Hi there, I’m Loveleen and I’m a die hard Mysore fan. I first arrived here in June of 2009 from Dubai, knowing nothing about Mysore, Mysore style yoga or Ashtanga yoga for that matter. All I knew is that I wanted to do a teacher training course in Yoga, and as fate would have it, I was blessed to have been introduced to this magical place called Mysore ! Since then, it is my 5th trip and hopefully not the last. Here are a few suggestions or tips for first time travelers to Gokulam, I hope that it is helpful. Om shanti.
Mysore is the 3rd largest city in Karnataka, South of India. It is located at 770 m above sea level and is 140 km from Bangalore, the state capital. Mysore city is also known as the ‘City of Palaces’ and the ‘Ivory City’. Legend has it that Mysore was ruled by the demon-king Mahishasura, he was a buffalo-headed monster. Hence, came the name of this place – Mahishuru, the city of demon Mahisha. The demon was killed by the Goddess Chamundeshwari, whose temple is situated atop the Chamundi Hills. Mahishuru later became Mahisuru and finally came to be called Maisuru, its present name in the Kannada language. The anglicized form of the name is Mysore.
The weather is lovely almost throughout the year and surrounded by greenery.
How to get there
The nearest International airport is Bangalore/Bengaluru airport (BLR) after which you need to take a 3 – 4 hr bus / car drive to Gokulam. The most hassle-free and safe experience is booking a airport pick up from Gokulam, like most yoga students do. It costs between 2300 – 2600 rupees per car and this can be paid once you reach your destination. The most reliable and frequently used cars are from the gentlemen below
Ravi Kiran (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The other way is to take a shuttle bus from the airport to transfer at Bangalore bus stand to transfer at mysore bus stand and finally transfer into an auto rickshaw to Gokulam. I’ve done that on 2 occasions before and realised that it’s definitely not worth the trouble, especially if you have luggage.
Where to stay?
The beauty of Gokulam is that it is an affluent neighborhood with spacious and lovely villas/ bungalows, most of these are rented out to yoga students.
If you are traveling for the 1st time and during low season ( not between Oct – march), it is best to stay a couple of days at a bed and breakfast place like
Anokhi Garden email@example.com Advance booking is essential as this place fills up very fast.www.anokhigarden.com
Urban Oasis hotel apartments until you find a place that’s suitable for you. They also do special rates for long term students, however it is very expensive by Indian standards and a bit far from Gokulam.
Or simply get on The Ashtanga Community in Mysore Group on Facebook ( this is a closed group, hence a request to join is essential) and post your dates here, within a day you will receive many leads directly from the house owners with pictures and details. This community is very helpful and proactive to help to ease any doubts that you may have.
Try and find a place that is walkable to the school, especially if one is doing the TTC, since you will have to go back and forth between classes.
Where to eat
Some of the popular places to get a quick bite :
Tina’s cafe – Delicious food with a airy ambiance and friendly owners. They are open for lunch and dinner, closed on Sunday. Inexpensive and quick
Anu’s Bamboo Hut – Very popular for her legendary smoothies in the evenings and their buffet lunches. # 367 2nd Main Road, Gokulam.
Santhosha Cafe – Western breakfast menu, they bake their own bread. Bottomless chai, homemade hummus and peanut butter ,wi fi, a great place to hang out – need I say more ! They are located in front of the Lions School gate on 2nd main. Timings are 7 am – 12 pm. Closed on Saturdays.
Anokhi Garden – Western breakfast and lunch, delicious food. # 408 Contour Road, Gokulam – near the Piles and Proctology Hospital.
For those who crave indian food these are the following recommendations :
Shri Durga Bhavan – very cheap and quick meals, great dosas ! Gokulam main road, between Nilgiri’s supermarket and Prashanth photo studio. This popular place recently extended their establishment and now have many seats. Very efficient service
Vishnu Bhavan : Open All days for breakfast ,lunch and dinner. Big menu. very cheap food, indian desserts. Contour road very close to the coconut stand.
Greenleaf , Nalpak, Authana, The 6th main :
The restaurants above are a bit far ( 1 – 1.5km )They almost serve the same kind of food and are very popular with the local people.
The south/ north Indian THALI or commonly known as MEALS ( a circular plate with an assortment of curries,lentils,vegetables, rice,roti, yoghurt and pappadum served in tiny bowls – a complete meal !)
If you’re tired of hunting for new places to eat or not too happy with the meals at the restaurant, there are options of home cooked meal delivery as well ( commonly known as tiffin service). Below are some contacts :
Ratna delivers food to your door. She has been feeding yogis in Mysore for a long time. She has salads, soups, vegetable dishes, ragi dosas and other things and can customize to your need. You need to call her one day in advance. Phone: 974 101 9649.
Shaila +91 821 2513265 Lunch Thali, book in advance.
Where to shop
- Easy Day Supermarket : Its about 2 km from Gokulam and is located in Habitat Mall. You pretty much find a wide variety of foodstuff, utensils, bed linen, alcohol, clothes, toiletries, appliances.
- Loyal World : Slighty smaller supermarket located on temple road.
- Big Bazaar : A big supermarket and is the farthest from Gokulam.
- More : Just outside Nalpak, this is a tiny grocery store on gokulam main road, just keep walking straight up the road.
Fruits and Vegetables
There are plenty of fruit and vegetable vendors on gokulam main road. Tropical fruits such as papaya (20 – 30 rs/ kg) and mango are so cheap compared to the west and must be taken full advantage of whilst here. Avocadoes are known as butterfruit here and are available at the Gokul fruit stand at Doctors corner. You will find vegetable vendors on portable carts and cycles shouting ” Sop- pay, sop-pay ” (meaning vegetables) in the morning
Guru and Sons Coconut Stand is the very famous coconut vendors at the crossroad of Gokulam main road and Contour road. Every student in Gokulam has coconut water and a chat with the always smiling Prasad and Jeevan, Mr Guru’s sons. You can also rent a scooter from them for the duration of your stay.
Hasiru is a small organic fruit and vegetable shop very close to easy day : They have organic grains (rice, wheat,ragi/ millet,) jaggery, honey, coffee, tea, eggs, extra virgin coconut oil, castor oil besides fruits and vegetables at suprisingly great prices.
Dhatu is another organic store that carries all kinds of organic fresh produce as well as packaged foodstuff, cotton clothing. linens, curtains and towels and also have an organic restaurant called Rasa- Dhatu. It is located at Adipampa Road and 10th cross road, jailakshmipuram.
It is better to use bottled water during your stay in India as far as you can, to avoid getting sick. The most popular and trusted and sealed brand of bottled water is Bisleri and they do 20 litres, 5 litres, 1litre bottles. The best thing is to ensure u have plenty of water is to opt for the 20 litres water bottle. The set up is a refundable deposit of between 150rs – 250 rs + 50 rs nonrefundable for the stand and spout. The water costs a mere 80 rs with delivery charges. The 5 litre bottle is 55 rs ( 20 refundable for the bottle and 35 rs water ) They are available everywhere. There are many brands of water, some not even purified as per government standards, hence it is a good idea to stick to the aqua green bottle called Bisleri !
Medication ( both prescription or over the counter) are readily available at the pharmacy, no prescription necessary ! It is handy to have some kind of medication for diarrhoea handy. Also as a precaution, a must buy is Electral sachets, an electrolyte solution to treat and prevent dehydration due to diarrhoea and traveller’s gastroenteritis in adults and children, and would be very useful in calming a Delhi Belly !
Odomos is a popular Indian mosquito repellant that comes in a spray form, mild in fragrance, contains DEET and is very effective, you will definitely need it during the monsoon season. Available in every pharmacy and costs a mere Rs 55.
Most of the houses come with installed mosquito nets for the windows and liquid mosquito vaporisers that plug into the wall. If your room doesn’t come with this, it is a good idea to buy either the refill pack or the vaporiser. The popular brands are Goodnight, All out, Mortein. Refills costs between 45 – 60 rs and the plug about 100 rs. This small investment can save you many sleepless nights and possibly Dengue fever, so be wise !
Ayurvedalaya is an ayurvedic shop thats sells all kinds of ayurvedic and herbal medicines and potions. They also have an Ayurvedic Doctor 10.30 am – 1.30 pm that does pulse diagnosis, imbalances such as the three Doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) can be diagnosed just by reading your radial pulse.
Murugan chemists on Gokulam main road sells plastic neti pots ( Rs 35 ) and sutra neti / rubber catether ( Rs 15) I’ve always bought a couple of dozens of neti pots to take back home with me.
Dentist – Dr Judith Pereira is just down the road to Anu’s Bamboo hut on 2nd main road if you have a dental emergency and is highly recommended by yoga students.
Clothes and Accessories
Fabindia : Although the Mysore branch is not as big as the ones in the big cities, it still has a sizeable collection of fashionable ethnic wear for men and women, bed linen, upholstery, personal care products and organic foodstuff. Fabindia links over 80,000 craft based rural producers to modern urban markets, thereby creating a base for skilled, sustainable rural employment, and preserving India’s traditional handicrafts in the process.
Rashinkar Silks is just in front of Lions school playground. They carry Mysore mats, yoga books, pashminas, stoles, kurtas, fisherman pants, harem pants, silk yoga bags etc
Vastra is up the Shala road. They carry a collection of tops and skirts, and are famous for yoga bags that may be customised with heavy embroidery as well. The door is usually closed, don’t let that fool you, please go ahead and ring the door bell !
Jyothi is also in the same lane carrying similar products
Silver Nest has a fabulous collection of pure silver jewellery such as necklaces, bracelets , customized pendants, anklets, earrings etc. # 279 same street as the shala road.
Devraj Urs Road : If you need to buy regular clothes or active wear you will have to take the rickshaw to Devraj Urs road, the entire street has clothes shops including Reebok
The famous Mysore rug can be bought from Rashinkar silks or Honesty shop on Gokulam main road. You just can’t leave Mysore without buying one. The darker colors tend to bleed out, hence try and choose a more neutral palette for the main color. It costs between 270 – 350 rupees depending on the quality.
The Ramakrishna Ashram and book store has a big collection of books, charts, CD’s posters on yoga and philosophy. They also have a meditation hall that is open to all. A very serene and peaceful place.
Habitat Mall ( same as Easy day ) has a big bookstore and some seating.
Prashanth Circulating Library is a quaint shop right next to the chocolate man, that has a nice collection of books and rental dvd at very nominal rental prices. Mr Vithal, also sells phone credit, sim cards and internet dongles. His no. is 9986214933
FLIPKART is India’s answer to amazon. Be it books, electronics, clothes, appliances, you name it and they will deliver. I have always ordered my books from this website and have never had the chance to complain. They have the option of cash on delivery which makes it very convenient for most people who are not comfortable using their credit card. You can track the shipment and also receive texts to let you know the whereabouts of your package. Don’t hesitate to order from this site as it is a legit company and is very popular in the big cities.
How to get around
Hire a Scooter : I know this must be very daunting to ride through the crazy traffic here. But if you have rode a scooter in other parts of Asia like Thailand or Indonesia, its pretty much the same thing except at a lower speed. You may post a query about scooter or bike rental on the Ashtanga community on FB or just ask Prasad from the Coconut stand.
- Rule no 1 is to drive on the left side of the street.
- Make sure the left and right indicators work besides other parts like the brake !!
- Look at the side view mirrors most of the time to be cautious, although the locals don’t practice that enough
- Don’t be afraid to HONK, you will soon realise that everyone does, incessantly !
- Carry your helmet and licence – just in case you are pulled over by a traffic cop on a main road.
What to do on weekends
Mysore Palace After the old palace was partially destroyed by fire in 1897, the new Mysore Palace was built of granite on the old foundation. The palace has a gilded dome tower and is surrounded by a large courtyard. The architecture inside the palace is amazing! Stained glass, intricately decorated domes, murals, beautiful doors, carved figures and friezes are only of few of the captivating details. One of the most prized possessions of the palace is the royal throne made of figwood, ivory, gold & silver that is only displayed during the Dasara celebration.
Every Sunday night between 7 – 8 pm and during the 10-day Dussera festival in October, Mysore Palace is lit up with thousands of white lights. Dussera festival also has a procession of elephants and a few cultural programmes in the evenings.
The entry fee is different for foreigners and Indians, no shoes or cameras are allowed inside.
Chamundi Hill The hill takes its name from the goddess Chamundeshwari. It was the family deity of the royal family. This temple was renovated and the beautiful tall tower was built during the time of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III in 1827.
Chamundi’s main hill features a long stone stairway leading to the top of the hill. There are 1,008 steps in all, with the first 600 steps being steeper than those higher up. En route to the top, the steps pass the large statue of Nandi, the bull; the statue is about 16 feet high and 25 feet in length. Nandi is the vehicle of Lord Shiva.
You can take a bus from the coconut stand to the city bus stand then transfer to another bus that takes you to the top of Chamundi Hill. Be sure to walk down the steps until the Nandi catching scenic glimpses on the way down. You can take another bus from the Nandi to the city bus stand.
Alternatively, you could hire a rickshaw all the way to the top and back. Take the steps to reach Nandi and ask the driver to pick you up from there,don’t miss the steps and boulders. Come to an agreement over the fare beforehand. It is approximately 200 rupees one way.
Kukkurahalli Kere or lake is located in Mysore University campus and about 6 – 7 kms away from Gokulam. This lake is home to more than 180 species of birds, some of them aquatic. During the migratory season the lake plays host to a variety of winged visitors, some from as far as Siberia. This lake is frequented by local fitness enthusiasts. The lake timings are 0600 am – 09.00 am and 04.00 pm – 07.00 pm
Karanji Lake is a picturesque lake located at the footsteps of Chamundi Hills and behind Mysore Zoo. Karanji means ‘fountain’ in Kannada. Spread over an area of 90 acres, it is regarded as one of the biggest lakes in Karnataka. Karanji Lake is home to more than 90 species of resident and migratory birds. It also supports several species of butterflies, small mammals and is a good example of wetland ecosystem. The lake attracts painted storks, pelicans and darters and a host of other winged beauties.
The most special reason to go and visit this place is to spend time in their walk through aviary. They have a large amount of peacocks and partridges, also the most rare, white peacock. There is no pressure of limited timings, hence one can just sit and observe and if you are lucky you might just see the breathtakingly beautiful dance of the peacock, a pincha mayurasana !
Karanji also has boating facilities for 25 rupees per person and a butterfly park. If you are afraid of monkeys avoid the butterfly park. Another must see, is the observation tower, don’t miss it, you can get a panoramic view of the entire lake with its rich topography. If you own Binoculars, this will take your experience to a whole new level.
Timings are 08.30 am – 05.30 pm
Except on Tuesday
Bylakuppe is a lesser known Tibetan town in India, situated 90 kilometers from Mysore. The most famous monastery in the region is Namdroling, located in camp 4 of the settlement. It can be reached by public bus that goes towards Kushalnagar / Madikeri. The bus can be taken from B.M Hospital bus stop. alternatively you can if you have a group of 3 – 4 people you may arrange for a tour from Needs travels Mr Murthy (9880265622), they add a couple of other places to this trip as well
Shravanabelagola The 57-feet tall monolithic statue of Gommateshvara is located on Vindyagiri Hill. It is considered to be the world’s largest monolithic stone statue. Be prepared to walk up and down 647 steps barefeet. If you have other places on your list make this stop the first one and carry socks if you are uncomfortable walking without shoes. The view is spectacular.
The stunning temples above were built by the Hoysala Dynasty over many generations. A must see on your list. It is best to hire a private car and see these temples. About 3 temples per trip, it works out to about 700 rupees or so shared between 5 people. Carry a water bottle as the journey is about 3 hrs away.
Swastha Kerala Ayurveda Panchakarma Centre is located on the shala road. The massages are excellent. I’ve tried several Abhyanga / synchronised massages here and wish could get them every other day. Be prepared to be slathered in copious amounts of oil for 1hr and 30 mins with 4 strong hands massaging you followed by a brief sit in a steam box. One needs to take an appointment ahead of time as it fills up fast. Timings are 0630 am – 730 pm except tues 0630 am – 1200 pm. Dr. Subheesh +91 99 72 988737
Dixit Health Clinic & Research Center * Dr. Kumar No. 88, 8th Main, 9th Cross, Kamakshi Hospital Road .Ph: 0821 424 4620/254 3619
Anu’s Bamboo hut : 367, 2nd Main, 3rd Stage
In addition to serving delicious home-cooked meals to the majority of the student population in Gokulam, Anu also teaches cooking classes in her home and includes printed recipes.
Shaila’s Cooking classes : +91 821 2513265 located at Doctors corner. Booking is essential. Shaila also has a spacious room to rent on the 2nd floor of her house with a terrace. She also prepares lunch for students.
Ranjini Koushik 9480383641
Mysore traditional painting class :
Mysore traditional painting class :
M.S Anand 9448246694.
Operation Shanti www.operation-shanti.org
Do’s and don’ts for TTC
- Do Conserve your energy : don’t waste your time arguing, indulging in useless banter or gossiping. During the week just focus to give your 100% to the course. Even if its not the topics you particularly like – chanting, singing or meditation or waking up in the dead hours of the morning.
- Do Rest : Get a good 5-6 hours of sleep at night in addition at least 1 power nap during your break. It makes a world of a difference to your practice.
- Do Write : Try and document everything in class – make little notes on sequences, anatomy etc
- Do Stay energised and hydrated : Buy raw dry fruits like almonds, raisins, figs, walnuts to snack on in between classes. Try and drink fresh coconut water after every practice to replenish fluids.
- Do Eat nutritious food : Don’t get carried away with all Indian food, some can be very heavy to digest and will affect your practice and mind the next day. Try and stick to something simple that works for you. Eat light at dinner time since your wake up would be before 5 am the next day.
- Don’t go on a juice fast / feast or a regular fast during your TTC as this will affect your energy and mental clarity.This is not the time for it. By all means choose to be on any of the above after the TTC is over.
- The TTC is very hectic demanding all of your time and energy, one must be prepared to accept this. It is by no means a yoga retreat or just practice of asanas. All that asana practice, chanting and pranyama somehow starts opening up a lot of blockages in ones body. This internal garbage starts to pour out, sometimes in form of tears or sudden outbursts of hysteria, just understand, that this is normal, and find a way to deal with it without disturbing the energy of the class. Once you’ve cried it all out or screamed into your pillow, the next day you will be a new, lighter, friendlier you !
- Do Try and stay at least 2 weeks extra for a morning and evening practice,besides the 4 weeks of ttc. It will help you catch up with the difficulties you may have had during ttc and work on them in a relaxed manner.
Do’s and Don’ts for Gokulam
- Do dress modestly. If you are a foreigner you will get more attention no matter what you wear, but it still is a good idea to cover your knees and shoulders. You may wear your choice of active wear in the classroom, but outside the classroom wear a pashmina or shawl to cover up.
- Do be prepared to walk bare feet in certain places like temples, historic monuments or even people’s homes. Carry a pair of socks at all times if you are uncomfortable with this.
- Do resist public displays of affection like hugging and kissing.
- Don’t carry large amounts of cash or your credit cards with you. The best thing to carry is a small pouch that fits your coins and a wad of Indian money instead of your expensive wallet with your plastic cash and important documents.
- Do talk to the local vendors and restaurant staff, besides getting great service you may also get to know important contacts and events in the area.
What to carry
- Flip flops that you are prepared to leave behind
- Eye shades and earplugs – you will soon realise why
- Your own set of pillow covers and possibly sheets
- Round pin adapter – these are readily available here too
- Spare phone
- Photocopy of your passport, visa page and spare passport size photographs – your yoga school, landlord and local sim card will require these documents
- Dry fruits : If you do have good quality dry fruits in your country, it is better to carry some here. India doesn’t have strict quarantine restrictions so go ahead and fill up your suitcase.
- USB stick
- LED Rechargeable Flashlight due to frequent power-cuts.