Until 1947, Mysore was the capital of the Kingdom of Mysore which was ruled by the Wodeyar dynasty, except for a brief period in the late 18th century when Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan took power. The Wodeyars were patrons of art and culture and have contributed significantly to the cultural growth of the city, which has led to Mysore earning the sobriquet Cultural capital of Karnataka. Mysore is famous for the festivities that take place during the Dasara festival when the city receives a large number of tourists. Mysore also lends its name to the Mysore style of painting, the sweet dish Mysore Pak and the garment, Mysore silk saree.
While tourism is the major industry in Mysore, the growth of information technology related industry in the first decade of the 21st century, has resulted in the city emerging as the second largest software exporter in the state of Karnataka, next to Bangalore. Though lacking an airport, Mysore is connected to other parts of India by railways and road transport. Mysore is also the location of Mysore University, whose alumni include Kuvempu, Gopalakrishna Adiga, S. L. Bhyrappa, U. R. Ananthamurthy and N.R. Narayana Murthy. The All India Radio, the premier radio broadcasting arm of the Government of India had its beginnings here.
The region where Mysore city stands now was known as Puragere till the 15th century. The Mahishūru Fort was constructed in 1524 by Chamaraja Wodeyar III (1513–1553), who later passed on the dominion of Puragere to his son Chamaraja Wodeyar IV (1572–1576). Since the 16th century, the name of Mahishūru (later Mysore) has been commonly used to denote the city. During the rule of the Vijayanagara Empire, the Mysore Kingdom under Wodeyars, served as a feudatory. Mysore was the center of the Wodeyar administration till 1610 when Raja Wodeyar ousted the Vijayanagara governor at nearby Srirangapatna and made it his capital. With the demise of the Vijayanagara Empire in 1565, the Mysore Kingdom gradually achieved independence and became a sovereign state by the time of King Narasaraja Wodeyar (1637). When the kingdom came under the rule of Tipu Sultan, he demolished much of Mysore town to remove any traces of the Wodeyar rule. After Tipu Sultan's death in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War in 1799, the capital of the kingdom was moved back to Mysore. The administration was looked after by Diwan Purnaiah, since the Wodeyar king Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar was a minor. Purnaiah is credited to have been responsible for many improvements in the Mysore city, mainly in relation to public works. In 1831, Mysore lost its status as the administrative centre of the kingdom when Mark Cubbon, the British commissioner, moved the capital to Bangalore. However it regained this status in 1881, when the British handed the power back to the Wodeyars. The city remained the capital of the Wodeyars till 1947 with Mysore Palace as the centre of administration.
The Mysore municipality was established in 1888 and the city was divided into 8 wards. In 1897, an outbreak of bubonic plague killed nearly half of the population of the city. With the establishment of the City Improvement Trust Board (CITB) in 1903, Mysore became one of the first cities in Asia to undertake a planned development of the city. When the Quit India Movement was launched in the early 1940s, Mysore city also played a part in it. Leaders of the independence movement like H. C. Dasappa and Sahukar Channayya were at the forefront during the agitations. The Maharaja's College hostel was the nerve centre from where the movement was controlled in the Mysore district and the Subbarayana Kere ground was an important location for public demonstrations.
After the Indian independence, Mysore city remained as a part of the Mysore State under India. Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar, the then king of Mysore, was allowed to retain his titles and was nominated as the Rajapramukh of the state. He died in September 1974 and was cremated in Mysore city. Over the years, Mysore has become well known as a centre for tourism and the city has remained largely peaceful, except for occasional riots related to the Kaveri river water dispute. Some of the events that took place in Mysore and made national headlines were the fire at Premier Studios that claimed the lives of many people, the sudden deaths of many animals at the Mysore Zoo and the National Anthem controversy that happened on the campus at Infosys.
Mysore is located at and has an average altitude of . It is situated in the southern region of the state of Karnataka, at the base of the Chamundi Hills and spreads across an area of . The summer season is from March to June, followed by the monsoon season from July to November and the winter season from December to February. The highest temperature recorded in Mysore was on May 4, 2006 and in winter, temperatures as low as have been recorded. The average annual rainfall received by the city is . Though Mysore is situated in the relatively safe seismic zone II, earthquakes of magnitude greater than 4.5 on the Richter scale have been recorded in the vicinity of the city.
Mysore has several lakes, prominent among are the Kukkarahalli, Karanji and Lingambudhi lakes. In 2001, percentage of total land area in Mysore city occupied by residences, roads, park and open spaces, industries, public property, commercial establishments, agriculture and bodies of water were 39.9%, 16.1%, 13.74%, 13.48%, 8.96%, 3.02%, 2.27% and 2.02% respectively.
Mysore is situated between the rivers Kaveri and Kabini, which are a source of drinking water to the city. The city got its first piped water supply when the Belagola project was commissioned in 1896. At present, water is supplied to Mysore in the volume of 42.5 million gallons per day from three projects; Hongally (III Stages), Belagola and Melapur and this reaches 85% of households. Mysore sometimes faces water crises, mainly during the months of summer and in years of deficient rainfall. The city has had an underground drainage system since 1904 and the entire sewage from the city drains into four valleys; Kesare, Malalavadi, Dalavai and Belavatha.
The civic administration of the city is managed by the Mysore City Corporation, which was established as a municipality in 1888 and later converted into a corporation in 1977. The corporation oversees the engineering works, health, sanitation, water supply, administration and taxation in the city. It is headed by a mayor who is assisted by commissioners and council members. The city is divided into 65 wards and the council members (also known as corporators) are elected by the citizens of Mysore every five years. The council members in turn elect the mayor. The annual budget of the Corporation for the year 2007–2008 is Rs. 11,443.89 lakh (US$28.6 million).
The growth and expansion of the city is managed by the Mysore Urban Development Authority (MUDA), which is headed by a commissioner. Its activities include developing new layouts and roads, town planning and land acquisition. One of the major projects undertaken by MUDA is the creation of an Outer Ring Road in Mysore, which is expected to ease traffic congestion. On the contrary, MUDA has faced criticism from citizens of Mysore for its inability to ensure that sufficient sites are allotted to house residents of the city. The electrical supply to the city is managed by the Chamundeshwari Electricity Supply Corporation.
The citizens of Mysore elect four representatives to the Legislative assembly of Karnataka through the constituencies of Chamaraja, Krishnaraja, Narasimharaja and Chamundeshwari. Mysore city, being a part of the larger Mysore Lok Sabha constituency, also elects one member to the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian Parliament. The politics in the city is dominated by three political parties, the Indian National Congress (INC), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Dal (Secular) (JDS).
According to the census of 2001, Mysore city had a total population of 799,228 with 406,363 males and 392,865 females, making it the second largest city in Karnataka. The gender ratio of the city is 967 females to every 1000 males and the population density is 6223.55 persons per km². Among the population, 76.76% are Hindus, 19% are Muslims, 2.84% are Christians and the remaining belong to other religions. The city's population crossed the 100,000 mark in the census of 1931 and has seen a population growth of 20.5% in the decade 1991–2001. The literacy rate of the city is 82.8%, which is much higher than the state's average of 67%. Kannada is the most widely spoken language in the city. Nineteen percent of the population in Mysore live below the poverty line and 8.95% of the population live in slums. Though 35.7% of the population in the urban areas of Karnataka are workers, only 33.3% of the population in Mysore city belong to the working class. People belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled tribes contribute to 15.1% of the population. Mysore has seen a spurt in crime with 805 incidents of crime reported in 2005, higher than the 510 incidents of crime reported in 2003.
The residents of the city are known as Mysoreans in English and Mysoorinavaru in Kannada. The ongoing dispute between the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over the sharing of the Kaveri River water, has frequent repercussions in the city leading to minor altercations and demonstrations. Growth in the Information Technology industry in Mysore has led to a change in the demographic profile of the city and has been a cause of concern for some citizens of the city.
Traditionally, Mysore has been home to industries such as weaving, sandalwood carving, bronzework and the production of lime and salt. The planned industrial growth of the city and the state was first envisaged in the Mysore economic conference, held in 1911. This led to the establishment of industries such as the Mysore Sandalwood Oil Factory in 1917 and the Sri Krishnarajendra Mills in 1920.
In a survey conducted in 2001 by Business Today, the business arm of India Today, Mysore was ranked the 5th best city in India in which to conduct business. Mysore has emerged as the hub of the tourism industry in Karnataka, attracting about 2.5 million tourists in 2006.
For the industrial development of the city, the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) has established four industrial areas in and around Mysore and are located in Belagola, Belawadi, Hebbal (Electronic City) and Hootagalli areas. The major industries in Mysore include BEML, J. K. Tyres, Wipro, Falcon Tyres, L & T and Infosys.
Since 2003, information technology companies have been creating bases in Mysore, with the city contributing Rs. 760 crores (US$190 million) to Karnataka's Rs. 48,700 crores ($12.175 billion) IT exports in the financial year 2006–2007. Infosys has established one of the largest technical training centres in the world and Wipro has established its Global Service Management Center (GSMC) at Mysore. Non-IT related services have been outsourced from other countries to companies in Mysore.
The industrial sector in the city experienced setbacks when the automobile manufacturer Ideal Jawa and the Sri Krishnarajendra Mills closed their operations. Revival efforts, such as the takeover of the Krishnarajendra Mills by the Atlantic Spinning and Weaving Mills Ltd. have been made, but these attempts have run into other problems.
Before the advent of the English system of education in Mysore, agraharas imparted the Vedic system of education to Hindus and madrasas served as centres of learning for Muslims. Modern education saw its beginning in Mysore when a free English school was established in 1833. In 1854, the East India Company promulgated the Halifax Dispatch which looked at organising education based on the Western model within the princely state of Mysore. The first college to be set up for higher education in Mysore was the Maharajas College, which was founded in 1864. In 1868, the Mysore state decided to establish hobli schools to extend education to the masses. Under this scheme, a school was established in each hobli (a locality within the city) and the education was free. This led to the establishment of a normal school in Mysore which imparted coaching to teachers who were meant to teach in the hobli schools. In 1881, a high school exclusively for girls was established and this was later converted into the Maharanis Women's College. In 1892, the Industrial School, the first institute to impart technical education in the city was started and this was followed by the Chamarajendra Technical Institute in 1913. While the modern system of education was making inroads in the city, colleges such as the Mysore Sanskrit college, which was established in 1876, continued to provide Vedic education.
The education system in Mysore received further impetus when the Mysore University was established in 1916. This was the sixth university to be established in India. It was named Manasagangotri (literally meaning "fountainhead of the Ganges of the mind") by the poet laureate, Kuvempu. The university caters to the districts of Mysore, Mandya, Hassan and Chamarajanagar in Karnataka. About 127 colleges (having a total student population of 53,000) are affiliated with the university.
Education in the field of engineering was started in Mysore with the establishment of the National Institute of Engineering in 1946. Currently, the city has five engineering colleges, including the GSSS Institute of Technology and Engineering for Women, the only engineering college for women in the state of Karnataka. Medical education started in 1930 when the Mysore Medical College was transferred from Bangalore to Mysore.It also houses the privately owned JSS Medical College. Other institutes in the city include the Central Food and Technological Research Institute, the Central Institute of Indian Languages and the All India Institute of Speech and Hearing.
Known as the cultural capital of Karnataka, Mysore is well known for the festivities that take place during the period of Dasara, the state festival of Karnataka. The Dasara festivities, which are celebrated over a ten-day period, were first introduced by King Raja Wodeyar I in 1610. On the ninth day of Dasara, called Mahanavami, the royal sword is worshipped and is taken on a procession comprising decorated elephants, camels and horses. On the tenth day, called Vijayadashami, the traditional Dasara procession (locally known as Jumboo Savari) is held on the streets of Mysore city. An image of the Goddess Chamundeshwari is placed on a golden mantapa on the back of a decorated elephant and taken on a procession, accompanied by tableaux, dance groups, music bands, decorated elephants, horses and camels. The procession starts from the Mysore Palace and culminates at a place called Bannimantapa where the banni tree (Prosopis spicigera) is worshipped. The Dasara festivities culminate on the night of Vijayadashami with a torchlight parade (locally known as Panjina Kavayatthu).
Mysore is called the City of Palaces because of the number of palaces situated in the city, including Amba Vilas popularly known as Mysore Palace, Jaganmohana Palace which has now been converted into an art gallery, Rajendra Vilas also known as the summer palace, situated in the Chamundi Hills, Lalitha Mahal which has now been converted into a hotel and Jayalakshmi Vilas, which is now on the University of Mysore premises. The main palace of Mysore burned down in 1897, and the present-day structure was built on the same site. Externally, Amba Vilas palace exhibits an Indo-Saracenic architecture style though the interior is distinctly Hoysala style of architecture in nature. Even though the Government of Karnataka now maintains the Mysore palace, a small portion of the palace has been allocated for the erstwhile Royal family to live in. The Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion was constructed by Sri Chamaraja Wodeyar for his daughter Jayalakshammanni. It is now a museum dedicated to folk culture. A new gallery is being added for artifacts and collections of the Wodeyars of Mysore.
The Mysore painting style is an offshoot of the Vijayanagar school of painting. King Raja Wodeyar (1578–1617 CE) is credited with having been the patron for this style of painting. The distinctive feature of these paintings is the gesso work in which gold foils are pasted appropriately on the painting.
Mysore is the location of the International Ganjifa Research Centre, which is involved in the research of the ancient card game Ganjifa and the art associated with it. Mysore is known for rosewood inlay work, with an estimated 4,000 craftsmen involved in this art. The city lends its name to the Mysore silk saree, a ladies' garment, made with pure silk and gold zari.
Mysore has institutes such as the Chamarajendra Academy of Visual Arts (CAVA), which offers education in visual art forms like painting, graphics, sculpture, applied art, photography, photo-journalism and art history. The theatre repertory Rangayana conducts plays and offers certificate courses on subjects related to theatre.
Notable Kannada literateurs Kuvempu, Gopalakrishna Adiga and U. R. Ananthamurthy have had a long association with Mysore, partly because they had their education there and also served as professors at the Mysore University. The famous English novelist and creator of Malgudi, R. K. Narayan and his brother and cartoonist R. K. Laxman spent much of their life in Mysore.
Mysore city has a railway station and three railway lines connect it to the cities of Bangalore, Hassan and Chamarajanagar. The first railway line established in the city was the Bangalore-Mysore metre gauge line, which was commissioned in 1882. However, all railway lines that serve the city are single track ones which impede faster connectivity to the city. Though there are plans to double at least the Bangalore-Mysore track, the project is yet to be completed. All trains that connect to Mysore are operated by Indian Railways and the fastest train to serve the city is the Shatabdi Express which connects it to Bangalore and Chennai.
Mysore is connected by National Highway NH-212 to the state border town of Gundlupet which then forks into the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The high traffic State Highway 17 which connects Mysore to Bangalore was, in 2006, upgraded to a four-lane highway which has reduced the travel time between the two cities. A project was planned in 1994 to construct a new expressway to connect the cities of Bangalore and Mysore. But this has run into numerous legal hurdles and the work has yet to be completed. Other main roads are State Highways 33 and 88, which connect Mysore to H D Kote and Madikeri respectively.
The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and other private agencies operate buses from Mysore. Within the city, buses offer a cheap and popular means of transport. Auto-rickshaws are also available for intra-city commute. Tongas were popular in Mysore in the past decades, but this mode of transport has become rare due to the popularity of faster modes of transportation.
Newspaper publishing in Mysore started in 1859 when Bhashyam Bhashyacharya began publishing a weekly newspaper in Kannada, called the Mysooru Vrittanta Bodhini. This was followed by other weekly newspapers such as the Karnataka Prakashika (1865), the Mysore Gazette (1866) and the Vrittanta Patrike (1887). One of the well-known publishers in Mysore during the Wodeyar rule was M Venkatakrishnaiya, who is called the father of Kannada journalism. He started news magazines such as Sampadabhyudaya, Vidyaadaayini, the Mysore Patriot and Saadhvi. Currently, popular newspapers with Mysore editions include the English-written Times of India and Deccan Herald, and the Kannada-written Prajavani and Vijaya Karnataka. The Star of Mysore, Andolana and Mysooru Mithra and other local newspapers are also published in the city and these carry news mostly related to Mysore city and its surroundings. Sudharma, the only daily newspaper in the Sanskrit language, is also published from Mysore.
Mysore was the location of the first private radio broadcasting station in India when Akashavani (which literally means voice from the sky) was established in the city on September 10, 1935. The radio station was established by M.V. Gopalaswamy, a professor of psychology at his house in the Vontikoppal area of Mysore, using a 50-watt transmitter. The station was taken over by the princely state of Mysore in 1941 and was moved to Bangalore in 1955. In 1957, the name Akashvani was chosen as the official name of the All India Radio (AIR), the radio broadcaster of the Government of India. The AIR station at Mysore broadcasts an FM radio channel at 100.6 MHz, and Gyan Vani broadcasts on 105.2. BIG 92.7 became the first private FM channel to broadcast in Mysore when it started operations on November 1, 2007. S FM 93.5 also launched its radio station here in April 2008
Mysore city started receiving television broadcasts in the early 1980s when Doordarshan started beaming its national channel all over India. This was the only channel available for Mysoreans till Star TV started beaming satellite channels in 1991. Direct to Home channels are now available in Mysore.
The Wodeyar kings of Mysore were patrons of various games and sports. King Krishnaraja Wodeyar III had a passion for indoor games. He invented new board games and popularised the ganjifa card game. The sport of traditional wrestling has a history dating back to the 16th century in Mysore. This tradition still continues and the wrestling competition held in Mysore during the Dasara celebrations attracts wrestlers from all over India. An annual sports meet comprising of various events is also organised in Mysore during the Dasara season.
In 1997, the city along with Bangalore co-hosted its biggest sports event ever, the National Games of India. Mysore was the venue for six events: archery, gymnastics, equestrian events, handball, table tennis and wrestling. Cricket is by far the most popular sport in Mysore. The city has four established cricket grounds, but is yet to host an international cricket match. Javagal Srinath, who represented India for several years as its fast bowling spearhead, hails from Mysore. Other prominent sportsmen from the city include Prahlad Srinath, who has represented India in Davis Cup tennis tournaments; Reeth Abraham, who was an Indian national champion in the heptathlon and a long jump record holder; and Rahul Ganapathy, a national amateur golf champion.
The Jayachamaraja Wadiyar Golf Club, an 18-hole golf course, was established in 1906. This golf course is laid around the Mysore race course, which is popular for the Mysore racing season held each year from August through October. Mysore is the birthplace of the youth hostel movement in India, with the first youth hostel formed in the Maharaja's College Hostel in 1949.
Mysore is a tourism hot spot within the state of Karnataka and also acts as a base for other tourist places in the vicinity of the city. The city receives the maximum number of tourists during the period of the Dasara festival when festivities take place for a period of 10 days. One of the most visited monuments in India, the Ambavilas Palace (also known as Mysore Palace) is the center of the Dasara festivities.
The Jaganmohana Palace, the Jayalakshmi Vilas and the Lalitha Mahal are some of the other palaces in the city. Chamundeshwari Temple, atop the Chamundi Hills and St. Philomena's Church are popular religious places in Mysore.
The Mysore Zoo, established in 1892, and the Karanji and Kukkarahalli lakes are also popular spots for tourists. Museums in Mysore include the Regional Museum of Natural History, the Folk Lore Museum, the Railway Museum and the Oriental Research Institute. The city is also a centre for yoga-related health tourism that attracts lot of foreign visitors as well.
A short distance from Mysore city is the Krishnarajasagar Dam and the adjoining Brindavan Gardens where a musical fountain show is held in the evening. Places of historic importance lying close to Mysore are Srirangapatna, Somanathapura and Talakad. The hills, B R Hills and Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta and the hill stations of Ooty and Madikeri are all near Mysore. Popular destinations for wildlife enthusiasts near Mysore include the National Parks at Bandipur and Nagarhole, the wildlife sanctuaries at Melkote and B R Hills and the bird sanctuaries at Ranganathittu and Kokrebellur. Other tourist spots near Mysore include the religious locations of Nanjanagud and Bylakuppe and the waterfalls at Shivanasamudra.