After departing Shreyas Yoga Retreat with a gift package of roses and freshly made cookies, I had three hours in a taxi ahead of me to ponder what lies ahead. I was back to travelling on my own and I was making my way to Mysore where I was to spend the next two days. Mysore is famously known for its palace, silk and sandalwood. It was early to bed and then early to rise to try to beat the heat during the day. Walking to see the palace I met a tuk tuk driver by the name of Iman who offered to take me to a few local sites for the day. Usually I dismiss tuk tuk drivers quickly, wary as they are often looking to take you to the nearest emporium. But my sense felt he wasn’t taking me for a ride and I decided to give him a try, which I’m glad I did as I got to see some sites that I might not have seen on my own.
Our first stop was to a local food market.
Next we visited Yam Herbals. A family run business since 1936. Yam Herbals make incense and beautiful essential oils. I watched an elderly woman employee who sits day in day out rolling incense made from sandalwood completely content with her work. She can roll on average 2000 a day.
Sandalwood incense sticks are laid out to dry in the sun before they are rolled in oils such as lavender.
Essential oils are made from flower petals distilled in water at low heat and pressure. Oils such as white jasmine can help with depression while the lotus flower combats stress and is used in meditation.
Next was the impressive Mysore Palace and it was well worth the visit. The palace was the home of the former Wodeyar maharajas. The old original palace was gutted by fire and the current palace was rebuilt and completed in 1912. Unfortunately photos are not allowed to be taken inside.
After a great first day of being shown around I decided to let Iman lead the way on what to see for day two. We climbed 1000 steps up Chamundi Hill to Sri Chamundeswari Temple and Nandi (Shiva’s bull). On the way back to Mysore Iman offered to teach me how to drive his tuk tuk. Thanks, but maybe some other time.
For the afternoon Iman insisted we head out of Mysore to visit an ashram and Brindavam Gardens but we needed to ditch the tuk tuk for a scooter. He had tried to get me to go the previous evening but I had declined. Heading out of town we came to some beautiful rice paddy fields and a reservoir to get to the ashram, which was closed when we got there. Persistent again, Iman then insisted I learn to drive his scooter!
By dusk we had made our way to Brindavan Gardens, me as driver and Iman as co-driver. Based on the edge of a dam and reservoir these beautiful gardens are a popular spot for locals to enjoy their evenings at. But by this stage the mood was starting to change and Iman was hoping that this special tour was going to lead to more than just a friendship. I think potentially that evening I may have broken a heart in India, as it was a very quiet (and long) ride back to Mysore and I was glad to be moving on the next day.