Can you say "Sravanabelagola"?


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January 18th 2010
Published: January 18th 2010
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The official coconut standThe official coconut standThe official coconut stand

Near the main shala in Mysore
Five days in Mysore, that was VERY short! I had so much fun in this city, it felt so relaxing to be here, I just can't believe I am leaving tomorrow.

I don't even know where to start. Not that anything big happened here, it was more the normal things, going to the market, enjoying the food, booking train tickets, exploring the city and meeting nice people... It was all fun. On my second day in Mysore I ended up being caught again sitting in an oil shop at the market, having the shop keepers putting more of these strong smelling oils on my wrists but by day 3, I managed to avoid it... Still, I enjoyed the market so much, and I also had one INdian taking me to another market, a very different one, in the muslim quarters, a very ancient looking market, "that was not in my book" as Sammy put it! Yeah, I didn't see another tourist there! I also fell for something I had never bought before: bangles. The colorful bracelets that women wear here. It was so amazing to see the vendor just squeezing my hand and knowing immediately which size of bangle I
Holy Cow!Holy Cow!Holy Cow!

Will she give yellow milk or straight butter?
needed! Then he mixed and matched the colors and I ended up leaving the shop with a few inches of colorful bangles on my right arm!!! I love the sound they make, they are made of glass. They seem to break easily though. Well, for 1-2 rupies, I suppose you can't expect something that would last forever!

I also spent time with some yoga students I had met in Goa. Funny how small the world is. They all stay in Gokulam, where the main yoga shala is, I had a very quick look, just to see what the ashtanga mecca looked like, and had a coconut juice at the official coconut stand nearby. As much as I love Mysore, I can't say that Gokulam is nearly as exciting, it is so modern, it doesn't feel like the India I love so much, but the air is much cleaner, and it is quite peaceful there, I can see why people can stay for a long time and love it.

One of my friends here also took me for a long ride on his scooter, we went up Chamundi Hill, explored a beautiful lake, and went to see the Mysore
Market in MysoreMarket in MysoreMarket in Mysore

More colors in yet another market!
Palace one night when it was all illuminated. Some say it feels like Disneyland, but I must love Disneyland because I found that so beautiful, like a fairy tale. Indians love it too, there was a lot of people sitting there for the whole hour the palace is illuminated.

And then yesterday I was supposed to go visit 3 villages that have amazing temples: Halebid, Belur and Sravanabelagola. I had first planned on doing it by local transport, but that meant 2 days of travelling and one night in Hassan, a city that his far less interesting than Mysore! But finally I found a tour that was reasonably priced and decided to do it that way. SO yesterday morning I waited for my tour bus, and waited and waited, to finally hear that they were "overbooked" (read: nobody else signed up but it sounds bad to say it), and had to cancel my ticket. I asked if I could do it the following day and the agent said yes, 100% sure!

So this morning, expecting the trip to be cancelled again, I was surprised to see a car coming and asking me if I was going to Halebid,
Chamundi HillChamundi HillChamundi Hill

In Mysore
etc. I said yes. The guy drove me to another hotel, and asked me to wait in his car where 2 sticks of incense were burning and making me feel like vomiting. Later he came back and told me:"One seat only". I didn't really get it. He was still standing there, but eventually I understood that I had a private tour, there was no other clients... I was amazed they wouldn't cancel the trip again!

We left and started driving/racing down the road. The villages are over 100km away from Mysore, it took the whole day to see all 3 places. But it was REALLY worth it. The first one, Sravanabelagola was on top of a hill. One really big statue said to be the world's tallest monolithic statue. It was impressive. I had such a good time with the local people again, asking me if I was INdian, or where I was from, commenting on "my indian dress". There was also a group of over 100 kids that were climbing up as I was going down and they all said hello loudly and waved, it was hilarious!

The next one was the most amazing. Halebid was constructed
Royal PalaceRoyal PalaceRoyal Palace

In Mysore
in the 12th century and it has such fine carvings all over, I was totally fascinated and probably had my mouth wide open in awe for a long time. But I had to look around fairly quickly as my driver had only given me half an hour!!! Belur was also very nice, similar work to what is found in Halebid. The whole trip was so interesting though, driving through many villages, rice fields, corn, sunflowers, coconut, bananas, etc. Life seemed to go much slower in those beautiful places, so green, so clean, people were harvesting rice, I had never seen that before, it was really interesting.

The conversation with my driver were somewhat limited:
"Hello, please! Eating?"
"No, thank you"

"Sleeping, sleeping"
"No thank you, I like to watch the scenery (and make sure you are not going to fall asleep, or drive us into a cow, or a truck...)"

Then he told me something about going to a shop somewhere in Mysore. I really didn't get what he was saying but I guessed it was some shop where he would get commission...
"Excuse me, Mysore coming..."
"No, I don't feel like shopping thank you"
"No purchasing, just looking"
"No, really, hotel please..."

And all the usual questions, am I married, where is my husband, how much money I make per day, etc...

Well, it was fun. I am just a too tired to make this sound really interesting, and funny, but everyday brings some funny or touching moments and surprises. Like the waiter at the restaurant yesterday who brought me a plate with a sample of 3 different dishes that I never had before. Just like that, for free, like he knew I was a big fan of indian food and really interested in trying all the things on the menu!

Well, tomorrow I will be on my way to Madurai, then Kanyakumari and finally back up the Keralan coast all the way to Goa. Time flies. I must be having fun!!!!!!!!!!! (I truly am!)


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