I don’t know how to start when I talk of Mysore. Perhaps it is worth nothing that I both arrived, and left here with blotted red eyes indicative of tears. It doesn’t paint a good picture, does it? But I can’t blame my tears on this city itself, if there is any major city in India worth visiting, potentially this may be it.
The tears upon arrival were simply because it dawned on me that I was alone. My travel friend in India for my first week had finished her stay, and as tuk-tuk drove her away I realised I was solo. I had nothing planned. And the next bus was to Mysore, it was the cheapest of cheap, the only seat left as I attempted to sleep overnight on this thoroughly worn bus. I arrived in Mysore with no accommodation researched, let alone booked, thankfully bumping to a couple briefly met in the previous town that actually had their shit sorted. For the grand price of around $20 AUD per night I was living the private hotel room dream, complete with order in dosas.
Mysore is a great city. Filled with beautifully dilapidated buildings that nod toward the British ruling contrasted with modern day india- hectic, bright and shiny. The real star of Mysore though is the Palace, a true gem of India attracting around 6 million visitors annually. It’s stunning, the grounds a quiet reprieve from the chaotic streets synonymous with the Indian stereotype. You can stop and wander the lush and pristine surrounds before entering the intricate wonder inside the palace walls. No photography is allowed, which is a welcome break from the constant desire to snap that most tourists feel. Instead here you opt to to remember the hand painted columns of the ballrooms and the Wes Anderson vibrance of the furniture. It is Indias answer to Versailles. I recommend that you time your visit to see the palace lit, a glowing decoration to the city on Sunday nights.
It’s a city of artisans, and dare I say- kidnappers. Upon my first day I somehow ended up being accosted by a local tuk-tuk driver, taking me to incense rollers, furniture carvers, silk workshops and local markets, all under the promise of the first day free and tomorrow you pay- tomorrow of course being the big fare day (I escapade said tuk-tuk man when he dropped me at the palace and I snuck out significantly later than our arranged time, I also did not go with him the next day, a small victory for the useless tourist). That said, the crafts people are phenomenal, with their art truly perfected in a way that only repetition will.
The Chamundi Hills are another feature of this city, with the Chamundeshwari Temple perched atop, the intricate gold roof of this hindu temple standing out against bright sky and the vibrance of colours of the street sellers and saris below. Inside is one of the most beautiful places of worship I’ve witnessed. I don’t like religion, but the peace and grace of hindus worshipping here is mesmerising and moving.
You can reach the temple the easy or hard way. A city bus winding up the slope (although I do warn it is difficult to find the right bus), or climb the 1008 stairs. I of course took the bus, opting to walk down instead. The flat city expanding below under the haze of heat and pollution. Mid-way you will find a statue of bull Nandi, Lord Shivas vehicle, carved from a single piece of black granite and measuring 4.9m tall and 7.6m long, a testament to the talents of the people of India.
I left Mysore in tears from the feeling of being stuck. A bus strike in Southern India saw me grounded here longer than anticipated as I yearned to move on. As I cried in the bus ticking office I was told by the seller ‘it’s going to okay my child’, and it was. I still remember that man as one of the gentlest souls I’ve met. And this city as my favourite in India.