The best time to
visit Mysore is during Dasara (September-October). The Dasara time
is one of great splendor and magnificence. The entire city wears a
bright new look for 10 days, bathed in light, joy and colour. On the
tenth day (Vijaya Dashami),the former Maharaja leads a procession
through the streets of the city,
in a golden howda on an elephant, headed by camels and accompanied
by caparisoned elephants, horses, palanquins, silvercoaches and
standard-bearers with silken banners. After sunset, a review is held
at the Bannimantap Maidan amidst a blaze of lights. For Mysoreans
Dasara is both a royal as well as a religious festival.
Mysore city derives its name from Mahishasura,
the monster killed by the reigning deity of the city, Goddess
Chamundeshwari. The earliest reference to Mysore is a copper plate
inscription dated 862 A.D.
An enchanting place that still retains its old-world charm, the
"City Royale" is a pretty picture of oriental romance. The alluring
images of a bygone era represented by the rule of dynasties blend
with the fascinating concepts of the contemporary typified by
science and technology. For, in Mysore, the past does not get the
ancient blends with the modern.
Located 140 km. south of Bangalore, the Garden city of Mysore
has been enriched by both history and geography. If the unending
saga and the march of dynasties such as the Gangas the Hoysalas and
the emperors of Vijayanagar, Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan and the Wadiyars
through the ages have resulted in a fascinating history, the
meandering rivers such as the Cauvery and the Kabini, the rich
forests teeming with wildlife, the wide variety of flora and fauna
are examples of nature's bounty.
DASARAs, in Mysore is celebrated during the month
of October. Dasara celebrations depict the triumph of good over
evil. Karnataka has close association with the Vijayanagar rulers
and later with the Wodeyars, erstwhile Mysore Maharajas.
This festival usually falls in the months of September/October every
year and comprises nine days of worship and celebration, called
Navaratri. The tenth and concluding day is called Vijayadasami,
signifying the slaying of the demon Mahishasura by
Mahishasuramardini, the Goddess Chamundeswari or Durga, the
principal deity of the Mysore Maharajas.
In September 1805, the Maharajas started holding a special durbar
('Royal Assembly', after the fashion of the Mughal emperors) for
important citizens, members of the royal family, Europeans, palace
officials, royal priests, and the intelligentsia. Commoners also
participated in the durbar. The festival has become a tradition of
the royal household and reached its zenith during the rule of
Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar (1902-1940).
The venue for most of the festivities of the Mysore Dasara always
has been the Amba Vilas Palace, which is also known as the
Diwan-e-Khas. Murals vividly capture the Royal Dasara procession of
caparisoned elephants, royal horses, courtiers, nobles and soldiers,
as it passes through the Palace's Main Gate and winds its way
through the city with the backdrop of the Chamundi hills.
On the first day, the King, after a ceremonial bath, worships the
family deity in the palace and enters the durbar to the
accompaniment of sacred chants and music. He worships the navagrahas
(nine sacred deities) and the sacred `kalasa'. Then he ascends the
throne at an auspicious moment after going around it three times.
The palace lights are lit and a 21-gun salute is given as the royal
insignia and sword are presented to him.
According to legend, Dharmaraja, the Pandava king, used the Mysore
Royal throne, which is made of gold. Kampilaraya brought it from
Hastinapura to Penugonda, where it lay buried. It was rediscovered
by Vidyaranya, the royal priest of the Vijayanagar Empire and
subsequently presented to Raja Wodeyar in 1609. Another story is
that the Moghul Emperor Aurangazeb gifted the throne to
Chikkadevaraja Wodeyar in 1700. The third legend says that it
belonged to the mythological King Vikramaditya.
The King sits on this throne and receives royal guests. He accepts
offerings from various temples and religious centers, which are
blessed by royal priests chanting Vedic verses and sprinkling holy
water. In the olden days vassals, dewans, army chiefs and other
royal staff would line up to offer their respects to the throne. An
ensemble of musical instruments accompanied by dance begins and the
blowing of conches and trumpets announces the beginning of a parade
of uniformed soldiers and others.
The decorated royal elephant arrives and showers rose petals on the
assembled guests. The royal horse, equally well decorated, bends its
knees in salutation to the throne. While the assembly leaves the
court after bowing to the King, the queen and other royal ladies
would come to pay obeisance to the King. The queen mother and senior
ladies bless him with good health. The King leaves the durbar hall
after praying to the Goddess once again and partakes of a lunch with
the royal guests.
This ceremony is repeated on all the Navaratri days, accompanied by
acrobatic feats, wrestling bouts by champion wrestlers, fireworks
display and other forms of entertainments, which are open to the
public as well.
The King worships the Goddess Saraswathi on the seventh day and
Mahisasuramardini on the eighth. On Mahanavami, the royal sword is
worshipped ceremoniously and all the weapons are taken out in a
procession of the army, elephants, horses, camels and the royal
retinue. Ceremonies are held on the Chamundi Hill.
Navaratri culminates in Grand Vijayadasami celebrations, also known
as Jambu Savari. The grandeur and magnificence of this event has
popularised the Mysore Dasara world over. On this day, the King
worships the royal sword, places it on a palanquin and offers an ash
gourd smeared with vermilion as sacrifice to it. He heads the grand
procession, seated in the historically famous golden howdah bedecked
with rare gems and pearls, which is over 750-kgs, and is carried by
the royal elephant.
Now the ceremonies are largely a private affair of the royal family,
witnessed by a select audience. Clad in royal attire and traditional
headgear, His Highness Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar, the
scion of the royal family, ascends the seven steps to the golden
throne - which is assembled according to religious instructions - at
a preordained hour and receives obeisance from the public. Court
musicians then play the signature tune composed to commemorate the
assumption of power by the Wodeyars.
But the most significant change in the present day’s Dasara
celebrations is that, the idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari has
replaced the King in the procession. Also absent is the royal
procession comprising soldiers.
Today, Dasara is marked by daily musical performances by
world-renowned musicians at the Amba Vilas Palace, the exhibition at
Doddakere Maidan and the colourful Vijayadasami parade.
Must see Places
It was the seat of the Maharaja's of Mysore.
Built during 1911-12 in the Indo-Saracenic style at a cost of Rs. 42
lakhs, the palace dominates the city's skyline. It's an edifice
beautified by ornate domes, archways, turrets, colonnades and
sculptures. The palace has a magnificent Durbar Hall with a 200 kg.
gold throne inlaid with precious stones. It is an extravaganza of
stained glass ceiling, mirrors reflecting images from all sides,
mosaic floors and wooden doors with beautiful carvings. There are
wall paintings of the Dasara procession. The Royal Gallery is open
to visitors. On public holidays, National Festivals, Saturdays and
Sunday's the Palace is richly illuminated. (7.00pm to 8.00pm)
10 km from Mysore by
road and about 4km. if one climbs up the hill. Atop this hill
(altitude 3,489ft.), there is a temple dedicated to Chamundeshwari,
the consort of Lord Siva. The temple has a jewel Nakshatra-malike,
donated by Mumdi Krishnarajendra Wodeyar with 30 Sanskrit slokas
inscribed on it. There is an awesome figure of the demon Mahishasura
whom the Goddess Chamundeshwari is said to have vanquished. The
hilltop reached by a tree-lined motorable road. It can also be
stands a giant image of a Nandi (Siva's bull), 16ft. high and 25 ft.
long, carved out of a single rock.
Immediately after Dasara, the Theppotsava (float festival) of
Goddess Chamundeshwari takes place. Temple visiting hours:9a.m. to
12 noon and 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. There are regular buses to the Hill
from the Mysore Central Bus Stand.
19 km from Mysore City.
The Brindavan Gardens are situated at the base of the Krishnaraja
Sagar Dam built across the river Cauvery. The dam, 2.4 km long and
forming a 130-sq-km. lake, is one of the biggest in India. It has
been built in stone without cement and comprises parapets and a
grotto for the river-Godess Cauvery. The terraced Brindavan Gardens,
with swirling fountains and illuminated by a myriad colorful lights,
look like a fairy land. Illumination timings: 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on
week days and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on holidays. Boating facilities are
Also known as Jagan
Mohan Art Gallery, it has a vast collection of paintings by renowned
artists like Ravi Varma and Nicholas Roerich. Also on display here
are curios in ceramics, sandalwood, ivory, metal and stone, ancient
musical instruments and antique furniture. Timings: 8 a.m. to 12
noon and 2.30 p.m. to 6p.m.
Jagan Mohan Art Gallery
This palace is in two
parts. The main building lying to the west and a spacious pavilion
to the east. This pavilion was used for marriages and other purposes
when the old palace was burnt and till the completion of sajja in
the new place in the year 1910 A.D.
The western, older building is a treasury of pictures and models,
illustrating Mysore history and personalities. The ground floor
contains number of paintings giving the genealogy of the Mysore
Kings and other articles of great interest. An annexe to the south
has a number of articles which were the personal property of the
Maharajas. Dasavataras carved on one rice are displayed in the
The second floor adorns the paintings of great painters from
different countries of the world. One of the most attractive
paintings is 'Lady with the lamp'. In one of the rooms are displayed
the dumbbells and clubs which belonged to and to have been used by
the great warrior Kantivrava Narasaraja Wodeyar.
On the third storey, the Rung Mahal or picture hall, has many quaint
and interesting mural paintings. One room here contains the pictures
of the modern school, Calcutta and some examples of the lovely work
of Mysorean, Mr. K.Venkatappa. One big hall is dedicated to the
paintings of Raja Ravi Varma.
This garden stands to the east of the fort at a
kilometer. It owes its origin to his Highness Sri Chamaraja Wodeyar
Bahadur, but it has been greatly enlarged and improved recently. The
very extensive grounds are beautifully laid out, and kept in
excellent order. All the animals in the Zoo are well fed, well kept
and generally healthy. Arrangements are made for some of the
animals, especially for lions and tigers, to roam about in liberty.
There is a fine collection of animals, birds and snakes, which
include Lions, Tigers, Rhinos, Kangaroos, Hyena, Deer, Elephants,
Peacocks, Swans, Pythons, King Cobras, etc., Recently they have
added a snake park. There are a few artificial lakes in the Zoo. A
visit to these gardens is extremely thrilling.
This century-old zoo houses nearly 2,000 animals. It has the
distinction of breeding wild animals in captivity. the venomous king
Cobra is also bred here.
Timings:8.30 A.M. to 5.30 P.M. (Tuesday's Holiday)
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Discover nature's handwork in the form of this tiny island-town 65
km east of Mysore. Forested hills and lush green valleys cradle a
small hamlet and two fine temples. Together, they provide a
startlingly calm setting for the Cauvery river as it plummets from a
height of 75 m into deep, rocky gorge with a deafening roar to form
two picturesque falls, Barachukki and Gaganachukki. Downstream from
the falls is Asia's first hydroelectric project, established at the
behest of Sir M.Visvesvaraya in 1902.
Tucked away between private coffee and spice estates, Abbey Falls(11
km from Madikeri) offers a splendid backdrop for picnics. As you
make your way past coffee bushes and tall trees entwined, the falls
make a sudden and dramatic appearance as they cascade their way down
steps into limpid pools to join the Cauvery river.
Nestling beside the
Rajiv Gandhi National Park (Nagarhole), Iruppu Falls is a stunning
sight during the monsoon. From their humble origins in the
Brahmagiri Range, the falls plunge 170 ft in two stages. They come
down leads from these falls to the Brahmagiri Peak in Southern
Kodagu. En route to the falls, the Rameshwara Temple attracts a
large number of pilgrims during the festival of Shivaratri.
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Govt. Silk Factory,
Sandalwood Oil Factory, Sri Chamarajendra TechnicalInstitute,
Cauvery Arts and Crafts Emporium, Rail Museum, Maanasa Gangothri (Mysore
Behind City Railway Station is an interesting
museum pertaining to Railways. Admission by tickets.
Lalitha Mahal Palace
beautiful palace stands to the east of the city which was named as
Summer Palace. It stands at the highest point commanding a
magnificient panoramic view of the city. At present, it serves as a
Five Star Hotel.
One of the most
beautiful and tallest building to the north of the City. A beautiful
image of Philomeana placed in an undergropund chamber is worth
paying a visit.
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Temples of the City
Ranganatha Swamy Temple
The city has number
of temples, the earlist of which probably dates from 15th century
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