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The Wodeyar dynasty ruled Mysore from 1399 until Independence, apart from a brief period in the late 18th century. The Wodeyars were known as enlightened rulers and great patrons of the arts and culture.
The legacy of this patronage lives in the names of various artistic and traditional items, including the Mysore style of painting; the Mysore Pak, which is a sweet; the Mysore Peta, a traditional turban and the Mysore silk sari.
Mysore retains its place as a producer of fine products in traditional industries such as painting, silk, sandalwood and incense production. Its young and dynamic workforce have also attracted large IT firms and it is a centre for business process outsourcing (BPO).
Mysore is internationally renowned as the home of Ashtanga yoga and attracts visitors from around the world to practice in its many yoga centres.
As you would expect from such an artistic town, Mysore holds many wonderful festivals. People travel from all over India and around the world to witness the city’s flamboyant displays during the Dussehra festival.
Mysore is a clean and well-planned city. Visitors find it easy to get around and enjoy wandering through the splendid city at a slower pace than other Indian cities of its size.
When to go:
Mysore can be visited year-round, but the best weather is from September to March.
- Reserve at least a few hours to see the splendid Mysore Palace: a fine example of the Indo-Saracenic school of architecture that blends Hindu and Persian styles and practices. On weekend evenings and holidays the palace is illuminated by close to 100,000 bulbs – don’t miss it!
- Climb Chamundi Hill to see the temple devoted to the Goddess Chamundeshwari, who is said to have slaughtered the demon Mahishasura, who ruled the area. Mysore is named after this legend.
- Visit during the state-wide Dussehra festival in September/October. Carrying on the tradition of the opulent Wodeyars, Mysore celebrates the festival in style with a procession of guards leading an idol of Chamundeshwari as well as bedazzled elephants and rich tableux.
- Visit the Mysore Zoo. Established in 1892, it is one of the world’s oldest zoos. It has animals from around the world as well as native Indian species including the white tiger and Himalayan black bear.
- Light a candle in the gothic St Philomena’s Church, one of the oldest churches in India.
- Stock up on spices at the vibrant Devaraja Market.
- Eat some masala puri, the favourite snack of Mysoreans.
- Take a trip out to either Bandipur or Nagarhole National Parks, both home to India’s elusive tigers.
- Buy some carved sandalwood, wooden toys and incense. Mysore is rightly famous for these products.
- Take a trip to see the famous Jain sculpture of Gomateshvara, also known as Shravanabelagola.