Sunday, 16 April 2017

Sydney Series - State Library of New South Wales

I had a tour plan for all the 10 days that I was at Sydney. On this day, I decided to walk to the State Library of New South Wales (NSW) through the Royal Botanic Gardens from Circular Quay. I loved walking through the Botanic Gardens, and therefore, all my walks included the Gardens!

I also enjoyed switching off Internet/Mobile Data on my phone; when in doubt about route, I would ask people. People were friendly, and like to talk; I got a few tips about places to see. As I walked out of the Royal Botanic Garden, I saw the majestic Library. This library is situated at the corner of Macquarie Street and Shakespeare Place. Check the public transport available to reach this destination, and the library timings.
The main door is impressive; made of solid iron casting. The Tasman's map of the World, on the floor, caught my attention. And then the Mitchell Reading Room took my breath away. What a spectacular room, I say! The amount of books is overwhelming. The stained glass panels are beautiful. I spend a lot of time at this library. 

On the day that I visited the library, Canon World Press Photo 16  had a display of photos, and it was Free! The library staff informed me about it, and insisted that I visited the exhibition first. I'm glad that I did. The photos were about the war and such; disturbing yet brilliant. Yes, children were not allowed entry, and the staff took extra precaution to keep children from randomly walking in to this area. 

What can I say about the Shakespeare room? It's worth a visit. There's a free tour as well; gives more inform about the place. Check out the delicate work on the ceilings. I am not providing extensive details of the collections available at this library; please check Wikipedia or Library's website for more information.

The library has a cafe and a bookstore as well. Got something to eat/drink, and bought a book about Australian Birds. I was ready to retrace my steps to Circular Quay via the Botanic Gardens. What an eventful day!

State Library of NSW

Stained glass panels, a sample

Shakespeare room
Slice of banana cake and coffee, and a book :-D

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Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Sydney Series - St Mary's Cathedral

On one of the days during my stay at Sydney, I walked from Circular Quay to the St. Mary’s Cathedral via the Royal Botanic Gardens via Mrs Macquarie's Chair, and back. I stopped at several places to view the environs, and other places of interest. Was a great way to explore multiple areas of the city, especially when one is totally free; otherwise, there's always the efficient public transport system and taxi services to rely on. Oh yes, my soul was content but my feet were killing me at the end of the day!

This cathedral is located in the heart of the city, a stone’s throw from the central business district and Hyde Park. To know more about the cathedral, see WikipediaEntry to the cathedral is free. Please maintain silence and adhere to the rules/guidelines of the religious place. When I entered, the cathedral was almost empty and beautifully serene; was later flooded with tourists from China.  

The gorgeous stained glass panels, the almost golden-brown colored sandstone, and the yellow lighting caught my attention instantly. I tell you that the stained glass, work of Hardman & Co., is mind-blowing! I spent a lot of time admiring the glass.  

The ceiling is amazing as well. The central bell tower ceiling is painted oak, and how pretty! There are several devotional objects in the cathedral; take time to look around. There’s a store selling interesting items; have a look. There are candles that can be bought for a dollar or two, and lit. Ensure to remove the used candle cups, dispose them in designated containers, and then place a new candle cup to light. 

Places of worship always tend to fill  me with more energy and calm my being. With renewed energy, I hurried back to Circular Quay to meet my husband, who was returning from work. I will let my photos do the talking now.
St Mary's Cathedral
Oak ceiling, pipe organs, floor
Stained Glass
Their name lives on for all generations
St Pope John Paul II


Sydney Series - Museum of Contemporary Art

It rained heavily the next day. We wore our rain jackets, and walked around the city. The rain and wind were strong; that wind had destroyed banners and stuff, and had displaced certain items as well. At the Circular Quay, the water rocked hard; the boats that were docked seemed to be playing ping-pong. Actually, that was scary amount of rain, and increased levels of water. Nothing seemed to stop travellers; a group of elderly travellers from Europe, a group from China, and we were thoroughly enjoying the weather.
Befriending the rain
As the rain poured hard on us, we ran to towards the Museum of Contemporary Art. When we walked into the museum, we were greeted with a variety of rain jackets and colourful umbrellas, at the cloak room, which was a free service. We were allowed to carry our backpack; but must be used as a front-pack.

The museum had a 20th Biennale of Sydney event, and how wonderful it was! The museum had multiple floors, hosting a rooftop cafe, a store, and a library as well. The "Please observe the following" notice (using graphics and text) was cute. Yes, we could take photos of all exhibits, keeping Flash off.
Odds :-)
I can't possible write about each and every artist/exhibit; will share minimum details. You must visit this museum to know more! The first exhibit that we sniffed, and then followed the aroma was that of
coffee beans; coffee indicated to flow out of assorted coffee mugs, using the beans. The other exhibits were “The Creation 1995” by Noa Eshkol (1924-2007, Israel); photographs of Dayanita Singh, "Kitchen Museum 2015"; etched ink stains resembling blood by Judy Watson (1959-), "A preponderance of aboriginal blood 2005"; humble household items by Fiona Hall (1953-); many, many, many more!

Those are the coffee beans. :-)
Coffee and cloth!
The famous blood paintings!
Judy Watson's paintings
A collage showing "Untitled - Display, Displace, Dispense, Dispirit, Display, Dismiss" by Gordon Bennett!

The beautiful paintings using coffee, "Refugee art project!" This project made me a little emotional.
Coffee painting and Indian cinema

"The Outside 2005" by Emily Floyd! There was the most lovely “Sonic Blossom 2013-present” by Lee Mingwei; ongoing participatory performance with chair, music stand, costume, spontaneous song! Loved it to tears!
And when our food for thought and heart was fulfilled, our stomachs growled, seeking attention. We went to the rooftop cafe, MCA Cafe, which was packed with people. We were glad to share a table with a stranger - an elderly traveler.
MCA Cafe
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Sydney Series - Arrived on a stormy evening

We flew with Singapore Airlines from Bangalore to Sydney, and got about 80 SGD as gift, because we had opted for a round trip with SG Airlines, to shop at SG airport. Yay!

We arrived at Sydney on a stormy, rainy evening. Our cab driver was a talkative person; he briefed us about the city, the pubs and the gay pubs, and voiced his frustrations, the kind of passengers he gets and the issue that he faces with drunken people. Was surely a lot of good information!

That being a rainy evening, the streets were almost covered with dried Maple leaves; pavements had a few broken umbrellas; certain roads were closed for vehicle movement due to Vivid Sydney. We got off, paid and thanked the cab driver, and walked, dragging our suitcases on the wet pavements; that's when I heard a girl yelling at her friend, "Let's get wasted!"

Welcome to Sydney!

After a quick checkin at our hotel, we crashed at our room. Tomorrow was another interesting day!
Sydney during rains

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Sydney Series - Applying for Tourist VISA

To apply for VISA to Australia (for Indians), check the VFS.GLOBAL website.

We traveled during the second quarter of 2016. From when I applied (for Tourist VISA), certain guidelines have changed now.

Here are the latest details.
  • VISA Type: If you are unsure of what type of VISA to apply for, check the VISA FINDER page.
  • Documents Required: Download the checklist from the VFS.GLOBAL website; also see the photo specifications, and fees involved. Download the latest application forms
  • Tracking VISA Application: Use the tracking number provided in your acknowledgement received after submitting application form for a VISA, to track your application
  • From Dec 5, 2016 onwards, there’s a Priority Service or a Fast-track Service available. Please check the VFS GLOBAL website; as mentioned on their website, "Only Indian nationals residing in India are eligible to apply for priority processing."
  • The Australian VISA may take about a month for processing; give yourself sufficient time. Sometimes, the eVISA may be sitting pretty in either your or your travel agent’s SPAM/JUNK folder; ensure to check. My VISA details were forwarded from my travel agent's SPAM folder!


Sydney Series 2016

Hello friends!

It's been a while since I updated my travel-blog. Have traveled to a couple of places since I last wrote here. During June 2016, my husband traveled to Sydney on work, and I accompanied him. While he went to work, I went alone exploring the beautiful city. Was awesome fun!

In this series, I plan to cover information about VISA requirements as well; that may be useful for readers of this blog. Along with this information, I shall write about the various museums, places of worship, zoo, art gallery, iconic buildings, Vivid Sydney, Blue Mountains, about people, and so on. Will accompany text with interesting photos.

Sydney at a glimpse; the bridge, the opera house, the skyline, the cathedral, and the yum cake and coffee!

See Sydney Series - Applying for Tourist VISA.


Monday, 4 July 2016

Sri Ramaprameya Swamy and Ambegalu Krishna temple, Dodda Mallur, Karnataka

The Bangalore-Mysore highway has a lot of interesting temples and places to see. Dodda Mallur is one such village, in Channapatna taluk, that hosts the famous Sri Ramaprameya Swamy and Ambegalu Krishna temple. The village is about 60 kms from Bangalore, and is located on the banks of the river Kanva, which has a dam few kilometers away.

We have been to this temple several times, and each visit is different. The temple is easy to locate. While driving on the highway, towards the end of Channapatna, you can see the temple entrance arch on your left-hand side. There is ample parking space available; Rs. 10 is collected as parking charges. The temple timings are 8:00 AM to 12:30 PM IST, and 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM IST.

This Vijayanagara-style temple/idol is said to be about 1500 years old, and the temple complex was built by Chola emporer Rajendra (4th century). The monolithic Dhwajasthamba is beautiful. It is said that Lord Rama himself to have stayed here; therefore, called Daskshina Ayodhya and the idol called Ramaprameya. Several sages too have stayed/visited this temple and composed songs in praise of the Gods.

The deity in the main sanctum is Lord Ramaprameya. The idol has been craved from Saligrama stone, holding Shanka, Chakra, Gada, and Padma in four hands. Don't forget to see the Utsava Murthy of this God! A walk towards the left of the main sanctum leads to the temple of Goddess Aravindavalli (Lakshmi), seated on lotus flower.

Continuing further, you see that sanctum of Lord Ambegalu Navaneetha Krishna. The idol is of infant Krishna, (seems to be) crawling towards the onlooker, and rests left hand on the peedham, holds a ball of butter in right hand, and wears Uda Dhaara (a thread made of silver) almost around the waist. sri Purandaradasa is said to have been inspired by this idol, and composed the famous song 'Jagadoddharana Adisidalu Yashodha!' It is believed that couples pray to this god to bestow them with a baby (, preferably a boy!). After the birth of the baby, the couples offer a cradle (made of silver/wood) to the temple, and perform puja or Tula Bhara (in front of the sanctum).

Walking further, you see Lord Vaikunatanath Swamy with His consorts. On the right-side of the Lord Ramaprameya sanctum, you can see the idol of Lord Hanuman. Interesting are the carvings on the pillars of various mantapas. You can see floral designs, chanka, naama, shanka, yaalis, and so on. A few portions of the pillars are left blank; not sure why. Outside the temple, opposite to the main entrance, you can see the Purandaradasa mantapa.

What interests me the most is the temple architecture, sculptures, and carvings. Here are a few photos of the temple complex; kindly note that photography of deities is strictly prohibited. I have tried to explain a few photos; still researching about a few others. If you have any information regarding this place, kindly leave a comment; thanks.

Sri Ramaprameya Swamy temple complex and Purandaradasa Mantapa

Carvings on pillars, within temple complex
Carvings of Hindu Mythical creatures, floral designs, Lord Shivalinga, elephant, and many others can be seen on the pillars. I have never before seen a creature with horse head and bird body; still researching about such a creature. In a Vaishnava temple, you can see carving of Lord Shivalinga; it's a beautiful and unique design. The circular floral designs are unique as well. Also note that almost all mythical creatures hold something in their trunks/beaks, as a symbol of offering to the Lord!

Carvings on pillars, Rathamantapa
This is a beautiful mantapa but neglected beyond comprehension. Various birds have made this mantapa their home, and their droppings have dirtied the mantapa. Some amazing carvings can be seen on the pillars. Lord Vishnu blessing the elephant, standing on the crocodile. Garuda with hands folded. According to my study of other temples, this carving can be Lord Hanuman with a bell, performing puja to the Lord. There are carvings of monkey kings in a combat, Lord Krishna on Kalinga Sarpa, Govardana Giri Dhaari, and Lord Vishnu on Garuda. Totally amazing!

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