How many times have you glanced over a south Indian restaurant menu, searching for the mouth-watering Mysore Masala Dosa? Admit it, you loved that dosa even before you could locate Mysore on a map. A lot of the people I meet do not know much else about this wondrous city except for its connection with the dosa. So I thought it’s time we talked about the many wonders that make Mysore the go-to destination for countless travellers headed south of the Vindhyas.
Cuisine: Traditional and rich
I have said it before, and I shall reiterate, Mysore is synonymous with the iconic Mysore masala dosa. But dosa forms only a small part of the range of foods popularly eaten in this city. Other signature South Indian dishes like idli, steamed rice, chutneys, rasam, papad, vada, and payasam are also found commonly throughout Mysore. The tangy and spicy Bisi Bele Bath, native to Mysore, is a special preparation of rice, lentils, coconut, tamarind, and spices. And of course when it comes to desserts, Mysore Pak trumps every other sweet dish in town. Made from gram flour (besan), sugar, and oodles of ghee, the sweet was first prepared in the kitchens of the Mysore Palace by a royal cook. Today it is a delicacy that precedes every mention of the city of Mysore.
Mysore Silk: A piece of art
Mysore Silk Saree
I hope you have seen or at least heard of the famous Mysore silk saree! It is six yards of pure mulberry silk intertwined with 100% pure gold zari threads. A woman wearing a Mysore silk saree often stands out in the crowd owing to the sheer elegance and luxury of her attire. Mysore silk is exclusively manufactured by the Karnataka Silk Industries Corporation, which produces about 70% of India’s silk output. The factory was established by the Maharaja of Mysore way back in 1912. Every saree has a code number embroidered into the fabric and comes with a hologram, making it super exclusive. The next time you fancy a custom-made piece of rich silk, you know exactly where you should be heading to.
Mysore: A cultural and historical goldmine
Inside View of Mysore Palace
The city is comprised, in equal parts, of cultural richness and historic magnificence. It served as the royal capital of the valorous Wodeyar kings for six centuries. It has been the capital of Karnataka off and on throughout history, until it was replaced by Srirangapatna and later Bangalore. No wonder Mysore is considered the cultural capital of Karnataka! Numerous museums and art galleries populate the city’s streets, while some of the most luxurious palaces of India lend a royal splendour to its skyline. Mysore is most frequented by tourists around October, when the historic Dasara festival is celebrated at the Mysore Palace. The festival was first started in 1610 by Raja Wodeyar I. The palace is lit up by ten lakh lightbulbs every night for the entire ten-day celebration. Elephant and camel processions are taken out, an idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari is worshipped by the royal couple (yes, Mysore still has a maharaja and maharani) and the festivities finally culminate with a torch-light parade.
The grandeur of Mysore is difficult to describe but easy to feel as the character of the place just seeps in your soul and touches your heart in every way imaginable. Of course, it is nothing short of spectacular.