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How Mysore got its name
According to Hindu legend, the area around Mysore city was once the domain of the demon king Mahisha Asura (Mahisha meaning Buffalo), who grew almost invincible and wrecked havoc on the world. The Goddess Chamundeshwari, vanquished the demon Mahisha in a humungous struggle waged over a period of 10 days thus, Goddess Chamundeshwari is also known by the name Mahisha Mardhini (slayer of Mahisha).The battle became a festive event which the annual 10-day Navaratri festival commemorates to this day. The region retains the name of the slain demon; the name Mysore is the anglicized version of Mahisuru.
This legend is among the one of the most important in Hindu mythology, and renders the temple of the Goddess Chamundeshwari, located atop Chamundi hills in Mysore, an important place of pilgrimage. The legend is commemorated by several monuments in Mysore, including the temple of Goddess Chamundeshwari on Chamundi Hills and an imposing statue of Mahishasura located nearby.
The city of Mysore offers a visitor an insight into the lifestyles, cultures and traditions of its erstwhile rulers. The palaces and temples around the city speak volumes about heritage and architecture of the medieval times and the kind of patronage the city received from its rulers.
The Mysore Palace:
A silhouette of the Mysore Palace, illuminated with ninety seven thousand light bulbs shimmering against an inky black night is one of the most unforgettable images of the city. Located in the heart of the city, it stands as a reminder of the splendor and affluence of its erstwhile rulers, the Maharajas of Mysore. It was the pride of a kingdom, and is now a priceless national treasure!
St. Philomena's Church is one of the oldest churches in Mysore. Built in Gothic style, the church is among the largest in India. Stained glass windows and lofty towers give this cathedral an imposing look.
Shri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery was established in 1875 and has a rare collection of some beautiful paintings from the same era. The gallery is located in Jagmohan Palace and exhibits paintings by Raja Ravi Varma, Svetsolav Roerich and traditional paintings from Mysore. The traditional gold leaf paintings and some exquisitely carved statues in sandalwood, ivory and stone are also exhibited in the gallery. The old paintings in the gallery have been done in Mineral andvegetable dyes and’paints.
The Mysore Zoo was set up by the royal family and houses some rare and exotic birds & animals. Situated amidst lush green surroundings, the zoo has acquired fame for breeding some rare animals in’captivity.
Chamundeshwari Temple is one of the noted Hindu places of worship and is situated atop the Chamundi Hill. On way to the Chamundi Hills is the Lalitha Mahal, a guest palace now converted into a heritage.
Dasara in Mysore is a sight one would remember for a long time even after leaving the place. It is believed that the presiding deity of the city has the power to conquer evil forces and this has led the citizens to celebrate the festival with much gaiety and fervor.
The tradition of celebrating Dasara with such grandeur started with the 16th-century rulers of Vijayanagar. After the disintegration of Vijayanagar Empire, the tradition was kept alive by rulers of Mysore and continues till now. During the month of October and November, for ten days the Dasara festival is celebrated and the city is at its colorful best with music and dance, Sports, Literary competitions, fairs and exhibitions all over. All this culminates in the Dasara procession and a torchlight parade on the tenth day.
Day trips from Mysore
A visit to the places around Mysore casts light on the region's rich heritage.
Situated around 19 km north west of Mysore are the Krishna Raja Sagar Dam and the Vrindavan Garden. The garden attracts thousands of visitors every year who come to see its dancing musical fountains.
Fourteen km northeast of Mysore is Srirangpattnam, an island fortress and the capital of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. Tipu's summer palace, Daria Daulat, has now been turned into a museum.
Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is Situated on the banks of the Kaveri, located 18 Kms off Mysore. The six isles on the river are also part of the sanctuary. The sanctuary was declared a bird sanctuary in 1940, when the noted ornithologist Dr Salim Ali while surveying the birds of the area put emphasis on declaring Ranganathittu a bird sanctuary. Since then, the sanctuary has become a paradise for bird watchers. Every year a number of bird lovers throng the sanctuary to see the avian in-habitants of the sanctuary. The sanctuary is quite popular both among Indian and foreign tourists.
Apart from home to native avian habitants, the sanctuary each year attracts a large number of migratory birds. Wildlife experts believe that migratory birds come to this sanctuary as far as from Siberia, Australia and even North America. Some of the birds you come across on your birding tour to Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary include snake bird, darters, spoonbills, river tern, open bill storks, white Ibis, little cormorants, egret, heron, stone plougher, kingfisher and partridge.
Somnathpur is situated around 35 km east of Mysore and is famous for the Hoysala Temples that are still in excellent condition.A visit to either Somnathpur or Belur-Halebid is an experience, for here you see a style of architecture unique to the region. The temples were built in the twelfth to thirteenth centuries by Hoysala rulers and their officials. Each small, compact, structural temple is lavishly decorated with sculpture and the profusion cover every inch of wall space. This tightly packed sculptural scheme is exclusive to Hoysala art and was never replicated. A bangle could be made to rotate on a sculpted hand and stone bells could be made to ring on a statue
The Bandipur National Park is 80 km off Mysore on the way to Ooty and a famous tiger reserve. Nesting in the foothills of the Nilgiris, the Bandipur National Park was formed by extending the Venugopal Wildlife Park , set up in 1931 by the Mysore Maharajas. It is one of the tiger reserves in the country.
Spread over an area of 875 Sq km the park was a popular game resort of the rulers of Mysore , the flora in the forest comprises Teak, Rosewood, Honne, Mathi, Bamboo and Sandal Trees. The important animals in the park are Tiger, Elephant, Gaur, Leopard, Chital and Sambar. Birds
like the Peafowl, Partridge, Quail, Hornbill and Ibis are also found here. Apart from these, Dhole(wild dog), Sambar, Muntjac or Barking Deer, Giant Squirrel and sometimes Sloth Bear and Nocturnal Porcupine and Blacknaped hare may be seen in the sanctuary.
How to reach Mysore
BY AIR - The nearest airport from Mysore is 140 km away in Bangalore, from where one can take flights for most of the important cities in India.
BY RAIL - Mysore is connected with most of the metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Chennai through regular trains.
BY ROAD - There is a good network of roads that connects Mysore to other important cities of the region.
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