A Demon Cannot Be Hurt

February 7, 2018

The palace of Mysore

A yellow and tan building with red domes and accents, surrounded by enormous lawns and flower beds.
An intricate square pattern of floor tiles, including white six-petaled flowers on a blue background and small off-white tiles arranged in a heraldic knot.
Green columns are painted with gold accents giving the impression of foliage surround a large tiled octagonal floor.

A hall in the public court.

Rows and rows of teal scalloped archways supported by thick ornate columns on a granite floor of large square tiles.

The private court.

Columns of aqua and gold support a high ceiling with chandoliers.

Sri Chamundeshwari Temple

A beige steeply-sloped pyramid roof, wiht a variety of figures, designs, animals, and demons.  A white figure sits cross-legged with hands up.
An enormous statue of a sitting bull with traditional festival necklaces and headwear.

Mysore, Karnataka, India

The Palace of Mysore still belongs to the Wadiyar dynasty, the titular monarchs of the Kingdom of Mysore, and can be toured with an excellent audioguide app. The well-kept walled grounds have two temples, a stable of elephants, and multiple large gateways. On display in the palace are a small portion of the Wadiyar traditional figurine collection, portraits, and a set of caskets used by supplicants to deliver written requests and mementos to the maharaja. The highlight is certainly the architecture—the palace, built after the previous wooden palace burned, is stone, and has enormous spaces with rich tilework, frescoes, bright colors, and stone and ivory inlay.

I walked through the nearby market, where flowers, spices, vegetables, dyes, and other everyday goods are sold in a loud, frenetic, chaos. Many vendors approached me, followed me, or otherwise tried to get my attention, though a quick pace and polite but firm insistence that I didn’t need a wooden cat puzzle box, junky souvenirs, or ingredients for dinner got my message across.

I had an fantastic onion dosa from a stall on the main market square.

The final stop was at the Sri Chamundeshwari temple, which is the main temple dedicated to the state’s local goddess. A complex of many temples, the main focus is the shrine and idol of Sri Chamundeshwari, who myth claims defeated a snake-wielding demon. This victory is commemorated annually with a 10-day festival, while other nearby regions share the festival and the vanquishing of evil is always accomplished by a deity, Mysore is unique in both celebrating and being the seat of this important regional goddess. The temple is located atop a huge hill that overlooks the whole city of Mysore, and the palace grounds and palace itself are oriented so as to face the temple, to identify the dynasty and the goddess.

From Mysore, it was a bit more than 3 hours to the Bangalore airport. My flight was at 3:30 in the morning, which put me in Frankfurt at about 9 am.

February 7, 2018

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