Over the years the city of Mysore has attracted tourists from all over the world. Tourist destinations includes prehistoric sites, monuments, museums, forts, temples, mosques, and churches. The historic city of Mysore is famed for its magnificent palaces and majestic buildings, sprawling gardens and tree lined boulevards, simmering Silks and Sandalwood, Handicrafts and the fabulous Dasara festival. More recently, Mysore is also the venue of the Kaveri Trail Run, a beautiful marathon event, along the tributaries of the majestic river, the Kaveri, and inside the Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary.
Mysore Palace or the Mysore Maharaja Palace is located in the heart of the city. Mysore Palace is one of the most visited monuments in India. And its one of the largest palaces in the country. Also known as the Amba Vilas Palace, it was the residence of the Wodeyar Maharaja of the Mysore state.
The original palace built of wood, got burnt down in 1897, during the wedding of Jayalakshammanni, the eldest daughter of Chamaraja Wodeyar and was rebuilt in 1912 at the cost of Rs. 42 lakhs. The present Palace built in Indo-Saracenic style blends together Hindu, Muslim, Rajput, and Gothic styles of architecture. It is a three-storied stone structure, with marble domes and a 145 ft five-storied tower. Above the central arch is an impressive sculpture of Gajalakshmi, the goddess of wealth, prosperity, good luck, and abundance with her elephants. The palace is surrounded by a large garden. Designed by the well-known British architect, Henry Irwin, the palace is a treasure house of exquisite carvings and works of art from all over the world.
Chamundi Hills can be viewed from a distance of about 8 to 10 kms and from all the corners of Mysore City. Chamundeshwari temple
is situated on the top of Chamundi hill which is about 3,489 ft. above
sea level and located at a distance of 13 kms. from Mysore. The temple
is dedicated to Sri Chamundeshwari, the titular deity of the Mysore
Royal Family also described as ‘Mahishasura Mardini’
for having killed the buffalo headed demon Mahishasura. The temple has a
very beautiful idol of the goddess wearing a garland of skulls. Goddess
Chamundeshwari, also spelled Chamundeswari is an incarnation of Goddess
Durga, Goddess Kali is also referred to as the Goddess Chamundi.
Brindavan Gardens lies adjoining the Krishnarajasagara dam ( KRS Dam ) which is built across the river Kaveri. A dam at the length of 8600 ft. and height of 130 ft. above the river bed was built below the confluence of the three rivers – Cauvery, Hemavathi and Lakshmanateertha in 1924. The place was formerly called as Kannambadi after the Kanveshvara temple in the village submerged in the reservoir. Earlier to this, it was known as Kanvapuri, where sage Kanva is said to have had his ashram and worshiped shiva.
The Brindavan Gardens is a show garden that has a botanical park, with fountains, as well as boat rides beneath the dam. Diwans of Mysore planned and built the gardens in connection with the construction of the dam. The work on laying out Mysore Brindavan garden was started in the year 1927 and completed in 1932. The garden is laid out in 3 terraces which contain water fountains, Ficus trees, foliage plants such as Duranta plumaria and Euphorbia and flowering plants like Celosia, Marigold and bougainvillea.
The main attraction of the Brindavan Garden is the Musical Fountain ( Dancing Fountains ) in which bursts of water are synchronized to the music of songs. The musical fountains have a harmonic blend of water, colors and music. The Brindavan Gardens here is the best illuminated terrace garden in India.
The Jaganmohan Palace was built during rule of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III in 1861, as an alternate retreat for the royal family. The Mysore Palace, which was the original home of the royal family, was burnt down in a fire and the construction of a new palace in its place was started in the year 1897. The Royal family lived in this palace till the construction of the new Amba Vilas Mysore Palace in 1912. The installation of Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV took place in a pavilion inside the Jaganmohan Palace in 1902. The early convocations of the Mysore University were also held in this palace. The first session of the Legislative Council of the Mysore state was held here in July 1907. The Legislative Council was then called as the Representative Council and was presided over by the Diwan. In 1915, the palace was converted into an art gallery, which was later renamed in 1955 in the name of Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar, as the Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery.
Mysore Zoo or Shri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens is one of the oldest zoo in India. It is home to a wide range of wild species and takes the credit for alluring vast number of visitors with its rich breed of flora and fauna. Mysore Zoo is a must in the itinerary for sightseeing in Mysore. Mysore Zoo is a pleasant experience also because most animals are kept in well spaced enclosures and it’s a delight to see them move around freely. The Mysore zoo abounds in natural vegetation cover and comprises of various rare species of plants & trees that are hard to find some where else. It is located inside the city unlike many other Zoos in India and Mysore Zoo is considered to be one of the best and oldest in the world.
Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens houses a variety of species not only of this country, but from over forty countries in the World. The Maharaja in his travel abroad collected rare animals from different countries and brought them to the zoo's collection. Animals available in the Mysore forests were exchanged for the animals procured from other countries and as a result acquisition of a large number of animals of different species was possible. It has beautiful landscape with good vegetation cover resembling to that of natural environment. Many animals which are imported from countries like Africa, America, and Australian countries. Mysore Zoo is among the few in India exhibiting African elephants, and the only one to breed them. Mysore Zoo was the first in the country to obtain gorilla and penguin’s.
Karanji Lake is a picturesque lake located at the footsteps of Chamundi Hills and behind Mysore Zoo. Karanji means 'fountain' in Kannada. Spread over an area of 90 acres, it is regarded as one of the biggest lakes in Karnataka. Karanji Lake is home to more than 90 species of resident and migratory birds. It also supports several species of butterflies, small mammals and is a good example of wetland ecosystem. The lake attracts painted storks, pelicans and darters and a host of other winged beauties.
Karanji Lake was built by the King of Mysore about 100 years back, as a percolation tank. This lake was used by the residents for bathing, washing, drinking etc. The Mysore Zoo took over the lake in 1976. The 90 acres water spread area has a 2.5 Kms. long feeder channel from the nearby Chamundi hills and has about 745 hectares of catchment area.