India

Mysore: The Land of Silk Sarees and Sandalwood

It was with a heavy heart that I departed Mysore. The city that I had great expectations for and that exceeded all of them. The city that I intended to be a “time-filler” that ended up being the highlight of my trip. I planned to stay for just 3 days and ended up leaving, reluctantly, after 5.

Truth be told despite the length of time I spent there, I barely even scratched the surface. Nope, I never even made it two of the main tourist sites- Chaumandi Hills and the Mysore Palace. (Yup, I’m a bad traveller..)

Most travellers use Mysore a stop-off point on their way South to Kerala, maybe spending a day or two seeing all the main sites, then heading onwards. For me, staying a while gave me enough time to really appreciate the relatively laidback pace of life in this mini metropolis.

Going by my experiences visiting Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad, I was definitely hesitant about visiting Mysore which I feared may be “just another busy Indian city.” When I arrived and found it to be clean (actually, it’s the cleanest city in India!), calm and easy to navigate, I was pleasantly surprised.

Mysore has a lot going for it and you should definitely stay for at least a few days if you’re looking for a place to slow down and recharge on your India trip. Here’s an overview of some of the things that I loved most about it.

Shopping

Famous for it’s prized silk and sandalwood, I knew that I would inevitably have to break my “no shopping in Inda” rule (hahaha, as if that was ever going to last) when I arrived in Mysore.

I left with bags full of beautiful silk scarves, sandalwood essential oils, some Indian-style clothing, handspun organic cotton shirts and handmade incense sticks.

I was lucky enough to have an afternoon being shown around by Go Mowgli. As part of my mini customised version of their awesome city tour, I was taken around a few of the city’s lesser-known sites.

Click here to learn more about Go Mowgli’s Mysore City Tour

The first stop of the day was the silk factory, where we saw the whole process behind how the famous Mysore silk is made. After seeing the complicated process, I could definitely appreciate every rupee that I spent on the scarves that I had bought!

Mysore

Kaa from Go Mowgli has so much knowledge about pretty much everything in his home state of Karnataka (and probably the rest of India, and maybe even the universe, too…) He was able to explain the whole process to me and fill me in on all the history behind it. I would recommend anyone coming to the South of India to do at least one Go Mowgli tour. The guys really helped deepen my understanding of this complex country and made me appreciate it so much more, too!

We also spent some time at the Devaraja Market which is a place you really need to experience on your trip. Although this is a popular “tourist site”, it also gives you an authentic glimpse at local life in Mysore. Be prepared for a complete sensory overload!

Mysore

Kaa really kept me right by pointing me in the right direction of the best vendors (it’s a pretty huge and overwhelming place so this was really helpful), making sure I got the best prices and showing me what all the foreign produce was.

My favourite stop of the trip was the perfumery. The guy that worked there showed me all the oils that are used to make the most popular designer perfumes. I ended up buying a few since they smelled so amazing and only cost 200 rupees!

Mysore isn’t really the place to buy the usual backpacker favourites like elephant pants and patchwork bags. However, it’s a great place to buy traditional, authentic products which make much more memorable souvenirs anyway! Well, that’s my excuse for breaking my no-shopping rule…

Mysore

Myosre

Yoga

When I started planning my trip to Mysore, I knew that I had to fit in a few Ashtanga Yoga Classes.

Mysore is famous for its own style of teaching Ashtanga Yoga. Rather than being lead through a class as a group, students work through the asanas at their own pace and are offered individual assistance from the instructor.

Although Mysore is the most famous place to study Ashtanga Yoga, finding drop-in classes can be difficult. Most yoga-schools only accept students who can commit toΒ at leastΒ a month of practice.I managed to find one school that offered drop-ins called Mystic Yoga School. It’s definitely worth checking out if you want to practice Ashtanga in Mysore.

After I found the school, I woke up early every morning to attend private Ashtanga classes.

Luckily for me, I was the only student at the drop in, so I had the instructor’s full attention- which I definitely needed! Although I’ve been frequently practising yoga at home for a few years, this was my first time studying the Primary Series of Ashtanga which was extremely challenging (and ended up being a huge component of my Yoga Teacher Training course!)

Mysore

Getting certified as a yoga teacher at Suddha Anand Yogshala in Varkala

The instructor was so patient with me, correcting my alignment and showing me a whole host of variations for the asanas. I enjoyed practising with him so much that I considered cancelling the next part of my trip just to study with him for longer!

Drop-ins are 500 INR but you can save money by signing up for a week or longer. Definitely recommended for anyone wanting to learn the fundamental asanas of the Primary Series from a true expert!

History and Architecture

Mysore

Among those who know me, it’s no secret that history isn’t exactly my biggest passion… Or my strongest subject either, for that matter.

However, coming to India and not learning the history would have been shameful. As one of the oldest civilisations in the world, there’s a lot to learn about in India. Sometimes so much that it can get overwhelming

Luckily for me, I was accompanied by Kaa, the human encyclopaedia. Unlike guides in my previous experience taking tours, Kaa explained things to me in a really interesting and engaging way. Yup, even I managed to learn and understand a few bits and bobs about history which is a pretty huge achievement for me!
Mysore

Staying true to the Go Mowgli ethos, Kaa took me to a place that I could never have found on my own; a museum locally known as Mysore’s best kept secret. (And to keep the secret even safer, I’m keeping the name to myself!) Even if you don’t go for the history, the museum is set in the most beautiful grounds beside a river. It’s the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon in the city.

Food

Being home to a huge yogi community, Mysore is brimming with healthy organic and vegan restaurants. I managed to try out 2 of the most popular while I was there- Dhatu, and Depth & Green.

Mysore

Both cafes do a mix of Western and Indian cooking, using all fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Indian favourites that are often packed full of cream and ghee are given a new, vegan makeover. One of my favourite examples of this was the traditional thali at Depth and Green. This had all the elements of a regular thali, but with healthier ingredients. So, rather than plain, white rice, it was served with purple sprouted rice. The curries were cooked with less salt and had coconut oil instead of ghee. I ate here several times and enjoyed both the Indian and Western food.

Mysore

They’re both tucked away in the trendy Gokulam neighbourhood where you can find lots of healthy cafes and yoga studios. I recommend staying here on your trip! I stayed at Sonder HostelΒ which was really conveniently located, clean and social. Definitely, check it out!

Another restaurant that foodies should not miss is Anima Mhadva Bhavan- a traditional South Indian thali restaurant. Not only was the food amazing, but it was a great, authentic way to experience South Indian cooking. Guests sit on the floor and eat off a banana leaf the true Indian way- with their hands! Of course, you can get a knife and fork if you want to but when in Rome, do as the Romans do! The meal was only around 150 rupees with unlimited top ups. Make sure you don’t miss this place!

Mysore


Mysore is unlike any other place I’ve been to India. It’s laidback and chilled out, without being too touristy. It’s got a big city feel, without the chaos. It’s the sort of city that you visit and imagine yourself living there. I’ve got high hopes that I’ll visit Mysore again and manage to see all the places that I missed. If you’re visiting the South of India, make sure you don’t overlook it and give it a few days to get under your skin.

Mysore

Pin this post to your India Travel board!

Heading to India, don’t miss these posts!

Many thanks to the guys from Go Mowgli for kindly showing me around on my trip to India! As always, all opinions are my own.

You Might Also Like

26 Comments

  • Reply
    Travel with Karla
    1st December 2016 at 10:36 am

    Amazing pictures! I love how vibrant they are. I’m not a fan of silk sarees but I would love to try wearing one. I would also love to try their yoga. It looks interesting and relaxing. <3

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      2nd December 2016 at 9:40 am

      Thank you! I really wanted to buy a saree but I know I would never wear it. Yoga in Mysore was great but not very relaxing haha! xx

  • Reply
    Kate Carter Hickey
    1st December 2016 at 5:07 pm

    Pinned it! This looks like a phenomenal adventure. I totally would have broken my no shopping rule, too. Wait – when would I ever have a no shopping rule!? Are you going to teach any yoga back in Korea?

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      2nd December 2016 at 9:39 am

      Thanks lady! Man, the shopping in India is too good! It’s so cheap, too! I’m just back until March as a tourist until my BF finishes his contract. Gonna be tough to try and find a space to have a class while I’m here. Been teaching my BF in the apartment though for practice πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Wendy
    4th December 2016 at 1:04 am

    Fabrics!!!! They are a delight to look at and now I’m dreaming of touching those silk sarees in your photo. And… it’s nice to hear that you’re a yoga instructor. That must have enriched your experience in terms of yoga. Good luck!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      4th December 2016 at 4:18 pm

      They were sooo soft! I love silk πŸ˜€

  • Reply
    Nicky Kim
    4th December 2016 at 3:18 pm

    Those pictures are amazing! Even though you say you didn’t have time to visit the hotspots, I still think you did all the things that are really interesting. Everything from the food to the market have that rustic and unique charm of Mysore. Looking forward to seeing more of your posts!
    Nicky Kim recently posted…How President Trump Will Affect South KoreaMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      4th December 2016 at 4:23 pm

      Thanks Nicky! Yeah, I found that there was so much more to Mysore than just the hotspots… plus, now I have an excuse to go back! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Rocio Cadena
    4th December 2016 at 5:41 pm

    Mysore seems incredible!!!! I love when that happens in life – that we have little to no expectations walking into something and leave pleasantly surprised. Now I am in the mood for Indian food and some yoga!
    Rocio Cadena recently posted…The Quinceañera: a Latino celebration of womanhood, family & communityMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      7th December 2016 at 10:44 am

      Haha I’m always in the mood for Indian food and yoga- my 2 favourite things. Yoga first, though, then food! Otherwise the results might not be pretty….

  • Reply
    Ana Park
    5th December 2016 at 12:10 am

    Wow! I’ve always wanted to visit India ~ so I think you’re lucky you got to visit this culturally rich place. I love your photos here ~ especially of the rich and colorful fabric, the everyday scenery and the food! *envy*

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      7th December 2016 at 10:42 am

      Thanks so much- India is full of culture, I recommend it!

  • Reply
    Izzy
    5th December 2016 at 10:41 am

    You had a no shopping in India rule??? How??? The goods there are so beautiful! I wanted to do Kerala so bad but we only had a month and a had a wedding to visit last year. Tim promised me one day we’d return. Incredible that yoga is a school of study there unlike a weekly lifestyle habit in the west. I don’t think I could commit to a month of straight yoga but happy you found some drop-ins! Let’s talk! Maybe we could do a collab post of the BEST india route :D:D:D

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      7th December 2016 at 10:42 am

      Hahaha I know, it was a strange idea! I had been to India the year before and had to bring home a new suitcase full of stuff that I’d bought- decided I didn’t need any more things haha! I hope you guys return to India and manage to see Kerala. I can’t wait to return again but I don’t know when it will be- Kashmir is next on my hitlist (and no, I won’t have a no shopping rule this time!)

  • Reply
    Hedgers Abroad
    5th December 2016 at 1:27 pm

    This post is beautifully written and displayed through pictures. This really goes as a testament to the journey being more important than the destination. We’ve many times been surprised by a place that we weren’t expecting, and those have been some of the most memorable places we’ve experienced. Thank you for sharing this post and for adding to our “must-see places in India!”

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      7th December 2016 at 10:39 am

      Aww thanks so much, you guys are too sweet! It’s amazing when a place exceeds your expectations. I hope you guys get the chance to visit India one day! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Matthew Collamer
    5th December 2016 at 3:27 pm

    Super interesting read! I’ve recently read some fascinating books with India as main focal point, and I totally understand why. Mysore seems like a fantastic city. I’ll definitely keep that in mind when I get a chance to go to India!

    P.S. Great photos πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      7th December 2016 at 10:38 am

      I hope you get the chance to visit one day- it’s an amazing place! Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Alla
    5th December 2016 at 4:29 pm

    Pinning this post for sure! Yoga, clean city, that food – sign me up (though the name of the city is a bit misleading πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      6th December 2016 at 8:23 pm

      Haha definitely don’t let the name put you off! (Though I can’t promise you won’t be sore after Ashtanga 😜)

  • Reply
    Exploring the Hoysala Temple Trail with Go Mowgli - Wee Gypsy Girl
    14th December 2016 at 12:40 pm

    […] The first stop of the Hoysala Temple Trail was Shravanabelagola, a Jain pilgrimage town 80kms away from Mysore. […]

  • Reply
    Hostels in India: Sonder, Mysore - Wee Gypsy Girl
    29th December 2016 at 5:12 pm

    […] Mysore is a city whose praises I just can’t stop singing. It had so much to love- healthy restaurants, morning yoga, gorgeous architecture and a local, small city vibe. […]

  • Reply
    Confession Time: Why I Didn't Love Wayanad as a Solo Budget Traveller - Wee Gypsy Girl
    3rd February 2017 at 12:24 pm

    […] a paperback book, you definitely won’t find yourself getting bored. I had just spent time in Mysore, a city that I loved, and had stayed in a great hostel where I met loads of people. Wayanad was […]

  • Reply
    5 Reasons to Explore the Kerala Backwaters by Canoe! - Wee Gypsy Girl
    3rd February 2017 at 5:08 pm

    […] Mysore: The Land of Silk Sarees and Sandalwood […]

  • Reply
    Solo Travel in India Made Easy with Go Mowgli - Wee Gypsy Girl
    16th February 2017 at 10:36 pm

    […] was lucky enough to do a few tour with Go Mowgli on my last trip to India. Together we explored the vibrant city of Mysore, the multicultural port city of KochiΒ andΒ the Hoysala Temple TrailΒ . On each of these trips, I […]

  • Reply
    5 Chilled Places for Solo Female Travellers in India - Wee Gypsy Girl
    9th May 2017 at 4:48 pm

    […] Mysore, Karnataka […]

  • Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge

    Show Buttons
    Hide Buttons