Along the Away

a traveler's tales

Weekend in Mysore

Whilst I am working hard in Bangalore these few months I want to make the most of my home base by heading out of town when I can. I’m going north after my time in Bangalore so it will be good to spend some weekends visiting places here in the south.

This past weekend Alicia and I hopped on a bus on Saturday morning and headed to Mysore. The 3 hour ride was great; the bus was a local bus but comfy and seats for all (ie no-one hanging out the windows). It cost the grand sum of Rs95 which amounts to about $2.15. Yes, really! I enjoy travelling by public transport as watching India pass by the windows is fascinating. The villages, women in saris, gorgeous kids, cows on the road – life just unfolding in the chaos. You also see the random peaceful glimpses of India too, fleetingly existing between the villages; it’s so interesting to watch.

We arrived in Mysore around lunch time and took an auto to a B&B called the Guru Residency, which was recommended by a guy in my team at Janaagraha. I’d also recommend it to anyone, it was cheap (about $35 for the night for two of us) with standard room facilities, as well as clean and with friendly customer service. After lunch we took a walk around Mysore which is really quite charming. All my colleagues at work rave about Mysore, loving it’s quieter, slower pace for weekends away from the bustle of Bangalore, and I agree, it was a great change of pace.

We wandered through town to the Palace of Mysore, home of Mysore’s royal family. It is a magnificent building, breathtaking even as you start to walk up the path to the gate. Purchasing tickets is an energetic affair. There’s a line but if you stand in it you won’t get served. The throng around the ticket window is fierce, elbows are literally required to stand any chance of getting close enough to thrust your money in through the tiny opening and hold out the same number of fingers as tickets that you need. We worked as a team, I acted as a barrier preventing people pushing past and Alicia torpedoed her hand through the crowd and into the opening. Someone on the other side takes the money and then presses the tickets and change into your fist and pushes your hand back out. We never actually saw the face on the other side. Like most tourist places in India, there is a tourist price and an Indian resident price, in this case it was Rs200 for us and Rs20 for the locals. I don’t know how they figure it which you need from how many fingers you’re holding up. Perhaps the colour of Alicia’s fingers were enough to allocate us the right price!

The art of ticket buying in India: Alicia prepares for battle.

Once in the gate, you can walk around the outside of the palace at leisure – and it’s really beautiful. There is a one directional walking tour that can be taken through the part of the palace open to the public, showing a tiny peek at the amazing architecture, furniture and painted interiors. The intricate painted patterns on the walls and ceilings were really beautiful – and exclusive, no cameras are allowed inside the palace. We eventually left the palace for a while and sought some quiet refuge in a cafe as we seemed to attract a bit more interest here than in Bangalore, where we are hardly given a second glance. Of course being a tourist attraction we were approached a lot by hawkers at and around the palace, but the locals are just as interested too, many walking by and saying ‘hellooo madam’ and walking off. It’s kind of funny, but a bit tiring after a while. There’s no conversation, they just say ‘hellooo madam’ and then walk off giggling. And it’s pretty much exclusively the Indian young males.  Some of them started to take photos and video of us ‘secretly’ – if we look at them they quickly point the camera at their friend instead – strange!

Photo attention

We later returned back to the palace to see it at night – definitely the highlight! While beautiful in the day, the palace lit up at night is truly gorgeous. The atmosphere is also remarkably better – although the crowds are still there, the grounds are almost reverentially hushed, so peaceful.

After leaving the palace we detoured by the Devaraja market; we planned to go on Sunday anyway but thought we’d take the opportunity to soak up some of the night market atmosphere as well. Plenty of fresh produce and flowers were on display, as well as colourful mounds of tikka powder and bottles of essential oils.

The colours of tikka

We came across a hungry cow having the feast of his life from the scraps of the fruit and veg stalls, ignoring the hustle and bustle around him :)

Hungry market cow

When we returned in the morning we lingered too long at a bangles stall and each ended up with a bag of them. The owner of the stall was a lovely man who took great delight in taking photos with us, directing us to take more and checking out the end product on the display screen. He was a happy fellow however his photo pose was not quite representative of this; it’s funny how serious he looks :)

Before going home on Sunday we went for lunch at a relaxing outdoor restaurant called the Olive Garden which was also recommended to us. It was next to a resort called Windflower; and whilst Alicia went to their day spa to get a pedicure I relaxed with a book in the gardens. The peace was only interrupted when a nosy cockatoo came trotting around the corner to say hello (I later noticed a nearby cage, he must be kept as a pet). Not long after a flock of noisy geese came by… not so peaceful, but they were friendly!

Peace.... then Geese....

A lovely weekend in Mysore in all, I hope I have the opportunity to go back there again.

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Sydney based, coastal dwelling. When I'm not at work I'm somewhere outdoors, or in the yoga studio, or at my local cafe, or pottering at home.

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