Mysore: Old World Charm In A New Avataar

Quiet and unassuming – yet a delightful tourist attraction – Mysore is growing in ways probably unforeseen. Radha Prathi finds out what the residents of Mysore think of the real estate reverberations of the State capital, spilling over to their domain for respite from the exodus
If one were to fly fairly low over Mysore, the cultural capital of Karnataka, one cannot miss the fact that the city lies at the foothills of a low chain of hills now known as the Chamundi hills. Mysore has a very hoary and fascinating past rooted in mythology. It is believed that a bison-demon king called Mahishasura ruled over this territory during primeval times, which was then known as ‘Mahishasurana ooru’. His demonic ways troubled his people no end till such time when they were redeemed from his evil clutches by goddess Chamundeshwari who killed him in a fierce battle. The local populace commemorated this victory by building a temple for the goddess on one of the hills, which has an uncanny resemblance to a sulking Mahishasura! They also commenced the practice of celebrating the ten day-Dussehra festival in honour of the goddess, which continues till date! ‘Mahishaurana ooru’ gradually lapsed into ‘Mahishooru’ and later on became ‘Mysooru’, the anglicised form of which, has come to be known as Mysore as it is globally known today.

Royal history
If you are wondering what this little legend has got to do with the property scene in Mysore, it will not be difficult to see that the world of history, commerce, trade and the social structure, alongside other aspects of the city, revolves around this ancient temple premises. Right through the history of Mysore, the land has been divided judiciously for public and private utility. Mysore is a ‘hot’ (pun unintended) tourist spot with lots and lots of places to see, which apparently, is land owned by the government. This scenario leaves very little land which can be owned individually by the public, in comparison to most other cities that fall into the same bracket in terms of economy and development.

The proud individual house owners of Mysore took pride in the spacious single homes they lived in with spacious gardens and backyards with all the modern amenities of electricity, running water, and a good sanitation system. Kuvempu Nagar, Gokulam, Siddharthanagar, Saraswathipuram Srinagara, Agrahara, etc, were the happening places with the right mixture of residential and commercial areas right until the late nineties.
The boom in the IT sector in the state capital Bangalore had its ripple effect on the neighbouring towns and cities. Immigrants to the city found that they had to jostle their way through the madding crowds to find some personal space for themselves where they could rest their tired legs. When Bangalore proved to be a little too congested and way too pricey for the likes of some, people who went in search of greener pastures, found Mysore to be the haven they were looking out for.

Moving with the times
The sudden demand for land in the city inspired many house owners in the old localities to sell their property to realtors and builders at very high prices, who, in turn, proposed to build flats and malls in the existing place. Sri Raghavendra Rao, an octogenarian, sold his grandfather’s property in the Agrahara because his son has shifted to Philadelphia and has no plans of coming back to Mysore. Jayalakshmi, a sixty year old widow, sold her ancestral home for a handsome price, to take care of her escalating medical bills. Lakshminarayans sold their home to buy a new home in the outskirts of Mysore because they feel like strangers in the growing concrete jungle of Mysore where familiar faces are vanishing steadily. Most. Ashok Kumar, a police inspector, remarked that cool bars, juice bars and coffee day outlets have mushroomed in residential areas, making the place lose its sense of calm and privacy, and look like any other city.

Though native Mysoreans do not quite approve of the changing property scene, they also unanimously agree that their properties have never been valued so highly in the past. They cannot think of living in a flat after having spent a lifetime in a private space of their own. Most native Mysoreans are buying land in the fringes of the city and are endeavouring to put back the charm of old Mysore into the new area.

Full marks all the way
When the opinions of most new house owners in the city were taken into consideration, they opined that Mysore gave them the best of both the worlds because it not only exuded the old-world charm but also housed all the aspects of a globalised city in one shot. They do not seem to mind the apartment culture for they have never experienced the joy of original Mysore. What matters to them is the price and the amenities, both of which have received full marks from the immigrants.

Shridharachar, a senior advocate, remarked that the demand for land in Mysore and its suburbs can be gauged as acres of agricultural land in the neighbouring areas like T Narsipur, Bennur and Nanjangud, that are being sold everyday for the purpose of industries and educational institutions.

All said and done, while property sale in Mysore is going on in full swing, change is imperative and perhaps the call of the day — but if Mysoreans remember the wise words of Victor Hugo, the French poet who said, “Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots” — perhaps Mysore will bounce back with a fresh veneer.

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