Palace square Old school lorry

On my first Saturday in India, I took a quick day trip out to the neighboring city of Mysore. It’s a two or three hour drive along a relatively descent highway, and provided a nice break from the intensity of Bangalore. A brief run down of the day’s events, after the jump.

Garland and mountain Country bus

We started off from Bangalore around 8am, managing to get out of town before the worst of the traffic had picked up. Murali, my driver, got a nice fresh garland for the car before we set off, which was certainly worlds better than any pine tree air freshener. Along the drive we dodged around ox carts, overloaded buses, huge trucks, and various two and three wheeled vehicles of both the motor and human powered variety.

Reflecting pool Egress
Our first stop of the day was in Srirangapatnam, which was the seat of the Tipu Sultan’s empire until 1799, when the Brits breezed in, killed him, and took over. The big thing here is the ruins of the old fort on the river side, where the red coats snuck in under cover of darkness and assassinated the Sultan, thereby gelling their hold over Southern India. The pictures above were taken on the site of the Sultan’s summer palace, about a kilometer away across the river. The palace is now a museum of sorts, with portraits of the Sultan and his family, but photography inside is verboten, so this is as close as you’re going to get without hoping on a plane.

Mysore PalaceToward the front gate

The big attraction in Mysore proper is the Maharajah’s Palace. It was completed in 1912, with considerable help from Edward and Alexandra, after the old palace was destroyed in a fire. The place is ridiculously ornate, inside and out, but again, no photography is allowed inside, so you’ll have to make do with the long shots. What’s particularly interesting about this place is that it’s an early example of off-shoring, only in this case it was India ordering goods and services from all over the world, instead of the other way around. The architect was British (you can see tinges of Windsor in the palace), much of the interior metal work came from Glasgow, impressive stained glass work from Ireland, light fixtures and mirrors from France and Belgium, and even a huge ornate chandalier from Czecholslavakia. Largely, the palace is open to the public, but sections of it are still partitioned off for the Raj’s family to use, and they apparently also shut down the public areas for major family functions from time to time. October is the time to be here, for the big procession and the various entertainments associated with that event, but it was nice enough in July, and the crowds were quite manageable.