Mysore (Mysuru), India

A centre of sandalwood-carving, silk and incense production, and dotted with palaces and gardens, Mysore (officially Mysuru) is one of south India’s more appealing cities. This cultural capital remains a charming, old-fashioned place, changed by neither an IT boom nor its now well-established status as a top international yoga destination.

The best travel tips for visiting Mysore

In addition to its established tourist attractions, chief among them the Mysore Palace, Mysuru is a great city simply to stroll around.

The evocative, if dilapidated, pre-Independence buildings lining market areas such as Ashoka Road and Sayaji Rao Road lend an air of faded grandeur to a busy centre that teems with vibrant street life.

That said, the erstwhile capital of the Wadiyar rajas can be underwhelming at first: upon stumbling off a bus or train you’re not so much embraced by the scent of jasmine blossoms or gentle wafts of sandalwood as smacked by a cacophony of tooting, careening buses, bullock carts, and tongas.

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Mysore Palace in Mysore, Karnataka state in India © Shutterstock

Mysore Palace in Mysore, Karnataka state in India © Shutterstock

Best things to do in Mysore

From exploring the magnificent Mysuru Palace to experiencing the captivating wildlife at Mysore Zoo, here are the best things to do in Mysore.

#1 Stare in wonder at Mysuru Palace

Mysuru’s centre is dominated by the walled maharaja’s palace, popularly known as Mysuru Palace, a fairytale spectacle topped with a shining brass-plated dome.

It’s especially magnificent on Sunday nights and during festivals, when it is illuminated by nearly 100,000 light bulbs. The palace was completed in 1912 for the 24th Wadiyar raja, on the site of the old wooden palace that had been destroyed by fire in 1897.

In 1998, after a lengthy judicial tussle, the courts decided in favour of formally placing the main palace in the hands of the Karnataka state government but the royal family, who still hold a claim, have lodged an appeal, which is ongoing.

Twelve temples surround the palace, some of them of much earlier origin.

#2 Nip into the Residential Museum

Privately owned by the present scion of the royal family, and housed within the residential part of the palace, the Residential Museum displays royal treasures, paintings, musical instruments, children’s toys, furniture, trousseaux and armoury.

#3 See the paintings at the newly-renovated Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery

Built in 1861, the three-storey Jaganmohan Palace was used as a royal residence until 1915, when it was turned into a picture gallery and museum, the Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery, by Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV.

Most of the “contemporary” art in the collection dates from the 1930s, when a revival of Indian painting was spearheaded by E.B. Havell and the Tagore brothers, Rabindranath and Gaganendranath, in Bengal.

Jayachamarajendra or Jaganmohan Art Gallery in the centre of Mysore city in India © Shutterstock

Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery in the centre of Mysore city in India © Shutterstock

#4 Gawp at artefacts and jewellery of various tribal groups in the Government Museum

Occupying a two-storey building that was once home to the Duke of Wellington, the Government Museum is devoted to anthropology on the ground floor, with photos, artefacts and jewellery of various tribal groups, mainly from the Himalaya and northeastern India. Upstairs there is a collection of statues and a modest selection of modern art. The grounds are strewn with large terracotta sculptures.

#5 Visit one of the oldest zoos in India

Officially named Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, Mysuru Zoo is one of the oldest and best in India. Established as far back as 1882, it was opened to the public in 1902 and has grown to encompass 245 beautifully landscaped acres, with spacious compounds for most of the animals that live here.

The zoo boasts all the usual big mammals, including leopards and tigers, and there are also many species of bird and reptile to be admired, though some of their cages do not make viewing the animals easy.

#6 Take in the views from Chamundi Hill Temple

Around 12km southeast of the city, Chamundi Hill Temple is topped with a temple to the chosen deity of the Mysore rajas – the goddess Chamundi, or Durga, who slew the demon buffalo Mahishasura.

It’s a pleasant, easy bus trip to the top; the walk down takes about thirty minutes. Take drinking water, especially in the middle of the day – the walk isn’t very demanding, but by the end of it, after more than a thousand steps, your legs are likely to be a bit wobbly.

Inside the twelfth-century temple, which is open to non-Hindus, is a solid gold Chamundi figure. Outside, in the courtyard, stands a fearsome, if gaily coloured, statue of Mahishasura.

#7 Try some yoga

Despite the passing in 2009 of its founder, Sri Pattabhi Jois, the world-renowned Ashtanga Yoga Institute, 3.5km northwest of town in Gokulam, is still a revered pilgrimage destination for devotees.

The surrounding neighbourhood has in recent years turned into a bustling expat haven, filled with cafés, guesthouses, restaurants and internet cafés. The institute doesn’t offer drop-in classes; students must register for a minimum of one month, and book at least two months in advance.

There are several other centres clustered around Gokulam, including Bharath Shetty’s popular IndeaYoga which offers early morning courses of between two and eight weeks’ duration, and Yoga Bharata, who welcome drop-ins and offer courses of one to four weeks Some 3 km south of town, Mysore Mandala Yogashala, is a self contained retreat, offering excellent instruction, an organic café, well-tended garden, cultural events and drop-in classes.

Yoga Bali

© Shutterstock

Best areas to stay in Mysore

Mysore offers a range of delightful neighbourhoods for visitors seeking accommodation. Finding a room is only a problem during Dasara and the Christmas/New Year period when the popular places are booked up weeks in advance and prices predictably soar. Here are the best areas to stay in Mysore.

Devaraja Mohalla

This area is situated north of Mysore Palace has a number of reasonable and affordabnle options.


Residential Jayalakshmipuram has numerous hotels and guesthouses near the city centre. The better quality stays can be found around Hansa Rd.


Situated to the southwest of the city centre, Gokulam is a tranquil and green neighbourhood. It is primarily known for its yoga centres and wellness stays.

Browse the best hotels in Mysore.

Best restaurants and bars

With lots of Indian restaurants and a number of good cafes, Mysore has plenty of decent places to eat, even if it isn’t setting the world alight.

Vani Vilas Mohalla

One of the city’s busiest neighbourhood, Vani Vilas Mohalla has of local restaurants serving authentic Karnataka cuisine as well as a handful of multi-cuisine places to eat and cafes.


This centrally located district in Mysore is dotted with Indian restaurants as well as a few vegetarian joints and burger stores.

Residential Museum in the Mysore Palace in Mysore City, Karnataka, India © Shutterstock

How to get around

From buses to auto-rickshaws, it is easy to get around Mysore. Here’s how to do it.

By auto-rickshaw

These three-wheeled vehicles are readily available to can take you to different parts of the city. Agree on a fare before starting your journey.

By taxi

Metered taxis and app-based cab services like Ola and Uber operate in Mysore. You can book a taxi for point-to-point travel or for exploring the city at your own pace.

By bus

Mysore has an extensive city bus network, covering all major areas a traveller might visit.

What is the best time to visit?

The best time to visit Mysore is during the winter and early spring months, from October to March. During this time, the weather in Mysore is pleasant and comfortable, making it ideal for sightseeing and outdoor activities. The temperatures range from around 15°C (59°F) to 30°C (86°F), with cooler evenings.

Visiting Mysore during the winter months allows you to explore the city's attractions, such as the Mysore Palace, Brindavan Gardens, Chamundi Hill, and the Mysore Zoo, without the discomfort of extreme heat or heavy rainfall. The city also hosts the grand Mysore Dasara festival, a 10-day celebration held in October, which showcases cultural performances, processions, and the illumination of the palace.

It's important to note that Mysore experiences a hot summer season from April to June, with temperatures reaching up to 40°C (104°F) and high humidity. The monsoon season, from July to September, brings heavy rainfall to the region. While some people may still find these seasons suitable for travel, the weather conditions can be challenging for outdoor activities and sightseeing.

Find out more about the best time to visit India.

Lakshmiramana Swamy Temple in Mysore city in India © Shutterstock

Lakshmiramana Swamy Temple in Mysore city in India © Shutterstock

How many days do you need in Mysore?

You will only need around two to three days to visit Mysore. That's enough time to visit the major attractions like Mysore Palace and then venturing up Chamundi Hill to pay homage at the Chamundeshwari Temple.

It also gives you time to make a stop at the Mysore Zoo, wander through the bustling Devaraja Market, and spend an evening visiting the enchanting Brindavan Gardens and witnessing its captivating musical fountains.

If you want to extend your stay, days four and five could be spent seeing the impressive, Gothic-style St Philomena's Cathedral, a leisurely stroll around Karanji Lake, and a peek in the Jaganmohan Palace and Art Gallery.

How to get here

Most travellers arrive in Mysore by train or bus. Here’s how to get here.

By train

The railway station is 1.5km northwest of the centre. For long hauls, the best way to travel is by train, usually with a change at Bengaluru, the fastest service is the a/c Shatabdi Express which continues to Chennai.

The Hampi Express Goes daily via Bengaluru to Hosapete There are 2–5 daily express services to Hassan, of which the Talguppa Intercity Express is the fastest.

By bus

Mysuru has three bus stands: major long-distance KSRTC and other state services pull in to Central, near the heart of the city, where there are advance booking counters.

The Private stand is about 1 km northwest of here and a host of agents there can make bookings for private buses.

Find out the best ways to get to India.

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Andy Turner

written by
Andy Turner

updated 09.06.2023

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