A town just 150kms south of Bangalore, Mysore is known as being the place to go if you want to expand or deepen your yoga knowledge. Year after year, yoga practitioners make the “pilgrimage” to Mysore for a month/s long practice with their respective gurus. However, Mysore offers so much more than just the yoga experience.
In 2015, I made my first trip to India to (as many would put it) do the yoga thing. I was fortunate to meet many travellers from all walks of life doing the yoga thing as well and took the time to show me around.
Here is a curated list of my recommendations.
There are many yoga schools in Mysore and if you are not particular about styles, it would be easy to pick a school and simply start practicing. Naturally, the more popular the school, the harder to get into. However, if you are simply looking to practice while you explore Mysore and its surroundings, finding a school or teacher is easy. Though I practiced with just one teacher (he was teaching during the off season), here are a few others that are highly popular:
There are many Facebook Groups devoted to the yoga and meditation practice in Mysore. They are a great source of information and can provide insights to specific schools and teachers. This is especially useful if you’re travelling there for the first time. The groups are lively, friendly and always quick to offer advice or help when needed.
CHECK OUT: Marco at Path2Yoga covers extensively on yoga in India and teachers in Mysore. Read his post on The Best Ashtanga teachers in Mysore.
Anokhi Garden, Mysore – Michelle Was Here
Mysore is no stranger to foreigners. So much so that I heard someone refer to it as ‘India Light’, as in ‘Pepsi Light’. The influx of yoga students over the years means locals are much more accustomed to foreigners, and the proliferation of westernised eateries to cater to the city’s visitors. Don’t be surprised to find meals and drinks that are totes trendy and/or packed with super foods (like quinoa, flax seed and LSA). Smoothies (in a bowl), power green juices, bliss balls; they have it all.
- Dhatu Organics & Naturals – Along side its cafe/ restaurant, it also offers a small selection of organic clothes, and a medium-sized grocery store selling organic/ super foods, tea, candles, etc.
- Anu’s Cafe – Home-based cafe/ restaurant, this is a popular hangout for many yoga students
- Anokhi Garden House and Cafe – Home-based cafe/ restaurant, this is a popular hangout for many yoga students. It has a lovely garden setting out back, as well as an indoor space.
- Depth N Green – Great for brunch/ lunches and all round lovely space to sit and read. Occasionally hosts night music performances.
- The Old House – One of the very few places in Mysore that serves a wood oven pizza! Great ambience at night.
- Cafe cornucopia – Beautiful restaurant for dinner with spaces built from shipping containers.
Buy a sari, get a dress tailored or even decorate your home – shopping is an affordable activity in Mysore.
- Silvernest – Small home business selling silver jewellery, and customised malas (prayer beads)
- Fab India – International store selling clothes, homeware, small selection of Organic India products
- Vastra – The Yoga Store – yoga clothes, mats, mat bag, and clothes
- Green House – Great to stock up on yoga books, incense, also offers small range of clothes
- Sapna Book House – Great if you’re looking for something to read that’s not on yoga!
- Ashok Book Store – Small business owner with yoga and meditation specialised books
- Rashinkar Silk Emporium – Three storey shop selling fabric. They also offer tailoring services, and wholesale (will ship to your destination) of cotton yoga mats, mat bags (customisable at a fee) and clothes.
- Easy Day – A supermarket chain. You can find every day necessities here including a wide range of silver kitchenware (tiffin carriers, masala trays etc).
As one would expect, local food is everywhere and easy to find. However, it’s always a treat to stumble upon or be recommended to the favourites.
- Nalpak – A franchised restaurant, Nalpak serves up delicious South Indian cuisine. Try their thali during lunch; a full meal of rice, variety of vegetables, dessert and pappadam. They also do a mean dosa for dinner.
- Highway 18 – One of my favourite places for dinner! Clean with modern fixtures, it’s a popular place to go to for dinner.
- Empire Restaurant – Unlike Nalpak and Highway 18, Empire Restaurant serves a variety of things including tandoori.
- JWALA – Had enough of South Indian cuisine? How about North Indian? Jwala serves authentic Punjabi cuisine.
- Anima Madhva Bhavan – Dining here is an experience itself! Don’t expect to be seated at waist-height tables as the charm of this place is the low tables that require you to sit on cushions on the floor. Lunch (thali) is served on a banana leaf (pre-washed of course) where you will be required to eat with your hands (cutlery is available upon request of course).
- Mylari Dosa – Made famous for its mouth-watering dosas. Locating it is half the challenge, then comes the wait. There is usually a queue for this delicious Indian pancake.
Oh India, you are so beautiful and quirky at every turn! Mysore is full of amazing places to visit like the Mysore Palace and Chamundi Hill. However, if you can afford the time I highly recommend venturing beyond the city.
- Mysore Town Centre – Like any other city, Mysore town centre is full of history. You can opt to do a walking tour with a local guide. Most tours start from the Town Hall, and includes a walk through the historic Devaraja Market.
- Mysore Palace – The Palace is open to visitors daily from 10am to 5.30pm. It also lights up every Sunday at 7 – 7.45pm. It is truly quite a spectacular sight to behold and almost like Christmas when the lights on the tree are lit.
- Lalitha Mahal Palace – Built in 1921 under orders of then Mysore Maharaja, the palace’s architecture is similar to St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Y
- Chamundi Hill – Chamundeshwari Temple rests up on this hill. It’s about a 45 minutes walk up the stairs to get to the top but rest assured you will be rewarded with the best view of Mysore!
- Chennakesava Temple, Somnathapura – Magnificent architecture, this temple is a sight to behold. The walls and surroundings are decorated with intricate carvings that tell stories of gods and goddesses.
- Talakadu – A desert-like town, it once had 30 temples however majority of it is buried in the sand. Some temples are more impressive than others, which really are small, sheltered shrines to Shiva. Though you will find many tour guides hawking around, it is hard to find someone who is fluent in English. A booklet that tells the tale and history of Talakad is available for purchase on site.
- Tibetan Settlement, Bylakuppe – Known as mini Tibet, Bylakuppe was the first ever Tibetan exile settlement. It is tricky to get here as it isn’t exactly a ‘tourist attraction’ and foreigners aren’t particularly welcomed with open arms. To get there, you will need a driver and permit, all which can be difficult to arrange. I sat in the car outside the Bylakuppe police station for 45 minutes waiting for permission to enter!
I never made it beyond Mysore, Karnataka as my visa ran out and I was scheduled to be home in Kuala Lumpur for my dad’s birthday. That said, I do plan to return in 2017 for month before venturing down to Goa and Kerala!
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