Monday, June 24, 2013

About Mysore again!! - but this time to invite you all to experience the place :)

I made this itinerary for a delegate's two day visit. Figured that it might be useful for others too. So, here I am sharing the content which was collected from various sources including my own experiences. Happy reading and touring! :)

The kings of the Wodeyar dynasty, who founded the city around 1400, laid the foundation for the southern cultural capital, Mysore. Today, it still retains the essence of a kingdom, with most of the architecture and roads belonging to the erstwhile era; far from the traffic cries of neighbouring Bangalore, with crisp, pollutionless air! 

Saturday – Srirangapatna
About the place: There are two clusters of tourist spots in Srirangapatna. The first cluster includes the Ranganathaswamy Temple, the dungeons of Colonel Bailley and Thomas Inman, Jamia Masjid, Tipu Sultan's death place, Tipu Sultan's old palace(ruins), Gangadhareeshwara Temple, Watergate and an Obelisk commemorating Srirangapatna. 
The second cluster features the Dariya Daulat Bagh (Tipu Sultan's Summer palace - is full of priceless artifacts, priceless not merely in their fiscal value but in their invoking of a period as well), Gumbaz, Nimishamba Temple, Sangama, Abbe Dubois Church, and the Dodda Goysa Ghat.
Restuarants in Srirangapatna - Amblee Holiday Resort - 08236 217474, Hotel Mayura, Hotel Vaibhav, Jungle Resorts restaurant

Morning itinerary– After breakfast in Mysore, journey of about 30 min to Srirangapatna (9 – 9.30)
*If you are travelling from Bangalore, leave as early as possible you can have breakfast in Shivalli, Chanapatna or many other eateries that dot the highway near Maddur or Chanapatna. You have choices of Andhra restaurants, Adigas, Empire, Kamat Lokaruchi, CCD, Mc Donalds, KFC, and even corner house!
1. Sriranganatha temple, (30 min approx)
2. Tippu’s fort, walk by the river Cauvery. (20 min, 10 min)
3. On the other side of the road (2nd cluster) - Tipu Sultan's palace, (45 min)
4. Sangama (10 min)
5. Nimishamba temple, by the river Cauvery (20 min)
6. Across the newly constructed bridge to Venkateshwara temple at Karighata (a small hillock from where the beautiful landscape around the hill and the confluence of the Kaveri and Lokapavani rivers can be seen. (30 min)

Afternoon – Post lunch in Srirangapatna, 5 km away, a bird sanctuary called Ranganathittu. Will approximately take 60 to 90 min.

Evening - Brindavan Gardens, also known as KRS (Krishna Raja Sagara dam), a journey of 30 min from Ranganathitu)

Entry timings:             
All week days               
06.00 am - 08.00 pm

Saturday & Sunday       
06.00 pm - 09.00 pm
Musical fountain:     
All week days               
06.30 pm – 07.30 pm
Show timings:
Saturday & Sunday       
06.30 pm – 08.30 pm


Venugopalaswamy temple, KRS backwaters, Hosakambadi (journey of 45 min from Ranganathitu)

About the place: Best, if reached by 6 p.m. This is a hidden gem in Mysore. As a visitor to the Brindavan Gardens, you are practically visiting the south side of the dam. There was a time when visitors could climb to the top of the KRS dam to see the vast expanse of the backwaters. Due to security concerns, that is not allowed anymore. In 1930, when the first phase of the KRS dam was completed, temples and villages were submerged, including Venugopalaswamy temple.
During the summer months of the drought prone years, the water level of KRS would dip and the temple would resurface. This hide and seek of the temple had been going for more than seven decades until the year 2004 when a mammoth work was started to replant the temple in the adjacent Hosakannambadi village (relocated from the original Kannambadi village by the king). The idea was to transplant the temple, stone by stone, from its original place to the new location and everything had to be faithfully re-created as the original. Tens of thousands of photographs were taken and each stone was marked before the dismantling operations started. The work is almost complete.

Directions: Ranganthitu – KRS Road - past Brindavan gardens (head straight instead of taking a left to Brindavan garden after the toll), dead end at katteri - turn left. After the left, if you are not able to spot a signboard, ask at this point for the diversion to Hosakanambadi. Drive slow as it’s a difficult to find diversion on your left. (Otherwise this road heads towards Krishnarajpet (KR Pet) and further hit NH48 at Channarayapatna),+Mandya+district,+Karnataka&daddr=Venugopala+Swamy+Temple,+Karnataka&hl=en&ll=12.423166,76.616249&spn=0.100753,0.169086&sll=12.311178,76.643715&sspn=0.201592,0.338173&geocode=FbWXvQAdWKeRBCFDvOKTrXrS3ykLLgPdd3evOzFDvOKTrXrS3w%3BFUrjvQAdFFGQBCEUHYwe3ogXfyntRTdYv3ivOzEUHYwe3ogXfw&oq=v&t=h&mra=ls&z=13

Suggestion – Reach Venugopalswamy temple by 5.30 p.m, watch the sunset, head back to Brindavan gardens at 6.30 in time for the musical fountain. But I have stayed there beyond sunset and soaked in the twilight for hours.

Sunday Mysore

Morning - Mysore Palace (2-3 hours)

Afternoon - Visit to Jagan Mohan palace which is now an art museum, and KSIC showroom

Evening- Chamundi temple, Nandi
The Chamundi Hills offer a panoramic view of Mysore, allowing you to see the Mysore Race Course, the Lalitha Mahal Palace, the Mysore Palace, the Karanji and Kukkarahalli lakes. The view is even more enchanting towards dusk, and also on Sunday evenings when the Mysore Palace is illuminated and glitters like gold
Darshan & Pooja Timings - 7.30 am to 2 pm, 3.30 pm to 6 pm, 7.30 pm to 9 pm
Suggestion – Visit temple at 5 p.m. Finish darshan by 6 p.m. Head to Nandi, a 15 feet high, large monolith on the way down. Come back to ‘view point’ at 6.45 pm to select a vantage point to watch the illuminated palace at 7 pm

Other recommendations 
  1. Get up around 6 in the morning and drive to a small hill called Himavad Gopalaswamy betta. The small hill is covered with fog during most part of the year with beautiful green landscapes around. Back to Mysore at around 11.30 am
  2. Karanji Lake – Houses the biggest aviary in Asia; boating in the lake (10 am – 5 pm)
  3. Philomena Church,_Mysore
Where to eat?
  • South Indian - Indira Bhawan - City Market, Nalpak in Sarwathipuram, Gokulam, Hotel Siddaratha, and Mylari hotel (known for its melting dosas which melt in the mouth), RRR for their mouth watering biryani.
  • North Indian - Hotel Metropole, King's Court, Gufa/Jungle at Hotel Pai Vista, Le Gardenia at Hotel Regaalis
  • Gujarathi/Rajasthani/Jain - Hotel Raj Purohit
The weather as on August 26th 2012 – 25 degree Celsius

What to Buy?

1. Mysore Silk Sarees at KSIC showrooms in Mysore, Karnataka
a. Factory Showroom (FSR) & Silk Weaving Factory, Mananthody, Mysore
Ph: 95821 -2481803. Sat & Sun holiday
Contact Person: Sri. P. Srikanta Prasad. Government Silk Factory Mysore Karnataka
b. Vishveshwariah Bhavan, K.R.Circle, Mysore
Ph: 95821-2422658. Contact Person: Sri. Sommanna
c. Vidyaranyapuram, Manandavadi Road, Mysore, Karnataka – 570008
Ph: 0821 2484962. At this address, too, there is a KSIC Factory & Godown
Contact Person: Sri. M. Mahadevappa
d. Zoo Complex (ZSR), Indiranagar, Mysore
Ph: 95821 – 2445502. Contact Person: Sri. Abdul Rasheed
e. Mayur Vatri Nivas, L.J.B Road, Mysore
Ph: 95821 – 2420713. Contact Person: Sri. Jayram
2. Kancheevaram Silk Sarees: Karnataka Saree Center, Zoo Complex (ZSR), Indiranagar, Mysore
3. Beautifully crafted woodwork and sandal stuff at Cauvery Emporium on Sayyaji Rao road. Also check out various stores on Dhanvantri road for handicrafts, idols and much more.
4. Mysore pak – a delicious sweet from Mahalakshmi Sweets, Bombat Tiffanys (both on DD Urs road) and Guru Sweets on Sayyaji Rao road
5. Mysore mallige – The famed jasmine flowers are sold all over the place by street vendors. Pick it, tuck it and enjoy!

Key words - Mysore two day trip

Friday, June 14, 2013

A memorable 'eatathon' weekend..

On a Saturday evening, I stepped out of HTIC with a happy mood. Now, that is a rarity! I should have guessed by then that it was just the beginning of a memorable weekend.

The first stop was at the Kolkotta mittai shop where we immediately downed the sweets- the kalakhand was the best, followed by paneer burfi and rasagolla. The jamun was a let down though. The chat counter said they were closed for the day which suited me fine as we got a chance to dine at Crimson Chakra. 

The out-doors of Azuri Bay and Crimson Chakra
Though the initial plan was to check out Azuri bay, their 'expensive' menu card and the attractive outdoor settings of Crimson Chakra made us shift sides :) The ambiance at Crimson Chakra was pretty good. They have a small place at the entrance where they sell t-shirts and other small things largely depicting Chennai. We were seated by the pool which was bit of an eye sore to the otherwise fine interiors. The service was pretty quick and we ate our brushettas in delight. The sutta valakai was kinda ok. It probably requires acquired taste. The tourtillas were oily but good. So, it was the brushettas that stole the show. We walked back planning the Sunday's picnic to the fort of Sadras. 

It was a different thing that we woke up only at 9 odd the next day. Nine in Chennai is way too late as the sun at that hour would be mercilessly shining upon us. So we decided to give Sadras a miss (this was kinda expected last night itself ;)). The next in the list was Cholamandalam artists village. While reading the reviews, I stumbled upon a cafe within the museum. Me being the foodie that I am, focused only on the cafe and googled more about it. We had read enough to convince us to have our lunch at Shiraz cafe at Injambakkam.

Two buses and some time later we got down at Injambakkam and walked back a few yards to reach Cholamandalam art museum. We were so hungry that we walked straight past the museum and headed to the cafe. The houses in the area, called artists village, were classic. Shiraz cafe itself was beautifully decorated. A one room yellowish orange cafe stood in the corner of a big garden with tables.       
We decided to sit amidst nature. The trees and the flowers added to the magic of the welcome drink which I guess was a blend of passion fruit, mango and crushed ice. It was delightful! The hosts (a brother-sister duo from Iran) were very warm and personally saw to the dishes. Nasrin is the chef and well, all the dishes were awesome. The soup was oats+dill+curd+something else and was sinfully creamy. Top notch! The veg starters were plenty, including hummus and fried pita bread, egg plant curry, a mixed vegetable dish, pasta (yummy!!), French fries, kebab, vegetable rolls and some more. The spread was lavish. I was 'almost' full already!!! But the prospect of chicken kept me going. The chicken sausage was so modestly flavoured and tasty; the apricot chicken was sweet and good; the prawn and fish curry was different and tasty; and the barbeque chicken was very well complimented with the orange peel rice. It was the best combo of the day. The dill rice was good too. The naan and egg+bread+chicken dish was also good. (good, good and good...I have run out of adjectives to describe their smorgasbord!) By now I had become immobile. For deserts there was cake, rice pudding, ice cream and fruits. And how did I miss the glasses of the fruit drink and shots of lemon and jasmine tea that we washed down!? They were great. And now came the hiccup! They do not accept cards which led to venturing out to get cash from an ATM!! A prank and half an hour later, we paid our bill (Rs.700+35 per person), downed our last glass of tea while making conversations with the very friendly hosts. They apparently came to India from Iran during the Iran-Iraq war days as students and stayed on. Promising ourselves and them to come back, we headed on to the beach a little behind the cafe. Oh, we did give the museum a miss (very unlike me though!).

The roads to the beach were lined by posh villas and resorts. The beach was clean and the shades of blue stretching up to the horizon were myriad! The gravel beneath my feet was different than that on Elliots, somewhat sturdier. There were very very few people on the beach making it all the more pleasant. And then we found a friend. Tall, dark brown, really handsome, walking majestically as though he owned the place, the dog instantly won our hearts. His blue collar added to his charm. Despite looking as though he was strong, he came and seeked pampering by rubbing his head against us with constraint (err, did you say 'like me'? ;)). I ran with him, cuddled him and wrote names on the sand while the waves erased it away. And then,... it started raining! Ah! perfect! :) A slight drizzle ensured us that we get under the umbrella to save our mobile phones. Damn technology! ;) But then, I guess it painted a pretty picture of us under the umbrella with the dog looking at the beach ahead :) Awesome threesome did you say? ;)

Impulsively, we decided to walk down to Kottivakam. We could actually see the port from there. And so, we started walking. The dog walked along too giving us good company. It rained a couple of times, each time lasting only few minutes and like a drill, we would instantly open the umbrella, keep our footwear beneath, and stand under it. 

Picking up sea shells and reminiscing childhood, we walked along, yapping happily. :) Our dog, (yes, am calling it ours as it walked with us like it was ours ;)) was 'galloping' so much that his blue belt came off. Try as much as I did, but he did not want the belt back on his neck. Walking along, we reached the first of fishermen colony which are all along the coast. The local dogs barked so ferociously that they refused to let our hero enter their territory. They barked and barked and barked. We had to eventually retrace our steps, get our hero back into 'no-dog's land', i.e, out of the barking dogs territory. He would not leave us, hence we had to take the road instead. He kept looking at us while we disappeared from his view. :(
We then took the road amidst the fishermen's colony. It looked like the roads were built just so that the local boys could convert it to a cricket pitch. All along that was what we saw.. stretches of road converted to cricket pitches by the mere presence of the guys, bats, tennis balls and the sticks or stones in place of wickets. 

We walked and walked along the beach not knowing where we were. When we saw crowd on the beach, we thought we reached our destination only to be told (by the same damn technology ;)) that we were only half way through. We walked along the beach, making patterns of footprints- parallel paths while we were talking, one 'complete-set-of-footprints-path' while I was concentrating on making it one path, and another pattern of a 'single path' (it looked like just one single person had walked :)).This was also made cause of the wicked me who found that this took much less effort against the sand on the beach. ;) 

Bella Ciao
Taking a break to drink water at another crowded place, we continued walking till we reached Bella Ciao (our walking destination)! Yeah, restaurant once again! After all that walking on the sand we decided we deserved a glass of wine. So, wine it was. Wine and dine, and a candle light dinner at that. :) We ordered a non-vegetarian platter, thinking it would be a hell lot for us but we were surprised at the sparse looking plate that reached the table. There were 4 types of starters, of 3 slices each. Now these slices ranged from being paper thin small circles to cardboard thick rectangles!!! Mind you, they were not spheres or cuboids but circles and rectangles!!! I was so hungry, that I could have eaten all that all alone. We were glad we ordered focaccia along with it. That kinda compensated. But when I bit into those geometric shapes, I realised we had made no mistake. The cold cut hams were delicious. The flavour of each was so rich and distinct. Subtle and sensuous. Just like their ambiance. This place too needs another visit ;)

We walked out of Bella Ciao to be lead into the beach yet again! (Can't help it you see ;)) I dont know what really tempted us, but we just stretched down on the beach, looking at the night sky with its stars above and relaxed as we sunk into the sand beneath. Unmindful of the small crowd on the beach, we closed our eyes as though we were at our homes and drifted into thoughts the mind pulled us into. Finally, we had to nudge ourselves back to reality and head home, but not before we indulged ourselves in the finest of ice cream at Ibaco :)


A weekend it was!!! :)