Like every year, my current year new year resolution was to travel more. In fact, if I look back at my new year post on this blog, I am very specific about the goal: travel to at least three places. November is around the corner, and I had not quite gotten closer to that goal: until this Friday, that is.
My travel partner was Pooja, my friend-cum-colleague from Mu Sigma. You might remember her from my Pondicherry trip. Our Mysore trip was to be 1.5 days long. We took an early morning train (Mysore Express: 6.00 AM at SBC) and were in Mysore by 8.15 AM. It was the day of Dusserha, and we were told that the we could expect to find the place crowded. I sort of expected that to happen at the station as well, but turned out that was not the case.
My first impression of Mysore was of a rather quaint and quiet town, with a wonderful weather. Pooja had packed us breakfast (bread and boiled eggs) and we ate that sitting on the platform – our Airbnb check in was not until 9.30 AM. We had plenty of time to kill until then, so we decided to take a walk to the Airbnb after breakfast. Besides, what better way to know a city than take a walk in it?
The walk to Brindavan extension, which is where our stay was, solidified my first impression of Mysore. It is a city with clean, wide roads. We did not see much traffic in the morning hours. Both sides of the roads were lined with trees – it reminded me of Durgapur, my home town. In addition, as we would later find out, the transport cost is far less compared to Bangalore standards. All of these features kind of tick the box for me as far as a quality of living in a city is concerned. I told Pooja that I do see Mysore as a city where you could settle down.
Our Airbnb was in a nice residential area with ATM and convenience stores nearby. We booked the room five weeks in advance for approx. Rs. 1,400 a night and let me tell you, it was worth every rupee. There was a well-furnished kitchen area (accessible to the guests), clean drinking water, a wide, spacious balcony with comfortable seating arrangement and a lovely view of a coconut orchard.
Our room was clean, well-ventilated with a double bed and air conditioning. The bathroom was clean and clean towels were provided. It felt like home away from home. In fact, I’d have been happy to chill in the room for the entire stay.
The primary objective of our trip was to witness the Dussehra procession in its full glory. We left the Airbnb around 11.30 AM, and took a bus to the four-point circle near the railway station. By then, I was quite hungry and we ate lunch at a McDonald’s with a nice roadside view at the four-point circle.
After that, everything was a bunch of confusion. We didn’t quite know where to go for the procession. We went in front of the palace, but entry was barred due to the procession. Some person tried to talk us into buying passes to go inside for Rs. 1,500, but we decided to stick to the outer area to see the procession. After asking few people, we reached KR Circle. It had already started getting crowded, and the circle area was closed off by the police for the procession. I could see people on rooftops of the shops and houses in the circle area. Pooja and I somehow managed to sit on one of the roadside boundaries, like you’d sit on a motorcycle. It was uncomfortable for sure, and the crowd kept pushing and pawing. To top it off, there were a bunch of over-enthusiastic local young men who kept blaring a cheap wind instrument that the vendors were selling. The sun was strong, and the procession was nowhere to be seen.
After waiting for about two hours, the procession started. There were elephants decorated beautifully, folk dancers singing and dancing and so on, but from my vantage point, I had a poor view of things. Frankly speaking, for the large part of the procession, I kept asking myself why was I putting myself through this torture. The event reached its climax when Ambari, the golden howdah passed us. The crowd went up in a collective roar, people raised their hands in prayers, and finally, I started feeling better about being there.
As the crowd started dispersing, we went back to the palace. We thought we would visit the interiors, but it was closed for public viewing at the time. Instead, we roamed around, took some amazing pictures and sat on chairs in front of the palace, waiting for another 1.5 hours for the palace to light up in its famous Dussehra way. Meanwhile, Pooja and I chatted about Mysore, life, work and countless other things.
As the clock edged seven, we got off our chairs and walked towards the front. I was about to get my phone to recording mode, when amid the collective cheer of the crowd, the palace lit up with thousands of lights. In that moment, in the sheer excitement and happiness that was part of every single person in the crowd at the time, I was glad that I was in Mysore. I was happy that I was lucky to witness a special moment in history, and it was, in fact, the excitement of the crowd which made it even more special. It made me not miss the Durga puja back home and feel a oneness with what I call the spirit of India.
Leaving the palace made us understand what people said about Mysore crowd in Dussehra. We walked all the way from the palace to the McD where we had lunch, and for the major part of the way the traffic was not moving at all. Fortunately for us, both Pooja and I are enthusiastic walkers, so we just walked all the way (hoping it would help me lose some belly fat 😛 ).
This was the end of Day 1 for us in Mysore. Day 2 was even more fun-packed, because I had planned the entire itinerary for that day and we were able to stick to it to the T. I will be back with the next and final installment of this series soon. Until then, do enjoy the pictures I clicked, and let me know what was the best thing you liked about Mysore in case you visited the city.
❤ ~Arpita~ ❤
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