January 13 – Mysore
(written by Ashby Leavell, photos by Raakel, Felicia, and Ashby, video by Raakel Toppila)
(The garden is very popular with the locals – they come in by the bus load!)
Saying goodbye to the humid tropics, we boarded a plane to head North to Bangalore. Our ultimate destination would be Mysore to see Brindavan Gardens, a 4-hour drive from the Bangalore airport. We arrived late in the evening to our charming old hotel, the Brindavan Orchid. Built in the 1940s, the hotel was remotely located inside garden walls 19km North of Mysore. We had the luxury of exploring the gardens throughout the day and the Mysore Palace as well while waiting for nightfall for the fountain show in the evening.
Video Link: A sweeping view of Brindavan Garden
We had a quick tour of the Mysore Palace, a fantastic, over-the top former seat of the Wodeyar maharajas. We checked our shoes at the palace entrance and shuffled around barefoot with an outrageous guide who offered life advice along with the palace history. The gilded interior was matched by the thousands of bulbs covering the exterior of the palace, which was “like Heaven” at night according to our guide.
(The entrance to the Mysore Palace – photos weren’t allowed inside…)
We headed back to the gardens afterwards to catch the light show. Modeled after the Shalimar Gardens of Kashmir in the Mughal style, Brindavan Gardens have been the backdrop to many Bollywood films. Much like Longwood, the fountains were in need of repair and underwent a costly restoration process in 2005. The regal gardens are best known for its fountain shows at night.
(A close up of the lit musical fountain show)
The gardens transformed after dark as buses filled with families, students, and all types crowded into the space with food vendors springing to action at the gates. Crowds filled the terraces for music, traditional dance, and picnicking. For the first time, we experienced being asked by curious strangers to take photos with them. Our hotel provided a nice escape from the crowds as enjoyed the fountains from our terrace before loading into the van and heading back to Bangalore.
(We stayed IN the Brindavan Gardens themselves, in the Royal Orchid Hotel.)