M double U

2018 Mysore

After checking in at my hotel I went for a short walk and had a late lunch at a nice restaurant. Then I returned to my hotel, updated my journal and went out for a couple of beers. After a number of “dry” days I really thought I had deserved that. I must not have been the only one who thought so as I happened to order my beer during happy hour, which meant the third one was free…

The historic settlement of Mysuru (which changed its name from Mysore in 2014) is one of South India’s most enchanting cities, famed for its glittering royal heritage and magnificent monuments and buildings. It should come as no surprise my first place to visit the next day was the famous Mysore Palace. Among the grandest of India’s royal buildings, this was the seat of the Wodeyar maharajas.

But before I went to the palace I visited a temple on it’s premises. It seemed to be ignored by most of the visitors who headed straight to the palace but I was glad I took my time to go there and was welcomed by some friendly priests who proudly showed me around the small but interesting place.

Before entering the palace I had to leave my slippers behind, something that by now,I did not frown upon. A second and third security check later I was able to enter the palace and watch the abundance of decadency with my own pair of eyes. The walk through the palace was well organized and as the path was carefully set up there was no way I could miss out on anything. Majestic halls with completely over the top decorations, beautiful paintings and smaller halls for private auditions.

The original palace was gutted by fire in 1897; the one as I saw today was completed in 1912 by English architect Henry Irwin for. The lavish Indo-Saracenic interior – a kaleidoscope of stained glass, mirrors and gaudy colors – was undoubtedly over the top. It’s further embellished by carved wooden doors, mosaic floors and a series of paintings depicting life here during the Edwardian Raj era.

Over the top… I can only say I was overwhelmed by everything I saw and my mind started imagining how things were like in former times. The time the Maharaja’s were the absolute rulers and people were bowing for them at the slightest glimpse. They were submerged in luxury normal people could not even dream of, those were the days…

Besides the public places which were available to see it was also possible to visit the private residence, unfortunately photography was strictly forbidden here. The tour included a rather interesting audio program which provided information about the carriages, dresses and war gear that was on display in the deferent rooms. I was surprised about how relatively modest the private quarters were compared to the public rooms. But then obviously the last ones were meant to impress…

Once I finished my tour of the palace I took a Tuk Tuk towards the main bazar. A trip from the high society to everyday life in India. The contrast could not have been bigger…

Markets have always been my favorite places to visit and this one was no exception. The colors and the fragrances were simply overwhelming and I loved strolling around looking at the interaction between the entrepreneurs and their potential customers.

Like usual all goods were split up in groups. There was a fruit section, incense and coloring section, as well as rice, flower, vegetable and a cooking utensil sections. It was difficult to concentrate on one spot as there was so much to be seen. At times I was overwhelmed by the smell of coriander that filled the air, whilst not much later it was replaced by the pleasant fragrance of flowers that were on display in abundance.

People were extremely friendly and in no way camera shy, most of them were willing to pose for a picture after a friendly smile from my side and a nod to my camera. But then there were of course still the candid pictures, opportunities enough at a market like this.

Unfortunately I was getting dizzy again so I returned to my hotel and went out for lunch. Although I was not very hungry the vegetable coriander soup was simply amazing. I decided to leave the rest for dinner and returned to my room for my regular afternoon nap.

By the time I woke up it was dinner time so I returned to the restaurant where once again I had difficulties on what to choose. Indian food is extremely rich and the portions are huge so once again I decided to order dish after dish, making sure I would not have to much in one go that would go waisted anyway.

On my final day in Mysore had planned to go to the 1062 meter high Chamundi hill, just out of town, so outside my hotel I grabbed a Tuk Tuk and I was on my way. Halfway up the hill however there were some technical issues and we had to wait a while before going on. First I thought the engine was over heated but the “two minutes Sir” became five minutes and even longer.

Another Tuk Tuk showed up and after some discussion that driver decided to push us uphill towards the parking place at the temple. Things like this are never a big issue in India…

The Sri Chamundeswari Temple apparently was extremely popular which was not strange as afterwards I found out it was one of the eight holiest places in South India. “Chamundi”, or “Durga” is the fierce form of Shakti, the slayer of demons.

The road from the parking place towards the temple was cluttered with loads of stalls offering floral decorations and coconuts for offering. Of course kitschy memorabilia could not fail and the Entrepreneurs could not complain about attention.

Obviously slippers had to be left behind and then I had to get an entrance ticket. Thirty roepies for a special entrance but for hundred roepies I got a direct access ticket and bypassed the long queue with devotees. In a way I felt bad but hey, this was the way things were advertised and there was nothing dodgy about it.

Part of the “direct access” ticket was a chain of flowers and some colored powder that I was supposed to offer to the deities. The atmosphere was brilliant and the devotees were in deep anticipation for their short moment they could connect with Chamundi.

In spite of the length of the queue everybody was waiting patiently for their turn and nobody frowned upon this tall white guy who was lead straight to the beginning of the queue and could admire the deity without having to wait, I guess they were all used to VIP guests with more money than time…

Photography of Chamundi was not allowed but as soon as I left the inner sanctum I was allowed to make as much pictures as I wanted.

At several places in the temple ceremonies were going on but the queues to those were not as long as the one for Chamundi.

After a refreshing coconut it was time to return to the centre.  Back at the Tuk Tuk the technical issue still wasn’t solved (I would have assumed the engine was cooled down enough after my visit) but as the first eight of kilometers of the trip went downhill no engine was required and it turned out to be a surreal and very quit ride.

At the bottom of the downhill road we came to a standstill next to another Tuk Tuk which clients were currently in a shop. Fortunately it was the same driver who helped us out before and after a multitude of “two minutes” wait we continued the journey, thanks to the other driver who pushed us ahead.

We were brought to a gas station where finally the cause of the problem became clear to me, we had simply run out of gas. My driver asked an advance of the agreed trip price so he could fill up again, also this was not a surprise to me as it has happened before. As soon as the Tuk Tuk was full of gas again we could proceed on our own power. Apparently my driver had been to shy to ask for it at the beginning of the trip, but things worked out after all.

It was lunch time and I enjoyed another prawn curry and some garlic butter naan. I was wondering where to go in the afternoon but then decided I had seen enough and opted for a long afternoon nap. It did me well.

Later that day I had my final Mysore dinner, a couple of beers and then took care of my picture backups. By now I had over 150Gb worth of image material and I did not want to think of loosing that. Backups are always a good way for the ease of mind.

A good night of sleep later it was time to leave Mysore and take the train to Bangalore. There I returned to Casa Home Cottage where I stayed during my first visit to Bangalore as well. Fortunately I did feel much better this time but still decided to take things easy. Bangalore would have to wait till another time.

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