140km (87 miles) SW of Bengaluru; 473km (293 miles) N of Chennai; 1,177km (730 miles) SE of Mumbai

A city of palatial buildings and tree-lined boulevards, laid-back Mysore is possessed of a quaint charm, a dignified hangover from the days when it was the capital of a rich princely state, and remains a popular destination for travelers, particularly for its Maharajah's Palace. Built over a period of 15 years at the turn of the 20th century, at a cost then of over Rs 4 million, this astonishing Indo-Saracenic palace is testament to the affluence of one of India's greatest ruling dynasties. During the 10-day Dussehra Festival, held here during the first half of October, the entire city is dressed up in show-off style; each night Mysore Palace is lit up by 80,000 bulbs, and on the final evening of festivities, the maharajah, dressed in royal finery, leads one of the country's most spectacular processions on elephants through the city streets. Mysore is also an ideal base from which to explore the temples known as the "Jewel Boxes" of Hoysala architecture, which lie some 3 hours north, as well as the nearby Jain pilgrimage site at Sravanabelgola.