Mysore is the second biggest city in the South Indian state of Karnataka after Bangalore. Compared to Bangalore, it is a small city with less than one million residents (887,446 according to the 2011 census). Hinduism is the dominant religion here: 87.44% of the region’s residents are Hindus, while Muslims make up 8.87% of the population and the remaining 3.69% are Christians, Buddhists and other religious groups. The local language spoken here, like in most of Karnataka, is Kannada.
Mysore is a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors to its many palaces. Located at the base of the Chamundi Hills, it is believed that this was the place where the goddess Chamundeshwari defeated the evil asura (demon) Mahisha in a 10-day battle. There’s a temple dedicated to the goddess on top of Chamundi Hill. The Kannada name of Mysore is Maisuru, which is derived from Mahishuru, meaning the abode of Mahisha in Kannada.
Mysore was once the centre of the powerful Mysore Kingdom which ruled a large part of South India for over 500 years. The Wodeyar family headed the kingdom from the 13th century almost uninterruptedly until India’s independence from the British in 1947. The current Maharajah of Mysore still lives in Mysore palace and oversees the annual Dasara celebrations (which fall in September or October) for which the city is famous.
The city’s many majestic palaces are remnants of its royal legacy. The royal family had built the city at the turn of the 20th century as a planned city, with wide avenues and a modern sewage system. The Mysore Kingdom was also the first region in India to get electricity and English-language education was first introduced here in the early 1800s.
Today Mysore is also an important centre for yoga. Late yoga guru K. Pattabhi Jois’ Ashtanga Yoga Institute [http://www.yoga.in/centers/k-pattabhi-jois-ashtanga-yoga-institute-40.html] is one of the best known yoga schools in India and the world and draws large numbers of foreign students. There are many other schools established here.
Like all Indian cities, Mysore is going through rapid change with malls and apartment complexes springing up across the city, as well as supermarkets, and road and infrastructure works scarring this once sleepy town. It still remains a pleasant and charming city and retains some of its old world charm with its tree-lined streets and relaxed pace of life. The moderate climate with warm winters, low humidity levels and summer temperatures reaching only the mid-30s makes this an ideal destination year round. This is a great place to stay and soak up small-town India while deepening your yoga practice.
Mysore is one of the best known centres for yoga in India thanks to Late Pattabhi Jois’ contribution to Ashtanga yoga and his world-famous school located here. There are a variety of schools and yoga styles to choose from, offering something for every yogi. [See relevant page on yoga in Mysore]
Mysore is a good base from which to explore South India. There are the temple towns of Srirangapatna, Belur, Halebid, and Sravanabelagola, the Tibetan settlement in Bylakuppe, and fabulous nature reserves just a short drive away. [See relevant page on excursions from Mysore.]
A yoga community has developed in Mysore among the foreign students who come here (many every year) to deepen their practice. Small businesses catering to this community have sprung up in the neighbourhood of Gokulam, offering Western-style food, shops and accommodation.
Mysore is a small and laid-back Indian city which still has a lot of old-world charm. The pace of life here is slower compared to the hustle and bustle of the big cities. Its’ small size, wide roads and minimal traffic make travelling around hassle-free.
The Mysore region is part of the Southern Karnataka Plateau which means that at an elevation of 763 metres, the weather is quite pleasant all year round. Temperatures in the summer months (April and May) rarely go beyond 34 degrees, which is still tolerable compared to other parts of India.
Mysore is a very green city full of tree-lined avenues and numerous parks which make this a very pleasant city to spend time in.
Arriving by air
Mysore has an airport located 12 kilometres away from the city centre. SpiceJet operates a flight to Bangalore on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. This is the only commercial flight available.
Arriving by road
Bangalore International Airport is 190 kilometres away from Mysore. The trip to Mysore by road can take 3.5 to 4 hours. Taxis are available at the airport or can be pre-booked through your hotel or guesthouse.
There are many frequent buses connecting Bangalore to Mysore. These include ordinary buses which make many stops along the way, as well as express non-stop buses. It is usually not necessary to book in advance except maybe on weekends. The Volvo buses run by the KSRTC (Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation) are air-conditioned.
For information on fares and schedules and to book on-line, visit the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation website: http://www.ksrtc.in/
Arriving by train
The quickest and most comfortable way to travel to Mysore from Bangalore is by train. The Shatabdi Express leaves Bangalore City railway station at 11am, arriving in Mysore 2 hours later. There are many other daily express trains linking the two cities but the Shatabdi is the fastest.
Mysore is connected by rail to other major cities in India, including Chennai, Trichy, Tirupati, Mangalore, Delhi, Mumbai and Jaipur.
On overnight trains, 1A (2 berths to a compartment), 2A (4 berths to a compartment) and 3A (6 berths) classes are air-conditioned and bed linen is provided. Sleeper Class is not air-conditioned but still reasonably comfortable. It’s hard to go hungry on Indian trains as there’s always a steady parade of vendors selling snacks, drinks and meals. It is strongly recommended to reserve a seat as far in advance as possible, as seats fill up fast. Tourist quotas are available to Tourist Visa holders. There’s also the ‘Tatkal’ scheme which allows bookings the day before the planned journey, but it can be difficult to secure a reservation this way. The unreserved class is almost always crowded and only for the intrepid.
The Indian Railways website [https://www.irctc.co.in/] offers information on fares and schedules and an on-line booking facility.
Getting around Mysore
Travelling by bus
Mysore is a small city, making bus travel a good way to get around. There are many city buses connecting most areas of the city as well as the major tourist sites. Air-conditioned buses are more expensive than the regular buses and tend to be less crowded. There’s a regular air-conditioned bus service from the main bus stand to Chamundi Hills, Brindavan Gardens, the KRS Dam and Mysore Zoo.
For more information on bus routes in Mysore, visit the Mysore Intelligent Transport System website: http://mitra.ksrtc.in/MysoreMBus/index_e.jsp
Travelling by auto-rickshaw
There are many yellow and green (or yellow and black) three-wheeled auto-rickshaws plying the roads of Mysore. These run on the meter-system but drivers are sometimes reluctant to use them. An offer of 10 rupees extra over the fare usually works. If a driver asks for an inflated fare, just try your luck with another driver. There are pre-paid auto-rickshaw counters at the railway station and bus stand.
Travelling by taxi
There are many private taxi companies where a taxi can be rented for a few hours, a day or for trips outside the city. Rates are generally fixed by the hour or by the day. Ask your hotel or guesthouse to recommend a company.
Travelling by scooter / motorcycle
Many visitors to Mysore who stay long-term prefer the convenience of renting a ‘two-wheeler’, i.e. a scooter or motorcycle on a weekly or monthly basis. Ask around to get an idea of prices. A valid driver’s licence is required.
The peak ‘yoga season’ in Mysore runs from December to February, with some students arriving already in October and staying until March. It can be difficult to find accommodation during the peak time, so it’s best to plan early.
Some of the yoga schools in Mysore offer accommodation but most do not and students need to find their own place to stay. Since yoga classes tend to start in the early morning (as early as 4:30am), you’ll want to stay close to your yoga school. Most yoga students stay for a minimum of one month.
Some schools can offer advice on accommodation and often have lists of places to stay. Other yoga students are also a good resource and usually know what’s available. There are also local agents catering to yoga students who can assist with the search for a place to stay for a fee.
Mysore offers a variety of accommodation options to suit every budget. Rents can vary widely, starting from a few hundred rupees a day for a room to several thousand per month for a flat. These can be furnished or unfurnished.
Gokulam has become the neighbourhood known for yoga because of the Sri K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute located here. Rents here can be more expensive as a result. Lakshmipuram is another neighbourhood where many yoga students find accommodation, in proximity to the schools there.
Many local residents rent out rooms in their homes, referred to as paying guest accommodation. Sometimes rooms are shared so be sure to ask if it’s a private or shared room. Meals are usually included in the monthly rent. This type of accommodation can be found on websites like http://www.sulekha.com/ or http://www.quikr.com/ or www.airbnb.com/ or http://www.click.in.
Some of the popular places to stay in Gokulam include
Anokhi Garden Bed and Breakfast http://www.anokhigarden.com/guesthouse.php
Chez Mr Joseph B & B
Anu’s Bamboo Hut
Many people prefer to stay in a hotel or guesthouse for a few days while they look for accommodation. A website like TripAdvisor.com or airbnb.com offer a comprehensive list of hotels and guesthouses with reviews and the possibility to book most of these on-line.
A great place to touch down for a few days is The Green Hotel, a former palace which has been tastefully restored into a heritage hotel.
A popular hotel offering serviced apartments is Urban Oasis Hotel in Gokulam.
Mysore is one of the best known centres for yoga in India and the world – and one of the top destinations for foreign students who come to India to study yoga.
It is largely thanks to late yoga guru Pattabhi Jois’ contribution to Ashtanga yoga and the establishment of his now world-famous school that Mysore has become the ‘Ashtanga yoga capital of the world’. Since his passing away in 2009, the Sri K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Gokulam is now run by his daughter Saraswathi and grandson Sharath, who are highly respected and knowledgeable teachers. During the peak season, classes fill up months in advance, and many students return each year.
Another popular school is the Atmavikasa Centre of Yogic Sciences run by Venkatesh and Hema, a husband and wife team. They describe the yoga they teach as “traditional hatha yoga with the inspiration of the perfection of Iyengar and the intensity of Ashtanga”. Their beautiful yoga space is located in leafy Lakshmipuram.
Set in an atmospheric old house in Lakshmipuram, Mysore Mandala is sometimes described as a ‘boutique yoga centre’. This however does not compromise their high standard of teaching which is combined with a Western approach to learning.
There are many other yoga schools in Mysore offering a variety of yoga styles. Some are accused of cashing in on the popularity of Mysore as a yoga destination by imposing high fees or compromising on quality. Read the page on how to find a teacher [link] for suggestions on finding the school which will work for you, or talk to other yoga students.
Our directory lists over 2 dozen yoga schools in Mysore.
While in Mysore you can try some of the dishes and specialities the city is famous for.
The Mysore masala dosa is like a regular thin and crispy masala dosa filled with a potato mixture but chilli paste is also spread inside.
Idli (steamed rice cakes) and vada (a fritter made of rice and dal) are breakfast and afternoon ‘tiffin’ favourites across South India, served with sambhar (soup-like sauce made of dal, vegetables and spices) and chutney (made of coconut, tomato, mint or coriander).
Some specialities from Karnataka include bisibele bath – a mixture of rice and dal; ragi and akki rotis – flat breads made of millet and rice flour, and ragi mudde – millet rolled into balls and eaten with sambhar.
Mysore is also famous for its Mysore Pak, a sweet made of gram flour, jaggery (a dark, unrefined sugar) and ghee (clarified butter). At Guru Sweet Mart, just outside Devaraja market, you can sample the original Mysore Pak from the great grandson of its inventor.
Many local women in Mysore prepare healthy home-cooked South Indian food for yoga students. Ask around when you arrive to get a few recommendations. Many have regulars among the yoga community who keep going back for these delicious homemade meals.
South Indian eateries
Green Leaf Restaurant
2813, 10th Cross, Kalidasa Road, Vani Vilas Mohalla, Tel. 0821 655 0857
79 Nazarbad Main Road, Near Nazarbad Police Station, Nazarbad, Tel. 94486 08710
995/1, Radhakrishna Avenue, Tel. 0821 242 4811
Hotel Sree Annapoorna
194/2, Moti Khana Building, Next To SBI, Near Lawnsdown Building, Syyaji Rao Road, Tel. 0821 243 4434
Mysore Ooty Road, Tel. 0821 243 1115
18 Temple Road, Jayalakshmipuram, Tel. 0821 424 2333
Sixth Main Restaurant
Opp To Loyal World, 6th Main, 9th Cross, Post Office Road, Vani Vilas Mohalla, Tel. 0821 428 7786
The Green Hotel, Chittaranjan Palace, 2270 Vinoba Road, Jayalakshmipuram, Tel. 0821 425 5000
2720 Harsha Road, Tel. 821 400 3500
Popular places in Gokulam
367, 2nd Main, 3rd Stage, Gokulam, Tel. 0821 428 9492
1D, 3rd Main, Gokulam Main Road, Tel. 9449818668
188 9th Cross, Gokulam 3rd Stage, Tel. 0821 428 7849, http://rishiinternetcafe.blogspot.in
Sri Chakra House
829, 1st 'A' Main Road, Gokulam 3rd Stage, Tel. 0821 424 2656
398 3rd Stage Road & 2nd Main, Gokulam
Anokhi Garden Café
408 Contour Road, Gokulam 3rd stage, Tel. 0821 428 8923, http://www.anokhigarden.com
2826G, 1st Floor, 10th Cross, Adipama Road, Off Kalidasa Road, VV Mohalla, Tel. 0821 241 1108, www.dhati.in
42, 1st Floor, Gokulam Main Road, VV Mohalla, Kalidasa Road, Tel. 0821 251 1024, www.meltmysore.com
2713/1 Adipampa Road, VV Mohalla, Tel. 0821 251 1125, www.pascucci.in
Popular places in Lakshmipuram
897/1 Narayan Shastry Road, Lakshmipuram, Tel. 0821 425 6277, www.ashtanga.org
New Kantharaj Urs Road, Chamarajapura, Krishnamurthy Puram, Tel. 0821 233 0820, http://maheshprasad.com
The Amba Vilas palace is Mysore’s biggest attraction and one of the most visited monuments in India. It is the official residence of the Wodeyar family who ruled the kingdom of Mysore for over 700 years and the Maharajah still lives here. The palace is the centre of the annual 10-day Dasara festival for which Mysore is famous. An excellent one-hour audio tour in several languages is included with entry to the palace which offers interesting insights into its history. There’s a Sound and Light show every evening from 7pm to 8pm (except Sundays and public holidays).
Just 10km away from the city centre is Chamundi Hill, believed to be the place where the goddess Chamundeshwari defeated the evil demon Mahishasura. A temple dedicated to the goddess is located on top of the hill as well as a giant statue of Nandi (Lord Shiva’s bull). Pilgrims walk the 1000 steps up to the top of the hill.
This colourful market is located in a heritage building in the centre of Mysore. This is a great place to soak in some local flavour while shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables. The area around the market is a bustling bazaar neighbourhood where clothes and household goods can be found at decent prices.
Karanji lake, next to Mysore Zoo, is a lovely place for quiet walk.
Royal Mysore Walks
The best way to see Mysore is on foot or on a bicycle. The dynamic and passionate team at Royal Mysore Walks runs organised walking and cycling tours, taking in not only the city’s monuments but also glimpses into interesting facets of local life. http://royalmysorewalks.com
The largest Tibetan settlement outside of Tibet is located about 80km west of Mysore in Bylakuppe, near Kushal Nagar. Here you can visit the beautiful Namdroling Monastery which is the largest Tibetan monastery outside Tibet and the magnificent Golden Temple.
18km north of Mysore on an island in the middle of the Cauvery River is the former fortress capital of Srirangapatna which has important historical, cultural and religious significance in the region. The majestic 9th century Sri Ranganathaswamy temple is a pilgrimage centre for Vaishnavites. Also located here is Tipu Sultan's fort and summer palace. This is also the ‘sangam’ of three holy rivers: the Cauvery, Kabini and Hemavati.
Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Close to Srirangapatna is the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, located on an island in the Cauvery river. Here you can see storks, spoonbills, white ibises, egrets, herons, partridges, river terns and darters. A boat can be taken out on the river to the many small islands.
15 km north-west from Mysore are Brindavan Gardens, a popular spot for locals to relax. The lovely landscaped gardens cover several acres alongside a dam and manmade lake.
Just 35km east of Mysore is the superb Chennakeshava temple built during the Hoysala dynasty in the 13th century. Dedicated to Vishnu is his form as Keshava, the temple exterior is covered with many exquisite relief sculptures.
Belur and Halebid
About 150km north-west of Mysore near the town of Hassan, stand these magnificent temple complexes built in the 12th century during the Hoysala period. These temples are famous for their majestic architecture and intricate relief sculptures.
Just 80km north of Mysore is Sravanabelagola, the most important Jain pilgrimage site in South India. Set atop a hill is the 17.7 metre high monolithic statue of the Jain saint Gomateshwara. 614 steps cut into the granite rock take you up to the top with stunning views of the landscape below.
Information on the annual 10-day Dasara festival.
Star of Mysore
Mysore’s daily English-language newspaper
Claudia’s guide to Mysore
A handy travel guide written by a yoga student and Mysore regular.
Yoga resources, travel and news
Mysore travel guide
Some useful information on Mysore