Mysore is yet to, and perhaps never will , get over its past. A past that’s made of kings, queens, conquests, rich patrons, extravagant durbars and pearled hallways must be hard to get over. The streets in Mysore are old and a good part of history can be traced by following their winding paths. The city that gets its name from Mahishasura, the troublemaker demon who was slain by the Goddess Chamundeshwari: whose temple atop the Chamundi Hill watches all over the city, has played host to the reign of a long line of Wadiyars, Tipu Sultan and the British Raj.
All roads in Mysore lead to the Mysore Palace, and rightfully so. An ode to magnificence, the Mysore Palace is a marvel of ornate ceilings, jewelled corridors, open mandaps, stained glass windows, vivid paintings and Wadiyar memorabilia – including the jewelled throne. As the main host of the famous Mysore Dasara, the Palace still has the airs of the headquarters of a sovereign. Mysore’s other palaces include the Jaganmohana Palace, Rajendra Vilas, Lalitha Mahal (which is now the Lalith Mahal Palace Hotel) and the Jayalakshmi Vilas.
They make it all big and grand at Mysore or so it appears. St. Philomena’s Church is awe-inspiring with its Neo-gothic architecture, built along the lines of the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. The 12th century Chamundeshwari Temple built in the style of the Hoysalas is no less impressive – it also boasts one of the biggest monolithic Nandi statues. If the pretty-as-a-picture Brindavan Gardens are a tad too manicured for your tastes, you can always head for the wilderness of the nearby BR Hills or the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary. The latter is comprised of six islets, teeming with water birds including painted storks and pelicans, and is located on the banks of the Cauvery thats crawling with crocodiles. A boating experience here is surreal as much as it is common – it’s not everyday you’re within an arm’s length from a monster crocodile with no protective fencing in between. Mixed as the flavours are, Mysore offers an experience that has been tried, tested and approved by royalty for centuries.