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Here's one more from Oregon. I found this in Portland.

If you are travelling between the cities of Tracy and Livermore in California, chances are you will take I-580 to your destination. 580 takes you through the hills of the Diablo Range and shows you many of the windmills that dot the landscape.  Say you want more: like roads that go up one hill and down another and with lots of twists and turns; and there are rolling hills as far as your eyes can see. Then, you should pick Patterson Pass over the interstate highway the next time you are in the area.

We drove through scenic Patterson Pass a few weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed the leisurely drive on this less-travelled mountain road through Diablo's hills. Unlike the highway this is a small single-lane road that hugs the curves of the hills that make up the range east of the Silicon Valley. Just when you think you are almost at the top of one hill the road snakes through the next hill and takes you to the other side and shows you more of the mountain chain.

Our drive started at the end of Mountain House Parkway and the half hour drive showed us yet another part of this mountain range in Northern California.Patterson Pass led us through a side of the Altamont Pass Wind Farm Substation and meandered around many hills pointing out scores of tranquil slopes, dozens of wind turbines and large stretches of uninhabited California. Some 20 minutes into the drive, we found ourselves at a beautiful vista point that serves us with views of the valley, more windmills and a part of Patterson Pass Road itself working its way up the hills.

NOW, is a great time for a drive through Patterson Pass thanks to the winter showers that have turned all those dry hills into green dollops of land. Go on a cloudy day --like we did -- and you'll be treated to a greater spread of shades of green because of the shadows the clouds cast on those rolling hills.

Drive safe. 
There may not be a whole lot of cars you'll pass on the Patterson Pass but the road is narrow and sometimes steep. And for the most part there is no yellow line to keep vehicles coming from the other side, from getting too close to you. Drive with caution. And please be aware of bikers who are here to enjoy the ride and take in the beauty of the Diablo Range.

Linking to the meme--

Ronald McDonald - Mt-Hood-mural

Ronald McDonald in a mural is not something you might not have seen. However, I had to take a picture of this one, because I caught what I thought might be Mt. Hood in the background.

Today we are in the Beaver State -- Oregon, which is one of the states through which the Cascade Range runs. And today's mural is from a McDonald's restaurant near Portland, OR.

Mt. Hood is one of the volcanoes of the Cascades and if you look at Portland's skyline, I'm sure you cannot miss this massive mountain except if it is one of those cloudy days that the Pacific Northwest is known for. Considering how the volcanic mountain looks from afar, I think that is a painting of Ronald McDonald near Mt. Hood. I also see a smaller volcano behind it, and I think that, that might be Mt. Adams, which is not very far from Mt. Hood.

Ronald McDonald - Mt-Hood-mural

Linking to Monday Mural

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Murals from California:

A drive-by shot of a mural in Fort Bragg, Ca.
Fort Bragg is a coastal town in Northern California and is known for its sea glass beaches. 

Muir Beach, CA

A few months back, when it was still nice and sunny in California, we planned to spend an afternoon and evening on one of San Francisco's beaches. What we didn't know was that, those were 'high hopes' considering it was summer.

That was such a bad idea and we learnt that the hard way, going round and round parking lots and not finding a spot to park our car for a couple of miles near the beach. The parking lots were all so full and the cars spilled on to the roads that lead up to the beach and that meant a few miles of walking in the hot sun, if we were to spend some time on the seaside. Now with two little kids, a bag of change of clothes, a diaper bag and a tote of sand toys, it didn't sound like an inviting thing to do. So we gave up after a little bit of driving around in search of parking space. Before we left, we promised our little sand artist that the following weekend, we would get to the beach much earlier in the day.

Fast forward to the next Sunday, hoping luck would favour us in the mornings, we by-passed San Francisco's beaches and headed for Shoreline Highway. Now, Shoreline Highway may not sound very familiar, but let me tell you that this is nothing but a part of the famous "Highway 1." It is that part of the Pacific Coast Highway that lies north of San Francisco and goes all they way up to Leggett where the scenic highway that runs along CA coast, begins.

Some 15 miles north of SF is a lovely beach just off Highway 1.Surrounded by the hills of the Northern Coast Ranges, and blessed with dark sands and remnants of a lagoon, this pretty place is called Muir Beach.

Muir Beach, CA
The lagoon.
Look further and you will see some beach and waters of the Pacific. 

Muir Beach, CA
The bridge over the lagoon, the way to the beach from the parking area.

Muir Beach, CA
Muir Beach on a summer day. 

Muir Beach, CA
Muir Beach and its rocky surroundings.

Muir Beach, CA

Muir Beach, CA

Muir Beach, CA

Muir Beach, CA

Muir Beach, CA

Muir Beach, CA
The lagoon, upclose.

Muir Beach, CA

If you are heading to Shoreline Highway, 
you might want to check out these posts:

Napa River mural, Napa

Today, we leave the (SF)Bay Area, behind and go into California's wine country. This is a mural from Napa -- a picture of the Napa River. I found this in Downtown Napa, on a walk to the waterfront, some time back.

This artwork in is -- I hear -- by Steve Della Maggiora.

Linking to --

Chennakesava Temple, Belur.

Not far from Halebidu -- the capital city of the Hoysalas -- is a symbol of the dynasty's victory over the Cholas in the battle of Talakkad in 1116AD. This mark of victory seems to have turned out to be quite a sculptural extravaganza called the Chennakesava temple and it still stands tall in Belur, in Hassan District.

What a big celebration it must have been, if Hoysala ruler -- King Vishnuvardhana had to commission a structure that needed a hundred years for its making. It is said that even that one-full century was not enough to complete this architectural wonder.

To me, the Chennakesava Temple looked like a big grand sculptural banquet. What else would you call a stone structure that stood on a star-shaped base, and was decked with sculptured walls, pillars with soapstone filigree and dancing figures on them, friezes, and ornamental ceilings?

The Chennakesava temple is a grand display of Hoysala art and architecture and was even more fascinating than I thought it would be. The best thing we did was to take the services of a local guide who took us through the features and filled us in with anecdotes from the history of the Hoysalas.

Our guide Sathyanarayan began with pointing out that this temple dedicated to 'handsome Vishnu' or Chenna Kesava, brings together the Tamilnadu-style-gopuram,  a north Indian type temple and also an example of the Karnataka's temple architecture.

Chennakesava Temple, Belur.
The Tamilnadu style gopuram.

Chennakesava Temple, Belur.
The North Indian style temple --
Sridevi Temple (Lakshmi Temple).

Chennakesava Temple, Belur.
(And) The Hoysala Style (Karnataka Style) temple architecture --
The Chennakesava Temple.

The Hoysalas are said to have ruled a vast area of land in present-day-Karnataka and parts of its current neighbouring states from 1026 - 1343 AD. And while they flourished and expanded their empire, they are said to have patronised a lot of art and architecture. Hoysala temples seem to have been a strong, bold mark of their heritage, and the Chennakesava Temple in Belur seems to be one of the most brilliant achievements as far as their temple architecture is concerned.

The Hoysala style of architecture features a star shaped base for the temples to stand on, finely ornate pillars, sculpted ceilings and bracket figures to name a few elements.

The details on the sculpted figures are also a telling sign of Hoysala architecture.

To know more about the features of 
Hoysala temple architecture, click HERE

Here are a few pictures of some of the sculpted attractions of the famous Chennakesava temple, from my visit to the Hoysala temple early this year:

Chennakesava Temple, Belur.
An idol of Vishnu that stands in front of this temple in Belur.

Chennakesava Temple, Belur.
On the outside of the temple are smaller temples, each with a miniature temple tower.
The ones just outside the temple (on the star-shaped base) are said to be temples for Vishnu and the ones on the same level as the platform, for different goddesses of the Hindu pantheon.

Chennakesava Temple, Belur.
The emblem of the Hoysalas.

Chennakesava Temple, Belur.
The Grand Torana -- the intricate doorway sculpture.

Chennakesava Temple, Belur.
The bracket figures
These figures are some of the biggest  attractions at the Chennakesava Temple. Many of them are in dance poses, and the main figure coupled with the smaller figurines often put together a grand scene. More about this in another post, soon.

Chennakesava Temple, Belur.
Do not miss the alignment of the corners of the sculpted temple walls.

Chennakesava Temple, Belur.
The foundation of the Hoysalas.
Our guide explained that the horses symbolised 'Speed,' the lions, 'Bravery' and the elephants, 'Strength.' Put together, this was the foundation on which the Hoysala dynasty thrived.

Chennakesava Temple, Belur.
Talking of elephants, I hear there are over 600 elephants running all through the bottom of the temple walls. What's even more amazing is that no two elephants are alike. 

Chennakesava Temple, Belur.
The feet of Chennakesava.

Chennakesava Temple, Belur.
Ravan lifting Mt.Kailash

Chennakesava Temple, Belur.
More sculptures from the walls of Chennakesava Temple:
Arjun aiming at the fish, Brahma and Narasimha.

Chennakesava Temple, Belur.
The ceiling of the nrithya mantapa, inside the temple.
Many temples have a small platform just before the deity where dancers offered their art. 

Chennakesava Temple, Belur.
The famous indoor pillars of Chennakesava temple.
They stand just outside the sanctum sanctorum. They are adorned with bracelets and necklace designs, and some fabric designs too. 

Chennakesava Temple, Belur.
The stone lattices that let in light, another feature of the Hoysala Temple architecture. 
The temple complex in which the Chennakesava temple stands also has a Bhoodevi temple ( a temple for the earth goddess) and a smaller Veera Narayana temple.

Other things not to be missed here are the temple pond, the temple car (Chariot) and the gravity pillar also in the same complex.

Bhoodevi Temple, Belur
Bhoodevi Temple in the
Chennakesava Temple complex, Belur.
Veeranarayana Temple, Belur.
Veeranarayana Temple, also in the same complex.

Temple well, Chennakesava Temple, Belur
Temple Stepwell.

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