Mysore and Srirangapatnam

Mysore Travel Blog

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Bangalore so far has been Ok, but I haven't been able to see too much of it yet except the route between the downtown hotel and the office, which is out near the airport.  It is only a few miles but it can take over a half hour to get there in Bangalore traffic, which is just incredible. Luckily there aren't any/many cows in Bangalore, but pretty much any other wheeled vehicle is on the streets, three lane roads become 5 or six vehicles wide. So many companies and people moved to Bangalore in a short period that its infrastructure is strained to the limit and power cuts are common (had 4 already this week). This has caused many companies to move to nearby Hyderabad. The weather there has more extremes, Bangalore is more like southern California weather-wise. It's been a gorgeous 70-80 degrees all week.

The language situation here is crazy, India has something like 25 official languages. Most people here speak English and Kannada, the local language. Hindi isn't as common here. The script here is different too. Both Kerala and Tamil Nadu (other indian states where we are going) also have unique language.

Yesterday I went with C and S to Mysore, about a 3 hr drive away from Bangalore. C hired a driver for the day with a Toyota Innova wagon, nice car and I'm debating getting one for our personal trip next weekend. We set off early and had breakfast at the St. Marks hotel, a very swish old British hotel. They had a good spread of dishes and even had pork sausage (haven't seen a lot of pork, and no beef so far). We headed off out of town, but something was wrong with the flyover and we had to take the lower road through town. This is a mainly muslim area, and was full of barber shops, mosques and a goat market. This was more the true colorful chaotic India than the glitzy malls and restaurants of downtown Bangalore. It took us over an hour with traffic to get out of town before the city gave way to the fields of rice and sugarcane. We passed hugely laden bullock carts of sugarcane and hay. The landscape soon became quite surreal with huge granite domes and boulders, like Enchanted rock but all over. We stopped at a coffee shop on the way, seemed quite out of place among the cow carts and fields as it was brand new and full of smartly dressed Indian yuppies.

We had a quick coffee and then drove to our first stop at Srirangapatnam island, the former capital of the Wadiyar rajas. The ruler here, Tipu Sultan, resisted the British invasion until he was killed in battle. His Mughal style tomb and summer palace are here. Mughal style is very ornate, with scalloped arches and onion domes (gumbaz). It's somewhat similar to other Central Asian/Persian style. We next went to the Vishnu temple nearby, which is still in use and innundated with kids on a school trip. You must remove your shoes when entering, which killed my feet as I never go barefoot! Our guide showed us around the temple, and I received a blessing and the red dot/ashes on the forehead. Afterwards we had a refreshing young coconut to drink. That is awesome, they hack the green coconuts open with a sharp knife and you drink the cool liquid inside through a straw. Afterwards, they hack the rest of the coconut open and you eat the jellolike meat. Yum.

Mysore was next, it was already 1:30 so we stopped for lunch at the Metropole Hotel, now a Royal Orchid chain (same chain as I'm staying at in Bangalore). They had a great buffet and reasonably priced. After lunch we went to the fruit and vegetable market, which was quite a splash of color of all the different vegetables, flowers and the powders in bright colors. Next we went to the Maharajah's Palace. We had to deposit both our shoes and camera before entering, my poor feet! The palace is amazing, dating from the turn of the century and fuses Victorian, Islamic and Indian styles. It is amazingly ornate, from the tile floors, to the silver and teak doors and the stained glass with images of peacocks and dual headed eagles, the state symbol. The palace is also covered with 5000 lightbulbs and is lit up on special occasions. On our way out, we stopped and had a glass of chilled sugarcane juice. This is awesome as well, they run the sugarcane stalks through a mangler with ginger and lime and serve it chilled. Delicious! As we got into the car, one of the tourist vendors caught on to Charles and was telling him to tell me to buy his tourist junk. He was very persistent, we drove down half the block with him holding the door open!

Chamundi Hill was our last stop, a huge hill overlooking Mysore. There is a huge temple built on top, along with the Godly museum (skipped it). There were lots of monkeys and kids around asking where I was from, today I was from Uzbekistan. If you tell touts or street kids that you are from America the hassle factor usually triples. Uzbekistan doesn't seem to work well here, I guess it is close enough that people know about it! We started the drive back about 4:30, as my train to Hampi left that night at 10:20 and I still had to go back to the hotel to get laundry. We still hadn't heard on my bags at this point and planned to swing by the airport on the way back, but we hit a bad patch of traffic and decided to go straight to my hotel, where my bags were already waiting! yay!
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photo by: chiyeh