I’m writing this post from #Kalpetta, in the #Wayanad district of #Kerala! But today’s post is going to be about #Mysore, in #Karnataka and the rest of my adventures there!
Sundays are a special day in Mysore. First, because you can great some great Mutton Pulao at Hanumantha Hotel, a serious hole-in-the-wall, that serves some of the most amazing pulao I’ve ever eaten. The rice was light and fluffy but bursting with flavour, and the mutton was cooked to an incredibly tender state where it practically melted in your mouth. Thinking about it is making my mouth water, but here’s a picture instead.
My walk to Hanumantha Hotel also brought me to a really old-fashioned market selling veggies, fish, and meat.
Goat intestines are somewhat of a delicacy in India, and I’ve had it before (super yums!) but this was the first time I’d seen someone actually in the process of cleaning the innards. He blew into the pieces to expand them, filled them up with water and repeated this process a few times before emptying out all the water. It was gross (raw innards O_O) but also really cool.
Second reason why Sundays are special in Mysore is because the Palace, the historical residence of the Wodeyars, gets lit up from 7 to 7.45pm with almost 100,000 light bulbs. I spent most of the day in my hostel apart from going out for pulau (teaching online does require one to be present in an area of decent internet connectivity) so I was quite excited to see the palace all lit up that evening. I started my evening with some Mangalore bajji and filter coffee at Cafe Aramane (literally, Palace Cafe), right across the street from the palace.
At about 6.45pm, I headed over to the palace and I was quite disappointed that I had missed the actual lighting of the palace, because it was already rather well-lit, and hundreds of people were milling around taking pictures. Still, it was a gorgeous sight to behold.
I decided to hang around for a while anyway, and wander around the ample palace grounds for a bit since I’d decided to skip the actual tour of the palace. And suddenly, out of nowhere, the 100 000 bulbs were lit and the palace was illuminated like something out of a fairy tale! It was super bright (and probably a huge waste of electricity), but very impressive nonetheless!
After the palace light-up, it was off to meet some of the lovely Couchsurfing ladies of Mysore for dinner. Wonderful girls and great conversation at a pretty cool cafe in Mysore! That’s why I absolutely love Couchsurfing – it’s such a great platform for travellers and locals to get to meet each other and have a great time!
The next day’s itinerary was to go to Srirangapatna, a town on a small island in the middle of the Kaveri river. I took bus 307 (again based on the information of the helpful front desk guys) and had a nice chat with another traveller on the way there. He was going somewhere else so I arrived in Srirangapatna alone. Upon my arrival, I was immediately accosted by an auto rickshaw driver who insisted on taking me around to the main sites. Since his fee was only 250Rs and the places to visit were at some distance from each other, I agreed and off we went.
First stop: Sri Ranganathaswamy temple from which the town gets its name. Home to one of the largest representations of Sri Ranganatha (Lord Vishnu) reclining on Adi Sesha (many-headed serpent), the temple was crowded with devotees doing penance. I took a nice walk around and the architecture of the temple was really cool too. Unfortunately, no photography is allowed within temples, so you’ll have to check it out for yourself. Fun fact about this temple – It is the temple featured in the song Oruvan Oruvan Mudhalali in the film Muthu!
Second stop: Colonel Bailey’s Dungeon. This was where Tipu Sultan, ruler of Mysore in the 1700s, imprisoned all the British soldiers but Bailey died there, so it was named after him. Pretty cool, and there’s a view of the Kaveri river from there too.
Next, a brief stop at the place where Tipu Sultan was killed in battled by a bullet to the head, and then we passed by Jamma Masjid, a beautiful mosque.
Daria Daulat Bagh was next, Tipu Sultan’s summer palace. Entrance is 200Rs for foreigners, but only 15Rs for locals, so I told them I was from Chennai and paid only 15Rs. Maybe that’s awful, but maybe not. Anyway, it’s a beautiful place, with luxurious gardens and remarkably well preserved detailing on the palace walls. I could totally imagine life in the palace 400 years ago.
We headed to the Tipu Sultan Gumbaz after that, a mausoleum where the remains of Tipu Sultan, his father Hyder Ali and mother Fatimah are interred. It’s an absolutely gorgeous place, if somewhat somber.
Our final stop on the tour was the banks of the Kaveri river. A sacred river that flows through a large part of India, dipping oneself in it is supposed to absolve you of all sins. I dipped my feet in it, so…I guess my feet are free of sin now. It was beautiful anyhow, and I spent a while chatting with an old lady who was there to do some prayers with her family.
Having spent my morning very fruitfully, I returned to Mysore by bus and met up with Amanda, a Mexican girl from the Couchsurfing group the night before. We walked around the city for a bit and got lunch before I rushed off in an attempt to make my 4pm incense-making, beedi-rolling tour, but that was when I fell and hurt my ankle, so that didn’t happen, and kept me in bed for most of the next day too.
But! The next day, I got to go on the tour after lunch, so that was fantastic. (So was lunch.)
This tour was organized by my hotel, Hotel Maurya, for a mere 25Rs. The guide, Zabi, picked me up at the hotel and off we went in a little auto rickshaw. Incense-making was the first stop. We stopped by a nondescript little alley, and Zabi brought me into what seemed like someone’s house, pointing out various things used in the incense making process. We climbed a flight of stairs, and ta-dah! There were 5 women hard at work, deftly rolling sticks of incense at an incredible pace with their nimble fingers. It was mesmerizing to watch. Did you know that one of the ingredients in incense sticks is …honey? Mad.
After that, we headed to someone else’s house to see how beedi, a traditional Indian cigarette is made. We settled ourselves on the living room floor of the beedi-rollers house, and he set to work. Made with only a sindhoor leaf and tobacco, beedi has zero preservatives or additives, making it a much healthier alternative to cigarettes…but then again, is it really?
Last stop on this tour was a place selling essential oils. The owner Sageer talked me through the various properties of some of the oils he had to offer and was such a persuasive salesman that I eventually bought a tiny bottle of water lily oil, supposedly useful as a mosquito repellent. I’ve been using in here in Wayanad, and I must say it’s pretty effective, and even if it isn’t, it smells amazing.
I had some real street food for dinner that evening, which was excellent and cheap – Masale Poori, a typical Mysorean dish. I returned to my hotel after that, where I spent the rest of the evening packing my stuff up.
Mysore had been wonderful, but it was time for a change of state. Up next, Kalpetta in Kerala, God’s own country!