On Wednesday, Michael took the day off and we hired a driver (named Vinayak) who was at our apartment and ready to go by 8:30am.
We told him that we wanted to visit several places that looked interesting and off we headed. We did indeed visit 3 different sights, but in all honesty, we spent MUCH more time in the car and stuck in traffic, than we did looking at the sights.
We didn’t realize that we were leaving at EXACTLY the wrong time until we got into extremely heavy traffic heading into the center of Bangalore. It did, however, give me time to contemplate transportation in India.
First of all, it seems to me that traffic is not as crazy as it was when we were here 7 years ago, but in all honesty, I think that the better explanation is that I have just traveled in many other “crazy driver” countries so it seems fairly tame now!!
Many of the personal vehicles have sayings written on the back window, with my favorite being…..”All is well”!!!
Also, people get on and off of the bus anytime the bus has stopped. It doesn’t have to be at a particular bus stop. They will climb aboard while the bus is stopped at a red light or just when it is stuck in traffic.
Street lanes are very “fluid” here. Paul told of us a survey of taxi drivers asking if the striped lines were to define the lanes or were marking where you were supposed to drive….the results were split 50-50.
The Motorcycles have the most flexibility to fit into tight spots, however I did see one who couldn’t fit between two cars because of the size of the box on the back of his cycle. The Auto-Rickshaws are the next in line to fill in the spaces and then come the cars and taxis. The buses and trucks pretty much go wherever they want although we did see one bus swerve suddenly to avoid a cow in the street. Yes, cows always have the right-of-way, even when they are walking against traffic!!
We have seen a number of old Ambassador cars being driven here. Apparently they are quite a treasure…..
I have noticed one technique for changing lanes or crossing a busy intersection. The person crossing will hold out their hands as if to say that everyone else is to stop and wait and, amazingly, it seems to work!!!
They have built a “fly-over” to alleviate some of the congestion. This elevated road follows the main ground streets into the city. I assume that people use it, but so far we have only been on the ground level….it may be completely empty!!!
We have also ascertained that Indian “GPS” is simply yelling out of the window to the nearest person and asking where something is, although you often get conflicting answers.
So, after about 1-1/2 hours of driving, we arrived at our first destination….The Bangalore Palace. We had not planned this for today, but Vinayak suggested that it would be a good place to start. We were pleased with this suggestion as this ended up being the highlight of the day.
We laughed at the first sign that we saw upon entering the Palace grounds. It was for “V V I P” parking!!! I was wondering exactly who got to park there, but then noticed that one of the lots was filled with cows, so I guess that they are the REAL VIP’s in India!!
Our first view of this enchanting palace assured is that we had been right to take Vinayak’s advice……
The palace was started in 1862 but wasn’t finished until the 1940’s. It was bought by the Maharaja of Mysore and is now owned by the Mysore Royal family.
….with beautiful inlays on the ceiling….
….placed us in an open courtyard with displays of paintings and photographs. I was at first dismayed that the art was being kept outside but then learned that these were just copies of the art that had originally hung there.
….but our all time favorites were these stools made from the feet and legs of some unknown beast…..
…..and these elephant feet stools……
This final room was the Mahajara’s office…..
I don’t think that I would get much work done in here!!!!
We left the palace and wandered around in the courtyard. We stopped to take photos of each other and, magically, Vinayak appeared and took photos of both of us (now there is an attentive driver!!!)……
and we returned to the car for our next destination, the Shiv Mandir Hindu Temple. It is known for the huge Shiva statue that dominates the courtyard…..
There were several smaller altars located around the courtyard as well…..
One final look around, a walk thru a maze of stalls selling temple goods and other souvenirs and it was back to the car and another one hour drive….this time ending up at Dodda Ganeshana Gudi (the Bull Temple). The apparent story behind this temple goes like this…..
This area was fertile farmland dedicated to the cultivation of groundnut crops. But there was a problem. A wild bull began to devour and destroy these crops. This infuriated the farmers and one of them, in an attempt to drive away the animal, hit it with a club. Legend has it that the bull sat down, became motionless and turned into stone much to the amazement of the farmers.
The story, however, didn't end there. The stone bull began to grow in size and the worried farmers turned to Lord Shiva for help. A trident, retrieved from where it was planted near the bull's feet, was placed on the bull's forehead to prevent it from growing further. To appease the bull, a small temple was built on the spot.
The entrance to the temple is engaging….
….there is nothing more to do except return to the car!!
Another long car trip ensued, ending at “Café Coffee Day”, one of the newer restaurants catering to the newly found coffee culture in India. They have a great slogan….”A lot can happen over coffee”!!
We enjoyed a few warm drinks and some nice pastry before returning to Mandara.
We paid our driver (less that $30) and assured him that we would call him again.
One fun thing that we saw was a Motorcycle dealership with goats out front nibbling on the cycles. Also, there was a cow pulling bags of trash out of a trash can and eating what was inside.
We ended the night at the Indian Institute of Science where Krushnamegh gave a “non-scientific” talk about Butterflies and the stories associated them. It was very interesting and I know that I will definitely look at butterflies in a different manner!!!
So we have now seen the sights of Bangalore…..and a LOT of traffic!!!