway too; so you won't have to deviate from your journey. A lot of foreign tourist crowd can also be found in the toy-and-handicraft shops here as well as in Mysore city. Beware of duplicate sandalwood items; they are everywhere! We did not stop at Channapatna as our breakfast stop had a similar handicraft store along with KFC, Cafe Coffee Day, Domino's, an ice-cream parlour, and a South-Indian restaurant. We went to the South-Indian place partly because it looked more peaceful and partly because we did not feel like hogging pizzas and burgers early in the morning. Apparently, most travellers thought otherwise and consequently, KFC, CCD, and Domino's were crowded like anything.
Since Srirangapatna (the town that got cosmopolitan status under Tipu Sultan's rule) falls in the same route, we decided to halt here for a while before resuming our journey. It has a lot of historical importance mainly in relation to Tipu's rule here.
1. Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace, Srirangaptna 
Tipu Sultan was one of the few Indian rulers to have defeated British armies. The summer palace is set amongst beautiful gardens/Daria Daulat Bagh, and is also known as Daria Daulat Palace. This palace is made of teakwood and has paintings everywhere - the walls, pillars, ceilings! It also showcases Tipu's clothes and armour; miniature models of the Srirangapatna town, scenes from the Tipu-British battle; bowls used during the time, and such things.

Srirangapatna - Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace/Daria Daulat Palace

The summer palace is not a grand palace like the Mysore Palace; as the name suggests, it was a summer home for Tipu. But the painted walls, pillars and ceilings along with the vast green lawns sprawling around the palace lets you imagine how grand everything would have been at that time. 


After the summer palace, we drove further down the same road and reached Gumbaz. This is a Persian-style mausoleum or tomb that Tipu built in memory and honour of his heroic father, Hyder Ali. We did not visit it though as by then, a lot of school buses and other tourist vans had arrived; and it was as crowded as it could possibly get.
2. Mysore City
So straight to Mysore it was. While Bangalore is the state capital of Bangalore, Mysore came to be known as Karnataka's cultural capital. I feel that it is very similar to the old Bangalore which used to be called the Garden City once upon  a time. However, Mysore is more peaceful, more beautiful, has more wide roads with the palaces adding to the old-time charm. Do check out Mysore Pak, a sweet item like the peda; also Mysore Silk sarees are quite popular here. Both are available in Bangalore as well; so it was not something new for us.
Once there, we checked in at our hotel, had lunch and then a quick nap.
Later in the evening, we walked down to the annual exhibition held every year around Dussehra in Mysore. There were numerous stalls selling a variety of stuff from bags, jewellery, clothes to handicrafts, toys, and home furnishing. But it was like any other exhibition, I feel - nothing unique. What is special though is the exhibition ground. It is vast, well-planned and well-maintained with basic facilities provided, like seating, drinking water. and food stalls. Do take an evening stroll here even if you do not plan to buy anything from the exhibition. They have amusement rides and musical programmes too. The most noticeable thing HAS to be the fact that the exhibition entrance is decorated in the same way and with similar lights as the famous Mysore Palace lighting.
Mysore Dussehra or rather Mysore Dasara (as the locals say) is one of the most celebrated festivals in South India, and tourists flock in large numbers to Mysore to witness this grand celebration. You can sense the festivity in the air and across the entire city. Once it is dark, the roads leading to the Mysore Palace are all lit and decorated. Even the road junctions look so grand. Look at the picture below, and you will know what I mean. Basically, the entire city of Mysore is enveloped in lights of different colors and styles!
Mysore City - all decked up for Dussehra/Dasara
Traffic is a mess in the evenings. Looked like everybody, tourists as well as locals, was on the streets. We soon realized that if we take the car out in the evenings, we would just be stuck in traffic endlessly. Since our hotel was right in the middle of the city and close to the Mysore Palace, we either walked around or took auto rides in the evenings. They also have horse-carts and some looked like decorated royal chariots.
3. Mysore Palace Illumination

This is a sight you have to personally see, to experience the grandeur and stunning beauty of the royal Mysore Palace. You HAVE to be there to actually feel it. The palace's lights come alive usually on Sundays and public holidays at 7pm for around 45 minutes. But during the days leading to Dussehra, these lights stay on for extended hours once it is dark.
The picture above is just the illuminated entrance of the Mysore Palace. However, you can enter inside the property (not 'palace') and view the elaborate and entire illumination of the palace too. You cannot enter inside the palace at this time. As for the lights, it is as if a million stars have descended down upon the city. And you can keep looking on and on at it forever..... unless of course, you happen to have a child who finds some junk street stuff more interesting!
During the day, the palace has visiting hours for tourists during which you can pay a nominal fee and enter inside the palace and experience its magnificence. Footwear is not allowed and has to be deposited in a free locker section present inside the palace property itself. Wearing socks would be a very good idea! I personally cannot imagine walking without chappals even in my own house!
Unfortunately, I cannot show you pictures of the palace interiors as photography is prohibited inside and mobile phones have to be switched off too. They will anyway ensure that you do so before entering. The Mysore Palace is huge but the authorities have closed down many parts of the palace for better maintenance and to preserve the palace property.
4. Mysore Zoo
Mysore Zoo is one of the best zoos that I have seen in India. It is so well-planned and well-maintained that calling it just a zoo is highly unfair. It is more of a sanctuary or  a national park where each animal/bird has ample space to move around.
This is a huge property! Some areas are restricted for the public but in spite of that, be prepared to spend some time here as you need to walk around 5 kms inside the zoo to see all the animals/birds. The last time when we had been here (around 5 years back), there were prams/strollers for hire, inside the campus. We did not check this time though as Junior does not fit into a pram/stroller anymore. They also have battery-operated vehicles or tram cars in case you are not the walking types or have health issues.
We visited the zoo in the morning and there was already a huge crowd gathered. But since the property is so huge, you still get enough space to walk around and see everything at your pace. Most of the animals like the lions, tigers, cheetahs and the like were deep asleep and did not even lift their head. We presume they were well-fed before the tourist crowd came in.
Anyway, here is a picture of the only lion that decided to get up in order to find another place to sleep.

The zoo has seating arrangements every few metres where you can rest your aching feet. Clean drinking water is also available. It is mostly shady inside the zoo due to the numerous trees and the overall umbrella of greenery. It is still tiring but worth it.
Junior was most interested in the otter area and he insisted that we take one of the slimy otters back to Bangalore. Fortunately, there was a 'Wild Republic' branded souvenir store inside the zoo just near the otter area; and I managed to distract his attention by buying him a pack of the horrible but Junior's favourite-st dinosaurs. Oh, and they also have a canteen for your grumbling stomachs!
A picture of me and Junior (with his binoculars), deviating from the crowd.

That is all for Part 1. The post was running long; so I had to split it into 2 parts. Part 2 will follow soon, I promise.
Do comment below if you liked this post. It would make me very happy!

P.S. - You can read Part 2 here.

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