This city of palaces was once the capital of the great Mysore kingdom which ruled over a large part of South India for more than 500 years. This small and charming city still has a regal air, with its wide tree-lined avenues and many magnificent palaces and heritage buildings which are the vestiges of its royal past.
Mysore gets its name from “Mahishuru,” which means “abode of the Mahisha”, the evil demon who was defeated by the goddess Chamundeshwari in a 10-day long battle. It is believed that this battle took place on Chamundi Hill, just outside the city limits. A small temple on top of the hill is dedicated to this hero-goddess and is a popular place of pilgrimage.
The city’s best-known landmark is the Amba Vilas Palace or “Mysore Palace,” which is one of the most-visited tourist attractions in India. The event of the year is the Mysore Dasara which takes place over 10 days during the Dasara holiday of September or October each year. This is an elaborate festival featuring processions of elephants and vibrant celebrations of music and dance. On each night of the festival the Mysore Palace and surrounding buildings are lit up with bright lights.
Mysore is also an important center for yoga. People come from all over the world to study Ashtanga yoga (also called “Mysore-style yoga”) at late yoga guru K. Pattabhi Jois’ famous school.
Mysore is located 95 miles south-west of Bangalore. There are many buses making the 3-hour trip from Bangalore’s Kempe Gowda bus station. There are also several trains a day linking the two cities, the fastest being the Shatabdi Express which takes only two hours from Bangalore City railway station.