Sunday, December 18, 2011

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Thiruvannamalai-The Divine Circle


Thiruvannamalai is the abode of Lord Arunachala Shiva nestled in the hills  midway between Bangalore and Chennai
It is also the place where Ramana Mahirishi has his ashram.
Read more about Thiruvannamala here

I left yesterday from our Chennai Office at 6.15 pm by bus with 40 colleagues to Thiruvannamalai. We left with the intention of doing a Girivalam or spiritual walk around the holy hill...
The road from Tindivanam -Gingee - T'malai is awful after this rain season with full of potholes' and rough patches...The bumpy road made us reach only 11.15 pm ( 5 hrs for 190 odd kms).
We spent first hour in the bus chanting Rudram and Maha mrutyunjaya mantram.
The first patch through the town( starting from the temple- Rajagopuram side)-3 to 4 kms is on Bangalore highway, which is now completely damaged by rains, and I was barefooted then and felt acute foot pain by the sharp pebbles and wading through puddles of rain water stagnant on the road and then speeding trucks and overnight buses trying to run us off the road to the drains ...! (Thank 'Shiva' it was a clear night though it had rained on previous days...)

Then I thought that it's good to complete the walk and concentrate on bhakti rather than get distracted by the pain, and so wore chappals for the rest of the walk like many others with us (the rest of the Girivalam , 9 kms separated from the Highway traffic is in good smooth condition with tiled footpath too!) 
The are are 12 lingams and being Karthiga masam, the temples were open poojas freshly done and being done. The jyothi/light atop the hill was visible clearly too...

The first temple for us was Agni lingam and the last one was Easanya Lingam.   
Luckily there were like minded people for me, starting with our VP , Mr Krishna from AP, Managers- Ramesh , Bala and others who are traditional by nature and also some Sai devotees.
So we started singing Bhajans, me - Sai bhajans on Shiva (I sang some 12 to 14 myself) , others Murugan, Ayyappa and Amman bhajans/ songs in Tamil and even 'Hare rama Hare Krishna' chants and slokas and mantrams.

 Our VP with a golden voice like SPB sang Shanakarabharanam and Annamayya songs -all devotional ones, and that is what made us forget the strain of walking. We completed the walk this spending time singing merrily all through. We had completed the 14 km stretch of Girivalam thus!
We broke once in between for sukku coffe and channa/ peanuts ( roadside kadai/ vendor) and in the end for a fresh bun and tea after the walk.
We left from Thiruivannamala temple parking at 3.45 am and reached home by 8.15 am. It was not possible to visit the temple as it was still closed.

Travel Tips:
  • You can reach The Tiruvannamalai from Bangalore and Chennai by road in the same duration
  • If you want to have darshan of Lord Arunachaleshwara , it is not possible till 5 am , when the doors open. So time your walk accordingly.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

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My Movie Reviews on IMDB


IMDB( Internet Movie database) is great database for film buffs,  mainly for Hollywood, Bollywood and other smaller 'woods' to some extent! (Dunno?... Kollywood= Tamil, Tollywood= Telugu, Sandalwood= Kannada etc)
When you want to recall an old movie, i.e.; when you are on a ‘retro trip’ or want a blast from the past; a visit to IMDB.com is a must. 

They have painstakingly recorded Film Industry's products over the decades with credits to the extent available and even allow you (after free registration) to edit the credits, put a synopsis and post reviews with ratings as well. They do not take unnecessarily long to approve your post either.

Before I try to buy up an old Hindi movie I want to see or revisit, or even to try downloading huge MBs of files from free Internet sites, I always visit IMDB first and make sure to know the details of cast, director, Music credits and read a couple of reviews before embarking on catching the actual film... It pays to play safe, you see!  And then, you can filter out the riffraff from solid gold!

My own movie reviews ( Hindi and Kannada) (some 30 till now) on this Site are posted here:
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur22493182/comments and click 'Index' for list view!

Read and comment on my work for sure but more importantly, don't forget, you too can contribute on the site for everyone's benefit.
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Mankatha and Muran: Crime pays and plays


Recently watched two Tamil movies: Mankatha and  Muran.
Two excellent specimen of modern day film making from Kollywood's ever growing talented stables.
Both tensely plotted, finely filmed and sharply edited sleek products...

Mankatha:

Hailed as Ajith's 50th role (Called Ultimate Star in Tamil film-world)', it is  a little unusual one for a main line hero to choose such a character with negative shades aplenty.
But then, when SRK or Amitabh can do it in their own ways, so can he.
The movie is interestingly held together by the talented Director Venkat Prabhu ( of Chennai 600028 and Saroja  fame). The main theme ( without spoilers!) is about the infamous controversy surrounding betting in T20 / IPL cricket tournaments and how a crooked cop and a motley group of double crossers plan a smart ploy to gyp the crime don who is managing it, of Rs 500 crore of black money for themselves..
As greed and one-upmanship go on overdrive, some unexpected twists and turns take place and movie depicts how even meticulously plotted crime games go topsy-turvy...
A cop on their heels is Arjun , playing his part to the hilt.
Two heroines and a vamp add some glamour factor  but don't have much to do..In fact the vamp( Lakshmi Rai) has a more 'meaty' role( Quite literally too! LOL) than Ajith and Arjun's consorts, Trisha and Andrea
 The end comes as a double whammy in line with the societal morals nowadays! Good dekho, paisa vasool film this! They say the songs are chart-busters, but I for one could not remember them after the movie got over..( Still hum 1970s Kishoreda numbers after seeing latest movies..Talk of longevity of music!!)

2. Muran:
They are two strangers on a road trip meeting on Chennai- Bangalore highway..Life has tumultuous upheavals in store for them when they confess about their private lives to each other.
Cheran, a soft and cultured musician caught in bad marriage with a cheating and uncaring wife but has a female friend who looks to be a  good future life-partner. But his wife  just won't give him divorce!..Another a rich spoiled brat with nuttier habits and lives life 'just for thrills' played by Prasanna, claims he has a bad tyrant of a father who if removed from the path, would do just fine for him. Cheran dismisses the very thought and walks off initially.
 But their paths would cross again after the fateful road trip and the psychotic young man Prasanna throws Cheran's life into a tailspin demanding for a Quid pro quo of mutually killing their troubles and avoid Police suspicion.

The movie is full of spine-chilling twists and turns and ends in a befitting manner. This is a good example of modern day thrillers and is a laudable debut by Director Rajan Madhav.  Cheran and Prasanna compete for acting honors and just about everything is fine here.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

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Free download Hindi movies from the net!


The Hindi film Industry-wallahs will strongly dislike this post perhaps, but I am quite sure without their passive /active participation so many hundreds of Classic and new Hindi films besides regional ones would not be floating on the Internet so freely!
 There is no shying away from the fact that now thousands of Hindi movies are available to viewers online.


Many DVD Companies have opened their YouTube accounts and they are offering their copyrighted Hindi films to watch freely online...


Some of the popular ones are :


Ultra: http://www.youtube.com/user/UltraHindi
Shemaroo http://www.youtube.com/user/shemaroomovies?feature=chclk
Eros http://www.youtube.com/user/erosentertainment?blend=1&ob=4
Rajshri http://www.youtube.com/user/rajshri?ob=5#p/u
Bollyhood http://www.youtube.com/user/BollyhoodMovies#p/f
Bollymasala http://www.youtube.com/user/bollyhoodmasala#g/p
Mukta arts http://www.youtube.com/user/MuktaArtsMovies#g/search


There are of  a no of  others which store vast volumes of Classic 60s and 70s bollywood films like stagevu.comveoh.com, join4movies.com etc.
A lot of online watch link sites are available like www.onlinewatchmovies.net, www.bharatmovies.comwww.filmlinks4u.net/ etc where links to other sites having movies like youtube, megavideo, mediafire etc are stored


Then there are forums where movies in downloadable parts are hosted like :
http://www.indiancinemafans.com/board/upload/hindi-dvd-dvdrips-6/
http://www.amaderforum.com/forumdisplay.php?f=122


So many to choose and so little time to write. Make Google your guide as usual!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

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Our Recent Temple tours


Part 1: Kukke Subramanya and Dharmasthala:

To see all the pics we took during Kukke Subramanya trip,  click here


We had been planing to visit Kukke Subramanya swamy temple from the last year , One: because it is our 'family deity'( Kula daiva, mane devaru ) and then Secondly we wished to see and enjoy the scenery in a leisurely train journey.

We started off from Bengaluru-Yeswantpur Raiway station at 07.30 am in late May by Train which has been newly introduced to benefit many eager and grateful travelers like us ,as the train passes through some of the most beautiful lush green hills from Sakaleshpur down to Subramanya (TR No 16515-Yesvantpur-Mangalore Exp).

From Hassan onward, the nature in its lush green luxury beckons you and exhilarates you; It is a certain break from the routine humdrum of City life.The only complaint you have is on the total lack of catering on this train,  a 'day train'  is expected to provide, .. Absolutely no  proper lunch is available during lunch time even at Hassan or Sakaleshpur ( between 12 to 2 pm) and you are left to make do with some Puliyogare or curd rice available in limited quantities on the platforms...Pack something at early morning from Bengaluru if you can!
But then, that apart, you have no time to complain on hunger as nature feeds you  abundantly with some spectacular shots of ghat section often whisking through 40-odd tunnels en route...Many co-passengers including my children spent most of the time at the door of the bogie happily clicking away on their Cameras...

The train reaches Subramanya Road station by 4.30 pm .You can take share jeep service( Rs 25/ per head) which we used to reach Kukke Subramanya town. Taxis are available for those who need it..The jeep too passes through some lovely curvy gentle hill roads in the 20 odd minutes it takes to reach the temple town..Really Nice!

As we had booked our room in advance at SLR Residency, a decent and comfortable hotel ( Rents from 500/- onwards), we relaxed for some time and went over to the temple.
We had a beautiful evening darshan of the Lord..There is an elephant there too which does various tricks the mahout has taught, and entertains the young devotees.

Free Dinner is served from 8 pm or so , usually there is a long queue for public, and a small exclusive Dining room for Seva karthas and Guests. Of course, the same simple tasty meal is served everywhere...
After the meal, outside on the small shanty shops,you either buy some knick-knacks , souvenirs for back home and friends.. Or just go back to room and hit the sack..Usually you need to get up early in temple towns anyway, esp if you have a packed schedule, so sleeping early is not a bad idea at all.....
Next morning , wake early, get dressed and munch on some tasty Idly-vada dipping in Mangalore sweet sambaar in the Hotel( How different from the spicy, unsweetened Chennai sambaar!), swallow Mangalore bajjis if you will and then leave for the rest of Kukke subramanya darshan..

The Adi subramanya temple in the backyard accessed through a small winding road, then visit Kukke mutt and the Samputa Narasimha swamy temple on the external fringe of the main temple, visit the Sthala Devi (Hosaligamma ) temple and we embarked on the next visit- the famed Dharmasthala some 70 Kms by road..We opted to take a separate taxi for 4 of the family considering at the rush for Bus, and time limits we had before starting back that night...
The roads to Dharmasthala are undoubtedly lovely, dotted with green winding landscapes and gentle hills , the journey being not at all serious to cause any travel-sickness..

You reach the holy town after nearly 1.5 hours travel..We got ourselves, special darshan tickets at Rs 200 each ( Children like my daughter below 12 yrs exempted) and had a very quick and satisfying darshan of Lord Manjunatha swamy. The famous  free mass feeding at the huge Lunch hall, which has created some records in the genre, is an awe-inspiring scene and the food is simple and tasty and served at jet speed!..
oh, WOW! Thumbs up for the efficiency!

We returned soon after and managed to have a leisurely Evening darshan at Subramanya and left for catching the night train back to Bengaluru. (16518 Yeswantpur Exp at 9.50 pm)
 This train is alright too, you spend the night asleep after being tired, but it reaches Bengaluru a little later, 7.30-ish, coming through Mysore route

All in all, a wonderful trip to the family deity in the hills..!


Part 2: Temples around Chennai


On an impulse , more because of a personal need, I undertook two temple visits today, two ancient, holy and splendid temples in the suburbs of Chennai...

Here is the travelogue: with titles  linked to their detailed websites!

1. Pozhichalur Agatheeswarar Temple,  where Moolavar being Lord Shiva, with Shanishwara also being worshiped here...
2. Thiruneermalai Neervannan Perumal temple near Pammal, where the Lord Vishnu as Rama avatar presides...


To see all the pics of the two Chennai temples above,  click here
 
1.Agatheeswarar temple


I had head that the first ancient holy shrine is well known in TN as 'Vada Thirunallar' or as the 'second, mini Shani shrine' of which is there near Karaikal, Puducherry!

I took a Local train trip from Guindy station to Pallavaram, the nearest rail head. From there I haggled with an Auto-rickshaw driver that I needed a Round trip from the Station to these two temples and back to the station..He came up with a figure which as a Chennaiite, I felt was in order and hopped into the auto-rickshaw.

The winding dusty roads across the other side of  GST Highway lead to Pozhichalur a non-descript residential area near Pammal. You get off near the seemingly inoccuous Temple entrance without much fanfare or teeming vendors..( Again today being a working day!)

The Lord Shivan is being worshiped a a Medium sized Black stone swayambu- (self evolved) Lingam ..Being a working day, 9.30 am, there were hardly anyone and I had the priest to all by myself. The Shaniswarar faces opposite to the main deity ( who is facing East) and Thayar Aananthavalli faces South.
 After participating in the Ashtottaram to both Shivan and Shani, I came out to visit  the small shrine of Hanuman..
I recited Hanuman chalisa there and prayed.


That's it and I hop back into the Autorickshaw for the second leg of the journey.


We move through some more winding small dusty roads in Pammal and come up bang in front of a fairly green field and small hill with  two newly painted temple gopurams atop it shining in bright sunshine..Oh, you do not expect such sights anywhere in Chennai's flat terrain!( except maybe St Thomas mount)... So I was pleasantly surprised and clicked a photo.

The temple at the bottom is Neervanna Perumal temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu who showed himself in Rama avatar and I heard the sthala puranam from the nice vaadhyar there in chaste Tamil..I did manage to get the gist of it.. ( You can read it in the linked website above anyway!)...The Lord's idol is lovely, medium sized and decked up in bright silks and sparkling jewels..Some sight that!... I witnessed ashtottaram and Mangalarathi...


There are two small temples for Thayar and Lord Rama too, but being a working day 10.30 am, both were locked, but had grills , so I did manage to have some darshan there too..


On coming out you see long flights of red and white painted stone steps leading up the hill...to Lord Narasimha and Ranganatha temples which I had seen from a distance en route. But I lost my confidence learning thare were 200padi( steps) and today being a rather hot sweaty day nearing noon,  I did not venture to go up but prayed to the deities from below and left back to Pallavaram Station , to return home..


 I had consumed some 3.5 hours totally ( 8 am to 11.30am) , all the way back..So that's how long it takes from the heart of Chennai to these two temples..Worth visiting for devotees of Lord Shiva, Shani and Vishnu in and around Chennai..


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

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My Resolutions and I



Oh..Everyone makes resolutions for  a New year..I make mine too, just for myself..Now between you and me..Pssst!

Here is what is likely to be their fate!

.
Resolutions
Second thoughts..
To walk daily mornings
Outside?..No compelling reason! (We have to go out to go to office anyway!)
..Inside the house?..To bathrooms and Kitchen…Oh, Yes!
To reduce the weight/waist line
I will wear ‘lighter costumes’ …lighter in weight,
 I mean!... never check my weight on a machine again..till next year…
Besides if I reduce my size, what happens to my present clothes..Buy again?...No way!
Not to eat too many sweets and fried items..
How will sweetmeat stall owners and bhajji-bondawllahs live?..C’mon. I can’t be so mean or selfish!...Live and Let live, yaar!
To get my teeth checked by Dentist regularly
Only if it hurts and when it hurts..Otherwise his bill usually hurts more!
Not to do Net surfing late at night
Then when…Day time, taking leave from Office?
Not to blog about Politics or scams..
It is politically correct to blog about scams, I believe..
Not to download movies from the Net
Why do we have an Internet connection then?..
’Internally net ‘ the movies, is my mantra!
And finally...Never to make any New year resolutions again..
Yay! …Double thumbs –up!


Care to join me in some more?
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