18 January 2010


When we arrived in Mysore on Friday afternoon we were treated to a partial eclipse of the sun. I managed to bag a bit of a ropey picture without burning my retinas out!

Apparently, due to the relative positions of the Sun, Moon and Earth, this was the longest duration eclipse that will be experienced this century. The only annoying thing about it was that if we'd stayed in Varkala we would have been in the area of totality and have been able to have seen the ring of fire (you can insert your own vindaloo gag here). Unfortunately we knew nothing about the eclipse until we arrived in Mysore, they really couldn't have done a worse job in promoting it. Particularly when you think back to the fuss that was created back home when there was the total eclipse in Cornwall in 1999.

Mysore is the historic home of the Wodeyar maharajas who ruled over this part of India from the mid 16th century until independence in 1947. The main focus of the town is Mysore Palace, the maharaja's former home and seat of power.

The palace was designed by the famous British architect Henry Irwin and completed in 1912. The original wooden palace that it replaced burned down in a kitchen fire in 1897. Because of this the maharaja's wife insisted that no flammable materials were to be used in the new building so it is constructed from stone, cast iron and stained glass. This gives parts of the interior the appearance of one of those grand Victorian / Edwardian era London train stations. It sounds a bit odd but it was really spectacular. Unfortunately you're not allowed to take photos inside so we can't show you how it looks.

Despite the fact that we've been in India for nearly four months, the one thing that we still can't get used to is being asked to pose with local tourists for photos as if we were some sort of celebrity. At Mysore Palace it was mad and almost had to resort to running away at one point.

The other thing that happens quite a lot is that people ask us to take their picture with our camera. Here's a lovely relaxed shot that Liz was asked to take . . .

Thankfully we were a little less hassled when we went back to the palace on Sunday evening. Every Sunday the palace is illuminated with ninety six thousand bulbs.

For the first time in a long time we're staying in what would be considered an "international standard" hotel. After over four months in B&Bs, guest houses, homestays and huts it makes Hotel Regaalis feel like the Ritz. It's the first time we've seen carpet since we were in Jordan and the first time we've seen clean carpet since we left home!

Oh yeh . . . and we saw Gandhi too . . .

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