A Weekend in Mysore, India
March 19, 2019
Early on after moving to Bangalore, I was told by a new friend that Mysore is the first out-of-town place visitors head to. On hearing there was an international yoga event taking place last weekend, that is exactly what I did: I took my first weekend trip out of Bangalore and headed over to Mysore.
Compared to Bangalore, Mysore has a very different air to it. The streets are less crowded and there is a general more laid-back vibe about the place (what more can one expect from what many call ‘the real yoga capital’ of the world!) What’s more, the dilapidated grandeur of the architecture lends a mystical feel to the city of Mysore, especially at dusk.
How to get to Mysore from Bangalore:
I was given various different pieces of advice regarding how to get to Mysore and which method of transport was best. After having a nightmare experience trying to book a train ticket online, I decided to jump in an auto rickshaw down to Satellite Bus Station and figure it out in person. Buses run extremely regularly between Satellite Bus Station and Mysore Suburban Bus Station throughout the day (until 8pm I believe), compared to the trains that I was looking at online which seemed to run very early in the morning, or very late at night. I opted for the non-stop service without AC, which cost 125 rupees and proved to be a perfectly fine and comfortable journey, accompanied by stunning scenery at times!
From the Suburban Bus Station in Mysore it was then very easy to catch an auto rickshaw to my Airbnb. They have a pre-ticketed system. There is a guy at a till machine whom you tell your destination to, and he will then give you a receipt stating the price you will pay at the end of your journey. Great! The auto driver can’t try to get more out of you!
On a similar note, if you have access to data while in India, I would highly recommend downloading the app Ola for Indian cities. It is like Uber but it can also be used for auto rickshaws as well as cars. The price is determined by the app, and any miscommunication regarding your destination is avoided thanks to GPS!
Where to stay in Mysore:
Gokulam seems to be the area of choice for most tourists, travellers and Yogis who visit Mysore. It is well located and there are lots of places to eat and drink along Kalidasa Road. The tree lined avenues and side streets of beautiful residential homes make it a great place to just wander around aimlessly.
What to do in Mysore:
The Amba Vilas Palace, commonly referred to as Mysore Palace, is a must visit when in Mysore. One could spend hours upon hours taking in the architecture and exploring the courtyards and gardens as well as the temples in the palace complex (some of which are older the palace itself!) Mysore palace is open daily from 10am – 5.30pm. Tickets to go inside the palace can be bought from the South Entrance and are 200 rupees for foreign nationals (this price includes an audio guide). I would highly recommend going inside – it is truly exquisite. Photographs are not permitted, but all the better to absorb the opulent architecture.
Mysore Palace is lit up between 7 – 8pm on Sundays and public holidays – a truly magical sight!
Markets and Artisanry in Mysore
Devaraja market awakens all the senses. You could spend hours walking around the market, talking to the vendors and discovering all the treats they have to offer. I found it a pleasant change that vendors were not pushing for sales, rather were very happy to explain their products. There are rows of fruits and vegetables, natural paints, spices, essential oils and sweet treats. An absolute must to anyone visiting Mysore. And of course, bring your camera to capture it all! The Dufferin Clock Tower is located at one end of the market and is a pleasant plaza to sit and watch life goes by. I was here at dusk and the colours were just beautiful.
There is also the smaller Chikka market catering solely to your fruit and vegetable needs. Here, tourists are few and far between. A true local experience. Walking the streets around the Chikka market, you come across various artisans hard at work – from wood carving to incense making, it is fascinating to see these crafts coming to life. I stopped for a demonstration of essential oils in the Lotus Herbal Body Shop. The shop owner, Maneeb, was incredibly informative and didn’t pressurise me into buying anything. It was fascinating to learn about the different oils and their health benefits. Sandalwood oil in particular has a special connection to Mysore as it is extracted from the Santalum album species endemic to the Mysore district of Karnataka. In fact, Mysore was once the largest producer of Sandalwood in the world!
Where to Eat in Mysore:
Depth N Green
Located in Gokulam, Depth N Green is an absolute favourite with all the yogis. It is a calm place to sit and meet other travellers. They serve a delicious array of healthy vegetarian dishes (both Indian and non-Indian!) as well as yummy hot and cold drinks. It is perfect for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Anokhi Garden boasts a beautiful shaded terrace café with a calming ambience – an oasis in busy Gokulam! A great place for breakfast or brunch and just to generally hang out for hours. They also have a guesthouse.
On a quiet side street just off the Kalidasa Road, Roy’s Café has a delicious and very reasonably priced menu of continental dishes. I would highly recommend Roy’s Special Salad for some fresh veggie goodness. Again, its quiet patio area is a chilled place to sit away from the hustle and bustle of Indian life! The café also has a small apartment next door which is rented out on Airbnb.