Mysuru, or Mysore

... an unusual adventure ! ...


... after a night in a sleeper bus, not exactly the most comfortable, here we are in Mysore, comfortable hotel (Chandra hotel), 1680 rupees (1 € = 92 INR), hot water, it feels really good ... a bit of rest before tackling the city! ... tonight, the palace illuminations ...

... here we are ... queue before the garden gate opens and, as always, a big Ahhh! when the bulbs come on ... it's amazing ...

 

 

 ... huge, disorderly crowds ... it's true that India's population is growing almost exponentially :

Evolution of the Indian population

1951 :    361 088 000                    1961 :  439 235 000                   2001 : 1 028 737 000                    2023 : 1 417 000 000


... a good night's sleep and this morning we explored the Devaraja market ... an old covered market where you can find everything from pots and pans to saris, flowers, incense and bindi* or mandala* colors ... colorful and fragrant ... beautiful fruit and vegetable stalls

 

 

... then a change of district ... we headed for Gokulam by tuk tuk*, 4.5 km northeast of our hotel, to have lunch in a restaurant called "depth'n'geen", which offers vegetarian menus including salads guaranteed to be healthy ... we opted for a salad of green papaya, tomatoes, garlic and peanuts, all organic, more expensive but so much better than elsewhere ...

... curiously frequented mainly by young women, mostly Anglo-Saxon ... we saw small groups of people walking down the street, carrying gym mats over their shoulders, which made us think of yoga classes and/or workshops ...

... next to us 3 noisy American women and an Indian man soon joined by a sort of Indian baba/saddhu* in his fifties, 10 curls in each ear, Shiva* features on his forehead and wearing sunglasses... very familiar with them, I take you by the neck, I caress your back, let's even dare to kiss !!!! ... another arrived with long hair, rather handsome ... he had parked his black jeep not far away and went round the table again ... it was so bizarre that I wondered if they weren't taking part in a tantric-based training course?

 


... we went back to town in search of the State Bank of India; the first branch didn't offer currency exchange, so we were referred to another one, but we made a mistake: instead of the State Bank of India, we entered the Bank of India, which didn't offer currency exchange either, but directed us to another state bank: they did offer currency exchange, but only to account holders ... we finally gave up, we'll see later ...

... we went to the cinema to see "fighter", a Bollywood version of " top gun " ...a spectacular and humorous realisation, good music by Bollywood standards ... super comfortable cinema (200 INR, PVR cinema Garuda Mall) ...

 

 

 

... the mall is also home to one of Decathlon's countless branches, so of course we took a look! ...

 

 

... after 3 days in Mysore, our journey will take us to Mahé, the first of the 5 former French trading posts that we will be exploring, and which will be the subject of a separate page ...

... so we bought our bus tickets through the hotel, and as check-out* was at 11am, we left our luggages at reception and walked to St. Philomena's Church/Cathedral ...

Replacing a 19th-century church built by Maharaja Wodeyar*, a vast new neo-Gothic edifice was built in 1933 and placed under the protection of St. Philomena at its inauguration in 1936. It was chosen as the cathedral of the Mysore diocese in 1941.

 

... then we took the local bus up to Chamundi hills. The Chamundeshwari temple is a hindu temple located at the top of the  hills. It was named after Chamundeshwari, or the fierce form of Shakti*, a tutelary deity worshipped for centuries by the Maharaja of Mysore.... 

 

 

Many people, the crowd of believers in long queues carrying offerings to the deity, such as bananas,  coconuts and flowers freshly picked or woven into garlands, grains of rice, ghî* (clarified butter), sweets and sindurs* (vermilion paste) are arranged in bowls to be placed near the lingam* or representation of the deity.

 

 

... followed by a fine meal at the Parklane Restaurant, featuring a beer garden, chicken fried rice and a chilled kingfisher draught ... not too bad!? ...

 

 

... back to the hotel ... the bus left at 11.15pm from a place where a hotel employee was to accompany us ... interminable waiting in the lobby, on a comfortable sofa where the desire to sleep gained strength as the evening wore on ...

... from 9 p.m. onwards, the activity in the street began to diminish, the iron curtains came down with a bang ... calm began to settle in, disturbed from time to time by the backfire of a motorcycle or tuk tuk* ... later in the night, the dogs, who had been dozing all day, would begin their rounds of the territory, and watch out for the intruder ... fierce battles and barking concerts would punctuate the movements until everything was temporarily settled - so humane is the canine race! ...

... At 11 p.m., we finally set off by tuk tuk* towards a squalid corner of the city where sewage works are underway, amid a din of diggers digging trenches surrounded by a crowd of onlookers who, at this late hour of the night, obviously have nothing else to do ...

 

 

... we arrive at the point where the bus is due to pick us up ... after a quarter of an hour, our guide tells us that the bus from Bangalore is already 1/2 an hour late ...

... it was already 11.30pm!

... we were waiting in front of a "shop" with the iron curtain down ... a very unpleasant guy comes in and invectives us as he pulls the curtain up, others arrive laden with bottles of beer but containing much stronger spirits probably made clandestinely which rush into the store and the curtain comes down again ("clandestine" "bar" and/or traffic) ... police cars patrol and cops on foot, lathi* in hand regularly pass by ...

... quarter past midnight, still no bus ... a "chick" hustles ... cars stop, discussion ensues, and finally she disappears without anyone seeing how ...

... we allow ourselves to wait until 1am before angrily heading back to the hotel ...

... at almost 1 a.m. the bus finally arrives, we board and find our bunks ... we try to sleep and eventually fall asleep ...

... but it's not over yet ...

... around 3:30 am the assistant tells us that we're going to have to get off somewhere, but where?... because the bus wasn't actually going to Kannur from where we were supposed to get to Mahé ... palaver and mutual incomprehension until a young guy who spoke English well enough took matters into his own hands ... with the help of google we finally discovered that we had just crossed Mahé ... it was around 5am ... in the meantime the young guy had managed to contact the driver of a bus from the same company which was going in the opposite direction ... appointment made we end up changing buses and finally arrive in Mahé at around 6.30am...

 

Mahe (Pondichery)

... finally we got there much sooner than expected ...

… patience and time make more than force and rage …

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                  ... to be continued ...

 

 

 * Glossary
 

bindi : Traditionally, a bindi, a red or black spot or piece of jewellery, signified that a woman was married: she had obtained it at the wedding ceremony. Today, it has become a fashionable decorative make-up element.

mandala : Mandala is a Sanskrit term meaning circle, and by extension, sphere, environment, community, used in Hinduism, as well as Buddhism and Jainism. It is made up of the Sanskrit words "manda", meaning "essence", and "la", meaning "container".

tuk tuk : a three-wheeled vehicle very common in Asia, used to transport goods or one or two people, or many more. Rickshaw is a pidgin word, of Japanese etymology but spelt in English. Unlike the rickshaw, which has only two wheels and is pulled by a man on foot, the rickshaw is pulled by a cyclist or a motor. The name comes from the word tuk (cheap in Thai), which the drivers would repeat to attract customers.

baba/sadhu : sadhu, a wise man living in poverty in India. Baba is a Persian word literally meaning father or grandfather. It is also used on the Indian subcontinent as a mark of respect and affection for the elderly, Samnyâsins and fakirs who are renowned for their piety.

Shiva : One of the three great gods of Hinduism, along with Brahma and Vishnu. He symbolises the opposing powers of creation and destruction, and is the great master of ascetics and magicians. He is worshipped in the form of the linga, a phallic symbol erect on a base representing the yoni (vagina). He lives on Mount Kailasa with his wife Parvati (also known as Uma, Sati, Durga and Kali) and his sons, the six-headed Skanda and the elephant-headed Ganesha, accompanied by his mount, the bull Nandi, depicted at the entrance to or near all Shiva temples.

check out : refers to the registration of a guest's departure (hotels).

Maharaja Wodeyar : Jaya Chamarajendra Wodeyar Bahadur, born on 18 July 1919 in Mysore and died on 23 September 1974 in Bangalore, was an Indian philosopher, musicologist, political thinker and philanthropist. From 1940 to 1950, he was the 25th and last maharaja of the kingdom of Mysore.

Shakti : She represents the Great Divine Mother and the power of fertility. By extension, shakti designates the dynamic feminine energy, or active principle, of the divinities of the Indian pantheon, the male principle becoming passive in its role as seed or essence.

ghî or ghee : ghee is a clarified butter used in many Indian dishes. It is an age-old preservation process: the butter is heated and the whey is left to toast. All that's left is the fat, which can be kept for months in a closed jar at room temperature, even if it's very hot. Another advantage is that, unlike butter, ghee does not toast when cooked.

lingam :  Symbole phallique du dieu Shiva dont le culte est lié à l'idée de fécondité et de puissance créatrice.

sindur or sindoor : Sindoor or Sindooram is a traditional vermilion-red or orange-red cosmetic powder from the Indian subcontinent, generally worn by married women along the parting of their hair.

lathi : long wooden or bamboo baton, dating from the British colonial era, used by the Indian police to beat and suppress demonstrators, but whose use can prove fatal.