Day 23: Mysore and then checking out of India

Trip Start Apr 14, 2006
Trip End Mar 07, 2006

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Sunday, May 7, 2006

Today is my last day in India and Bangalore. Bangalore is the Garden State of India. It is like New Jersey in USA and Victoria in Australia:) Truly there is lot of gardens and greenery here than anywhere else in India I have seen to date.

Tonight around 11:15 PM is my flight back to Melbourne via Singaore. Vered and I decided to make a day trip to Mysore. We planned to make the trip short return back around 7 PM. We hired an A/C car with a driver/tour guide for the day.

Once again it was another early morning start. We left Bangalore around 8 AM and headed towards Mysore which is about 3 hours drive from the city. I think I managed to sleep in the car for about an hour. But the drive to Mysore was one of the best drives I have ever had in India. There was lot of nice scenery and many sections of the road were pretty good. It was like it was just opened. You won't see potholes here. There were quite a few diversion which had us going on dirt roads. But soon after we were back on good roads. We only had 3 things to see in Mysore - the Mysore Palace, Devaraja Fruit & Vegetable Market and the Brindavan Gardens as we were on tight schedule.

But the driver insisted we first got to Chamund Hill. On the top of the hill (about 1062m above) there is a temple called Sri Chamundeswari Temple. It is known for its 7 storey high gopuram. Pilgrims usually walk up 1000+ steps to the top. I don't think we were able to do this in this hot weather, besides we did not have hour to spare to we took the easy path of driving along curvy mountain road to the top. There was a long queue of people waiting to go inside, so we just had a quick look and walked around the temple.

One-third of the way from the top is a huge statue of Nandi (5m high). This is Shiva's bull vehicle. It is one of the largest in India and visited by lot of devotees.

The next stop was the Mysore Palace. This is very beautiful from outside. From the inside it is so-so. You can see lot of the old architecture and have collection of furniture/clothes and personal belongings of the Maharaja's family. No cameras are allowed inside and there are strict army style checking. But I still managed to smuggle my camera in. But I did not take any photos inside the palace:)

Lunch was at Sidartha Restaurant. A recommended restaurant from the Lonely Planet Guide. This place was very popular. There was lot of people waiting to get into the AC rooms. Luckily they had table for 2, so we had a quick lunch.

After lunch we headed to the Devaraja Fruit and Vegetable Market. And we were really running out of time now. It was 2:30 PM and our original plan was to head to Bangalore back around 3:30 PM. So we had to make a quick dash in the market. The market was really worth it. It is very colourful with all the flowers and the holi colours. There were piles and piles of these colour powder nicely kept on the stalls that is used to colour clothes, used to mix with water and play (as in Holi) or paint designs on hands etc. At one of the stalls the guy was selling flowers like selling stocks in New York Stock Exchange..There was so many people around him. He must have the best flowers in town. Being a fruit and vegetable market, there were plenty of that too. Banana seems to be the popular one this side of town. Took some amazing photos here.

But we had to cut it short and the driver reckoned he can get us to Brindavan Garden and still make it back to Bangalore around 7:30 PM. And he said no one comes to Mysore and goes without seeing the garden. So off we went. It is about 20 mins drive from Mysore. It is a huge garden but we had only 10 mins to check it out. There were lot of fountains and it is along a dam which is near the Cauvery river. In the evenings there are illuminated fountains which is the highlight of this garden. But we did not have time for it. Everything seem very rushed today. So we quickly got in took some photos and started heading back to Bangalore.

We left Mysore about 4 PM and hoped to get back to Bangalore around 7:30 PM. But we were stuck in some really bad traffic. We moved 100m in 30 mins. It was horrible. What was worse was I had to pick up a pair of glasses I ordered from Commercial street and the shop closes around 9:00 PM. But I had to leave for the airport around 8:30 PM. We were really cutting it fine. We finally made it to Bangalore around 8:30 PM and headed straight to Commerical street to get my glasses. Once again they made me wait which seemed like ages until they could give me my glasses. Next time I am not going to Anglo American! But do I have any other choice??

Soon after picking up my glasses headed to hotel, picked up the bags and headed straight to the airport. My original plan was to get refreshed before leaving to the airport. But it was 9PM and I had to leave. So off I went to the airport. Luckily there was no traffic to the airport and headed to the airport around 9:30 PM.

After the driver had dropped me, I was wondering if this is Bangalore International Airport, because it was not upto a standard of an International airport. There was a huge line waiting outside to get into the airport. At the door was security checking everyone's passport and ticket to make sure they are all passengers. Then I see a posted note saying check for Singapore Airlines closes 1 hour before departure. Great. Its 9:45. I have 30mins.

Once you get in there is a another line to get your check-in bags x-rayed and get a sticker on them. Then you wait in a queue to get your boarding pass. And I don't know what the staff were doing, my line was crawling. Finally I was the last one to get the boarding pass. There were people behind me, but they got called to check in other queues.

Soon after getting the boarding pass, you take 10 steps to your right and you get to customs. You wait in the queue to get your passport stamped. Then you get into another queue where they scan your hand luggage and frisk you. You will see two duty free shops around here. And thats about it. You then walk through a door and you are at the gate. There is only 1 gate at Bangalore International Airport. This airport is smaller the Jaipur domestic airport! For one of the IT hubs of the world and IT Capital of India where you get a lot of business travellers, the airport is sub standard. But this is India, what do you expect.

It was around 10:30 PM and I was starving (no dinner yet!) and still some time to board. So used all my loose change to get some samosa. How else can I say Cheers and Adios India, but with a Samosa in one hand and bottle of mineral water in other:)
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