Thursday, January 28, 2010

Yogini Shrine

On the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, 15 km south-east of the city, is a small, circular temple, the Yogini Temple, dating to the early ninth century. It is hypaethral (open to the sky), and belongs to a genre of architecture completely apart from the major Orissan school. Although it seems that temples of this type existed throughout India at one time, today only four remain. Two of them are in Orissa; the shrine at Hirapur, and one in the far western reaches of the state, at Ranipur-Jharial.

The temple's circular wall, which is barely 2 meter high, contains 64 niches within its inner circumference. All except one of these contain an image of a Yogini Goddess. Some of the Goddesses are portrayed with sensual bodies and jewelled bodices, others with horrific shrunken features, still others with animal heads. Even today, standing in the deserted temple with bright sunshine pouring in, one senses a strange emanation from the temple, and this feeling is in keeping with its original purpose. Active between the ninth and thirteenth centuries, the cults responsible for these temples worshipped Yogini Goddesses in expectation of the direct acquisition of supernatural powers. TheYoginis were thought to be able to confer on their devotees the power to become microscopic or gigantic in size, to control the body and mind of oneself and of others, to fly, become invisible, and myriad other useful abilities. Worship seems to have centered on the repetition of the names of the Goddesses, and in later centuries, when active use of the shrines ceased, worshippers transferred their devotions to mystical paper diagrams.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tips on Driving Abroad

  • Obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP).
  • Carry both your IDP and your U.S. state driver's license with you at all times, as many countries have different driving rules. If possible, obtain a copy of the foreign country’s driving laws before you begin driving in that country. Information may be available from the foreign country’s embassy in the United States, foreign government tourism offices, or from a car rental company in the foreign country.
  • Check to see if the country of destination has a minimum and maximum driving age.
  • Be aware that certain countries require special road permits, instead of tolls, to use their divided highways, and they will fine those found driving without a permit.
  • Always "buckle up." Some countries have penalties for people who violate this law.
  • Many countries require you to honk your horn before going around a sharp corner or to flash your lights before passing.
  • If you rent a car, make sure you have liability insurance. If you do not, this could lead to financial hardship.
  • If the drivers in the country you are visiting drive on the left side of the road, it may be prudent to practice driving in a less populated area before attempting to drive in heavy traffic.
  • Always know the route you will be traveling. Have a good road map, and chart your course before beginning.
  • Do not pick up hitchhikers or strangers.
  • When entering or exiting your vehicle, be aware of your surroundings.

Friday, January 22, 2010

About Ooty

Udhagamandalam, which is the Head Quarters of the district, is the largest and most important hill station in south India. This principle station on the Nilgiris is at an elevation of 2286 meters and situated at the center of the district. It is an extensive valley enclosed on all sides but the west by a lofty range of hills. The name of the ooty or Ootacamand was first mentioned in about 1821 in the Madras Gazette which was then spelt as "Wotokymund" by an anonymous correspondent who was one among the Europeans to set an eye on Ootacamand. It is also fondly called the Queen of Hill Stations.


This garden was laid out in 1847 by the Marquis of Tweedale, then the Governor of Madras and is spread over 22 hectares ascending the slopes on the hill at an elevation of 2,400 - 2,500 mts. above MSL. Lush green well maintained lawns, rare trees species (like the cork tree which is probably the only such tree in India, the paper bark tree and the monkey puzzle tree-monkey cannot climb this tree.), a 20 million year old fossilized tree, an Italian - style garden bordering, a clear pool, a vast variety of flowering bushes and plants , fern house with a vast range ferns and orchids are some of the highlights of this garden.A flower show along with an exhibition of rare plant species is held very year in the month of May at this garden.

The garden is divided into six different sections:

1. Lower Garden
2. New Garden
3. Italian Garden
4. Conservatory
5. Fountain Terrace
6. Nurseries

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kamakhya Temple

Kamakhya Temple
The Kamakhya Temple, which is situated high aloft a hill called Neelachal Parbat or Kamagiri in the city of Guwahati is one of its several religious landmarks, which speaks volumes about the rich historical treasure over which the state of Assam is seated. This sacred temple in the heart of the capital city of Assam holds more than it meets the eye of the onlooker. The Kamakhya Temple had been built in reverence to Goddess Kamakhya or Sati, who was one of the numerous incarnations of Goddess Durga or Goddess Shakti.

The temple is situated a few kilometers away from the Guwahati Railway Station, and is open for visitors throughout the year. There is a legend attached to the history of the temple, which goes way back to the mythological age. According to the legend, Sati the wife of Lord Shiva (one of the holy Trinities in Hindu mythology) took her life at a 'Yagna' ceremony that had been organized by her father Daksha, because she could not bear the insults hurled at her husband by her father. On hearing the news of his wife's death, Shiva, the destroyer of all that was evil flew into a rage and punished Daksha by replacing his head with that of a goat. Torn between misery and blind fury, Shiva picked up the corpse of his beloved wife Sati and performed a dance of destruction called the 'Tandava'. The intensity of the destroyer's fury was so overwhelming that it took several Gods to pacify his anger. In the midst of this struggle, Sati's corpse accidentally got cut into 51 parts by the disc in the hands of Lord Vishnu (also one of the Trinities in Hindu mythology), and her female genitalia or 'Yoni' fell on the spot where the Kamakhya temple stands today, forming one of the many Shakti 'Peethas' embellishing the rest of her body parts.

King Nara Narayana of Cooch Behar rebuilt the temple in 1665 after it had suffered destruction at the hands of foreign invaders. The temple consists of seven oval spires, each topped by three golden pitchers, and the entrance spirals down to a curvy path of some distance, which specially links the main road to the temple. Some of the sculptured panels of the temple carry depictions of Gods and Goddesses of Hindu pantheon carved in a delightful pattern. Tortoises, monkeys, and large number of pigeons have made the temple their home, and loiter around the premise, being fed by the temple authorities and the visitors. The cryptic, as well as the peaceful ambience of the temple combine together to soothe the nerves of visitors, and take their minds to flights of inner salvation, and this is the very reason that people come here for.

With all its enigmatic splendour and picturesque locale, the Kamakhya Temple is one of the most astounding structures, not only in Assam, but also in the whole of India.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ellora Caves

Ellora Caves
The cave temples and monasteries at Ellora, excavated out of the vertical face of an escarpment, are 26 km north of Aurangabad. Extending in a linear arrangement, the 34 caves contain Buddhist Chaityas or halls of worship, and Viharas, or monasteries, Hindu and Jai temples.

Spanning a period of about 600 years between the 5 th and 11 th century AD, the earliest excavation here is of the Dhumar Lena (Cave 29).The most imposing excavation is, without doubt, that of the magnificent Kailasa Temple (Cave 16) which is the largest monolithic structure in the world. Interestingly, Ellora, unlike the site of Ajanta, was never 'rediscovered'. Known as Verul in ancient times, it has continuously attracted pilgrims through the centuries to the present day.

Ellora has been designed as a World Heritage Site, to be preserved as an artistic legacy that will continue to inspire and enrich the lives of generations to come.

Listing of Caves:
Buddhist Caves: 5 th century to 7 th century AD - Caves 1 to 12 at the southern end
Hindu Caves: 8 th century to 10 th century AD - Caves 13 to 29 in the middle
Jain Caves: 9 th century to 11 th century AD - Caves 30 to 34 at the northern end

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Penang National Park

Penang National Park It is the smallest national park in the country with a size of 2,562 hectares. It was gazetted in 2003 and is home to 46 species of birds such as the stork-billed kingfishers, white-breasted waterhens and great egrets.

A 2000 expedition led by the Malaysian Nature Society recorded 417 flora and 143 fauna species. Before the area was designated as a national park, the locals knew it as Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve. Some of the activities carried out are fishing, swimming and hiking

The pure, sandy stretch of Pantai Kerachut is also a favourite nesting place of Green turtles from April to August, and the Olive Ridley from September to February. The turtle hatchery set up in Pantai Kerachut in 1995 is now managed by the State Fisheries Department along with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) and the Forestry Department. They also manage the upkeep of the park, which is in pristine conditions.

Some of the best hardwood trees can be found here, especially from the shorea species, such as Meranti and Merawan Baru. In fact, the area is the only known place in Penang where the red, paper-like barked Gelam trees grow.

The bio-diversity of the park is also impressive, with 1,000 species of plants including five different species of the Bintangor tree.

Besides this, the park is the only one in Malaysia that contains six different types of habitat — a meromictic lake (a lake that occurs seasonally, where there is a distinct layering of waters), wetlands, mangroves, mudflats, coral reefs and turtle nesting beaches. There are also various plant pitchers, wild orchids and funghi, and medicinal plants.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Rollover Air Bags

In addition to protecting drivers’ or passengers’ heads during a side-impact crash, some side-impact head air bags, or "curtains," can also protect occupants from injury and ejection during a rollover crash. This is important because ejection causes most injuries and fatalities in rollover crashes - most people who are killed are not wearing safety belts to hold them in place.

Not all side-impact head air bags are designed to deploy as rollover air bags. Check with your dealer and vehicle manufacturer for the availability of side-impact head air bags that can also operate as rollover air bags.

How Rollover Airbags Work:

If a rollover is detected, the side-impact head air bags are typically triggered in combination with safety belt retractors to remove slack from the safety belt and keep the occupant firmly in the seat. Most side-impact head air bags deploy downward from the overhead roof rail, very close to the side windows. In many cases the rollover sensing system can determine an imminent rollover when the roll angle is very small and all four wheels are still on the ground.

When deployed as rollover air bags, side-impact head air bags will stay inflated longer to help protect the heads of the occupants during the rollover. They also keep the occupants of the outboard seats from being thrown from the vehicle. The combination of these air bags and properly worn safety belts can significantly reduce the chance of ejection.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Electric vehicles

Electric vehicles
Electric vehicles are propelled by an electric motor (or motors) powered by rechargeable battery packs. Electric motors have several advantages over internal combustion engines (ICEs):
  • Energy efficient: Electric motors convert 75% of the chemical energy from the batteries to power the wheels—internal combustion engines (ICEs) only convert 20% of the energy stored in gasoline.
  • Environmentally friendly: EVs emit no tailpipe pollutants, although the power plant producing the electricity may emit them. Electricity from nuclear-, hydro-, solar-, or wind-powered plants causes no air pollutants.
  • Performance benefits: Electric motors provide quiet, smooth operation and stronger acceleration and require less maintenance than ICEs.
  • Reduce energy dependence: Electricity is a domestic energy source.

EVs face significant battery-related challenges:
Battery Charing
  • Driving range. Most EVs can only go about 100–200 miles before recharging—gasoline vehicles can go over 300 miles before refueling.
  • Recharge time. Fully recharging the battery pack can take 4 to 8 hours. Even a "quick charge" to 80% capacity can take 30 min.
  • Battery cost: The large battery packs are expensive and may need to be replaced one or more times.
  • Bulk & weight: Battery packs are heavy and take up considerable vehicle space.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

How can injuries to children in motor vehicles be prevented?

Child safety seats
  • Child safety seats reduce the risk of death in passenger cars by 71% for infants, and by 54% for toddlers ages 1 to 4 years.
  • There is strong evidence that child safety seat laws, safety seat distribution and education programs, community-wide education and enforcement campaigns, and incentive-plus-education programs are effective in increasing child safety seat use.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends booster seats for children until they are at least 8 years of age or 4'9" tall.
  • According to researchers at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, for children 4 to 7 years, booster seats reduce injury risk by 59% compared to seat belts alone.
  • All children ages 12 years and younger should ride in the back seat. Adults should avoid placing children in front of airbags. Putting children in the back seat eliminates the injury risk of deployed front passenger-side airbags and places children in the safest part of the vehicle in the event of a crash.
  • Overall, for children less than 16 years, riding in the back seat is associated with a 40% reduction in the risk of serious injury. To learn more about effective interventions to increase child safety seat use, visit CDC's Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety page.