Curses. Foiled again.
Instead of on a wildlife safari under a night sky, we found ourselves later that day in the city jungle of Mysore, fending off tireless and persuasive hotel and rickshaw touts
. The next day, with our bearings and accommodation sorted, we visited the magnificent Mysore Palace. Although the outside is impressive, the interior is the reason to visit: every bit of it is a work of art, from the paintings on the wall depicting the Dussehra celebrations to the marble inlaid floors, the rosewood doors intricately inlaid with ivory, the stained glass overhead, and the ceiling paintings between the massive arches. From within, the Maharahajah would have held court in this beautiful and peaceful environment, and he could look out across the expanse of the inner courtyard and gardens through the east gate to the bustling city beyond. I will bring it to mind when I need inner calm amidst Indian bustle.
And . . . we saw a small herd of elephants in Mysore. They were Royal Elephants, standing around with a mahout in a far corner of the palace gardens. Still not what Dan had in mind, but a small consolation.
Wild elephants had eluded us in Sri Lanka, but according to everything we'd heard and read, we were sure to see them in Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala. So we wound our way through mountain pine forests on the 47 km, four-hour bus journey from Ooty to Sultan Bathery, a town near one of the park gates. We stepped off the bus at 1:00 into a pressing heat. We had seen the scorched earth from the bus and also, in retrospect, from our hilltop summit on the Ooty trek as we looked into Mudumalai National Park, which borders Wayanad on the Tamil Nadu side, but the enormity of the fire was unknown to us until I called the forest office to find out that the whole park was closed until April because of the recent fire.