May 24, 2021
If you think Bandra is hipster, wait till you see Mysore. Abuzz with yogis, fashionistas, vegans and expats, Mysore gives you a real taste of progress in a small city.
My dear friend and fellow travel enthusiast, Deepti Dadlani and I explored this beautiful city in March 2021.
Sapa Bakery: When I put up an IG story asking for recommendations in Mysore, most responses mentioned Sapa (Sourdough and Pastry). A hotspot in Mysore by Dina Weber, the Babka, Pumpkin Quiche, Iced Americano and Sourdough were all worth the hype. The staff is friendly and happy to share recommendations. The OJ with a hint of salt was a revelation.
Anokhi Rooftop Cafe: Clarification: This has nothing to do with Anokhi, the clothing company from Jaipur. A green haven in the middle of the city, Anokhi serves a banging beetroot dosa with an interesting ginger chutney. The sweet potato fries are a great add on to your meal. Club it with a fresh juice.
Minimal Coffee Roasters: This tiny shop in the building adjacent to Anokhi, with its chic "minimal" decor is popular amongst coffee lovers. My Espresso Tonic was a perfect blend of a dark roast Arabica with a top up of tonic.
Mahesh Prasad: Of all the filter coffees in town, this one made me crave to go back. Paired with a crisp masala dosa (It's called Masala Dosa, the Mysore is implied. BTW, do you call them French Fries in France?) and a dal-like sambhar. I'm not fussy about sambhar except for the watered down sweet version popular in Bombay Udupi joints which should be called anything but sambhar. The Rawa Idli left an everlasting impression on me.
Hotel Vinayaka Mylari: The Mylari dosa is a type of dosa famous in Mysore. Soft, fluffy and mildly sweet, it is served with a dollop of benne (butter) and generous amount of coconut chutney. There is only one OG Mylari dosa house, Hotel Vinayaka Mylari which opened in 1938. Their menu is concise. You can choose between a plain sago (dosa) or a masala dosa. There's usually a fast moving queue and the owner may request you to go dine upstairs. I say you enjoy the fruit of patience by waiting a few extra minutes and getting a seat on the ground floor. (Sharing tables is common practice).
Hotel Devi Prasad: Every time this name pops up, it reminds me of that legendary dialogue from Hera Pheri (IYKYK). Across the street from Hotel Vinayaka Mylari is this small local joint (If you're a fan of Bombay's Cafe Delight-like ambience, then this is your place) that serves a strong and sweet filter coffee. Just what you need after a couple of Mylari dosas.
Hotel RRR: An institution like the Nagarjuna and Bheema's of Bangalore, this fast moving restaurant serves a traditional banana leaf style vegetarian Andhra meal. Add a plate of their Chilly Chicken (Beware!) and Chicken 64 (A finer version of the Chicken 65) topped with fried chilies, curry leaves and fried onions. (The legit outlet is at Gandhi Square)
Brahmin Soda Factory: With a meal like RRR, we're easily enticed into popping open a Thums Up but I recommend you hold your horses and stroll / roll down to Brahmin Soda Factory and get yourself an Orange Masala Soda. The oldest Soda and Ice Cream shop in Mysore is a hole in the wall serving flavoured sodas (surprisingly not too sweet), interesting milks and ice creams. The ginger milk took us by surprise. I hear the Gad Bad is worth giving a shot.
Guru Sweets: The birthplace of Mysore Pak, Guru Sweet is run by Mr Kumar who is kind and patient and no matter how long the queue, takes his sweet time to answer all your questions about the numerous mithais stacked up in his shop. Mysore Pak is ghee, sugar and gram flour, what's not to like? We also indulged in the pumpkin halwa which was as good as the Pak.
Sri Raghavendra Bakery: One can't leave Mysore without a bag of muruku (very similar to our chakli) kodbale (my fave of them all, ring muruku) and masala thattai (very similar to a mathri). You can also pack up some egg puffs and potato buns for the road. There are plenty of Iyengar bakeries, make sure to get to the right one.
Mysore Palace: Your Mysore trip is incomplete without a visit to the Mysore Palace. The Old Palace also known as the Wooden Palace was burnt ablaze and reconstructed between 1897 and 1912 by architect Henry Irwin under the Wadiyar Dynasty. Built in an Indo-Saracenic style, the magnificent darbars built between gold pillars, kitsch tiled walls, Michelangelo-esque ceilings, the panthers growling in the courtyard (sculptures, of course) make this one of the most bewitching palaces in the country. To add to it, it is illuminated by 97000 electric bulbs.
Tattoo Impec: I know this sounds more Gen Z than millennial, but Sunil at Tattoo Impec is an exceptional artist. His clean lines and swift hand clubbed with the reasonable pricing (Rs 1500 for a word I got tattooed on my wrist).
I highly recommend a trip to the soon-to-open Naviluna HQ. David Belo's (Founder - Naviluna) kickstarter campaign to restore an antique bungalow into a chocolate factory and brasserie succeeded. It will house a brasserie, deli, wine bar, retail store and the chocolate factory.
(Stay tuned for the Naviluna campaign I shot at the HQ)
We walked aplenty but if that's not your jam, Uber Autos are cheap and convenient (Max wait time is 3 minutes. Note to Bombay!)
There aren't any boutique hotels in Mysore (heartbreak!). The Green Hotel and Royal Orchid Metropole are your best bets. We stayed in David Belo's beautiful Wes Anders-y bungalow with a front yard and backyard (Imagine the delight on the faces of two Bombay girls!)
Mysore is noted for its heritage structures and palaces, including the Mysore Palace, and for the festivities that take place during the Dasara festival when the city receives many tourists from around the world. It lends its name to various art forms and culture, such as Mysore Dasara, Mysore painting; the sweet dish Mysore Pak, Mysore Masala Dosa; brands such as Mysore Sandal Soap, Mysore Ink; and styles and cosmetics such as Mysore Peta (a traditional silk turban) and the Mysore silk saris.