Monday, April 20, 2009

Mysore - Ooty - Conoor - Day1 - Mysore

This is a series of 3 posts where I'll describe the Easter trip which we went for Mysore -Ooty-Conoor by car from Bangalore. As known this year we are having a number of extended weekends. So on this Easter weekend that is on 10th, 11th and 12th April we decided to go somewhere. After trying for many destinations Mysore-Ooty-Conoor was selected to be done by car. We booked a car for three days two nights trip from Bangalore which cost us Rs.9000(including driver batta, parking, toll tax etc everything). The deal was we'll only pay the amount rest all charges relating to vehicle would be borne by the agent.

It was decided that we start at 6 AM in the morning pick-up my friend and his mom on the way and start our journey to Mysore. We had requested the travel agent for a Hindi speaking driver as we are not so conversant in Kannada or any other southern languages. The driver came a little late due to some communication problem about the time etc... He came with a 7+1 seater Toyota Qualis equipped with DVD, VCD, Audio player. It was the kind of vehicle that we were precisely looking for.

After picking up my friend we were finally off to Srirangapatnam our first destination of the day. The drive along the Mysore Road was quite nice with some Rabindra Sangeet put on as a starter for the journey. There was lot of Mysore bound traffic it seemed everybody was heading out of town. we reached Srirangapatnam after drive of 2.5 hrs without any stop midway as we were already late.

Srirangapatna : This is town which was the capital of Tipu Sultan and his father Haider Ali its a historic town with lot of significance to people interested in history specially the early freedom struggle of India. The first place of interest was a place where Tipu was found dead after Final war against the British in which Tipu Sultan was defeated and killed. The British and victorious army had not only stormed Srirangaptanam but they also destroyed the town(including burning down Tipu's Palace) and whatever is left now is all ruins and nothing to see so we moved to the first stop of the day Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple its a vishnu(Hindu God) temple which was built by the Wodeyars of Mysore but had survived Haider Ali-Tipu Sultan era and subsequent British onslaught.

Next stop was Daria Daulat Bag (Tipu Sultans summer Palace) this is the summer palace built by Tipu Sultan with a beautiful garden around the structure. It now houses a meuseum of the paintings of Tipu's sons and his family, different weapons used by Tipu's army, different coins in use during Tipu's regime etc, also the outer walls of the palace has splendid mural paintings of the wars fought by Haider Ali, Tipu Sultan and the durbar scenes of different contemporary kingdoms. Photography is not allowed inside the palace but you can take pictures outside in the gardens. There is a Entry fee to enter the palace. The place was too crowded but still we took some pictures and moved out.

Bronze Idol of Garuda(Lord Vishnu's Carrier) inside Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple

The next destination in Srirangapatna was the Sangam its a Holy place where the other branch of the river Cauvery - Loakpavani is reunited . There is a common belief among people that their sins can be washed away if they take a dip in the sacred place.The place didn't look much apealing probably because it was summer and the rivers were not having much water flowing. There is the facilty of Coracle (round shape country boat) ride but they are too exhorbitant so we didnot venture for it.

Sangam at Srirangapatnam

Next was the Gumbaz built by Tipu Sultan but we skipped it as everybody seemed tired and it was very hot and crowded so we moved on to Mysore.
Mysore : By the time we reached Mysore it was well past noon and we decided that we head for the Hotel straight and finish-up the checkin formalities as the time mentioned was 12 noon. We had booked Hotel Dasarath Lodge near Mysore Zoo through The Hotel was a decent one for budget travellers like us though initially it was bit smelly and not very clean but the staff cleaned it and one of the lights in one room was not working but it was replaced promptly. After freshening up we decided to go for lunch when we asked the driver he took us to Hotel Ramanashree which is a star Hotel with a nice restaurant. After filling ourselves we headed for the Mysore Palace(the main centre of attraction in Mysore).

Mysore Palace

The Amba Vilasa Palace as the Mysore Palace is known is famous for its Grandeur and splendid works. The palace was the main palace of the Royal family of Mysore-the Wodeyars. There's a strict checking for camera as photography is strictly prohibited inside the palace. You need to take off your shoes as well before entering the complex. Inside you can the replica of the Grand throne and various artefacts of the Wodeyars including the potraits of the kings,queens,prince & princesses. Some of the doors are made of silver and ivory, the works are simiply excellent. My friend was trying capture it with his cell phone cam but was caught, the cop was nearly confiscating his cell phone but ultimately let off with a strong warning. The gardens around the palace was very beautiful but since it was too crowded we couldnot take many pictures. From Mysore palace we went to Saint Philomena's Church but couldnot get down for a closer look as the crowd was huge due to Easter celebrations, other than Palace, the church, there's the Mysore Zoo which we were not interested in. Besides there is Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary but its best to be visited in winter. So quite naturally our next and final destination was Brindavan Gardens KRS Dam.
On the way to Brindavan Gardens both my friend's and my mom wanted to watch a movie so we put on Hindi classic comedy "Golmaal".Brindavan Garden is very famous for the flora and beautiful fountains which become quite colourful after dark when the lights make the fountains awesome. The garden also has a musical fountain show which starts from 7 PM in the evening.Theres an entry fee plus a Rs.50 fee for still and 100 for video camera.If you are carrying more than 1 camera and like to save on the fees then better keep the other cameras inside pocket or bag(ie should not be visible) because theres checking and we had to pay 50 extra for the second cam. There's a boat service from main garden to the musical fountains arena, you can also walk but the boat service is good for the senior citizens who can't walk long. It was almost dark by the time we reached so after entering the main garden we clicked a few pictures then headed towards the musical, dancing fountains.By the time we reached the galleries were filled and we had to sit on the ground in front of the fountain you know the Front stall view like yester years Cinema theaters. The show had 1 Kannada, 1 Hindi, 1 English and the song "Sare jahan se achha" played to which the fountains danced with different colored lights lighting up the fountain the effect was really great. We saw the next show as well this time from the galleries, it was quite scintillating experience. After watching the antics of the fountain it was time to go back to our hotel and Day1 of the Easter trip came to an end. The dam was closed for public viewing for reason not known to us.

Few Revelations from the First day's experience :

  • If you want to enjoy every sight of Mysore, Srirangapatnam start as early as possible preferably before 6 AM from Bangalore. Like due to delayed start we had to drop Chamundeswari temple on the Chamundi Hills from our itenary.

  • Try to reach Brindavan Gardens atleast 1 hour before sun down then only you can enjoy the photography in light in the picturesque backgrounds of the gardens. Also you can watch the dancing/musical fountains and come back for the colourful display of the main garden fountains in lights.

  • Try to venture out during off season as during crowded times the rush of people become factor in your delays at different venues.

  • Also avoid in summers as it can be quite hot during the day.

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