Mysore: Where to Stay and More
Continuing off from my previous blog post on tips for the first time visitor to Mysore, below are some other things to keep in mind when coming to India. Firstly having sufficient copies of your passport and Indian visa! You’d be surprised at how often you’ll end up needing them. Should you need to fill out any official application forms, there is a good chance you will be asked to produce these documents, so come prepared.
How to find accommodation
Where to stay is understandably often a big concern for many first-timers coming to Mysore. Some might be worried about getting a decent and accessible place and there are a few ways to secure your accommodation.
Firstly would be via individuals who act like agents whom you can get in touch with to help you. They can hook you up with an apartment or room based on your budget and other requirements, such as distance to shala or whether it is a private or shared accommodation.
I used to use a guy called Shiva for this purpose. He’s been the go-to guy for accommodation who has been helping yoga students in the Gokulam area for many years now. He can sort you out with various things from accommodation, transport, currency exchange, storage and more.
In the past, I’ve taken the route of booking myself into a hotel for the first couple of days and using this time to go to Shiva’s office where I would be taken by scooter to several locations to view the apartments that were available. I would select my favourite, pay my first month’s rent and move in. This method worked for most of us back when, there were relatively fewer students coming to Mysore, but these days some may consider this option rather ‘risky’ as there might not be that many choices or ‘good places’ available by the time you get here. Nevertheless, this is always a useful back up option, in the event you find yourself in Mysore with nowhere to stay. You can contact Shiva at +91-9844226082.
In the last three years or so, a new breed of ‘agents’ have emerged. These guys will help you to find a place to stay as soon as you get accepted to study at KPJAYI. They are also easily contactable via What’s App and FB Messenger and all you have to do is get in touch with them and let them know your preferred budget, location plus type of accommodation and they will scout around and send you pics of what’s available. Once you make your choice, you wire the rental fee to them via Western Union and voila, your home during your stay in Mysore is sorted.
I normally use this guy called Raghu. He is trustworthy, responds quickly to chat messages and is almost always available for a What’s App phone call in case you have more questions before you can make that final decision. If you are interested to use his services, you can contact him via WhatsApp at +91-9845156908.
Of course, this option isn’t the most economical because there is an agent involved. It is however the most convenient, especially if this is your first trip to Mysore. Once you get here and become more familiar with the place, you will invariably make your own friends and contacts in preparation for your next trip.
Safety / Security
There have been various reports of harassment on women practitioners over the years (mostly done by individuals not from the area). To keep safe, it’s usually advisable to try and walk around in groups whenever possible (especially if you’re heading down to town), and I try to be home before the sun goes down.
I also make an effort to cover my shoulders and legs out of respect for the local culture. Some women carry a stick with them, especially when they are making their way to the shala for early morning practice, though this might end up better used to ‘protect oneself’ from aggressive stray dogs. Oftentimes, trouble-makers will target women who are walking on their own. As long as you are mindful of your surroundings and keep an eye out for passing motorcycles or scooters, you should be fine.
Should anything unfortunate happen though, the police can be reached at 100 and there is a Facebook support group one can turn to called ‘Gokulam Women Say – Hands OFF’ – an initiative by the yoga community to share information on suspicious individuals, recent incidences and updates on action taken etc. See their FB page for more details: https://www.facebook.com/gokulamsafety/
Local SIM / Internet
If you are going to be there for at least a month, it might be worth your while to get a local SIM for your mobile phone. There are a fair number of mobile phone shops in Gokulam that you can go to get this done. Be sure to bring your:
- Photocopy of your passport
- Photocopy of your current Indian visa
- Photocopy of the signature page (if holding a Singapore passport)
- Your Address in Mysore
After the mobile shop makes the application on your behalf, you will need to wait about 12 hours before you can call in to activate the line. If you have trouble doing that, simply bring your mobile phone with the new SIM installed to the shop and they will help you out.
If you’re looking for Internet / data access, you could also pick up a 4G dongle / mobile hotspot like a Jio Wifi device from one of the phone shops mentioned above. If you’re mainly in contact with friends and family via Skype or Whatsapp, this might be a better idea than getting a local number. Plus having a mobile hotspot means you can have your Internet connection with you at all times.
So that’s it! Once you’ve settled in, prepare to enjoy your days working on your practice, meeting new people and making new friends! You’re gonna love it!