The Logical Philosopher

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Holy Cow! (India Part 2)

In Part 2: How I also got overcharged (no surprise there) and (almost) attacked by a Cobra.

A weekend off during my travels for work while in Bangalore India equaled 2 things: Silk Shopping + Temple Sightseeing!

For the first day off we were luck enough to have a guide give us a walking & driving tour of the city. Our guide was from Banglore Walks, and seemed to have a vast knowledge of the city's rich history. She also knew where all the deals were and took us shopping at the Flower & Silk Markets, a showcasing of the vibrant colors the city had to offer.

DSCN1490 copy

DSCN1504 copy

We took some time to walk around the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens. Founded in 1760 it is almost 240 acres of flowers, trees and other architecture (including a swiss watch made of flowers with the Seven Dwarves (made out of cement) placed around it. Seriously. Seven Dwarves and a Swiss watch. Talk about a random monument.

Many of the trees were well over 100 years old, with this Silk Cotton Tree one of them. Each of the roots you see was 2-3 feed high off the ground, and the diameter of the main trunk about 10 feet.

DSCN1413 copy

Just outside the Botanical Gardens in Lai Bagn is the Kempegowda Tower. Pearched at the top of a hill it was uilt in 1513 as one of the 4 towers that originally marked the edge of Banaglore.

DSCN1438 copy

DSCN1436 copy

It was not easy to keep the pace, but we added another visited another well know temple - the Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple. It has several monolithic pillars, one of them made famous by the landscape painter Thomas Daniell in his composition piece of India, painted in 1799.

DSCN1481 copy

DSCN1482 copy

At the entrace to the temple was a bull used for offerings.

DSCN1484 copy

The actual inside of the temple top (seen below), but the entrance was below and was actually a cave carved into the rock.

DSCN1478 copy

Outside the Temple stood some Snake Warnings:

Throughout the city you will see these posts, which warn travellers that snakes may lie nearby.
Later in the week at the office I was at I was about to take a short-cut around one of the buildings I was in but one of the locals stopped me. "Oooh, don't go that way" he warned. "Head round on the path instead. There are some creepy crawlies there." It was evening so I assumed he meant the mosquitos and other bugs which would give me life threatening illnesses.

"You mean like some spiders?" I queried, spinning around and realigning myself to the path.

His reply was matter of fact: "Actually no. I meant cobras."

As you can see, having Snake Warning posts would have come in handy where I was.....

DSCN1487 copy

Overcharging, the standard for tourists:

Next we headed to Telugu to see some more sights. Everywhere we travelled we were the only 2 non-Indians visiting, which set us up to be prime targets to be poached off of.

To enter into the temples you need to remove your shoes. Fortunately there usually is an enterprising young man that will watch them for you - for a small price of course. He wanted paid (20 rupees, or about 50 cents) to watch the shoes but we told him he would get paid after we came out (and got our shoes). Sure enough, after we came out he gave us our shoes and asked me for 20 rupees. I paid him, but he looked at me disapprovingly and kept his hand out.

"20 rupees each!" he barked. Just wanting my shoes, I peeled off another 20 and stuffed it into his palm, grabbing my shoes at the same time. After I got back to the car I asked our driver how much we should pay.

"One rupee sir, and not a rupee more!". Then my coworker turned to me and noted, "Hey, I paid him 20 rupees for each pair as well!"

Score = 80 rupees, 78 over budget. I think we had just made his financial day.

Here's a shot of the Temple - it was big enough I had to stitch 2 shots together to get it all in:


Intricate stone work on the edges of the temple:

DSCN1527 copy

And this all happened before noon ... next up, Part 3: Bribing a security guard ...