Tilden Park Carousal
The Tilden Park Merry-Go-Round

Tilden Park
The building that houses the ancient carousel.

This carousel, which was made in 1911, has gotten into US's 'National Register of Historical Places.'

This post is linked to the meme:

An earlier post on this Regional Park - Family Fun at Tilden Park

Steller Jay at Big Basin
A Steller's Jay at Big Basin, California

This Jay, here in the picture had come to sit by our table just outside the snack bar at Big Basin SP, hoping to get some morsels from the park visitors.

Big Basin is a Redwood State Park in California.
And Steller's Jays and their food habits are being studied here at this State Park.

This post is linked to the NF Meme 

More pictures from Big Basin here (an old post): The woods are lovely, dark and deep
A post about a hike in the park: - A redwood route for a hike with a tyke

Windmills in Altamont Pass

We were driving from San Jose to Mountain House, CA and were near Livermore when windmills took over the scene in an otherwise dry landscape.

The area is home to Altamont Pass Wind Farm, which is said to be one of the oldest wind farms in the country and one of the largest farms in the world. The turbines can be seen from Interstate 580 around here. Some of the pictures here in this post were taken from 580 and others from one of the less busier roads in the vicinity.

Altamont Pass Windfarm

Windmills near Livermore

Linking to the meme--

A sunset from the outskirts of Chennai city
A Chennai sunset

Chennai is a city on the East Coast of India. The capital of the state of Tamilnadu, this city is usually a place to watch the sun rise from the Bay of Bengal, which lies to its left side. But here is a sunset from the outskirts of the Metropolitan city.

Linking to the NF meme

Maple tree in Fall
A Maple tree in Fall. Vancouver, WA
Linking to the NF meme--

See more Fall colours here: Falling in love with the Pacific Northwest

Lalitha Mahal Palace, Mysore (side view)

I was wowed by it the first time I saw it. That was over a decade ago. I was in college and in the middle of learning a few things about mass communication when a teacher of ours found us a great opportunity -- to watch the filming of a television show so that we could have an understanding of 'the making' of a show. The show happened to be BBC's Mastermind India and the place where it was going to be shot that time was a magnificent palace called Lalitha Mahal in Mysore.

Before we left for the programme, we were given not only a briefing about the 'show' but also the venue. We were -- at least I was -- sure that this was a privilege: watching Siddhartha Basu at work, getting to see the making of Mastermind India and seeing the beautiful palace I had only seen from afar.

In the two days of the production of the four episodes of the South India preliminaries of the quiz show, I got a sneak peek at the Palace Hotel: it's famous marble staircase, the blue ballroom and its grand rotundas.

In the years that followed, I'd passed by the gorgeous Lalitha Mahal Palace several times, but little did I think that one day I'd get to see it all: the ancient lift, the antique furniture, period knobs and bolts its crystal chandeliers and all.

Blue Ballroom, Lalitha Mahal Palace
The Blue Ballroom at breakfast time

The Grand  Staircase.

From the Grand (marble) staircase that overlooks the main entrance.

The ancient lift (elevator) imported from England in 1921. 
A dressing table in one of the guest rooms.
A bit about Lalitha Mahal's past and present:

The Lalith Mahal Palace was once the guest house of the Maharaja of Mysore. It might have been a place where he put up his very important guests; it was palatial, nevertheless and a pretty regal place at that. This guest house was built by Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar Bahadur IV in 1921. It continued to be just that until 1974 when it turned into a 'heritage hotel.' That year a new wing was added and rooms modelled into 'guest rooms,' as the hospitality industry refers to it. Good for the palace, ITDC continues to keep up its heritage status.

The Palace is owned by the Government of Karnataka and is still one of the structures that Mysoreans take a lot of pride in. With a touch of Renaissance architecture, its famous double columns, its iconic domes and striking green corridor walls, how could one not be proud of it?

At the end of our stay at Lalitha Mahal Palace, last month, we got a private tour of the Viceroy Suite, which is the most expensive guest quarter of this heritage hotel. The gentleman who took us up there told us that everything in the suite except for the television, is original, meaning they belonged to the 1920s.

Now, let me take you on a quick tour through this luxurious suite:

Viceroy Suite, Lalitha Mahal Palace

Viceroy Suite. The upholstery is all silk. (And the silk is over a century old)

Also inside the Viceroy Suite

The Bath inside the Viceroy Suite

-- The bright blue silk upholstery in the Viceroy Suite is said to be over a 100 years old. 

-- The carpet in the sitting area is a single piece one and has been there forever.  

-- The heavy furniture in there also belongs to that period when this place was set up. 

-- There are several pieces of artifacts, like wooden elephants with inlay work adorning the period furniture in the suite. 

-- The air conditioning unit (see pic on the left), which is built into a  wooden casing is over 50 years old. It's huge!

-- The bathtub in the the Viceroy Suite is from England and the marble in the bathroom (and on the Grand Staircase) was imported from Italy. 

Also --

The lift which was imported from England in 1921 was a hand operated lift for a long time. If I'm not mistaken it was made into an electric one in the 90's


Bonus views
The gorgeous Lalitha Mahal is quite a sight by itself. But there are other good views you can catch here.

  • City of Mysore -- because this palace sits on a ridge, you get a fairly good view of the city from the top floor of the Heritage Wing. 
  • Mysore Palace -- if it is a Sunday or Dasara time, you get a great view of the fully- lit Mysore Palace.
  • Chamundi Hill -- As the Lalitha Mahal palace is built at the foot of this famous hill, you will be able to see Chamundi standing tall at the left side of this heritage hotel. If you chose to stay there, you might want to wake up early and watch the mist lift off Chamundi Hill. 


People who are not hotel guests can have a tour of the palace, only not all of it. Visitors will have to pay a fee at the gate and may not be allowed to use the grand marble staircase that leads to the guest rooms in the heritage wing of Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel.
Sterling Winery, Calistoga.
@ Sterling Winery, Calistoga.

Sterling Winery, Calistoga.

Why you might want to visit Sterling Winery, the next time you are in Napa Valley - (Read)
Wine tasting; Sterling style

Linking to the meme--
Catching the Light

Catching the light:
Water World, Universal Studios, Hollywood
At Water World, Universal Studios, Hollywood, California

Water World, Universal Studios, Hollywood
Water World, Universal Studios.
Linking to the NFmeme-- 

Read the trip-story -- Hollywood's Backstage

Rose Garden, San Jose, CA
Place: Municipal Rose Garden, San Jose, CA
Linking ti the NF meme:

Every Zoo has them Giraffes, Tigers and Lions. However there is usually something to set each one apart from the rest. Some zoos stand out because they have animals from a particular geographical area, some, because they they have only a few barely-heard-of animals. (Read: Oakland's own Little Africa | Exotic animals of Happy Hollow)
And some zoos have a few animals whose images stay with us long after we have visited. 

One Spring day we found ourselves strolling (with a newborn in a stroller and a happy four year old skipping beside it) around Oregon Zoo in Portland.  The zoo was seeing a lot of maintenance work and it didn't seem to be in its full glory but there were some animals that stood out:

Rocky Mountain Goat

Western Painted Turtles

Wood Duck

Bats aplenty!. Go here and you will never complain of not having seen bats.

Nile Monitor

A playful Polar Bear and his best friend -- a red ball. 

Black and White Colobus Monkey

Bald Eagle
Linking to the meme -- 

You might want to check out:Oakland's own Little Africa
Exotic animals of Happy Hollow


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