We arrived to Mysore on a bumpy Semi-sleeper bus. By no fault of our own, when we booked the bus from Hampi, the travel agent accidentally booked it 3 times, resulting in us having 12 bus seats! A blessing actually, because the back seats, which Luke and Winnie would have been sitting in otherwise, actually fell apart with the force of the speed bumps – it wasn’t a comfortable bus, but without the miracle overbooking, it would have been a lot worse!
When we arrived, Winnie and I felt it was our turn to look for accommodation and leave the boys to sit with the bags. After looking at a few (and being rejected by a few), we settled in Shiva Guru for 2 nights, 400Rs per night. We had brunch at a thali restaurant and were given a huge amount of food, and refilled our thali dishes when they were empty. The food was great, but having the staff stand around and watch us while we ate wasn’t relaxing – even the chefs were staring at us while they chopped their onions!
After a nap, and a TV chillout sesh, we decided to go to the Maharaja Palace, where we all got excited about having an audio guide! The palace was as you’d expect, stunning and majestic. It was an interesting blend of Islamic, Hindu and British influences.
After a couple of hours, our rickshaw driver took us to the main market, where fruit, vegetables, powder paint, oils and jewellery were at every turn. In an overly excited impulse, I bought a pack of various powder paints.
We were also taken to see how men make biddies (cigarettes consisting only of tobacco wrapped in leaves). We also wanted to see how to make incense, and were taken to an oil shop. We sat in a little room with a man telling us about various oils and making us smell them. When we asked about seeing incense being made, he said that the factory was closed, and it became a pretty awkward atmosphere when we realised he expected us to buy something, and he realised that we wouldn’t…
We then asked our driver not to take us to the silk factory!
During national holidays and at weekends, the palace is lit up by nearly 100,000 light bulbs! So, we returned to the palace in the evening to see the majestic illuminations. It was glorious! So magical. We were in absolute awe, taking photos, and walking around, and just as we made a comment about the amount of electricity it must be using, the lights went out. We had made it just in time to see the palace lit up for about 10 minutes.
We went out for a quick bite to eat and returned to our rooms, beers in hand.
The next day, we took it pretty easy, each of us having a few errands to run, a few things to buy. After a wander around separately, we reunited and decided to head to Chamundi Hill, where the Sri Chamundeswari Temple stands tall and proud, next to incredible views of Mysore below. We took a return rickshaw, which we paid 400 Rupees for. We went to visit the inside of the temple, which was so busy with people praying and hanging out it seemed, with family and friends. We were pretty happy to get out to be honest, though it was interesting to see – even though the priests seemed very money-orientated.
On the way down the 1064m hill in the rickshaw, the sun was beginning to set and we stopped to take photos and admire more of the amazing view. We also came upon Wax World, where we couldn’t resist entering. I can’t believe this isn’t in Lonely Planet. It’s ridiculous. Ridiculously hilarious. A musical wax museum, showing wax people playing various musical instruments – and that’s it. Oh, and interrupting the musical theme, is the wax body of a man on a chair, with only a skull as a face, injecting heroin, and a sign next to it saying ‘SAY NO TO DRUGS!’ This was the weirdest, yet funniest place in Mysore.
When we were back in town, we made our rickshaw driver take us to Pelican Pub. We had tried the previous night to go, but it was closed, but this time we were pleased to see it open. We shared perhaps a few too many beer pitchers, and the food was really nice! Not too expensive either! One thing that it fails to mention in Lonely Planet is how difficult it is to find. If you get a rickshaw there, you should say ‘St Joseph’s School’ and then you will see a garage – the pub is opposite the garage. (not many people seem to know about the pub).