Two hours from Bangalore, Mysore is the old capitol of Karnataka state. I went to Mysore twice while I was in India, but I don't think we should pay any attention to the second trip as it was basically awful. I got sick en route and spent the day trying to sleep in the van while everyone else went to the zoo. The first time, though, was great.

{Nanjundeshwara Temple built in the 9th century. Dedicated to Lord Shiva who is also called Sri Nanjundeshwara or "the god who drank poison." If you are a Hindu god, you get lots of names and avatars.}

I took a bus and it was the first time on the trip that I was able to see some of rural India. Rice paddies, draft animals pulling carts filled with day laborers or firewood, small tarp tent communities, shacks - covered in ads for Sprite or Airtel - selling chips and candy, and families of four crowded onto motor bikes. Just like in the city, every vehicle on the road honked incessantly and traffic lanes were acknowledged at each individual's convenience.

It was a long day, packed with local landmarks including several temples and two palaces. I became very talented at being barefoot (no shoes allowed!). I forgot to put the memory card back into my digital camera, so all the pictures I took that day were with my instax mini. I'm so glad I brought it.

{Mysore Palace is the home of the Wodeyars who ruled the area from 1399 until Indian independence from the British. This palace was finished in 1912.}

{One of twelve temples in the palace complex. This one is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, I think.}

I bribed a guard at the palace. I hadn't realized I was supposed to check my camera near the entrance gate and the guard pulled me aside after they saw it in my bag. At first, I did not understand what he was trying to tell me. He had come right out and explain that if I gave him a little money and didn't take any pictures inside the building he wouldn't make me walk all the way out to the camera check. "Ok," I said, "How much?" Because I'd really never done this before. "Whatever," he said. I gave him ten rupees and he asked if I had any U.S. dollars. I didn't.

{Giraffe at the Shri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, or, you know, the zoo. They had a fantastic number of animals}

In many of the places we stopped, I was the only foreigner and the only white person. So, I got stared at lots and children and adults came up to me to ask "What country are you?" A small crowd of of 12 year old girls ran up beside me at the zoo, all jingling with bangles and anklets. They all smiled huge smiles and asked me where I came from. "Great!" they said, a little breathlessly, after I answered and smiled back. Then they ran right away again. Essentially, this same thing happened a couple dozen more times throughout the day. Sometimes they would take my picture. It was endearing and made me feel a little famous, which I am totally not.

{Chamundeshwari Temple is dedicated to Durga, a fierce demon killing embodiment of shakti (the female creative force). She is also a form of Parvati the wife of Shiva.}

{Cow and her calf in one the temple markets. The cows may wander as they please.}

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