Hope that all is well with you
My first day here in Mysore has been spent getting used to the my new surroundings. After checking in to the hotel which is quite close to Mysore Palace I went in search of some food and an ATM.
Mysore is a pretty hectic place and I still don’t feel all that safe in the major cities crossing main roads but so far everyone has managed to avoid me.
Once I had found an ATM and worked out it would only ask for your pin once you had removed your card which seemed strange to me and got some cash, I found somewhere close by to get some food, although being near the Palace there didn’t seem to be many restaurants around but I did eventually find a small family run restaurant nearby that did a vegetable curry and patrothas for under a hundred rupees which is very cheap and it was pretty good so that kept me going until the evening.
After lunch I spent a couple more hours walking around Mysore and spotted a pizza place to return to in the evening which was about a mile from the hotel then headed back to the hotel for a rest as I hadn’t really slept traveling up from Fort Kochi on the bus.
One thing I did notice the first day here was how much cooler it felt, although this is the first hotel I’ve been in since being in India with a proper air conditioner instead of just a fan, I’ve had to switch it off otherwise it’s freezing in the room.
The next day I was up early to go out for a run before it got busy and try to find a safe route for runs this week and it being a Sunday morning it wasn’t to bad and I managed to get a decent run in and a few early morning photos taken along the way, ending up in front of the Palace where I was grabbed to be in some other peoples photos. After a shower I found another place nearby that did Dosas for breakfast ( a traditional South Indian breakfast) and then had my first visit to Mysore Palace and although I got there just as it opened it was already getting busy, and by the time I left about 1 1/2 later it was packed.
Mysore itself is the capital of Karnataka state. The wooden Palace that preceded the one here today was built around 1800 but destroyed by a fire in 1897. Construction of the current Palace began in October 1897 and was completed 15 years later in 1912.
Some of the internal architecture is quite spectacular and I will put up some pictures. After removing your shoes and leaving them at a kiosk you are encouraged to keep moving along by security inside the Palace otherwise I guess everyone behind would be down to a shuffle. There is a lot to see inside and not really enough time to take all of it in but you probably see enough in the hour or so it takes to go through the Palace. I do think the best views of it are from the outside anyway though.
I then had an easy afternoon back at the hotel before returning to the Palace in the evening as on Sundays and bank holidays they light up the Palace at 1900 with over 98000 bulbs, unfortunately it had started raining in the afternoon and it had continued into the evening so it was a bit wet, I think this kept the numbers down but it was worth the effort to see and normally I believe there is a small charge to get in but there was no one taking money when I got there. There’s also an orchestra that plays for a while when the lights come on so that was quite good.
On the way out there were hawkers trying to sell sandalwood fans, I thought they’d missed a trick as if they were selling umbrellas I’d of bought one and they would of probably sold out.
The next day it had stopped raining but was still cloudy and after breakfast I walked over to a mall I had read about on trip advisor just for something to do and having seen there was a cinema was interested to see what was playing, it was only a couple of miles from the hotel and gave me a chance to see some of Mysore that I hadn’t seen yet.
The mall was quite empty but was the first place I’ve seen that had Christmas decorations up here, the cinema was closed and didn’t have anything up saying want was playing so I had a look around and made my way out, on the way out I asked a Tuk Tuk driver how much it was to the train station as I knew I needed to book my onward journey to Bengaluru ( Bangalore ) soon, and as it was only 80 rupees to the station I took it but forgot that you pretty much need your passport to book anything here but I was still able to make enquires and get the form I needed to fill out. As it was only about a mile back to the hotel I walked back collected my passport and filled out the form and returned.
It’s not possible to just turn up at the train station here and buy a ticket and get on the train as there is paperwork to do and a lengthy wait to be seen, when I arrived back at the station I collected my number to be seen and had about 30 people ahead of me, an hour and a half later I still had 25 people in front of me ( but they do prioritise the elderly and disabled ) in the end the guy at the counter must of seen me standing at the back and fast tracked me so I jumped 25 places, otherwise I think I’d of been another few hours ( but I was only about 5 minutes when I got to the counter, previously everyone else seemed to be taking at least 20 mins each ). But at least I managed to get my ticket for Bangalore on Sunday sorted and I had booked the hotel for Bangalore in the morning.
I’m slowly getting to find my way around Mysore and finding more places to eat but so far it’s not what I expected and less built up than I thought it would be, although it is pretty busy most of the day and I’ve seen a few tourists but so far not as many as I thought I would, I was planning to go on a guided walking tour of the city but found when I tried to book it there fully booked all week unfortunately.
In the evening I decided to make my way over to a part of Mysore I hadn’t been to yet and had a restaurant called Depth of Green that got good reviews, it was just over 2 miles away and although I got conflicting reports as to weather it was open Or not I decided to go. Luckily when I got there it was open and the area was a hive of activity and seemed to be popular with backpackers and other travellers ( mostly Europeans ). It was well worth the walk and I will definitely return whilst I’m here, the Buddha bowl and Banana and walnut cake were superb. Luckily on the way back it was mostly lit either by lights or the headlights of oncoming traffic as frequently paving slabs are either broken or missing completely leaving about a 3 ft drop, so in the dark it’s quite dangerous.
On the Tuesday morning I was up quite early and got a short run in before going off to explore some more of Mysore on foot, I had past an large Ashram ( Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama ) the previous evening and went in to see if I could visit, the book store there was quite big and the monk that was there directed me to the temple and said that I could go in, there were 4 others meditating in there when I went in and one monk burning incense, but I could only manage 20 minutes of sitting cross legged before I had to get up and leave. I’m afraid I missed out on the part when entering the temple disciplines of Hindu Indian Saint Ramakrishna Paramahamsa lie prone in front of his image. I was invited back to their service ( Sandhyarati & Bhajan ) that takes place every evening but didn’t go back, but it was nice to visit the temple and have a look around the grounds.
During the afternoon I eventually managed to track down a yoga studio in Mysore that did drop in classes which was quite difficult as they are nearly all set up for teacher training residential courses of 200 hours or more but i found one not too far away and have committed to the next four days starting at 6 each morning so will have to work any runs around that.
I was up early on Wednesday for the yoga class and I was a bit worried that I might be the only one there but when I arrived there were probably about 12 of us in total, about half European and half Indian. The class was in a fairly small room above a house and although only scheduled from 6 till 7 actually lasted an hour and a half. It was pretty challenging for that time of the morning as well with the first 20 to 30 mins consisting of fast paced Sun salutations with us following the instructors chants between each one and then lots of twists, binds ( felt like a pretzel 🥨) and standing balances ( not my strong point ). But it felt good and four days of that should benefit me.
After breakfast I walked over to Mysore Zoo which is about a mile and a half away. It was quite busy, mainly with school trips and probably took about 3 hours to walk around. It’s pretty interesting and the animals seem to be well cared for and there is a lot to see, the Indian children do like to speak to foreigners though and kept introducing themselves and asking my name, the older ones want their photo taken with you. It was worth the trip over to see.
The next day It felt strange to be walking around so early in the dark and I got a few confused looks from the people that were up and about and probably not used to seeing tourists wandering around at that time of the morning, even the groups of dogs that seemed to be keeping watch over their own streets gave me some strange looks.
The yoga class had a different set of people there and not quite as many as the day before. I felt a little sore from the previous class but not too bad. The start was the same with lots of Sun salutations and chanting which is new to me.
The instructor then had everyone go through the yoga routine on their own which was supposed to be the same as we had done in the previous class whilst he went around and offered advice and adjusted postures.
I followed others as best I could as I couldn’t remember every pose we did but he was a great help and the levels were everything from sitting with feet behind head and handstands, headstands to myself and perhaps 1 other struggling with some basics but I feel like I’m getting a lot from it and he really helped me with a bind around the leg and clasping hands behind the back ( sorry my yoga knowledge doesn’t extend to the name of it ).
After breakfast I got a Tuk Tuk up to Chamundi hill planning on going for a run at the the top. It’s around 10 k from the centre of Mysore and even thought I could probably run back down but seeing that about half of it would be back though morning traffic decided against it.
At the top the driver offered to wait and take me back for 200 rupees and started to show me around, it was difficult to get though to him that I was going to run down the hill and back up again but eventually arranged to meet him in an hours time. It felt good to stretch the legs as I hadn’t run for a couple of days and I ran 2.5 k down before turning around and then stopped briefly on the way back up to take some pictures of Mysore from above. When I got back to the top I had time to look around and see the Temple but didn’t actually go in. ( I think I may be Templed out already ) Chamundi hill is a bit of a tourist trap with hundreds of hawkers selling pretty much the same stuff but I enjoyed going to the top and seeing Mysore from there.
Returning in the evening from a meal I was passing an area that I had gone past previously that is fenced off with some rusty barbed wire but this time I noticed an electrical cable coming out of the ground and wired to the fence, there were no signs to say it was electrified and I wasn’t going to test it to see if it worked but it’s just another seemingly everyday thing here that I wouldn’t expect normally and another danger to be aware of when just walking anywhere here.
The morning yoga class started again with lots of Sun salutations and chanting and certainly gets you warmed up. We then followed the instructor though some poses we had done previously and then some on the floor involving lots of leg and arm binds that I had never seen before and could get no where near to doing but it was good to try and just reminded me how inflexible I really am.
In the afternoon I decided to walk over to the Karanji nature park which is only a couple of miles away via a mall that has a large cinema, hoping to find that they may still be playing ” The Joker ” that I haven’t seen yet but unfortunately the only film that I recognised was ” Frozen 2 ” and I didn’t fancy sitting in the cinema watching that on my own so I gave it a miss.
The nature reserve wasn’t far from there and I was glad I went, once in it’s probably a walk of about 3 miles altogether along the side of a lake, The path is all shaded by trees and bamboo with an aviary, bird watching tower and well kept gardens and with quite a few monkeys running around. It was a nice peaceful escape from the noise of the city.
I turned up at yoga at the usual time thinking everything would be the same as in the week only to find it was different at the weekend, and there were 3 students starting a class with the same instructor as in the week.
The instructor explained that it wasn’t a normal yoga class but said I could take part if I wanted, The class was to be about ” cleansing “, it became apparent that this involved cleansing of the nose with salt water, internal cleansing which involved drinking 4 to 6 glasses of salt water and then vomiting and a salt water enema, I gathered that they were going to do the nose cleansing but took the first opportunity to leave when they had a break after about 1/2 an hour but they invited me to attend at 1130 when they would do a yoga class.
When I returned they were just finishing up their class and the yoga consisted of a warm up then a yoga based workout concentrating mainly on core with some lower back work which lasted about an hour, it felt like a good workout and on leaving they had me do a review on google for them. I did enjoy my classes there and was pleased that I found it.
After lunch I got a Tuk Tuk over to an area that the Tuk Tuk drivers had been pushing all week, calling it a “Yoga Museum ” even though I could find no reference to a Yoga museum online.
I was dropped off at basically a carpet shop which also sold mostly silk carpets but also some jewellery and sandalwood ornaments I could see it was a tourist hard sell place when I walked in but watched the carpet making demonstration ( which was interesting) and was given a tea whilst I watched but said that I wasn’t in the market for a carpet although they were very nice and obviously excellent quality and the large ones were £650 and that was his starting price. I eventually made it out of the store without seeing anything yoga related and could see other drivers waiting to try and take me to the next shop but I managed to escape and walked back to the hotel.
Well that will be pretty much it for Mysore now as I leave in the morning for Bangalore by train.
I was speaking to the woman who organised the yoga classes and another yoga student from Bangalore this morning and they both said that Bangalore is very busy compared to Mysore especially the traffic.
Mysore has been great but not the big city that I expected and I’ve missed the choice of restaurants that I had in both Patnem and Kochi. The main draw of Mysore is definitely the Palace but I did find enough to keep me occupied for the week here.
So the next blog should be coming from Bangalore, I’ve booked 3 nights there then 3 nights in Hampi then plan to return to Bangalore before heading over to Chenni ( formally Madras) on the east coast before Christmas.
So bye for now and take care