I used Mysore as a base for a few days over the weekend before heading South towards Nanjangud on highway 212. Before leaving for India I had envisaged Mysore as the starting point for my ride to Kerala. But it had been incredible fun getting there from Bangalore!
I can certainly appreciate why Mysore (Mysuru) attracts so many visitors and figures on so many travel itineraries. It has the vibrancy of New Delhi but is so much cleaner and has a relaxed convivial atmosphere. It is colourful with a pleasant mixture of colonial style buildings, old crumbling streets, diverse culture and modern shopping parades. Mysore Palace, constructed by Lord Henry Irwin in the 1900’s for the then incumbent Maharaja on the site of the previous (burnt) palace, is the big tourist attraction. It is illuminated for a short while on Sunday evenings (19.00 -19.45) and I made a point of visiting then to capture the spectacle. The neo-gothic St.Philomena’s Church to the North of the city provides a prominent and impressive landmark. However its plain and slightly kitch interior is less remarkable. I particularly loved Mysore’s ‘Mannar’enclosed market which spills out into the surrounding streets in several directions. I grabbed some freshly milled coffee for my journey from Sri Raja coffee (pictured) in Sribampet Main Road nearby.
I had been unable to obtain a sim for my iPhone in Bangalore. So I submitted the relevant paperwork to the Airtel office in Mysore. I was provided with a sim too large for my phone. But was told to return the next day for the correct size (nano) sim and enrol on a data plan. I returned the next morning. But, of course and being Sunday, the office was closed. So I carefully cut the sim down to size with a pair of scissors. This did the job and could enable ‘pay and go’services with a quick text. So no data plan… but I did have access to everything I needed. For cycling cross country in South India along back roads and dirt tracks Google maps proved very useful. Probably more so than the less detailed OpenCycle maps I had downloaded for use with the ViewRanger app on my phone.
One of the highlights of my stay was a visit to the Tiger Trail restaurant at the Royal Orchid Metropole. The food, service and surroundings were exemplary. It was not so expensive by western standards and yet was a ‘five star’ experience.
I did think on the way out of the city to cycle up and over Chamundi Hill to the South of the city. There are several temples and a famous Nandi Bull; the largest and carved out of a single piece of rock. But gave it a miss and skirted West around the base of the hill. I did get a photograph of a nearby cow instead…