The Manas Gangotri campus of Mysore University also has a Folklore Museum created with an endowment from Sudha Murthy.
Ravi Gundu Rao was also commissioned to restore the Garrison Cemetery in Srirangapatna by the de Meuron family. Their ancestors were mercenaries used by the British in the fourth war with Tipu Sultan. When the current generation of the de Meuron family heard about their forefathers, they visited the cemetery and the took upon the responsibility of restoring the site. Along the Kaveri river, surrounded by old trees, it is an incredibly peaceful place.
Not too far away is Scott’s Bungalow where Yvette Zerfas has been staying since 1962. An artist, she came here with her Australian doctor husband to set up medical facilities for the rural poor. She continues to live there alone with her son in an annexe next door. Colonel Scott had been involved in the victorious war with Tipu Sultan and the bungalow was completed for him by a grateful maharaja in 1804. It remains one of the best-preserved mansions of a bygone era.
Yvette was actively involved with farmers’ markets at Green Hotel which offered a retail environment for local produce. The hotel is now run by a British charitable trust and their Malgudi Café is a delightful place for a selection of teas, Mysore-style coffee and pastries. The women they employ from underprivileged backgrounds lend a special charm to the place with their quiet dignity.
Elisa Paloschi, a Canadian documentary filmmaker, worked with Odanadi, an NGO that provides shelter, skill development and rehabilitation to women and children. Her documentary Driving with Selvi, featuring the spirited Selvi who recovered from a broken marriage, has won many accolades. Speaking of films, Premier Studios used to be co-located here, but it shut down following the fire during the filming of Sanjay Khan’s Tipu Sultan. Mysore is home to Krupakar and Senani whose films Wild Dog Diaries and Walking with Wolves have won international recognition. Their films are always premiered in Mysore.
V.N. Prasad and his dynamic group of amateur performers render soulful melodies from Hindi cinema, while Vasundhara Doraiswamy gives her students the opportunity to perform to discerning audiences, filling up Mysore’s cultural calendar with year-round events.
Mysore Nature (mysorenature.org) is a selfless collation of birdlife around Mysore with valuable contributions by the late K.B. Sadananda. Tireless volunteers continue to offer free birding tours around Kukkarahalli Lake.
You cannot leave Mysore without sampling Mysore pak, and the best place to do this would be Guru Sweets Mart at Devaraja Market, the creators of this sweet, much to the delight of the royal family who patronised the establishment.
Mysore mallige, the local variety of jasmine, has made Mysore an incense and perfumery hub, offering employment to over 50,000 rural folk who hand-roll the expensive incense in villages nearby.
The best way to explore Mysore is by foot or on one of the new Trin Trin public bicycle-sharing service offered by the corporation.
You do not need to worry about weary bones—the Indus Valley Ayurvedic Centre near Lalitha Mahal Palace offers soothing massages, and you can then indulge in their 32-course saatvik meal.
- The best way to reach Mysore is to fly to Bengaluru (there are direct flights to Bengaluru from all major cities in India) and then take a bus or train to Mysore.
WHERE TO STAY
- The Wildflower Resorts & Spa located at the base of Chamundi Hills, offers palatial suites. Its spa offers more than 30 kinds of treatments with authentic Ayurvedic ingredients and techniques. (From `5,985 per night; thewindflower.com.)
- The magnificent Fortune JP Palace provides a gorgeous view of Chamundi Hills. It is located opposite Government House and is only two kilometres from Mysore Palace. (From `3,600 per night; fortunehotels.in.)
- The Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel is just 15 minutes from the airport. Mysore Zoo and the Wadiyar Golf Club are both adjacent to the hotel. (From `3,599 per night; radissonblu.com.)
- Close to Mysore Palace and the Mysore Zoo, Royal Orchid Metropole is an iconic luxury hotel with 30 spacious rooms. Spread over 2.5 acres, the hotel offers several event and dining spaces. (From `3,200 per night; royalorchidhotel.com.)
WHERE TO EAT
- In the streets of Nazarabad, the Vinayaka Mylari is an institution serving the softest dosas topped with generous amounts of butter.
- And if you are already in Nazarabad, head to Hotel Siddharta for the best filter coffee in town. Additionally, Mysore is the city that came up with the by-two concept where a cup of coffee can be shared by two people.
- Hanumanthu Mess, a small establishment in Mandi Mohalla, serves flavourful mutton pulao. Their biryani (with a secret recipe) has been charming the locals since 1948.
- For the best and the original Mysore pak, head to Guru Sweets Mart on Sayyaji Road.