Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Mysore, India

Mysore, India is about 91 miles southwest of Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India.  We took a sleeper train from Kochi to Bangalore and a bus from Bangalore to Mysore.  The sleeper train was quiet, air conditioned, and comfortable but I couldn't sleep.  Once we reached Mysore, I spent the first afternoon in bed. 

Palace of  Mysore

The following day, I visited the Palace of Mysore.  It's the official residence of the Wodeyar family (a royal dynasty that ruled the Kingdom of Mysore from 1399 to 1947).  The palace is beautiful.  So beautiful that I ached to take pictures inside, but this is not allowed.  Hence, all of the pictures are of the exterior.
Bronze leopard near the front gate.

There were so many picture-worthy shots inside:  stain-glassed windows of peacock feathers on a domed ceiling, massive chandaliers dripping with crystals, dozens of gorgeous oil paintings of the Wodeyar family, beautiful courtyards flanked by pillars... 

Again, the exterior.

Strangely, there isn't that much history here (relatively speaking); the palace was built in 1912.  It was built on the same grounds as a previous Wodeyar palace which was constructed in 1803 and which was destroyed by a fire in 1893 during a wedding ceremony.  Still, absolutely phenomenal.

Gardens on the Palace grounds.
In Mysore, we also visited Saint Philomena's Church.  When I read that the architecture was "neo-gothic" I was on board.  I love gothic architecture in any way, shape or form that it manifests itself.

Saint Philomena's church.

Afterwards, I wanted to know some background on Saint Philomena.  I learned that Saint Philomena was the daughter of a king in Greece who, along with his wife and daughter, converted to Christianity.  At the age of 13, Saint Philomena took the vow to become a consecrated virgin (recognized by the Catholic church, a consecrated virgin is a woman who takes a vow to perpetual virginity and dedication to the service of God). 

Reminds me of my Hot Topic days...

When the Roman Emperor Diocletian threatened to make war on Philomena's father, the family traveled to Rome to ask for peace.  The Emperor was taken by Philomena and asked to marry her.  Philomena refused. 

Go gothic architecture!!

The angry Roman Emperor then subjected Philomena to scourging, drowning (with an anchor attached to her), and being shot at with arrows three times.  Legend has it that two angels cured her of the effects of scourging, cut the anchor rope and raised her to the river bank, cured her first arrow wounds, and turned the second arrows away.  After the third arrow attempt, the angels returned and killed six of the archers.  Afterwards, several other archers who had witnessed the miracles converted to Christianity.
Finally, the Emperor had Philomena decapitated, which occurred on a Friday at three in the afternoon, as with the death of Jesus.

When Philomena's tomb was discovered, archeologists found two archers, three arrows, a palm leaf and an ivy leaf incribed on the tomb.  That, along with a vial full of blood and crushed bone (a symbol of martyrdom placed at graves during those days) was what made people believe that she had died defending her vow as a consecrated virgin.  She was made a saint post-humously.

Mysore fruit and vegetable market. 

The final thing I did in Mysore was visit the fruit and vegetable market. 

It was frenetic but fun.

We left that evening for Hampi.

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