Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Exploring Karnataka: From Palace to Pak!

On entering Mysore, we were struck by the clean streets, tidy houses and well-kept gardens. Further in, we drove past the imposing St. Philomena's Church, which is built along the unmistakable lines of the Cologne Cathedral.

After a quick lunch at Hotel Ramanashree, we moved on towards Mysore Palace. This was the first time I was seeing any kind of Indian palace, and I was quite unprepared for the sheer beauty of it.

You step in through the gates and there's the palace stretching out on the left, with an intricately carved temple on the right, just as you enter. We snapped off a good many pictures outside because cameras aren't allowed inside and rightly so, as the continual flashes from a steady stream of tourists would surely cause the paint to fade.

But still, that didn't stop me from wishing that I could've taken some photos, because the interiors were just that gorgeous. A plaque outside had stated that the palace was designed in the Indo-Saracenic style, which means that it combines British and Mughal design elements. Floors, walls, ceilings, doors are all exquisite, intricately crafted works of art. The overall colours inside were vibrant reds, greens and blues with gilded borders that somehow work wonderfully together to create this richly vibrant look. All the doors were masterpieces in wood, and in some of the rooms, so were the ceilings!!!

We saw the throne room with its famous golden throne which is only displayed to the public during the Dasara festival period - pretty lucky timing for us! This was also the first time I saw a machine gun. Not that machine guns were used in the palace's heydays ...... they belonged to the many security officers present in this particular room :)

The main door leading to this throne room is this jaw-dropping, absolutely stunningly carved creation, made of what we believe is silver, or definitely some metal because it has that silverish, pinkish tarnished look. I would've loved to run my fingers over it, but unfortunately you only see it as you go down a staircase.

Then we entered what I suppose is a viewing gallery which looks out onto the big courtyard, where preparations were on for Dasara. The ceiling is in sections here. Each section is lavishly painted with depictions of various gods and scenery, set against what appears to be the sky, all of which is surrounded by a huge painted frame.

And here's where I noticed something surprising. Nearly all the frames had what were unmistakably angels outside and in several depictions, Hindu gods were shown as having angel-like wings! On second thought, it made perfect sense because this palace was designed by an English architect. Leaving the palace then I was struck by what a beautiful testimony to intercultural art and architecture this palace is.

By then it was already around 5 p.m. and we desperately needed a caffeine fix. We also had one quick stop to make before moving on: I mean, what is the point of going to Mysore if you don't buy Mysore pak???

So off we went in search of coffee and sweets, looking for Cafe Coffee Day for the former, and a shop called Bombay Tiffany's for the latter. Fortunately, both turned out to be on Devaraj Urs Road which must be the fashion street of Mysore - all the big brand outlets were there! After tasting various mithai, hubs & me settled on some almond barfi for him, my all-time favourite - peda - and of course, some totally sinful, melt-in-your-mouth-coz-its-loaded-with-ghee Mysore pak! Yayyyy!!!

Our original plan had been to visit Brindavan next, and so we were off again. Only we didn't realise how far the gardens were (19 kms fyi) from Mysore, and so by the time we reached it was already dark. We could've caught the musical fountain show but the crowd there was overwhelming, being a Sunday and nearing festival time. Plus there were too many unsavoury looking types there which made us all a bit uncomfortable given that they turn off all the lights for the fountain show.

The decision to leave was quick, and since it had been a pretty long day, we decided to head home. SIL and me were a bit sad as we had hoped to drive through Mysore and see the palace and the rest of the town all lit up. We also couldn't make it back to St. Philomena's Church. But as BIL pragmatically pointed out: leave something for the next trip!

8 comments:

  1. Oh, I love Mysore!! And Coffee Day right by Reliance is just great.....
    I miss Mysore a lot. I like the Metropole, the Southern Star and the Green Hotel the most. The Green Hotel is not that fancy but it's surely got that old world charm, doesn't it?

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  2. Oh we'd spent most of our time at a bird sanctuary before getting to Mysore, so we only had time to see the palace & stop for coffee.....didn't visit any other places. Will check out Green Hotel next time though!

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  3. I alos loved Mysore and saw the palace, church and all that, but ur description made me feel as if I saw nothing:). We had taken a one day trip from Banglore.
    Vrindavan fgarden is so huge, I was damn tired by the end, and barely could walk back from there:)

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  4. Ohhhh yes, the palace is totally awe inspiring...I've gone many times but still am over-rawed everytime I see it.
    The church architecture also is superb...did u knw tht they got catacombs there:-o.
    Next time dont foget to go to the Zoo also. Quite impressive.
    I had also put up a post on mysore almost a yr back.

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  5. Renu - I really don't think one day is enough to cover all of Mysore's attractions, so Brindavan is for next time. It did look really huge from the outside.


    Reflections - catcacombs???? I've never been in any.....I wonder if you can enter? And the zoo, yeah, SIL & me wanted to go but the male folk were not interested :(

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  6. Tagged u...........finally:-D

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  7. And no...I dont think they allow anybody in there anymore....I'm talking abt the catacombs:-)

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  8. i have never been there but ur post makes me feel like visiting the place.. must have been a great time

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