Mysore and Sravanabelagola
Sometimes I don’t much care for India’s cities, but Mysore is just about the right size. My favorite thing in Mysore is the beautiful palace (completed in the early 1900s) that stands in the center of town. Having seen some somewhat disappointing historic Indian palaces, the Mysore Palace is everything you would expect for a maharaja—cavernous ballrooms with chandeliers and marble floors, broad galleries with exquisitely carved wooden doors and ceilings. The sad part is that you aren’t allowed to take cameras inside, and the postcards the hawkers sell outside don’t seem to do the place justice.
Two hours taxi ride from Mysore is Sravanabelagola, the location of a number of Jain temples scattered on several hills. We just climbed one of the hills while we were there, the largest one (Vindhyagiri). You leave your shoes at the bottom, and climb the stairs that have been chiseled out of the granite hillside. In the main temple at the top is the 58 foot nude statue of Sri Gomatheswar or Bahubali. The statue’s over 1000 years old, though, and carved out of the solid granite of the hill, so it’s pretty impressive. There are a lot of smaller temples on the way up the hill. It was a beautiful day when we were there, and we got lots of beautiful pictures.
The coolest thing about Sravanabelagola is the name itself. Mostly it’s just a fun word to say: Sravanabelagola. It means “the monk on top of the hill.”
Bangalore is a nice city—too nice in many ways. We are, after all, poor college kids. There was not a whole lot of interest in being in Bangalore, so I spent less than 24 hours there. That was long enough to hit some nice bookstores and visit the Mission Office (we probably will not be able to get tickets to see President Hinckley in Delhi on the 3rd). In the Mission Office we met Elder and Sister Larsen, who we ran into again around the block at Wanley’s, the India Bangalore Mission’s favorite Chinese restaurant.
Several hours later we were on a night train to Hyderbad, the leftover egg fried rice beginning to spoil in its take-away container ….