Travel Diary of The Traditions of Mysore Dasara

After a long day visiting Hindu and Jain temples we finally arrived in Mysore late in the afternoon. We were in between the full celebration of Mysore Dasara, one of the most important festivals of the Indian calendar, and it is precisely in Mysore where it is celebrated with more splendor. There are adorned elephants, processions, and offerings in the temple.

We crossed a city that seemed well developed and with wide avenues until we reached our hotel. It was one of the cheapest on the trip thanks to a great offer, and from the outside, we found it modern and stylish. But once inside the thing started to get worse. Although in general, it could happen and more for what we had paid, the dirty carpets and the smell of humidity in the corridors to the rooms did not seem good omen. Luckily once in the room, everything was fine, from the spaciousness of the stay to the cleanliness or comfort of the bed. Against only the views that were bland and a rug in the bathroom that we removed as we entered.

We cleaned up a little, we took something light in case it cooled and although it was dark we went for a walk. Our destination is the Mysore palace in the city. It was like a 20-minute walk and the road was simple thanks to the always parallel streets that avoided that any mistake made us end up in the wrong place.

Halfway through our walk, we met the maharajah sitting on elephant back who had gone out into the street in a kind of procession. So there are full of onlookers. We saw for the first time elephants that the next day would be part of one of the biggest festivals in the city.

Happy to have seen that group of elephants we walked to the palace. It was completely lit and we could access the gardens without problems to see it taking a small detour. Inside, a ceremony was taking place in which the maharajá (who still lives in this palace) and members of the government participated. While everything that happened inside a room is just as if taken out of the thousand and one nights. The events could be seen live in some large screens installed in various points of the gardens.

We walked for a while from here to there while we met with people who come and go. We decided that it was time to go for dinner. We had read about a restaurant that was highly recommended and that happened to be in a hotel very close to ours, which was perfect. We dined quite well at a buffet with well-prepared and presented Indian and Western food. Yes, it was so full that we had to wait a few minutes for a table to be empty, but it was definitely worth that delicious dinner before going to rest after an intense day.

We start the next day with a delicious breakfast and go out to wait for our guide to go up with him to Mount Chamundi where is the most important temple of the city whose entrance dominates an imposing gopuram. As soon as we reached the top we were aware that it was not a normal day. Hundreds of people came and went with their offerings in their hands.

There were flea markets to find all kinds of items. The atmosphere was really festive, and it was Dasara's big day. People did not work and apparently, the best way to start the day was to go up to the temple. For us it was a job because there were really so many people queuing to access the interior of the place that we had to forget the idea of going there and move on to something else.

We returned to the car a little disappointed and went down to another important point in the mountain. We visit the great statue of Nandi, the bull vehicle of Shiva. There we went down and again we found ourselves surrounded by people with their offerings taking pictures and enjoying the festival.

Our guide noticed my disappointed face and told me that he was going to take us to what was the palace of one of the maharanis of the city and that it was now a very nice hotel. He also told us that he had been called because of the theme of the Dasara parade and the tickets. He told us that the city would be cut off to traffic soon because the parade would leave the palace. So we could not visit it that day but then toured much of Mysore.

The option was to look for a place on the street and wait for hours until everything arrived where we were or buy those tickets that gave us the right to enter the palace gardens for 500 rupees each. We did not know if it would be expensive or not, but we had few options of things to do in the city except to go to the happy procession that upset all our plans, so at least try to see it as best as possible. We told our guide to buy the tickets.

Meanwhile, we had arrived at the grand palace of the maharaní whose dome reminded us first of Notre Dame and then of the Capitol of Havana. We went around the bit decadent hotel. The next thing was to collect tickets for the parade and get to the palace. The streets were beginning to be cut and the traffic was tremendous.

We passed the entrances next to infinity of people. We were in the gardens, but we had no idea of what to do or where to go, so we followed the people in the direction of the majestic palace that was in front of us.

Following all those people we passed by the place where they were painted and decorated elephants and we came to a few steps full of people that as of today we still do not know how to access them. There were people everywhere without any kind of order. We tried to find a hole where we could be moderately comfortable, but the sun burned and we did not want to be in a place without shade. First, we were near the main gate of the palace of Mysore and there we saw soldiers on horseback and on foot who came to parade.

The public was quite out of control and the organization soon realized that it was going bad. People skipped fences and climbed into forbidden places. Every time we thought we'd better change our location to a somewhat quieter place. We went to one of the doors of the palace wall and looked for a shadow in which to place ourselves until something started to happen there. It did not take long to start the party and I ended up sitting on the floor between women and children who immediately made room for me to take a picture. They did not hesitate to move and settle in another way to give me some space. And so I began to see my first Dasara parade in Mysore.

Before us were passing elephants, soldiers, dancers, and jugglers. Each group was preceded by a float and represented an Indian state. The truth is that I did not know almost anything, but everything seemed so colorful and original that I enjoyed it as if I understood what was happening in front of me. But there came a moment when the position began to be really annoying, as cramped as my legs were.

And then I saw that on the top of one of the doors of the palace wall there were a lot of TV cameras and accredited photographers who had climbed there by a flimsy bamboo ladder. I approached a policeman who was there and asked if we could go up. He, in turn, asked me to go up carefully and to stay there without bothering much.

From above I saw all the floats pass by. I saw women dancing in brightly colored costumes and I saw the elephant come out carrying on its head the image of a god. I think someone told me it was Shiva, but it could be Vishnu. I also saw the expectation that was on the street and how people had looked for the most peculiar ways of seeing the parade without missing anything.

I was up there for a long time, so much that when I went down my head hurt from the sun and one of my arms had burned. Certainly, some things have a price. But it is paid with pleasure although I would have preferred that everything would have been faster since it made me a little heavy so much float, so much musician and so much dance.

I went down from my privileged position totally exhausted, heated and thirsty. We waited for the tumult to pass and we left the palace to some place where we could have a cold beer. We soon found a hotel with a cafeteria where the air conditioning and a rich beer were enough to make us feel in heaven. We commented everything we had seen.

After recovering from the heat we went out into the street when it was already late afternoon and we walked to another of the most famous places in Mysore. The Devaraja market is a bazaar where modern India mixes in all the shops of the exterior with the most traditional India in the interior courtyard posts. When we arrived it was almost night, but in spite of that a good number of shops were open and they were selling flowers, handicrafts, and essences. We passed enveloped by the sweet aroma of the flowers and promised to return the next day to see the place in the light of day.

We continue walking to the hotel with little desire to go out to dinner. We took advantage of the fact that the hotel restaurant was open with a rather curious buffet and after a shower, we stayed there for dinner. The truth is that the previous day was much better and also cheaper but you know, sometimes laziness can pay us a few rupees and more is done with pleasure.

We still had to go up to the room and close our bags because the next day we were leaving Mysore for the last city we would spend on the trip to Bangalore.

Before leaving the beautiful city of Mysore, we went to visit some places, the first the railway museum where we saw several wagons, among which the one that belonged to the Maharani of the city stood out. Completely covered in wood, it has a bathroom, living room, bedroom and rooms for the service. A true jewel that cannot be photographed.

Later we returned to the Devaraja market and found it much livelier than the day before. Virtually all of their stalls were open and many customers went in search of fruit, flowers or incense. From this last, I bought several packages at a good price and I recognize that with some I guessed right but with another, I crashed fully and already at home I discovered that I did not like this aroma at all.

The last thing we had to see in Mysore was the palace. For the third time, we came here. We went to the entrance to access the interior of the building and there were so many people that I thought it would be impossible. I took a breath and did what other men did and put my arm between all the bodies asking for two tickets. True, I got involved, but that was it or we were desperate in front of so many people.

With the tickets in our possession we accessed the gardens and after taking a couple of photos we had to leave the camera since it is totally forbidden to take pictures inside the palace. Along with a bunch of locals and a handful of tourists we approached the second gate in which we had to leave our shoes. Barefoot and with the entrance in hand we approached the third stop before entering.

We were ready to enter the palace of Mysore, one of the most splendid in India. We went from room to room, some with art collections, other reception rooms, some patio. But all the time there were so many people that it was complicated to stop to enjoy the place with tranquility. During the tour without our camera, we saw that almost all the people shamelessly took their phones to take pictures of absolutely everything without anyone telling them at any time. We could have done the same, but I did not want at all that someone would call my attention and end up arguing for nonsense.

We finished the visit and picked up our things to go then to our way to Bangalore stopping at Srirangapatna and Somnathpur.

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