February 28, 2011

Mysore Mystique

The Mysore Mystique poster has been on my mind today and so I cant help writing a line about it! One of the most amusing posters I saw at a market stall in a fair at Mysore, Karnataka. After Hyderabad, Mysore was the other city that we explored in our India trip in December 2010. We flew to Bangalore and then went to Mysore in the Volvo bus which runs between the two cites hourly. It was a good 3 hour ride and we spent most of the time catching up on much needed sleep! We stayed at the Ginger Hotel which is a pretty decent hotel in terms of rooms and amenities, however I was not impressed with their food. I hoped to find authentic South Indian food but they served the broader category of Indian food which mostly has North Indian dishes.

Mysore Palace by sunset
On the first evening I ate to my heart's content dosas at an authentic South Indian udipi place. I have to mention that I am a big fan of South Indian food. We then went to see the majestic symbol of the city - the Mysore Palace. The palace was closed so we took pictures from outside. Since it was Friday, the palace was not lit up it its most famous way. However the dim lights with colorful sky at sunset offered some amazing snaps of the palace! We then headed to a fair across the street from the palace. It was very crowded and had stalls selling a variety of items ranging from clothes, footwear, domestic appliances and articles to locally made handicraft and decorative pieces and a variety of food of course!

Mysore Palace lit up at night
We booked a cab for the whole of next day to explore the tourist attractions of the city. We started with the Chamundi temple on the Chamundi hills. The temple had amazing sculptures on its entrance. We also visited the huge Nandi (the bullock) statue in the same neighborhood. On our way downhill we stopped at a location that offered a spectacular view of the city and the palace domes standing out from the rest of the buildings. We then went to Karanji Lake. This lake was a pretty usual one, the only attraction there was a bird sanctuary that had a variety of beautiful birds with unusual colors! I cant name most of those except the peacocks and the white peacocks.  We then took a short stop at the Montogomery Church which was well decorated for Christmas festivities. We headed to Vrindavan gardens and on the way we stopped at the scenic KRS dam. The gardens are huge and the layout is perfect and symmetric. The variety of fountains and the effect of colored lights after dusk is fascinating! We then headed back to the palace to witness the palace lit with few thousand bulbs. The sight of the palace was almost like a fairy tale book coming to life.

Mysore Palace by day
The next day was our last day at Mysore and we planned to set off for Bangalore after lunch time. We spent the morning again at our favorite place in the city - Mysore Palace! This time we took a tour of the palace from inside. You have to see it to believe the lavish interiors, abundance of gold and silver architectural structures and precious paintings and carvings and gems adorning the palatial walls. We rented an audio guide and enjoyed every bit of the description of the palatial rooms that took us back in time to the Wodeyar era.

We brought back with us memories for a lifetime and delicately carved wooden frames portraying a famous chariot scene of Arjun and Krishna from Mahabharat! We also bought a delicious sweet Mysore Pak, and the popular South Indian coffee to cherish the Mysore memories even later in its tasty offerings.

February 16, 2011

There is something about the ocean ...

I have grown up in Mumbai, a city that is empowered and outlined by the Indian ocean. I now live in the Pacific Northwest and from the time I moved here I have visited several destinations along the US Pacific coastline and the Hawaiian islands in the Pacific. There is something about the ocean that fascinates me and its hard to describe the connection that an ocean view makes with the depths of my heart!

That something is probably ...
the size, the depth, the expanse, the magnitude ... that humbles me!
the power, the force ... that is creepy and scares me!
the voice of the ocean in its waves ... that soothes me!
the horizon ... that makes me believe that the ocean meets the sky!
the life in the waters ... pretty and unique!
the changing colors ... reflecting the mood of the sky!
the beaches at the coasts ... that make the most beautiful relaxing destinations!
the sunsets across the water ... that makes me feel the ocean can drown the sun!

I spent the last weekend at Big Sur, California with a bunch of friends. We took the CA1 freeway along the coast and the breath-taking ocean view throughout our journey was a reality that still doesn't sink within me! We stopped at several vista points on our way and at each stop I was only more in awe of the picturesque sight than the previous! We sat at these lookouts and heard the waves run towards the coast and retreat as well. We spotted several whales coming to the surface at periodic intervals. We saw the sun through its journey from noon to sunset. We saw the color of water change from bright blue to pale to grey as it reflected the drowning sun's rays front and center. Our cottages were ocean facing which is why we booked those! However the icing on the cake was that each bed faced a full length glass wall facing the ocean so we could watch the blue waters as the first sight in the morning! I couldn't have asked for more from this view but I haven't had enough of the ocean yet! So here's a toast to more trips to the farthest islands and coastlines of the world ... that I will keep visiting and describing here :) Cheers!!!