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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Trip to remember

Each time I wear your travelling shoes (Oh!!! I wear my normal shoes, just with a new enthusiasm), I feel happier. Some days before, I read a quotation about travelling,

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."

But, keeping that in mind, I still keep on seeking newer landscapes, newer people.

This time I visited Mysore, the cultural capital of Karnataka. Before going to the travelling details, I would like to share some of the historical facts about Mysore. Mysore, or better say the Kingdom of Mysore was ruled by the Wodeyar dynasty, except for a brief period in 18th Century when Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan usurped power. Even thought, the latter demolished a large part of the kingdom in order to remove the legacies of the Wodeyar dynasties, still after independence, the Wodeyar was allowed to retain his kingship and respect, under the title of Raj-Pramukh.

Now coming to our tour, it was a planned tour, and we made prior plans for the trip. We did not want to spend night outside, and so our preferred time was to go out early in the morning and return late night. We booked train tickets which left Bangalore at 7:00 in the morning, and reached Mysore at around 10:00. The cab was at our door at around 6:00, and we safely reached the Bangalore City Station by 6:35. We packed some breakfast, got on the train at 7:30 (half an hour late, however, it adjusted the time towards the end).

Chamundi Temple Entrance

At Mysore, while we were trying to plan some ways or routes to get to different places, we got confused. Moreover, we got surrounded by the local autos, and cabs. Finally, we chose a cab, who fixed Rupees 1200 for the whole day, and would put us back to the station by 8:30 pm for our return train.

So, our journey in Mysore started. First of all, we went to the Chamundi Hills, where there is a temple of Devi Chamundi. Mythology tells that the name of Mysore was taken from "Mahishashura" as this was the kingdom of the Buffalo-Demon. Devi Chamundi, or Devi Durga came here and fought with him, and finally killed him here.

Mahishashura atop the Chamundi Hills

On the top of the hill, we saw the Chamundi Temple and a large statue of Mahishashura. There were some cultural programme going on, surrounding the statue. The temple has two different entrance: One was free for common, and another was with a ticket for Special Darshan that takes less time.

On the pedestal road to the hilltop, one could see a giant statue of Nandi, the bull.

The Chamundi Hills provide a panaromic view of the city. On the way down, we saw a man with telescope who showed various spots of Mysore from the hills. Among others, the notable spots were like the Lalitha Mahal Palace, the Mysore Palace, the Karanji Lake etc.

Our next destination was the Mysore zoo. It was out of our plan, but really speaking, visiting a zoo affter so many days was thrilling. We saw giraffes, rhinos, tigers, elephants, lots of birds, monkeys, and lots of other things, and it was well managed, and well directed. They run a special battery-operated vehicle within the zoo campus, those who prefer not to walk so much. It saves time also.

After the two spots, it was the Lunch time for us, and the cab took us to Om Shakthi Restaurant. It was a nice restaurant with North Indian food available. We asked the cab driver to have food with us, but, I think the cab driver politely turned down the offer, and so we could spend our private time privately.

Mysore Palace
Post lunch, we went to the Mysore palace straight away. We had to enter barefoot, and this is the first time we tried an Audio Guide. It was not bad, but, it requires a lot of time, and only if you have some two hours in hand, then you can completely hear it. Anyhow, we shared it, and one was listening to the audio, and narrating it quickly to the other.

In the Mysore palace campus, we had two different palaces, most probably, they are shared between two parties of the present Wodeyar families. The first palace was better managed, which showed the king's durbar or the place from where the kingdom was managed, judgements were passed, and royal guests stayed. The second palace was the residential palace of the kings, and the queens.

St. Philomena Church

After the palace, we moved to the St. Philomena church. The foundation of this church was laid by the Maharaja of Mysore in 1933. It is a catholic church, and we saw pictures inside telling the story of Lord Jesus from left to right.

The story of St. Philomena dates back to 3rd century AD. She was blessed to childless parents after they prayed to God. When Philomena was 13 years old, her father took her to Rome to obtain the favour of Emperor. The emperor was enthralled by her beauty, and wanted to marry her. But mshe refused, and vowed to give herself to God. Consequently, she was tortured and beheaded in Rome.

After the St. Philomena church, we moved to Srirangapatna. It is a town situated mere 13 km from Mysore. It was the de facto capital of the kingdom under Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. The town takes its name from the Ranganathaswamy Temple.

File:Daria daulat.jpg
Daria Daulat, the palace of Tipu Sultan
We just saw two places of interest in Srirangapatna. The first one is the Daria Daulat, the palace of Tipu Sultan. The place closes at 5:00pm, and we came here at 4:50pm. So we ran, and the ticket counter was already closed. However, the people allowed us to go inside without tickets. So, it was a short stay there. it is not like a normal palace showingh different places  of the palace. Instead, it is more like an art museum, with pictures explaining the history of the place. It also had different relics like coins, weapons, dresses etc. However, due to shortage of time, we had to rush through some items, skipped some, and finished watching it.

Ranganathaswamy Temple

Next, we moved to the Ranganathaswamy Temple. As our cab stopped here, we could see many horses standing there for a ride. We chose a horse, and both of us rode on the same. Though my friend was very afraid in the beginning, but, it was really exciting for me, and I hope the same for my friend too. I really wish I could upload some of the our pics on the horse.

The Ranganathaswamy temple was a large enough temple in the typical South Indian style. It is said to be one of the important pilgrimage in South India for Vaishnavites. However, there was not much crowd.

Then we moved to the last destination of Mysore, the Vrindavan Gardens. It was again some distance by the cab, and on the way started the twists of our journey. Till now, it was a smooth journey, and everything was going on the right track. But, on the road, suddenly, the cab had some problem. Anyhow, it carried us to the Vrindavan Gardens, but after reaching there, the driver said that the car has some problem, and it was not possible for him to take us back. So we have to return on our own. But, we will be facing no problem as there are lots of bus services from here to the Mysore Station.

Fine, we do not have everything under our control, and since we had enough times, we thought of enjoying the place. So, we moved forward, and bought tickets. As we entered the Garden, it started raining. And we got drenched. I heard about musical fountains, and lots of other things, but those things seemed to be insignificant at that time. We tried to stand on a bridge across the lake, but rain started showing its power, and we had to move back in search of some shed. Here, I discovered somegthing good, actually the only good thing of Vrindavan Gardens -- the Govi-Manchurian. We ate chowmein, and the Manchurian in the rain, and then came back to the cab to take our baggage.

Now, our cab driver came to the cab, and he forgot his keys to some place, and hence he had a tough time in opening the car gates. After 10 minutes of try, he took the key from someone having the same car, and opened. I don't know how do car owners remain safe knowing that anyone can open their car using key of the same car model. Anyhow after paying for the car, and the tips, we moved towards the bus.

Two buses were standing there, and we had over one hour to complete a journey of 20 minutes (the 20 minutes approximation was given by the cab driver). In one bus, there was no seat to sit, so, we moved to the other bus (my decision). And, even though this bus was not full, it started before the other bus which was already full. So, we started on a good note.

Twist of fate: In the road, we saw the other bus overtake us (okay, no problem, here we have a place to sit). However, in the next 5 minutes we had to get down from the bus as the bus broke down. Some engine probem, or whatever it may be, the bus had to vacate, and all passengers on the bus were waiting for the next bus.

The next bus came full, and I was laughing at myself about giving so much importance on the seats. Here we had to stand, or seat on the rod, crowd crushing you, and everytime the brake is applied, you have to tell sorry to the person, on whom you fell. Moreover, the rain was powerful, and the bus had cracked from mirror, wipers not working. So, the bus reduced its speed, and speed of our blood circulation increased.

Our train had a departure time of 8:30pm, and the bus dropped us at the gate of the Station campus at 8:28. We were walking fast, and soon we saw an autorickshaw going towards the autostand. It was some 200 metres if not less, and still we took the auto without thinking anything, and my friend instructing me to get the money in hand, so that we don't loose a single moment. As we came infront of the platform, thankfully the train was in platform no. 1, but we saw it was already moving. We jumped, threw the money, and ran to the train. We got the unreserved compartment towards the end of the train, and somehow we got into that. The next dialogue that I spoke was 

"Aaj tak life mein ek train nahi chhuti meri"

My friend was upset at the style we got into the train, but, we had no other options. Anyhow, we went to our allocated berths in the next station which came around half an hour late, because, the train stopped just outside the Mysore Station for long. If they had to stop they could have stopped in the station itself, but, life sometime throws some spices.

Anyhow, we reached Bangalore at 00:15, and we had a  cab booked who took us to our place at around 1:00am. We were tired, but, really we enjoyed the day. This tour has some special things  for me. The smooth flow till the end with the spicy climax was the cherry on the top because of a happy ending. However, Mysore will always remain at a very special place in our hearts.

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