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Published: January 30th 2017
Impressive. Apart from yoga, perhaps the only reason to come to Mysore.
From the first jarring judder bar, I knew this was going to be a rough ride. This ancient school bus did not have the softest suspension.
And Indians sometimes ask the most random questions. The bloke next to me opens a conversation asking me how much I paid for the shorts I was wearing. In which to answer, I needed to remember where I bought it, how much I paid for it and then convert that into rupees. He then asks me which cellphone company I was with. Since I have an international SIM card, this wasn't an easy explanation either to someone who didn't speak English very well.
Rolling into Mysore, my first impressions was that this was just another dirty, dusty, hectic Indian town. And a bit of a shithole.
My hostel was nice though; a former mansion, this place had its own fenced-off grounds, a yoga balcony and lots of nicely decorated common areas.
Hitting town for dinner, the place I wanted to eat at was closed so I got dragged into a dingy, local dive by a very friendly, English-speaking, local man. With not many people in there I feared that I was now going
Spectacular room inside the Mysore Palace.
to get my first proper case of Delhi belly. As it turned out, I ate like a king - or a pig depending on your perspective - as I scoffed down a thali
, a roti
and a masala dosa
. It wasn't quite MTR in Bangalore
but was still good. For ₹70, who's complaining? All that food for less than £1. Unbelievable Jeff. Just waiting now to see how long it will take the food to go right through me...
Mysore is the yoga centre of South India and people come from all over the world to learn and practice here. Yoga isn't really my thing to be honest; I was here for Mysore's other big attraction - its amazing royal palace.
And it is impressive. The architecture is rather unique; the palace's audio guide labels the style as Indo-Saracenic but since it was built just over 100 years ago, there are more than a few Victorian elements too. What impressed most initially however, was its sheer size.
The palace was home to the Wodeyar royal family, who were allowed to continue to rule this part of India, which included Bangalore, despite the British being in charge at the time.
St Philomena's Cathedral
The tower of this impressive gothic church is 55m high.
Like the Bangalore Palace, photos were strictly forbidden; unlike the Bangalore Palace, I had the bravery this time to sneak photos on my phone. The place was absolutely rammed with mostly local visitors and there was no way the guards were going to catch everyone. Some locals didn't even attempt to hide their photo-taking. But it was definitely worth sneaking a few snaps. The most impressive room however, the private durbar hall
, was just a bit too difficult to sneak a photo of. I can assure you however that it was magnificent.
Apart from the palace however, I found the rest of Mysore to be a bit disappointing.
I didn't think much of the Jaganmohan Palace and the railway museum full of old carriages and locomotives was pretty ordinary; I reckon a few of the current Indian trains in use could be put on display here!
The Devaraja Market was busy and a little overwhelming - even by Indian standards. This centuries-old bazaar doesn't have a lot of space and on more than one occasion I got stuck in the traffic with nowhere to go, people all around me shouting and brushing past me as I tried to take
These colourful dyes are used to make the religioius markings you often see on Indian foreheads.
photographs. Like the KR Market in Bangalore, the sale of flowers, garlands and colourful kumkum
- powdered dyes - were a big thing here too.
My disappointment with the city continued on my last day. There was a place that supposedly did the best dosas
in town and according to an Australian girl I had met at the hostel, they were the best she had ever had. Big call. Coming off the best dosa I've ever had in Bangalore, this place had a lot to live up to. Serving only dosas was a good start - better to do one thing well than many things badly - but it wasn't anywhere near the best dosa I have ever had. The cheapie place I ate at the previous night was better. The dosa was soft rather than crispy although it did taste OK.
In terms of the last couple of sights that I saw, Government House was simply a mansion in acres of gardens but St Philomena's Cathedral was actually pretty impressive. It stands some 55m tall and with its gothic architecture, it wouldn't look out of place in England. The inside was being completely restored though so you
On the ceilings of the Public Durbar Hall in Mysore Palace.
couldn't go inside, but it was curious to see such a building in such surrounds.
I could've gone up Chamundi Hill for a view over the city but I've seen a lot of views over various cities and I just didn't think that the view from there would've been much different from anywhere else. It certainly wouldn't be like Hampi
. So I spent the rest of the day catching up on blogs.
Some observations before I sign off this blog entry;
- All over India, it is common for old men to dye their hair red or orange; in most Western societies, people go out of their way to avoid being a ginger. Not here however. I don't know the reasoning behind it, but I suspect it is religious. It is quite funny to see however. I wonder how the locals would react to seeing a carrot top Irishman!
- Almost all the restaurants are named as hotels here, which is a bit annoying and confusing if you're looking for an actual hotel. I suspect that hotel restaurants once served the best food, a belief that seems to have stuck.
- Almost every wall is an unofficial urinal
Swetha Varaaha Swamy Devasthanam
Hindu temple at the south entrance to Mysore Palace.
and the stench of urine can be omnipresent - but from a male perspective, it's kinda handy, as you know you can piss just about anywhere and that no-one is going to give a f*ck. I mean, I wouldn't piss anywhere
, but certainly any sort of bush is fair game.
So is Mysore an eyesore? It's hard to say really. Some parts are ugly but no more ugly than other places in India; the palace would be an eyesore in a good way.
In the end I couldn't wait to get out of there; I had been in Karnataka for a while now and felt I needed a change. Which was why I was pretty excited to be going to Kerala!
ಆಮೇಲೆ ಸಿಗೋಣ (Āmēle sigōṇa),
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