Did you know the Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens is one of the oldest zoos in the country? What’s more, the zoo is quite unlike any other in the country. It houses numerous species of animals and birds that are kept in a habitat that’s almost close to their home.
So, you can well imagine my surprise when I was told that I had to write about ‘30 heritage sites across Mysuru’. My travel writing assignment required me to research and write about these buildings, their history, architecture and the impact they have had on society.
Honestly, I was pretty sure the folks had it wrong ‘cause I had personally never heard of anything about any of these and I don’t think too many others had too. Well, let’s just say the city of Mysuru was full of surprises.
As I arrived in Mysuru on this sleepy Sunday morning, I had a solid plan on how I would go about on visiting all these buildings in a single day. A friend joined me on my quest, completely unaware of the amount of walking involved.
The first one we decided to visit was the famous Cauvery Emporium. Did you know, this was the first branch to be opened in India. Here, we spotted several beautiful handicraft items, one of which was a 3-foot tall elephant carved in wood and ivory, costing a whopping 53 lakhs!
Yes, you heard that right! Our visit there was cut short though, as photography isn’t allowed inside the showroom. Interestingly, we found several street hawkers who set up shop on the footpath just outside the showroom, selling souvenirs, jewellery, old Indian coins and other metal trinkets. It was interesting to stop by and see what they had in store.
Less than half a kilometre away was the Devaraja market. Being from Bangalore, I was used to the super crowded market scenes, especially during the weekends. As we stepped into the market, I braced myself for a bustling market.
Surprisingly, this market was rather empty! I could literally see my own feet(a major challenge in Bangalore markets)!. We happily walked our way through every part of the market soaking in the interesting sights, sounds and smells.
As we walked out of the main gate we were welcomed by the Dufferin Clock Tower. This was a sight to behold! The tower stands all alone here, surrounded by a wide, circular, cobbled floor. The clear blue sky accentuated the blue detailing of the tower.
From here, we moved to the legendary palace of Amba Vilas, Here, the Jayamarthaanda Gate is a must see. Standing here gives you a view of the entire palace front. We were lucky enough to spot some of the Dasara elephants. These elephants are usually brought to the palace amidst grand celebrations during the month of Dasara.
From here, I went on to explore the other list of places from the 30. An interesting feature that I noticed during the course of the day was the style and architecture across these buildings. It occurred to me that most of the older buildings in Mysuru had similar architecture, with the high roofs, tall pillars, and the pale yellow and white paints.
This added to the coherent feel of the city, where, a tall, majestic structure lies everywhere you look. The newer buildings can be easily distinguished by their modern, compact structures and brighter colours.
Mysore was under the rule of the Wodeyars for approximately 500 years and most of the heritage buildings, built by them, continue to retain their glory after decades. Even today, the love and respect that the people of Mysuru continue to have for the erstwhile kings are evident. The city celebrates them by having a number of monuments and buildings built in their honour.
We ended our little expedition at the Lansdowne building. It was sad to see the sorry state of the building that, in its heyday, was a major commercial complex. Thankfully, it is now under renovation, and will soon be reopened in all its glory.
We’ve done our research, so you don’t need to! So the next time you’re in Mysuru, don’t just visit the Amba Vilas. Do take some time to visit all these other heritage structures of the city. You can learn about all the places on FlippAR Go.
After a long, tiresome day, I now head back to Bangalore. As I get home, the fitness app on my phone tells me that I have walked over 28000 steps! Woah! Need to rest those tired feet!