Yes, I did make it to Mysore! Granted, I made it there a few days ago and I’m just now getting around to writing about it, but it’s crazy how quickly the time is flying by on this trip. Of course, time always passes more quickly on trips, but this one has a bit odd because it started off like a typical vacation – exploring Bangalore on my first full day here and taking a day trip to Mysore on the second day (though I did have a half-day in the office, but that was mere hours after I landed at the airport). But then I got into the rhythm of going to work, just like I do at home, with the main difference being that my work day continues when I get back to my hotel after leaving the office (so I can meet/connect with my Minneapolis teams – since there’s a 10.5-hour time difference, it’s evening here by the time I can meet with them), so between unwinding after being in the office and taking additional meetings, I haven’t set aside blogging time. But rest assured, I won’t keep Mysore from you any longer.
This trip was planned before I got here as my generous co-worker Mohan offered to drive my to Mysore. Many people say it’s one of those places you should try to get to when you visit Bangalore and I’m glad I did! I had done a little bit of research ahead of time, but since I wasn’t in the driver’s seat (literally or metaphorically), I didn’t have any specific plans – I was just along for the ride! Bangalore and Mysore really aren’t that far apart (just under 100 miles), but you can expect the drive to take about three hours – gotta love that traffic! And the drive was interesting because it felt like we were never really outside of a town. There were some parts that were a little more removed, but it seemed like there was always one more town to go through, which made the drive feel shorter than it was because we were rarely just staring out at the open road. And while the traffic isn’t nearly as bad as it is within Bangalore, we still had to deal with it (and the ever-present motorbikes) every time we passed through any town. Mohan told me the road we were on is the way everyone takes to Mysore (he said there’s another road, but it’s not a very good route) and it truly felt like we never even turned off it (except for the stops we made along the way), so it was like it was specifically designed to drive between Bangalore and Mysore (perhaps it was!). Lesson learned – expect the trip between the two cities to take awhile, but enjoy watching local people and culture along the way.
We made a couple of stops while we were driving, first of all at a dhaba (roadside restaurant, kind of like a truck stop in the US, though much smaller) for a quick bite to eat. Although you can go inside to order food, it’s very normal to sit in your car – a server will come to you, take your order, bring your food out (very quickly, I might add), and then bring you your bill. Brilliant! Because I had already eaten breakfast, I wasn’t particularly hungry, but Mohan did order me a medu vada that was quite delicious. It came with two sauces (I think one was more of a yoghurt sauce, which I didn’t enjoy as the other, which I think was a chutney) for dipping and I was surprised when it had a savory flavor (I figured, if it looks like a donut, it would probably taste like one!). Definitely a tasty little treat! I recommend stopping at a dhaba if you get the chance as it’s a great way to try local food.
After the dhaba, we made a stop at the Tipu Sultan Fort, which confused me slightly at first, since I had already visited another of the Tipu Sultan’s buildings in Bangalore, but this one was much better-perserved than that one (which is apparently because this one is officially maintained by the government, whereas only the gardens of the Summer Palace are maintained). Also unlike the Summer Palace, photography isn’t allowed inside (though some people took photos anyway), but it was a nice stop on the way to Mysore, so I would recommend it if you’re already heading that way. It only cost ₹200 ($3 USD) for non-Indians (₹15 for Indians), so it’s an inexpensive stop, too.
Before getting to the palace, Mohan had one more stop in store for us – Sangam. I couldn’t find a whole lot of information about it online, but it’s a place near Mysore where three rivers converge (Kaveri, Kabini, and Hemavati) and is considered a holy place for many Hindus. Because it’s a holy place, many people were bathing in the water, but not truly swimming (which isn’t allowed and I’m sure would be considered disrespectful). The area isn’t particularly clean and is surrounded by a little market selling mostly trinkets, toys, and some food, but we only spent about ten minutes here, so I’m glad we stopped by. There’s no entrance fee or cost for going, so if you’re driving in/around Mysore anyway, stop by and pay a quick visit. If not, it’s not worth it.
Upon reaching Mysore, we were greeted by traffic similar to Bangalore (perhaps a little lighter, but not much) and made our way to Mysore Palace, which is actually a rebuild of the original palace, which unfortunately burnt down in 1897. The current palace was completed in 1912 and is a much-visited landmark in India, as I quickly gathered from the huge number of people there. The entrance fee here is also ₹200 (₹40 for Indians) and that price includes an English audio guide (there’s an additional fee for Indians who want audio guides), which I used, but found that I didn’t listen to the full descriptions most of the time because they were quite long and I wanted to keep moving given the number of visitors around the palace. You can also expect to pay another small fee to store your shoes (₹2 per pair) as you aren’t allowed to wear shoes inside the palace (socks are okay). Photography isn’t allowed here (inside) either, but you can take plenty of pictures of the amazing exterior, grounds, and temples near the palace. This is definitely THE place to visit when you’re in Mysore, so don’t miss it! If you can, try to visit in the evening because the palace lights get turned on around 7p and it looks amazing in the photos I’ve seen! Alas, we were there earlier in the day, so other peoples’ pictures will have to suffice for me.
Check out some of the photos below!
Me in front of the Tipu Sultan Fort.
A nice shot of the grounds leading up to the fort (this is looking away from the fort, towards the entrance).
The fort (sans me this time)! The green covers are kept in place to keep birds out, so the view isn’t quite as nice as it could be.
The three rivers merging at Sangam.
Sri Shweta Varahaswami Temple on the grounds of Mysore Palace.
Trinayaneswara Temple, which is said to date back to the 9th century AD, also on the grounds of the palace.
You could even take a ride on elephants and camels on the palace grounds.
The view facing the main gate of the palace (the palace is directly behind the camera in this photo).
What a great visit! There’s some great stuff to see inside the palace, so it’s too bad photography isn’t allowed. There’s a really amazing hall with a stained-glass window-lined turret at the top of it and apparently someone was able to pay off someone from the palace to allow wedding pictures to be taken there. Naturally, some of those photos found their way to social media, so Mohan said people starting taking pictures a bit more freely in the palace (even though photography still isn’t officially allowed). At one point, I saw a guard stop two girls to look through their phones, presumably because he saw them taking pictures. So if you’re caught, don’t be surprised if they make you delete your pictures!
Before leaving Mysore, we made one more stop, this time at a Catholic church – St. Philomena’s. It’s a really imposing building from the outside and I’m sure it’s equally gorgeous on the inside, but the entire interior is currently being remodeled for the next year. We were still able to go inside, though there wasn’t much to see. But check out the outside:
All in all, this was definitely a great trip! We were in the car for a pretty good chunk of it (probably 6-7 hours), but after leaving around 815a and getting back around 7p, it made for a nice day trip. The next time you’re in Bangalore, add Mysore to your itinerary!