Three Exquisite Monuments of Mysore that should not be missed
January 30, 2019
by Sabinder Kaur
Mysore is a city which takes me to an opulent era. The beautiful palaces reflecting the splendor and glory of a bygone era, the artistically landscaped gardens make Mysore known for its royal heritage and magnificent buildings and monuments. Mysore is also called as the city of palaces. Some palaces like the Mysore palace and Haider Ali’s summer palace, leave you stunned at the beauty you behold. All this is a legacy of the Mysore kings, who were exponents in various forms of art and encouraged it in their reign. Mysore is also called as Chamundi hill. This is named after the goddess Parvathi, who took birth as Chamundeshwari, to kill a demon. The demon was killed on top of Chamundi hill, hence the name. Legend has it that the goddess stayed on top of the hill, and even today she is worshipped with great devotion. The 10 days long Dasara festival is in honor of goddess Chamundeshwari.
How to get to Mysore?
The nearest international airport to Mysore is Bangalore. From Bangalore, you can hire a cab to drive you to Mysore. It is a 3- hour drive. Alternately the bus service is good. There is a direct Bangalore airport to Mysore bus service called Flybus, operated by KSRTC. Once you reach the KSRTC bus stand, look for the Bangalore-Mysore bus platform. The ticket counter is next to the platform. You can also book online at KSRTC.
What to See in Mysore?
Start with the Mysore Palace as you will definitely like to spend a few hours both inside and outside the palace. Photography is not allowed inside the palace so take as many pictures of the outside. There is plenty to see there too. The outside of the palace is quite vast. There are plenty of courtyards and beautiful gardens sprawling on the outside. At the entrance gate, the emblem and the coat of arms of the Mysore Kingdom are boldly visible. The temple for worship is also found in the outer courtyard.
The palace has two durbar halls made with granite and deep pink marble stones. It faces the Chamundi hills and has a mix of Indian, Islamic and Gothic architectural styles. The durbar hall speaks clearly of the riches of the Mysore kings. The silver doors, exquisitely carved columns, Mahogany ceilings leave you spellbound. Some elegantly ornate rooms are open to public viewing. Displays in the rooms include royal dresses, souvenirs, musical instruments as well as weapons used by the Wodeyar dynasty. Some rooms have the most stunning chandeliers, said to be of Czechoslovakian make.
The palace has a marriage hall or Mantapa which is another masterpiece. With the beautiful craftsmanship of stained glass covering the roof and glazed tiles on the floor, this hall makes you marvel at the craftsmanship. The palace also has a portrait gallery which has three stories. The towers are covered with beautifully crafted domes. From the outside, you can see these as pink domes. There are also many temples within the palace. During the festival of Dasara, the entire palace is lit in the evenings. The tenth day of the festival is Vijaya Dashami and on this day a parade of elephants and floats can be seen on the palace grounds. Overall this is a must see place. The palace by itself is a treasure of exquisite workmanship from different parts of the world from long past.
Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery
A visit to Mysore would be incomplete without a visit to the Namdroling Monastery, the second largest Tibetan settlement, outside of Tibet. This is actually a two-hour drive from Mysore. This serves as a monastery and refugee center housing close to 5000 monks and nuns. The full name for this monastery is Thegchog Namdrol Shedrub Dargyeling.
The temple in the Monastery is made from bamboos from the bamboo forest, donated by the Indian government to Tibetan exiles. The exquisite golden paintings in the monastery and the golden statues of Buddha, Padmasambhava, and Amitayus give this monastery a nickname of the golden monastery. The walls are dotted with intricate paintings depicting stories from Buddhist mythology. The doors are red in color with huge gold knockers. The temple tower is decorated with huge murals and is simply beautiful to look at.
A good time to visit is around the end of February. The Tibetan New Year Losar is celebrated at this time over a period of 15 days. The main courtyard of the monastery functions as an open stage where masked dancers perform. You will also find huge thangkas in the monastery. These thangkas are beautiful Tibetan silk paintings with embroidery, depicting a Buddhist deity.
Srirangapatna is the home to Mysore’s biggest hero – Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan. In fact, Mysore reached its peak under Tipu Sultan. The two outstanding monuments to see here are the Fort and Tipu Sultan’s summer palace. Interestingly the fort has a temple and a mosque. The Ranganathaswamy Temple and the Jama Masjid. The two minarets of the fort offer a spectacular view of the entire area. There are many Arabic inscriptions found on the minarets. The fort and the summer palace are on opposite sides of a road.
Once you leave the minimalistic looking fort and move to the summer palace, you are taken aback at the beauty around you.Starting with the exquisitely laid out gardens, the summer palace is built entirely of teak wood. It is also called as the Daria Daulat Bagh. The outer part of the palace is a circular open corridor with pillars supporting the structure. The front of the palace has wooden pillars with arches and carvings and are painted beautifully. In fact, what stands out is the amount of area covered with beautiful paintings of floral motifs and bright colors. Not much of the palace is left unpainted. There is a lot of restoration work going on, so bits of the walls are closed for work. There are also a number of paintings of battle scenes and important events. You can find a few rare sketches, and paintings. The wooden ceiling of the palace is also beautifully decorated with floral motifs.
Outside the palace are the tombs of Tipu Sultan and his father. This area is also called as the Gumbaz. Both the palaces are open all day and the entry fee is nominal.
Gifts and Souvenirs. What’s Local in Mysore?
Sweets, Sandalwood, and Silk are three things that one should pick up from Mysore. For those with a sweet tooth, the Mysore Pak is a melt in your mouth sweet that should definitely be tried once. Little sandalwood gift items are easy to find. Cauvery handicraft is a government-run emporium in both Mysore and Bangalore. You will find authentic silk scarves and local souvenirs here. Definitely carry back a scarf. The feel of silk will take you back to the to the breathtaking splendor you witnessed in this opulent land of riches.