About three hours down the road out of Banglore lies the city of Mysore. The cover of dawn still lingers on the city as we drive out and Muslim men on their way back from morning prayers dot the usually packed roads. The sound of horns punctuating every breath and every step during the day, seems a distant dream as we chug down the first stretch of Mysore Road to visit the famous palace of Southern India.
The beeps don’t stop for very long though and it is no time at all that the beep, beep chorus starts to chime as India stretches it arms over the hills and wakes up.
Our trip to Mysore centered on the palace of the Wodeyar’s who ruled Southern India for seven centuries. The palace itself, is relatively new, with recent extensions being added as late as 1940. This doesn’t make the building any less impressive though. The palace is open to the public, but no photographs can be taken inside. It’s a shame since a lot of the architecture, especially the main hall, is exquisite. The stained glass shimmers in pastel hues and reflects the jade greens and glittering gold of the marble floors and decor. Though beautiful, what really brings the crowds to the palace gates is Mysore Palace at night. Then the turrets shimmer and wink in the setting sun to all those who stand in awe to admire it. Like an Indian bride, the palace stands completely adorned, but instead of Indian diamonds and rubies, Mysore’s jewels are the humble light bulb. Only Indians would now how to make something that seems so ordinary come alive with the promise of myths and romance. Now the palace, which during the day looked dusty and sad in it’s spent grandeur, instead made us think of demanding rajahs and epic romances.The pop of the lightbulbs switching on was a true eureka moment and a cheer went up through the crowds as if the Raj himself had blessed his subjects from the royal balcony. The atmosphere was infectious and it wasn’t long before us interns were starry eyed with the reflections of a 1001 lightbulbs shimmering in our eyes. It’s easy to see why this attraction brings in over 2.8 million visitors a year- only second in India to the Taj Mahal.
Aside from the palace, We visited the Rail Museum, well worth stopping in. Entry was 10 rupees but you could climb aboard old steam engines and even have a ride on one too. Chamundi Hills has to be on your list if you visit the city. About half an hour up the steep mountains by car/auto or you can climb up the perilous 1008 steps, lies a stunning temple, intricate but ordered like concrete lace and home to scurrying monkies and roaming cows. It’s immensely peaceful up on those hills and offers views over the palace city, the rolling hills, the rigid mountains and lush green everywhere. The beep beep mantra of the city transforms into chirping birds and for once, India is still. After the hustle of the city, we interns were grateful for a comma in our rambling conversation with India. Instead, we sat there and stared at each other, and for once I could understand India as a spiritual place. India, so far, had been a place of every contrasts jarring to take centre stage; splashes and pops of colour, a cacophony of sounds and flashing images flit-flit-flitting in front of your blink-blinking eyes, never allowing you to absorb anything before another smell, or tug at your sleeve, diverted your attention from whatever it was on before.
Perhaps that is why no one seems to have fallen out of India yet; it surprises you with it’s beauty when you least expect it.
For more info on visiting Mysore, go to inmysore.com
Back to work tomorrow now though.
Namaste for now!