Home

Visiting Dzongkar Choede Monastery

Leave a comment

If you’ve been keeping up with our tales, you’ll know that we had already been to Karanataka during Diwali to stay in Hampi for a week. This time, we travelled 420km further South from Hampi to Mysore.

Map of Karnataka

Map of Karnataka

When Dunc was in India in 2005, as well as volunteering at Deep Griha’s City of Child project, he spent some time living in a Tibetan Refugee Settlement, teaching English to young Buddhist monks. The trip out to the school was do-able in a day from where we were staying in Mysore, so we caught the bus from the station in Mysore out to Hundsur, and then jumped in a rickshaw out to the Dzongkar Choede Monastery.

We couldn’t have been greeted any more warmly by the monks who had previously been Dunc’s hosts. After a mammoth Tibetan lunch, we were given a tour of the settlement and not least of all, their monastery. What a building! As well as providing the residents of Dzongkar Choede with a peaceful place to pray, members of the surrounding Tibetan settlement, and from other Buddhist communities are  also welcome to come and pray.

Dzongkar Chode Monastery

Dzongkar Chode Monastery

The school classrooms, cottages for the boys to live, and an insence ‘factory’ are also in the grounds.

The young  monks studying hard!

The young monks studying hard!

With some of the monks Dunc worked with in 2005

With some of the monks Dunc worked with in 2005

Making incense sticks

Making incense sticks

For me, it was quite surreal to suddenly be somewhere that seemed a million miles from India, but actually still right in the middle of the country. We were soon brought back to Indian reality when we caught a shared jeep back to Hundsur bus station – Dunc was hanging off the back of the jeep with about 10 kids, and I was squished in the back with a crowd of giggling school girls! Although Mysore is quite a busy tourist city, Hundsur is a very small and rural village, so white people (and a ginger, no less!) were quite a novelty! We didn’t mind though, I’d now learnt that the best way to deal with India was to embrace it, and all it’s oddities!

On returning to Mysore, we planned a trip to nearby tiger reserve, Nagarhole National Park. Unfortunately there’s not much to tell from this trip as the tigers were nowhere to be seen 😦 I’ve just recently found out that there is a fantastic Tiger Temple in Thailand so I guess I’ll just have to go there next!

Elephants at Nagarhole

Elephants at Nagarhole, but no Tigers

Advertisements

Learning to Survive India

Leave a comment

After saying goodbye to our volunteer pals in Pune, we were back on the road. Next stop: Mysore.

Our 4-month trip was split into 3 distinct parts (travel, volunteer, travel), and now that we were on the home straight, I definitely felt much more comfortable. I’m not sure if it’s because everything was so new to me in the beginning; or if the hustle and bustle of Pune city life was too much; or because I suddenly found myself living and working with a whole crowd of volunteers I’d never met before (or maybe all of the above?), but now that we were back on the road I almost instinctively found the flow of India and was able to relax.

We stayed in a large family-run hotel, Hotel Dasaprakash, but always ate out in a different cafe or restaurant to get another view of the city. Our favourite was this little place over-looking Ghandi Square where we had our first poppadoms (locally called ‘papads’) since arriving in India! I think this was the rooftop restaurant of RRR Hotel:

Restaurant overlooking Ghandi Square

Restaurant overlooking Ghandi Square. Dunc still sporting his 'tache from Movember!

Ganhdi looks over his Square

Ganhdi looks over his Square

Mysore itself is a really great city, with a good mix of tourist spots, traditional culture, and modern amenities. The market place within the walls of the city centre is a hidden treasure. It’s perfectly visible on a map, but takes a bit of detective and orienteering skills to find the hole-in-the-wall that lets you in. The market is a packed full of vegetable stalls, bags and bags of spices, perfume shops, jewellers and antiques stores. The craft store pictured below is a family-run business that’s been standing for over 100 years, so of course we had to pick up a few gifts from the kind owner who told us all about it’s history.

The nearby Mysore Palace is well worth a visit, if only for the free audio tour for foreign visitors! Tourists never get freebies in India! 🙂 The Palace is huge, with beautifully restored paintings and furniture inside and iron tiger statues outside. We also discovered that one of the architects was actually from Glasgow!

Mysore Palace

Mysore Palace

Perfume store in the market

Perfume store in the market

Craft shop in the market

Craft shop in the market