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Things To Do In Mysore
Situated at the foothills of the Chamundi Hills, the erstwhile capital city of the Kingdom of Mysore is currently the cultural capital of Karnataka. Mysore’s traditional art and culture that dates back to the princely kingdoms and the objects that are so Mysorean have made the city a brand name for tourism, which is the major industry of Mysore. There’s never a dull moment when you’re in Mysore for there are heritage places to see, souvenirs that you can never return home without and some exotic weekend adventure getaways for the most adventurous souls. Here is a collection of things to do in Mysore.
Jump down from an aircraft, as it flies 12,000 ft high and feel the lift of the parachute as you glide down safe to the ground. Experience the exhilarating euphoria that you will get, skydiving in Mysore. You could also try your hand at Parasailing, when you are strapped to a parachute high up in the air and are towed by a vehicle or Paragliding on a light weight aircraft. Mysore has just the right weather, breezy and pleasant for a whole lot of acrobatics on air!
Sand Sculpture Museum
Spread over an area of 13,500 square ft, the country’s first Sand Sculpture Museum has about 150 exotic sculptures made of sand. There are many beautifully created sculptures of Ganesha, Goddess Chamundeshwari, the Kings of Mysore, sequences from the great epics of India, Santa Claus and cartoon characters like Tom and Jerry that children would love to see. Check out the 3D Selfie Gallery, where the visitors can picturize themselves as a subject of 3 dimensional art work.
About 6 km from the Mysore bus stand, the Museum is open all days of the week, from 8.30am to 6.30pm. Entry fee is Rs.40 per person.
Filled with the raucous cries of colourful parrots, the Shuka Vana, which is the sanctuary for abandoned, differently abled and sick birds, is bound to fill you with awe and wonder. There are literally hundreds of different species of parrots and fawns that are fed and nurtured in the Shuka Vana founded by Dr. Shri Ganapathi Sachchidananda Swamiji. Visit the Shuka Vana to bond with the avians, feed them and listen to their parrot talk. According to Swamiji, birds and their sounds have a soothing effect on human beings. There’s a list of parrots for each day of the month, for zodiac signs and a parrot each for musical notes!
The Shuka Vana is located in Shri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Ashram in Mysore. Timings are from 9.30 am -12.30 pm and from 3.30 pm - 5.30 pm. They are closed on Wednesdays. While there, do visit the Kishkindha Mollika Bonsai Garden, close by. It's an awesome place to spend a few serene hours in.
Situated close to the Mysore Zoo, the poised, placid Karanji Lake is such a charming place for a boat ride or a peaceful walk on its banks. Built as a percolation tank by the kings of Mysore, the Karanji Lake, today is being maintained by the Mysore Zoo as a tourist hub. There is a children’s corner by the lake, along with a Butterfly Park, a walk-through Aviary with about 150 species of birds including Rose Ringed Parakeets, Egrets, Herons and Red Wattled Lapwings and an artificial fountain to keep the water birds happy.
You can take a packed lunch to eat beside the Lake or visit the coffee shop for a hot cuppa! The Lake is open to tourists from 8.30 am-5.30 pm on all days except Tuesdays. The entry fee is Rs.10 per person and you need to pay extra for camera or video equipment.
About 5 km from Mysore is the Varuna Lake, which is the in-thing for offbeat adventures on water. Try your hand at Jet skiing, Kayaking, Water Zorbing or a peaceful paddle boat ride with your loved ones. The more adventurous ones may try a Banana Boat ride, hanging onto the yellow coloured banana shaped boat, before you tumble down into the waters.
Take a trip around Mysore to see diverse ancient buildings that have stories to tell of their own. Visit the European style turreted Gun House that was built in 1910 as a ‘Gun-shed’ with guard and office rooms’, but functions presently as a restaurant. The Royal Orchid Metropole was built in the last century for the British guests of the Royal Family of Mysore. Functioning as a heritage hotel today, the building complete with its gigantic arched doorways and pillars, stands as reminder of history.
Mysore’s rich cultural heritage has made its mark into all facets of tourism. Mysore’s special products include figurines made of aromatic sandalwood, essential oils and perfumes, stone carved sculptures, inlay and marquetry on teak and rosewood and of course, the most gorgeous, softest Mysore silk saris!
There are so many art and handicraft shops in Mysore, you’d be tempted to step into each one of them. You can buy Channapatna and wooden Kinhal Toys, Bidriware and the beautiful geometric patterned durries of Navalgund. Mysore takes its shopping to another level with the Mysore Shopping Festival sometime around September to November. More than a thousand stores participate in the mega shopping mela, with baked goods, electronics, furniture and jewellery being some of the most sought after goods.
If you are planning a trip to Mysore in tune to its festivals, you’d enjoy celebration time in the city. Marked by its antique cultures and traditions, Mysore still retains an old-world charm during its festivities. Some of Mysore’s festivals include Ugadi, Vairamudi Festival around March and the world renowned festival of Dussehra, a ten day festival that celebrates the slaying of the demon Mahishasura by the Goddess Chamundi. Dussehra goes back to the ancient times as the Mahanavami festival of the Vijayanagara kings and finds description in the works of the Italian traveller Niccolo de Conti, of the early 15th century. Celebrations include a Royal Durbar and a procession of caparisoned elephants, camels and horses. Various cultural programs are held in front of the brightly illuminated Mysore Palace.