Wednesday, May 6, 2015

10 things I love about my hometown

This post has been in the pipeline for a while now. I can't believe it has taken me such a long time to express my thoughts on my beloved hometown Mysore. My hometown is where my heart is. Even after being away for more than a decade, I still have an incredibly powerful connection to Mysore. I never had to leave the city in order to appreciate it. It is where I grew up, met my best friends, spent countless summer holidays with my cousins, embarked on my career path, where I graduated, where memories of my pet dog Polo lingers on, the place I left behind when I got married and the place I keep itching to get back to whenever the opportunity arises. It is at the crux of all my childhood memories. It is an integral part of me. 

I was born in the United Kingdom where I spent my early childhood followed by a few years in the Middle East before my parents decided to settle down in India for good. At the time, almost all my relatives were flocking to Bangalore which was (at the time) considered a great place to live in. But my parents made the unconventional decision to move to neighbouring Mysore, a much smaller and quieter city located a short distance away from Bangalore. 

Although it is the third largest city in Karnataka, Mysore to me has always seemed quite compact. It is a city that is laid-back, placid, quaint and the least bit congested. The cultural and historical ambience of the city embellished with music, art, paintings and dance exhibit the influence of the Vijayanagara Empire and Wodeyar dynasty thus earning the sobriquet 'Cultural Capital of Karnataka'. Mysore is renowned for its grand palaces, majestic temples, beautiful gardens and colorful festivals which imparts an old world charm to the city. It isn't what you would describe as hip or funky in any way. The urban youth might find it a dull place to live in but I personally wouldn't have it any other way. For a long time, it didn't boast of pubs, clubs, discos or any happening nightlife places. Even good cafes were quite a rarity. The first shopping mall opened only a few years ago and the first-ever McDonalds made an appearance not too long ago! But having said that, Mysore has been changing at a rapid pace. It is becoming an active location for IT companies, BPO firms and is the first choice for a weekend getaway for people living in Bangalore. In recent times, it has been getting horribly crowded on weekends (and especially on long weekends). New apartment complexes, shopping malls, fast food chains, hotels and supermarkets seem to be springing up all over the place. The traffic has increased substantially from how it was when I left. My worst nightmare will be Mysore transforming into present-day Bangalore *shudder* I sincerely hope that unfortunate day never comes! 

Here are 10 reasons why I love my hometown:


1. Distance Doesn't Matter

Every once or twice a year that I'm in  Mysore on holiday, I inevitably have a never ending to-do list. I always have to go to the tailor, the supermarket, the dry cleaners, the jewellery store, the bank, to the city (for retail therapy), the shoe repair place, the beauty salon, my favourite eateries and so on. I'm like a Tasmanian devil zipping through the city! The best part is that I can get almost everything done in a day or two because I hardly waste any time travelling. In Mysore, you can go from one end of the city to the other within 30 mins flat. No amount of commuting within the city takes long enough to cause grievance. The city is very well-planned with wide roads and the option of several ways to get to a particular place. Getting things done is a cinch and the convenience is one of the main reasons why I am besotted with my hometown. 

2. Not Much Traffic 

Traffic is one of my pet-peeves. You wouldn't want to be stuck in a traffic jam with me because I would vex you with my relentless muttering and grumbling! Unfortunately, notorious traffic snarls are a common feature among big metropolitan cities and there is no escaping it. 

However, being a relatively smaller city, the busiest road in Mysore city will have fewer cars than a supposedly quiet residential street in Bangalore. Parking is usually not an issue apart from a few of the main roads in the city centre. Road rage is not something I have ever witnessed. Furthermore, heavy traffic jams within the city are virtually non-existent. Now what could be better? 

3. Peace and Quiet

Mysore is notorious for being a "sleepy city" but I consider this one of the city's biggest perks. I am probably an old woman at heart but with today's faced-paced chaotic lifestyle, competition and undue stress, I feel like you have to be blessed to be living in halcyon times. Forget the fun and excitement of a big city - if every annoying aspect of day to day life breaks your spirit, then you know you are not living in a healthy environment. Whenever I leave Mysore to travel to one of the bigger cities, I feel like I have been pulled out of a tranquil resort and thrust into a boisterous circus! 

4. Cultural Capital of Karnataka

Mysore has a documented history that dates back a thousand years. The name Mysore stems from the mythical history of the city as a place where the demon Mahishasura was slain by Goddess Chamundeshwari. A large statue of the demon Mahishasura sits atop Chamundi Hill to commemorate the event. 

Mysore is known for its glittering royal heritage and magnificent historic monuments and buildings. Known as the "City of Palaces", there are seven palaces within the the city, all stunning in their own respect. The main Mysore palace is a sight to behold especially when lit up at night. For the second year in a row, The New York Times has listed the Mysore Palace as one of the 31 must-see places on earth. Cool eh? 

5. Clean and Green

Mysore has the distinction of being one of the cleanest cities in India and this is very evident when you drive around the city. Although the hustle and bustle of endless tourists in and out of Mysore has somewhat dented the clean image, pollution is still noticeably lesser in comparison to other Indian cities. You don't see people on motorcycles having the need to ride around with a scarf or handkerchief wrapped around their nose and mouth. Also, you don't witness a great deal of construction work going on and all the unpleasant loud noises that are associated with it. 



There is an abundance of greenery which only adds to the city's appeal. There are several serene parks and lakes that enhances the beauty of the city. 

6. A Safe Haven

Mysore is also relatively safe because of its low crime rate. Petty crimes like chain and purse snatching are reported but major crimes seldom occur. As a woman, I feel much safer in Mysore than I do in any other Indian city I've been to. 

7. Mysore Dasara

Mysore is a sight to behold during the 10-day Dasara festival that is generally held during September/October. The spectacular Mysore Palace is illuminated every evening as are a few main streets and circles in the heart of the city. The city transforms into a shimmering wonderland with exhibitions, concerts, sporting events, cultural programs running to packed houses. The highlight of Dasara is the colorful and lively procession which takes place on the last day. I have a treasure trove of cherished childhood memories when it comes to Mysore Dasara and every year I feel a tinge a sadness of not being there to witness the festivities. 

8. Major Tourist Hub

There are several tourist attractions within the city which make any visit to Mysore interesting and eventful. There is Mysore Zoo, Brindavan Gardens, The Mysore Palace, Jaganmohan Palace and Art Gallery, Lalit Mahal Palace, Chamundi Hills, St Philomena's Church, Karanji Lake to name a few.

Mysore is also the ideal base to explore nearby locations. There are several scenic spots around Mysore that are perfect for day-trips such as Shivanasamudra, Talakadu, Somnathpur, Balmuri falls, Ranganathittu bird sanctuary, Srirangapattana, BR Hills, Gopalaswamy betta, Madikeri, Bandipur and Nagarahole. My childhood is inundated with memories of fun-filled school picnics and family trips to these nearby places and I hope I can follow suit with my kids in the future!

9. Great Weather 

The weather in Mysore is neither too hot nor too cold - generally pleasant most of the year and humidity is not a major concern. The average temperature can range from 16 deg C to 34 deg C depending on the time of year. The salubrious climate of Mysore is a major plus point. It can get a wee bit hot during summers but being a native of the very hot and humid Udupi and having lived in sultry Singapore for close to a decade, I find the summer heat of Mysore hardly any cause for complaint! 

10. Nice People

Mysoreans are generally peace-loving, hospitable and helpful. You will seldom come across rudeness or repugnant behaviour. In all the years that I've lived in this city, I don't remember my family getting in skirmishes with any of the fellow locals. Hey, I'm a Mysorean and believe me when I say that I'm quite nice *bats eyelashes☺ 

But be forewarned, you insult Mysore in front of me and you just might witness the hidden goddess Chamundeshwari in me emerging to take you on! 

To sum it up, no matter where I have lived or traveled to so far, Mysore has and will always rank as my most favourite place in the world. And it is unsurprising that a majority of Mysoreans feel the same way. The pride that the residents of Mysore take in their city is palpable (we are an annoyingly smug lot!). The royal city strikes the perfect balance between the old and the new; a modern-day paradox in the making. It offers enough activities for young people and children while still retaining the tranquility for older folks. My love for this city knows no bounds and I am so incredibly thankful for the day that my parents decided to settle down here. To anyone planning a trip within India, I heavily recommend Mysore as a must-visit destination. Be sure to buy sandalwood artifacts, perfumed incense sticks, Mysore silk saree and sample the melt-in-your-mouth Mysore Pak. 

Honest to god, you can't help but falling in love with this enchanting city! 


Cheers,



Disclaimer: The images in the title picture were obtained from Google images and have been used solely for illustrative purposes. 

6 comments:

  1. You should rewrite this article so that it can be adapted to all of us Mysoreans in general and name it something like 10 things you will love if you are a Mysorean..
    And then - it will go viral!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good suggestion Lakshmi. I just wrote it from my perspective not thinking about how much traffic it could drive to my blog :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Lovely post, Megha. Mysore has been on my travel wish-list for a while now and every Dusshera I promise myself that next Dussehra I will definitely travel to Mysore. May be this year. :)

    Cheers, Ragini.
    http://www.frommywindowseat.com

    ReplyDelete

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