The dormitory accommodation in our Jungle retreat was very pleasant and remarkably no-one in our group snored. We were up early to partake in a cultural walk through the local village and to the top of the hill where there was a Hindu temple.
It was very pleasant and we saw many birds including the Kingfisher and mixed with local children on their way to school. The mountain gave us spectacular views over the area and put into perspective the jungle we had explored the previous night during the safari.
After breakfast of chocolate and banana pancakes, we then set off to Mysore which is a large city, often holding our breath along the way as cars, buses and all other forms of vehicle hurtled towards us on the wrong side of the road. It is reported 1800 people die a day on their roads and it is easy to see why. Just out of Mysore we visited a major Hindu temple which was very crowded and obviously the place to be. Due to the extensive queues, we paid an extra 30 rupees (60 cents) which meant we joined the express line. Inside the temple there was much pushing and shoving as we surged towards the inner sanctum. I noticed some Hindus waving their hands through a flame that was burning and there were many groups of pilgrims attending as well.
We then checked in at the hotel and after a short rest, we visited St Philomena and St Joseph Cathedral which had amazing beehives in the alcove. The imagery inside was quite traditional with older style stations of the cross. Outside there was a nativity scene set within Noah’s Ark. Following this we then went to an incense and essential oils shop. I had essential oil for hair growth so am waiting for my “afro” to start. Dinner tonight was at a lovely outdoor restaurant that was obviously listed in Lonely Planet as there were a lot of westerners there. There were lights above the table with pull cords which you used to indicate that you required service. We had tandoori chicken and vegetable bajji. The dishes are certainly not hot in terms of spice but are very tasty.
Next day we travelled an hour to an amazing Hindu temple that reminded us of the temples at Angkor Wat. It was in very good condition but not active as it had been damaged by the moguls. Our guide was excellent who explained to us the major Hindu Gods and then continued to test us as we made our way around. The journey back was through many rice fields and farm fields, dodging carts of sticks and straw. There seems to be very little machinery used but with the amount of people, machinery would mean people don’t have a job and everything gets done.
Our afternoon activity, or as our guide says, program was a visit to Mysore Palace. This was an amazing building and we toured it with a guide for about an hour an a half. The guide was quite entertaining and his inflexion took some getting used to. The guides father worked at the palace for 40 years so we were in good hands. The murals were very curious as they moved as you walked past them with horses changing directions and the eyes of the portraits constantly watching you.
As we were having an early dinner, we had a light snack lunch at the Indian equivalent of Starbucks. I had a mango shake and Christopher had a coffee as they were out of Masala Chai. We couldn’t believe an Indian cafe would be out of chai but there you go!
Prior to catching the train to Chennai we had a meal in a local home. We had chicken Biryani which was very tasty and we had dessert which was pastry donuts in a sweet syrup and custard. It was delicious!!!
Our train trip to Chennai was an 11 hour trip on a sleeper train. It was triple bunk beds that were initially in seat configuration. There are 6 beds in each section and we shared with an Indian guy who was on his way to Chennai for work. You are provided a hard slab they call a pillow as well as a blanket and a sheet which were very stiff. We both slept reasonably well and the train was on time which we were told was quite amazing.