Friday, April 24, 2009

Mysore/Bangalore

We boarded the fabulous Shatabdi Express train from Chennai to Mysore. It was first class all the way: comfortable AC seats, newspaper and breakfast served helped the hours pass, and before we knew it we were in Mysore. Our first stop was right outside the railway station, the Rail Museum, where we got to see the whole history of the Indian railways and lots of antique cars. From there it was on to our hotel and then a climb on to the temple on Chamundi hill. It was 1000+ steps and when we asked how long it would take to climb an Indian kid told us that "it depends on your capacity". Just under an hour later, we made it to the pretty temple and saw Mysore from above, going down by bus as the sun was setting. We were lucky to find some hotels catering to middle-class Indians, that served some north Indian food, and happy to have a break from our evening dosas we devoured some palak paneer, veg korma, raita, naan and more!
Having been getting up at 5 or 6 every morning, by 6 am we couldn't sleep anymore and started our day with an early walk through the market, as the fruit and vegetable vendors were carefully and meticulously setting up their goods in ordered piles. Then we went to the Mysore Zoo, and were almost the first ones to enter. It was a really nice zoo, with pleasant walking paths, hilarious signs warning against feeding animals etc, and some animals native to India that we had never really seen before, though somewhat sad with so many cages. By then Mysore Palace was open and we went to see the main event. The beautiful palace with it's intricate decorations of stone and metal that were made to look like wood (for fear of the palace burning down, as the previous one had), did not disappoint. That afternoon we went to the Jagmohan Palace auditorium, which houses a small art collection. The collection was nothing special, but the auditorium was in use and there was a song and dance competition that was going on, so we stayed to see some talented kids for a little while. But the crazy day of sightseeing did not stop there- we made a short stop at the Governor's House to "walk through the gardens" another LP farse, and then walked into the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, basically an anthropological museum that had an exhibit about the peoples of Himachal Pradesh. It was really well done and made us nostalgic for the north. And then it was time to shop. We were out and about with all the evening bustle until our feet couldn't support us any longer.
Our last day we spent in Bangalore; we had most of the day there as our flight was only in the evening. Seeing as it is a business town we didn't really try to sight-see and instead explored the main commercial areas. Bangalore is definitely the most modern Indian city we've seen, with women dressed in Western wear and more Pizza huts than thali places. From Bangalore's spankin' new airport it was a short flight to Mumbai and then our flight home.

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