The enchanting city of Mysore is a much-loved gem in India’s southwest state of Karnataka. Nicknamed the City of Palaces, it’s bursting with royal heritage and opulent sights. Travellers can visit the sacred Hindu temple on top of Chamundi Hills, shop for silk in the exquisite emporiums and wander the colourful Devaraja market selling spices, incense and essential oils. The sandalwood-scented city is also the birthplace of Ashtanga yoga and has a thriving wellness scene with organic health cafés, traditional Ayurveda treatments and meditation ashrams.
Mysore hostels are a welcoming mix, all within easy reach of the city’s majestic sights. You can stay in a converted Indian mansion, an ashram dorm house or a colonial-style bungalow with an acre of lush lawn. Choose a hostel in Mysore with a roof terrace and join a morning yoga class or look out for those with games to borrow and bikes in the backyard. Most places have free Wi-Fi and breakfast is included at some. You’ll find many hostels in Mysore have communal areas to meet and hang out with other travellers.
The city’s central palace complex is in Agrahara, the most historic part of Mysore that's dotted with heritage buildings and temples. Along the main Sayyaji Rao Road you’ll find the landmark Dufferin clock tower and a bustling market. Gokulam is the leafy northern suburb known as the yoga district and has many Ashtanga schools, vegetarian cafés and coconut water stalls. The picturesque Brindavan gardens in the Mandya District are 20km to the north of the city.
A tour of the city’s palaces will take in the ornate, light-bulb decorated Mysore Palace of the Wodeyar Dynasty and Jaganmohan Palace, a grand three-story building that’s also home to the Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery. At Chamundi Hills, you can climb up the thousand steps of the pilgrim path to see the spectacular views of the city below. In the foothills, Karanji Lake is a pretty oasis where you can take a boat on the water and wander the park among roaming peacocks and an array of butterflies.
Bangalore’s Kempegowda International Airport is the nearest major airport to Mysore. The quickest way to make the 170km journey is on the Shatabdi Express train from Bangalore City Junction station, taking around 2 hours. When in Mysore, auto rickshaws are a popular way to get around and can be picked up on the street, or from the pre-pay counter at the train station or bus stand.