Monday, April 28, 2014


The two days, weekend Saturday and Sunday, 26th and 27th of April 2014, mostly spent in visiting Indian Temples around New Jersey. Our host at Edison, Mrs Nagalakshmi Nagarj was very enthusiastic to show around the place and we were very supportive. The visits started early morning 5.30am from Edison
1. SRI KRISHNA  VRINDAVAN EDISON: Established by Shri Sugunendra Thirtha Swamiji of Udupi Puttige mutt in 2002. A church building and the premises was acquired and converted into temple, priests from Udupi are appointed to perform the daily routine. Sri Yogendra young chief priest appears to be very dedicated and scholarly. Since it was Dwadashi day, early morning pooja rituals, for which we were present. After the pooja and mangalarathi, thiratha, there was grand feast (oota), sumptuous meal at 7.30am
2. SRINGERI SHARADAMBA TEMPLE, STROUTSBORG: PENNYSYLVANIA; About 100miles from Edison, on a beautiful highway, Mrs Nagalakshmi drove to the place in about an hour 20 minutes. We also had the company of Akshatha, d/o Janardhan, old friend from Dubai, now settled in New Jersey.
The temple is in the woods had deity SHRI SHARADAMBA, beautiful idol and new one near the old establishment is a beautiful architecture building, aesthetic and neat and clean. There was also lunch in the form of prasadam served.
3. SRI VENKATESHWARA (BALAJI) TEMPLE, BRIDGEWATER, NJ: About 20 miles from Edison, in a beautiful location of Bridgewater County, Tirupathi Balaji Temple is established. In a beautiful building, many deities are established to cater for all devotees. Pooja rituals are performed by trained and learned personnel, caters to needs of the devotees.
4. SHRI GURUVAAYOORAPPAN TEMPLE (SHRI KRISHAJI MANDIR) MorganVille, about 20 miles from Edison also has Sri Venkateshwara (Balaji) as the main deity and Ayyapan and other Gods.
The temple has immaculate building, clean and well maintained, attracts lots devotees, especially on weekends. Tamil priests perform pooja rituals with devotion and dedication.
written Monday 28th April 2014

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Sri Venkateshwara (Balaji) Temple, Aurora, Illinois, is about 30 miles from downtown Chicago, an hour's drive. On Sunday, April 20, on our way back from Chicago to Peoria, we visited the temple, and it was evening 7.30. The temple had main entrance from the road, ample parking and magnificient view from a distance, also due to evening lighting.
Ground floor is restaurant, gift shop,  from where we could go upstairs to shrines  where darshana of deities. The place is absolutely neat and clean, carpeted and beautiful. All deities have lot of charm and attractions.
Padmasri M.Muthiah Sthapathy, a noted expert on temple construction in India collaborated with Sri Subhash Nadkarni, a reputed architect of Chicago and a devotee of Balaji, and together they designed the temple in 1985.on a 20 acres pf land. 
This design is an excellent blend of ancient Shilpa shastra and modern architectural technology. This design also served as a model for other temples that were built later in the United States. A unique feature of the temple is provision for circumambulation (pradakshina) inside the temple not only around the presiding deity, but around all the major shrine.
Written Thursday, 24th April at Peoria

es inside the temple.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Friday 19th April, after going round Peoria, we reached Caterpillar Visitors Centre, at Downtown Peoria, riverfront. There were lot of huge machines kept for visitors to see. Huge one used for mining and various other types. We spent about an hour going round, watching some presentation of the company and taking some photographs.
The Caterpillar Visitors Center is a fascinating look at the company, the iron and the people making sustainable progress possible around the world. From the humble beginnings of the first tractor to the company's present-day leadership in building infrastructure and powering the planet—it's all right here on Peoria's beautiful riverfront.
The Caterpillar Visitors Center is an exhibit showcasing the history of the Caterpillar Diesels/Peoria Cats basketball team, including winning their Olympic title, on March 8. 
The exhibit showcases Frank McCabe’s Olympic gold medal and U.S. Olympic jersey as well as other game-worn jerseys, players’ personal memorabilia, photographs, game footage and more – never seen by the general public until now. Commemorative postcards will be available during the exhibit while supplies last.
written on Wednesday, 24 April 2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Entering the city
It was good Fiday morning, holiday for Raghu and Shubha, after going round Caterpillar visitor Centre in Peoria, We decided to go to Chicago. Weather forcast showed, that it was favourable, but we took a chance and reached in the evening.
with Nandini Somshekar family
We put up with a friend Somshekar apartment in the outskirts, Des Plains. Weather was chill.
The next morning, Saturday, 19th April, we left at 8.30am for the day's sightseeing.
Since Raghu has purchased online tickets for the important places to visit, our time was utilized to the maximum, without waiting in the queue.

Beautifully arranged ocean and sea species, see lions, and whales and 4-D show witnessed.
From the top of SKYDECK. Willis Tower
We went by by bus and walked to the next visiting place which was 103 storey, skyscraper, earlier known as Sear's Tower. Lot of crowd, lines and it was organized. Reaching 1968ft in 1 minute was amazing experience.Sitting on the glass window at that height was an experience.
LAKEFRONT WALK.... We walked a distance of more than 3 km through the lakefront walkaway got into the car...
DEVON STREET.... Another place 8 miles from dowtown, where Indian and Pakistani shops, groceries and hotls are in plenty, We also had masala dosa costing $8.00 (Rs500/-)  in Udupi hotel, not very tasty and too costly.
DOWNTOWN CHICAGO... Stayed in a friend's apartment on the 25th floor. The view from the apartment is beautiful.
BEAN - MILLENNIUM PARK.... walking down the road, we come to millenium park, reflecting dome is the main attraction and a huge open air auditorium.
with Tejaswini-Madhwaraj
Chicago has become a global city, a thriving center of international trade and commerce, and a place where people of every nationality come to pursue the American dream.
As Chicago grew, its residents took heroic measures to keep pace. In the 1850s, they raised many of the streets five to eight feet to install a sewer system – and then raised the buildings, as well. Unfortunately, the buildings, streets and sidewalks were made of wood, and most of them burned to the ground in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871
written on 22nd April 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Saturday, 12th April 2014, after visiting butterfly house in St. Louis, we headed towards the zoo, which was about 17 miles away. Spent sometime looking for parking space and we entered the zoo, surprisingly..... no entrance fee.....
The first attraction was house of sea lions, where we go through the tunnel and we could see the active sea lions swimming all around, through the glass enclosures. It was amazing.
Afterwards, it was walking through the zoo, seeing various animals and birds.
St. Louis Zoo, is a zoo in Forest Park in St. LouisMissouriUnited States. It is recognized as a leading zoo in animal management, research, conservation, and education. The zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)
Admission is free based on a public subsidy from a cultural tax district, the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District (ZMD); fees are charged for some special attractions. A special feature is the 2 ft (610 mm)narrow gauge Emerson Zooline Railroad with passenger trains pulled by Chance Rides C.P. Huntington locomotives that encircle the zoo, stopping at the more popular attractions.
The 1904 St. Louis World's Fair is credited for the birth of the St. Louis Zoo. 
A variety of animals are represented from four continents in River's Edge. The African Savanna displays Black rhinosSacred Ibisesbat-eared foxesred river hogs, and a colony of carmine bee-eaters. The African Nile features HipposCheetahsSpotted hyenas, and a colony of dwarf mongoose. The Asia exhibit features adult Asian elephants
The North American exhibit displays fish and wildlife from the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers containing minnowscrawfishbullfrog, and Channel Catfish. The South American exhibit displays bush dogscapybaras, and giant anteater.
It was an enjoyable experience.
written Thursday 17th April 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Saturday, 12th April 2014, after having breakfast at Umashankar's house, we set out explore and visit city of St. Louis. The first stop was at butterfly house.
The Butterfly House in Faust Park is one of the top attractions for many families and visitors. Hundreds of butterflies fill the domed conservatory, creating a tropical landscape in the heart of the Midwest.
The main attraction at the Butterfly House is the 8,000 square foot, glass-domed conservatory. The building is home to nearly 2,000 butterfies from some 80 species. The butterflies fly free among hundreds of tropical plants. 
For most visitors, it takes about 15 to 45 minutes to walk through the conservatory. In warmer months, there is also an outdoor butterfly garden to stroll through. Workers maintain the plants in the outdoor garden as a source of nectar for the butterflies.
We could spend about an hour with the butterflies flying around in the air conditioned house, and the surroundings are also well maintained..... No guys selling kadlekai, balloons etc... (Oh, it's not India)
written 16th April 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


It's Monday, 14th April 2014, evening around 4.30pm , suddenly snowfall started.... It's just frozen rain, slowly the intensity of snowfall increased and within an hour, the lawn behind the house was appearing like it is covered with cotton wool, on the roof of houses, trees..... 
Enjoying snowfall outside
It was fun playing in the snow. Nalini and Lahari. out in the snow and playing, making snow figures.
Snow is precipitation in the form of flakes of crystalline water ice that falls from clouds. Since snow is composed of small ice particles, it is a granular material. It has an open and therefore soft, white, and fluffy structure, unless subjected to external pressure.Snowflakes come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Types that fall in the form of a ball due to melting and refreezing, rather than a flake, are known as hailice pellets or snow grains.
Lawn behind the house
Snow occurs when the air within clouds falls below the freezing point. The moisture starts to crystalize, and the tiny particles begin to stick together. Once they're big enough/heavy enough, gravity kicks in and they fall to the ground - hence 'snow'. In a nutshell, snow is pretty much frozen rain. 
enjoying snowfall from inside
It's also first to see the snowfall and it's amazing.
written Tuesday 15th April 2014


It was Sunday, 13th April 2014, and the plan was to visit Meramec Caverns, a distance of 60 miles from St.Louis, where we stayed for the weekend. It's just about an hour's drive from the place and we reached at 12 noon. 
The place is quiet and peaceful from outside, lot of parking space, flowing river one side of the road and a hill on the side.

The entrance to venue is simple and inside, as we pass through the gift shop, we really see the caves, superbly maintained and tour guides waiting for a group to assemble. 

We joined the group waiting and it was a small size of about 15 people and we were the only Indians.

Beneath the fertile rolling hills of the Meramec Valley, lies a complex of mineral formations and color as rare and unique as they are beautiful. These jewels of nature which took thousands of years to grow, are preserved in the spectacular sights of Meramec Caverns. 

Guided tours by trained rangers are conducted along well-lighted walkways. All cavern facilities are accessible to the disabled. Learn how an ancient limestone "Wine Table" and an entire 7-story mansion were built... all underground. On tour you will see both the rarest and largest cave formations in the world. 

Meramec Caverns is the largest commercial cave in the state of Missouri. Missouri is also known as the Cave state, hosting home to more than 6,000 surveyed caves. Meramec Caverns is open year round and offers a fun, affordable vacation for all its visitors. 

Meramec Caverns is the collective name for a 4.6-mile (7.4 km) cavern system in the Ozarks, near StantonMissouri.The caverns were formed from the erosion of large limestone deposits over millions of years. Pre-Columbian Native American artifacts have been found in the caverns. 

The Meramec Caverns have existed for the past 400 million years slowly forming through deposits of limestone In centuries past, Native Americans used the cavern system for shelter. The first cave west of the Mississippi River to be explored by Europeans, it was first visited in 1722 by a French miner.

It was a worth visiting place and it took about two hours before we were out from the place and hit the road to travel back to Peoria, about 250 miles on a super highway.

written Tuesday, 15h April 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014


  City of St Louis is about 180 miles from Peoria, Illinois, where we were staying. We left in the evening after dinner at 8.00pm on US highway, after a delay due to traffic on the highway, we reached the city by 11 pm and stayed with a friend, Umashankar, a lovely family with twin girls of age 2 years. The wife Sahana, is nice and very hospitable lady, taking lot of trouble, to make us feel comfortable.

City of ST. LOUIS
St. Louis is an independent city and a major United States port on the eastern line of the state of Missouri.
The metropolitan St. Louis area, known as Greater St. Louis (CSA), is the somewhere between the 17th-19th-largest metropolitan area in the United States with a population of 2,900,605.
Inside the tram to top of ARCH
First bridge across Missisipi river

The centerpiece of the park is the 630 feet (192 m) tall Gateway Arch, designed by noted architect Eero Saarinen and completed on October 28, 1965.
At the top, inside the arch

The city of St. Louis was founded in 1764 by Pierre Laclède and Auguste Chouteau, and named for Louis IX of France. After the Louisiana Purchase, it became a major port on the Mississippi River; in the late 19th century, it became the fourth-largest city in the United States. It seceded from St. Louis County in March 1877, allowing it to become an independent city and limiting its political boundaries. In 1904, it hosted the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and the 1904 Summer Olympics. The city's population peaked in 1950, then began a long decline that continues in the 21st century. 

Written Monday 14th April 2014