Tag Archives: Taj West End

A really, really big Shiva

Standard

When we got up for our adventure this morning, Kaden said, “Promise me you are not going to add anything extra on to this trip!” I do have a habit of doing ‘just one more thing.’ She’s on to me. I’ll only agree to the original plan!” So we stuck to the plan today—see the six-story high Shiva, look for art supplies and have a nice lunch.

I was stir crazy and ready for an outing. Yesterday was Ugadi—the New Year celebration in the Deccan region of India—south Central India. The traditional calendar of this region starts the new year at the beginning of spring. All schools were closed. People headed out of town. The driver took the day off. We were stuck at home. Not so terrible except the day before I was home all day as well with a head cold. For 48 hours, I had hoped to be lazy. But the television as usual had nothing on it. I read three books, emptied my email inbox, and took a nap each day. I was ready to get out of the house.

So off we went to find the six foot tall Shiva. This temple was not an ancient, historical relic like others that we had visited. Rather, this was like an amusement park holy site. The place seemed brand new. To enter you had to wander through several craft stores (which much to my delight had incredibly cheap prices).

We then reached a ticket booth where they advised us to buy the six in one ticket so that we saved money. Sounded like a racket, so we said no.  Ahead of us was indeed a six story Shiva, all done up in bright colors and plastic perhaps, with a fountain streaming out of the back of his head.

Shiva is the creator and destroyer and we learned that day that you pray to Shiva to control your anger.

  

To get to Shiva, we had to navigate a series of activities. Pay 60 rupees to put 108 coins in successive bowls while chanting the manta, “Om namaya shiva.” We skipped that.

Buy Prasad as an offering to the Gods. We did that and saw the woman smash the coconut for us and give it back to us. We walked up some steps.

Then they told us to buy a ticket to get down to Shiva, but it was through what seemed like a Haunted House. It was a dark cave in which we crowded a foot bridge, took little twisty turns, and walked up and down steps. Kaden chose to skip that part. I took Carson. The focal point was a stalagmite made out of ice that you were to touch for good luck (like an upside down icicle). The ice felt nice and cool on a hot day. Imagine my surprise when I told my mom about what we found and she told me that the ice was to represent the linga of Shiva. As in, please touch this phallic projection of the God. What????!!??  Turns out that often Shiva is only presented as a linga and not as a full God.

The kids then asked to throw a coin in the fountain for good luck. The sign said to chant “Om Namah Shivaya” seven times before chatting the coin. Carson did so and threw in his coin. Kaden threw her coin and it missed. She wanted to go get it and try again. But since the coin was offered to the God, my mom worried there would be quite an issue if Kaden went crawling for the coin. So she found her another one.

The temple had several other activities, such as pouring milk, going into another cave.

Everything was written on English placards. The Temple seemed more like a “how to” set of Hindu activities than an actual place to worship. Plus, you could take photos if you paid another fee.  True temples do not allow photos.  But, the kids had fun. And the shopping was good.

We then made a stop at MG road to an Art Supply store to get Kaden some supplies for her Science Fair Project. This shop was our third try. Kaden wanted a tri-fold board to display her project.  After trying the Office Depot in the mall, the Reliance store and now the oldest book store and art supply store in town, it is clear that trifold displays do not exist in Bangalore. So she bought a couple of thin boards of canvas and we hope we can keep them together.

Then we headed off to lunch. Kaden insisted that we had to eat at the restaurant where Uncle Kinjal walked into the glass wall. I was less than excited about this plan since I had just eaten there a few days ago. In fact, we had caused a bit of a scene again there during our last visit. My parents and I had limited time to eat there since we had to rush back to the kids’ school for Kaden’s soccer game. There was a huge IT conference happening at the hotel.

 

I had forgotten my phone at home, and our fabulous new driver was unable to park at the hotel. He didn’t know I was missing my phone and was awaiting my call around the corner. We couldn’t find him. He wondered why we weren’t calling. My mom got in such a state that she asked the hotel to hire us a car. I finally wandered out of the hotel gates and found Shiva. Meanwhile, the air conditioning had since broken and he had called another van to come to bring us home.  We had to transfer our packages and the new driver said, “Please buckle up. I will get you to that football match!”

So fast forward to our most recent visit. The doorman recognized us from a few days ago and said welcome back. We walk into the restaurant and make a big fuss about wanting a table by the window. Carson is starving. He starts toward the buffet and heaps a big pile of rice on his plate. Kaden bursts into tears. This wasn’t the restaurant she had thought. She had confused this restaurant with the Taj West End where they had the best ice cream in town. She didn’t want to be here at all. She didn’t even like the French fries here. We had to leave.  With her grandmother present, we did indeed leave. Carson left his plate of rice sitting on the buffet. And we slunk back to our car.

The meal at the Taj West End was delightful though. Carson got his favorite Pasta Bolognese. Kaden ate rolls, French fries and ice cream to her hearts content. And we chatted with a couple from Mendocino at the next table.

Advertisements

Penn State faculty take on Bangalore!

Standard

Kim and Leticia, my friend/fellow professors at Penn State joined me here in Bangalore for a business/sightseeing trip. They  planned their trip in India to last only SIX days due to commitments back home. Quite a whirlwind tour.   They arrived at 2:30 in the morning.  They met the kids when they awoke for school and then bravely joined me in my yoga class by 9 a.m. Then we headed off to see some B’Lore sights. First stop: Nandi the Bull

Kim and Leti got blessings from the Hindu priest at the Nandi statue

  

We also visited the Ganesh that is supposedly made out of Ghee (butter). But I swear it looked like stone to us.

  

Then I showed them the bats in the nearby park! Flying foxes!

Kim and Leti had the misfortune of being here on the day that my driver situation self destructed. After Nandi the Bull we were to visit Tipu’s Fort and Tipu’s Palace. But  instead, the driver started heading to the other side of town. We gave up on the sightseeing and decided to head to the Taj West End for a delicious buffet lunch at Mynt. Below are two photos from the Taj Grounds.

We then set out to do a bit of shopping. But the driver got lost again heading to Commercial Street–one of the biggest landmarks of Bangalore. We just had time to stop in at our favorite bedspread store.

Back home we spent some quality time with the two new additions to our neighborhood–a one month old Golden Retriever puppy named Angel

And  a three month old Golden puppy named Flash!  We love them both. But quite the different personalities–a newborn and a mischievous toddler!

   

Nandi the bull, bats, and a Ganesh made out of butter

Standard

The first afternoon that Todd arrived, I took us on an adventure to visit Nandi the Bull–a famous Hindu temple south of the city.  The entrance to the temple had these bull horns. Todd got stuck behind a group of women; Carson found another route!

    

Nandi is a bull who is the source of transportation/mount for Shiva in Hindu Mythology. (Shiva is the destroyer God in the trinity of Hindu Gods). Often temples honoring Shiva will have Nandi present as well. But Nandi has his own temples as well like this one. Holy men in the temple offered red smudges and holy smoke. Kaden got a smudge without asking! I got some jasmine flowers after giving an offering on the plate.  Kaden was not happy with her holy smudge and rubbed it off as soon as we were out of site of the temple.  

    

Next to the Bull Temple was a beautiful park (Bugle Rock) with gardens, climbing rocks, and GIANT bats hanging in all of the trees! The park even had a high lookout for a closer look at these giant bats!!

   Poet statue

     All those black dots? Yep! Bats!!!

   

the best surprise was discovering a rock slide! From the lookout tower, we observed squealing kids and college students sliding down the rocks on smashed plastic bottles.

   

Carson insisted on joining in. Carson’s best ride of the day:  http://youtu.be/yh212yBWIOA   Kaden was  a bit more bashful but these two college kids offered to take her down with them. They were very sweet and she made it!

     Kaden did it!

After the park, we  visited a Ganesh temple on the same grounds that contained a Ganesh statue made out of Ghee–clarified butter. We couldn’t take photos inside, and especially because holy men were conducting a ceremony with lots of people present. The Ganesh didn’t look like it was made out of butter, primarily because it was covered in so many flower garlands that you coulodn’t see what was beneath. I couldn’t take photos inside the temple, but here is a website showing what the Ganesh looked like. Butter ganesh.

After our temple and park adventures, we met my parents for a buffet lunch at Mynt in the Taj West End. We had lovely outdoor seating by the garden.

   

Taj West End Lobby!

A palace, a temple and a market in Bangalore

Standard

On Monday Kinjal, Janet and I set out for some sightseeing in downtown Bangalore. Much like Mysore, we set out to see a palace, a temple. We saw some cool sites, but not so grand and picturesque as Mysore.

We started at Tipu’s “palace.” He was a sultan who ended up losing a battle to Cornwallis (the same British general to fight in the Revolutionary War in the United States). The structure we saw wasn’t really a palace but more of a place where the Sultan and his court would sit to hear from people and to make speeches.

As is common here, there was a man who offered to be our tour guide when we entered the palace grounds. He said we could pay him what he thought it was worth after. I said, okay. This time though, he didn’t add much to what we could read on the walls and he was very hard to understand. I gleaned a few nuggets though. When he was done he asked for payment. We gave him 100 rupees. He told us he wanted 50 more. So much for paying what we thought!

   The balcony is the king would sit to speak with the people. 

Tipu the Sultan apparently intentionally built the palace near a temple to the god Shiva. The temple itself wasn’t so grand and much of it seemed reconstructed but we saw some cool carvings anyhow.

  


We always take pictures of Hanuman the Monkey God when we see them–Carson’s favorite AND Kinj has him tattoed on his arm!

Then we set off to the City Market/Chick Pet area. I was hoping to find a bazaar like the one we found in Mysore, with the winding little paths and picturesque stalls. We found something much bigger and chaotic.

  This guy with the basket on his head was really, really annoying. He followed us about the market in hopes that we would buy something so that he could carry it around for us. No amount of “please go away” seemed to hlep. This little kid came chasing after me making “snap a picture” gestures. Kinj groaned when I did, because he was worried then a flock of kids would chase us and then ask for rupees in exchange for the photo taken. The basket head buy also kept asking Kinj to take a picture for him. Finally, Kinj gave up and did take a picture and blissfully the kiddo and the man then disappeared.

 

We were starting to give on the market and head out when we discovered the flower stalls!

   

 

After all of that craziness, we made our way to an incredibly beautiful and tranquil spot–the Blue Ginger restaurant at the Taj West End (one of the fanciest hotels in town).

    

Blue Ginger is a Vietnamese restaurant. The food was hit or miss, but we loved, loved the raw mango salad and the shrimp also was fantastic.

And we received complimentary “Blue Ginger drinks”