It's the time of the year to let your hair down and fly. The season is joyous and the mood festive. The holidays are here… time to chill out and plan how best to spend Christmas. How about zipping out of Kerala, to places where a zillion lights beckon and where it's just right to hang out by day and night, like Karnataka for example? Let Mysuru be the first stopover. Here’s a lowdown on how best to enjoy your stay in one of India’s neatest cities.
Think Karnataka and the first name that pops up is that of Mysuru. You have everything going in favor of the place… forests, towns, history, tradition and celebrations, where life itself is a celebration. It’s perhaps one of the rarest cities in the world which has an amalgam of all that’s right.
Sights around Mysuru
1. Mysore Palace
The Mysore palace is a monumental structure which has always been at the centerstage of Karnataka tourism. It was the residence of the Wodeyar kings and was the seat of the kingdom of Mysore. Not exactly a heritage structure, it was completed by about 1912. The palace has been recording a footfall of around 27 lakh tourists every year. The palace is open from 10.30 am to 5.30 pm.
One can enjoy the regal splendor of the palace by day and drink in the brilliance of golden hues when the palace gets bathed in the glow of lights. It’s a sight for keeps. The government lights up about 97,000 bulbs to present this grand spectacle. Don’t ever think of leaving Mysuru without witnessing this grandeur.
Next to the palace stands the zoo. After going around the palace in the morning, there’s still time for a dash to the zoo. But it’s best not to eat from the perpetually crowded restaurants around. Drive down to find Kerala-style eateries aplenty that will fit your bill.
3. Chamundi hills
Unlike its name, the Chamundi hills are not a steep incline. But it’s the best place to spend your evenings where it’s restful and serene. The drive uphill is pleasurable. The main attraction here is the Chamundeswari temple that was built in the 11th century. One can see more than half of Mysuru spread out down below from up the hills.
Mysuru-Chamundi Hills – 12 km
4. Ranganathittu bird sanctuary
Tired of city lights? Head straight for the Ranganathittu bird sanctuary. It's quite close to the historic town of Srirangapatnam.
There are as many numbers of monuments and museums in Mysuru and one can seek the help of a guide to go around.
Incidentally, Ranganathittu is a bird’s nest, literally. It’s nestled in the midst of the many small tributaries and rivulets of the Kaveri. The sand banks that rise out of the waters is a perfect perch for birds. The spectacle of birds splashing about in the water, gliding by to catch prey or just frolicking around are visual delights. There are big boats available that can take you around. But then you need to be part of a big team. Small boats can be rented out if you are an avid shutterbug and would like to get the birds up close. The boats row you to small islets where you can take camera shots of them in close proximity. But the flip side of this paradise is that there are crocodiles aplenty in Ranganathittu’s waters.
Mysuru-Ranganathittu bird sanctuary – 14 km
5. Brindavan Gardens
Ranganathittu done, there’s time for a tour of Tippu Sultan’s historic town of Srirangapatnam. From thence to Brindavan Gardens, which in reality is a much bigger version of our Malampuzha Gardens. Avoid going when its too hot. The evenings and even the twilight would be better. Those splendid night sights like colourful and musical fountains and illuminated gardens are a treat for the eye. These spring to life by 7 pm. The gardens are by the other side of the Krishnarajasagar dam.
Mysur-Brindavan Gardens 21 km
It’s best to set apart at least three days to see all of Mysuru, assuming that you're setting off from Kochi. A drive down is sure to be one unforgettable experience. From Nilambur to Nadukanichuram, Muthumala and Bandipur forests and on to the forest village of Gundalpet and then to Mysuru, it’s a joy ride all the way.
One can drive down to reach Nilambur by 5 pm provided the journey begins in the wee hours of the day. If the same schedule is kept, one can set off from Nilambur and reach Mysuru by noon the next day.
There are facilities for booking one's stay online. Once you touch base in Mysuru, watch out for guides who are sure to mob you. Avoid them by all means. But if you’d rather have one, see that you bargain the living daylights out of them.
Look out for hotels with parking facilities. There are several hotels on the outskirts which offer affordable accommodation.
Enjoy your holidays and a have a Merry Mysuru Christmas!