We Survived (overnight bus that is!)

Despite the ominous title of this post, we want to report that our first Indian overnight bus ride went quite well & was certainly an improvement over our previous experience. We actually were able to stretch out in our bunk & sleep. However, our second trip with what looked like comfy reclining seats, taken just two nights ago was not so great (actually HORRIBLE doesn’t even come close)…note to self, in future only take the bunk-bed style sleeper buses!!!!!!

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Side view of palace

Our destination was Mysuru (Mysore), home of south India’s royal heritage & known as the ‘City of Palaces’. The many ‘palaces’  have been repurposed into municipal & government buildings, however the crown jewel to visit is the Mysore Palace. It is a grand mix of Hindu/Muslim architecture, with the lavish interior a kaleidoscope of stained glass, mirrors, brightly painted columns, beautiful carved teak doors, gold/silver doors, mosaic tiles, beautiful wall murals, etc. – you get the picture. It is in excellent condition & definitely rivals Versailles! Photos of the interior are strictly prohibited so we have downloaded a couple to show you, although Bob did manage to sneak a couple (such a rebel!).

Public Dunbar Hall (Bob's covert photo)

The Air BnB that we stayed at offered bike tours of Sringapatnam, an island fort town about 15K away from Mysore. We were a bit hesitant given Bob’s recent back history, but happy to report he survived, without any ‘special’ medication. 😉 Starting out early, a 30- minute rickshaw ride took us to the town where our guide & bikes awaited. We cycled for 5-hours taking in the sights of sacred temples, cycled through farm fields, watched the processing of  raw sugar cane into cane sugar & even saw a Hindu committal of ashes in a sacred riverside ghat along the way.

Ghat & sacred river,, SrirangapatnumStopping for fresh coconut drinks & chai along the way was a welcome break in the scorching mid-day heat.  Our guide tested our knowledge of history along the way – happy to report we aced most of the questions (👍 pays to be history buff at times).

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Pouring the cane syrup into moulds

The finished product

We spent four days in Mysore, wandering the backstreets, visiting the silk, vegetable, flour & incense bazaars/markets, the various sacred sites & just observing the locals in their daily activities.

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Nandi (Shiva’s bull) carved out of solid rock
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Not so lucky chickens! (Check out the pay phone on the left)
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Market spices
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Banana stall & hijabs

One church that stands out & is a definite landmark upon arrival in the city is St. Philomena’s Cathedral. The neo-gothic architecture is outstanding, stained glass windows beautiful & the catacombs housed in the basement interesting.

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There was much to see & since pictures always tell such a great story we hope you enjoy our take on Mysuru. Such bright colours everywhere, love it!

One of the many interesting things we repeatedly saw in our backstreet wanderings is the Hindu custom of drawing a ‘Kolam’ outside the front entrance of the home. Each morning the matriarch of the house draws an intricate design using white rice flour or chalk. It is a sign of invitation to welcome all into the home, not the least of whom is Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity & wealth. The patterns range between geometric & mathematical line drawings around a matrix of dots to free form art work & closed shapes.  The lines must be completed to symbolically prevent evil spirits from entering the inside of the shapes, thus preventing them from entering the inside of the home. Very interesting custom & worth sharing, we thought!

Manchula, our homestay hostess drawing a Kolam outside the house gate