Sunday, January 8, 2012

Amazing Mysore. We are impressed!

I am stealing this slogan from the Thais. They use it to attract tourists to their 'Amazing Thailand'  with a lot of success! I am not trying to teach our 'experts' how to go about attracting tourists into Karnataka. I am sure they have their own strategies. In fact, they seem to have made a start, they charge more for the foreign tourists, except that foriegn tourists are not seen barring a few stragglers here and there! Almost nothing when compared to Bangkok! Being an incurable optimist I hope the tourists will come pouring in. But at times as I scan the newspapers, I am almost cured of my optimism!  Anyway enough of my rambles.

We returned from the zoo to our wonderful hosts' lovely home. Madhu's (Sethu) parents live in Mysore and were just 15 minutes away from the centre of the city. Had a delicious lunch. Thinking that Leela and Rhea were tired and would sleep, Rohini planned a trip to the palace. (Link to my earlier blog.) We were wrong as they were both awake and active.  Leela said she would go with Rohini to see the palace. Rhea, of course, also wanted to go! I had planned to take a break, but tagged along just in case Rhea fell asleep in the car.  We made  a quick tour of the Palace and they did very well.

Finally at the end of the day, it was the grandfather who was under weather and by evening was a victim of stomach flu and had to forgo one more delicious iengar dinner with  lots of regret.

Actually it was our second day in Mysore . We saw the Brindavan Gardens the evening before. The kids enjoyed watching the musical fountain, but we did not stay too long as we had planned a long outing for  the next day. 

On the third day, we left early as our host Parthasarathy suggested we should go and see Ranganathittu on the way back.  We are thankful to our host to have practically insisted that we go. Luckily for me, the starvation in the night and a couple horrible sessions in the toilet throwing up had cleared my stomach and I felt fine. We left early in the morning after breakfast. A pity I had to miss it, Godha, our host, had made pongal. I averted my eyes as I walked past the dining table. Tough!

Ranganathittu was a delight and our first encounter with a crocodile at such close quarters. Most pictures are by Rohini and a few by Leela at Brindavan. For some inexplicable reason I forgot to take video clips of the crocodile as it drifted within a lashing distance of our boat. May be that was the reason!

A few more thoughts as we left for Bangalore.  There is so much to see and do around Mysore. A veritable gold mine for the tourism department. The places we saw and loved were dreamed by and implemented by great men, Sir M Visvesvaraya, Sir Mirza Ismail and Mr. Salim Ali before our  Independance.

It was great to see Ranganathittu and while nothing to fault it, let us hope there are more dreamers who make it better and better.

I have very vivid memories of Brindavan from my younger days. We used to approach the dam from the higher level and would see the garden from the top. Later to see the garden light up as it became dark was magical. It is a pity, that the dam is sealed off for security reasons. I hope some one locates a spot near the dam, which is secure and at the same time we can approach the garden from a higher level. This will give a panoramic view of the whole area. Imagine the gasp as people see the dam, the lake, the venugopalswamy temple which is being rebuilt by the Khodays and the beautiful garden as it lights up and the downstream green lands. May be a space needle or  a raised platform? I wish there is someone among our netas, who has the interest to do it .

Our very gracious and hospitable hosts. They said come again.

As we enter!

View of the downstream

Just before lights!

Different shades!

Our first view of Rangana Thittu.

Did you spot the crocodile?

This croc made us nervous. The boatman said 'They are also afraid of us. Not to worry'. I think they just let us be!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Leela and Rhea had a great time at the Mysore Zoo

I used to love the  Zoo as a kid and then became confused or ambivalent as I grew older. It is tragic that many animals and most birds are caged in inhuman conditions!  I also vaguely remember that there were some mystery deaths of animals due to poisoning in the Mysore zoo. I am not sure if the culprits were found, but as there is no mention of more deaths, hopefully things are alright. Lalbagh in Bangalore was not so lucky, rumour has it that a whole lot of deer were killed and consumed.

Anyway we decided to take our grandkids Leela and Rhea to the zoo. Mysore zoo is one of the oldest, created in 1892 under royal patronage. Initially we thought we would take the battery operated carts but were disappointed with the way it operates. The person at the station said, 'one hour and three stops!' The way he said it did not sound encouraging. Before I could ask for more details Rohini said let us walk. A bold decision, but the girls did very well considering there are 7 and 4 years old. We were there at the zoo for four hours!

As we walked I did notice some carts were not full and appeared to be reserved only for one group.  Possibly there is a scheme to hire these carts individually and pay a higher rate. It could be the reason why the operator discouraged us from taking the carts which were half full. A ploy to make more money from an obvious NRI. Or it could be those individual groups were VIPs. A common feature in India.

  We could have seen more if there was a system of hop-on and hop-off system seen in most advanced countries. Oh well! I am sure it will happen one day! The other disappointement was there was only one type of cool drinks in the canteen. There was of course the tender coconut water stall!  May be a good idea to send some officials to other zoos to learn a few things about dealing with a crowd who would be tired by end of the day.

We took it in a slow pace and covered as many spots as we could before we adults got tired!  I must say we had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed the zoo. It is indeed beautiful. There are  lots of positive signs.
  •  Group of children from schools are admitted free of charge.
  • The enclosures are getting larger and many animals are in their natural surroundings. More are planned.
  • The adoption system seems to be working well. Nice to see our guruji B K S Iyengar amongst the donors
  • There are many many trees and this makes the place cool and absolutely pretty.
  • Especially the wetlands, which by itself  is worth the entrance fee we are charged.
  • 'No plastic' rule is seriously implemented.

Here a few pictures for you to enjoy!

As we enter.

It is a challenge to focus past the grills

The white tiger.

Two young cubs frolic

Our ancestors should approve!

Rhea maintains a safe distance

Mysooru mallige is a must!

Rohini says it is a rare view! Asian and African elephants as neighbours.

Leela has her first taste of tender coconut water. It was kind of good she said!

And the pulp!

The cat could not climb higher. Hope  they do something about it.

Will probably get a new home.

The smile Rhea gave when she was told that the bird in the enclosure is RHEA!

Leela has  a long way to go to compete with a giraffe!