Postcards From The Mysore Sand Sculpture Museum

Did you know that Mysore houses a sand sculpture museum? I didn’t, till our last visit to the city, in 2016. I’m glad we checked out this museum on our last visit to Mysore!

About the Mysore Sand Sculpture Museum

The Mysore Sand Sculpture Museum is a relatively recent entry into the tourist scene in the city. The museum is the labour of love of a young artist, Ms. MN Gowri, who holds a Masters’ in Fine Arts and is extremely passionate about sand sculpting. A Mechanical Engineering drop-out (as suggested by a placard outside the museum), Ms. Gowri has created the 15-odd sculptures in the museum over a period of 5 months, using about 115 truckloads of sieved construction sand. Many of the installations here showcase the culture and traditions of Mysore, including the famed Dassera procession and the royal Wodeyar family.

The Mysore Sand Sculpture Museum is a small place, maintained and run by Ms. Gowri and her family. The sculptures here are not the typical wet-sand ones you might find on a beach that get washed away, but made with hardened mud and more or less permanent. The sculptures here are not changed on a regular basis, as far as I understand, housed in an enclosed space, protected from the wind and rain. Permanent or not, there is no denying the fact that these sand sculptures are incredibly creative, and are a delight to look at. The husband, the bub and I thoroughly enjoyed our walk through the little museum, gazing admiringly and with awe at each one of the sculptures, pointing out this and that to each other.

Glimpses from the Mysore Sand Sculpture Museum

Join me on a virtual tour of the Mysore Sand Sculpture Museum. Let me take you through some of the sand installations we loved the best here!

fb_img_1522076441669-011506026306.jpeg
Aquatic life, complete with beautiful mermaid!
The quintessential Ganesha!
Ma Kali, in all her splendour
A heartily laughing Buddha
The famous Dassera procession of Mysore
The royal family of Mysore, a member of the Wodeyar clan. Check out the detailing on the throne!
Egyptian woman. I’m flabbergasted by the lady’s expression, but her attire had me charmed!
Egyptian man, with head-dress!
The Lord of the Sea!
Bedouin couple
Animal kingdom. This is one of my most favourite sculptures!
More from the animal kingdom. The dancing peacock and the gorilla mother holding her cub close captured my heart!

Beautiful, right?

Although the Mysore Sand Sculpture Museum is small, there is definitely more to it than what I have presented above. The above pictures are just a trailer, minuscule parts of the whole, the parts that we liked the most.

Don’t miss visiting the museum whenever you are in Mysore next!

Notes for travellers

  1. There is a small entrance fee for visitors at the Mysore Sand Sculpture Museum, INR 40 or so per head, as far as I can remember. There are no separate charges for photography here.
  2. The museum is open every day between 8.30 AM and 6 PM.
  3. A few small activities to keep kids engaged are available within the premises of the Mysore Sand Sculpture Museum, like archery and a trampoline. Entry fees for these activities need to be paid separately.
  4. There is not much to do here, to be honest. Checking out all the sculptures here will take you a maximum of 15 minutes. Some reviews of this place I read online suggest that it isn’t worthy of a visit, for these reasons. However, the husband and I differ. We spent over an hour here, checking out the little details of each of the sculptures, because they were so creatively and beautifully done. Our (then) toddler had a fun time here, having a go at the trampoline and generally running around. I would say this place definitely deserves a visit, at the very least to support such a talented young artist like Ms. Gowri. The enjoyment and satisfaction you will derive out of your visit depends on the mindset you will go into the museum with, I would say.
  5. I understand a new 3-D museum has been set up within the premises of the Mysore Sand Sculpture Museum. We haven’t personally been to this 3-D museum, though.

Have you been to the Mysore Sand Sculpture Museum? How did you like it?

Do share your thoughts about the place and this post, in your comments!

Advertisements

Walking With The Peacocks At Karanji Lake, Mysore

For most of the tourists visiting Mysore, the palace, Krishnaraja Sagara Dam, Chamundi Hills, the zoo, and Brindavan Gardens are the top attractions. Mysore is a place is ‘done and dusted’ by many in a matter of two days. Not for the husband and me, though. The obvious is never all there is to a place, for us, any place. We cannot ‘do’ any place, however small, in two days flat. We are explorers at heart, and were bent upon exploring ‘Mysore off the beaten track’, on our last holiday to the royal city. Well, we explored as much as we could with a little baby in tow! The beautiful, serene Karanji Lake is one place that charmed us the most in Mysore, our personal favourite spot from the holiday.

fb_img_1522076223437-01563651871.jpeg
This was the sight we walked into, as soon as we entered Karanji Lake. Isn’t it charming?

The story of Karanji Lake

Spread over about 90 hectares, Karanji Lake – locally called ‘Karanji Kere‘ – is one of the lesser known tourist hot-spots in the city of Mysore. Nestled at the foothills of the Chamundi Hills, the lake was originally built by an erstwhile ruler of Mysore as a source of water to the city. At the time, the lake was a favourite with various migratory birds. However, as time passed, the lake fell into a state of disrepair, thanks to rapid urbanization, sewage water mixing in, and heavy water pollution. This began taking a toll on the resident and migratory birds at the lake.

fb_img_1522076229470-011396400822.jpeg
Boating on the tranquil waters of the Karanji Lake, when we visited in 2016.

Thankfully, good sense prevailed, and in 1995, the local government began undertaking steps for the restoration of this lake. The waters of the lake were cleansed, and the migratory slowly and gradually began finding their way back to them. Care was taken to rehabilitate some of the resident birds in a large aviary. The numerous plants and trees here were given a new lease of life. Karanji Lake began to be developed as a tourist destination.

Today, Karanji Lake is a lovely, well-maintained, clean and serene place where one can commune with nature and watch birds. Like I said earlier, the place charmed the socks off us. It was love at first sight between us and Karanji Lake, and as we walked deeper inside, this love only deepened. We ended up spending hours on end here, thoroughly enjoying every bit of it.

fb_img_1522076290971-01124265838.jpeg
At Karanji Lake. Doesn’t this picture scream ‘serenity’?

The aviary and the swoon-worthy peacocks

We absolutely adored the walk-through aviary at Karanji Lake. It is large and clean, the birds not enclosed in cages, but free and happy and content. The birds here are probably used to people walking around with them, and are not one bit scared or camera-shy. This was a unique experience for us – getting up, close and personal with some magnificent birds – something we haven’t ever done before, something all of us loved to the max.

I simply couldn’t get enough of the peacocks here! Swoon-worthy they are – see for yourself!

fb_img_1522076250528-011992298260.jpeg
What a beauty! Such a regal, elegant, colourful bird!
fb_img_1522076282987-012024522581.jpeg
Isn’t this a scene straight out of a Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie? Except that this is a real-life scene, right inside the aviary at Karanji Lake!
fb_img_1522076235273-012060017197.jpeg
Posing proudly for the camera!

Karanji Lake is believed to house over 100 species of resident and migratory birds. We spotted quite a few of them in the aviary, looking quite at home.

A few of the birds we spotted at the Karanji Lake aviary. Top Left: Grey Hornbill; Bottom Left: Lady Amherst’s Pheasant; Top Right: White Peacock; Bottom Right: Black Swan

The amazing Orchid Park

We had to literally tear ourselves away from the aviary to check out the other things that Karanji Lake has to offer. We were richly rewarded for this, via the Orchid Park. This section houses several stunningly beautiful varieties of orchids, which we had a lovely time ooh-ing and aah-ing over.

A few of our favourite orchids from Karanji Lake’s Orchid Park

Simply wow, this section of Karanji Lake is!

The mesmerising Butterfly Park

Karanji Lake also houses a small Butterfly Park, where one can spot several varieties of the winged beauties. We spotted just one particular species, but the Butterfly Park managed to charm us with its prettiness and greenery all around.

fb_img_1522076329086-011249486522.jpeg

Other attractions

We chose not to do the boating here but, instead, sit on one of the many stone benches here and gaze out at the calm waters. This filled us with a deep sense of peace. I am sure the boating here would have the same effect on one, too.

There is a small patch within the park that houses different species of cacti. Another interesting space this is!

The small kid’s play area here kept my daughter entertained for a while. The wide and clean paths of Karanji Lake are also ideal for walking and running around, both of which we enjoyed doing. Cycles are also available, for those who don’t wish to walk around.

Several species of flora and fauna can be spotted at Karanji Lake, and the top of the watch tower here is just the perfect spot to gaze over at all the gorgeousness the place holds within. The views from the top of the tower are stunning!

I think Karanji Lake has something to offer every kind of traveller there is, particularly so for the nature enthusiasts and bird-watchers. The next time you visit Mysore, don’t forget to include this place in your itinerary!

Tips for travellers

1. There is a nominal entry fee involved at Karanji Lake, INR 25 or so. Camera charges and boating charges need to be separately paid.

2. Karanji Lake is a strictly no-plastic zone. Please do follow the rules when you visit here.

3. A visit to the Karanji Lake can be clubbed with Chamundi Hills and Mysore Zoo.

4. Karanji Lake is closed on Tuesdays.

10 Reasons Why I Enjoyed Breakfasting At Malgudi Vattika, Mysore Road

Remember I was telling you guys, in a post some time back, how our recent trip to Mysore turned out to be an RK Narayan exploration of sorts? Everywhere we went on this trip, we kept finding references to RK Narayan – for instance, Malgudi Vattika on Mysore Road, the eatery where we halted for breakfast, by chance, a little while after we started.

Today, I am going to tell you why I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Malgudi Vattika, an eatery that has very recently started shop. Here’s why you should totally visit the place too.

  1. It is a place where real life and the bookish world collides.

I love it when real life and books collide. Malgudi Vattika is one such collision. I’m not sure if the eatery has any kind of connection with RK Narayan’s family (the OH had the feeling it was that way!), but Malgudi Vattika is definitely a tribute to the author, his best-known work Malgudi Days, and the era in which the book is set in.

069
A wall in Malgudi Vattika, painted with scenes from Malgudi Days
042
A quote by RK Narayan, etched in stone, at the entrance to Malgudi Vattika

The place has an old-world ambience and the decor is from another era, reminiscent of the time in which Malgudi Days is set in. The tops of all the tables here hold scenes from RK’s books, and they are very tastefully done, I thought.

2. It is a green, green, green oasis.

Before we visited, we had no idea that Malgudi Vattika was such a lovely, lovely place. I don’t know why, but we were expecting it to be just another roadside dhaba. But a roadside dhaba it was so not! The minute we walked in, we were charmed by just how green and spacious the place was.

043
One of the outdoor seating areas at Malgudi Vattika

The place is super spacious, a green haven, an eclectic, tastefully decorated spot which was a delight to breakfast in. Once you are in, you will forget that you are in the midst of a busy highway.

3. It is a lovely place to unwind.

Malgudi Vattika has a lot of sit-outs, here and there, so people can sit and unwind and chat and play games and talk and what not. In the kind of ambience that the place has, in the midst of all that green, you cannot help but relax. It is a great place for couples, people with kids, big families and groups of friends or colleagues to dine out.

041
An antique seat in the midst of one of the landscaped lawns
081
Fancy a nap on that seat there? I sure did!

Bubboo had a gala time playing on the beautifully landscaped lawns. We relaxed so much here, spent so much time, that we almost forget we were en route to Mysore! đŸ™‚

4. Oh, the antiques!

The eatery is full of antiques – relics from a time gone by. The husband and I found much to gawk over, talk over and admire here – an old, old idli cooker, an ancient table fan, a quaint typewriter, a gramophone, a huge camera from those days, and trunks that seemed to have gone on real ship voyages more than once (parts of the label on them was still attached!). I cannot not be charmed by things like these, right?

070
The trunks!
074
An ancient table fan and utensils in Malgudi Vattika
050
An old gramophone on display at the eatery
065
Cuteness!

 

And you know what the best part is? Each of these antiques is placed just right, well cared for, adding to the atmosphere of the place without making it feel cluttered. With so many relics around, it is easy for an eatery to start feeling like a museum, but Malgudi Vattika does it perfectly.

5. The bits and pieces of quirk are worth a dekko.

Whoever did the decor of Malgudi Vattika is surely very, very talented.

Apart from the carefully chosen antiques, there are bits and pieces of quirk throughout the eatery, which I loved gawping at. For instance, a roof decorated with straw winnows and dining tables made out of old sewing machines.

077
A roof decorated with straw winnows at Malgudi Vattika
073
Such a lovely table – made out of an old sewing machine!

6. I was charmed by the old-world feel of the place.

Malgudi Vattika is a place where you feel that you feel time hasn’t gone by at all. You feel like you are in a different world, the one that was years and years ago. This is thanks to the decor, mostly.

091
A horse carriage (sans horse) from bygone times, at the entrance to Malgudi Vattika

Most of the food is served in heavy, old-fashioned copper utensils. The menu is wooden, the shape of a hand-held fan, the kind that was used to fan maharajas and maharanis in the olden times.

062
Just look at that dining room, will you?

Actually, we did find the service here a bit tardy, though we visited in the morning and the place wasn’t crowded at all, but then we didn’t mind that at all. We were busy unwinding, watching Bubboo enjoy herself, and admiring the place.

7. The food was lovely.

As we later got to know, Malgudi Vattika is best known for its South Indian thalis, particularly on weekends. The place has also recently started serving Marathi snacks – like vadapav and sabudana vada – in the evenings.

Since we visited the place in the morning, we ordered from the ‘Breakfast’ section of their menu. We went with two rava onion masala dosas, a cheese masala dosa and a pineapple kesari, all of which was perfectly cooked and tasted absolutely delish. Now, I can’t wait to try out their thalis!

058
Rava onion masala dosa at Malgudi Vattika, served with saagu
059
Cheese masala dosa at Malgudi Vattika
061
Pineapple kesari at Malgudi Vattika

I must tell you that the prices of the food are definitely on the higher side, here. Our breakfast cost us INR 280, high, but, I would say, a sum I wouldn’t mind paying just for the experience of dining here.

8. I fell in love with their outdoor seating areas.

Malgudi Vattika has several seating areas, and you can choose where you would like to sit, depending upon the time of day you visit. There’s a lovely, big, old-fashioned room with a lot of tables, a fairly large-sized covered patio, and a couple of outdoor sitting areas.

080
Dinner by lamp light, anyone? I was utterly charmed by this private little outdoor dining area!

I especially loved one particular sitting area of theirs, which is sort of private, with lanterns strung above them. It would make for a just perfect spot for a romantic dinner with a loved one! Sigh!

9. It is super spacious.

Unlike most other restaurants, Malgudi Vattika is super spacious.

044.JPG
The covered patio at Malgudi Vattika, which is where we chose to sit

We had a lovely time just roaming around the property, looking at this and that. There is plenty of space to sit, and I am sure the place doesn’t feel cramped, even on days when it is crowded. Got to love that, right?

10. It is a photographer’s delight.

All those antiques, all that greenery, and lovely food – photographing all of that has got to be a joy! I went crazy with my camera here, shooting away.

049
A gorgeous antique kitchen cabinet that was used to place plates and sauce bottles on
048
The copper jugs and tumblers that are used to serve water in

If you love photography too, this place should be on your hit list, definitely!

A visit to Malgudi Vattika is highly recommended, if you haven’t been already.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are entirely mine. I don’t have any commercial gain to make by recommending this eatery to you. We loved the place to bits, and would love to visit again, and I cannot not recommend it to you!

**************

Do check out my other posts about Mysore!

A visit to the Mysore zoo

Chocolate paan, from Mysore, with love

Of eating mysorepak straight from its place of origin

Notes from a sort of dosa trail in Mysore

A walk through RK Narayan’s house in Yadavgiri, Mysore

A Walk Through RK Narayan’s House In Yadavgiri, Mysore

I find it somewhat strange how our recent, planned-at-the-last-minute trip to Mysore turned into a sort of exploration into the life of Indian writer RK Narayan. Just a little way into the trip, purely by chance, we stopped for breakfast at a restaurant reminiscent of RK’s Malgudi Days. Once we reached Mysore, we realised that the author’s house was a few paces’ walk away from where we were staying! And then, as we explored Mysore, we began to discover that almost every place we visited had some or the other connections with RK. Spooky, but I am glad this happened. Otherwise, I might never have gotten around to visiting RK Narayan’s house and knowing the author a little better.

545
The board at the entrance to RK Narayan’s house

RK Narayan, best known for his book Malgudi Days, especially the unforgettable character of Swami, lived for some part of his life in Yadavgiri, Mysore. The two-storey house stayed in a state of neglect for quite a few years, after everyone from the author’s family moved away from it, one after the other.

The house was just about to be razed down, in 2011, when a group of people recognised the immense value that it held and started a protest against the bulldozing. More and more people went on to join the protest, the media took notice, and then, a decision was taken to not destroy the house, but to restore it to its former glory and make it into a museum showcasing paraphernalia from RK Narayan’s life and times (October 10, 1906 to May 13, 2001). Sad that places like this are considered to be of no value, and that people have to fight for its restoration, but at least, the restoration happened! And, it is a very well-done restoration, too. Today, the house has become somewhat of a tourist attraction, with fans of the author visiting so as to get a peek into the life of their favourite author for a brief while.

546
RK Narayan’s two-storey house in Yadavgiri

Personally, I am not a big fan of the author. I rather enjoyed watching Swami in the TV version of Malgudi Days – and that is the face I remember when I think of Swami. As for the author’s books, I found them quite dry and dull. But then, the lives of authors and the way they find inspiration for their stories always intrigues me, and for that reason, I loved visiting this place.

Apparently, RK Narayan came from an affluent Tamilian household, and his house is testimony to his family’s financial status. It is quite spacious, well ventilated, airy and full of light. We saw pictures of this very same house in its sad state of disrepair, and judging by that, the restoration team has done a wonderful, wonderful job.

549
A photograph of the author with his wife

One room in the house is devoted to black-and-white photographs from the author’s life – the school he went to, one of him as a little boy with his parents, one with his wife, one of him with his wife and daughter, and so on. On display are also the various degrees that the author was awarded and the awards he received, including the prestigious Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan. In bits and pieces, a number of placards tell the story of RK Narayan’s life, rather tragic if you ask me, with him going against his family and society to marry the girl he loved, only for her to pass away just a short while into their marriage, and then, later with his daughter also passing away before him.

583
RK Narayan’s collection of books

Another room in the house has built-in-the-wall bookshelves that hold the books the author has read, during his lifetime, as well as the many different ones he has written. Quotes by the author, at different times in his life and from his books, also adorn the walls.

558
A quote by RK Narayan. How true, right?

Stills from the TV serials and movies that have been made out of his books are also displayed.

580
Stills from the TV version of Malgudi Days, the work for which the author is best known

I simply loved what once was the author’s study, with huge windows letting in the sunlight and a table in the centre, where, I am guessing, he used to sit and read.

554
The author’s study. Fascinating, is it not?

The original kitchen, bathroom and storeroom in the house have also been retained, just as they were all those years ago. There definitely was an air of old-worldiness surrounding these rooms, and I could not help but imagine how the author and his family would have gone around their daily chores in this house.

570
The original kitchen in the house, now stands restored

Another room in the house exhibits the clothes and glasses that RK wore during his lifetime, all lovingly preserved. There are photographs of him wearing these very same clothes and glasses. Apparently, the author was a very simple man who didn’t believe in hoarding possessions, and his simple belongings reflect that, as well as the times he lived in.

574
A winter coat that the author used to wear

The husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the visit to the author’s house, leisurely going through each and every thing on display, and trying to piece together what his life might have been like. If you are a book lover and love peeking into the lives of authors, I would highly recommend a visit to this place, irrespective of whether you are an RK Narayan fan or not.

The house remains open to the public on all days of the week, from 10 AM to 5 PM. There are no entry fees. All you are expected to do, at the end of your visit, is enter your comments/suggestions into a guest book placed at the reception.

******************

Do check out my other posts about Mysore!

Chocolate paan, from Mysore, with love

Of eating mysorepak straight from its place of origin

Notes from a sort of dosa trail in Mysore