The ancient city of Mysore, or Mysuru, located in the south of India, is considered the cultural capital of the state of Karnataka, and it’s easy to understand why. One of the draws of the city is it’s World Heritage-listed palace, featuring beautiful granite domes and intricately decorated rooms and ceilings.
Overlooking the city you’ll find the Chamundi hills where it’s possible to gaze out and admire the city of Mysore from above, as well as visiting a bustling and beautiful temple. The city also boasts an atmospheric market area, where you’ll find the narrow streets lined with stalls selling anything from fruits and vegetables, to incense and spices.
Language and Culture
India’s population represents a diverse mix of religions, cultures and backgrounds. Just look at the amount of languages there are for a single country! Officially India has 22 languages, but a census in the 1960s revealed over 1,600 different dialects throughout the country. The official language in Mysore is Kannada.
India’s culture and social structure shapes every part of daily life. The caste system is an entrenched social order that affects every aspect of familial and social etiquette. The rich cultural history that forms and shapes the India of today is visible in every aspect of daily life. As a post colonial state, the English language can be quite widely spread with many people often taking the opportunity to use what they know to speak with international visitors. All the facilitators on the program, and members of the SLV.India team are fluent in English.
Mysore has a pleasant, moderate climate. The Summer season from April to June can hit highs of 33 ºC/92 ºF whilst the southwestern monsoon season from June to August can provide intense downpours and increased humidity of around 70-80%. Our best advice is to keep hydrated on the inside, by drinking plenty of water, and carry an umbrella with you outside to keep you dry in the sometimes torrential rain.
During our programme, the animals you will most likely come across are monkeys, dogs and cows that will explore India alongside you and although they look cute, it is best you give them a wide berth.
The monkeys are notorious pickpockets and can rummage through bags looking for food and may be tempted by your sunglasses or smartphone. The cows, though docile looking, can charge if they feel threatened, so please be careful! Finally, the adorable dogs look just like your furry friends at home, but most aren’t domesticated and can can cause accidental injury if you try and treat them like pets. All animal friends can also carry diseases, so despite their adorable appearance please avoid touching them. Rabies is still common in India and if you get bitten it will mean a long trip to the hospital for you.
Along with Islam and Christianity, the major recognised religions in India are Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism all of which are linked by a shared belief in Karma.
In Mysore, and the Karnataka state, Hinduism is the predominant religion, which is reflected in the numerous ornate temples peppering the city. Religion is a very serious and respected part of Indian society, it is worth bearing this in mind when travelling around, especially when visiting temples or places of religious significance. Please dress modestly, ensuring knees and shoulders are covered at all times.
With such a large number of religions, public holidays are also common in India. These can be incredibly exciting to be a part of but, as you might expect, can also affect transport and daily life. It’s all part and parcel of visiting a country that is so intertwined with religion and culture and where cultural importance trumps business and commercial activities every time.
India is a vast country that can take days of overnight travel to even scratch the surface.
If you plan on travelling on after your programme we strongly advise travelling in groups with other volunteers and to always make sure you research the area well and the accommodation you choose. Using a resource such as Trip Advisor is a great way to read up-to-date travel advice and get a range of reviews and other travellers’ impressions.