In spite of the initial delay at departure
we arrived timely in Mysore. There I got a 30Rp. Ticket (40 euro cent)
for the 3 hour onward journey to Hassan. A journey without reserved
seats. When the train arrived at the platform and I saw how crowded it
was I changed my plan and took a taxi to Hassan. Much more expensive but
at least I had a comfortable seat for my own and did not have to worry
about anything at all.
My hotel was in one word
perfect, the room was immaculate, everything spotlessly clean and in
working order. If only their wifi would have been to the same
standard… I enjoyed lunch at the restaurant and went for a short walk
after. But as I was already warned this sprawling, congested transport
had minimal appeal other than as a base to visit nearby Belur, Halebid
and Bahubali, and that was exactly the reason why I was here…
Although I had slept well
during my train journey I had no problems falling asleep for a relaxing
afternoon nap. In the evening I went back to the restaurant and although
I was really keen on meat I was restricted as it was a pure veg
restaurant (which, for whatever reason also meant no beer). Food was
good though so I should not complain.
Next morning after
breakfast I grabbed a Tuk Tuk on the street and asked for a trip to the
famous temples at Belur and Halebid. Initially my driver did not
understand what I wanted but soon he returned and confirmed he could
bring me there. According to customs I bargained on the price after
which we were on the go. First I needed to go to an ATM as I was running
dangerously low on cash. That seemed to be easier said than done as
either the ATM’s were out of cash, they were out of service, or closed
for whatever reason. I could not find a working ATM in Hassan and after
my sixth attempt I gave up and asked my driver to start our tour.
Our first destination for
the day was Halebid, about 33 kilometers away from Hassan. I enjoyed the
trip, especially after we left the city and drove through a more rural
area and small villages. It was warm that day but with the wind blowing
in my face it was an extremely pleasant ride. I was glad I had opted for
a Tuk Tuk instead of a regular car, it was so much more fun after all.
At first sight the temple
at Halebid did not look like much, but that was only a deception. Even
after having been in India for over two months my jaw dropped as I saw
the exquisite carvings. They were so fine in detail and so well kept
over the years I could hardly believe my eyes. The eye for detail, not a
single piece seemed to be uncovered by some of the most beautiful
Construction of the
Hoysaleswara Temple began around AD 1121 and went on for more than 80
years. It was never completed, but nonetheless stands today as a
masterpiece of Hoysala architecture. The interior of its inner sanctum,
chiseled out of black stone, was marvellous. On the outside, the
temple’s richly sculpted walls were covered with a flurry of Hindu
deities, sages, stylized animals and friezes depicting the life of the
When I returned at my Tuk
Tuk I was still overwhelmed by what I had seen but I was not allowed to
think long about it as we continued our journey to Belur, which was only
15 kilometer further and the pretty landscape was grabbing my full
Belur was a town of more
significance than Halebid and there was a lot of activity going on.
Everything was built around the temple complex, which was commissioned
in 1116 AD to commemorate the Hoysalas’ victory over the neighboring
Cholas and took more than a century to build. It is currently the only
one among the three major Hoysala sites still in daily use. Some parts
of the temple, such as the exterior lower friezes, were not sculpted to
completion and thus less elaborate.
I entered through a gate
that is so typical for South Indian Hindhu temples and arrived at a
large square around which the several temples were located. There was a
lot of activity going on and my attention was grabbed by a group of
people who were singing so I headed over there. I witnessed priests were
performing a ritual whilst the devoted worshippers were chanting along.
And then suddenly more
music and excitement filled the square as a group of musicians and men
were carrying a large statue towards the main temple.
I decided to let them go
and look at the temples on the outer parts of the square first before
heading over to the main temple. The decorations were stunning, however
not as outrageous as in Halebid. In some of the temples simple
ceremonies were held whilst others just stood to be admired in their
As usual I had to leave my
slippers behind and walked barefoot through the complex. With the sun
being strong the tiles were warmed up tremendously and at times I felt
like burning my feet. However, it was all worth it.
I finally made it to the
main temple and discovered a lot of activity was going on. People were
queueing to worship the deity that was carefully protected by some
priests. All of them were given a spoonful of holy water to cover their
heads with as well as the traditional tika. This time I was allowed just
to witness the ceremony and was not invited to take part in it.
Another group of priests
was gathered around a fire and performing some sort of ritual but I
could not really get a grip of what was going on. Overall it was once
again an impressive atmosphere within the prayer hall but slowly I felt
it was time to return.
By now I might have
forgotten about visiting an ATM visit but my driver had not. This time I
was successful and when I returned with a big smile on my face my
driver was already waiting for me with a bottle of mango juice in his
hand. What a nice gesture…
It took about an hour to
return to my hotel where I had lunch and enjoyed a short afternoon nap.
After that I returned to the restaurant for a lemon soda and to update
my journal. Dinner was great and somehow my waiter was extremely keen to
give me good service but I simply could not finish all the food that
was offered to me. Back at my room I listened to some music before the
lights went out. Another great day had come to an end.
Next morning, after
breakfast I checked out and waited for my taxi that I had booked the day
before. Unfortunately something had gone wrong and I was told my cab
was not confirmed, they could still book it for me but at a higher
price… Now I do accept things go wrong but this looked like a cheap
trick to make some extra money. So I stayed firm, repeated our
conversation from yesterday including my agreement on the deal and asked
the lady who I spoke to the day before where things went wrong, only
getting an empty look in return. I insisted on my cab for the agreed
price and guess what… Fifteen minutes later I was on my way.
Instead of driving directly
to Mysore I had requested a stop at be of central Karnataka’s other
highlights that was to be seen in the pilgrimage town of
Sravanabelagola. Atop the bare rocky summit of Vindhyagiri Hill, the
17.5m-high naked statue of the Jain deity Gomateshvara (Bahubali) was
another sight not to be missed when in Karnataka. Commissioned by a
military commander in the service of the Ganga king Rachamalla and
carved out of a single piece of granite by the sculptor Aristenemi in AD
98, it is said to be the world’s tallest monolithic statue.
It was a steep climb up the
614 steps to the top of Vindhyagiri Hill. I could have opted for one of
the man carried chairs which would certainly have made my trip easier
but on the end I decided to do what most pilgrims did, climb the steps,
barefoot of course.
And it was worth it. As
recently a big festival had taken place big scaffoldings had been
constructed around the statue giving the thousands of worshippers who
attended the festival an opportunity for a closer look.
There were still some small
ceremonies gong on and worshippers poured water over the head of the
statue, something only possible with the scaffolding currently in place.
The views over the town
were amazing and fortunately the way down there was so much easier than
climbing up. It took me a while to find my driver again but not much
later we were on our way to Mysore.
We continued our journey
over narrow roads and I saw farmers everywhere preparing their land for a
new crop. Small villages with improvised market stalls beside the
street with locals hoping to at least sell one of their goods that were
displayed for sale.
By the time we came closer
to Mysore it became much busier. My driver, as expected, had to ask a
couple of times for directions to my hotel but in the end it was not to
difficult to find.
Continue to the Mysore Experience