As we plunged down the hill side from Ooty I changed my mind about Indian bus drivers not being as bad as the Vietnamese. The woman in front of me spent most of the time throwing up out of the window, probably because the driver was playing chicken with an envoy of dumper trucks on a one lane mountain pass. On the plus side my triceps got an excellent workout from maintaining the brace position for 4 hours (if you don't you stand a good chance of losing your teeth).
When I did find the courage to open my eyes it was to the sight of wild elephants bathing in a river. Now that's worth swapping a tooth for!
Mysore is a very pleasant Indian city of wide boulevards and an imposing palace set in the mid south. The best plan is to hit it at the weekend, when the palace is illuminated by more than 96,000 lights. This does give it a slight Blackpool edge but it still looks pretty impressive. The best part of the illuminations however, is the people watching.
It is rumored to be the 2nd most visited sight in India (after the Taj Mahal)
and I could only count a handful of Westerners. The nice thing about India, that you rarely get in the rest of Asia, is that most tourists are Indians. As the sun set and the crowds gathered a festival atmosphere began to take shape - hawkers wandering around selling food and balloons, groups of teenagers and families vying to get in a good position for photographs. All add to a feeling that magic is about to happen. And when the lights go on it does look like a scene from a fairy-tale. Though admittedly this princess probably has a few pairs of white stilettos hidden in her wardrobe.
Outside of the palace there is a few other tourist attractions including Chamundeshwari Temple, atop the Chamundi Hills, which is reputedly very nice but I didn't bother with it. Think I'm a little templed-out.
I did however go around some of the local cottage industries to see how incense, beedi and chippati presses (?) are made. Also went to the government run silk factory. Which was a weird experience. It's free but you have to leave your camera at the security gate (hence no photos - maybe they were scared
we were from the BBC?). You don't get a guide, just follow (sometimes hidden) arrows around and gawk at people working. It was a loud, informative and slightly surreal experience. Did make my office job look less monotonous though.
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