Early rise this morning for our 6 am train and we seemed to spend the whole walk from our hotel to the train station walking passed people asleep. There were staff from the hotel asleep on the stairs on the way down to the lobby, then as we walked outside and got nearer the station we stepped over dozens of people asleep on the streets. It was difficult to tell whether they had slept overnight to be here for an early train or if indeed they were homeless. It’s certainly an extremely confronting scene to cope with at the best of times let alone 5 am. Once inside the station the scene was little different again with the floors covered with people sleeping and waking up. These people though had luggage and were more obviously waiting for early morning trains.
The train system in India is very easy to understand and follow so in no time we were in our seats in air con waiting for the train to go. As usual we didn’t really know what kind of journey we were going to have but this one started looking up when a couple of stewards started scooting up and down the carriage dispensing breakfast!!! Bonus!
The journey passed pretty quickly and luckily a really nice man called Asim who was sat next to me struck up a conversation and we had a really interesting chat the whole way to Bangalore. He was a director of an online marketing company so it was fascinating learning the ins and outs of his industry (a budding one in India) as well as exchanging thoughts on life from both of our backgrounds. It is fascinating the people you can meet whilst travelling on public transport here in India, the lack of language barrier certainly helps too.
It was clear from the start that Mysore gets more than it’s fair share of tourists arriving by train and we were attacked by touts as soon as we got off of the train! We are getting fairly used to dealing with the usual con artists ready to great us at train and bus stations but these guys were pretty pushy. They decided that we were going to catch a taxi and pay through the nose for the privilege but we wanted to catch a rickshaw. In the end everyone was arguing with everyone but in the end we more or less got we wanted…we got to our hotel.
We had an afternoon to enjoy Mysore so we thought we would take a bus to the top of the nearby Chamundi Hill one of the 8 most sacred hills in India. At the top there were the usual array of market stalls but everyone was making their way towards the Sri Chamundeswari temple so we thought we would join them. The temple was unfortunately clad in scaffolding but we thought we would go inside. We paid up and joined the queue where once again we were quite a novelty for everyone but everyone was nice and just genuinely intrigued to meet us. While we were in the queue the local monkeys were tormenting people trying to snatch their flower and food offerings from their baskets. The little buggers were pretty confident and while everyone was laughing and joking they all shied away when the monkeys came towards them. The atmosphere was fun in the queue but we weren’t sure what we were queuing up for and once we got inside the temple we were all filed passed the deity at the front were everyone said a prayer and then filed outside. Not quite sure what had happened but once outside we got blessed by someone outside so hopefully that will carry us in good stead for a few weeks at least.
Being at the top of a hill just outside of Mysore which had been recommended by the guide books we were expecting to gaze out over a view of majestic temples and be amazed. Unfortunately not. However there were 1000 steps leading back down towards town so we thought we would head down and hopefully get the view there. Again no such luck. We did pass a huge statue of Nandi (Shiva’s Bull) which was pretty cool. The best aspect of the walk was that there were no crowds and the heat had abated a bit so we were able to enjoy a walk in the fresh air in some peace and quiet.
Back at the hotel we found out that our roof top restaurant actually reviewed quite well so we were lazy and headed up the flight of stairs to get one of the best meals we have had so far in India. Delicious tandoori vegetables and a paneer do piasa accompanied by some naan, all just wonderfully spicy and flavoursome.
It wasn’t a fantastic start to our Mysore experience but enjoyable nonetheless and tomorrow we have something quite spectacular to look forward to. T
The temple at the top of Chamundi Hill.
The cow is such a wonderful beast to have roaming freely around the streets. So calm and so big we still can’t get used to seeing them just wandering wherever they please.
The monkey scaring some of the temple goers as they wait to run the gauntlet.
Nandi in all its 5m tall glory.
The best view was when we almost got to the bottom. On the way down though we passsed a few people making a pilgrimage on their way up. Some simply walked up while others touched every step and one guy even crawled up on all fours.