The best way to experience a trip to KPJAYI is just to come.
It is however a wrench and a real adjustment if you have a ‘tidy’ western mind – be patient and understand that it is different, not worse. Do not judge. You will rise to this little challenge; the more open your mind, the faster you will understand, the sooner you will see!
So here we have compiled what is hopefully a useful guide for newbies. It is not comprehensive but should help you land softly rather than with a bump!
1. Don’t bother trying to walk on the pavements, walk in the road and they will drive around you.
2. If you need money immediately the ATM by the Shala is pretty reliable. If you bring euro’s or dollars then visit Shiva – his details are on the KPJAYI site. The Shala now takes credit card payment – note NOT debit cards.
3. Look up and smile at everyone, including the locals they will smile back! Talk to them and ask what you are looking for they will help.
4. The rickshaw drivers by the shala know and will help you.
5. Start yourself a diary so you can see when you are free, when you need to get to class, chanting, Sanskrit course, eat food, meet with friends etc.
6. Book onto the Sanskrit course with Lakshmish – it is definitely worth while. Lakshmish likes Belgian/Swiss chocolate 😃.
7. Keep an eye out for the notices in the ante-room on the way into the shala daily! It is the way communication is made for changes to times, practice and chanting.
. Shala time is 15 mins earlier than real time (shala clock is 15 mins fast) – Don’t arrive too early for your practice – Sharathji will know and send you out to the ‘naughty step’.
9. If you think some one is pushing into the queue ahead of you – let them, they have a reason to. (family commitments, Sharathji told them to… lots of reasons) practice patience.
10. What to pack / wear – there is no doubt that you are entering a country with a different culture and that you should be respectful of this when you walk around. Generally one should wear MORE clothes than less. This is not an Ibizan / Floridian / Caribbean holiday!
Cover your shoulders well and NO short shorts. If in doubt err on the modest side of dress wear. If you visit any temples add an extra layer or two of modesty.
Cover up in your practice also (this maybe different to how you are used to practicing at home) – if you are a sweat ‘crop sprayer’ (and even if you are not) wear a vest top IN the shala – not only to show some respect but also for the safely of the assistants.
This applies for LADIES AND MEN.
11. Top restaurants.
Breakfast : Sri Durga, Kushi, Anoki garden, Chakra house, Santosha, Idli man 😃
Lunch/dinner : Depth & Green, Highway18, SPR, Anima Bhavan (banana leaf Thali), Anu’s – find this place it is really worth it, amazing clean food, lovely staff. Dhatu (organic), Jwala great north indian food. Green Hotel (Rickshaw)
Chakra House seems to be always open, the others are limited hours or days – check!
Anu’s smoothies and vegan chocolate cake early evening are a must.
Dosas : Original Hotel Vinyaka Mylari (Rickshaw here), Sri Durga, Green Leaf
12. Top hotel pools
Southern Star – always quiet and plenty of sun loungers (New pool area 2017)
Silent Shores – sometimes very loud music and limited sun loungers so get there early or you will be on the concrete.
Landmark – no sun loungers but ok if you are desperate for a change of scenery.
13. Top trips
Ganesh is Anu’s husband – he arranges taxis and can organise trips, he is very friendly and helpful and VERY reliable. He arranges the airport taxi at the right rate – he also has a comfortable more expensive SUV available if you can afford it – 4 hours, it’s worth it. Message him on Facebook to book.
Chamundi hill – be brave and get dropped at the bottom of the hill and walk up the 1008 steps! Sunset or sunrise are good times, mid-day is very hot. Do not look the monkeys in the eye! Remember to visit the Swami when you get to the Shiva’s black bull half way up.
Mysore Palace in the day (go inside) but also on Sunday evening at 7pm to see the lights come on – get there about 6.30pm
Bylakuppe – Tibetan settlement.
Devaraja market – ask a rickshaw driver to take you there and stop at Regalis pool on the way back!
Cinema: Easy Day supermarket complex (close) OR Mysore Mall next to Radisson Blu Hotel – masala popcorn 😳
Internet: You can get a ‘stick’ for the internet, load it up with 10GB and it is portable wifi so you can have it wherever you go. Great for maps when wandering round town and researching places to visit. There are a couple of places in town to get this, most people used the one opposite the Ganesh temple near the main coconut stand, just past the fruit lady. Souvenirs: Silver Nest for bowls, jewellery and big deities.
Supermarket: Loyal World and Easy Day. Gokulam main road high street has many shops that sell what you can get from the supermarkets if you just ask them – washing powder etc
Chocolate: Trupi the chocolate man.
Coffee: Jois coffee in the high street opposite Depth&Green – ask for the A & B mixture then you get pure coffee
Books: ‘The Greenhouse’ up Shala road – that’s where you can get sanskrit in 30 days book and lots more.
15. Maps – these are a pretty out of date now but until you get WiFi up on your phone they are still useful to get to know the rough layout of the place.