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Published: February 23rd 2012
Another short drive as we arrived in the ancient city of Mysore around midday and dumped our bags at the hotel I had booked the previous evening, it is clean and comfortable and within just a few minutes’ walk of the palace. We decided that we would go visit the further afield sights immediately then dismiss the driver as we will be staying for a few days. The first of these sights was the star shaped Kesava Temple built 1268 in Somnathpur some thirty three kilometres east of Mysore, which was totally covered in carved soapstone figures from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita some quite pornographic. I found the temple fascinating, it's a shame the Indians don’t build anything so pretty anymore.
On the way back we visited the temple on Chamundi Hill not very interesting but the five metre carved statue of Nandi was interesting on the way down, we then went to a couple of expensive shops so the driver could get commissions, although he told us not to buy anything. The rest of the day was spent in a pub enjoying a few Kingfisher beers.
Tuesday morning I rose early as usual, my stomach
is much better today although I may be getting Padraic's cold now, I have never seen anyone eat as much as him, he will eat anything and in huge quantities. I headed for the palace, I was harassed by children asking for money as I walked to the palace then by the police when I refused to check in my camera on arrival, they don’t seem to have anything useful to do, I no sooner entered the palace and the Indians are snapping everything in sight with their mobile phones. The Palace is century old and well worth a look, although it is gaudy and only a small portion is open to the public I then visited the shop where I purchased some souvenirs.
First stop this morning is Sriangapatnam a fort town built in the middle of the Cauvery River by Tipu Sultan who was killed in a war against the British in 1799, he built a summer palace in beautifully carved timber (Daria Daulat Bagh) only two kilometres from the Gumbaz (tomb) where his body is interred.
We then visited Sravanabelagola (Monk of the White Pond) a Jain pilgrimage town which is dominated by an eleven
hundred year old statue, 18 metre tall and perched on Vindhyagiri Hill, the statue was naked and his penis is about three feet long. The six hundred and fourteen steps to the top were a bit of an effort as the rock was hot and we had to go bare foot, the views were great from the top.
We then travelled to Hassan an unpleasant busy town where we stayed the night, I had to go see an Airtel vendor here to get some more credit on my phone then Padraic and I had a few beers and a meal.
The next morning we visited the Hoysala temples at Halebid and Belur, the Hoysala were the dominant Hindu empire in this part of India for a number of centuries managing to fight of the Muslims off for a number of years before eventually being defeated, they also built the Devala Temple at Somnathpur.
Of the two temples (both free entry) the Hoysaleswara (Halebid) Temple (1121) dedicated to Shiva was in my opinion the better, it was more intricately carved and the interior had bats and beautiful sculptures, there are also two large Nandi statues and a museum
set in an attractive park near a lake. The Channakashava (Belur) temple dedicated to Vishnu took a century to build (1126) and is still a working temple with priests etc which is interesting, as were the other temples on the site, the tank and the well.
On the way back to Hassan we stopped at a resort for lunch and decide to stay there the night rather than return to that ugly town. I am sick again my second nasty cold since I have been in India, at least my stomach isn’t playing up today. We met our new driver Mani at the resort, the food here is great, I had a huge cooked breakfast before our departure to Hampi.
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