Mysore: Constrasts and more contrasts

We were expecting a relaxed southern city. Mysore felt more like a place caught between modern seductions and lingering traditions. The hustle and bustle of Bangalore has had a contagious effect on Mysore’s recent transformations. Like its more prosperous IT powerhouse neighbor, it appears a city on the move, a technological boom town. Mysore still clings to its image as a historically independent place with a long line of progressive maharajahs. It’s also home to India’s premier ashtanga yoga centers. During our short stay there we were bombarded by contrasts: particularly aggressive street vendors crowded around tranquil flower markets, polluted rickshaw-clogged streets encircling a beautifully tended civic garden, roadside tattoo artists operating for 120 Rupees a pop while using and re-using dirty needles next to elaborate ayurvedic clinics. We also had time to learn how beedis are made, to see a palace aglow at night, to eat south Indian thalis, walk around the most colorful market we encountered in India, and learn about Hinduism through the rock-carved statues at the 14th century temple of Somnathpur.

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heavy stuff

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all dressed up and nowhere to go (Mysore’s cows recently painted saffron yellow for a festival, as if India were not colorful enough)

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rolling incense sticks

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this is where we got ripped off. Is it vegetable oil or almond extract? We also left with a small jar of the elusive black jasmine essence, which we later learned doesn’t exist.

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at the beedi factory

a career beedi-roller.

at the beadie factory

at the beedi factory

Mass

silk loom

long days invariably end with a hyderabadi curry and a beer

Mysore palace

Mysore palace

evidence of a slower past

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at the flower market

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pigment for bindis

votive garlands

soap

flower market

waiting is not the problem

Somnathpur

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Rhinoceros frieze

Kali in all of her rage

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Mysore palace at night

every Sunday the palace comes to life with individual light bulbs! everybody is out and about.

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