The trip to Mysore was quite challenging, as we had to bind to the timelines of winding up our sight-seeing and leaving for “Ooty” by minimum 4 pm, as the gates at Bandipur and Madhumalai National Parks get closed by 7 pm and we needed to get across before that. The road from Coorge to Mysore was lined with Nilgiri trees and there were ample fields of rice, ginger and jawar.
We started our tour with Vrindavan Garden in Mysore. This is in fact a twin garden on both the sides of the lake formed by a dam on Cauvery River. The dam is quite huge and you get a spectacular view of the river on the other side, as you go up the dam. The dam is called as Krishnaraja Sagar Dam. Walking down the length of the dam could have been an interesting experience, but unfortunately that was prohibited.
The garden is spread across huge area and enchants you with varieties of flowers,decorative alignments, multiple steps and the water flowing in the middle of those steps and fountains that create visual melody. An aquarium close to the garden is worth a look, as it exhibits some of the rare species of fish.
Our next spot was the Mysore Palace. This palace is a great example of Indian architecture during 18th century. It gives an idea of the grandeur and luxury enjoyed by the Vadiyar kings. The entrances are marked by the typical South Indian style Temple, with tall pyramid shape ceiling and artistic carvings at each step. The majestic stone carved statues of a pair of tigers, reminds you the majesty of those days when kings ruled most of the part of India.
The palace was initially build out of wood and was burnt to ashes in a fire. The current model was build later on and the construction of this palace went on for more than 20 years. The front of the palace has huge ground, where the celebrations and artistic display happened during the Dusshera celebrations. The front portion of the palace also has arrangement for royalty and guests to sit, who could watch these celebrations.
The king seems to have good European connections and the gifts in the form of statues in European marble, the tiles in the “Diwan E Khas” establishes this fact. The middle hall has beautiful Scottish stained glass roof, while the pillars are cast iron pillars from Britain.
The palace has an “Aakhada” to watch kushti’s (wrestlings). Each room, each wall, each pillar, each door exhibits intricate artwork and lavish display of royalty. There is abundant use of ivory, Burma Teak , gold and silver and gives some idea about the lavish life of the kings in our history. The depictions of some of the events like processions, celebrations, “Shastra Pooja” were painted beautifully with minute details. Some of the paintings of royal family members were painted by the famous Indian Artist Ravi Verma and the artwork is really classy.
Even to-date a huge procession with the Mata Chamundeshwari’s statue, placed over an elephant marks the famous Dusshera and Navaratri celebrations in Mysore.
The sixty Ruppees unlimited thali in Siddhartha restaurant, with vast variety of vegetables, rassams was a cultural shock to me. It was difficult for me to finish the thali along with my wife and daughter, while people engrossed into this supple meal, finished items, course after course. I just admired their appetite and the promise that the hotel owner carried for them for probably so many years.
Although I had given strict warning, not to do any shopping just to make sure we travel light. Sheetal could not resist and she got some good scope to do some of her shopping at Mysore as we got a “all in one” shop close to hotel Siddhartha. She got a couple of Mysore silk sarees, few Sandle Wood Fragrance soaps and even Sandle wood powder.
Mysore zoo is one of the well maintained Zoo and it should be a must visit venue in your list, if you are in Mysore. The Zebras and Giraffes, the Gorillas and Baboons, all looked healthy and the atmosphere provided to them seemed quite friendly. I was having few bitter memories of my visit to Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivali, a few months back, where I really felt pity for one or two of those lions and tigers, literally counting their days in that most hostile environment.
We had to rush to our cab and start our journey to Ooty by 4 pm, as the gates of the Bandipur and Madhumalai forests close by 7 pm. These forests are thickly wooded and reminded us of some of our geological treasures. We were lucky to get close to few of wild animals in their natural habitat. I could see few peacocks crossing the road, while a herd of deer, having water at the water hole and few elephants rubbing their skin against the huge trees in the forest.
The feeling was of thrill as well as fear. The driver had told us few stories of the elephant blocking the road and then we having to wait for them as they pass their way into the jungle after teasing us for a while, as if telling us that you are tress passing our area and better be careful 🙂