It was the pre-Dussehra time when we visited Mysuru in Karnataka last weekend.The city was gearing up for the grand 10 days long festival “Mysuru Dasara 2017” which would kickstart in just a few hours.
How many of you remember Mysore as the inspiration behind the fictitious city Malgudi that R.K.Laxman created with his words and sketches? On this sojourn, I wanted to locate Malgudi in the folds of Mysore.
We took an early morning 5.10 am train from Bangalore Cantt to Mysore Junction. There are 26 trains from Bangalore to Mysore. As a train travel evangelist, I can write 10 reasons why a train journey works better than a road trip by bus or car.(yes, despite all the train derailing and unfortunate occasional rail mishaps ), my dependability equation with the great Indian railways remains high.
So, in 2 hours 40 min, we reached Mysore Junction. Some things remain constant in all cities and auto wallahs fall in that category. The auto wallah had given us a mini verbal tour of the city much before we reached our designated accommodation.
We opted to stay in an independent room at a hostel. The hostel was a colonial bungalow, with a mystical entrance, a small front garden, a large wooden plaque swing in the driveway and all shoes were to be taken off on the porch. It had the air of a sacred space and by the time night dawned, the sounds that filled the dim halls of the hostel were no less than chantings of its own kinds.
Since it was 8 in the morning and we were 3 hours away from the check-in time, we decided to leave our luggage at the hostel, walk around a bit and have Andhra style breakfast. Some fresh coconut water first.
BREAKFAST AT MYLARI DOSA :
All fingers pointed towards one shop in Nazarabad area. Mylari dosa. A back entrance, narrow staircases, and limited sitting space define the physical structure of Hotel Mylari. They open at 7:30 am and serve only dosa, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. One bite of this succulent rice & lentil pancake, with the crisp and melt-in-the-mouth texture and you would know this is one experience you would devour for a long time. Easy on the pocket, each dosa served on banana leaf with coconut chutney costs Rs. 40 only.
We got lovely kadambam from outside Mylari hotel & adorned our hair with the flowers.
WALKING IN THE BY-LANES OF MYSORE :
A real city lives in its by-lanes. This is where the city’s traditions and customs thrive, unadulterated, uninfluenced from the demands of tourism. After breakfast e took a walk in the by-lanes of the area. There was a rangoli with white chalk outside every home, how much narrow the entrance was. I was intrigued by the sight of a woman following the ritual of cleaning the threshold of the house and planting Gods at the entrance, to ward off the evil.
What defines the character of the city of Mysore are its royal lineage, colonial buildings, and the magnificent monuments. Some of them are Jaganmohana Palace, Amba Vilas Palace (Mysore Palace), Chittaranjan Palace ( currently, the Green Hotel), University of Mysore, DC office, town hall, Mysore medical college to name a few. The lush green gardens along the sidewalks of the wide roads make walking around Mysore pleasurable.
The roads were relatively empty, the tourist spots did not have visitors jostling for space to move around. Mysore, like any other small city, wore a laid-back attitude with aplomb. The moist air, after a night-long shower, tasted of dew drops. The sky was shuffling the color palettes and turning from electric blue to resplendent mauve within seconds.
THE MYSORE ZOO
One of my favorite spots to visit in any city is the local zoo. Though my favorite remains Nandan Kanan in Bhubaneshwar and The Trivandrum Zoo, The Mysore zoo found the spot in my favorite list. Well maintained, spacious and conscious ecological spaces. A detailed post shall follow soon.
LUNCH AT THE GREEN HOTEL(ERSTWHILE JAHANGIR PALACE)
A stay at The Green Hotel did not work out so we decided to head there for a sumptuous lunch. Between stories of legacy behind the hotel and exchanging city notes with the servers, we relished our soup, snacks and main course meal. It started raining by then.The flower bed in the center garden had flowers swaying with the wind. The flowers were ready to be part of the flower exhibitions across the city during the Dasara festival.
The flower inspection was on during our visit there. It is such a quaint lovely garden. May it wins all the accolades & hearts during the Mysuru Dasara festival.
There is a tiny bakery shop, The Malgudi tucked inside the reception building. I recommend Walnut and raisin cake to the ones with a sweet tooth. They also sell coffee, straight from the coffee manufacturers from Nilgiris.
SHOPPING IN THE CITY
Mysore is known for sandalwood, wood products, handicrafts and silk saree. Due to a paucity of time, we could do minimum shopping. I bought sweets from the famous Shree Mahalakshmi Sweets and my dream of eating Mysore Pak in Mysore came true.
THE MYSORE PALACE – SOUND & LIGHT SHOW
The gorgeous cloudy sky made a perfect backdrop for the display of light on the Palace & valiant tales of Mysore kingdom in Kannada ( a language not known to me). The show starts at 7pm, plays for 45 minutes followed by illuminations by thousands of incandescent bulbs for few minutes. The sudden illumination of Palace leaves one awestruck for few seconds. The open space was filled with people, local and tourist, and the finale met with hoots and cheers as the palace lit up and filled the spaces around with eclectic energy.
DINNER AT RRR HOTEL
Walked down to RRR from the Mysore Palace for an authentic Andhra style thali dinner after the sound & light show. RRR opens only for lunch and dinner, is always crowded, yet you are promptly served good food with courtesy and attention .
Back to the hostel, I found a corner in the lobby area and allowed the sounds of the night find crevices in the memory of this day.
The train back to Bangalore wasn’t until 1130 am next morning, so we decided to head towards Karanji lake at 6 in the morning. It had rained last night and the Karanji Lake Park’s lush green plants and trees were glistening like silver drops on the green. Spread over 10 acres of land, Karanji lake is located next to Mysore Zoo and also is home to a lake with boating facilities, an observation tower to spot rare birds in the vicinity and a bird aviary that houses majestic peacocks, pheasants, hens and cocks, black swans and white doves. The walking track is open from 6.00 am to 8.30 am. After 8.30 am, bird aviary and boating open. There are separate entry tickets for both.
There is a butterfly park there but we were told, it is closed now.
BREAKFAST AT SIDDHARTH’s :
All the walking in Karanji Lake park made us hungry and we figured out Hotel Siddharth as THE breakfast place to be in Mysore. The large dining area was filled with people and we requested an elderly couple to share their table with us. The food was fantastic and so was our conversation with this couple from Bangalore who had studied in Mysore 30 years back and stated that Mysore had been able to retain its essence over the years, unlike Bangalore that is being swallowed slowly by pollution and over-ambitious construction.
Enroute to the railway station, we witnessed Vishwakarma diwas celebrations on the road. This, a tip of the grandeur that is to follow in next ten days. Details of Mayuru Dasara can be found Here
The train departed as per the schedule and en route we gathered more Mysore stories from a co-traveler born and raised in that city.
We reached Bangalore in 2 hours 20 minutes. This was a rushed one-day stay trip. While we had initially marveled at the brevity of the day trip, the takeaways from a beautiful city as Mysore were immense. I could not visit Yadavgiri or find traces of Malgudi on Mysore soil but the moments captured in pictures and as memories of the places experienced shall be cherished for a long time.
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