Well - words fail me when it comes to describing the chaos of Mysore. I met someone yesterday who told me its easy to get caught in the Mysore bubble and never want to leave. I think she may have meant the Gokulam bubble (my suburb) as the city of Mysore is out of this world. But before I explain why.. some background about my day and how I ended up amongst the chaos.
Me being me, I had to visit one of the main attractions in Mysore - the Mysore Palace. This is for two reasons - one being that I genuinely want to see the palace and the other being that it will force me out of my comfort zone and throw me into the thick of the city. Well - that it certainly did.
After negotiating with a number of rickshaw drivers, all who try to scam the unsuspecting westerner (i do my research and know I should not pay more than 70 rupees for a ride to the city) I eventually found a driver who settled at 80 rupees. Considering I was getting frustrated by this point, I didn’t want to quabble over another 20 cents AUD. This trip alone was enough to shock all the senses yet again - speeding along the falling apart roads, weaving in and out of other trucks, cars, scooters and rickshaws, this experience alone is not for the faint hearted. As we began to near the city the traffic quadrupled in size. Within centimeters of my rickshaw are other rickshaws or trucks - people with claustrophobia may need to think twice when traveling the streets of Mysore. Even if I wanted to get out and walk, I would have needed to wedge myself between other vehicles in order to get through. Amazing.
I was dropped at the palace entrance which is swarming with locals trying to sell everything from incense and jewelry to handbags and thongs. Considering I have gone from ‘quiet’ (in comparison) Gokulam to people getting right up in your face to push for a sale, it can certainly be a little confronting initially. I just learned very quickly to 1) not look at the sellers in the eye (or not for long) 2) be firm with my 'no’ and 3) keep walking (this is absolutely necessary - certainly nowhere to rest here!)
As I am a foreigner I had to pay 200 rupees to enter the palace, compared with the 40 rupees locals pay. After walking through a rather serious looking metal detector which made some god-awful noise once I walked through, I was looking at a beautiful lemon and white coloured palace with stunningly beautiful red domes (not sure of the correct word) on the roof. I followed the crowds and found myself at a entry point to the palace where my shoes were to be left before entry. (As there are no records kept of whose shoes are whose, I was hopeful I would get mine back at the end of the visit - thank fully this was the outcome).
Prior to actually entering into the palace myself and other visitors were harassed to take an alternate route which meant passing through the tourist sales shop. Of course.
The palace was stunningly beautiful. With so many vibrant colours - golds, lime greens, reds.. - surrounding me, one can see why this is considered one of the most beautiful palaces in the world. And the intricate detail in every dark teak wood carving on the wall or door is fascinating. There were flowers, stars, Gods.. It would be impossible to identify all the different carvings throughout the palace.
Gold is a prominent feature of the palace - huge pillars from floor to high ceilings flaunt golden features. The entire front face of the palace is open to the elements, and upon walking into the grand room which looked out to the world, one couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by such magnificence. The natural light beaming into the palace and bouncing off the golden and green pillars made this a room feel like royalty if ever there was a way of showing it. Unfortunately you are not allowed to take pictures in the palace (I got whistled at and told off), so this will remain in my memory only, however it is certainly a place to visit if ever in Mysore - even if its just to see this room.
The palace lights show is every Sunday night at 7.00pm so I will be sure to get myself back there next week to see this. It’s meant to be quite a magical experience. (Aladdin anyone?)
I caught another rickshaw to one of the biggest markets in Mysore - Devaraja Market. Lonely Planet recommended this one. The driver warned me of pickpockets and advised I don’t fall for any child who tries to speak with me as chances are there is a man behind stealing from me. I was glad to have the heads up.
After somehow making it across the main road alive, I walked through a dark entrance into a bustling markets. The first thing you notice are the vibrant dies which are beautifully displayed in bowls at the front of market stalls. The next are the number of people who instantly swarm to you, looking at you like starving dogs ready to attack their prey. I was hounded non-stop walking through this market - it’s incredibly intimidating at first and then it just becomes draining - having to constantly ignore or fend people off. One man in particular followed me around for much of the market trying to sell me anklets, but i just wasn’t interested. I also wasn’t keen on opening my purse in a place like this. Everyone is so jammed up against one another, it wouldn’t take much to steal from you if given a split second opportunity.
I also noticed there was a yellow cow in the market wandering around - yes that’s correct - yellow. Random.
I was a little full up with Mysore by the end of this ordeal and decided to head back to Gokulam where I finally ate something before heading to a local supermarket. Here I managed to get a couple of necessary cleaning products -hand soap and baby wipes for cleaning my feet each night. Thank goodness for them.
Feeling completely overwhelmed with sounds, sights and smells, I’ve decided to spend the late afternoon and evening in my room. After chatting with Owen via Skype for an hour or so I have been writing all the Sanskrit names of the foundation yoga postures. Considering I start training tomorrow at 11.00am, I thought now was an opportune time for brushing up on my Sanskrit.
Hopefully now it makes a little more sense why I think the girl I met yesterday was probably referring more to the Gokulam bubble rather than the Mysore bubble.. Craziness.