Christmas lights go on…

Written by Stuart Revnell No Gravatar

Mysore palace illuminationsWe arrived in Mysore, in Karnataka state, three days ago.  The Rough Guide said the following of the city: “Give it a few days and Mysore will cast a spell over you”.  I wouldn’t quite go that far, but there’s a fair number of entries in the guest book where we’re staying which attest to the fact that many would, and I’ve certainly enjoyed our time here.

Mysore is apparently Karnataka state’s principal tourist destination, attracting over 2.5 million visitors a year.  From what we’ve seen, the overwhelming majority would seem to be Indians – we’ve only seen a handful of Westerners since we’ve been here.  In fact, we’ve both noticed a real absence of Westerners since Fort Cochin.  I had it in my head that wherever we went there would be a fairly sizeable contingent of tourists, but we haven’t come across many yet.  I don’t know whether this is to do with the season or our choice of location.

Jane relaxes on the balconyOur homestay, the delightful Rooftop Retreat, is about three kilometres south of the city, in a suburb called Gayathripuram.  Depending on which rickshaw driver you deal with, the starting price is anywhere between 40 and 80 rupees.  We’ve generally managed to average out at around 50, which, given that neither Jane nor I is what one would call a natural negotiator, isn’t bad going.

Our host, Divya, runs the homestay with her mother, and after a lovely meal in a rooftop restaurant on the first night, we opted to go for the home cooking option on the second and third nights.  For the princely sum of 210 rupees (around £3), we’ve had two delicious main dishes, a daal, rice, poppadoms and dessert.  We have a lovely rooftop terrace where we can sit out and eat or read, a TV, and free internet access.

The focal point of the town is Mysore palace, which was built in 1911 for the Maharajah.  The palace is famous for the 100,000 light bulbs which cover it, and we came to Mysore specifically to see the palace lit up – when we arrived, however, we found out that the illumination only takes place once a week, on Sunday evening between 19:00 and 20:00.  We should have guessed really – the cost of keeping 100,000 light bulbs on all the time would be rather prohibitive.

Mysore palace illuminationsWe headed down there on Sunday evening, and installed ourselves a reasonable way from the front of the palace, right in the middle.  As I was fiddling with the camera, trying to figure out how to get a decent video clip of the lights coming in, I looked up, and suddenly, two minutes early according to my watch, the whole palace lit up.  Surprise gave way in an instant to complete amazement.  The whole palace was glowing with a beautiful,sulphurous light, which accentuated every window, turret and tower.

There was a magical, romantic, epic quality to the scene, and along with the thousands of people gathered in the palace grounds, we stood mesmerised for half an hour or so, until the crowd began to gradually disperse.

So, our own version of the switching on of the Christmas lights.  I wonder if it was someone from Girls Aloud who flicked the switch…

One Response to “Christmas lights go on…”

  1. SarahNo Gravatar says:

    Great photos! All sounds wonderful.

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