Saturday, February 04, 2006

Smelly Feet, Scented Hands

My journey northwards has brought me to the city of Mysore, famous throughout the world (at least to those who are interested in such things) for its scents and perfumes, especially its sandalwood as well as its silk saris (though I wasn't too interested in those). The colourful market is a joy to wander round: rows of flower-sellers selling garlands by the kilo, pyramids of fruit and veg, and lots of little stalls selling incense sticks, coloured turmeric powder and essential oils (at least they claim they're essential oils). There was no escaping the perfume treatment for me either, as, for about an hour, I was liberally doused with fine-smelling oils. I wasn't complaining though as I ended up smelling better than I have done at any stage of my trip so far (plus it allowed me to go another day or two without needing a shower!). I am, however, perplexed as to how sandalwood got its name, because after almost a year and a half on the road I can safely say that my sandals smell nothing like sandalwood, indeed I think I might have discovered the reason why I'm not meeting as many people of late...

But there's more to Mysore than just smelling good. The city itself is considerably more spruced up than most Indian cities, although given the competition that's not too hard. The town centre is dominated by an enormous palace, complete with turrets, domes and frilly bits. And just outside the city is the little-known Kesava temple (yes, another temple) which really does merit a detour. It might not be big and imposing, but its beautiful carvings and unique, starburst design are striking.

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