Saturday, February 16, 2013

Majestic Mysore

Mysore is about a 3 hour drive (200 km) southwest of Bangalore. We left Bangalore early in the morning for a daytrip to Mysore. During the trip we were able to see Mysore Palace, Chamundi Hill, and a silk factory.

A brief background on Mysore: The name comes from a place called Mahisasura where a demon (Mahisuara) was slain by a goddess (Chamundi). Mysore was founded by the Wodeyar dynasty in 1399, but remained in the power of the Vijayanagar empire until mid 1500s.

Mysore Palace was where the Wodeyar maharajas lived. In 1897, during the eldest daughter’s wedding, there was a devastating fire and the entire palace needed to be rebuilt. English architect Edward Irvin rebuilt the palace by 1912. The most interested things we learned was that the last day of Navratri, Dussehra, is a huge event in Mysore. [The 9 day long festival of Navratri represents the triumph of good (Hindu deity Ram) over evil (Hindu deity Ravan).] The king would sit on a howdah made from 300 lbs of gold during the festival to thank all the good fortune in his life. 

Chamundi Hill was also a beautiful view and the Sri Chamundeswari Temple was interesting to see. Most noteable, though, are the monkeys. A hilarious memory: being attacked by monkeys and throwing our cold drink at them while tripping on a light pole behind us and falling to the ground. Plenty of people around to view and laugh at our experience.

The Government Silk Factory was an amazing experience! Definitely a go-to if you go to Mysore. The factory is not very traveled, but the entire silk making process (omitting the cocoon to thread step) is done there and viewable to the public. To top it off, it was entirely free. The silk making process as I remember it being explained:
  1. Winding thread to a bigger roll
  2. Doubling two pieces of thread
  3. Twisting the two pieces of thread together
  4. Rewinding thread 
  5. Warping: 85 degrees Celsius for 40 minutes
  6. Threading onto 900 meter roll
  7. Weaving 14,800 strings (width) into a 6.3 meter long sari. This step takes 4 hours.
  8. Bleaching fabric- gold thread isn’t affected
  9. Dying fabric
  10. Ironing fabric
  11. Final analysis to ensure quality is up to standard. 

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