Tuesday, February 19, 2008
The Police, The Goat and The Maharaja
We got up at 5:30am had breakfast and headed for the airport for our flight to Bangalore. We are now in a new state: Karnataka. You know what that means: a new language, a new alphabet, a different cuisine. Bangalore is the high-tech capital of India. It is also the call center capital of India. When you call an 800 number for some assistance, and get an Indian sounding voice on the phone, chances are you are speaking to someone in Bangalore. There is nothing we wanted to see in Bangalore. We drove from the airport towards our destination of Mysore.
Our van was soon stopped by the police and 200 rupees was extorted from the driver so that we could continue on our way. This is not uncommon in India. Everyone puts up with it.
On the way we stopped at a wholesale coconut market. With coconuts literally growing on trees and dropping on heads you wouldn’t think there would be a need for market devoted solely for coconuts. It was another hot, humid day, and all I could think of is turning the coconuts into a giant Pina Coloda.
We eventually reached Mysore. We visited Colonel Baily’s Dungeon. The local king was a warrior who fought the British and bested them in several battles. He captured Colonel Baily and his troops and held them in his dungeon until he drowned them. The dungeon is way below ground level and the roof of the dungeon held the water that would pour in and drown the troops.
When we approached the dungeon there were two goats - a mother goat and kid, both were running around like crazy making the weirdest noise. Something was obviously wrong. When we got closer to the dungeon we saw that the goat had jumped into the dry pool area and could not get out. The walls were too steep and there were no stairs. He was very frightened. He was running around trying to escape and there was no way out for the goat. Cathy suggested that I try to get him out. I was worried that if I jumped down to where the goat was I too would not be able to get out, I also didn’t know what I would do if I got down, would the goat bite? Could I catch him? I did go down, and eventually chased the goat down. I was able to grab him on either side of his chest and hoist him out to safety. I then climbed out having done my good deed for the day, to much applause.
We then visited the summer palace and grounds and then headed to Keshava Temple. Our schedule was very tight and our driver took back roads to make sure that we made it in time. The roads were predominately dirt and full of ruts. The traffic ranged from lots of large trucks to ox-carts. We drove thru the real India villages. These were predominately Muslim. The kids are terrific always smiling and waving.
The temple complex was fabulous. It is very small probably 200 feet by 100 feet. It looks like a miniature Angkor Watt. Inside there are three ancient shrines. The outside is delicately carved. It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.
From there we headed for our hotel. We all gasped when we saw it. We are staying at a heritage Maharaja’s Palace. It still be longs to the Maharaja of Mysore. It was built in 1921 by Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar Bahadur IV to house his important guests. I guess we qualified tonight. Never having slept in a palace before it seems quite nice. To add to the fun it was a full moon and I was able to get a night shot of the Palace and Moon.
After checking in we headed into Mysore to do some shopping and have dinner.
Tomorrow we check out after our princely night and see more of Mysore. We then head to the airport to fly to Mumbai (Bombay). Did I mention that Southern India is very hot and humid?