Top 4 Places to See in Mysore – A City of Rich History & The Land of a Freedom Fighter

If a trip to India is on your list then a visit without stopping by at Mysore would be incomplete. A land of rich history, an old kingdom ruled by a fierce freedom fighter, and a huge, dazzling castle with intricate works from all over the world are just a few of the Mysore attractions you’ll love.

Holding some of the most famous monuments in India, the state is popular among history lovers and casual travelers alike. With monuments situated close to each other, it’s an ideal place for travelers who are pressed for time and seeking to explore places that holds stories of the land’s past.

Without further ado, here are the best Mysore places to visit in one day to give you an experience that will last for a lifetime and should be on the top of your “Mysore sight-seeing” list.

The Mysore Palace (Amba Vilas Palace)

Decked in adorning architecture with works of gold and precious materials, the Mysore Palace (also known as the Amba Vilas Palace) is a historical castle in the city of Mysore in Karnataka and the second most visited monument in India after the Taj Mahal.

It is also one of the largest castles in the country, having millions of visitors pay a visit to catch the stunning view of the majestic castle in all its architectural marvels. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg for all the things to do in Mysore palace.

Stretching over a mammoth 72 acres complete with four arched gateways and a 145 ft tower, Mysore Palace is a three-story castle decorated in the Indo-Saracenic style by the English architect, Henry Irwin and was built between 1897 to 1912. It was home to the Wodeyar Maharajas who ruled Mysore during their time.

Architecture of the palace interiors

The palace is known as a treasure trove of exquisite carvings and boasts works of art recruited from all over the world. The palace also has a reputation for awe-ing its visitors with its genius blend of Hindu, Muslim, Rajput, and Gothic styles of architecture.  

One of the most artistic pieces seen in the castle is the impressive sculpture of Gajalakshmi, the goddess of wealth, prosperity, good luck, and a wooden elephant bejeweled with 84 kilograms of gold!

The King’s throne at Mysore palace

The Mysore Palace architecture is also famed for its hallways which are a kaleidoscope of stained glass and mirrors. The palace’s Public Durbar hallway is intricately painted with columns to create an illusion of endless corridors.

While the design itself makes the palace worth visiting, the castle also holds some of Indian history’s most prized possessions. A sword carried by Tipu Sultan, one of India’s famous freedom fighters, is displayed in the palace along with Raja Ravi Verma paintings.

Colonel Bailey’s Dungeon

Inside the dungeon where prisoners were chained

The word “dungeon” usually brings images of dark, dingy underground places that were full of suffering and death. While some of it may hold true, Colonel Bailey’s dungeon is covered in white walls and archways that lead into what was once a prison for enemies and is one of the most historical places in Mysore.

Cleanly maintained to date, this dungeon belonged to Tipu Sultan, a famous freedom fighter of India who was named the “Tiger of Mysore” but the dungeon’s name actually follows British prisoner called Colonel Bailey who died here in 1780.

What made it so famous was that while it was common for the British to hold Indian officers and locals captive, it wasn’t so usual for a British officer to be captured, let alone placed in a dungeon. And Tipu captured not just one but a dozen others.

The arched walls inside the dungeon

Walking through the prison reminds visitors about the days of the war when India fought for their freedom, and as if adding to that image, you can see shoulder height stone slabs hammered into the walls. These were used to chain the wrists of prisoners and have them standing in waist-deep cold water.

Other than Bailey, Tipu Sultan had imprisoned Colonel Brithwite, Captain Rulay, Captain Baird, Frazer, Lindsay, and Samson here. A canon can also be spotted misplaced at the center. A theory has it that the canon fell into the dungeon while Tipu was raging war against the British.

While this place is reminiscent of the times when war raged on for the country’s independence, visitors today can get a peaceful view of the Cauvery river that flows in serenity, paradoxing the brutal past these prison walls once heard.

Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace

Interior of the palace made of teak wook

Tipu Sultan is a name that every Indian would know and found in every historical book of the country. He is considered to be one of India’s first freedom fighters that fought fiercely against the British, who tried to conquer territories under Tipu’s rule.

Tipu was trained in the art of warfare and would accompany his father to different military campaigns while Tipu was still only fifteen. Just as he possessed skills on the battlefield, Tipu was also educated in different languages, mathematics, and science.

He took over the rule of the kingdom upon his father’s death and he was considered not just a king but also a scholar, soldier, and poet. He was a devout Muslim who also extended his hands to his subjects in other religions.

A portrait of Tipu Sultan

Tipu was the one who built the first church in Mysore at the request of the French. As a soldier, he won important victories against the British in the Second Anglo-Mysore War and negotiated the 1784 Treaty of Mangalore with them after his father died the previous year.

Today, history buffs and architectural lovers can visit Tipu sultan’s summer palace which poses a lovely example of Indo-Islamic architecture dating back to 1791.

Flower motifs on the palace walls and pillars

The palace is renowned for being only and completely made of pure teak wood, with beautiful hand-carved pillars, arches, and balconies overlooking the palace area. The interiors are painted with peace-giving floral motifs while the outer wall paintings depict various events, battles, and portraits of the family.

The palace is also used as a “Tipu Sultan Museum” that showcases the clothes Tipu wore along with his crown, a silver vessel that belonged to his father, war weapons, coins etc.

Mysore Zoo – Wildlife Conservation & Breeding

A leopard at Mysore zoo

If all the historical sightseeing makes you thirsty for some relaxed vibes, then the zoo is one of the best places to visit in Mysore.

While “zoos” contain a negative image of suffering animals trapped in congested places, Mysore zoo turned it all around by changing its “zoo” into a conservation center to care for and breed wildlife species.

Designed by German botanist and gardener, Gustav Hermann Krumbeigel, this conservation center stretch across a massive 250 acres which means that animals are kept in well-spaced, clean enclosures and are able to move around freely. The place is also covered in natural vegetation resembling the habitat for the species that are placed here.

The zoo is also visited for its beautiful sight of Karanji Lake which hosts a ‘walk-through aviary and a butterfly park. Another conservation effort by the zoo, Karanji Lake was polluted with sewage waste before it got a makeover by the zoo authorities to preserve the site and use it as a base for nurturing birds and winged beauties.

The zoo has also gone to lengths to inspire, educate and raise empathy in visitors for wildlife and the mega impact that conservation could have in saving the planet.

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