Sunday, June 26, 2011

It is like an oasis in Hell

After completing my second week at Avesthagen, I had a low key Friday and Saturday before going to Mysore on Sunday.  Mysore is a city about 3 hours away, in Indian time but 4 hours or more in reality.  A gentleman at work drives a taxi on the weekends to make extra money so he was generous enough to let us hire him for the entire day.  He picked the four of us up at Prestige Langleigh at 6 AM this morning.  Driving the Mysore allowed me to see rural India, filled with rice fields, dilapidated villages where people live in tin huts with no electricity, and a random Cafe Coffee Day which provided me with energy to get the morning started.  There is no real coffee here, just mochas, fraps, and cappuccinos but that will do as there are no Starbucks in India either. 
I first stopped at the Sultan's summer palace.  The gardens are expansive and gorgeous and there is an elongated fountain leading visitors from the entrance to the house which is not a museum.  Indians pay 5 rupees to enter while 'foreigner's are charged 100 rupees, just a tad excessive but it got worse because the Mysore Palace charged 200 rupees for foreigners.  The Sultan's home is falling apart and the paint is chipping.  Portraits are not protected and the sun is slowly fading away the vibrant colors of the walls and outside.  India does not keep up with their monuments, instead everything is left as is for hundreds of years.

Next we went to a temple and although it is respectful, I still hate taking off my shoes at any of India's religious tourist attractions.  Next we drove to a lake where a woman and her daughter were fishing and several trinket kiosks lined the pathway to the lake.  Four male teenagers traveling from 160 KM away, the same distance as us, asked to take our picture and although they looked as if they are in a boy band and wore the same yellow converse sneakers, we accepted and took pictures with them.  They gave us some of their star fruit which is incredibly sour but tasty.

Around 11 AM we arrived in the much anticipated Mysore, located 160 KM southwest of Bangalore.  Srinivas, our driver/co-worker, took us to Chamundi Hill which is 3,500 Feet above sea level and provides for a gorgeous view of Mysore. There is also a temple at the top.  The temples are so intricate in design and covered in ornate sculptures.  Cows road outside the temples and on the streets along with beggars that harass you as soon as you leave your vehicle.  Salespeople continuously followed us as we walked around the historical sights and we successfully did not give in to buying any trinkets.

Lunch took place on a rooftop restaurant, quite popular in India, connected to a hotel near the palace.  I had buttered chicken and ghee rice with buttered naan.  I love Indian food and am constantly eating excessive amounts.  Between going out to eat and dinner by Babu & Son, I will never go hungry.  After lunch, I went to Mysore Palace, which again is not well preserved and cost 200 rupees to enter but the audio guide is free which is extremely convenient for understand the history behind the palace.  The palace is situated in the middle of Mysore and a large garden surrounds the structure which was built in 1912 and the main tower is 145 feet in height.  There is an octagonal marriage hall inside the Palace, which hosted many royal weddings, along with a spectator room for the King and Queen to be entertained and a doll pavilion which is slightly creepy.and has hosted many royal weddings.  The palace lights up at night with 96,000 lights.  After an educational day of touring Mysore and the nearby area, I became exhausted and could not wait to return home for dinner, however, the drive took 4 hours.

Cafe Coffee Day in the middle of rural India


Cow grazing on top of Chamundi Hill

Outside the Sultan's summer home.

Wedding Hall inside Mysore Palace

Our new boyband friends

Mother and Daughter fishing in the lake

Mysore Palace

Hall inside Mysore Palace


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