Mysore Travel Blog› entry 20 of 22 › view all entries
India's tourist slogan is "Incredible India." It's so often true. We left Ooty past fields and fields of carrots (somehow not very Indian) and descended the Western Ghats in 36 hairpin bends (numbered). The views were spectacular. The road on to Mysore went through the Bandipur National Park. It says "No Stopping." But we did stop to look at the barking deer, the langur monkeys - and then 4 wild elephants, two adults and two young, just 20 yards from us.
Mysore is an attractive city, with many fine 19th and early 20th century buildings. The main one is the Palace, finished in 1912 for the Wodeyar maharajas. It's an Indo-Saracenic confection, designed by Englishman Henry Irwin. It's all turrets and mini pavilions outside, and opulant public spaces, fine wood and iron work and stained glass inside.
North of Mysore is the Jain holy site of Sravanabelagola. Up 614 rock cut steps is the 18m high 10th century statue of the naked Gomateshvara, said to be the tallest monolithic statue in the world. Hil chose to go up and down by dholi, a wicker chair between 2 long poles and carried by 4 men! A steady pace up meant Mike could keep up. A run down (yes - a run!) meant Mike got left well behind, especially as it was a no-shoes job. The statue leaves nothing to the imagination and everything is in proportion to the 18m! Yup, Incredible.
On from there to Halebid and Belur, to see the beautifully carved 12th century Hindu temples. Halebid in particular had most delicate carvings including some very explicit ones - a scuptural Kama Sutra. Why there among the carvings of traditional Hindu stories, deities and wonderful elephants??
Mysore's Devaraja Market was incredible, too. We've never seen so many bananas in great hands, being delivered by porters carrying them in baskets on their heads. 20 small bananas - 10rps (15p). And the flower area was amazing. Jasmine, marigolds and roses were being threaded by the thousand to make garlands and the scent was almost overwhelming. In the fruit market, the grapes - 40 rps a kilo - were beautiful and sweet.
Up Chamundi Hill, there's a temple to Chamundi, one of the manifestations of Parvati. Nearby, is the Godly Museum - "5000 years ago at this time you had visited this place in the same way you are visiting now. Because world drama repeats itself identically every 5000 years"!! Incredible?
Srirangapatnam, just out of town, is where the famous Tipu Sultan, the Tiger of Mysore, had his headquarters. He held out against the Brits over several Mysore Wars, until Wellington, then just Arthur Wellesley, defeated him in 1799 and moved into his still delightful summer palace. Tipu's beauiful tomb, the Gumbaz, is serene and a gem of Indian Islamic architecture. It contrasts totally with the dungeon where he kept his Brit officer prisoners up to their necks in water.
Off to rural Coorg and then cybercity Bangalore - for more incredulity?