“Mysore is one of the most flamboyant places in South India, bustling with the history of its glittering royal heritage and famous for exquisite silk saris, elaborate architecture, sandle wood and yoga amongst many other things.”
Also known as the City of Palaces, Mysore retains a quaint charm that never fails to enchant with its rich heritage, magnificent palaces, beautifully laid-out gardens, imposing buildings, broad shady avenues and sacred temples. The charm of this city leaves no one untouched. Situated in the southern part of the Deccan Plateau, Mysore has played a significant role in the history of South India.
The history of Mysore begins in the legends surrounding its name. ‘Mahishuru’ was the domain of the wicked demon, Mahishasara. He was killed by Goddess Chamundeswari, whose temple is located on top of the nearby Chamundi Hills. Mahishuru later evolved into Mysuru or Mysore. Initially a part of the Vijayanagara Empire, the kingdom of Mysore gained independence in the 17th century. With the city of Mysore as its capital, the kingdom flourished under the rule of the Wodeyar Kings. In the latter half of the 18th century, the kingdom came under the rule of Hyder Ali and his son, Tipu Sultan. After the death of Tipu Sultan, the Wodeyar kings were reinstated by the British and became puppet monarchs under the suzerainty of the British Crown. After India’s independence, Mysore city remained a part of the state of Mysore, now known as Karnataka.
Known by the moniker “Cultural Capital of Karnataka”, Mysore is a centre for artwork, carpentry and fashion. The most attractive feature of Mysore painting is the ‘gesso’, a gold inlay work on the painting. Mysore is also a centre for production of ‘Ganjifa’ cards. This was a game favoured by the royalty and each card is an intricate piece of work made with ivory and mother-of-pearl, with exquisite paintings on the back. Ivory motifs etched into rosewood carvings is another specialty of Mysore. The city is also home to the famous ‘Mysore Silk Saree’ made with pure silk and real gold thread. The favoured cuisine of Mysoreans contains rice as the main dish, reminiscent of Udupi cuisine. The most important festivals celebrated in the city are Dussehra and Navratri. The festivities last for 10 days and the city is decked up in beautiful lights, especially on the last day known as Vijayadashami.
Mysore has one of the oldest libraries of India, known as the Oriental Research Institute. It is a strange and wonderfully preserved building. The library has a collection of around 50,000 palm leaf manuscripts, which is collected from personal collections across South India.
The present state Karnataka was known as Mysore till 1973.
Karangi Lake in Mysore which is surrounded by Butterfly Park and a walk-through aviary is considered to be the biggest “walk-through” aviary in India.
Mysore Zoo is the oldest zoos of India and is inland of 168 species.
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