Southern India – Mysore (aka Madras)

Southern India – Mysore (aka Madras)

Mysore, India
Great Town, Unfortunate Name

From Mamallapuram, we took an overnite train to Mysore, a great little city with lots to see and do. Overnight trains are a great way to get around – not only do you not waste your waking hours in transit, you also skip having to pay for a hotel room for the night.

Mysore is most famous for its Maharaja’s palace, a relatively new (1912) and ostentatious place, used primarily for public ceremonies. It was impressive by day, but by night, it was spectacular. The entire palace is lined with lights, which are turned on for Sundays and holidays.

 Mysore has a great wholesale market, the Devaraja Market, which has rows of stalls selling flowers (primarily for use in offerings), in addition to the normal fruits and vegetables.. Markets are one of our most favorite places to visit, because the local life is on display at its colorful best. Here are some shots of the wonderful Mysore market.

      After spending a day looking around Mysore, it was off to the obligatory temple tours in the neighboring region. The temples in India are so spectacular, it’s hard to believe that one could become jaded – but by this time we were about templed out. The second temple site we visited, Hoysala, built in 1268, was spectacular, with intricate architecture and carvings.

   Woman selling offerings to bring to the temple (which no doubt originated at the wholesale market) A shrine to the ox Nandi, transport for the god Shiva A real-life ox coming down the stairs behind the Nandi shrine    The main building at the Hoysala temple Detail on one of the walls Close up of the carvings 

While Scott went to snap pictures at the palace at night, Kathy stayed back for a beauty treatment – getting her hands and feet “henna’d”. A mendhi (the name of the tatto itself) is a body decoration used primarily for weddings, parties, and other dress-up occasions. The mehndi’s are permanent, and last until the skin wears off – usually a week or ten days. First thing is to select the design you want, from a book of dozens of designs. The henna artist then reproduces the picture, by eye, using a paste made out of henna that is squeezed out of a tube, like decorating a cake. It took her about 90 minutes to do the design you see here. Walking around the neighborhood of our hotel, we kept running into a cute little kid, Mustafa, who would try to get us to come into a shop to buy something. Nothing unusual there, except he didn’t seem to care which shop he dragged us into. And theshopkeepers seemed to be amused when Mustafa brought in a customer. Mustafa was exceedingly personable, spoke a fair amount of English, and insisted he was getting no commission. One of the shopkeepers explained to us that Mustafa came from a dysfunctional alcoholic family, and he hung around the shops in the evening, imitating the shopkeepers and guides he saw. The shopkeepers made sure he got a meal if he was hungry. Tough situation, but little Mustafa seemed to do well in spite of it all. Click here to listen to Mustafa’s sales pitch.


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