February 26 – 28
Accommodations: Aditya Hotel; 1400INR/night (bookings.com). The Aditya was a small step towards luxury. As Sue wasn’t feeling well I thought she’d be spending more time in the hotel room. The Aditya features an elevator, room service and a downstairs restaurant (all used). The staff were helpful and the room spiffy. An interesting aside: this was the first time in India that we had artwork in our room.
Transportation: India Rail – 2AC to Bangalore (an overnighter): comfortable and convenient. From Bangalore we caught a slightly upscale bus to Mysore (more comfortable seats than the usual). And the inevitable auto-rickshaws. Bangalore has a pre-pay service which is handy.
Food: We ate breakfast and a couple of dinners at the in-hotel restaurant. One evening we walked to the Parklane Hotel and ate in their second story, outdoor restaurant, which was pleasant enough. Another evening we tried the restaurant at Mannars Hotel next door; they had a slightly larger menu than our hotel.
Mysore figured on our list of stops early on, mainly due to reports of it being a good spot to purchase sandalwood carvings and some other crafts. However, with Sue not feeling well we cut back on our being out and about in the heat.
I did visit the local bazaar and while I found it very clean with lots of funky stalls and interesting spaces I soon tired of the hustlers trying to take me to see ‘special silks’ or ‘one-of-a-kind’ sandalwood carvings. I had an interesting discussion with one young man selling essential oils but was interrupted by a tout for other stores. I claimed I had no money with me and finally let him to take me to a couple of shops. Out on the street a couple of days later I pointed out to Sue a store he’d taken me into and yet another hustler said “Oh, no. Not a good place. I recommend…” We soon parted ways with him.
The Mysore Palace featured large on our list of to-do things in Mysore and it was all it was promoted as. We first saw it on a Sunday night when it was lit by thousands of light bulbs for just half-an-hour (only on Sunday evenings!). Crowds of people had gathered with their cameras and cellphones for the event. We were just in time. A couple of days later we did a tour of the small portion of the palace open to the public. We rented audio guides, which were helpful (although Sue’s broke down early on, luckily mine had two headphone jacks). The palace’s ornate decor (including ivory inlay work, wall murals, heavily carved ceilings and doors) was impressive. Slightly less impressive were the elephants outside in a very basic covered area where baksheesh was demanded for photo ops. Signage in the palace decreed that the royal elephants spend their free time in a park but this apparently isn’t so. We also saw several camels used for rides.
Although Mysore was hot, like everywhere else, there was little dust downtown as the streets were all paved and I also saw little garbage. In the mornings a cooling breeze helped. Many of the streets were wide, colonial style boulevards with trees and monumental buildings lining them. Best of all the drivers were not using their horns often. At times it verged on blissful quiet.
Were we burning out on the heat and noise/air pollution? Yes. After much discussion we decided to head back to Agonda Beach to chill for a while.