We went to Mysore for the weekend which is a three hour drive/two hour train ride from Bangalore. We paid our driver, Rajesh, 1000Rp extra for the weekend trip. I would have liked to have taken the train but this way we could stop along the way and see some sights.
Our first stop after 1 1/2 hours was the Big Banyan Tree. It is a 400 year old tree, sprawling over four acres. We walked around the area and enjoyed the huge tree and monkeys jumping, playing and swinging from branch to branch. Craig thought it would make a great tree house or climbing tree.
We drove another 1 1/2hours to Sangama. At first it didn’t look like much, with a bunch of stalls and hawkers selling souvenirs. But once we got past them we found some stone steps leading to a small temple on a riverbank. It was serene and pretty as long as you overlooked the garbage in and along the sides of the river. Much to our delight there were small round boats called coracles made out of buffalo hide, that you could go for a paddle in. Craig, Michael and I went on one, for about ten minutes.
Indian people gathered at the river for different reasons. One old lady was washing clothes. Three men were holding an urn, going out in a coracle boat to throw their loved ones ashes in the river. Others were piled into one boat – 12 people – having fun spinning round and round. Still others stepped down into the river and immersed themselves.
We carried on and arrived in Mysore at 1:30pm (left Bangalore at 8:15) and found out that all the shops and sights, Mysore Palace – everything was closed due to some riots that had been happening over the last three days – five people stabbed. Disappointed. Nice room though at Hotel Regaalis.
Late in the afternoon, one of the sites – Chumundi Hill – opened up so we decided to drive to the top. There is a sacred Hindu temple on top, dedicated to the Hindu goddess Chumundi (Durgha). There were nice views on the way up but by the time we got to the temple we were in the clouds and it was raining. There were a few people but not as many as usual due to the riots. The temple was quite ornate with lots of carvings and statues. People gave offerings of money and flower garlands. Lots of monkeys were stealing fruit and vegetables from the stalls.
On the way down the hill we stopped at a huge statue of the black Nandi Bull. From here we realized there are stairs to the temple. It would be a nice walk up on a clear day with a view of the farmland and town below – next time.
On Sunday we were happy to find out that shops and the Mysore Palace would open up. We walked to the palace and then realized we were at the north gate instead of the south gate so we got a tuk tuk around for 30Rp.
We paid 200Rp to enter the Palace (locals pay 20Rp) but at least headsets were included for foreigners and we had an excellent tour. Even kept the children interested (bonus). There are many rooms to look at with elaborately carved and painted halls, gates, a wedding chamber, and statues all in excellent condition. There are gardens outside to walk around and the kids were excited when we saw elephants in the distance and camels in the courtyard. We splurged (20Rp) and they went on a short camel ride.
We spent 2 1/2 hrs touring the Palace, then back to the hotel via tuk tuk, had a swim and lunch. By 2:00pm we called Rajesh and decided to go back to the river with the temple and the little boats. There is much more to see and do in and around Mysore. We will definitely go back another time to see more sights and walk around the town.
It was raining so we didn’t stop at the river for long and continued on our drive back to Bangalore. The road is never boring. There are so many things to look at:
- working cows with long horns pull carts full of anything imaginable.
- motorbikes with families of four or five weave amongst cars and buses.
- a big open truck drove by with an elephant in the back.
- a tuk tuk full of dead chickens.
- we even saw people riding camels along a street in Bangalore. Just as we came alongside of them they darted in front of us and crossed the street.
Our eyes were wide with wonder. There is always something to look at, you really hate to close your eyes, as you will surely miss something exciting.
On the way back we asked our driver where he stayed for the night in Mysore. I understood that hotels have an area where drivers eat and sleep. We were surprised to hear that he caught the train back to Bangalore for the night. In the morning he caught the early train back again. He said he would have been too bored to stay there alone – none of his friends were there.
The only thing that we were not happy about was that Rajesh (the driver) asked for more money when we got back. We were upset that he would do that after we had agreed on a price. We said we would think about it overnight. Today he was late picking up Michael for work and then he asked if we had “thought about it.” Michael said that we were not going to pay him any extra. Then Rajesh mentioned that he had worked 1/2 hr overtime last week and wanted 200Rp for that.
It’s true he did work an extra 1/2 hr so Michael agreed even though 200Rp is way too much. Michael also told him that we planned to give him a nice tip at the end of his three weeks. But since we are not happy with him asking for more money not to expect a tip. I thought things were going well with Rajesh so I am disappointed , it made us feel uncomfortable having to say no to him. One more week and then I think we will get a permanent driver.