Sunday morning we take a guided walk to see some of Mysore’s artisans at work. First stop is a stone carving premises. Truly, the work is excellent, more than tradesmen, these workers are artists. I can’t tell you the name of the stone, however it is mined around 60 kilometres away, and a square foot block weighs about ninety kilograms. This firm is now in the hands of the fifth generation, and his grandfather worked on the palace we saw the day before.
Another stop has us at a wooden inlay workshop. This too is remarkable. The timbers are used for their natural colour, and the work so exact, one could easily believe the pieces are painted, not inlay. We make a couple of small purchases, but if you’re in the market for a small chair-side table, we know just the place.
In between we visit Devrajah Market. This is primarily a fresh produce market which includes flowers, kitchen goods, blade sharpening, decorative powders, perfume oils, and sweets. We sample the original Mysore Pak, a sweet made from chick peas on the commission of the King. It reminds us a little of Greek halva in texture, but is not nearly so sweet. We also try a ‘only in Mysore’ banana, which tastes a little like apple. It too is very nice. The market in fact has a banana lane, which sells only bananas. The flowers are something else, and that part of the market is beautifully fragrant. All of the produce is grown in the State, except for the apples which come from Kashmir.
We squeeze in more retail therapy at FabIndia. One of Ian’s shirts has not survived laundry at our guest house, so he seeks an Indian replacement. Kerry finds something too. We head for a popular restaurant for lunch. The place is packed with locals, and we opt to queue for a table. This concept seems to defeat many Indians, and people enter the restaurant and go deep, looking for a table, and sit adjacent to diners who might be finishing. I have asked the cashier how long we would need to wait to eat, he tells me 5 minutes. We agree to wait ten before leaving. After ten minutes we are no closer to eating, so we head a few doors up the street. There is not much atmosphere here, but the food is good enough.
A visit to a supermarket to find sustenance for tonight’s train journey. Whilst there is catering on some long distance trains, either officially or by enterprising locals at various stations along the way, we’re playing safe and avoiding both.
Mysore has been a great stop, and it has a very special breed of cow.