Mysuru, or Mysore or Mahishur as it was called then, was the former capital of the Mysore Maharaja's. It still retains its old world charm with its heritage buildings, cultural traditions and scores of temples. The city with the main palace as the focal point is divided mainly into the north zone, comprising the Vinobha road; and the south zone by the Nazarbad Main Road. (Interactive map of Mysore)
Mysuru is famous for its beautiful crepe silk sarees and sandalwood oil as well as sandalwood and rosewood carved articles, agarbattis and the delicious Mysore 'Pak'. The month long Dussera celebrations in September - October, with its colourful processions, fireworks and the beautifully lighted palace, gives an enchanting look to the city. Known for its magnificent palaces and majestic buildings, sprawling gardens and treelined boulevards, shimmering silks and sandalwood, the ‘City Royale’ always figures in the tourist’s itinerary. It conjures up visions and memories of the resplendent glory of the illustrious Wodeyar Kings. This former state capital is a seamless blend of old-world charm and modernity. It retains its tradition in music and dance, art and literature, and time-honoured crafts.
History of Mysuru
Mysuru is associated with the Puranic story that is found in the Devi Bhagavatha. According to this story in the mythological Devi Purana, Mysore was ruled by the demon-king Mahishasura. He was called Mahishasura, because he was a buffalo-headed monster. Hearing to the prayers of Gods and Goddess to save them from the monster, Goddess Parvathi, wife of Lord Siva, took birth as Chamundi or Chamundeswari and killed the monster. Hence, this place came to be known as Mahishuru, the city of demon Mahisha. After killing the demon, the Goddess resided atop the Chamundi Hills where she is worshipped with reverence and devotion even today. However, the original name of the hill is 'Mahabaladri Hills' and it derived the name Chamundi Hills at a later period, after 17th century.
Till the rise of Gangas in 10th century we find very little or no evidence at all relating to Mysore. The Ganga dynasty established its reign in the 2nd century and the Ganga kings ruled over the greater part of Mysore till about 1004. They established their capital in the 3rd century at Talakad, on the bank of the Cauvery river in T.Narasipur Taluk. One of their inscriptions has been traced in the Chamundi Hills. The inspection of 950 A.D. is the earliest inscription found in Mysore. After Gangas, Cholas rose to power and ruled for over a century. The Chalukyas followed them. Mysore was a part of Chalukya Prince Narasinga's kingdom in the 10th century. The Cholas built a few temples in Mysore. Hoysalas drove out the Cholas from Mysore region in the 12th century. Hoysalas, who are known for their famous temples, built or expanded the existing temples in Mysuru and on the Chamundi Hills. The Mysore Yadu dynasty came to power in 1399 A.D. They were feudatories to the Vijayanagar kings, who followed the Hoysalas. They also contributed to the development of temples in Mysore. Bettada Chamaraja Wadiyar, the raja of Mysuru, rebuilt the small fort of Mysuru in 1584 A.D. He made Mysuru his headquarters and called the place as 'Mahishura Nagara' or the city of Mahishur. Raja Waidyar shifted the capital of his kingdom from Mysuru to Srirangapatna in 1610 A.D. However, after the fall of Srirangapatna and death of Tipu Sultan in 1799, Mysuru became the capital of the Wadiyars again. It was Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV who developed Mysuru into a handsome city with excellent planning. He brought fame to Mysuru as a city of wide roads, imposing buildings and amusement parks.
Places of Interest in Mysuru
Established with royal patronage in the 19th century, the zoo’s collection of fauna includes rare and exotic species housed in lush green environs.
St. Philomena’s Church
This imposing Gothic structure with beautiful stained glass windows and lofty towers is a great church.
Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery
The art gallery in the Jaganmohan Palace houses an excellent collection of ceramics, sandalwood, ivory, stone, antique furniture, and ancient musical instruments. It has a collection of paintings by reputed artists like Ravi Varma and Roerich, as well as traditional Mysuru gold leaf paintings.
Located behind the railway station is the little-known but impressive Rail Museum with its priceless locomotives, coaches, and collection of paintings and photographs narrating the ‘Rail Story.’ The prize exhibit of the museum is the Maharani’s Saloon built in the U.K.
Located in the imposing Jayalakshmi Vilas mansion in the Mysuru University campus at Manasagangotri, the Folklore Museum is an impressive repository of folk culture. With 6500 folklore articles on display, the museum is acclaimed to be one of the biggest of its kind in Asia.
Perched atop a hill 13km outside Mysore city is the temple of Chamundeshwari, the patron deity of the Wodeyars. The 4.8m tall monolith of Nandi and the gigantic Mahishasura statue are added attractions.
It is the world famous gardens at the Krishna Raja Sagar Dam after sundown, when musical fountains and coloured lights transform this place into a magical fairyland.
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