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Exciting things to do in and around Mysore – A travel guide

One of the first trips I took when I came to Bangalore for work was Mysore. Since then it’s been over four years and two more trips, yet I’m never tired of the beautiful cultural capital of Karnataka. In this post I would like to share the best things to do in Mysore – either on a one-day trip from Bangalore, or on an extended stay in Mysore for two to five days. I’ll also tell you why Mysore is the best city to base yourself in for a holiday in Karnataka. So keep reading to plan your perfect trip.

My Favorite Things to do in Mysore

Discover the beautiful cultural capital of Karnataka, India. This is a complete travel guide and itinerary for Mysore - places to visit and best things to do in and around Mysore on a short.My first trip to Mysore was a group tour of Mysore-Ooty over the long weekend of 15th August, back in 2014. I was new to Bangalore myself and my mom was visiting, so I wanted to plan something special. Well, the trip turned out to be quite a memorable one, for both good and terrible reasons. The organizers were unprofessional, our camera stopped working and our hotel booking which was supposed to be managed by the organizers was goofed-up. That’s a misadventure story for another day. We remember spending a bomb on silk saris for our entire family.

I visited Mysore two more times in the subsequent years every time with a different company and a slightly altered itinerary. So you can understand that I’m quite a seasoned day-tripper to Mysore, thanks to the  limited time I get away from my work to travel. Here’s the list of best things to do in Mysore in order of my preference.

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Visit the Mysore Palace

Best places to visit in Mysore - Mysore Maharaja PalaceOften called the city of palaces, Mysore is home to as many as seven royal monuments. This heritage site is the official residency of the royal family of Mysore and is definitely the top attraction of the city. The current structure was completed in 1912 after the 14th century wooden palace, a.k.a. the Old Palace was burnt during Dusshera celebrations. The Indo-Gothic architectural style which is adopted in the Mysore Palace is a combination of Hindu temple, Mughal and Rajput and the Western Gothic architecture. There’s a beautiful temple inside the premises as well.

Mysore Palace

Beautiful frescoes on glass in Mysore Palace

Did you know? Mysore Palace attracts the highest number of tourists in India, after the Taj Mahal

  • Open Timings: 10:00 AM to 5:30 AM
  • Entry ticket for Adults: Rs. 70 for both Indian and Foreign Nationals
  • For more information and online booking click here.

Mysore Palace Illumination

Mysore Palace

Mysore Palace illumination CC. Pixabay

Visit the Mysore Palace on a Sunday or a Public Holiday between 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM to see the illuminated Mysore Palace at night. Public entry to the palace is restricted to only the West Gate during this time. This has somehow eluded me on all three trips but I have kept this as a reason for a fourth visit to Mysore.

Chamundi Hills

Things to do in Mysore - visit Chamundi Hills

Forgive the picture quality as this is all I could dig up from my old mobile phone archives

Chamundi Hills is named after Hindu deity Chamundeshwari and has a 12th century temple atop. Nature-lovers are drawn to it for the mesmerizing views from the top of the hills while believers throng here to seek blessings of the Goddess. Take your binoculars to enjoy the panoramic views and spot the landmarks like the Mysore Palace. The best time to visit Chamundi hills is at the dawn or dusk. However, if you are on a day trip it will be exhausting to start so early as to reach at dawn, since none of the other attractions open before 10:00 AM.

Visiting time for Chamendeshwari Temple: 7:30 am to 2 pm, 3:30 pm to 6 pm, 7:30 pm to 9 pm

Bonus: This is new information for me which I wanted to share with you. Rajendra Vilas Palace Mysore which is one of the seven palaces of the Wodeyar family in Mysore is located atop the Chamundi hill. It was a summer palace which was converted to a hotel after independence. I’ve added this to my bucket-list for a next visit.

Mysore Zoo

Mysore Zoo - one of the oldest and largest zoos in IndiaIf you ask my husband about the best place in Mysore he will simply chime in “Mysore Zoo”. This 157 acre zoo is one of the oldest and largest zoos in India. Established in 1892, the zoo is known for the wide range species it houses as well as the beautiful landscaping. You can hire an electric car to roam around the large zoo-campus if you want. It’s the cleanest zoo I have seen which makes sense as Mysore is indeed one of the cleanest cities in India.

  • Open timing: 8:30 AM to 5: 30 PM, Closed on Tuesdays
  • Entry ticket for Adults: Rs. 80 on weekdays, Rs. 100 on Weekends, half price for children
  • For online booking and more information check their website.

Brindavan Gardens & Krishna Raja Sagara Dam

Brindavan Gardens - Best places to visit in MysoreBrindavan gardens is certainly one of the most beautiful terrace gardens in the world. No wonder many movie-directors chose this place to shoot iconic Bollywood songs in movies like Tezaab, Raja Hindustani etc. The garden was envisioned by Sir Mirza Ismail, the then Diwan of Mysore to beautify the area around the KRS dam. I actually loved the dam and boating more than the garden itself. Brindavan gardens is known not only for the colorful blossoms but also for the musical fountains. It is a great place to spend time with family and children.

  • Open timing: 6 am to 8 pm (all days)
  • Musical fountain timings: 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm on weekdays, 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm on weekends
  • Entry ticket: Rs. 15 for adults, Rs. 5 for children (5-10 yrs)

St. Philomena’s Cathedral

St Philomena Cathedral - best things to see in Mysore

St Philomena’s Cathedral CC. Pixabay

St. Philomena’s Cathedral located in the heart of the city is one of the most impressive churches in India. It was built in 1936 in Neo-Gothic style inspired by the Cologne Cathedral of Germany. Don’t miss visiting this stunning piece of architecture on  your trip to Mysore.

Shopping in Mysore

Now we come to shopping at Mysore. It’s a shame if you visit Mysore and don’t check out the famous Mysore silk. You can also visit their workshop and see artisans working on the fabric. While it’s easy to get enticed by the fine displays in the shops all around Mysore especially the ones inside the Mysore Palace premises, I suggest you wait.

Visit the Cauvery Silk Emporium of Mysore for the best variety at the cheapest prices. You can also buy wooden and clay artifacts, homemade chocolates and other specialties of Mysore as souvenirs. You should also try the famous Mysore Pak – a melt-in-mouth sweet-dish of Mysore.

Eating local food at Mysore

South Indian Breakfast - representative

Representative image CC. Pixabay

Mysore is a great place to try authentic Kannada cuisine which is mostly vegetarian. Mysore Dosa, Idli, Upittu (commonly called Upma) and Sewaiya are some of the things you must try. Most of the dishes here are vegan-friendly. The speciality of Mysore Dosa is the gunpowder masala sprinkled on it. It’s not as crispy as the Tamilian Dosa, but is rather soft in texture.

Non-vegetarians will also have several options mutton pulao at Hanumanthu mess and Biryani at Biryani haven. Don’t forget to try the filter coffee at Mysore.

Jaganmohan Palace art gallery

Jagan Mohan Art GalleryWhile most other palaces of the Wodeyar dynasty, except the Mysore Palace was converted into heritage hotels, the Jaganmohan Palace was converted into an art museum. The palace itself is not very impressive especially after you have witnessed the grandeur of the Mysore Palace, but the art gallery is. You can skip this place in your day-trip itinerary to Mysore if you are not a connoisseur of art. However if it’s your second or third trip, or if you have one more day at Mysore, you must check this out.

Things to do around Mysore

An old bridge in Strirangepatna

An old decapitated bridge at Srirangapatna

Mysore is a city in the Mysuru district of Karnataka. While the city itself has many gems that you will need at least two days to completely explore, there are some amazing places around the city in Mysuru district. That is why I said that if you want to explore Karnataka on holiday spanning 4-7 days, you can easily choose Mysore as your base location. It combines the best of both worlds – the ease of transport and amenities of a metropolitan city, and the authentic cultural experience of small towns, with much less crowd compared to the big cities of India. It’s proximity to some of the best heritage sites and hill stations of Karnataka makes it a perfect hub for a relaxed holiday. These can also be independent day-trips or weekend trips from Bangalore if you stay there. That’s the way I explored these places,.

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary

Ranganathittu Bird Sancturary - Places near MysoreLocated 19 km away from the Mysore city, the Ranganathittu bird sanctuary is a paradise for nature-lovers. It’s home to some exquisite species of birds which nest around the lake in a picturesque setting. The best time to visit the sanctuary is in the morning. You can take a boat to marvel at the exquisite avian fauna – herons, wild ducks, spoon bills, kingfishers etc. Besides the forest surrounding the lake bustles with wildflowers and large trees.

  • Open timing: 9 am to 6 pm
  • Entry fee: Rs. 50 for adults (half-price for children)
  • Boating charges: Rs. 50 (half-price for children) for Indians, Rs. 300 for foreign nationals

Talakadu & Somnathpura Temple

Talakadu TemplesSomnathpura and Talakadu are sites with a large number of ancient temples, but most importantly they are architectural hot-spots near Bangalore which you would enjoy visiting irrespective of your faith. A trip to Talakadu and Somnathpura is like a mini-Hampi tour within 50 km from Mysore city. Talakadu was a Hindu Pilgrimage site which went under dunes of sand few hundred years ago. You can end your trip with a magical coracle ride in the serene waters of the Cauvery. 24km from Talakadu is the Somnathpura temple.The Keshava temple of Somnathpura is a 1000-year-old architectural wonder where you can still find the intricate stone carvings intact. You can also do a day trip to Shivasamudra waterfalls.

Tipu Sultan’s fort and summer Palace

If you are travelling to Mysore from Bangalore you can easily stop over at Tipu Sultan’s Summer palace in Srirangapatna before you enter the city. Also known as Dariya Daulat Bagh, meaning Wealth of the Sea,  the palace was the summer retreat of Tipu Sultan, one of the most revered rulers of Karnataka. You will thoroughly enjoy the beautiful interiors of this magnificent palace set in the quaint town of Srirangapatna.

Bylakuppe – The little Tibet

Bylakuppe - Things to do around MysoreLocated 80 km from Bangalore at the border of the districts Mysuru and Coorg lies the second largest Tibetan settlement in India, called Bylakuppe. This place is completely different from anything else you would expect in Karnataka or entire South India.

Inside the Golden Temple in Bylakuppe

Inside the Golden Temple in Bylakuppe
(CC. Pixabay)

The Golden temple is the largest and most famous Buddhist monastery here. However there are quite a few smaller monasteries where you can explore freely and experience the rituals performed by the Buddhist monks. On a full day trip from Mysore you can explore Bylakuppe and also enjoy the Dubbare elephant camp and the riverside in Coorg district.

Mysore is also the gateway to the idyllic hill-stations like Ooty, Kodaikanal and Coonoor (all of which are in Tamil Nadu) if you are travelling from Bangalore. It’s a great idea to spend the whole day exploring Mysore city, staying there overnight and then drive to Tamil Nadu the next day.

How to Reach  and where to stay

The nearest international airport from Mysore is the Bangalore Airport which is less than 200 km away. From Bangalore, you can reach Mysore by KSRTC bus, train or cab. Mysore itself is well-connected to other cities by trains like Mysore Express, Chamundi Express, Kaveri express etc.

There are a large number of options to stay in Mysore. From low-budget hotels to resorts to even palaces – you can choose any. Radisson Blu Plaza and Grand Mercure are my top 2 recommendations.

Suggestive Mysore Itinerary for 1 or 2 days

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of things to do in Mysore. There are many more places like the Sand Museum, Railway Museum, several other palaces-turned-hotels, temples, parks and lakes in and around Mysore. I just picked the best ones according to me. Now that you are acquainted with the best activities in Mysore let me suggest a few itineraries for you. Of course you can create your own based on my recommendations above.

Mysore itinerary for a one-day-trip from Bangalore

  • Start early around 6 am
  • Stop at A2B for South Indian Breakfast on the way to Mysore
  • You will reach Chamundi hills by 9:30 am
  • A short 3.6 km drive to St Philomena’s Cathedral
  • Another 1.6 km drive to Mysore Palace , followed by Mysore zoo nearby (optional)
  • Shop at Cauvery Silk
  • Drive 23.5 km from Mysore Zoo to Brindavan Garden

While all this looks doable in one day, Mysore Palace and Mysore Zoo would each take at least 2-hours to explore. On your way back to Bangalore you will have to face the traffic jams in both Mysore and Bangalore. So it is best to start your journey back by 5 pm from Mysore. Realistically speaking, you will need to skip either Vrindavan garden or Mysore zoo on your day trip.

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Planning to visit Mysore - the cultural capital of Karnataka? This is the only thing you need to plan the best trip to Mysore. List of top things to do in Mysore, all important details and suggestive itinerary.Mysore itinerary for 2 day trip from Bangalore

Day 1 in Mysore

  • Stop at Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary in the morning
  • St Philomena’s Cathedral
  • Mysore Palace
  • Mysore Zoo
  • Lunch and rest at hotel
  • Visit Mysore Palace to see the illumination and then shop at Cauvery

Day 2 in Mysore

  • Visit Chamundi Hills at dawn
  • Have Breakfast
  • Head to Brindavan garden
  • Visit Tipu Sultan’s summer abode in Srirangapatna on your way back home

Two days is ideal if you want to reasonably explore the best of Mysore, but if you are traveling from far away, you should stay for at least 4 days in Mysore if not more.

Where to stay in Mysore?

For a luxury experience, you can book a suite in one of the palace-turned-heritage hotels in Mysore.

Otherwise, there are many other hotels in the city center for all budgets. Try to book hotels near Mysore Palace so that you can visit it in the evening.

Browse hotels in Mysore

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Disclaimer: The post contains some affiliate links. That means we may earn a commission if you make any purchase through those links, without any additional cost to you. Unlike most articles on Backpack & Explore, this one contains some stock images from Pixabay, since I lost most pictures from my earlier trips and didn’t like the ones I had.

Sinjana Ghosh

Sinjana Ghosh is a full-time business professional with a penchant for writing and travel planning. Backpack & Explore is a journal of her travel stories and tips she collected from her experience. She is the author of the travel book “Postcards from India” which is available on Amazon, Flipkart and Notionpress.com

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  1. Anwesha January 4, 2020

    Loved your post. I have been to Mysore a long time ago but haven’t seen the Bylakuppe. I would visit that next time. Thanks for sharing such comprehensive post.

    1. Sinjana Ghosh January 4, 2020

      thanks a lot Anwesha. I visited Bylakuppe during my fist visit to Coorg actually

  2. Rhonda Albom January 4, 2020

    Mysore looks like a lovely spot, no wonder you went back multiple times. I love that bridge, and your birdshot is really impressive.

    1. Sinjana Ghosh January 4, 2020

      Thanks Rhonda.

  3. Ann January 7, 2020

    This sure seems like a great trip, love the scenery and wildlife 🙂

  4. Natalie January 21, 2020

    The Mysore Zoo sounds like a day in itself! 157 acres – it’s just as well they have electric cars to get around.

  5. Julien January 21, 2020

    Wow, the Mysore Palace lit up at night is really impressive. And I would love to see Chamundi Hills. The detail on the temple is simply stunning.

  6. Kristina Johnson January 21, 2020

    Beautiful! That stained-glass dome is stunning. I’ve never considered Mysore before, but I’m wowed by all the options.

  7. Jan January 21, 2020

    Love this descriptive blog with so much information! I have been to Mysore and seen some of the places you have mentioned. I did not know they had electric cars to tour the zoo! That’s a well-composed picture of the old bridge of Srirangapatna!! This is a good blog to follow for anyone wanting to see in and around Mysore. 🙂

  8. Ann January 21, 2020

    Seems like a beautiful place with some amazing architechture 🙂

  9. Sharon January 21, 2020

    Love the comprehensive guide. India has such beautiful and hidden gems. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Jay Artale January 21, 2020

    I bet those stained glass windows at the Mysore Palace shed beautiful light inside, and make a tour around the building a mystical experience.

  11. Emese January 21, 2020

    So many things to do! I especially like the architecture of the temple on Chamundi Hill. I’d enjoy the bird sanctuary most though, I think. Great post, thanks for sharing your insights.

  12. These look like fantastic itineraries! Thanks for the practical tips on traffic and what you’d need to cut from the visit to make it doable. When I have a short time in an area, I tend to overestimate what I can fit in in a day, and then I end up disappointed. Much better to go in with a realistic expectation and give yourself time to not be rushed.

  13. Wendy Lee January 21, 2020

    Wow, there is so much to explore in Mysore. I would be especially interested in the palaces, they look lovely.

  14. Angela January 22, 2020

    I have never visited India but I always look at pictures and think it looks so amazing. Mysore looks spectacular especially the palaces.

  15. Slavka January 22, 2020

    Mysore Palace looks fantastic! I would love to see it. Thanks for the great info, it’ll be useful when i plan my trip there 🙂

  16. Nancy Hann January 22, 2020

    Wow! So much to do! The Mysore Palace looks spectacular. Especially that stained glass roof. Thanks for sharing all the helpful info on when to go.

  17. Yukti Agrawal January 23, 2020

    I recalled my Mysore visit when I was in school after reading your post.Mysore is really a cultural capital. I loved the majestic Mysore Palace and Chamundi temple on hills. This city has so many things to do for all types of tourists. Thanks for sharing a comprehensive guide.

  18. Sharon January 23, 2020

    The bird sanctuary would draw me to visit. Herons are so graceful and beautiful!

  19. Annalisa Fran January 24, 2020

    I can see Mysore is one of your favorite place in India! Didn’t know there are so many things to see in Mysore… I’m particularly intrigued by the Tibetan district Bylakuppe.

  20. Jenn | By Land and Sea January 24, 2020

    I’ve never heard of Mysore before and I learned a lot from this post. It sounds like a great place to visit – I can see why you’ve returned there!

  21. Becki January 24, 2020

    I had no idea that India har architecture like this. Honestly, if I hadn’t have read your location on the images, I would say they were straight out of Europe. I love how the neo-gothic style has influenced these buildings. I visited Cologne a couple of years ago, and you’re right, St. Philomena’s Cathedral is just like Cologne Cathedral.

  22. Sarah January 25, 2020

    Mysore looks amazing. Love those palace illuminations! I’ve travelled quite a bit around India but didn’t make it to Mysore. Guess a return trip to India is needed 🙂

  23. nishi April 8, 2020

    Wow looks amazing destination. I have heard about the Mysore it has less traffic compare to other cities. But literally you have experienced such a beautiful city. I will make a plan to go this city in my next holiday plan. The images and way you have explained about the places makes me to explore. Thanks lot!

    1. Sinjana Ghosh April 8, 2020

      Thanks Nishi for your kind appreciation. Glad that you liked it and plan to go there.

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