Mysore is a pretty place. Less manic than the fast paced Bangalore, with a certain charm. Famous for its beautiful palaces, sarees, pashmina and sweet “Mysore Pak” which is tasty!
After the two nights in Bangalore I decided that was enough for me, so I thought to try my first time on a standard non AC bus. I figured I would sooner do a smaller trip to start off with and I am glad I did. It was hard trying to get to the bus station as none of the auto-rickshaw drivers understood what I meant until finally one of them managed to take me and luckily I just got the bus in time. It was full of people but not rammed however no space to put my backpack in a hold. This meant my backpack had to stay between my legs and if any of you have had to sit on a standard Indian bus will know it’s not particularly comfortable. Anyway after 3 hours, Mysore was in sight. Getting a bus was a good experience for me and pleased I managed to do it without ending up in the middle of nowhere!
Once I arrived, I was again overwhelmed as I was still struggling to get used to people hassling me. A nice man called Mr. Nagendra asked me if I was staying anywhere and offered to take me to a hotel and see the room before I stayed. I took him up on the offer and ended up in the Aschwrya Residency close to the city centre. It was a nice room and definitely better than the one in Bangalore however I did find out there was no bar and when I ordered food it came from a takeaway although it was quite nice – Dal Palak (Lentils & Spinach) with Roti.
Mr. Nagendra offered to take me on a tour of Mysore. The first part involved the famed Mysore Palace. It’s a bit cheeky as Nationals only have to pay Rs.20 whereas Foreigners have to pay 10X as much at Rs.200. I suppose it helps pay towards restoration or you would hope so anyway! It is a bit of rigmarole as you go in as you have to deposit your camera in one room then walk to a foot stand and take your shoes of and then go through another Camera scanner and then go through another barrier before being able to actually get into the palace. It is funny as they say strictly no photography but everyone takes photos on their phones. Photos are allowed outside the Palaces in the grounds surrounding.
The palace itself is amazing and a couple of travellers have said they think that it is the nicest building they have seen after the Taj Mahal so I am really pleased I saw it.
The Kingdom of Mysore was ruled by the Wodeyar dynasty from 1399 until the independence of India in 1947. Mysore was not always the capital of the kingdom. Srirangapattana was named the capital in 1610 but later it was moved back to Mysore after a battle where Tipu Sultan (nicknamed the Tiger of Mysore) became De facto ruler who was son of Hyder Ali (an officer in the Mysorean army, and his second wife, Fatima or Fakhr-un-nissa). Later the Wodeyar family reclaimed rule after Sultan was removed from power. Mysore was then named the capital again with a new palace being built. This burnt down in 1897 and then The regent of Mysore, Maharani Vani Vilas Sannidhna, commissioned a British architect, Henry Irwin, to build yet another palace in its place. The construction was completed in year 1912.
After the Palace I was taken to a Pashmina shop where I was explained about how they are made. It was so obvious that prices are a lot higher than the items are worth. I gave in and bought something in there. Next I got taken to incense market. Here a little old lady squatted whilst rolling bamboo sticks over a black coating. I was explained by a young guy that this was charcoal mixed with a combination of ingredients including almond oil to make this sort of black sponge. This is then rolled onto the thin bamboo sticks and these are left to dry for a day in the sun before being coated in another oil with a scent such as Jasmine, Geranium oils, Lemon oil etc. which is what we know as incense sticks. These oils were all explained to me as each had a healing property e.g. one for Delhi Belly or one for stress. It was interesting but of course they wanted me to buy them and I just said to them “What would I do with scented oils???” before swiftly leaving!
I then got taken to a church which wasn’t particularly special before returning to my hotel. It was a rip off slightly but at least I got to see the Palace.
I did like Mysore slightly but I would have preferred to be with people as it was quite lonely which is why I decided I had enough of not meeting anyone. After a chat with a few people I realised enough was enough and I decided to head somewhere I thought there would be more people and it was the best decision I made! I asked the hotel in Mysore if I could get to Goa from Mysore and the only way is a bus so they helped me get a ticket reservation. I stayed one night and then headed to the bus station for a 14:30 departure.
My first long bus journey experience was about to begin!!!