Image Credits- Neonlight78
Mysore is also known as the City of Palaces. Besides the splendid palaces and forts, this royal land has a lot more to offer to its visitors. There are several tourist spots that can cure your itch for exploration and sightseeing.
Here’s a list of some of the must-visit places near Mysore :
Image Credits- Jogesh S- Flickr
Srirangapatna, once known as Seringapatanam during the British rule, is a beautiful town near Mysore. The town is of great cultural, religious and historical importance. It is situated at a distance of 19 km from the city of Mysore and the entire town is enclosed by the River Cauvery to form a river island. While the River Cauvery flows on the Eastern side of the island, the River Paschim Vahini flows on the West side.
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The town is named after the famous Ranganathaswamy Temple, which is one of the major tourist attractions of Srirangapatna. The temple makes the town a major Vaishnavite centre and attracts devotees and tourists from all around the world throughout the year.
There are several places of interest in and around Srirangapatna such as the Ganesha Temple in front of the Ranganathaswamy Temple, Lakshminarasimha Swamy Temple, Jyothi Maheshwara Temple, Bidhcotta Ganesha Temple, Panduranga Swamy Temple, the Sathyanarayana Swamy Temple, the Anjunaya Swamy Temple, the Aiyyapa Temple, the Gangadhareshwara Swamy Temple and the Ranganathanagara Ganesha Temple.
Another major attraction of the town is the Black Hill or the Karighatta where the temple dedicated to Lord Srinivasa is situated. The deity at this temple is the Kari-gari-vasa or the One Who Resides on the Black Hill.
Other places of interest near Srirangapatna include the Daria Daulat Gardens, the Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary, the Shivanasamudra Falls and the summer palace of Tipu Sultan. Historically, the town of Seringapatnam enjoyed quite a bit of importance. It was the seat of a major viceroyalty from where the states of Mysore and Talakad were monitored. It was also the capital of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. It was also the scene of the last battle of Tipu Sultan against the East India Company.
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The town is well connected by rail, road and air routes. The nearest railway station is the Mysore Railway Station. There is a regular network of buses and you can find rides to Srirangapatna from the Kempegowda Bus Station in Bangalore and Central Bus Stand in Mysore. The nearest airport is at Mysore and is situated at a distance of 14 km from the town. The town is one of the most popular tourist places near Mysore.
2. Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary
The Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary is also called the Pakshi Kashi of Karnataka. It is the largest bird sanctuary in the state and is one of the most important tourist destinations in the state. Sprawling over 40 acres, the sanctuary consists of six islets on the banks of the River Cauvery. It is situated at a distance of about 3 km from the town of Srirangapatna and about 16 km from the city of Mysore. The sanctuary is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the state and received about 2.90 lakh visitors in the year 2011-2012.
The islets of the sanctuary were formed when an embankment was built across the River Cauvery by then Mysore King Kantirava Narasimharaja Wodeyar in 1648. The islets received attention when renowned ornithologist Dr Salim Ali noted that these islets were favoured by birds as nesting grounds. He urged the Kings of Wodeyar to declare the region as a wildlife sanctuary and it was done so in 1940. Currently, the sanctuary is maintained by the Forest Department of Karnataka. Efforts have also been made to expand the sanctuary by acquiring nearby private lands. During the monsoons, this region experiences flooding and boats are lowered into the waters to allow tourists to observe birds from a distance.
The sanctuary is home to a large number of bird species such as Herons, Oriental Darters, Cormorants, Egrets, Stork Billed Kingfishers, Indian Shags, Lesser Whistling Ducks, Black Headed Ibis, Woolly Necked Storks, Common Spoonbills, Asian Openbill Storks and Painted Storks.
In addition, the sanctuary has as many as 50 pelicans that have made this place as their permanent home. More than 30 species of birds are found in the sanctuary in the months of January and February. The best time to visit the sanctuary is from November to June.
The sanctuary can be easily accessed by rail, road or air ways. The nearest railhead is the Mysore railway station, the nearest airport is at Mysore and there are several buses that ply on the Bangalore Mysore Highway that can take you to the Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary.
3. Shivanasamudra Falls
Image Credits- Abhinay Omkar- Flickr
The Shivanasamudra Falls is one of the most popular tourist places near Mysore. It is situated on the banks of the River Cauvery and is home to one of the first Hydro Electric Power Stations in Asia. The River Cauvery winds and meanders its way through rocks and boulders of the Deccan Plateau and then takes a steep fall to form the Shivanasamudra Falls. The waterfall is split into two parts by the Shivanasamudra island. This phenomenon creates the fourth largest island in the course of the river.
Besides the beautiful waterfall, there is a group of ancient temples in the area. The Shivanasamudra Falls is a segmented waterfall and is formed as the spray is broken into two or three channels before its plunge from the edge of the cliff. The height of the waterfall is around 98 metres and its width is around 305 metres. The average volume of the waterfall is around 934 cubic metres per sec. It is a perennial waterfall and the best time to visit this beautiful creation of nature is between July and October.
Image Credits- Nagaraju Hanchanahal- Flickr
There are other beautiful waterfalls near the Shivanasamudra Falls such as the Ganganachukki Waterfall and the Bharachukki Waterfall. There is a misconception that the left segment of the Shivanasamudra Falls is known as the Ganganachukki Falls and the right segment Bharachukki.
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In reality the twin waterfalls of Ganganachukki are formed by the Western branch of the River Cauvery and the Bharachukki Falls is formed by the Eastern branch of the river. The Bharachukki Falls is situated a few kilometres away from the Ganganachukki Falls. You can get a spectacular view of the Ganganachukki twin falls from the Shivanasamudra Falls. The best time to visit the Shivanasamudra Falls is during the monsoon season i.e. from July to October.
Tourists can easily reach the Shivanasamudra Falls through rail, road or air routes.
Image Credits- Ashwin Kumar- Flickr
The town of Talakad is situated on the left bank of the River Cauvery and presents a desert like landscape. It is situated at a distance of 30 km from Mysore. The town, which is one of the most popular tourist places near Mysore, once had more than 30 temples and was an important historic site. Although the temples are now buried in sand, the town remains an important cultural and spiritual destination of Karnataka.
According to folklore, the name of the town is derived from the names of two brothers Tala and Kadu, who unearthed the statue of Lord Shiva by cutting down a tree which was worshipped by elephants. Mythology says that these elephants were rishis and by unearthing the statue, the brothers gave moksha to everyone and hence the town was named after them. It is also believed that Lord Rama took a halt at this place during his expedition to Lanka to save his wife Sita.
There are several legends attached to this town. This is associated to the submerging of the city in sand and the inability of the royal family in finding a rightful heir to the throne since the 17th century. It is believed that the vibrant city was cursed by a pious lady called Alamelamma. This beautiful town is the centre of some of the latest advances in Horticulture and Wine making.
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It is also often referred to as Bangalore’s Gourmet Valley. The temples of this beautiful town which lie submerged under sand include the Pathaleshwara, Maruleshwara, Arkeshwara, Vaidyanatheshwara and Mallikarjuna temple which are believed to represent the five faces of Lord Shiva.
A fair is held once in every 12 years in honour of these five Shiva temples. This fair, which is called the Panchalinga Darshana, was last held in 2009. It is also one of the Pancha Narayana Kshetrams established by Ramanujacharya.
Akka-tangi KoLa- Image Credits- Hari Prasad- Flickr
Melukote is one of the sacred places around Mysore and an important tourist place near Mysore. It is also known as Thirunarayanapuram and is built on rocky hills known as Yadugiri, Yaadavgiri and Yadushailadweepa, which overlook the River Cauvery. It is home to the Cheluvanaryana Swamy Temple where every year a huge collection of crowns and jewels are brought for celebration.
The Yoganarasimha temple is situated at the summit of the hill. It is also the location of the Academy of Sanskrit Research, which houses a huge collection of manuscripts. There are several other shrines and ponds located in the town.
The town is also an important pilgrimage centre of the Shrivaishnava sect as in the early 12th century, Sri Ramanujacharya stayed at Melukote for about 12 years. The main attraction of the town is the Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple, which is dedicated to Lord Cheluva Narayana Swamy or Thirunarayana.
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Narasimha Temple- Image Credits- Balasubramanya Bhat- Flickr
The temple houses the utsavamurthi, which is a metallic image of the deity and is called Shelvapillai, Cheluva Raya and Cheluvanarayana. It is believed that Lord Rama and kings of the Surya Vamsa dynasty worshipped this deity for generations. The temple is richly endowed as it enjoyed the patronage of the Mysore Kings. There are several other tourist attractions in and around Melukote such as Pushkarini, the Melkote Temple Wildlife Sanctuary, ISCKON and Vanaprastha Ashram.
Pushkarini also known as Kalyani is a large pond within the temple complex and is noted for the beautiful steps that lead to the water and mantapas. The Melkote Wildlife Sanctuary is a treat for those who love wilderness. It was created in 1974 to house wolves, but it is also home to several other mammals such as pangolin, langur, bonnet macaque, leopard and jungle cat.
The town of Somanathapura is situated at a distance of 35 km from the city of Mysore. It is famous for the Chennakeshava Temple which was built during the reign of Hoysala King Narasimha III. The temple is one of the finest examples of the Hoysala architecture and hence is a major tourist destination near Mysore which attracts a large number of travellers from all over the country and the world. It has been declared as a protected site and is under the care of the Archaeological Survey of India. It is one of the most popular tourist places around Mysore.
The Chennakeshava Temple is housed inside an impressive high walled enclosure and the entrance into the complex is through a porch. The temple has been built out of soapstone also known as Green schist. The temple is primarily noted for its beautiful architecture and is often considered to be the finest contribution of the Hoysala dynasty.
7. Bandipur National Park
Image Credits- Nadir Hasmi
The Bandipur National Park is one of the most popular tourist places near Mysore. It was established in 1974 as a tiger conservation ground under the Project Tiger scheme. It had once served as the private hunting ground of the Maharaja of Mysore. Spread over an area of 874 square kilometres, the Bandipur National Park is home to a large number of wild animals and bird species.
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Together with the Nagarhole National Park, the Mudumalai National Park and the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, the Bandipur National Park forms the Nagarhole Biosphere Reserve, which is the largest protected zone in South India. The Nagarhole Biosphere Reserve is one of 34 such reserves in the world.
The national park is situated at a distance of 80 kilometres from the city of Mysore and falls en route to the famous hill station and popular tourist destination Ooty. The park was previously known as the Venugopala Wildlife Park. The park is flanked by the Rivers Kabini and Moyar on the North and South, respectively.
Image Credits- Sundaresh Ramanathan- Flickr
The highest point in the park is called the Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta, where a temple is situated. The park is home to a large number of endangered and vulnerable species such as dholes, four horned antelopes, Indian rock pythons, muggers, sloth bears, tigers, gaurs and Indian elephants.
The mammals commonly sighted in the park include elephants, Indian giant squirrels, gray langurs and chitals. Among the bird species that can be sighted in the park, changeable hawk eagles, crescent serpent eagles, brown fish owls, Indian rollers, hoopoes, flowerpeckers, Indian vultures, red headed vultures and honey buzzards are the most common.
The park can easily be reached through rail, road and air ways. The nearest railhead is the Mysore Railway Station and the nearest airport is at Mysore too. The National Highways NH 67 and NH 212 pass through the Bandipur National Park. There are regular buses that ply on the route and tourists can avail of their services to reach the park.
Image Credits- Vinothe Chandar
The River Kabini is also known as Kapila or Kabani. It originates in the Wayanad district of Kerala and flows Eastward to join the River Cauvery. It forms the Kabini Reservoir close to the town of Sargur. The backwaters of the river abound in wildlife, particularly during summers when the water level decreases. The Kabini dam measures 2284 feet in length and is situated between the villages of Bichanahalli and Bidarahalli. The Kabini Forest Reserve is one of the most popular tourist places around Mysore and attracts a large number of tourists from all over the country and the world.
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The lush green landscape and the easy sightings of herds of elephants strolling about in the reserve make this place very popular among tourists. It is situated at a distance of 80 km from Mysore and comprises the South Eastern part of the Nagarhole National Park. The reserve is spread over 55 acres and is situated on the banks of the River Kabini.
It had once served as the hunting grounds of the Maharaja of Mysore and British Viceroys and other Indian royalty. It is considered to be one of the best wildlife sanctuaries in Karnataka. Other attractions in the area include the Kabini Dam and the Nagarhole National Park.
Image Credits- Srikanth Sekar
The Nagarhole National Park is also known as the Rajiv Gandhi National Park. It came under the Project Tiger scheme in 1999 and together with the Bandipur National Park and Mudumalai National Park, forms the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, which is the largest protected zone in South India. The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is one of 34 such reserves in the world.
The sanctuary is under consideration to be declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is situated on the foothills of the Western Ghats to the North West of the Bandipur National Park. It is located at about 50 km from the city of Mysore.
The name of the park is derived from the words Naga which means snake and Hole which means streams. The park had served as a private hunting ground for the Wodeyar kings. It was made into a wildlife sanctuary in 1955 and later on further expansions were undertaken. It became a national park in 1988 and a conservation ground for tigers in 1999.
Image Credits- Wikipedia
There are several sources of water that feed the national park such as the Rivers Lakshamannathirtha, Sarati Hole, Nagar Hole, Balle Halla, and Kabini. In addition, there are four perennial streams, 47 seasonal streams, four perennial lakes, 41 artificial tanks, the Taraka Dam and the Kabini Reservoir.
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The Nagarhole Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a large number of wild animals such as spotted deer, striped hyena, leopard, tiger, common palm civet, brown mongoose, mouse deer, striped neck mongoose, black naped hare, red giant flying squirrel, Indian porcupine and Indian giant flying squirrel.
The park is also home to more than 270 species of birds which include the Nilgiri wood pigeon, greater spotted eagle, ‘vulnerable’ lesser adjutant, darters, oriental white ibis, greater grey headed fish eagle, white bellied treepie, and Malabar grey hornbill. The reptile commonly found in the park include muggers, common vine snake, common wolf snake, bamboo pit viper, Russell’s viper, Indian rock python, among others.
10. BR Hills
The BR Hills is the short name for the Biligiriranga Hills which is situated on the South Eastern border of Karnataka. The area is called the Biligiriranga Swamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary or simple the BRT Wildlife Sanctuary. It is one of the most popular tourist places near Mysore and attracts a large number of visitors from all over the country and the world.
The region has been declared as a protected area under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 and is located at the confluence of the Western and Eastern Ghats. Due to its unique location, the hills have a very different eco-system which is unique to both the mountain ranges.
The BR Hills are contiguous with the Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu. The hills are situated at a distance of 90 km from the city of Mysore. They can be reached from either Yelandur or Chamarajnagar near Mysore. As the ranges are situated at the confluence of the Western and Eastern Ghats, they abound in flora and fauna.
The sanctuary gets its name Biligiri from the white faced rock which forms a large part of the hill. On top of the hill, there is a temple dedicated to Lord Ranganatha. The Bilirangaswamy Temple is dedicated to the Lord Biligiriranga and the deity is depicted in a standing form. The most important festival of the temple is the annual car festival.
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Another important attraction of the BR Hills is the Dodda Sampige, which is a sacred grove of the soliga tribes of the BRT Wildlife Sanctuary. The grove consists of a large number of champaka trees. There is also a 600 year old champaka tree called the Big Michelia and is considered sacred by the tribal groups of the region. Visitors can trek into the sacred grove and see this beautiful tree.
The park abounds in wildlife. Some of the commonly sighted wild animals include sambar, chital, barking deer, four horned antelope, tigers, leopards, wild dogs, lesser cats, and sloth bears.