Across the Krishnarajasagara

What a mouthful!  But South Indian names are actually quite easy to remember, because they are like German: long agglomerations of short words.

I have no idea what it looks like today.

But back in the day (the “day” being around 2005) the Brindavan Gardens were a world-class sight to behold: a massive city garden with dozens and dozens of powerful water fountains, and in the evening, everything lit with intense colored lights.

Anyway, built along the Krishnarajasagara Dam in South India:

The gardens had so many fountains, there are not enough pixels in most cameras to capture them all:

And where there were no fountains, there were man-made rivers decorated with intense flowers and exotic trees:

And even some spectacular buildings:

I visited the park a few years later, and sadly, it had fallen into a terrible state of disrepair – not worth visiting at all.  But a trip out there is still exciting, because there is a nearby village Bylakuppe with relocated refugees from Tibet – and in fact, it is the largest settlement of Tibet people outside of Tibet!

Bangalore Gothic

Back when I lived in Bangalore, what I think was an IT guy turned his passion into this livelihood and created Bangalore Walks, a program of guided historical walking tours of Bangalore.  I was one of his first customers.

On one of his walks, after showing us where Winston Churchill likely lived during his time in Bangalore, we stopped to look at this house:

It’s nothing fancy – there are hundreds of examples in Bangalore – but he brought our attention to the scalloped rooftoop.  According to him, this style of roof is only found in Bangalore – and it is an architectural style he’s dubbed Bangalore Gothic.

I haven’t taken any Bangalore Walks recently – and I hope they are still as good as back in the day – and you’ll actually find my name on the official website!

Gateway to the Taj Mahal

In an earlier snap I showed the incredible Taj Mahal.  But the doorway you have to walk through in order to see it is equally if not more magnificent:

Here again, the secret to getting great snaps is to visit during the off season. This was the middle of summer, and the temperatures were blisteringly hot.

If you look closely enough at the little portal at the center bottom, you can see the Taj Mahal way off across the courtyard.

And just because it is so incredible to look at, here is another shot of the Taj, this time from a slightly different angle.

If there is no tradition, one like this would be nice

I read somewhere that the pistol taken from Saddam Hussein when he was captured was provided as a gift to the U.S. President.

I don’t know if that is true or if it isn’t.

But I do know that something resonated positively with me when I learned that something evil was transformed into something peaceful, in the fountains of Trafalgar Square in London,

which were made with the melted down cannons and armaments captured from Napoleon after the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

Gold in Delhi

This is a neighborhood in Delhi that is known for creation of gold jewelry:

I literally could not believe my ears when someone told me that some enterprising locals would actually pan for gold in the alley ways, hoping to find a few flakes that might have been discarded.

Well, I didn’t believe my ears, but it’s hard not to believe your eyes!

Watery Grave

When I first started visiting the incredible waterfalls of the Kaveri River in Karnataka, India, they were undeveloped.  Although every year many people died doing this, I knew someone who showed me the “safe route,” so I’d climb down the rock face to see some incredible sights, particularly during the Indian Monsoon:

They were also largely unvisited, because even the young IT engineers lacked the automobiles needed to easily reach this place.

I guess it is a good sign of development, because today the falls are quite developed, and it’s a common weekend day trip for the IT crowd. They don’t let you climb down onto the rock face anymore,

And the many restaurants and food stalls have encouraged the monkeys,

Jungle Mystery Number Three

Continuing the series, this is the Teman Negara, a jungle rainforest deep within peninsular Malaysia, and the location of a number of mysteries for me.

This is the Teman Negara, which I visited during a trip to Malaysia:

And this is an Anopheles mosquito. Not the one that BIT me, despite my efforts to keep myself smeared with a powerful mosquito repellant, but one just like the one I caught sucking the blood in broad daylight from my hand:

Now here comes the mystery. About a month after returning from my vacation, at around 12.30 PM in the afternoon and while at work, I quite suddenly felt like I was going to get the flu: my body became weak, and I could feel my temperature was rising. I went home.

About one hour later, I was in bed with a high fever and chills.  My fever was higher, my weakness was weaker, and my chills were chillier than anything I have ever experienced, either before then or since.

Now, I’m not totally stupid – I know that because I spent time trekking in an area with malaria, and there could be a chance that I could get a delayed infection, so I decided to closely monitor my temperature: if it started to rise or get worse, I’d go to the hospital immediately.

After almost two days the temperature went down almost as quickly as it originally climbed, and the chills and the weakness disappeared.

Did I have malaria and then recover?  I remember the old British colonials would use the expression “to have a touch of malaria” – did I have a touch of malaria?

It’s a mystery because I guess I will never know!

Eureka! I found it!

I shared one of my all time favorite snaps in a recent post, but I mentioned that I sadly did not recall where I took the photo.  I spend a lot of time trying to capture the quiet emotions you can find at great lakes . . . so my memory in this area fails from time to time:

While researching my photo collection I found the original, together with many others I took at Lake Pancherevo, the Pasarel Reservoir,  and the Iskar Reservoir- they are actually connected and are the Bulgarian/Russian equivalent of the public water works projects in the United States started after the Depression – just outside of the Bulgarian capital of Sofia.

 

The lion of justice

This is the sight you’ll see if you visit the Supreme Court building in Sofia, or Съдебна палата.

I guess you can associate justice with a lion (Aslan from the Chronicles of Narnia, Mufasa in The Lion King, etc.).

It’s just that for me, when I think of justice, the symbol that comes to mind is a blind-folded lady wearing flowing robes and carrying a scale – rather than an vicious apex predator capable of severing a man’s neck with just two of its razor sharp teeth.

Jungle Mystery Number Two

Continuing the series, this is the Teman Negara, a jungle rainforest deep within peninsular Malaysia, and the location of a number of mysteries for me.

Unfortunately, I can’t actually show you Jungle Mystery Two – and that’s why it remains a mystery. While visiting the jungle, I got up quite early and took a walk. Two Chinese people were also walking, but they couldn’t speak English and I can’t speak Chinese, so we walked together in silence.

When we came to a jungle clearing, we saw two orange orangutans (looked like a mother and a smaller child) dangling from long vines.  Naturally I took many pictures – and so did my Chinese companions. Here is a picture of an orangutan I found on the Internet:

Now, here comes the mystery: according to scientists, there are no orangutans on peninsular Malaysia!  Apparently, all the orangutans are located on the island part of Malaysia, also known as Borneo.

Now, you would naively think I would pop out the photo I took and solve the Mystery – but sadly, no such chance. This was just before the advent of digital cameras, and during my vacation I lost several rolls of film, including the one of the animals I saw.

Now, I’ve heard that there are many exotic animals hidden deep within the jungle, such as jungle elephants that are almost never observed by humans. Does this mean there may be a population of orangutans hiding out in Peninsular Malaysia?  There are at least two Chinese people, somewhere in the world, who hopefully have the evidence!

Street painters in Prague

I took this snap in Prague. I took this snap in winter, and I especially liked the way the color of the artist and the subject make a nice contrast with the gray overtones of the city itself.

Not all European cities have areas where portrait street artists ply their trade – in fact, probably very few:

Jungle Mystery Number One

This is the Teman Negara, a jungle rainforest deep within peninsular Malaysia, and the location of a number of mysteries for me.

The first Jungle Mystery is this: Teman Negara is not just a rainforest, it is a primary rainforest: the wettest and the hottest that they get.  It is also the world’s oldest rainforest, more than 100 million years old.

Now here comes the mystery: if the jungle is so wet and you can see the tremendous silt being carried in the river – and if the jungle is so old – then how can the jungle still be there?  Shouldn’t the rains have washed away all the mud and soil long, long ago?

Or does this perhaps mean the rate at which new soil is created (for example, from dying vegetation) exceeds the rate that silt is carried away in the river?

The amazing architecture of Swiss railway stations

It is not an exaggeration to say that many Swiss railway stations are truly mind blowing.

This is Bahnhof Enge from the outside:

 

And this is Bahnhof Enge from the inside:

Stunning buildings like these harken back to a different time, when a train station like Bahnhof Enge was not merely a train stop on a commuter line, but actually an important debarcation center in its own right.

Interesting, the architects for this train station were Otto and Werner Pfister – and if anyone has spent time shopping for furniture in Switzerland, those names should certainly be familiar!

Vitus, Wenceslaus, and Adalbert – 2

Continuing the series, you may wonder what these three saints have in common?

The answer is: a cathedral in Prague that is so large, ordinary photographers like me, without special equipment, are completely unable to capture the Prague Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslaus, and Adalbert in its full glory.

So I display here some of my favorite snaps of the cathedral up close. In comparison with other large cathedrals, this one had a surprising amount of painted detail:

And the stone windows are spectacular:

And although it pains me to show it, here is yet another snap that truly proves it’s impossible to capture good images of huge cathedrals:

Vitus, Wenceslaus, and Adalbert

No, it’s not these three:

For the record, that’s Kukla, Fran, and Ollie – the characters of a children’s television show, parts of which I saw in re-runs as a small child.

This is Vitus. He died around the year 300, so it makes sense this painting would seem a bit older than the others:

This is Wenceslaus – but for the record, I don’t know if he was a good king or if he looked out on the Feast of Steven:

This is Adalbert:

And in my next blog post, I’ll tell you about what these three saints have in common.

Stained glass in Prague

I took this snap from the inside of the Cathedral of St. Vitus, in Prague.

I think any photographer with a highly adjustable camera can take great shots of stained glass windows – but remember I captured this on the first generation of tiny, pocket digital cameras, more than a decade ago.

Unfortunately, the cathedral itself is just too huge for an amateur photographer like me to capture in its entirety. So in future blog posts I’ll share some snaps of parts of the structure that impressed me.

Hanuman was born here

This is Hanuman:

If you haven’t seen him before, Hanuman is often referred to as the “monkey god” for obvious reasons.  What’s more remarkable is that his historical origins are unclear – there are some ancient Hindu texts that first describe him, but historians are not quite sure when he was first described.

Anyway, during a visit to the UNESCO city of Hampi, I had the good fortune to gaze upon the Anjani Hills:

The historians can’t quite agree when and where Hanuman was first referenced, but most Hindu’s I know agree that this hill was his birthplace.  The white spot at the top is the Hanuman Temple.