Sunday, March 21, 2010

A small break from Look within...:)

The Niagara Falls
(Click picture to see the enlarged version)

Since the time I knew

about Niagara falls (which goes back to when I was hardly 5-6 years old, I

think), I wanted to see them; especially the Horseshoe falls. Finally

I got a chance to see them in 2008.

As awed I was when I first seen the pictures of the falls all those years ago, the sight itself took my breath away the moment I laid my eyes on it. Here are a few pictures, which I hope you will enjoy, along with a few facts about the falls and the Niagara River.

18,000 years ago, the last stages of Ice age, southern Ontario was covered by ice sheets 2-3 kilometers thick. The Niagara Peninsula became free of the ice about 12,500 years ago; its waters began to flow down through what became

Lake Erie, the Niagara River and Lake Ontario, down to the St. Lawrence River, finally, to the sea.

About 5,500 years ago the waters were once again

routed through southern Ontario, restoring the river and falls to their full power. When it was all over it left behind a 90-degree turn in the river we know today as the Whirlpool, and North America's largest series of standing waves we know today as the Whirlpool Rapids.

The Maid of the Mist is the name of the boat which takes you closer to the Horseshoe Falls. If you are afraid of water, you don’t want to be getting into this boat as you get really close to the Horseshoe Falls (as close as you can safely get).

Length of the brink: 2600 ft; Height 167 ft; volume of water of

the actual falls 600,000 US Gallons per second.

You see the American Falls on to the right. And just beside are the Bridal Veil Falls.

The next stop is the journey behind the falls, on the Canadian side. There is a tunnel dug behind the Falls and if you walk past, you can actually see the raging Falls, fall down. Again, if you are afraid of water, DON’T go here. I stopped at the first look out point behind the Falls while the rest of the tour group went further almost to the

middle of the Falls.

And NO, there are no tunnels dug from the

American side. Please swallow your pride and cross the border to Canadian side to get behind the Falls.

If possible, try to take the tour in the Whirlpool boats. They are absolutely amazing. As the Niagara Falls, flow down, down through the rapid, they make a sharp 90 degree turn, creating this super powerful Whirlpool, capable of destroying big boats. This Whirlpool is an unforgettable beauty; even though terrifying. Left side is Ontario (Canada) and the right New York (US).

This tour also includes the white water walk which takes you through the trail through the Rapid 5 waters.

I hope you enjoyed the Falls :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Look Within- Part 3

Accommodation:In India you can get away with anything if you are somebody. To keep this light, I am not going to go in depth about this statement of mine. Even in Tirupati, if you are someone and especially if you have money to spare, you are treated royally.
Usually, if you get a letter from an MLA of your state or any other ‘important’ government official from your district, you show this slip to them, requesting an accommodation for a set number of days. Depending on from whom you get the letter, you get a place to stay. There are also free-accommodations but like Renu said, we might not be able to stay there even for 5 mins.

Continuation from Part-2:
Depending on what time of the year we go, we had to stay in the line from anywhere between 2-6 hours. There is shelter of course. From one block to another, there are rows and rows of benches to sit and wait while the line moves.
But I don’t ever remember being bored by standing in the queue. You will get to see all sorts of people there; some of them funny, some of them down right rude. For example, you will hear an NRI trying to look different and superior and you will also hear someone local giving it right back Recently (about 5-8 years) ago the temple trust has placed metal detectors everywhere to make sure the flow goes well. Initially I was furious because it means more waiting…but later I convinced myself it’s for everyone’s good. You are not allowed to carry camera’s, handy cams, explosives and the list goes on.
As soon as you enter the main temple area all the lines (free, Rs.50 and above) join and become one big line. If you are taking kids, this is the time you want to hold them tight. Just before you step into the main temple, you will suddenly feel cool water flowing through your feet. Nah, not God sent, man made to cleanse your feet before you enter the temple. It gives such refreshing feeling that one must personally experience.
The inner temple feels much crowded. If you are claustrophobic, then you are better off being prepared for some rough moments ahead of you. Because the temple is so old, you can feel the hard rock-walls around you softened. As you progress further into the main temple, you will start hearing the chanting “OM” from the ‘Garbha Gudi’, place where Lord resides.

At this time, while you are being pushed and pulled, try and keep your eyes straight ahead, for it is where you will find Him. And when you do lay your eyes on Him, the entire struggle (superlative) you have gone through vanishes in thin air. You will get all but a few seconds to get a glimpse of Him, but the image would reside in your heart until you see Him again.

After you come out of the temple, you will feel like you just climbed Mount Everest. And the next line is to get the ‘theerdh’. But not as big a line as it was for the ‘darshan’. And then my favorite ‘hundi’ is where we give donations for all the schools, Universities, Hospitals, temple admin costs etc. It’s a huge white bag and trust me when I say, it gets filled every 20 minutes! Our Balaji Mandir in Tirumala is richer than Vatican! Did you know this?

Another favorite part of mine is ‘wish stone’, not sure of the Telugu/Hindi/Tamil name for this. If you write a wish on this stone, it would come true.
The final…ok, next to final line is the line for “Anna Daanam”; free food. My mom always insists that we go there because it is believed that the food there comes with lot of blessings. For the quantity of food they make every day, it is not an understatement if I say it’s so Yummm.

The final line is the world famous Tirupati Laddu line. These laddu’s used to be the size of my head back then….not any more . Did you know that everyday 150,000 laddu's are made?

After this we used to go for a tour, Kaani Pakkam, Aakasaganga, etc. I really need to wrap up this “look with-in” now! I can’t believe I am writing so much and boring everyone! I promise…just one more part and I am gonna finish saying what I wanted to say! And soon 