Stone Carved Bull

Ottawa, ON/Mysore, India

Every few years my family and I always do the same trip to India. Meet the grandparents, meet the relatives. The same two cities, the same routine. Two years ago was the first time I traveled to India on my own and I decided to break tradition and actually explore a new place. What a concept! I visited a city called Mysore, which is in the state of Karnataka. This city still has remnants from the times of kings, queens and palaces. In fact, it has been so well maintained and preserved that it is one of the cleanest cities in the whole country.

One of the days I was there, I visited a temple on top of the Chamundi Hills, a famous place, just under a thousand years old. I began my way up at the base of the temple and remember seeing a rush of tourists, locals and of course, monkeys. As I made my way up towards the temple, I came across another statue – a massive bull carved out of stone. It’s actually known as the Colossal Sacred Bull. Colossal indeed! This beautiful carving is also about the same age as the temple and is a religious figure in Hinduism. I was so mesmerized by this structure and in complete awe at how old it was! It was covered in thousands of colourful flowers and garlands. Right beside it was a tiny old man carving miniature stone bulls to sell to tourists. Something about that moment struck me as so simple and somehow made me feel like I didn’t know this country at all. The man was carving bulls at lightning speed, even painting designs on them. I watched for a while as he worked away and eventually bought one as a souvenir.

I keep this bull on my coffee table as a reminder of my trip to that ancient temple. It reminds of that moment and of how much I still have to explore in India, a place that is simultaneously home and foreign to me.