Saturday, February 4, 2017

Destinations :: Mysore & Ooty (1978)


Brindavan Gardens
After spending two pleasant days we moved on to Mysore – now Mysuru. One needs to mention a specialty of the area around Mysore. One sees lots of coconut plantations as one heads for Mysore. At one particular plantation around half way to Mysore the bus came to a halt and the conductor asked us to try the water of the green coconuts of the place. The water was just exquisite indeed – cool, sweet and the quantity of it was enormous. I had till then never tasted such sweet coconut water and in such huge quantities from a single nut. I think I had a somewhat similar green coconut at Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur later in 1981. As it was a refrigerated one its water was very cold and also very sweet.

Mysore was nice and green and, unlike Hyderabad and Bangalore, with
In a Mysore garden
no crowd of shoppers. In Mysore the biggest attraction was the gigantic palace of Wadiyars built over several years and occupied in 1912. Though the place is known as the city of palaces yet this is the one that is the centre of attraction. 

Unfortunately, as it was being decked up for Dussehra the place was teeming with workers who were out cleaning the structure. But we did
Mysore Palace (Photo from Internet)
have the opportunity to see the elevated throne of the Maharaja which, we were told, was of solid gold. The steps to the throne with their railings – all were in gold. The sides were richly decorated with engravings with motifs of various flora and fauna. The Wadiyars of Mysore had ruled from 14th Century down to the 20th barring a few decades when the real power slipped out of their hand into those of their commander in-chief Haider Ali and his son Tipu Sultan.

We took three excursions out of the city – one was to the Chamundi Hills
Nandi Bull on way to Chamundi Hills (Photo from internet)
that overlooks the town. Chamundi Hills has the temple of Chamundeshwary – another name for Durga – the deity seated there has been revered by generations of Maharajas of Mysore. One can get to the Hills by public transport or trudge up the steps that are in hundreds and at places quite steep. On the way one comes across a massive statue of Nandi bull, the vehicle of Lord Shiva that is made of a single piece of black granite. It has embellishments around its neck in the shapes of flowers and what looked like beads.

Brindavan Gardens
Brindavan Gardens was another must-see sight. It was created by the state’s irrigation department alongside a dam on Kaveri River. Sprawled over 75 acres, it is a beautiful place with lrge number of fountains, well laid out flower beds and manicured lawns. At night with the coloured lights playing on the fountains it indeed looked like a dream land. Now it has musical fountains and the arrangements of fountains spewing water accompanied by music must truly be spellbinding. There are two or three more gardens around Brindavan Gardens and they too are pretty extensive but did not seem to have
Brindavan Gardens

No report on Mysore can be complete without the mention of Srirangpatna – a town that is only around 20 kilometres away but falls in the neighbouring district of Mandya. Named after Sriranganathaswami temple that dominates the town, it has numerous other temples. The town is, in fact, an island surrounded by River Kaveri and that makes it all the more sacred as Kaveri, like many other rivers in India, is a sacred river. It is an ancient temple town and perhaps the most important Shaivite centre in South India. With
In a Mysore garden
numerous temples one can see their shikharas from afar.

 It was, however, also famous for the reason that Tipu Sultan made it the capital where he lived, ruled, waged war from for expansion of the kingdom, fought his last battle and fell (in 1799). His palace Dariya Daulat Bagh built in 1784 has marvelously painted interiors that depict the wars that he fought. Photography here was not allowed. The Palace today is a museum

Ooty or Ootacamund

We climbed on to an inter-state bus for Ooty that was only 70-odd
Ooty lake
kilometers away on the Nilgiri Hills which are, in fact, a part of the Western Ghats, a mountain range running from south of the Tapti River in Gujarat for around 1600 kilometres down to its junction with the Eastern Ghats. The Nilgiri Hills do look blue from a distance – as probably every hill does. But it is not that because of which these Hills are called “Nil” meaning blue hills. Here a particular plant native to these Hills blooms once in twelve years. The flower is called Kurunji and is light blue in colour. When it blooms the entire range gets that hue and looks blue from a distance.

At the Botanical Garden
As the road climbed the Western Ghats I could see huge tracts under eucalyptus plantations. Obviously the natural forests had been clear-felled to convert the area into plantations. The road passes through the Bandipur National Park and naturally we were asked to watch out for game.  Sharpening our attention on the road we did not have to wait for too long. The bus came to a halt and ahead in front of it was a lone tusker right on the middle of the road. There was no alternative but to wait for it to decide to move away which it did after a few minutes.

Ooty or Ootacamund or the new name Udhagamangalam is the
Greenery all around
headquarters of the eponymously named district. It has been a famous hill station one doesn’t know for how long. In the process of development of the place its natives, the Todas got displaced. Ooty enjoys a beautiful salubrious climate where the temperature seldom crosses 25 degrees centigrade and minimum could touch zero at some places. The British apparently loved the place and they have left their legacy in the shape of the narrow gauge Nilgiris Mountain Railway - a World Heritage now - that connects the place with Metupallayam in the
In the Botanical Garden
south, the Ooty club - the birthplace of snooker - and an extensive and beautifully landscaped Botanical Garden.

As we moved around we came across other legacies like Charing Cross, the name having been transplanted directly from London. lovely wayside tea houses where tables and chairs were spread out on the pavements with only Nilgiri teas being served. Sitting there sipping delectable Nilgiri tea and watching the passing humanity was a surreal experience. The nearby Botanical Garden was not only a place of beauty with its green background of
Wayside bench to rest the feet
steep hills, it has collected within its fold numerous precious species of flora. Its extensive green lawns with magically bent branches of huge ancient trees made one wonder at natural mechanics. The garden was indeed spellbinding. Likewise, there was the exceptionally charming cricket ground. Though small in dimensions it was remarkably beautiful, closely surrounded by green hills as it was.

As every hill station tries to nurture a lake. If Nature has not been gracious enough to provide one, humans try their best to create one artificially. Ooty too has a lake well within the limits of the town and it is an artificial one, created by damming the mountain streams. It is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon in the midst of natural splendor with a decent spread of water.
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