Category Archives: Travel

Bashyakara Sannidhi in Tirumala

Yesterday I had gone to Tirumala Tirupati to offer my prayers to Lord Venkateswara. While driving up hill, nearly 3/4th of the way up on the right hand side in a hair-pin bend you can spot a sign board saying “Bashyakara Sannidhi”. Stopping your vehicle here and walking about 15-20 steps up you will see the Sanidhi for Udayavar a.k.a Sri Ramanujar.

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The small temple here is on the walking path from plains to temple, at Step No.3260 in a place known as முழங்கால் முடிச்சு (Muzhankal Mudichu, knot below your knee and above angle) signifying the climb in this stretch is painful. It is said Sri Ramanujar rested here before he climbed up to Tirumala.

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Sri Ramanujar is a Vaishnavite Acharya who is known for his reformist, was born in Sriperumbudur and is credited with the design of daily rituals performed in Tirumala Tirupati sanctum-sanctorum till date.

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Innovative stand for iPad

Today I was in Coimbatore for a customer visit. In the evening while returning to Airport before my flight to Chennai I had few hours free time, spotted Fun Mall on the way and went there. After roaming around a huge Reliance super market, came away empty handed from the Multiplex ticket counter (both Cuckoo and Queen I had seen earlier), I went to thje food court for a snack @Sree Annapoorna.

I was surprised to find a self-ordering service, each dining table sported an iPad fixed to the table with a stand. I was told that they are offering this service for over a year now!

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The stand was the most interesting bit to me, seem to be indigenously made, felt sturdy, kept iPad safe & secure, it allowed movement of iPad on both the sides – making it easy for people sitting on either side of the table to see and use the iPad without moving it.

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I pressed for a coffee which got served promptly, then accidentally pressed for bill, the waiter came to me with a bill immediately!!!Filter coffee from Annapoorna Kovai

Corner Bakery Cafe Oatmeal breakfast

Today I went with my friend to Ikea, Burbank (CA) as he wanted to buy mirrors for his house. Exhausted after going through the huge store for an hour, we went for breakfast next door to Corner Bakery Cafe (800 N San Fernando Blvd, Burbank CA). My friend suggested we have a “Berry Almond Swiss Oatmeal” which is oatmeal, plenty of chopped almonds with strawberry and low fat yogurt. I was a bit doubtful on how Yogurt will taste with Oats and fruits, but it turned out to have a divine taste ideal for breakfast. And the visual appearance of the portion was deceptive, I felt full after eating three fourth of the bowl.

Visit to Seattle Public Library

As long time readers of this blog know I love books and what can be better for me than a visit to one of the largest libraries in the world. Over the last 16 years though I have travelled for business to Seattle countless times, unfortunately I never got around to visit their famous Central Library. Today after my business meetings were done in downtown Seattle, I went to Seattle Public Library (Wiki).

We used Nokia Here Maps to drive down there from our meeting location, which worked pretty well for me throughout this trip across Los Angeles and King County (WA). When I searched for Seattle Public Library, I should have selected the correct one in a long list of libraries listed. Instead I clicked on the first one and it guided to a branch library in a Court building at 8th Ave instead of the central library. Having wasted $3 for a parking slot near 8th Ave, we then drove to the correct one at 4th Avenue, luckily we got parking right in front of the library entrance (another $3 of course).

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The first thing that strikes you as you approach the library is its massive glass structure. Then as you enter the library in Level 1 you will find scripts from World Languages appear right in front of you. I am not saying figuratively as you will notice in the picture below.

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Seattle Public library is a massive building, spread across ten levels, housing over 1 Million books and constructed at a cost of $290 Million approved by a vote. Once you are inside the library you will not want to come out, but unhappily I had only few hours with me on this day.Seattle Public Library 5

What impressed me was the historic collections of science magazines in Level 7. I could find journals that were 150 years old in enviable condition, I doubt whether we could buy a more fresh looking magazine from a bookstore in the present. In the picture below look at the superb illustrations done in 1914, remember all these were done without digital technology or retouching.

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Looking at these journals make you wonder how fascinating the late 19th and early 20th century should have been as scientific discoveries were pouring from all sides.

The libraries overall facilities were impressive too, look at the picture below of a writers’ room in the library.

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You can read here on my earlier visit to Anna Centenary Library in my hometown Chennai

Bellevue Botanical Garden

After our lunch in Moksha, Bellevue and finishing our meetings today, I had free time in the evening. I decided to go to Bellevue Botanical Garden, though I have been visiting Bellevue & Redmond for many years I haven’t visited this garden. Online I read good things about the garden and I was expecting to see many lovely flora there. Today was quite cold, not an ideal day to walk long outside, so there were few other visitors  in the garden, parking lots were nearly empty. Some construction work was going on, so we took few minutes to locate the entrance.

Next to parking lot there was a synthetic foot ball (soccer in USA?) court for students. It was empty when we went, so we took some photos standing on it – this is the closest I have gotten to a proper football court.

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Bellevue Botanical Garden (5)

The actual garden turned out to be just a long walk, there was no flora or fauna to see – this was winter, a wrong time to visit it. I am sure in Spring & Summer it would be thriving with life and lovely flowers.

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Bellevue Botanical Garden (8)

Near the visitor information centre in the far end of the garden, they were decorating for light show in late evening. Since we were there during day time we came out visualizing what the lights will look like and walked out.

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Bellevue Botanical Garden (15)

Moksha Bellevue and Bai Tong Redmond

I am in Redmond this week for work.

We had meetings in Lincoln Square (opposite to Bellevue Square mall) today and for lunch my colleague suggested we try the Indian restaurant Moksha. I was not sure but the food turned out to be tasty and the service was great. We both had Vegetarian version of Moksha Thali which contained Rice, Salad, Naan (Indian Bread), and two side dishes.

Bellevue Lincoln Square Opp Moksha Indian Food

Yesterday for dinner a friend of mine who works in Microsoft Corp, took me (yes, I am lucky to get invited when I am travelling) to a thai restaurant “Bai Tong” which was his favourite haunt. The place was crowded giving me confidence I will get good food and it turned out to be true. We had a wonderful dinner of various tasty thai items – Tom Yum soup, Salad, Yellow curry, Pad Thai noodles & veg fried rice.

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Strawberry Banana Pancakes at iHop

After our four hour trek to Switzer Falls myself and friends were starving. On our way back home to Simi valley where I stayed with a friend, we stopped in an iHop restaurant for breakfast. This was my first time to an iHop, which my friend said specializes on breakfast. There was a lot of variety to choose from in their menu, I went for a Strawberry Banana Pancake (shown below) & Tea.

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The pancake was a bit sweety for my liking (what did I expect!), but still it was quite tasty and I liked it.

Trekking to Switzer Falls

Being a Sunday my friend in Simi Valley who I was staying planned few days for us to go on a trekking to Switzer Falls today morning. It is a low difficulty trekking route of roughly about 8 miles (to and fro). The trek location is inside Angela National forest, so you need a $5 (Daily pass) adventure pass which you can buy online. The Daily pass is a honour system, you buy the pink card scratch the date and month once you are inside the premises and leave it in your car windshield, there is no verification of it in any gates.

My friend had planned to go their early in the day, so that we can finish the trek  before mid-day. We had a tiny breakfast and left home (Simi Valley) around 6:00AM, the distance to cover was about 50 miles easterly towards Pasadena.

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Switzer Falls Hiking 17Nov2013 (19)

For people living outside India this is taken for granted, but what I like when visiting national parks in the western world or in Australia is that they are all maintained painstakingly well, especially you can be sure of having Restrooms for convenience. Since Angeles National forest is a bear territory there was no running water in the rest room at Switzer picnic area, it was a dry pit based rest room but still this should be appreciated in this remote place.

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We parked her car after driving down from the highway, it was still dark outside, but we started walking. The first mile or so was on plains, easy and you are walking under shade. Beware in the entire trek there is no cellphone coverage, which is a blessing. You can enjoy the sounds of nature – wind gusting through the leaves, water running in streams and birds.

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After the first mile or two, you star climbing up on solid rocks on a foot path that was made 80 years back.

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Switzer Falls Hiking 17Nov2013 (38)

At few places the climbing can be a bit hard, foot paths become narrow enough for just one person, you got to be careful. You are never left wanting for breath as the climb is not steep and any difficultly is compensated well enough by the wonderful views you see.

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On the way I saw this tree with bright red coloured branches, I stopped for few photos immediately.

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We completed the trek and came back to the parking lot by noon.

On our way to the Switzer Picnic area we were overtaken by a row of antique sports car, they all stopped in a viewing spot for a group get-together. Look at the bright hues of every car, they were stunning in the bright sunlight of the day.

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Switzer Falls Hiking 17Nov2013 (15)

Malibu Lord Sri Venkateswara Temple

Today my friend took me to Malibu Lord Sri Venkateswara Temple on our way to Santa Monica pier. Though I have come to Los Angeles many times, I haven’t visited this temple.

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The temple is popular with the Indian “Hindu” Diaspora in LA county and suburbs. Its one of the oldest in USA and well maintained, may be renovated quite recently. The place surrounding the temple is lovely, all green and away from city noise. Going inside the temple campus I felt I was in a typical south indian temple, the Malibu temple is built on traditional style.

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Malibu Temple (7)