Mysore is a stunning city in the southern part of India filled with beautiful temples, parks and palaces. One of the cleanest and most well-planned cities in the entire country, Mysore is also considered the cultural capital of the state of Karnataka. The recorded history of Mysore is over a thousand years old, and its mythological heritage is even older and bears some impressive feats: Legend has it that it was here amidst the Chamundi Hills that the Goddess Chamundi killed the demon Mahishasura.
These days, Mysore is marked by a considerable amount of contemporary growth. Malls, IT firms, stylish apartment complexes — the 21st century is certainly adding to the Mysore’s landscape, but at its core, it is still a peaceful and grand city, and even with all the growth and development seen in recent years, it remains nestled amidst diverse and verdant flora and fauna. In particular, a notable array of birds and butterflies has seen Mysore through its days from demon battleground to bustling metropolis.
Regardless of whether or not you’re a bird lover, the avifauna of the Mysore area is fascinating. Over 180 species are present year-round, and the list of migratory birds that wander in and out with consistent frequency is almost 90. There are 37 important bird sites in all of Karnataka, and 12 of them are in and around Mysore.
Some of the species that can be observed are remarkably distinct from one another. Some are communal nesters, while some are quite solitary in their behaviour. Some enjoy the tops of trees, while others spend most of their time in and around water. All of their calls are unique, and a day spent in one of the primary bird watching areas, like Karanji Lake or Arabithittu Wildlife Sanctuary, will not only yield plenty of varied sightings, but you will hear a wide and melodious variety of songs, as well. Some of the birds to keep an eye out for the next time you stay in Mysore are:
- Indian Spotted Eagle. The Indian Spotted Eagle is a large predatory bird, roughly 65 centimetres in size, whose numbers are in decline due to habitat loss.
- Painted Spurfowl. A beautiful bird that is a member of the pheasant family, the Painted Spurfowl has beautiful markings and spots and showcases a rich variety of colours that range from cream and chestnut to blue and rust.
- Yellow-Legged Button Quail. A small ground bird with rich brown feathers, the Yellow-legged Button Quail can be tricky to spot as they keep quiet and still in the undergrowth.
- Spot-billed Pelican. This large water bird has called the Mysore region home for at least four to five centuries.
Butterflies are some of the most delightful creatures to spy in all of nature, and the ones that frequent the parks, gardens and landscape of Mysore are no exception. Colourful, playful, industrious and bearers of one of the most impressive transformations in the entire world — that of the caterpillar that becomes a chrysalis that becomes a butterfly — butterflies are pollinators, which makes them important to maintaining plant life, health and diversity. When an area is thick with butterflies, it means fertility and health are present in its flowering plants.
- Chocolate Albatross. The Chocolate Albatross is a mostly yellow-winged butterfly with deep brown at the edges of its wings. It also has some streaks of white.
- Common Banded Peacock. This butterfly is named after the stunning and majestic peacock. Deep and glittery emerald green, it has light blue and black defensive markings that look like eyes along its back to ward off potential predators.
- Plum Judy. A rusty and deep brown butterfly, when its wings are open, you can see the Plum Judy’s rich deep purple bands that colour the top of its wings.
- Blue Tiger. One of the most common butterflies in the region, the Blue Tiger is a deep brown with light blue spots.
The wide range and number of flowering plants in Mysore is the dominant reason there is such a wealth of butterfly diversity in Mysore. Over 1600 different species of flowering plants are native to the Mysore area, and their flowers’ delectable nectar attracts a rich abundance of butterflies. The Indian sub-continent supports over 1500 butterfly species — roughly 9 percent of the world’s representative diversity — and the Mysore region can claim 137 of them. Some of the butterflies you can spot in and around Mysore include:
The next time you’re looking to take a holiday to Mysore, why not do so with your eye and ear trained upon its impressive array of birds and butterflies? No matter where you go in and around Mysore, keep a pair of binoculars and a watchful eye with you. The birds and butterflies of the place are abundant and common, and each one is worth observing and musing over.