Mysore, the City of Palaces and great architectural heritage, also abounds with numerous items unique to the city. Be it artifacts and toys, or food items, the keen visitor can get their hands on a variety of products sold in the bountiful markets of Mysore. Most of these are cultural arts and crafts, Mysore food, and textile.
Below is a list of the most famous items that owe their origin in Mysore:
1. Mysore Pak
The delicious dish is a haven for those with a sweet tooth. Mysore Pak originated years ago in the kitchen of king Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV. Royal chef Kakasura Madappa was bestowed with the responsibility of cooking a sweet that would enrich the name of the city’s culinary culture. Made of flour, butter, and sugar, the sweet remains popular even today and intrigues every tourist. Mysore Pak is every bit of a sinful indulgence without relishing which, you wouldn’t be doing justice to on your trip to Mysore. With every bite that leaves you wanting for more, make sure you get a little packed to take back home.
Where to Purchase: Guru Sweet Mart, Sayyaji Rao Road. Some other stores like Indra Sweets, Annex Bombay Tiffanys, and Mahalaxmi Sweets have their special variants of Mysore Pak. Timings: 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM
2. Sandalwood Products
The musky aroma of sandalwood allures hundreds of consumers to Mysore’s wide collection of sandalwood products. The historical roots of the city’s connection with sandalwood are grounded during the reign of the Wodeyar kingdom. In 1916, King Krishnaraja Wodeyar and Diwan Sir M. Visvesvaraya established the Government Sandalwood Oil Factory. Their objective was to make efficient utilization of resources and ensure the production of the finest form of sandalwood oil. The factory is located at a distance of 2 kilometres from the royal palace. It offers guided tours of the production process of sandalwood oil to visitors and tourists. If you are looking for the best quality products with assured authenticity, look out for the sandalwood incense sticks, soaps, powder, and oil that the factory sells.
Where to Purchase: The Government Sandalwood Oil Factory, Kuvempu Nagar. Timings: 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM and 14:00 PM – 16:00 PM. (Closed on Sundays.)
9. Silk Sarees
The textile industries of Mysore practice excellent and efficient methods to rear their silkworms and produce quality silk. Though the history of silk sarees in Mysore dates back to the time when Tipu Sultan used to reign, it was only in the 20th century when the royalty of Mysore took conscious efforts to boost saree shops in Mysore. It also helped that the area around Mysore, or parts that belonged to the former Mysore kingdom were ideal for the growth of mulberry, the main feeding ingredient for silk worms which led to the growth of the industry. No wonder it has a thriving silk industry that attracts shopping enthusiasts. The silk sarees of Mysore exhibit a gorgeous outlook with their golden Zari-thread embroideries.
Where to Purchase: KSIC Mysore Silk Showroom. Timings: 10:30 AM
Mysore boasts of an intricate network of wholesale dealers and retailers who bring in fine, quality coffee to the market. The city’s proximity to Coorg, the nation’s best coffee producer, and other places like Sakleshpur and Chikmagalur, ensures fine quality coffee. Opt for varieties with low chicory content as they are bound to be less bitter. Coffee powder has to be stored in air tight containers so as to not lose its flavour and aroma, though refrigeration is not advised.
Where to Purchase: Coffee stores in and around Gandhi Square and Devaraja Market Timings: 8:00 AM – 14:00 PM
4. Wooden Toys (Channapatna Toys)
The skill of toy making in the Channapatna districts of Mysore owes to the rule of Tipu Sultan. At this time, Persian artists offered lessons on the craftsmanship of wooden toys, which the local artists committed themselves to. Channapatna toys are colourful, with beautiful designs and vibrant looks. In the modern age, materials such as rubber, sandalwood, sycamore, teak, and pine are used to make toys. Movable figurines and showpieces are the most common in the toy shops of Channapatna. Distinctive as well as affordable, the toys are a cultural pride of the region.
Where to Purchase: Mysore Handicrafts Shop, Sayyaji Road. Timings: 10:00 AM
12.Mysore Ganjifa Cards
The Mysore ‘Chada’ Ganjifa is an ancient Indian card game that was popularized during the Mughal period. It was patronized by and played among the royals and the aristocrats. The cards are primarily circular and designed on sandalwood, ivory pieces, and handmade paper. The artists utilize the delicate squirrel hair paintbrushes to design the Ganjifa cards with natural dyes. Although mainstream popularity does not favor this traditional craft, Ganjifa cards are of historical significance to art enthusiasts and tourists alike. In recent years, adequate steps have been taken to revive the game.
Where to Purchase: Udupi district Timings: 11 a.m.
5. Khadi Cotton
Mysore offers fabric material and readymade clothes made of Khadi cotton. The classic hand-woven Khadi cloth is prevalent among the people and considered a treasured heritage. The cloth is dyed with organic colours and visitors can have customized ones stitched by tailors during their stay in the city.
Where to Purchase: The town of Melukote. Timings: 11:00 AM
6. Mysore Paintings
Mysore is a hoard house of traditional art and paintings that reflect the cultural history of the people. The practice originated in the 7th century BC cave paintings of Ajanta and Ellora. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the patronage of the Vijayanagar royalty amplified artistic endeavors. What makes it is distinguished is the gesso work, a kind of embossing that uses white lead and glue which is overlaid with gold foil. The artifacts depicting mythological tales and characters showcase immense details and fine craftsmanship.
Where to Purchase: Cauvery Arts and Crafts Emporium. Timings: 10:30 AM
7. Incense sticks
Karnataka is the agarbatti capital of the country and much of that hails from Mysore. Tourists love to collect incense sticks of lovely scents, like jasmine, sandalwood, rose, and lily. These fragrant sticks are traditionally used during religious ceremonies and worshipping rituals. They are made of a thin bamboo stick that is immersed in aromatic oils. The stick is then covered with a paste of spices and gum. When burnt, it emits its calming perfume.
Where to Purchase: KR Circle Timings: 10:00 AM
8. Rosewood Souvenirs
Various art and crafts always thrived in Mysore, especially under royal patronage. The artisans of Mysore are skilled in carving out gorgeous artefacts and showpieces from rosewood. Their figures have fine finishes, distinctive designs, and intricate patterns. The craftsman uses various techniques to produce a work of notable skill. It is such a distinct craft concentrated here that it has a GI tag. These termite-resistant souvenirs serve as wonderful memorabilia of your visit to Mysore.
Where to Purchase: Cauvery Arts and Crafts Emporium Timings: 10:30 AM
10. Stone Sculptures
An artistic pride of extraordinary dedication is the sculptures carved out of soapstone. The finished model is first rubbed with stone and metal paste to obtain a fine and shining finish. In Mysore, the stone is commonly known as Krishna Shila and is available in various colours. Pioneer artist K. Venkatappa was the painter and sculptor who began this practice with his splendid productions. His exemplary talent and patience have inspired many.
Where to Purchase: Mandi Mohalla, Ashoka Road. Timings: 11:00 AM
11. Betel Leaf
The betel leaves authentic to Mysore are commonly consumed as betel quid or ‘paan’, sometimes with tobacco. Paan is prepared by smearing slaked lime on the inside of the leaf, which is then folded to envelop the chopped betel nuts. The leaves have a unique quality of smooth texture and sharp taste. The cultivation of the leaves is protected by the Government of India and the farmers can brand their products under the name of Mysore.
Where to Purchase: Available in Devaraja Market.
13. Mysore jasmine
A walk around Devaraja Market, especially early in the morning or early afternoon, will inevitably reveal heaps of fragrant, dainty and snowy white jasmine. Slender white petals and a tiny light green stem distinguish it from other kinds of jasmine. It gets its name from the fact that it is grown in Mysore and the surrounding regions including Srirangapatna and Mandya. The flowers are favoured for religious purposes and dressing, but more so for their intense fragrance. The flowers are used to extract oil which is used mainly in the agarbatti and soap industry as well as in perfumes. It is believed that jasmine is one of the main ingredients in the famous Chanel No 5 by Coco Chanel.
While on a trip to a city of historical wealth, it is a must to collect some of the artistic and cultural jewels. Thus, shopping in Mysore is both enriching and exciting. It is an experience worth your valuable time