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Asia » India » Karnataka » Mysore March 10th 2014

Mysore overall is a very pleasant city – wide avenues, fine municipal buildings, though of course very much an Indian city. On our last full day here we went early to the Ranganathittu bird reserve near to Sriringapatna on the Cauvery river. We paid for a trip in a boat with other people, declining a private boat for INR2000. Suddenly the price came down to INR1000 (£10) at which price we said yes. Surprisingly we were not offered a receipt, I wonder if the two rangers declared our payment to their boss? The reserve comprises a number of small islands in the river. It is a beautiful serene place, with very few people if you arrive early. But peaceful it is not – instead the air is full of the sounds of thousands of birds cooing, ... read more
Nest building stork
The trainspotter
Obelisk at Sringapatna

Asia » India » Karnataka » Mysore March 9th 2014

Sunday morning. David is still recovering from Everton’s loss to Arsenal in the FA Cup. Continuing to meet our craving to eat something different, we reverse yesterday’s move from Indian to European food, and swap out the toast and omelette breakfast of the last ten days for an Indian breakfast of wada, sambur, yoghurt and lassi. Mr Ali, reliable as ever, collects us at 9am and we head to the Chamundi Hills which overlook Mysore. At the top is an old temple, still in use and absolutely heaving with people as today is Sunday and hence a day off. Mr Ali informs us that people start arriving at 5am. We decide not to join the queue, but instead wander back to the car through the numerous stalls selling trays of fruit and flowers for temple offerings ... read more
Lalitha Mahal Palace faded grandeur
Mysore palace
Sara with another nandi

Asia » India » Karnataka » Mysore March 9th 2014

We went back to the palace this evening to see it lit up. What an amazing sight - thousands of lights strung all over the place all shining brightly. turning it into a version of Cinderella's castle.... read more
Mysore palace at night

Asia » India » Karnataka March 8th 2014

We drive south through the rice paddies from Hassan. We ask Mr Ali to take us via Sharavanabelagola where there is a massive statue of a Jain saint on a hilltop. We arrive, gaze up at the 660 steps which you must ascend barefoot, and decide to give it a miss. The guide book suggests it’s a 2 hour round trip, barefoot up the rock which heats up. We return to the car, surrounded by aggressive hawkers and beggars clawing at us. We leave this unpleasant place. Sringapatnam. There are many ways to spell this town, but it was the site of the famous battle in 1799 when Tipu Sultan (he who owned the famous mechanical tiger now in the V&A Museum in London) was killed by the forces of the East India Company. The story ... read more
dungeon at Sringapatam
another day, another photo call
a venerable Ambassador

Asia » India » Karnataka March 7th 2014

A gentle day today, probably just as well as we were both exhausted after two days of route marching in the midday sun around Hampi. A 9am start proved to be just as well after it took 45 minutes for breakfast to arrive. Who’d think scrambled egg and toast was such a complicated order? Belur and Halebid are about an hour’s drive away (no hotels recommended anywhere nearer). Both have 11th and 12th century temples, amongst the greatest in India, built by the Hoysala kings, with an extraordinary quantity of exquisite sculpture. Bangles on a dancer’s wrist that move, despite all being carved out of a single piece of stone, 64 elephants marching in a ground level frieze, every one different to the next, dancing girls, gods, demons, mythical beasts, pillars covered with carvings – the ... read more
Belur temple
Mrs Thomas has had enough.......
Nandi the bull

Asia » India » Karnataka March 6th 2014

Hampi to Hassan If you are thinking of driving from Hampi to Hassan, be aware that the roads are pretty awful in places. One can see why this is a less well trodden route, most people jacking out of Karnataka at Hampi and taking the train to Goa. Not us though, we were off to see the great temples at Belur and Halebid, which necessitates this drive south. On the way we stopped at Chitradurga, to see the fort situated atop seven adjacent boulder strewn hills. The hill has seemingly been fortified for millennia and fell to Hyder Ali of Mysore in 1780 who lopped off the defeated king's head and stole all his treasure in time honoured Indian fashion. He was then succeeded by his son Tipu Sultan who further fortified the place and was ... read more
Marauding macaques

Asia » India » Karnataka March 5th 2014

It is difficult to convey the scale of Hampi. A city of 500,000 people, one of the great trading centres of the world in the 15 and 16th centuries, visited by merchants from England, Europe, the middle East and China. Devastated, pillaged and destroyed by vengeful Muslims from the Deccani sultanates after Talikota in 1565 (as the guide kept telling us ad nauseam), and then abandoned and overgrown by the jungle until discovered by an intrepid Englishman on his horse in the 19th century. And now a World Heritage Site, little known outside India. Massively long and wide colonnaded market avenues lead up to temple complexes of the 14th to 16th centuries. The temples were also social centres, so you find a dining and dormitory building, a consultation hall, a music and dancing hall and an ... read more
Intrepid explorer
Temple emerging from the jungle
At leisure in the coracle

Asia » India » Karnataka March 4th 2014

The drive from Badami to Hampi is only about two hours. Early excitement as we track two guys on a motorbike carrying a pane of glass at right angles to the direction of travel so it acts as a great big windbreak. They nearly come off as they swerve over a speed bump, but we get bored as they seem to have the hang of it and are not going to fall off, so we tell Mr Ali to speed up. The land is fertile and the trees a mix of deciduous trees and palm trees, coconut and banana groves abound, as do fields of sugar cane and rice paddies. Gone are the fields of wheat and cotton. The temperate climbs again, as does the cloud cover. “Cool today” says Mr Ali. “Only 30, when warm ... read more
Carrying glass on a motorbike
Haven't you got jobs to go to

Asia » India » Karnataka March 3rd 2014

Strange things happen.... as we sit in the lobby/dining room of our hotel (only place with wi-fi) under the cooling breeze of a fan, a small white rabbit has just ambled past. And left, presumably not wishing to be spotted by the cooks. Badami is famous for its rock temples, hewn and carved out of massive sandstone cliffs. For once, we don’t need the sensible hats that cause so much derision, as the temples are in shade first thing in the morning. Today we have a guide, recommended to us by our guide at Hyderabad and charging a modest £9 for three hours. There’s no doubt you see and appreciate a lot more with guide, even though yesterday we were so hot we just wanted to keep going and would not have paid attention to explanations ... read more
Market in Badami
baby bunny
Badami temple carvings

Asia » India » Karnataka March 2nd 2014

The day breaks in dusty disgusting Bijapur. I awake and contemplate the brown smears on the bedroom wall.....just what is that substance? Best not to think, get up shower, and give thanks that the bowels have held up after last night's delicious dinner – 1.5l of beer, 8 biscuits (cost 10p per packet) and six bananas. We could not face the food bizarre downstairs. We had tried room service; a man appeared with a grease stained menu card. “Is not our menu is someone else's, food not same prices not same but maybe similar”. Excellent salesmanship you will agree. We gave up at that point and took comfort in beer. By 8am we are packed and ready to flee but Mr Ali the driver does not start till 830am. But at 825am we espy him and ... read more
Pattadakal temples
Playing in the 6th century water tank




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