1 - Maharajah’s Palace
If history fascinates you, you can easily spend two hours at this palace. Rent an audio guide (available in Hindi, English, Kannada, German, Italian, Japanese and French) that will explain each of the sculptures, artefacts, and weapons in the rooms. paintings on the walls narrate stories of not only events that unfolded at Mysore Palace, but also episodes that ensued in the city at the time. Stained glass windows, etchings in pillars, carved wooden doors, painted roofs, patterned floor tiles, and large sized mirrors are what give this Indo-Saracenic building its majestic and opulent appeal.
It was first built in the 14th century as the court of Wodeyar maharajas. Since then it has been attacked and almost razed, renovated each time after. Finally, when the palace caught fire, English architect Henry Irwin resurrected it in 1912, and this is what we can visit today.
True the palace is dusty; it deserves careful restoration and dedicated maintenance. At sunset, it is a breathtaking sight when more a 100 thousand light bulbs bring its facade to life.
- Open daily 10am-5:30pm; tickets ₹40 for Indians and ₹200 for foreigners; mysorepalace.gov.in
2 - Folk Lore Museum Mysore
It can be described as an ethnographic museum of the Karnataka region. More than 6,500 objects give us a peak into the lives of the natives. Toys, puppets, utensils, jewellery, stone tablets, baubles, religious items, idols, traditional garbs, masks, and other such items spell out the past culture, as well as present day rural and traditional lifestyles. There are also two wooden chariots that date back centuries.
Unfortunately, few are aware of the museum’s whereabouts — best to arrive at Mysore University, and ask for directions to Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion. Another drawback is that none of the exhibits are labelled, and so the exhibits may be lost in translation. It is best to visit a guide who knows his history (travspire.com).
Complete your visit with a walk around Kukkarahalli Lake fenced in greenery. In fact, birdwatchers can be delighted with visits from over 2,000 species such as spot-billed pelicans, little cormorant, painted storks, openbill storks, Eurasian spoonbills, black-crowned night herons, and oriental darters.
- Open Monday to Saturday 10am-5pm.
3 - Railway Museum
It is one of first of many railway museums in the country — launched in 1979. Everything one wants to know about India’s expanding railways in the region is available here in photographs, graphs, and replicas. One section is dedicated to a general history of the Indian Railway in real photographs and paintings.
The country’s first steam engine, steam water pump from 1934, and a hand-operated crane from 1885 also rest here. Apart form these are two coaches reserved for the Maharaja of Mysore. The most impressive is the Maharani’s saloon from 1899. And if you want to indulge in a little bit of locomotive fun, chase the toy train that toots its way around the museum grounds.
- Open daily 9:30am-5:30pm; tickets ₹15; tel: +91 821 2866 955
4 - Regional Museum of Natural History
The museum is an occurrence of the recent past — May 1995 to be exact. One of the more updated exhibits in terms of technology, it employs audio-visuals, and interactive displays of nature and its functions. It covers information on the flora, fauna, and natural resources in South India. Rain forests, wetlands and mangrove forests of the Western Ghats are explained in great depth, as are the evolution of man, importance of the preservation of the environment and an overview of endangered species and wounded nature.
- Open Tuesday to Sunday 10am-5pm