Friday, 17 February 2012

Reflections

We arrived back a day ago, so I thought I would reflect on our 
Mysore/Karnataka journey.    Our usual destinations are Rajasthan or
Gujarat.  So different from Southern Indian.    Each has it's charms, all
so very different.    The north is so colourful, whilst, I think it would be
fair to say, the south is so green.


We stayed in Mysore at the The Green Hotel which is charming, with 
very friendly and helpful staff.  Our third stay here.   Originally built by
the Maharaja for his sisters, later in the 1950's a film studio.  Gardens
to sit and enjoy supper under the stars.  A great place to wind down 
before setting out on a journey through Kanartaka, arranged by Ahmed
at the Travel Desk. 


The hotel is 5m from the centre of town and run on ecological principals.
All furnishings etc locally sourced, and any profits are donated to charity.


Mysore is a lovely city, with wide tree lined boulevards.   Plenty to do 
and see.   Known for its silk, sandlewood and incense.   The downside
is it appears the only place you can buy material and sandlewood, plus
other 'tourist' items would be the Government Emporiums.  Set prices,
which are on the high side, and no chance of haggling.


However, Ahmed pointed us towards a supermarket near our hotel.
Amongst other purchases I grabbed bundles of incense and - a bucket,
plus other assorted stainless steel kitchenalia.  



complete with it's Fragile label
it survived the journey without a dent
perfect for dyeing

The area around Devaraja Market is worth exploring, very colourful, and 
who knew there was a Hindu festival for cows?   Here's one with a turmeric 
makeover.   Very fetching I think.




I liked this display of rice bags




We left Mysore to head out to the countryside.   A five hour trip, with stops 
for chai, took us to River Woods Home Stay on the Avanty Estate near 
Chickmagalur.   No communication with the outside world, fabulous home
cooked food, and coffee,  which is not surprising since we were staying
at a coffee plantation.   The one thing I miss in India is a good cup of coffee,
it's usually instant.  How could that be when coffee is the second largest
export?!!!

Moving on to the Palace Estate in the Coorg region, this time high up in the
hills.   Three days away from the world again.   Reading, walking, looking
and relaxing.   

Coorg is home to the Kodava people, thought to be descendants of Romans,
Greeks, or Persians, nobody really knows.   Coorg was an independent
state until 1956 when it was merged with Kanartaka.   The Kodava National
Council are pushing for statehood to be restored.  One day the leader of the
party joined us at the breakfast table.   A very imposing character.  Coorg 
is known as 'little Scotland' and he certainly knew all about William Wallace.
He was intrigued to know whether the Scots' still fought the English.  We
were able to assure him that this was no longer so.

So, big ticks for Home Stays, a great way to meet and talk to the local 
people, gain a little understanding of their culture, and then, of course, the
regional food.


a feather from the jungle

A great read on Southern India is On a Shoestring to Coorg by Dervla Murphy.
Published in 1976 it is still relevant.   I read it years ago, and fortunately there
was a tattered and well read copy in the Palace Estate's 'library' to dip into.

So, well refreshed, back to Mysore for a couple of days before our return.
We discovered the University Lake at the beginning of our trip.   Not far from
the hotel, it has a four mile circuit around the lake.  Thus began our excercise
regime.   A late afternoon walk, enjoying watching the painted storks and
pelicans making their nests, meeting with fellow walkers and joggers (the 
latter didn't stop!) then back to the hotel by 6 p.m. in time for a beer or two
before supper.


I always say that India is good for the mind, body and soul.   I certainly feel
the benefit, and not only that, we missed the cold snap!  Perfect.

2 comments:

Julie said...

what a great trip!

Sue said...

Loved your India blog. I have lived in Chennai for 2 years and love anything to with 'craft' or sewing. India is a wealth of colour as you know and great for inspiration. My husband and I have spent 2 weeks touring Kerala and we also visited Mysore, staying mainly at home stays.......what an amazing holiday !! We also travelled by train.....what an adventure from trains during the day to night sleeper trains for 13 hours. I didn't sleep I was afraid I missed anything so spent the night glued to the window, watching all the happenings as we passed train stations and towns !