This week we went to Mysore (newly changed to Mysuru), which is southwest of Bangalore. Carol’s son Brody is here, visiting during Christmas break. He is a student at Art Center in Pasadena, CA, USA. This posting shows photos of the trip, particularly of Mysore Palace, the giant Nandi on Chamundi Hill and then the walk up 300 steps to Chamundeswari Temple. A few photos from downtown Mysore are also shown.
Brief History of Mysore
The following was taken from the wikipedia entry on Mysore:
Until 1947, Mysore was the capital of the Kingdom of Mysore which was ruled by the Wodeyar dynasty, except for a brief period in the late 18th century when Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan took power. The Wodeyars were patrons of art and culture and have contributed significantly to the cultural growth of the city, which has led to Mysore earning the sobriquet Cultural Capital of Karnataka.
According to Hindu mythology, the area around Mysore was known as Mahishūru and was ruled by a demon, Mahishasura. The demon was killed by the Goddess Chamundeshwari, whose temple is situated atop the Chamundi Hills.
Journey to Mysore
We felt like being adventurous, so we took busses from Tiruvannamalai to Bangalore (newly named Bangaluru), then from Bangalore to Mysore. The bus to Bangalore was about Rs 90 each, with a similar cost to get to Mysore.
Below is a map from Google Maps:
We started about 7 am. Our rickshaw driver took us to the bus station. On the way, he saw the bus, and flagged it down on the street. Since we were late getting seated, we were at the very back of the bus. This would have been OK, but a window was open and broken so it could not be closed. It is pretty cool right now, and we had a cool wind for the next five hours. The back of the bus was noisy, and seemed to emphasize all the many bumps in the road.
During the drive more and more people boarded the bus until we felt like we were in a bus from some movie about India. Then they started exiting, and the bus was no longer crowded.
It was five hours to a nice new bus station (called “bus stand” here). At the other end was an express bus to Mysore that left every 15 minutes, so we could take the time to eat lunch.
The drive to Mysore was only three hours, so we were into the city before dark, and could easily find a hotel to stay for the night.
The biggest attraction in Mysore is the Mysore Palace, so that is where we started out to the next morning. We walked to the wrong entrance, so we took a pony cart to the main entrance. It was a nice ride through traffic, and cost Rs 30.
As we approach the palace, the wide boulevard is lined with majestic trees.
The shot below is from inside the main gate, where there was one of several Hindu Temples. This was a Siva temple, I believe.
Everyone needed to walk through metal detectors for security. Entrance into the palace cost Rs 200 each for foreigners, Rs 20 for Indians.
Across the garden stands the magnificent Mysore Palace, seen below from several views.
Many people were lined up to enter the palace.
Going through security in the palace (tighter than to enter the grounds) they detected our two cameras. While we could use them outside the building, we were not allowed to have them inside the palace. Since the camera check stand was way across the grounds, the security guard said that if he gave him some money, we could keep them in our bags as long as we did not use them. I tried to pay him Rs 10. He wanted Rs 20.
Inside the palace was amazing, with wonderfully carved doors, inlaid floors and doors, exquisite pillared halls lit from the stained glass ceiling, and many paintings on the wall.
I realized looking at the paintings that during British rule the Sultan of Mysore still stayed in power, ruling like a maharaja, with enormous wealth, and much pomp and ceremony. He ruled until India became an Independent country in 1947.
Walking through the palace were many school groups. Below is a group leaving the palace to walk on the grounds.
On the grounds, you could get a camel ride. Rs 20 for this.
For Rs 100 you could ride an elephant.
In another Hindu Temple, there is the wonderful Naga.
And, I think, some guardian.
In Mysore city, on Sri Harsha Road
Later that day we went back into the center of town.
On Sri Harsha Road, there was this pop star figure near in front of a night club.
In front of a nearby theater, was another giant set of figures.
In front of Park Lane Hotel were these two carvings, fitted into trees. They have lights within them that light up at night.
The next morning, we started out at the main Mysore market. Both Carol and Brody were just fascinated by the merchants selling colors, used, I guess, in kolams (door figures used to keep evil spirits away. Highly decorated ones are common in big festival days). It says it can also be used as paint, when mixed with water.
The man running the stall offered a set of 12 colors. He said it was Rs 240, and the package was so marked. Later we saw another merchant selling the same packages for Rs 50, so we knew that we had been had. We looked closely at the package and could see the the ‘2’ of ‘240’ was written in another handwriting.
The colors are great though.
The market was big, with many covered sections.
One part just sold fruit.
We had never before seen red bananas.
This man walking into the market seems to have a very big load, as much as he could carry on his head and with both arms.
The vegetable market side had fresh vegetables of many different kinds, some of which we know, many of which we do not.
Brody taking a photo of a boy, who asked that his picture be taken. Most boys seem to like this.
Then to the flower market. We saw here that these flowers were sold to other merchants, maybe street vendors, who in turn sell to those who pass by.
Here are malas.
Big piles of mums, strung together.
These are the kind of flowers used on women’s hair, in a long rope.
And many rolls of yellow flowers. These are, I think, mainly used to decorate statues and paintings of gods.
Mums of various colors, strung together.
Then to an incense and fragrance vendor.
Here he is making incense sticks for us. He makes his using honey, so they burn for up to one hour.
When he sells ‘essential oils’ he can package them in fancy bottles.
A bit of shopping
After the market, we went into town for breakfast. Here is Brody eating his first dosa.
And we had to stop and shop for sarees, and a nice scarf for Brody’s girl friend, woven silk.
Mysore was, I am told, the center of the silk production during the British years. Maybe that is why the sultan was so rich and would build such elaborate palaces. And during the trip I saw silk worm farms, run by the government, so this continues to this day.
Once again we found a good rickshaw driver to help us on a trip. This is Asif. He has good English, and knows about the different places and can act as a tour guide. If you are ever in Mysore and need someone who can help you with rides, shopping, and local tours, call Asif at 9341 900 131.
Asif took this picture of the three of us.
Here is Mysore, down the hill.
There is a one-thousand-step set of stairs going all the way up the mountain. Asif took up up to where there were only 300 steps left.
At the foot of this stairway were a number of good spiritual sites.
Here is a ‘Cave Shiva Temple’ with monkeys climbing on top.
Here is a close up of a monkey family, near the Siva temple.
Here is a human family near the Siva temple.
Next is the giant Nandi, 15 feet high and 24 feet long.
Naturally, this Nandi is well cared for, with thousands of visitors each day.
Nandi towers over Carol.
Above the Nandi is another small temple. Here Carol gets blessed by the priest.
Next is the climb up the 300 stairs. It is mid-day, in full sun. It is a good climb. I am glad we have hats.
At the top is another ancient temple, Chamundeswari Temple, celebrating her victory over the evil demon Mahishasura. Chamundeswari is another name for Durga.
Thousands of people were here to get darshan of the Goddess.
This cow, though, is resting nicely on the motor bike seat.
In front of the temple, some one in priestly garb is selling a chance to get the flame and be blessed with vibhuti and kum kum without needing to go into the Temple.
They had two different ‘classes’ of darshan. Here is a small part of the Rs 20 line. There was also a line for Rs 100. I don’t know what that line was like.
Below is the demon, Mahishasura. This photo was taken from the Mysore wikipedia listing.
This is the main gate, gopuram, into the temple.
Here is the very top of the gopuram.
Carol and Brody stand by the coconuts. Brody had his first coconut today.
Then down the 300 steps. This is easier than up, though the steps are slippery, polished by the thousands of pilgrims who climb them. I fell once, slipping on a polished step.
Mysore Palace at Night
We read that on Sundays, the palace was beautifully lit up for a short time, an hour or so. This was a Thursday night, but, because it was Christmas, we saw that it was lit, as we passed by in our rickshaw. When we went back for a better look, most of the lights had been turned off. The main building is still lit for our photo, however.
The Trip Back to Tiruvannamalai
The bus trip back started normally. We found a bus going immediately to Bangalore. We thought that it was the same one we came on, going every 15 minutes.
When we got to Bangalore, the driver stopped the bus in the middle of a street near the rail terminal and told everyone to get out, this was the end of the route today.
I was very surprised that the bus did not take us back to the same station we left Bangalore from.
We found a tunnel into a BIG bus station. But this station had NO buses to Tiruvannamalai, mainly buses for destinations within Karnataka. Someone said Tamil Nadu busses left from some other terminal, and that we would have to take a shuttle bus to the terminal. We could find no shuttle bus. We went outside the terminal and talked to a rickshaw driver who said yes, there is another terminal, 18 km away, and the ride would cost Rs 150. Finally, not knowing what else to try, we said ‘yes’ and went on a ride of about 30 minutes to some other bus terminal. And there were buses from Tamil Nadu! so maybe this would work. And someone at this terminal said they had heard of Tiruvannamalai, and in fact in another hour one would depart from here. This was looking a lot better.
So after another hour we did get to leave for home. We only lost about 2 1/2 hours. Now there is just another five hours of bus ride home, where Rajan will pick us up and drive us to our house.
We made it home, tired and happy after another good trip. We may go back again to Mysore. We will know better how to get there, where to stay and what do to. We had wanted to go from Mysore into one of the several wild animal parks nearby, and maybe take an ‘Elephant Safari’ but we were not able to set this up this trip. So maybe another trip will be called for.