Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Weekend in Mysore

Our program recently took us down to Karnataka to explore Mysore, Bylakuppe, and Melukote. I'd been looking forward to traveling after a month in Hyderabad and can happily say our trip was amazing. Rather than walking you through our (lengthy, packed, and detailed) itinerary, I thought I'd share highlights from our trip. Here's what I loved about our visit to Mysuru:
  • Early flight: I don't think I can necessarily claim to be a morning person. Without a schedule, I will easily slip into near-nocturnality, and after two weeks of cancelled class, I had gotten into a steady rhythm of sleeping around 4 AM and waking up around noon. So when our morning flight to Mysore required me to wake up, rather than fall asleep, at 3AM, I was more than a little bit dazed. Our bus ride to the airport consisted of me and my roommate-for-the-weekend Rachel having a mildly-hysterical conversation about weddings and music and college roommates, and a coffee I chugged at the airport helped me to stay awake through our flight. But even though I'm not a natural early riser, I loved being able to take a early flight. For one, a sunset is infinitely more beautiful from the air, and for another, we were able to accomplish so much in our first day in the city.

  • Good food: I love and appreciate good food, so when our lunch consisted of seriously fresh and presumably homemade paneer (among so many other dishes), I was stoked. And the fact that the two gulab jamuns I got for dessert were literally the best I've ever had didn't hurt either.
  • Paper-cutting: A woman came to show us the art of paper-cutting and we got to participate in a cool DIY workshop. She had some stories surrounding her creations—including a peacock, a baby, her motherthat were perhaps unintentionally hilarious, but my friends and I had a fun time creating our masterpieces.
  • Bus rides: Ever since Spain, busses have become my favorite mode of transportation, a fact that remains true in a country where roads are often bumpy and rides can be long. I've already written about how the bus rides gave us time to play, but I also appreciated simply listening to music, looking out the window, taking snapshots of the city and countryside passing by, and thinking about whatever.
  • Palaces!: We visited the Mysore Palace, which is the most beautiful man-made structure I've seen. I mean sure, the Taj Mahal is objectively more impressive, but the stained glass doors, windows, and ceilings along with the overall decor and aesthetic of the palace reminded me of Devdas, one of my favorite Bollywood films, and our tour guide allowed us inside some areas not all guests were permitted to visit. Although not all of this was appreciatedthe room of taxidermy was definitely not for meit was amazing seeing places where kings had sat, princesses had explored. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take photos but I encourage you to visit yourself!
  • Tibetan monastery and lunch: We visited the Golden Temple in Bylakuppe, which was beautiful, and had Tibetan food for lunch. It was fun and leisurely, and I had plenty of time to play with my camera.
  • Dollu Kunitha dance: Saturday night, we got to see the performance of a Dollu Kunitha dance group, and even got to dance with them while they performed. I think for me, this and the Mysore Palace were the best parts of the weekend. I also got the chance to try out one of their drums and after dealing with sore arms, hands, and legs as well as a bruise on my lower stomach from the weight of the drum, I had some serious respect for the men who managed to keep a beat and create a loud volume with their drums, all while dancing. More than anything, I was just happy to dance with my friends and getting to try out the cool drum was just an added bonus.
  • Iyengari cuisine: On Sunday, we had a traditional Iyengari lunch, and while we were served way too much food, everything we ate was delicious. We were also served on plates made of dried leaves and sat cross-legged on the floor, and I liked that we were able to add a bit more authenticity to our experience.
Overall, it was an amazing trip and I'd recommend visiting Mysore for the Palace alone. Here are some more photos from my trip:

Our trip was incredibly fun, and even though we were productive and fit in an incredible amount of sight-seeing in just one weekend, I didn't feel tired. I went to Bangalore this past weekend and have a trip to Bombay to look forward to soon, so expect more travel posts!
~ V

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