My journey to Mysuru (Mysore) started from a very unlikely point – watching a corporate video of an artisinal chocolate brand that i fell instantly in love with.
Seduction by Chocolate
The video was as beautiful as their chocolate and it set my mind wandering off to a place i just had to visit after watching it. It probably struck a chord with me because i’m very particular and curious about where the foods i consume (and enjoy) come from…
Here is their video – be warned that it may have the same effect on you too!
“i really believe that cities have a huge impact on what you do”
– David Belo
Founder, Earth Loaf Chocolates
Believing David’s words, i was convinced that if a city could impact someone’s work so wonderfully, then it certainly warranted a visit and being explored!
Day Trip / Weekend Getaway from Bengaluru
Having spent almost 6 months in Bengaluru, it would have been a shame if i did NOT make a visit to Mysuru, so i just landed at the SBC Railway Station on Saturday afternoon after making an impromptu booking at a hostel, The Mansion (which came highly recommended). I boarded a mail train that reached Mysuru in a little over 140 minutes.
Getting Around – Thank You, Ola!
I had already read online that Ola Cabs & Ola Auto works well in Mysuru – that was not only a big relief but also a huge convenience when visiting a new city. A ride to my hostel cost just Rs.29 🙂
Dinner with a 360° view of Mysuru
A quick search for “dinner” on Google Maps threw up High Park as the first result, stating that it was a revolving restaurant with a 360° view of the city. I was sold and made it my first stop in the city. For Rs.450+ taxes, the restaurant offered a buffet dinner and also served drinks a la carte. Was it worth it? Totally! I was also lucky to witness the illuminated Mysore Palace from a bird’s eye perspective. The food was average, but the overall experience was surely impressive.
Best of Mysuru in a day
One of the reasons i was visiting Mysuru hurriedly was for doing a recce for my upcoming project, Doors Of India – so i decided to wander around the city with that singular focus while staying open to other ideas. The places of interest in the city are so close to each other that i never crossed the 4km. mark from one place to another.
- Mysuru Palace – First Visit (7:50 am)
Given that the palace was less than a kilometer from my hostel, i had to make the landmark my first stop! What i didn’t realize is that i landed at the back gate of the palace, two hours too early (the gates open at 10:30 am, and i zestfully reached there before 8:00 am!).
That rookie mistake was not a bad idea after all, since i also got to see the beautiful Kote Sri Anjaneya Temple and offer prayers.
- Jagan Mohan Palace. (8:05 am)
The erstwhile residence of the royal family when the upcoming Amba Bhavan at Mysore Palace was being built, the Jagan Mohan Palace now doubles up as a museum which was also yet to open when i reached (opens at 8:30 am), so after a quick external recce, i paused for a humble chow chow baath (sheera + upma) breakfast at Raja Bhawan restaurant nearby.
- St. Philomenas Cathedral. (8:45 am)
One of the finest examples of Gothic architecture, this cathedral is an unmissable landmark of Mysuru for both religious folks as well as shutter happy selfie stick holders – just ensure you don’t walk in during service.
- Mysore Palace – Second Visit (9:45 am)
Determined to get in early to explore the main attraction of Mysuru in peace, i showed up before the opening time yet again and thankfully didn’t have to wait too long for my ticket – a reasonable Rs.40 for Indian tourists (Rs.100 for foreigners).
Photography and footwear is prohibited inside the palace, so after depositing my shoes at the entrance, i first got some external shots of the splendid palace.
The design is ‘Indo-Sarecenic’, combining Mughal, Hindu and Gothic styles – making it a pleasure to gawk at and appreciate. Starting from a hallway of dolls and photographs of the royal family, the first floor leads to the royal darbar and the private darbar. This is what had me spellbound. Very well preserved and protected, it’s one of the most beautiful palaces i’ve seen in India.
- Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel (12:00 noon)
A reasonably priced palatial hotel is always a welcome stop for a wary traveller – so i decided to splurge a bit and have lunch at this erstwhile palace, now converted into a hotel. The entry fee of Rs.100 includes a complimentary hot beverage while warding off hoardes of tourists. However their lunch time was not before 1 pm, so i decided to keep it humble and dine at Hotel Siddhartha near my hostel, followed by a power nap.
My Stay @ The Mansion 1907
i found this gem of a place via Booking.com and didn’t think twice before making a reservation – the photos, location and reviews were all stellar, and the hostel didn’t just meet my expectations but exceeded them. I even lucked out by being the only person in a 4-bed dorm!
If you’ve never tried Booking.com, i highly recommend it – most of their reservations can be made with zero down payment and free cancellations, subject to terms. Click here to get Rs.700 off your first booking (+ it gets me the same discount if you claim it too) 😉
Saving the best for the last, i went back to the Mysuru Palace in the evening to witness the illumination that happens for an hour every Sunday between 7 pm – 8 pm. Needless to say, it was absolutely spectacular and mesmerizing. Open to public, the grand show does not require any special tickets. So do NOT miss it if you’re in Mysuru on a Sunday, or even better – during Dussehra!
As i made my way back smiling, i noticed a bike-share kiosk nearby. Turns out that Mysuru has one of the best bike sharing programmes in the country (Trin Trin), with over 40 such stands spread across the city.
The next day, i went to check out the chocolate factory of Earth Loaf, my favorite chocolate makers who also inspired me to visit Mysuru. Although i couldn’t meet David, the founder and owner – it was a treat in every way, and i highly recommend visiting them, but kindly write to them before doing so.
My journey back to Bengaluru was even sweeter, with the help of a local friend i managed to meet just an hour before boarding my train. She showed me how easy it was to make a spot booking for the Shatabdi train. An air conditioned, world class experience that reaches Bengaluru in exactly 2 hours.
All in all, it was one of the most perfect weekends i’ve had in a while and i can’t wait to revisit my new favorite city in India.
See you again soon, Mysuru!