Monday, April 25, 2011

Trip to Mysore - III

It was a hot day, and the moment we reached the palace (South Gate), we wanted to drink something. What better than tender coconuts. We were disappointed with the rates though. They kind of exploit the tourists. Point to be noted: The entrance is the South Gate, where you get tickets, to visit the palace.

After the tender coconut, we headed towards the ticket counter. As soon as you enter the gates of the palace, on the right is the camera counter. Visitors are supposed to deposit their cameras in this place. Photography is not allowed inside the palace (bah!!). Everybody has a camera in their cell phone these days, and nobody stopped them from clicking pictures inside. I still dint get the point, why cameras weren’t used, because we can use flash, may be. Anyway, let’s go a little further.

As we near the entrance of the palace, there is a footwear stand. No footwear allowed inside the palace. It’s not a temple, probably they just want to maintain the cleanliness of that palace, and it’s pretty cool inside, so it’s ok.

Note: Both the camera and footwear stands are for free, so no money making there.

As soon as you enter, there is a counter where they have audio guides, Rs.100 per system. You can also hire, certified guides, but we chose to go with audio guides this time (experience sake). There are 21 parts, the numbers are displayed out there to let you know which part of the guide to listen to. The moment we enter, we first go to the place, where the dolls are kept. This is the place, where the family decorates the palace with dolls during Navarathri/Dussehra.

We then enter the corridor, adorned with beautiful paintings. If you really love paintings, you can spend a lot of time here. The audio guide actually explains a lot of paintings, the details in those paintings, which you might overlook. We enter the centre hall, just look upwards, and you see awesome glass paintings adorning the ceiling. The flooring is so amazing; it’s so colorful, you are thankful that you aren’t stamping these beautiful tiles with the foot wear. It seems weddings and birthdays and other important functions were conducted here.

Next we move to the gallery where the paintings of the Royal family are kept. Sigh!! You wish you were a part of them. Who knows, maybe we were in our previous birth, if such a thing existed. Then you move to a gallery of gifts, given to the kings (Wodeyars), by the places they have visited. There was so much of Sandalwood in that glass chamber, such intricacy in sandalwood, hard to find in our daily life. We then saw some more paintings and then moved to the courtyard. The palace has a mixed architecture. European, moguls, Hindu, and you can see all these in one place. It’s a good example of unity in diversity.

History: It seems there was a wooden palace earlier, and it burned down during one of the weddings which happened in the palace. The queen then made sure, no material which can be burnt would be used in the making of this palace. So the palace is kind of fire proof.

Ok... Now in the first floor, In between, we go through rooms where the furniture and other articles are kept for display. Once we cross these we come to a big Durbar Hall, which is open to the public. (Like Deewan -e- aam).

Again there are paintings, infinite mirrors (mirrors kept in front of each other, you get infinite number of images. The arches in this hall are so identical. It looks so beautiful. From here you can see the vast ground. Just imagining, the king sitting right in the middle, with dignitaries sitting around him, the ministers and important people next to him. The ladies of the palace sitting in one place, and on the ground, you see hundreds of people flocked up just to see the king, and the proceedings. You just get goose bumps. The carvings on the ceilings are definitely worth an observation.

No wonder it took 15 years to build this palace. From here we move forward and find the elevator, which was used in those times. Right after this, there is a passage which leads to an Ivory Door. It seems there is a Ganesha Temple behind this door, and when the fire broke down the whole palace, this temple remained untouched. Even today, the Royal family visits this temple. It's not open for the general public. Then we come across 2 doors which carved ivory. It seems these doors won a prize sometime in early 1900s. Next you go to a smaller Durbar Hall (like deewaan -e- khaas). It is so colorful. Just like those you would have seen in the movies. Aah!! I really wish I could have lived there, the chandeliers, the mirrors, the carvings on the pillars. Slowly, steadily, you move out of the palace.

After living through the history, for a couple of hours, you feel bad that you are out of the magnificent palace. You can go to the rose garden, there are some beautiful flowers. You can go to the gate and collect your cameras. Then you can click as many pictures you wish, outside the palace. There are quite a few temples inside the palace gates; you can visit them if you have time. We had seen these earlier, and since it was lunch time, stomachs were pleading us to give them something. Friends wanted to have pizza, so off we went to kalidasa road and reached Pizza Hut.

We had yummy lunch of pizzas and pasta, and left to Bangalore, but not before another pit stop. We planned to go to Shivana Samudra... But did we actually go there or take a detour, will be for the next post... Time to say Good Bye Mysore... and off I drifted off to dreamland in my sleep.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Trip to Mysore - II

Mysore is hotter, compared to Bangalore, but since Bangalore is also hot these days, we were used to sleeping without AC, so hadn’t booked the AC room. But, I guess we were lucky, due to some confusion in the booking, the hotel agreed to give us AC rooms with no change in the Tariff. We were glad about the AC, now with AC on and spreads to cover us, we had a good night sleep.

Usually on trips, I wake up early, one is don’t want to miss out on the beautiful day sleeping, second, I can anyway sleep in the car while travelling. But this time I slept till 8.00 AM. We were ready by 8.30, finished our breakfast of Idly vada (not so good), but no other option as we were not in the city, and that our next stop was a bird sanctuary.

By 9.30 AM we reached Ranganathittu. We had to pay Rs.50 per person, as entrance fee, and if we wanted the boat ride, it was again Rs.50, and the car parking was Rs.30. So after paying Rs.430 we headed to see the birds. We were lucky that the moment we reached the place of boat ride, we were about to start, so no waiting time. The boats are covered on top, so no worries of getting baked in the sun. We occupied a nice position. It was a ride for 20 – 30 mins. I have never seen so many birds in a natural habitat. There were birds from Siberia, North America, Japan and lot other countries. Actually I don’t really remember the name of the birds… But yes, very well remember the Painted Storks (easy to remember).

According to the boatman, feb- july is the season to visit this sanctuary. After this the eggs hatch, and the birds fly away with young ones, and you hardly see any birds there. One of the visitors asked, “how do you know from which place the birds come from?”. The boatman said, there are trackers tied to the legs of these birds, and when the report comes, that’s how they get to know.

One of the interesting things which we found was the way these birds were protecting their eggs or young ones in the nest. They would spread their wings in a weird fashion, we try to get a pic, couldn’t get it though. But it was as if mom would hold her saree pallu to safeguard you from sunlight (well similar way). Parents I tell you, ever protective.

Well, all this while we have been talking about birds, you might ask no animals at all. Behold, there are crocodiles in the same river. Yes, same river where we are boating. But, they keep to their business. They are usually under the trees, waiting for the eggs/ young birds. It was a treat to watch the crocs in the river, since a couple of them were moving. Anytime we see these creatures in the zoo, they are sleeping as if they are dead… For a while, I stopped watching the birds and was observing the crocs. It’s a little difficult to differentiate them with rocks around. Again some people had questions on, what will happen if it attacks us. The boatman was cool about it and said, they usually don’t attack, unless we are on their way. So we were making fun, what if all the crocs gang up and try to overturn the boat. We knew it wouldn’t happen at that time, but if it happens I wonder how it will be.

Once the boat ride is done, we came out and saw the watch tower, may be around 15 ft or so. We went up there, couldn’t see much, but enjoyed the moments when the birds were inflight. Tried clicking photos, but they are too fast, and we dint have too much time to capture the right moments. After this, we just took a stroll and were out of the sanctuary and headed towards the city…. Next stop was the famous Mysore Palace….

Friday, April 15, 2011

Trip to Mysore

Let’s go somewhere, anywhere.. Just need a break, this was my slogan whole of last week.

Since we were to go with friends, getting everybody on board was not so simple. Timings, locations had to match. Finally, it was decided that we would go to Mysore on Saturday afternoon and return Sunday night. My first reaction was – “Mysore??? Again!!”, to this my husband said, you just wanna go somewhere right, so I reluctantly agreed.

I love Mysore, the place has so much to offer, but I have been to Mysore so many times, we were there for a couple of years, and it was just 2.5 hours from our house, why go there for a whole weekend. But then again, any break was welcome, so we were all set by 12 noon on Saturday.

As it happens in most of the trips, we started a couple of hours late, and we were kinda hungry the moment we had started. But we thought of stopping for lunch in an hours time. NICE Road is a boon, we reached Mysore Road pretty soon, and then the usual scenery, of paddy fields, some shops here and there, Wonder La and Innovative Film City advertisements. There was nothing exciting or new about this stretch. By the time we reached Bidadi, we were hungry and decided to have some chocolates, until we reach a proper lunch place. Around 3.15 we reached Kamat Lokaruchi. The food here is mouth watering. Kamat is on the expensive side, but once in a while it’s still ok. We had the North Karnataka meals (speciality here). After half an hour of eating, we left for Mysore.

By 5.30 PM we reached our hotel, White Orchids (Bombay Tiffanys Franchise). It was nothing great, but 1200 per night with AC was something we did not want to complain. Anyway all we needed was to sleep that night in the hotel.

We freshened up, and were ready to visit the famous Brindavan Gardens. On the way clicked we encountered a beautiful sunset. So we stopped the car and took a few pictures. The road is pretty ok, to KRS Dam(Krishna raja Sagar Dam). Much before KRS, nearly 2 kms, we were stopped by a few people for parking tickets. Once we got this, on the left we could see the beautiful Dam. After parking our car, we walked for 5 mins to the entrance. Since it was a Saturday, there were too many people. One of us went to get the entry tickets and paid for the camera entry fees (Rs.50) I wonder why so much for the camera. Once we entered, it was the usual mela kind of environment. Lots of eatables, chilli Bajji, Gobi Manchurian, noodles, Banana Bajji, Aaloo Bajji, Onion pakoda, popcorn, American sweet corn… we dint eat any of this, coz of hygiene concerns (bah!!). We took a litre of bottled water and went near the bridge which would take us to the north side of the garden.

There is a ferry (Rs.20) one way which will take you to the other side. We took the ride, just for the sake of it. It was fun. Though we have been here multiple times, we never took the ferry, to avoid standing in the queue, this time we thought, whats the hurry… So after 10 mins of waiting, we finally got to travel in the ferry, and it was fun watching hoardes of people walking on the bridge. We reached the other side in 5 mins, and then as we got down, till we reached the place where they had musical fountain, dint I tell earlier, this was the sole reason people flock the north garden J

Anyway, enroute we saw some cute little fountains, we were telling a friend of ours, this was the place, so many movies were shot, with the celebs. Actually it was a lie. All this shooting was done on the south Gardens, which was the other side of the ferry ride, from where we entered. Anyway, we took a couple of hazy pics, and negotiating the fountains spray, we reached the amphitheatre around the musical fountain. They were playing Saare Jahan se accha (the last song the of the fountain performance)

As soon as this got over, people got up and moved outside, we got on to those steps, and caught up with a nice place, with good view of the fountains. In 5 mins, the fountains took off with a famous Kannada Song. It was a nice attempt. As soon as this got over, there were a few hindi songs, and then a instrumental music piece, and finally Sare Jahan Se Accha Hindustan Humara Humara…. It was a nice feeling. There were whisteles and shoutings and lots of excitement.

After this got over, we headed towards a ice cream and had yummy Nutty Chocobars. This time we decided to take the bridge, and since it was nearing 8.30PM, the crowd was not too much. We had a nice walk on the bridge (not the dam), and then went out to have hot bhuttas/JoLA (corn). We then left to Mysore City to have dinner.

After much discussions, we decided to go to Metropole. This was once a palace, and now being used as a Star Hotel. Food is a little expensive, but the ambience is awesome, Food is good too. The restaurant is in the courtyard of the palace, so you are out under the sky full of stars. The highlight this time was the IPL match was on too. So good food, great ambience, a crowd which would react to every wicket and every four or six, made up for a great dinner.

We came back to the hotel, and contemplated if we should hit the bed, or play for a while, and play it was, and so we played cards for an hour and then left to our rooms, for a sound sleep, with plans to going to Ranganathittu Bird Santuary the next day.