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I am an ardent blogger and a web enthusiast. My blogs include varied topics from the picturesque details of my travelogue to theology and worldly facts. My passions are reading English and Tamil classics, Management Topics, Playing Tennis and taking long walks. I live with my wife in Bangalore. Visit regularly my children in Michigan and Colorado to spend time with them and three grandsons. Please brief your opinions there in when you read my blog :- http://divinenotes.blogspot.com.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Visiting Pittsburgh / Washington DC

Natarajans, Canton MI USA.

'Suprabatham' - We say looking at our well stretched palms daily as we get up at dawn. 'Suprabatham' recital at Sri Venkateswara Temple in Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania starts at 9 a.m. by an assembled gathering. We had the good fortune to visit this hilly place and have darshan of the 'Lord of the Seven Hills' recently.

16th September saw us motoring from Canton MI to Pittsburgh. It became late evening when we reached. We got lodged in 'Marriott Court Way.' The day being Thursday and the time being evening, we made good of the opportunity to drive to Shirdi Sai Baba temple amidst a heavy downpour which is situated in close proximity to the place of our stay. Bhajans and devotional music in the most popular tune and melodious style rented the air as we entered the temple at about 8 p.m.

Shirdi Baba who was seated in a 'silver simhasana' was listening to the devotees' songs filled with a sense of surrender & total devotion. The 'Prasad' we had later proved much more than dinner in variety and in quantum & was very tasty too. It was 10.30 pm when we returned to 'Marriot'.

Sri Venkateswara Temple is located in Penn Hills, an eastern suburb of Pittsburgh. It is one of the earliest traditional Hindu Temples built in the United States in Nov 1976 with the assistance of Thirumalai Thirupati Devasthanam with a mission to provide traditional religious worship to Hindus. We found it so when we went inside the Temple on Friday morning.

It was great to see Sri Balaji and we were happier when we saw the 'Mangalaarathi'. We performed 'Satyanarayana Puja' with 'sankalpam', 'ashtotram' and read 'katha' before receiving the 'Prasad'. Since it was the week day there were very few people in the temple premises. A view of the Temple below for your eyes as "Gopura darshnam sarva papa vimochanam" :--


We then proceeded to the famous Jain Temple unmindful of getting the lunch delayed. See the panoramic view of the Jain Temple:-


We had good darshan of Saint Mahavira, Radha Krishna and other deities. We had lunch at 14.30 hours at the Udupi hotel which is the first choice for the Indian tourists. Our next stop was the Capital of USA.

We reached Washington DC by 8p.m. to stay with a friend of ours who is a Scientist and works for the Federal Govt. A palatial house with a sprawling and lush lawn surrounding it looked very attractive. Our stay was most comfortable and we enjoyed the remarkable hospitality of our hosts.

We had the sight seeing trip the next morning (18th) - most of the time was spent in awe and wonder in seeing what each section of the mighty Smithsonian Museum(s) holds. Yes, there are about 15 Museums & one need to spend at least one day per museum to do some justice. They are located in the National Mall in Washington DC., open 364 days, admission free. See picture here:-

We visited first The National Museum of Natural History (opened in 1910) which had a record visitors of 7.4 million in 2009. It has a collection of 500 million specimens. They include gems, minerals, human origin, dinosaurs, mammals, insects, ocean life, African voices, development of brain & bone in modern man. 'Hope Diamond' the second largest diamond , 'Star of Asia Sapphire' , one of the largest Sapphires in the world were at display in the geology section. The glittering Sapphire and the Diamond are presented at this moment as a feast for your eyes by the help of a photo we had captured:-


After a quick lunch in the food court we walked through an open park to look at the art works displayed there. A huge fountain where water was gushing out abundantly and to a very great height was a sight to the eyes. It is heartening to mention here that the recycled items were used as the art materials.

Next we went to the American Art Museum which was thrown open in the year 1968.

The National Gallery houses an exclusive collection of European and American Arts in two spectacular buildings. The permanent collection includes works from 13th to 20th Century. It was inspiring to witness the arts of the greats like DaVinci,
Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, Rembrandt,etc;.
There is only one oil painting of DaVinci (onlyone in the whole western hemisphere) which is worth more than 10 million US dollars. We took pictures here and uploading the same for your pleasure in this mail.

As we were looking at the works of Van Gogh, we remembered reference by Jeffrey Archer to the self portraits painted by Van Gogh in his novel 'False Impression'. Van Gogh is known to have painted two self portraits with bandaged ear. One is in Somerset House, London and the other in private hands. Although Van Gogh cut part of his left ear , following a row with Gauguin it remains as a mystery even today why his right ear is covered with a bandage in both the self portraits. Some critics say Van Gogh painted them looking at the mirror.Pl. see details about Van Gough which we collected from a frame displayed in the art Museum :-


Those who have read the novel, can recapture the engrossing tale of the missing masterpiece worth millions of US Dollars and how the Art Expert Anna Petrescu saves Van Gough's 'self-portrait with bandaged ear' not falling in the wrong hands. We have referred the theme of the novel ' False Impression' here only to highlight the value of Masterpiece Paintings and how the National Gallery in US treasures them. A section of the Art Museum is devoted to Impressionism. The entire collection is a feast for the art lovers.

National Air and Space Museum (1946) exhibits the original Air crafts. It has the largest collection of historic Space Crafts and Air-crafts in the world. It is also a research center for aviation, space flights, planetary science, Astrophysics and the likes. We touched the first rock specimen from the moon. The Museum Moon rock is one of a collection of rocks returned from the Apollo manned missions to the Moon. Visitors can touch the rock in ' The Milestones of Flight Gallery'. Wright Brothers who are considered as pioneers of Aircraft Industry, occupy a prominent place in the hall of exhibits where the original Glider Aircraft designed and manufactured by them was in display.

Our next pit stop was the National Spy Museum near China Town.We bought tickets to participate in a thrilling game of spying along with six other participants. Our task was to locate a nuclear trigger hidden in an underground hide out which would go to the hands of the terrorists. We had to pass through dark alleys, dungeons which was proving to be claustrophobic. There was no going back once you are in the game. We as a team struggled to unfold the cryptic clues, voice recordings from one stage to the other but we realized that we were not good at spying. The exercise ended with a television broadcast from the chief of Interpol who pointed out our mistakes. Though the experience was new & exciting we were happy to get out of the rat infested narrow passages after an hour to get back to normal surroundings and to breathe fresh air freely.

We walked along the Mall to the spot where people gather to have a good look of
The White House. There was a huge crowd in front of the main gate, again visitors from our motherland. We took snaps with the W.H. forming the back drop.

It was time for us to return to our place of stay. We had to catch the Metro rail from Smithsonian Metro Station. We walked the distance of one mile crossing the National Mall.

National Mall is an open area National park in the down-town of Washington DC. Its boundary consists of west of Potomac River, Constitution Gardens and the area around Lincoln Memorial and US Capitol and the long stretch to Washington Monument. You also walk through Pennsylvania Avenue and land mark Museums in the process.

Pl look here to see how tall the Washington Monument stands !

Attractions within the walking distance of the National Mall include the Library of Congress, US Supreme Court Buildings, The White House, Capitol, Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, National Postal Museum, Lincoln Memorial and so on. We joined one of those 24 million visitors who walk through the National Mall Park every year. The Capitol Building comes before your eyes below:-


Further the National Mall is an attractive site for protest rallies, Presidential Inauguration parades, Earth Day Festivals,etc. It was here the famous 1963 African American Civil Rights Protest Rally took place where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the famous "I have a dream..".

We had the satisfaction of seeing most of the landmarks which are mentioned in the para above in short time during this trip to Maryland.

We reached the Metro Station on time to board the blue line & then the red line . The train journey took about 45 minutes. We then reached the parking lot where we had parked our car. We covered a long distance in a short time. Hope the ongoing Bangalore Metro will bring relief to commuters & reduce the present unimaginable road congestion.

The party at our host's place had just begun when we joined them. We came across Bangaloreans who were also invited specially for the dinner. We could exercise our tongues to talk in Kannada when our host introduced the guests to us. After an extensive outing for the whole day, you can well imagine that we enjoyed the company at the party and also had a go at the hot & sumptuous dinner prepared by our hosts with great care & love.

We left Washington at 11a.m the next day (Sunday) for Canton MI, after a good night's rest. We had four stops on the way to refresh ourselves and to comfort the baby. We reached home safe by 11.15 in the night.

We availed the opportunity to have darshan of Lord Venkataramana during our return trip also at Pittsburgh. Sri Balaji who was decorated in Gold was majestic to look at. Since it was Sunday the temple was crowded. We relished the superb lunch with items like Puliyogere, Bisibele bath, curd rice, boondi & mixture at the S.V.Temple Canteen.

With His Grace all ended well !!

Enjoy seeing a picture of 'The White House ', where US President Obama resides. !



















The first two picture above show Natarajans inside S.V.Temple. P&N are seen above relaxing in the garden path near the fountain in the National Art Gallery.

Cheers! Natarajans take leave of you saying good bye and wish you could write a line in reply c/o our Yahoo Email ID. Looking forward to hear from you soon. Bye again !!

Natarajans.

pn

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