Mysore Travel Guide by Shailesh RN

The urge to go out of station and relax over the weekend is always there in the corner of our tiny brain. This week was no different. My riding buddy’s Amith and Suneeth are engaged with other work and Sujeeth was out of station. This ignites me for another solo ride. I love motorbike riding. Had been to many motorbike rides with group and solo rides. I like solo rides, where I can ride in my own comfort zone and can take stops any were I wish.
I am planning to visit Mysore from many days. Thought visited this place many time, did not visit few places in and around Mysore. Mysore palace, Zoo, Cathedral church, Tipu palace and Ranganathswamy temple are the places that I decided to skip-off as I already visited. So, thought of planning this trip for two days. Day 1: Gopalaswamy betta, Museums and Chamundi hills. Day 2: Balmuri Falls, KRS Dam and Sri Venugopala Swamy Temple. Not wasting my time any more packed my things late night and decided to head Mysore early in the morning.
Woke up at around 3 am and started preparing my Bullet for the ride. Left Bengaluru around 3.30 am from Whitefield. Despite being early morning, the traffic on Mysore road was getting piled up fast with lots of goods carrying trucks and out station cars. Traffic was getting worse as moving ahead. Stopped for a quick break at Bidadi, piping hot thatte idly with red chutney was mouthwatering and ended with tea. This 30 mins break take off my doziness, hit the road again with full of refreshment. Reached Mysore ring road around 6.30 am. Sticking to the plan, headed towards Gundlepet for the first destination.

Day 1: Gopalaswamy betta, Museums and Chamundi hills.

Gopalaswamy Betta:
Timing: 8.00 am – 4.00 pm.
Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta located 75 km from Mysore and 10 km from Gundlepet. Gopalaswamy Betta comes along with the chain of western Ghats in chamarajanagar district at the height of 4769 feet above sea level. Himavad means fog in kannada and Gopalaswamy temple on top of the hill built in 1315 by Chola King Ballala. The Temple is dedicated to Gopalaswamy (Lord Krishna). Private vehicles are not allowed due to narrow steep road on the hill. Two Govt busses are facilitated to go on top of the hill and charge Rs 20. Though it was only 4 km drive to the hill top, sitting on window side seat and experiencing the beauty of nature while change in temp at every few meters is wordless. It is considered as highest peak in the Bandipur National Park, with full of wooded forest and wildlife. Elephants and deer are commonly cited from top of the hill. Cold mountain breeze and the panoramic view of the mountains from top of the hill is mesmerizing.

Around 12.00 am started for the return ride to Mysore. Road was pretty good in this stretch. Straight roads with very less traffic makes me feel dozy few times, eventually took couple of quick stops. Coffee and tender coconut water are good refreshments while riding. I prefer village outskirts for quick breaks. I feel refreshments at these places are far more better compared to the city restaurants. People are humble to talk and share information regarding nearby places to visit.
Reached Mysore around 1.30 pm. Mysore city is gifted with many interesting places making it an ideal holiday destination. City of palaces has wide roads and broad junctions, eventually less traffic. One can hardly wait for few seconds in major signal crossings. All though Mysore is well known for Mysore paak sweet, silk sarees and sandal wood arts, this is place also famous for its unique food trails. Donne biryani at Hanumanthu restaurant near Gadiyara circle is one of its kind. I never experienced biryani of this flavor, undoubtedly one of the best biryani I have tasted. While having lunch, I quickly go through the museums list to visit, most of the museums are located at chamundi hill road, expect Railway museum.

Rail Museum:
Timings: 10.00 am –  05.30 pm. Except on Mondays.  15 per person for Adults, 10 per person for Children and 20 to take pictures.
Rail Museum is located inside Mysore city at the entrance of Mysore Railway Station. Established in the 1979 by the Indian railways, this museum is the second of its kind after national railway museum in Delhi. Museum has collection of different types of train engines and coaches makes one of a kind outdoor exhibit of locomotives in India. This museum contains old unused trains engines, steam water pump of 1934, hand operated crane of 1885, battery operated mini train, ambulance coach, first steam engine and old signaling accessories of Indian railways. Center of attraction of this museum is Sri Ranga Pavilion, two royal coaches that belonged to the maharaja of Mysore. Museum has the ‘Maharani’s saloon’ carriage that has a kitchen, dining car unit and royal toilet dated back to 1899 and an Austin rail motor car, 1920-built ‘E class engine’. Chamundi galley at the entrance of the museum, exhibits black and white photos, paintings of growth and history of the Indian railways. All these vintage models make this place more often used in movies.

Regional Museum of Natural History Mysore:
Timing: 10 am – 6 pm.
The objectives of National Museum of Natural History (RMNH) is to create environment awareness and promoting conservation education at regional and state levels. The first such Regional office was inaugurated in the ‘Southern Region’ on 20th May 1995 at Mysore, second ‘Central Region’ in Bhopal in 1997, Third ‘Eastern Region’ in Bhubaneswar in 2004, Fourth ‘Western Region’ in Sawai Madhopur in 2008 and fifth ‘North-Eastern Region’ is expected to be established soon in Gangtok. The Elephants art displayed at the entrance in the ground floor are eye catching.
RMNH Mysore has exhibit galleries, mainly classified in to four sections. Biological Diversity, Life through the Ages, Discovery Centre, Seed Museum, and Bioscience Computer Room.
Biological Diversity: This gallery exhibits biodiversity with reference to western Ghats and information regarding natural history, plants, animals, rain forest, wetlands, mangrove forest, endangered species of plants and animals. The interesting thing in this section is the display of extinction species like Indian cheetah, Pink-Headed Duck and Mountain Quill. The Skins of these species are well persevered and displayed.
Life through the Ages: This gallery has a walk-through tunnel presenting evolution of mankind from prehistoric period stone age to evolution of modern man.
Discovery Centre: This section consists of the Discovery Room, Computer Room, Vivarium and a mini Weather Station. Visitors can handle, examine and study specimens. This section is meant for the interaction of visitor with respect to the above activity, but due to improvement in the technology weather and computer related information is easily available in smart phones, making this section empty all the time.
Seed Museum: This section exhibits various types of seeds, plant cultivation, agriculture and irrigation developments.
Bioscience Computer Room: This section consists of combination of models, multimedia facility and audio-visual aids providing visitors a new learning experience relating to protecting and preservation of wildlife and natural resources.
All these objectives are to provide the information regarding fauna, flora, geological and economical interdependences in plants and animals, natural resource, awareness of environment and extinct animals. All these information manifest with respect to the Southern region of India and admission to the museum is free.

Mysuru sand sculpture museum:
Timing: 8.30 am – 6.30 pm.
More than 100 truckloads of sand used to create mesmerizing sand sculptures in this museum. Various kinds of sand arts displaying around 150 sculptures in 16 different themes. Most attractive sculptures are Lord Ganesh, Goddess Chamundeshwari, Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wadiyar, Lord Krishna and Arjuna on a horse chariot. Various other sculptures of cartoon, wild animals, Egypt and zodiac wheel etc., make this museum worth to visit. All these sand sculptures are created in four months by MN Gowri. Entry ticket for this museum is Rs 40 for adults and Rs 20 for children.

Guinness world record sea shell art museum:
Timing: 9.30 am – 6.30 pm.
This museum contains total 160 seashell models. All these outstanding seashell arts is made by Radha Mallappa. The center of attraction is Ganesh idol, Taj Mahal, Shiva’s Temple and Cathedral Church. All these arts are unique and eye-catching. Ganesh idol and Taj Mahal bagged Guinness world record. Entry ticket for this museum is Rs 40.

Melody world wax museum:
Timing: 9.30 am – 7.30 pm.
Museum does not contain any celebrative statues except Mahatma Gandhi ji.  All other statues made up of and not much impressive though it represents Aadi Indian, African, Australian and Mexican traditions specially in music. This museum also has collection of old musical instruments, telephones, tape-recorders and gram-o-phones. Entry ticket for this museum is Rs 40.

Chamundi hills:
Chamunndi hills is located 13 km from Mysore at average elevation of 1000 meters, visible almost from anywhere in the city. Chamundi hill is riddled with few paths to go hilltop, were the main temple is located. The popular and most frequently used road is chamundi hill road. 12 km hill top road has steep climb and many sharp turns. Few turns later an Ariel view of Mysore city on the left side leaves a beautiful view. The ride was rejuvenating and reached hill top around 7 pm. Chamundi temple on top of the hill make this road busy all-day round. [pictures]
I did not get much interest to go inside the temple, so opted to ride around the hill top finding the way to go inside forest. In the end, I found the sign board to go inside chamundi state forest and continued riding. After entering few meters it’s a narrow road. Pitch dark with no street lights around and all I can hear is the noise of insects and rattling sound of my Bullet. It’s an adventure ride for nearly 15 km which goes deep inside chamundi state forest. These pathways are not frequented by visitors.
Couple of viewpoints specially made on the top of the hill for visitors to experience the beautiful panoramic view of Mysore city. A brief view point along with Nandi Statue on the way back, is a vintage point to enjoy the sight of the city. For clear vision, distance binoculars are also facilitated for 20 seconds and charge Rs 20. This allows to identify the city’s landmarks, starts with Mysore Palace down towards race courts ends with Whitewashed Lalitha Mahal Palace on the right side. The night view of the city, especially when the palace is illuminated is wonderful and eye catching.

Day 2: Balmuri Falls, KRS Dam and Sri Venugopala Swamy Temple.

Balmuri falls:
Timing: 6.00 am – 7.00 pm.
Balmuri waterfalls located 16 km form Mysore and 14 km from Srirangapatna. It is a manmade check dam over Cauvery river. River Cauvery takes right turn at this spot so the name “Balmuri”, in kannada it means “right curve”. The Hight of this waterfall is around 6 feet. This place is guarded in monsoon season as the water level is high, not allowing any one to dip in. In summer, one can cool off by taking a dip in this water and can walk on the dam where the water flow is less. [pictures]
Freshly caught fishes from the river are fried and sell in nearby local shops and taste delicious. Shop keeper guided me the off-road track for my next destination. It is a narrow road surrounded by lush green paddy fields, coconut trees, water canals and narrow mud roads, makes an ideal place for off road cycling and motor biking. Local formers are busy with their work at sugarcane and paddy fields. Their kids are busy playing and swimming in the water canals.

KRS Dam:
Timing: 6 am – 8 pm.
KRS (Krishna Raja Sagara) Dam also called as “kannambadi katte” by the locals build in 1932, Located approximately 13 km form Mysore city. This dam is engineered by Sir M. Vishweshwaraiah and built over Cauvery river. Height of 130 feet, 3 km in length and 152 sluice gates is the first irrigation dam of India. Best time to visit this dam is during monsoon season, gates are opened due to increase in water level, creating spectacular view of massive white streams of water. Back water reservoir is about 130 sq. km, which was the largest in Asia at the period when it was built. Brindavan Garden beside the Dam gates, where the entry ticket cost Rs 15 for adults and Rs 5 for children. Brindavan garden, water fountains, aquarium, water bodies, boating and musical fountain makes this an ideal place for shooting of movies. Entry charges for Aquarium is Rs 5 and maintained less variety of fishes.

To be sure following the correct direction for my next destination, took a quick break to check for Google maps. This also turned out to be a tender coconut break as well. After a while I had to let go off the Mysore highway and enter state roads. Road was pretty good for most of the sections apart from some bumpy and patchy parts. Reached next destination at 5.30 pm. Considering it was a Sunday, the crowd was less and this gives me ample amount of time to explore the temple and back side areas.

Sri Venugopala Swamy temple
Timing: 8.00 am – 7.00 pm.
Venugopala Swamy Temple located in Hosa Kannambadi, near Krishna Raja Sagara Dam. It is around 30 km from Mysuru and 9 km by road from Brindavan Gardens. The temple is said to be built during 12th century. Earlier, the temple was located at Kannambadi village. But with the construction of KRS Dam, entire Kannambadi village submerged in the reservoir water, including three major temples named Eshwara Temple, Venugopala Swamy Temple and Kalamma temple. The main idol of Venugopala Swamy, Lord Krishna playing the flute as a cow-herd, was also shifted to a new temple premise in the rehabilitated village. The Eshwara temple is deep inside the waters and visible only when the waters recede rarely to the lowest level of 35 feet. The 700-year-old Venugopala Swamy Temple, however, showed up almost every year due to inadequate rainfall.
It was during 2000 that the temple resurfaced when water levels in the reservoir dropped. Though the temple was underwater for around 70 years, it remained intact. Seeing the architectural beauty of the temple, Khoday Foundation under the guidance of Sri Hari Khoday relocated the temple block-by-block at a cost of Rs. 2.5 crore. More than 200 workers and machines removed the carved stones and pillars of the temple, after marking each one of them. The new location of the temple is about 1 km to the north of the original site where the backwaters would touch the outer walls of the temple when KRS water level touches 124.80 ft., its maximum capacity.
The relocated temple is in the original shape and design. The design was computerized and each stone was identified with numbers for relocating them in the same architectural style. The architects of the Khoday Foundation had video graph the original temple, took over 16,000 photographs and marked every slab used in the construction. Every stone was numbered, removed and relocated at Hosa Kannambadi by trained artisans and sculptors. While some stones from the original temple were retained, old and worn-out stones have been replaced with new ones. Old and damaged stones were refurbished and new polished stones have been added. Muniswamy Muthu, Chief Sculptor from Tiruchirapalli supervised the entire project. The restoration and relocation began in May 2003 and was completed in 2011.
Stone chariot like the one in Hampi, placed at the entrance is eye catching. The view of the temple was amazing with clear blue water and beautiful heavenly sky. The view was mesmerizing with mountain ranges at a distance, tall green trees, rippling water and the temple in the backdrop. One can enjoy the architectural splendor with family and friends. But trust me, one of the most beautiful temples I have visited till date. Best time to visit is in the evening to experience the speculate sunset.
Parking place is huge and a guy collects Rs 10 as a fee for parking.

Day 2 Ended up well with the plan. Having chat masala and flashing my legs in curl of backwaters, recalls my childhood days for a moment. Few days ago, Suneeth mentioned me regarding Srirangapatna and Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary. I checked out some of the pictures available on Google and it was beautiful and impressive. So, this is how Day 3 ride got initiated.

Day 3:
Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Timing: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Ranganathittu bird sanctuary also known as Pakshi Kashi of Karnataka is located 4 km from Srirangapatna and 19 Km from Mysore. The Bird Sanctuary is named after Lord Sri Ranganatha Swamy and was declared a bird sanctuary in 1940. This Sanctuary is spread across an area of 40 acres includes 6 islands lying beautifully on the banks of river Cauvery, forming largest bird sanctuary in the state. This sanctuary is the home to some of the most exquisite birds. This Sanctuary is an important nesting and breeding ground for the thousands of bird species, witnessing the arrival of many migratory birds of different flocks from as far as Siberia, North America and Australia. Best time to visit is from June – November during the nesting season of the water birds, especially during morning hours. Breeding season starts during the winter months.
Ranger guided boat tours are available throughout the day, offering breath taking scenic beauty with wide variety of beautiful birds along with glimpses of marsh crocodile and bats. This sanctuary also offers spectacular scenery and paradise for wildlife enthusiasts, nature lovers and bird watchers. As you enter the sanctuary, you will find huge spread of bamboo trees. Throughout the path can see various boards with pictures and names of the birds that can be spotted over there. Flora at this place is comprised of deciduous forests, bamboo, figs, jamun, karanji and eucalyptus, etc.
Entry fee
Adult: Rs 50
Child: Rs 25
Parking fee: Rs 15 for motorcycle

Srirangapatna is town in Mandy district, situated around 19 km from Mysore. This historic place is a river island formed by waters of Cauvery river. This island is sprinkled with many heritage places to visit in and around Srirangapatna. These exhibits Indo-Arabic architecture, history and culture. The spiritual inviolability of this land saddles with the evoking air of its fortitude past.

Srirangapattna Fort:
Srirangapattna is also known as the capital of Tipu Sultan. Due to its unique rocky river island, new defensive tactics were developed to render a new supporting role for the forts. The River Cauvery provided a natural defense for Srirangapattna knowing this, Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan did not under estimate the importance of forts in their struggle with the British and other Indian rivals. Haidar Ali had greatly strengthened the fortifications of the island.  With Tipu’s army, French engineers, bodies of Masons along with Indian technicians a fort wall was built around srirangapatna. Two fort walls were build one around the other leaving around 50 meters in between forming deep moats and trenches. These trenches and moats filled with water diverted from Kaveri and crocodiles left free inside, made it almost impossible for breach by the enemies.
Layers were always on the move whose job was to undertake repair, renovation and construction of forts. This makes the enemy army difficult and confuse to entry inside the town. These long fort walls were build using bricks, stones, limestone, jaggery and fine sand. The walls of the Srirangapatna fort are provided with strong bastions and gateways at regular intervals with provisions for garrisoning men along the walls. Inner fort wall is facilitated with holes every couple of meters, providing soldiers to shoot arrows outside. Some holes are designed in three-way direction specially in the corners allowing soldiers to shoot arrows in all three directions.
Engineers carved these walls in which allowing river water to flow inside the town through stone bridges. These bridges are made with mixture of fine sand and small stones at the bottom, allowing water to pass through it and get filtered water at the other end. Big sized stones are submounted on top of it giving space for the people to walk on top of it. The main purpose of these bridges is to filter the water flowing through it, allowing pure water to pass inside the town for drinking and domestic purposes. These bridges are well constructed even today they stand still and filters the water.

The fort consists of Six gateways.
1. The Bangalore or the Ganjam Gate
2. The Mysore Gate:
3. The Elephant Gate
4. The Water Gate
5. The Jibi Gate
6. The Delhi Gate

The water gate, Jibi gate and Delhi gate are unique of its own. These three gates are water filled all the year except in dry season. Each gate has four metal doors build sequentially inside. It is unusual to identify these doors inside. All these doors are destroyed by the British army using explosives. On careful observation, one can identify the clamps and holders of the destroyed doors. These gates are well engineered that Iron spike are mounted on the outer doors to avoid collusion with enemy elephants to enter at war situations.

A fenced area with a stone marks, the place where Tipu’s body was found is close to the northern fringe of the fort towards the Water Gate.

Two Dungeon are build inside around these walls forming impossible for the prisoners to escape. These two dungeons are below ground level and must climb down few steps to enter the arches of the dungeon. Colonel balley’s dungeon or tipu dungeon for captive of British army officers and Marati dungeon for marati soldiers. No rooms and gates are build inside the dungeons.  Prisoners are chained to the rocky holes across the walls. A trap hole is made at the corner of dungeons were moats are connected outside. Dead prisoners are thrown inside this for feasting crocodiles in moats. A canon in the center of tipu dungeon fell through the roof in Anglo-British war. From the top of Marati dungeon rocket launchers are used by the tipu army to destroy the British army camps located at karighatta. Some portion of the fort is destroyed by the British army in Anglo-British war.

Wellesley Bridge
Wellesley Bridge is the oldest functional Stone bridge on which a heavy truck can pass even today. It was built in 1804 during the reign of Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar at a cost of Rs 5.5 lakh. This bridge is named after the then Governor General Marquis of Wellesley. It is an engineering marvel built on monolithic stone pillars. Made up of hundreds of stone pillars, capped with stone corbels, stone girders are surmounted on top of it using slabs, lime mortar and roadway are laid on top of it.
Wellesley Bridge looks similar like Lushington Bridge. Lushington Bridge, the oldest heritage stone bridge in the princely State of Mysore that was constructed in 1818 at Shivanasamudra near Madhyaranga across River Cauvery. Lushington Bridge washed away on July 17 in the gushing floodwaters of River Cauvery. Wellesley Bridge served the travelling public between Bangalore and Mysore till a new and bigger bridge was built.

Jamia Masjid
Built by tipu sultan in 1787, located near the Bangalore gate in the eastern part of the fort. This mosque was used for worship by tipu and sad to be his favorite mosque. The two-storied mosque with two minarets domed built with exquisite floral comic and parapets. Small dome features a clock which has been functional for the past 97 years. The panoramic view of the area from the top is magnificent, accessible by the staircase in the two shafts. A mihrab on the western wall of the main hall symbolizes the light “Allah”. The stone tablets fixed in the hall are inscribed with Quran verses, including the one which mentions the date of the construction of the mosque. This building is an interesting example of the combination of Hindu and Islamic architecture. The surrounding structures, a stone-faced water tank with steps and basement stage of the mosque resembles the Hindu architecture. Minarets and the central part of the mosque are of Islamic architecture. A library of Islamic books is available inside right corner of the mosque to study Islamic scripts.

Timings: 10 AM – 7 PM.
Located 6 km from Srirangapatna, Karighatta Hill is situated at an altitude of 2,697 feet. Top the hill is an ancient temple and 6 feet tall idol is made up of black granite stone dedicated to Lord Vishnu. “Kari” means black and “Ghatta” means hill. So, the name karighatta. In the ancient texts, this hill is mentioned as “Neelachala” meaning “Blue Mountain”. Riding on the pin curved road to reach hill top is a wonderful experience. Other way to reach the temple is by 450 steps climb up the hill. The confluence of Cauvery and Lokapavani rivers is an attractive sight and can be seen from the hill top. Karighatta is covered with grass and evenly patched forests with tamarind trees. On a clean sunny day, panoramic view of srirangapattna can be seen form this hill top. During the battle of Srirangapatna, British army had choosen this place for monitoring inside out movements of tipu army in srirangapattna and placed their cannons at strategic location on this hill.

Around 7.30 pm started for the return ride to Bengaluru. As usual there was heavy traffic on Mysore Bangalore highway. Quick breaks near Maddur, for maddur voda in maddur tiffin’s and Ramanagar for coffee, boost me to ride with active mind. Reached Bangalore by 11 pm. Total 837 km ride.

1 Comment

  1. Inspiring

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