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November 1st 2006
Published: November 1st 2006
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After a teary farewell to Betty in Kerala we set off to our next destination. Tamil Nadu is a very large state just to the east of Kerala where we spent a couple of days at the former British Hill Station of Ooty. Ooty is a pleasant place to explore with beautiful views over the surrounding countryside, but alas we were not blessed with great weather and as a result our trekking opportunities were limited. The highlight of our trip here was the toy train we travelled on that brought us through the mountains. It consisted of an authentic steam engine that pushed five or six tiny carriages through some really beautiful countryside.

After Ooty we travelled into the state of Karnataka and spent a couple of days exploring the cities of Mysore and Bangalore. Mysore is a really nice city and is steeped in history and great architecture. The most flamboyant example being the stunning Maharaja's Palace, which is lit up like a fairytale palace by night. There are also some labyrinthine bazaars to explore where vendors sell exotic spices and fruits. We were lucky to be staying opposite the Jaganmohan Palace and Art Gallery which was formerly a music auditorium for the Maharaja. The upstairs of this Palace is now a museum for some fantastic rare musical instruments including sitars and tablas and less recognisable dusty music machines. After Mysore we spent a couple of days in Bangalore which we found really tiring. It was the weekend of the Diwali festival and the sprawling city was in full party mode but we failed to find where the crowds were going and even anywhere to get a drink at this religious time of year. We resigned ourselves to a trip to the cinema to see the latest Bollywood blockbuster "Don" which is actually a pretty fun movie - even though we aren't in it!

Next stop Hampi. Hampi is a beautiful, beautiful place. It is the former home of the Vijayanagar, one of the largest Hindu empires ever. It is now an expanse of boulder strewn ruins that stretch over some 43sq km. The boulders are huge and actually quite beautiful as they take on different shades and shapes in the movement of the sunlight. In the morning, the light on the rock creates a vibrant white, and at evening time the whole place becomes a deep relaxing red colour. Hampi is a place to slow down in India, to hop on a bike and go exploring and climbing. Another amazing highlight of our whirlwind trip of the south. Oh and I can't forget to mention Lakshmi the temple elephant who blessed us with her trunk when we gave her a rupee! In the morning we watched her getting washed in the river nearby.

After all that relaxing we had to say goodbye again. This time to Karnataka as we took an overnight bus to Palolem in Goa. Palolem seemed quite far away from our India experience so far, much more like a regular beach holiday place. It's a good place to chill out, but a little overrun with multi-cuisine restaurants serving up Tex-Mex and Jack Johnson Cd's. Not authentic India, but lovely people and beaches.

So all too soon we have to say goodbye to this beautiful country. Thanks again to everyone who made it so much fun! We will definitely be back again to explore the North.

Next stop? The land down under. Stay tuned...

Additional photos below
Photos: 20, Displayed: 20


Lunchtime thaliLunchtime thali
Lunchtime thali

For those who asked for more food snaps!
Street Elephant, MysoreStreet Elephant, Mysore
Street Elephant, Mysore

An elephant blesses passers-by on the first day of Diwali in Mysore
Rangoli vendor, Mysore marketRangoli vendor, Mysore market
Rangoli vendor, Mysore market

The powder is used to make patterns especially at Diwali time.
Other side of the river, HampiOther side of the river, Hampi
Other side of the river, Hampi

Cottages where we stayed, overlooking a lush Paddy field. Amazing views!
General Store, HampiGeneral Store, Hampi
General Store, Hampi

Not a whole lot to buy here after cycling around ruins on a hot day!

1st November 2006

I thought you said India was crap after I left?? It looks like you had way too much fun 'n' TexMex.
1st November 2006

me so bad at techie stuff
that last comment was from me by the way.. don't know why I'm incapable of logging in properly. Must be the jealousy. PS Thanks for the bday email, will respond shortly!
1st November 2006

Catherine's Lunch looks so tasty, making me all hungry, bring on lunch!

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