Where is it that the royal majestic splendour of a bygone era coincides with the religious representations of architectural genius? The answer is Mysore. Simply put, Mysore is the cultural capital of Karnataka. Its culture brings alive, in a subtle manner, its beautiful past, be it the ancient Indian mythology and religion or contemporary rulers’ dynasties.
Mysore is blessed with pleasant weather throughout the year, making it an ideal holidaying destination during any time of the year. A couple of hours’ bus journey from Ooty is what it took us to reach Mysore. While crossing en route, the famous Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary, we were lucky enough to spot elephants, monkeys and deer, roaming freely in the forest! Mysore is of course well connected to other cities of Karnataka by rail and road. The nearest airport is however located at Bangalore, 130 km from Mysore.
There are plenty of options for hotels and guest houses available at Mysore, depending on your budget and preferences.
The first thing that would strike you at Mysore, away from the maddening hustle bustle of the metropolitan cities we inhabit, is that it is a small, peaceful, calm little town city. It is well planned out, with spacious clean roads and lawns, punctuated at regular intervals, with statues of famous people and royal figures adorning the streets. This city is indeed proud of its culture, a fact also glorified by the greater prominence of South Indian film posters across the streets, as compared to the almost nil occurrence of their Hindi counterparts.
We visited the Mysore Palace in the evening, to witness the breathtaking spectacle of the illumination of the entire palace. The darkness suddenly gave way to immense light, as if an invisible hand touched it and whispered, “ Let there be light” and hey presto, the palace suddenly gets transformed as it gets illuminated amidst audible oohs and aahs of wonder.
To visit places in and around Mysore, you can always take a guided bus tour, and wish to be the master of your own time and itinerary. Hiring a car is another option. Within Mysore, however, autorickshaws are a common option.
The next morning we visited the Mysore Palace and museum, this time to check out its interiors. It has been the residence of the Wodeyar dynasty, Maharajas of the Vijaynagar empire since 1578 AD. We were left completely in awe by the magnificence of the Palace, the high ceilings, wall paintings, photographs and portraits of the kings, their families, their genealogies, the ivory inlaid rosewood doors, the ornate golden throne, royal costumes, toys, musical instruments, mirrors and furniture and flooring. This is exactly the place where this used to happen: where the king watched the ceremonial processions which took place there as the king sat here and would walk through there, this is where he dined, these were the separate bedrooms…as we were told all this by the guide, we felt as if a time machine had transported us to a different period in space altogether. No wonder this site had been chosen to shoot a scene from the Hema Malini starrer Sheesha.