WORDS: FABIOLA MONTEIRO
PHOTOGRAPHS: HASHIM BADANI
GREAT FROM: Bangalore, Chennai
GREAT FOR: Chilling, hitting reset
There’s a special kind of joy reserved for weekend breaks out of town – the air feels fresher, the birds seem chirpier, and the world doesn’t seem like as much of a bad place. Perhaps it’s just a matter of leaving the din of newsfeeds and noise behind, perhaps it’s the need to stay decidedly upbeat now that your Out-of-Office auto-reply is on – whatever your reason, focus on enjoying it. You are, after all, on holiday. Gitanjali Homestay makes this easy. Set at the foot of the Chamundi Hills in Mysore, the homestay is run by Yamuna Achaiah out of her family home. Colourful bougainvillea cascades down walls, bright yellow flowers push out of the ground, and white calla lilies bloom in the shade. Pegha and Omar, two of the friendliest dogs you’ll ever meet, can be found napping on their couch. Omar, Pegha’s pup who’s a few months old, is a riot – he poses like a supermodel in the sunshine, eats freshly-plucked flowers (and whatever else you offer him), and sets life goals for everyone around with his nap-eat-stay-happy routine. In fact, take a leaf out of his book – this is a good way to spend your weekend here.
Whether it’s the cane swing chair outside your bedroom, the planter’s chair by the dining room or the hammocks in other corners of the property, make like Goldilocks to find a spot that’s just right for you. Then, cosy up to catch up on some reading or some shut-eye. If you’d rather stay cooped up indoors, the rooms here are comfortable and homey, too.
You could easily spend all weekend lounging around the property, but, to max out your time in the city, go on the three-hour-long Best of Mysore walk with tour company Royal Mysore Walks. It’s a great way to orient yourself with Mysore’s heritage, especially if you’re strapped for time. The walk begins at the Town Hall, where you’ll learn of the city’s connection to Napoleon Bonaparte (yep, you read that right), goes on to the majestic Mysore Palace, and eventually to the 125-year-old Devaraja Market, where each lane is dedicated to a specific type of product – fruits, flowers, paraphernalia for pujas, by-products of bananas, and vegetables. Your guide will also offer an insider’s look all through – especially when he gets you to taste the Nanjangud banana. It is tiny, packed with sweetness, and comes with an apple-like aroma and its very own Geographical Indication tag. The tour wraps up with a few stops for food. From sweet lassi and masala samosas to dosas and coffee, the walk covers the city’s well-loved joints.
Pack in more culture with a stop at RK Narayan’s House. The iconic author and creator of Malgudi Days, which piqued the interest of a generation of Indian kids, spent a large part of his life in Mysore. His old house was recently restored and currently runs as a small – albeit slightly nondescript – museum. You’ll find old photographs and clothes on display, as well as large boards that speak of his life and work.
All that time spent away from Gitanjali Homestay will make your return even sweeter. Give the dogs a hug, cosy up in a corner, prepare for your next meal, and remember that life is good.