Friday, October 26, 2012

Road to Mysore

We met our driver, Mr. Ravi at the hotel. We had a little confusion since neither of us had a copy of our programme. We also needed to make our yearly purchase of prescription drugs, and the desk clerk provided the driver with directions to a local Apollo Pharmacy where we ordered our medications.

Bangalore a large city of several million, has a serious water problem.  The city has no rivers, and sits on rock limiting the use of underground water. As we were approaching we saw Bangalore municipal water pumping stations, and viaducts providing water for both Bangalore and Mysore. My Indian seatmate on the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bangalore told me his monthly water bill for both potable water and recycled water ran USD $60 per month. My water bill in Kuala Lumpur is USD $4 per month. He also told of interstate conflicts over the release of water from dams is frequent resulting in transit and commercial strikes over water issues.

A Water Viaduct
The biggest problem in getting to Mysore, is navigating Mysore Road. Phase I of the Bangalore Metro system in under construction, and similar to any mass transit construction project in the world, traffic and roads are horrendous, adding to the already difficult traffic conditions of urban India. Once we cleared the construction zone, we encountered occasional blockages caused by the geologic survey for Phase II of the metro expansion along Mysore Road.

As we left the Bangalore metro area we began to see cattle, sheep and goats, but not as numerous as we saw in our travels in the north. Only on one occasion did we see herds of animals along the side of the 4 lane highway. On this trip what I noticed was not the numerous heavily laden trucks (and there are still many trucks plying the highways), but the many passenger buses. This may be explained by the festive period of Dasara. Even accounting for many stops to pick up and discharge passengers, the buses kept pace with our car. I must note that most drivers for tour companies obey the speed limits with perfection and are meticulous with their use of signal.

Sheep on the highway

In Karnataka large overhead signs (always in red and/or announce the entry and exit from towns and cities(Karnataka State announces we are travelling on Roads for Prosperity). We entered Channapatna (the city of toys), but did not stop. We also passed through the silk city, and sugar city. In Mandaya traveled a short distance off the main highway to view the sugar factory. The factory did not seem to be operating, and certainly did not give factory tours. However, lines of wagons loaded with sugar cane lined the road with teams of cattle and bullocks nearby. The next day the local newspaper announced a young man had been killed by a leopard. Our driver pointed out the padi fields (4 crop cycles per year), sugar cane (2 cycles per year) and the vast numbers of coconut palms. One small town had a market devoted to coconut (with the sweetest milk in India).

Our final stop before Mysore was Srirangapatnam. A large fortress was at this site and commemorates a series of battles between Sultan Tippu and the British forces. Tippu was defeated in 1799, but in earlier decades he had victories. We visited and underground prison where some British, Moroccan, and French prisoners we held. They were chained to the walls, and the dungeon was flooded. We visited a twin towered mosque. In contrast to Malaysia were non-believers are shunned and not invited to view the buildings, we were welcomed. The sanctuary was closed between prayer times so we did not view it. We did see the madrassa for poor children outside on the lower level of the building.

The dungeon at Srirangapatnam

Jama Masjid

A Madrassa below the Jama Masjid

A sundial to determine prayer times

Next to the mosque is the Lenin Convent English Medium School. A strange name for a school and if anyone can enlighten us please comment.

Lenin Convent English Medium School

We finally arrived mid afternoon in Mysore. It was a leisurely trip. The Sidhartha Hotel was nice. We walked to a local Internet cafe and began our quest for a SIM card. On the street we encountered our driver. He assisted us for about two hours as we walked the streets, getting passport photos, and filling out forms. We got the SIM card from TATA DOCOMO, but 96  hours later, it is yet to be activated. I have given up all hope for this trip.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Location:Mysore, India

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