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The Vaishnodevi Experience 2023

My first trip to Vaishnodevi was unimpressive. Climbing was hard, and it only served to highlight how badly out of shape I was, while my in-laws managed to cope so much better. Further, I hadn’t quite realized that the cave experience wouldn’t be the same as I had imagined, since the original cave was only opened at certain times a year, and that we only entered a newly created tunnel, one far easier to access, and hence more manageable with the crowds that thronged the mountain shrine. The resulting experience at the shrine, for barely a fraction of a second, hardly compared to what I had expected / imagined / heard about. So, for me, Vaishnodevi was like any other temple, nothing to write home about, something that was reflected (though not explicitly mentioned) in the blog post I wrote then.

Hotel Review: Mauve Orchid, Mysore

Mysore had been on my wish list for a long, long time. I planned trips to the city thrice, but something turned up all three times, and the trips had to be cancelled. It was during one such trip planning that a friend recommended Mauve Orchid as a good place to stay. I called them up and fixed up all the details, only to call them again to cancel everything. The years passed by, and Mysore still didn’t beckon…… till May this year, when I finally decided to leave my husband behind and head over with just Samhith.

The biggest concern was “Where should I stay?” After all, this was my first trip alone, and needless to say, my family was one worried lot. I had to have a good place to stay if I didn’t want frantic family members calling up every now and then to check up on me. That’s when I remembered Mauve Orchid. I sent off a mail, and they replied at once, with their rates, which seemed reasonable, and besides, they assured me that we would be extremely safe… a high priority considering the kind of news we were reading and hearing about all over the country! And that’s how we set off for Mysore, amidst concerns from the extended family who saw us off from Bangalore.

Finding Mauve Orchid was easier than I had expected. The look, however, was certainly a surprise. Tucked away inside a lane between huge houses and shops, the house was simple and unimposing. Inside, it was another matter. The warm welcome and the homely atmosphere made us feel at home at once.

The house itself is an old one, built by an erstwhile minister to the Maharaja of Mysore. However, there have been recent renovations and extensions which have suitably modified the structure and made it a modern house with all amenities. There is no doubt that the changes make the house more manageable as well as comfortable, but on the downside, it does take away the heritage aspect.

On the other hand, the people who run it more than make up for it! We stayed for 5 days, and had already arranged for breakfast with them, but on reaching, I asked if they could provide us lunch and/or dinner too. They said it was possible, but only simple, homely meals would be provided. We couldn’t have asked for anything better!!! Three times a day, for the next 5 days, they cooked us food which we enjoyed to such an extent, that Samhith refused to eat anywhere else in Mysore!! We turned up from our explorations sharp on time for lunch/dinner, something which we haven’t ever done on our travels!

That the kitchen boys appreciated the speed with which we cleared our plates, was quite apparent, but how much they enjoyed the sight was clear on two occasions – first, when they asked if we would eat a particular vegetable the next day. When, thanks to the language barrier, I couldn’t understand the name, they brought me the vegetable to confirm!!! And when we said we loved it, they made sure Samhith had plenty of the veggie to eat that day!!! The second occasion was when they made rice for breakfast, and we, for the first time, didn’t ask for a second helping. They were so apologetic for making something we couldn’t relish in the morning, that even kiddo felt rather bad!

That was the personal aspect. On the convenience front, the biggest USP of Mauve Orchid is its location. The zoo is at walking distance and the palace isn’t too far off either. Besides, it is located right near a main road, and autos are available throughout the day. While some auto drivers do use the meter, we found that most of them charged us fixed amounts, and the zoo and palace were both a minimum fare away. Besides, the area is a busy one, with people moving around through the day, which adds to the safety too.

Over the five days we spent at Mysore, we had plenty of time to interact with Roopesh and Subramanya who run the place. Both of them are extremely helpful and informative, especially when it came to us finding our way around the city – to a relative’s house, to a museum no one seemed to have heard of, and of course, the best place to eat ice cream!!

Our five days in Mysore passed by in a blur, thanks to not just all the attractions, but also the homely atmosphere at Mauve Orchid, which made it so much more fun.  We have by no means finished seeing Mysore in its entirety, so its quite clear where we will stay, the next time we visit!!

It has been 4 months now since we left Mysore, but just the other day, when I made sambhar, Samhith piped up, “Amma, it tastes just like what the sambhar at Mysore tasted like!!” Our stay there has definitely made an impression – one that is going to remain etched in our memory forever! 


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