The next day, aching from the walk, I got a bus from Ooty to Mysore. More picturesque scenery as we wound back down through the hills and Mudumalai National Park where i actually saw an elephant, monkeys and deer on the roadside! The temperature in Mysore was definately more what i am used to! After settling in to my institutional-looking,quirky hotel that had a resident palmist and on-site ice cream parlour, i went to see the Maharaja's Palace. On sunday and public holidays, thousands of bulbs light up the palace for an hour. It was definately worth it. I felt like i was in Disneyland! I went round the inside the following day which was an experience in complete opulence! The architect was English and the styles are a mix of Hindu, Islamic, and European. As a result there is tonnes of gold, murals, stained glass (from Belgium), tiles (from UK), silver doors, ivory inlaid doors... The only downside was that you couldn't take any photos inside and the quality of the guide book photos were awful. There is a brilliant market too that sells jasmine and marigold flowers for offerings and dye powders.
The trek through the hills was great. Armed with our packed lunches made by our guest house, we got a bus to a certain point up in the hills. Our walk began over the hills, then through eucalyptus forests and tea plantations (planted by the British)and down into a small village for lunch. There are still alot of different hill tribes that live in the Nilgiris. The Todas are one and we were fortunate to go and meet and talk with them. Their faith is Hindu but they also worship nature and still sacrifice cattle at certain ceremonies. They don't marry until the future bride is pregnant and although they don't use the traditional dowry system of gold and money, the bride's family have to give 3 buffalo. We didn't feel we could ask what would happen if the future bride didn't conceive! After sickly sweet chai, we carried on up a rocky hill and once at the top we could see for miles over tea plantations and more hills, all the while hearing cow bells as they roam around.