What makes a destination ‘tourist friendly’ usually comes down to the historic, cultural, religious and/or natural sights it has to offer. The city of Mysore, 3hrs south of Bangalore in southern Karnataka state satisfies all of the above. Yet in the 5 days that we spent there, we only saw a handful of its must-see attractions. Instead, we were too busy having fun with the many ‘family-friendly’ activities that we discovered!
A trip to the zoo is always something that our kids look forward to. And luckily for us, one of the oldest zoos in India, after the one in Trivandrum, can be found here. It houses many unique animals, including 2 white Bengal tigers, India’s only gorilla, and 2 African elephants (it’s the Indian elephants you normally see, but the African ones have larger ears and bigger tusks, but shorter trunks). While the pathways through the zoo wonderfully shaded, the many natural and good-sized enclosures made for lots of walking. In fact, the loop to see all of the exhibits covered just over 3km; needless to say, we were all very tired by the end! We have been so fortunate to have been able to have visited 2 good quality zoos while here in South India—it was really so unexpected!
Another thing that we love is a good old fashioned circus. Again, lucky for us the Gemini Circus was also in town at the moment, with 3 daily shows. We were treated to ring-side seats for a spell-bounding 2.5 hours, all for $3.75 USD/Rs150 per person (cheaper seats could be had for as low as $1.00 USD/Rs40 p.p.). Our kids really enjoyed the clowns and the elephant acts, while we were impressed with the ‘regurgitator’ who drank water then regurgitated it back a few minutes later like a water fountain (kinda gross really), as well as the 6 talented ladies on the bicycles who, while riding their bikes side by side in a circular formation akin to CanCan girls with linked arm and arm to each other, managed to ‘pop a mono’ simultaneously (wish we could have supplied a picture for this!). We were really impressed at the safety measures that were in place for all the performers too.
And to top off our time in Mysore, we spent a day at Fantasy Park, a water/amusement park located just a few minutes on the outskirts of town. And it also happened to be Jim’s birthday, so what a fun and memorable way to spend it! Surprisingly, this is the third such park that we’ve been to since arriving in South India, and it was the best of them all (and they were all great). While there weren’t a lot of amusement rides, there were abundant water slides, as well as a few water rides, all set amongst a beautifully landscaped park that could have been mistaken for a botanical garden! The slides, rides and facilities were all well maintained and a terrific value at $9.00 USD/Rs360 per adult and $6.50 USD/Rs260 for children over 3ft tall for unlimited access for the day. We spent 4hrs in the water alone! (When we asked our kids what they’ll miss about India, they said: ‘The water parks!’ Who would’ve thought—water parks in India?!)
Considering we almost gave it a miss, Mysore turned out to be one of our favourite cities in India. Aside from having 3 of our top things to do as a family here, we loved the leafy trees lining the relatively clean and orderly streets. There are even wide foot-paths along the main roads, and many grand traffic circles with overhead signals too, all making for easier navigation with young children in hand. The grand ‘Indo-saracenic’ architecture dating back to the early 19th C dots much of the centre of the city, and throughout there is a fascinating mix of old and modern buildings. The centre piece, Mysore Palace, is the most extravagant palace that we’ve ever seen, including ones found in Europe. But although we even ended up extending our original 3 night stay to 5, there were still so many sights that we didn’t have time to visit in Mysore. Oh well, at least we’ll know for next time—whenever that will be! For now, this is pretty much it for our travels in India. We have 1 night in Bangalore before we fly out. Pity.
|Mysore Palace, magically lit up on Sunday evenings.|