Boy were we glad we didn’t plan to stay a night in Mysore. It’s funny, a fair few locals say there’s lots to see and do in Mysore but there wasn’t actually much to our interest besides the main attraction – Mysore palace. The city itself is known for its palaces and there is a zoo and some botanical garden on the outskirts we didn’t visit..but I doubt we missed much!
We arrived on Sunday, supposedly an Indian ‘holiday’ (which I think is just the Aussie equivalent of ‘it’s the weekend’), so it almost felt like we were walking around a dead city in some streets. After leaving our luggage at the train station (just 10 rupees a bag for a day! 20c!! WOOH) we tried out the Maccas nearby. The breakfast menu wasn’t much out of the ordinary, maybe just also a vegetarian option for the ‘sausage mcmuffin’. Cheaper of course but the English muffins smelt funny to me 🤔. I noticed how tax is always added on to the price when it comes to visiting MacDonalds in different countries… I’ve yet to try icecream + fries, I think it’s become the thing for me to try across Mcdonalds around the world.
Anyway to the main attraction! Mysore Palace was 200 rupees per adult and photography is strictly prohibited inside (had to sneak a few shots of course :P). It was quite crowded with Indians, perhaps visiting from the North, and we finally spotted tourists roaming about. To avoid paying a fee to leave our shoes outside (and losing them), we quickly shoved them in our bags before walking in. No issues :). The palace was in great form outside and inside. The tall ceilings and walls were decorated with colourful frescoes but my favourite would have to be the stained glass windows – gorgeous luminous colours with shapes of birds and nature!
I thought the Palace would take more than an hour to venture through but with the human traffic, it probably took around 20-30 mins to walk through. Then you could also visit the Residency wing and other parts of the palace outside, but there was an extra fee. We sat outside under the shade for a while, watching some men selling Chai, Camel rides being offered, and just walker bys. We were felling so… eh. We did not get a good rest on the sleeper bus.
To the point of the title of this blog, Mysore was the first place we noticed lady boys – otherwise known as Hijras. Here’s something new I didn’t know:
- Eunuchs, or the Hijras, in India secretly occupy a dominant position in the society – a fact socially not acceptable to many in our communities. The record of Hijras, also called the third gender, dates back to four thousand years. Irrespective of being highly unacceptable to the society, Hijras do spend a normal life just like you and me
- A superstition is that Hijras take the host’s luck away if turned empty-handed from a wedding or a celebration.
- Most of their ceremonies originally have their roots in Hindu religion, but major aspects of their social structure are from Islam and the majority of their leaders and gurus are Muslims.
- In olden days, Hijras were used to work as women servant apart from performing on weddings and occasions. They were kept as trusted life guards in female areas and some even become generals in Mughal armies.
I noticed they would walk up to locals and put our their hand for cash or a gift I’m guessing, and the locals would always give them something! I thought they were just really dressed up snobby Indian girls but I realized they were men when I heard their voices! . After Mysore I started to suspect more Hijras around..
Ohh we had HOURS to kill in the afternoon so we checked out Chamundi Hills which gave a nice aerial view of Mysore city below. Except we only saw the views in the bus on the way up. When we reached the top there were plenty locals and shop stalls – I figured they were all here to pay a visit to the temple and give up their offerings of coconuts, bananas and flowers. At the front of the temple there was a little brick structure where everyone was smashing their coconuts, I’m guessing it was a ritual maybe to rid of sins or just a way of offering to their gods. We spent some time wondering about, taking pictures of yellow cows, sipping some coconut, and buying boiled corn. I got slothered in saliva by a cow while waiting for the bus back down – URGHH!!!
We STILL had a few hours until our overnight train to Hampi but it was actually at the station early so we just grabbed our luggage and went to. The sleeper train was much lower standard than I expected and the smell of toilet was strong. We got a little confused about the seating but we met two Spaniards and figured out that it was 3 flip down ‘beds’ from the walls. The lavatory was a hole in the floor to the tracks below and the sink was pretty disgusting. It cost 410 rupees each for the sleeper train. We did not get decent sleep, I was really uncomfortable all night and the train made several stops through the night. So glad when morning arrived!!!