Last week marked the beginning of a 10 day Hindu festival in India called Dasara (or Navaratri, depending on where you live). There are a few different stories about how the festival came to be, but mostly it signifies the triumph of good over evil. I’m into that! The biggest celebrations happen in a city called Mysore, which is about 3-4 hours west of Bangalore.
I hadn’t yet been to Mysore, so I decided that Sunday would be a good day to make the trip and I convinced my roommate and some friends to come along. We planned to go by bus, but my roommate immediately said he would find us a car. Seemed good to me. (Note: This was a mistake. Lesson learned.) We set off around 8:30 – a little later than anticipated…but it was India time. After stopping to fill up the petrol, it seemed that the petrol tank was leaking…a lot. We pulled over and the guys who were driving went off in search of a mechanic. While they searched, we ate breakfast, and were quickly told that there wasn’t actually a leak. The man at the petrol pump had just overfilled the tank. So off we went. I thought a car would be faster than a bus, but nothing moves fast in India. We stopped for someone to talk on the phone (because obviously he couldn’t sit in the passenger seat and talk at the same time) then someone wanted to stop at a temple, then someone wanted a snack, then a drink, then they thought the car needed to cool down and take a break (ummm…). It was 11:30 and we were barely half way.
Trying to remember that we were operating on India time, I chatted with my friends, enjoyed the scenery and drank my coconut full of coconut water. After a few more stops, we were finally about 20km away from Mysore when the driver slowed down and the car started to make slight jerking motions. The driver insisted it was probably fine. Then the car died, because obviously it wasn’t fine. The driver and his friend went off once again in search of a mechanic, and my friends and I decided we should hop on one of the many buses passing by in the hopes we would actually get to Mysore. Thirty minutes later around 2:30, we were dropped off right in front of the Mysore Palace. Parts of the palace date back to the 14th century and it was home to many rulers, including Tipu Sultan. The palace is also the focal point of festivities for Dasara.
The palace is gorgeous and the architecture is amazing. You technically aren’t allowed to take pictures inside…but I managed to sneak a few. If the guards see you, they blow their whistle as loud as they can and come rushing over to make you delete them. The palace was quite crowded, and the guards were actually pretty comical. After the Gaudi house in Barcelona, the inside of the Mysore Palace might be my favorite architecture. Below are some of the photos I managed to get.
This is a large hall on the ground floor used for making speeches and presentations. Notice the intricate hand-carved columns.
This is one of my top five favorite photos I’ve ever taken. I just love it. This is a courtyard in the center of the palace.
We walked around, took some pictures, checked out the elephants getting ready for the parade that night, then we headed off to grab some food and meet back up with our drivers -it was already time to begin the journey back. The driver and his friend, however, said they were now tired of driving, wanted to go visit some waterfalls about an hour away and stay in Mysore for the night. So, they dropped us off at the bus station and back we went. Lesson learned – stick with the bus. No more friend of a friend drivers for me. Overall it was a success – it was adventure and the palace was beautiful. I guess I just need to go back to Mysore. And I am working on adjusting to Indian time…Sunday was one more test to get me there.
Here’s the trip in photos:
Enjoying some coconut water from a coconut – this is a popular roadside snack here called tender coconut
Entrance to the palace grounds
The architecture is gorgeous
Temple inside the palace grounds
This palace has bling
I love the flags – they say Happy Dasara in Kannada
The tents and chairs in the background are being set up for the nightly Dasara performances
This elephant is getting a bath in preparation for the procession that night
Taking a post-bath drink! Notice his tusks have been removed to protect him from poachers.