The silk factory was NOISY! Workers wore hearing protectors and, interestingly, while the women workers wore matching saris the men did not appear to have any dress code. The factory churns out millions of metres of gold-decorated silk every year, perhaps explaining why the women were were so well dressed. We were not allowed to take any photos of the manufacturing process which went from creating thread from silk cocoons to weaving the material to dyeing it wonderfully vibrant colours.
The temple in the hills was fun because of all the market activity around it. Vendors and hawkers were selling anything you could hope to purchase from fuzzy stuffed dolphins to interesting coconut flower displays. It reminded me a little of a carnival! Cows were on the loose all over the place, and one of our tour was head-butted quite firmly by one. Priests were also on the loose as were beggars.
It is disturbing to ignore beggars, but Shagzil assures us that if we give to one, a hundred will materialize and make life exceedingly difficult. We have found that to be the case with hawkers, and have no reason to think it won't be the same with beggars.
On the way down the hill we visited a huge scupture of Nandi, god Shiva's gatekeeper. Shagzil told us the story of how Nandi got his job: his mother (a cow of course) was about to be eaten by a tiger but asked to go home to say goodbye to her son Nandi and then, true to her promise returned to be eaten, but it turned out the tiger was the god Shiva testing her. Since she was so honourable, the tiger asked her if she had a wish and her wish was that her son Nandi could serve Shiva through the rest of his days. Shiva made Nandi his gatekeeper. The Hindu religion is rife with wonderful stories of how this god or that did this or that - it's wonderful! In this sculpture of Nandi, I particularly like his teeth. :)
For the first time on this tour, we used audio headsets for our tour of the Mysore Palace. It is enormous and opulent even without the 90,000 lightbulbs burning. The Palace was constructed of stone and iron around the 1910s. A couple of palaces had burned down shortly before so the Maharani insisted that no wood be used in the construction of her palace.
Such a country of contrasts, of huge open spaces and people living in horribly cramped abodes, of indescribably extravagant monuments and terrible shanties. India is encouraging growth of a middle class to bridge - and hopefully reduce - these gaps, but I fear she has a long way to go.
Tomorrow we are going to Wayanad, high in the Kerala hills where spices and tea are grown. Our accommodations look enchanting. You can take a look at them here: http://www.vythiriresort.com/ No internet at the Vythiri Resort. See you in a couple of days!
Our last day in Mysore included a visit to a government silk factory, a temple high above Mysore in the Chalmundi hills and a tour of the Mysore Palace - the one that lighted up on Sunday night.