Friday, October 3, 2014

The Best of Mysore

Mysore puts one in a spot as it has so much to offer- palaces, zoo, bird sanctuary, temple, church, museums, lip smacking food, art, the list keeps growing... We have compiled a few of the best of Mysore.

Lalitha Mahal Palace: Once a Royal home, now a heritage hotel run by The Ashoka Group, this palace is tucked away from the city en route Chamundi hills. This stunning palace was one of the locations in the famous Rajinikanth movie 'Muthu.' Visitors are charged an entry fee of Rs.100, and you are treated with a delightful cup of hot beverages. One feels the essence of peace and tranquility amidst forest over looking Chamundi hills. Also, you can go back in time and experience royalty by taking a buggy ride around the palace.

 Jaganmohan Palace:  Just a stone's throw away from City Palace is the fine art gallery at Jaganmohan Palace exhibiting phenomenal work of Raja Ravi Varma, artillery, intricate woodwork, extensive ivory artifacts such as comb, stirrer, jewel box, hair pins, board games, hand fan are just a few to list. Life of Buddha depicted on a massive ivory tusk, Japanese painting on silk cloth, work of Shakespeare depicted on silver wall hangings, antique musical instruments, miniature of Ambavilas palace in marble, medieval currency are the other interesting exhibits.

If the above mentioned does not cease to amaze you, check out the exclusive oil painting - "Glow Of Hope" this beautiful painting depicts a women carrying a 'Diya' in one hand and covering the glow with the other hand to protect it from the wind. The artist has captured the ultimate glow through her fingers beautifully. No amount of words can do justice to the painting, we stood there admiring the work in awe. The museum has rightly dedicated an exclusive room with fine aesthetics to portray this exhibit.

To be further surprised, walk towards the first viewing gallery on the ground floor of the museum to witness a 10-feet high French clock, made in 1818, churn it's magic. Every hour the miniature soldiers march around with soft music playing in the background. Every 15 minutes one can hear the clock chime and if you observe closely on the top left corner of the clock, one can see a soldier beating a drum which syncs with the seconds hand of a clock. This clock not only shows the time but also denotes the month, date & day of the calendar year.

Rail Museum: This small museum dedicated to old locomotives is rooted in the corner of the city, right next to the railway station. If you love machines, this place is a must visit. The highlight of the museum is "The Maharani Saloon" - yet another fine example of what royal life is all about. This carriage was exclusively designed to keep the Maharani comfortable with a movable cot, writing table, fans, chandeliers, comfortable bath, great aesthetics, exclusive servant room, followed by another carriage which housed the royal cook and dining area. All of this luxury costed the Royal family Rs.29500 in year 1899.

The 'Travelling Crane' built in 1885 is another engineering marvel exhibited at this museum. This crane could lift weights upto 5 ton and can swivel to 360 degree. This was used during accident and restoration work, best part being this is in perfect working condition.

Saint Philomena Church; Built in Neo Gothic style in 1936, this massive structure stands tall attracting devotees and tourists. Do go there to admire and appreciate the architecture and sheer class of the monument. The special feature of the church is the passage to the basement housing the relic of Saint Phelomena under the main altar.

Chamundi Hills: 15 km from Mysore city is Chamundi hills, the adobe of Chamundeswari. It is one of the most famous and much visited pilgrimage site in Mysore. Apart from spirituality, you have stellar panoramic view of Mysore city. Do stop at the view point to get a bird's eye view of the racecourse, Mysore palace, karanji lake & the city.

The mere fact of visiting any religious place is for solace and inner peace, however, the ground reality is completely different. People push, shove & scream at one another to catch a glimpse of the deity. The drive to Chamundi hills is brilliant, on either side you are treated with lush green forest. On the way back do stop over at Sand Art Museum.

Last but not the least Ambavilas Palace:

Dasara Fiesta In Mysore

If you have to experience the extravaganza of Indian celebrations one should witness any one of the many festivals celebrated across the Country. This time we headed to Mysore to celebrate Dasara. Dasara is one of the most important festivals in India, it is celebrated to wade off bad fate.

Everyone in the city is in celebration mode & the mood is electrifying. The highlight of Dasara is not just the mysore palace but the whole city is decked up like a 'Dulhan' stunningly beautiful! The streets of Mysore are lit up from sunset till late in the night. On the first day of Dasara, the top brass of Karnataka state assemble at the Palace to inaugurate the celebrations, this is followed by cultural events. It is very vibrant & the whole city is gathered to celebrate the festival as one big family.

The entire Palace complex is beautifully lit up using 1 lakh bulbs during the festival. On the first day of the celebrations it was not just man made lights but also the weather gods that sent their blessings in the form of gentle drizzle & lightning making the evening even more memorable and pleasant. The mood is so romantic that you would fall in love with the palace, the city, the festival & India.

The women of Mysore get into their competitive spirit to show heir creative side & they deck up the entrance of the Palace with colorful & mind-blowing rangoli, post that the best is judged. Everyday at 6 pm the camels, horses & elephants are decked up and taken out on a parade.

If you are around the Palace during dinner time head to Red Pepper Restaurant, next to Woodlands theater. Clubbed with great service they serve lip smacking food, their Kalmi chicken kabab is a must try. If you are a meat lover head to RRR restaurant for a feast, though the menu has limited options, the food is finger licking good. For vegetarians, the veg. thali is awesome with dollops of ghee to go with rasam, sambar and rice.

We checked into Kings Kourt hotel, the staff is very courteous and helpful, they greet you with a smile. The rooms are very spacious and comfortable. They have a very good travel desk with great service and attractive pricing. One of the few hotels that serves amazing and piping hot complimentary breakfast. However, the restaurant is a little overpriced. The hotel is at walkable distance from Mysore Railway station. All major tourist attractions are within 6 km radius.

Like we clean our homes during festivals, Mysore ensures the entire city is spic and span for Dasara, the government offices look as elegant as heritage homes. We had a great time celebrating the festival at Mysore with the locals, the city was so warm and courteous that we felt at home.

Needless to say, your trip to Mysore is not complete without digging into yummy mysore masala dosa and sipping filter coffee.

Mysore just does not stop to amaze one with the Palace, the other specials of Mysore can be found here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Photo Blog - Mysore Sand Art Museum

One of the lesser known place in Mysore, an artist, Gowri has created wonderful art using sand - the place and the artist deserve great appreciation. She has not only created art but has also given life to the sand structures. Be it the scenes from Mahabharat or ancient civilization, disneyland, marine life, wildlife, Chamundeswari, lord Ganesha- all of them are astonishing. This place has to be on your to do list. It is 4 km from Ambavilas Palace and on the way to Chamundi hills. This museum is open from 8 am to 5.30 pm and entry costs Rs.40.

Rest Of Mysore. Festival of Mysore