• Mysore Art

Mysore Art & Meeting the local Artisans

I’ve had a few IG comments asking if traveling with goMowgli was worth it and this is a prime example of why it was. Looking back on my trip, seeing how Mysore art was made and meeting all these artisans was one of my favorite parts. From watching sculptors use their imagination only to break down giant square blocks into intricate sculptures of Hindu gods, to watching the traditional wood work being made, and seeing incense rolled and flowers streamed in the markets, to watching silk and khadi cotton being spun- these are things in two years in India I’ve never seen and probably most people who even live in Mysore haven’t seen.

Update: goMowgli was a great tour company but sadly, five years after writing this they are no longer in business. Below, I have addresses for most places we visited but if you want a tour, you can check out this one on Viator. For more textile and craft tours in India, this post sums up some of my favorites.

Inlay & Marquetry

The Inlay and Marquetry workers  were fabulous. We went down a small dusty road and peaked into this factory (although with only 10 people working by hand, is it a factory?) It’s called Sri Geetha Fine Arts.

Location: #1368 Mission Hospital Road Cross, M K Street, Near Hotel Prakash, Mandi Mohalla.

Mysore Art Inlay and Marquetry

Mysore Art Inlay and MarquetryYou had men who were starting with the raw wood prepping and bending it, women cutting out the shapes with hand saw- string things, and more people getting it all put together. When you tour royal places in Mysore this is the type of wood you’ll see. They make tables, statues, and even hanging wall art. The white bits used to be ivory but now they use plastic. Many families in Mysore own the antique ivory ones. Each piece of art tells a story, like this one which tells of Dashara. It’ll take three months to make a table piece.

mysore art inlay and Marquetry

mysore art inlay and Marquetry

mysore art inlay and MarquetryWhen they apply shades of veneer to make patterns it’s called Marquetry, and when they put colored material in the base of the wood it’s inlay. I loved when they had the wood inside wood like you see here- almost like a puzzle.. or painting with wood if that makes sense.

mysore art inlay and Marquetry

mysore art inlay and Marquetry

Mysore Sculptors

The sculptors were equally fabulous to watch. One guy was starting from scratch while others were sanding the knees of their finished Gods. This particular shop has sold to the Royal Palaces for generations and will even show you how it’s done, after all there’s no way you’d even be their competition, they are magicians! I can’t recall the name of this place, but it was in Mandi Mohalla area.

mysore art sculptors

mysore art sculptors

mysore art sculptors

mysore art sculptors

mysore art sculptors

mysore art sculptors

How to Make Incense

I had never known how incense was made. Sandalwood is only grown in Karnataka and the government has full control over it. This guy’s family business is in oil & incense, with a specialty of sandalwood incense. You can’t visit Mysore without trying something sandalwood whether it’s soap or oil! Water was added to make this into a ball of dough-like substance then it was rolled onto sticks and dried. After 20 minutes, it’s ready.

mysore art incense making

mysore art incense making

mysore art incense making

mysore art incense making

Flower Market in Mysore

The flower market was bustling and I loved watching them string flowers. Some used needles, while other women wrapped the string around the flowers somehow to make the strands.

mysore art

Weaving Khaddi in Mysore

Karnataka is known for Khadi cotton, while Mysore (the old capital) is known for silk. You can get both all over the state. I saw silk being made in BR Hills by the Soliga Tribe and Khadi cotton being made in Melukote (read more on Melukote city), which was amazing and I bought a few colors to get dresses made in Goa. I enjoyed the khadi so much, I’ll be sharing how to buy it and get dresses made in Goa in a whole post of it’s own!

Soliga Tribe of BR Hills mysore silksilk weaving in BR hills

khaddi cotton in melukote shopping in mysoremaking khaddi cotton in Meukote 

I was on this tour in part with goMowgli, but all opinions are my own.


About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Hippie in Heels, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Hippie in Heels has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Michelle December 8, 2014 at 10:06 pm - Reply

    Fascinating! Labor intensive, too!

  2. Justine December 9, 2014 at 9:27 am - Reply

    I was just in Singapore’s Little India and one of my favorite parts of visiting any Little India is watching people string together garlands of fresh flowers. I’m always impressed by how much time and effort it takes to make them. I’ve also never thought about how incense is made. How interesting to get a glimpse into how labor intensive and detail-oriented all of these crafts are!

    • Rachel Jones December 9, 2014 at 3:08 pm - Reply

      I’d never thought about incense like that either, it was so fun! I want to try to make my own.

  3. Laura December 9, 2014 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    SO cool! That must have been amazing to see it all still being done by hand. I love seeing true craftspeople doing their thing. This would totally make the tour worth it for me.

  4. Tim | UrbanDuniya December 10, 2014 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    This was another one of my favourite places in India, and especially for the artisans. Travelling with the family, this was a great “low intensity” attraction to take my parents to!!

  5. Anda December 11, 2014 at 11:46 am - Reply

    Great artisans! I particularly liked the intricate design of that table. India is a fascinating country indeed.

    • Rachel Jones December 11, 2014 at 12:43 pm - Reply

      And the tables are soooo affordable for grown ups that need stuff for their houses – it’s what you’d pay for a basic one from a furniture store!

  6. Ratnakant May 29, 2016 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Well spotted. Very fluid review and quiet informative. There are many artisans are unknown. Their work takes lot of preserverance,aethetics and artistry. Thanks for bringing forward the hidden people

  7. […] is an amazing place to shop. I loved meeting the local artisans and watching them work in the back alleys. It’s known for “Mysore Silk” which is […]

  8. Sylvia April 8, 2019 at 7:30 pm - Reply

    Hi! I am close to Mysore and would love to visit Melukote. Which is the place you went to see the khadi weavers? Is the town worth a visit? Thank you!

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