Step into history at Payana Car Museum Mysore – India’s largest car museum

One fine morning, Navrathna Krishnakumar, a Mysore resident and a loyal Savaari car rental user, was on the lookout for new activities in her beloved city. Her friends suggested an outing with her daughter and their kids. While Mysore offers a plethora of attractions, Navrathna has explored them all—from the grandeur of Mysore Palace and the fun of GRS Fantasy Park to the wild wonders of Mysore Zoological Garden and the serenity of Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary.

In her quest for something fresh, Navrathna booked a local Savaari car rental in Mysore. The kids were buzzing with excitement, and her daughter kept reminding her to “make sure it’s a great location.” That’s when inspiration struck Navrathna. She knew exactly where to go and asked her chauffeur to take them to the Payana Vintage Car Museum. Navrathna was so thrilled with her choice that she decided to share her adventure, narrating why this hidden gem was the perfect outing and why it turned out to be the best decision ever.

Things to do near Payana Car Museum

From mechanics to masterpieces – Visiting Payana Car Museum Mysore

I’ve always been fascinated by cars. My uncle was a mechanic, so I spent a lot of time around his shop, surrounded by all kinds of vehicles. Then my brother went into mechanical engineering, specializing in high-end cars, which only fueled my passion further. Growing up in such an environment, my interest in cars deepened naturally. I tried to share this fascination with my daughter, but she never quite understood.

When my friends and their kids suggested we explore new places during the summer, I remembered reading about the newly opened Payana Car Museum Mysore in a magazine. While I have been to several museums in Bangalore, especially the Indian Music Experience which was exceptional, I was looking forward to exploring this museum. My expectations were modest; after visiting the Manjusha Vintage Car Museum in Dharmasthala, owned by Dr. D. Veerendra Heggade, the revered Dharmadhikari of Dharmasthala, I found their collection impressive but somewhat limited. Still, my curiosity about Payana Car Museum Mysore got the better of me. 

I decided to book a local car rental because I preferred the convenience of a chauffeur. It meant I didn’t have to worry about driving or parking, and we could comfortably visit several places within eight hours. As I breezed past the bustling Srirangapatna-Mysore Road just 12 km before Mysuru, an innovative façade of a pneumatic tyre loomed into view.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by an architecturally stunning tyre-shaped building. I couldn’t resist taking a bunch of pictures right away. The kids were immediately impressed, but what awaited us inside was even more captivating.

Preserving the past – Dr. D. Veerendra Heggade’s vision at Payana Museum

The landmark spread across 10 acres of land in Naguvinahalli in Srirangapatna taluk. Led by Dr. D. Veerendra Heggade, this museum celebrates automotive heritage with a stunning collection of vintage automobiles. I was told that from a young age, Dr. D. Veerendra Heggade was fascinated by the nitty-gritty of a car engine and the technical developments through the ages. It is his passion and love for cars and his concern to preserve vintage beauties from decay and save them for posterity that prompted him to start the museum collections.

Payana Car Museum Mysore

As we entered, a big sign greeted us, stating the museum’s timings: 9 AM to 8 PM every day. We paid a nominal entry fee of 50 rupees for adults, while the children with us, all under 7 years old, entered for free. The word ‘payana’ translates to ‘journey’ and the museum stands as a testament to the rich legacy of automobiles: it’s dedicated to ‘the art of preservation, an ode to the beauty of the past, and a bridge to the future of innovation.’ I stopped by to have a peek at the diverse ensemble of iconic vintage cars on display at the sprawling car museum. Automobile history unfolded before me as I strolled down the spacious galleries.

A grand display of vintage automobiles – Inside the museum

Inside the Payana Car Museum
Navrathna and her daughter

Our first stop was the first floor, and as soon as I stepped in, I was astounded by the sheer number of vintage cars! From the 1800s and early 1900s, there were old Fords, Chevys, General Motors, limousines, and more— all vintage and no longer in circulation. It felt like a journey back in time. It starts off with a Herald car that was used by Dr.Veerendra Heggade during his prime time along with a poster of his alongside the car. The Standard Herald, which made its debut in the Royal Albert Hall, London, in 1959, cost Rs 12,500 in 1962.

This was followed by the evolution of wheels and a display of the Internal combustion engine and its associated parts. The cars were impeccably maintained, and they looked absolutely stunning. From majestic chariots to iconic WWII jeeps, each vehicle tells a unique story of craftsmanship and innovation. The museum has a royal connection to the 1949 Daimler DE 36 gifted by HH Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar, IV, the Maharaja of Mysore. It was the company’s largest and most expensive car of its time with Rolls Royce Phantom its only competitor.

From Gandhi to cinema icons – Celebrity car exhibits at Payana Museum

I had the opportunity to glimpse the vehicles owned, used, and donated by celebrities. Among these exhibits is a 1929 Studebaker President, famously used by Gandhi during his visits to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Another notable car that caught my attention was the 1947 Studebaker Champion, once used by the renowned Indian physicist and Nobel Prize winner Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, also known as CV Raman.

I found the connection between these cars and famous personalities quite fascinating. As I continued to explore, I came across a Datsun Bluebird 1.8 GL, a medium-sized sedan from Nissan’s Datsun brand, representing the sixth generation of Bluebirds. This particular vehicle was owned by the late Vishnuvardhan, the iconic “Angry Young Man” of Kannada Cinema.

Cars in Payana Museum, Mysore
Image source – OneAndOnlyDesign Agency

Another highlight of the collection is the 1965 Chevrolet Impala, an American classic and a popular movie car. The Impala, named after the graceful African antelope and bearing it as the car’s logo, set an annual sales record of one million units in the US in 1965. With a top speed of 96 mph (154 kph), it was priced at $2700 back then. This iconic Chevy model has graced many movies, with stars often seen romancing on its bonnet. One unforgettable scene is Dev Anand singing “Yeh Dil Na Hota Bechara” in the Hindi blockbuster Jewel Thief (1967).

The museum doesn’t have a guide, but that didn’t bother me. Each car had a large board with trivia and information, detailing things like the car’s history and even movie appearances. We were all so engrossed in reading these fascinating facts. I initially worried the kids might find it boring, but they were more than interested, darting from one car to another in utter fascination!

Vingtage cars in Mysore

From lorries to bullock carts – Common cars, uncommon stories at Payana

We then headed to the ground floor, which featured a distinct display from the first floor. Here, we encountered more recent vehicles, ranging from lorries and Maruti 800s to Tempo Travellers and bullock carts. These were the everyday cars of regular people—middle-class vehicles that many of us grew up with.

It was fascinating to see a collection of Indian cars like the Standard 2000, Contessa, Hindustan Landmaster, Ambassador, Maruti Zen, Fiat Palio, electric Reva, Matiz, and Dolphin, all documenting the progress of the automobile on Indian roads. Notably, Queen Alexandra of Denmark once owned a FIAT 501, and the Hindustan 14, a family sedan that debuted at the first post-war British Motor Show at Earls Court, was also on display.

Additionally, we saw a Hyundai Verna and the sturdy old Hyundai Sonata, which brought back memories of the cars we grew up seeing. The museum also featured heritage vehicles such as the iconic double-decker bus of Mumbai and the now-obsolete ‘kaali-peeli’ taxis. Another impressive exhibit was a steam-powered road roller.

The collection continues to grow, with plans to add a few more cars to Heggade’s magnificent assortment. Since they have just recently opened, I was told that there are a lot more cars to come in such as the Rolls-Royce 20 and a car that Mahatma Gandhi used on his visit to Karnataka.

Payana car museum, Mysore

The boys were particularly excited to see the predecessors of today’s cars, finding it fascinating to trace their evolution through the museum’s collection. My enduring interest in cars found a perfect match in their enthusiastic curiosity.

From pinhole cameras to gramophones – The Manjusha Museum experience

After an enlightening trip to the car museum, I stepped into the Manjusha Museum housed in the same building. This section was dedicated to old artefacts and was a treasure trove of historical items, all meticulously curated and displayed. It included a variety of antique machinery, typewriters, and even a printing press dating back to 1890. Heggade’s collection reflects his passion for preserving cultural artefacts of intrinsic value. From pinhole cameras to digital ones, the collection encompassed the entire evolution of photography.

The museum also housed an eclectic array of pens, coins, banknotes, stamps, typewriters, guns, swords, lanterns, lamps, old cooking vessels, pooja utensils, and printing machines. I was particularly enchanted by the display of musical instruments, an antique radio, a gramophone, and beautiful Mysore paintings.

Among the intriguing items was the Biso Kallu, an ancient grinding stone that fascinated the children, who had never seen anything like it before. The section also showcased an 1890 printing press and the first-ever telephone model, providing a captivating glimpse into the evolution of these technologies. Additionally, there were old stone utensils and beautifully crafted brass cookware, each piece telling a story of daily life in the past.

Artifacts in Manjusha museum

I found this section incredibly unique and was thoroughly fascinated by the artefacts. It was a joy to see these relics of history up close, and I took great pride in explaining their significance to the children. Sharing my knowledge about these items and watching their curiosity grow was a highlight of our visit.

A hub of engagement – Payana’s open-air theatre and beyond

As my visit came to an end, I realized how fascinating this experience must be for a city person who has never seen such a collection before. The museum’s open-air theatre, food court, and play area enhance the visitor experience, providing a delightful outing for families and individuals. With plans to host cultural programs on the museum grounds, it is set to become a hub of community engagement and celebration. Although the museum isn’t air-conditioned, and the only source of cool air comes from large ceiling fans, it was thoughtfully designed with ramps to all levels. This makes it accessible for people with physical disabilities and easier for visitors of all ages to comfortably explore the entire museum.

Payana Car Museum Mysore goes beyond simply displaying vintage cars. The museum strives to create an educational experience, allowing visitors to appreciate the historical and cultural significance of these automobiles. Whether you’re a seasoned car aficionado or simply curious about automotive history, Payana Car Museum Mysore offers something for everyone. You can wander through the galleries, marvel at the craftsmanship, and lose yourself in the stories each car whispers. For photography enthusiasts, the museum provides a unique opportunity to capture the timeless elegance of these vintage vehicles.

Beyond the cars – Payana’s unique offerings for visitors

The museum’s open-air theatre, food court, and play area enhance the visitor experience, making it a delightful outing for families and individuals. With plans to host cultural programs on the museum grounds, it is set to become a hub of community engagement and celebration. Although the museum isn’t air-conditioned and relies on large ceiling fans for cooling, it was thoughtfully designed with ramps to all levels. This makes it accessible for people with physical disabilities and easier for visitors of all ages to comfortably explore the entire museum. The museum is 133 km away from Bangalore, so if you’re planning to visit Mysore from Bangalore, book a reliable cab and make sure to stop by this museum.

Payana Car Museum Mysore goes beyond simply displaying vintage cars. The museum strives to create an educational experience, allowing visitors to appreciate the historical and cultural significance of these automobiles. Whether you’re a seasoned car aficionado or simply curious about automotive history, Payana Car Museum Mysore offers something for everyone. You can wander through the galleries, marvel at the craftsmanship, and lose yourself in the stories each car whispers. For photography enthusiasts, the museum provides a unique opportunity to capture the timeless elegance of these vintage vehicles.

Extend your adventure – Nearby places to visit after Payana

While I have always been interested in cars, this trip ignited a newfound excitement in my daughter, my friends, and their children. They were fascinated to see the ancestors of the cars we know today, which made the experience even more enriching. This is why I highly recommend taking your family to Payana Car Museum Mysore—it promises to be an educational outing for all. 

I also recommend booking a Savaari, just like I did. In the 8 hours of my rental, my chauffeur took us to amazing places like these, allowing us to make the most out of our time in comfort and peace. I checked out this handy Mysore travel guide by Savaari, which helped me pick out the locations. 

Varuna Lake

Nestled amidst lush greenery, Varuna Lake is one of Mysore’s hidden gems. It offers thrilling adventure options for both families and solo travelers. If you’re in search of an adrenaline rush, the lake has water sports like jetskiing, lake rafting, bumper rides, kayaking, and a water trampoline. It’s also a perfect spot for relaxation, being surrounded by nature. For a budget-friendly stay, check out Treebo Mysore Hotels.

Melody World Wax Museum

Ever thought you could experience a blend of music and art in Mysore? The Melody World Wax Museum is a unique attraction, drawing thousands of tourists each year. Here, you can see life-size wax statues with various musical instruments, representing different cultures and states. For a hassle-free holiday, look for budget-friendly hotels in Mysore, so you can enjoy the museum with ease.

Shuka Vana

For an offbeat destination, Shuka Vana should be on your list. It’s a divine mix of nature, flora, and avifauna. Bird and wildlife enthusiasts will love this rehabilitation center, home to around 2000 birds, especially parrots. The enclosure hosts numerous rare species of parrots, and they care for injured and abandoned birds, making it a worthwhile visit. Consider staying at Treebo Mysore Hotels nearby to spend more time with these unique species.

Sand Museum Mysore

Museums in Mysore - Mysore Sand Museum

If you love the beach, imagine sand turned into art! The Sand Museum Mysore showcases huge sand sculptures, including exhibits of the laughing Buddha, cars, and everyday city life. Created by renowned sand artist MN Gowri, the museum features about 150 monoliths made from 115 truckloads of sand, water, and adhesive. There are also many Disney characters in all their splendour, guaranteed to keep the kids entertained.

Kukkarahalli Lake

Kukkarahalli Lake is a must-see in Mysore. Surrounded by nature, it’s perfect for jogging, walking, or relaxing. The lake is famous for its mesmerizing sunsets and sunrises, and it’s a great spot for bird watching, with a rich variety of flora and avifauna. Meditation enthusiasts will also find this place particularly appealing.

From doorstep to museum – Explore Payana with Savaari

We had an incredible time taking Navrathna, her family, and friends to the Payana Car Museum Mysore. This museum is not just a repository of the past but also a beacon of inspiration for the future. By displaying the ingenuity and artistry of bygone eras, the museum invites us to appreciate the potential and possibilities of automobiles in the years to come. It serves as a reminder of how far we’ve come and how much more there is to explore in the world of automotive engineering.

The best way to discover such hidden gems in Mysore is by booking a Savaari. With the convenience of the Savaari app, you can easily arrange for a comfortable and reliable car rental. Mysore has endless attractions and activities waiting to be uncovered, from historical landmarks to serene natural spots. By booking a Savaari, you can effortlessly explore these diverse destinations, making the most out of your visit. Download the Savaari app today and embark on a journey to uncover the wonders of Mysore in comfort and style.

Last Updated on July 10, 2024 by Shabari Shankar

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Step into history at Payana Car Museum Mysore - India’s largest car museum
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Step into history at Payana Car Museum Mysore - India’s largest car museum
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Explore Payana Car Museum Mysore, India’s largest car museum, and immerse yourself in rich automotive history.
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Shabari, a modern-day wanderer, seeks out the hidden stories within the world's serene landscapes and vibrant cultures. She views each person as a living, breathing tale, a unique signature in the grand narrative of existence. With an insatiable curiosity for local customs and traditions, Shabari explores the rich drapery of humanity wherever her journey leads. Her passion is to unravel the secrets of tranquil temples, scale majestic mountains, and share the ancient wisdom they hold. Join Shabari on her quest for solace amidst the world's quiet corners and let her writing transport you to the heart of these captivating adventures.

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