Saturday, March 23, 2024

Magnificent, Eye-pleasing Hoover Dam!

Magnificent, Eye-pleasing Hoover Dam!


We just visited Hoover Dam in New Vegas, South West USA and were truly astounded. It is a huge, magnificent and eye – pleasing structure.

In the Black Canyon, between the border of U.S. States of Nevada and Arizona lies the Colorado river; on which is built the concrete arch-gravity Hoover Dam! It is the highest arch-gravity, concrete dam in the United States, constructed during 1930-36.

Hoover Dam is named after Herbert Hoover, the U.S. president during 1929-33, in whose administration, the dam construction began. This work provided employment to thousands of workers, in the era of economic depression. It was initially named as Boulder Dam; later in 1947, it was formally named as Hoover dam.



What impressed me most was that this dam is very much visitor – friendly. It is clean, with pleasant environment, potable water, wash rooms, sitting arrangement and a restaurant. It also houses a memento shop, from where one can buy mementoes to carry back memories. In the outer lounge, the history of the dam and its construction is depicted, with the help of pictures, videos and sculptors. There is a very interesting working model, which helps one to easily understand the importance of water, how the dam works, how water can be saved and which human activities are responsible for wastage of water. Besides, one can visit all chambers and observe the working of turbines, gates, generation of hydro-electric power; There are galleries to see the birds' eye view of the whole infrastructure! It is a wonderful experience, all in all.



We also visited Lake Mead, which is the dam’s reservoir. It's reservoir back water lake, Lake Mead, extending 185 km upstream is one of the world’s largest artificial lakes. It lies 40 km east of Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. It is 1.6 to 16 km wide, with a capacity of 38,296,200,000 cubic meters, has 885 km of shoreline and a surface area of 593 square km. It's name was taken after Elwood Mead, the then commissioner of reclamation (1924–36).

Lake Mead is a source of drinking water for around 25 million people. Since 1999, drought and increasing population has resulted in a drop in lake levels. In 2022, the water levels reached a historic low, and the reservoir’s low-level pumps, were turned on for the first time. It has always come to help. in times of need! 


This dam is used for flood and silt control, generation of hydroelectric power, agricultural irrigation, and domestic water supply. It is also a major sightseeing destination, with some seven million visitors a year, almost one million going on tours through the dam.

The magnificent Hoover Dam, which was constructed 85 years ago, still stands strong, serving the purpose for which it was built! 

                              There are a few features which are very significant about this dam. During its construction, an entire city was created specially for the convenience of the people working on the dam. This dam boasts being America's largest water reservoir. It is one of the the Earth's tallest dam. It is the America’s second - highest bridge which reroutes all traffic, which is quite heavy, from the top of the dam.

Visitor - friendly, clean, majestic, it is a must visit site, for those who travel through this part of USA. 


Green Blogger

Prof. Dr. Jaya Kurhekar



Monday, February 26, 2024

Serene tranquilant Meydenbauer Bay Park

Serene tranquilant Meydenbauer Bay Park

My visit to Seattle USA is incomplete without a visit to Meydenbauer Bay Park.  

It is a park alongside Lake Washington, located in Bellevue, Washington. It has been named after William Meydenbauer, a baker from Seattle, who was buried at lakeside in 1906. This park is serene and beautiful, featuring long pier, sands, paved and unpaved trails, walking paths, games and play areas for children, picnic tables, a playground, restroom facility, a beach and more importantly, a peaceful environment. Various other amenities include a beach house with restrooms and showers, a Natural ravine, parking lot and marina entrance.  

This place has undergone a lot of transitions. Once upon a time, approximately from the 1890s up to 1921, it was the landing site for ferries that ran between Seattle and Bellevue, for passengers. 

It was a popular destination for Seattle residents once, a home to Wildwood Park and a dance hall.

In 1953, it became Bellevue's first Bay Park.

In 2009, this park welcomed the Seattle Civic Christmas Ship.

We have been visiting this place since 2012 and every time we go there, we find something new and interesting!




In 2016, there was another small beach park very close by, which is now merged with Meydenbauer Bay Park, expanding the space. 


Previously known as Meydenbauer Beach Park, in March 2019, various additions were made wherein the beach was expanded and a curving 420-foot-long pedestrian pier was added. It is adorned with trees, chirping birds, flower bushes, a peaceful environment, at any time of the day! You can even see fish and water birds at the bank. Rental kayaks and canoes are available for water sports lovers; rather this is a site for non-motorized water-craft launches! Lifeguard is an additional support system available.


A wonderful place to think, write, sketch, photograph, eat, walk, play, contemplate and many more! 


Colourful play articles are alluring! You can’t help but enjoy them for some time, irrespective of age. 

Every time we visited, we have observed people from various parts of the globe, spending quiet time here! Its one jewel in the crown of Bellevue!

Sunset is a great time to visit!

 Green Blogger
Prof. Dr. Jaya Kurhekar


Thursday, December 28, 2023

Railway Museum Snoqualmie

Snoqualmie Railway Museum, King County, Washington  

The Northwest Snoqualmie Railway Museum, in King County, Washington is a state heritage, a historic depot with an exhibit hall, library, a collection care Centre. It has approximately more than 130,000 visitors per year.


It is one of the largest and oldest railway museum in Washington State which is actively in operation. It is based a huge area and boasts of a significant collection of railway artifacts and equipment including more than 70 exhibits of locomotives, passenger and freight cars, and specialized railway equipment. It has holidays and other times Antique train excursions operating according to the season, on weekends.


Its mission is to develop and operate an outstanding railway museum where people will be able to experience the excitement of an actual working railway, observe, see and understand the role of railways in the development of Washington State and surrounding areas.

It is built on the traditional lands of the Snoqualmie Tribe; the Museum’s railway running through their land, which is, since time immemorial, sacred to the tribes' beliefs, values, and heritage .


It was built in 1890, at 38625 S.E. King St. Snoqualmie, Washington by Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway (SLS&E) on a less than one acre land. The heritage railway incorporates five miles of the line constructed in 1889 by SLS&E; SLS&E was later absorbed by the Northern Pacific. It has a Victorian Architectural style.


A few of the pictures of the exhibits have been displayed here by me. Each exhibit is unique and different in its own way. We can see how railways have developed over the years and these exhibits have been in use, in those eras. It is well maintained and we can also buy small memoirs from the shop in the premises.  We also enjoyed yummy, steaming Mocca and Latte coffee across the road. It’s a must visit, if you happen to go to Seattle !


Prof. Dr. Jaya Kurhekar

 Green Blogger


Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Snoqualmie Falls USA

स्नोक्वॉलमी फॉल्स

पावसाळ्याच्या दिवसात सह्याद्री पर्वत रांगामध्ये वळणावळणाच्या बोर घाटातून जात असताना सगळ्यात जास्त नेत्रसुख देणारी कोणती गोष्ट असेल तर ती म्हणजे डोंगर कपारीतून धरणी मातेच्या कुशीत शिरण्यासाठी अक्षरशः झेपावणारे, कोसळणारे, पांढरे शुभ्र, फेसाळणारे धबधबे! निसर्गाचा हा आविष्कार डोळ्यांना लुभावणारा, जीवाला थंडावणारा निश्चितच असतो. अमेरिकेच्या वौशिन्गटन राज्यात प्रत्येक निसर्ग प्रेमी व्यक्तीने भेट द्यावी असाच एक नयनरम्य स्नोक्वॉलमी धबधबा आपल्याला खुणावतो. नायगारा धबधब्याच्या दुप्पट ऊंची असलेला हा धबधबा ग्रैनाइटच्या कड्यावरून खाली झेप घेतो.

वायव्य युनायटेड स्टेट्स मध्ये 268 फुटांवर अर्थात 82 मीटर वर हा धबधबा आहे आणि त्याची सरासरी रुंदी 100 फूट अर्थात 30 मीटर आहे. वॉशिंग्टन राज्यात, स्नोक्वॉलमी आणि फॉल सिटी मधून वाहणाऱ्या, स्नोक्वॉलमी नदीवर, सिएटलच्या पूर्वेस हा धबधबा स्थित आहे. वॉशिंग्टनच्या सर्वात लोकप्रिय निसर्गरम्य आकर्षणांपैकी हे एक आकर्षण आहे, जे आंतरराष्ट्रीय स्तरावर नावाजले जाते. नदीचा बराचसा भाग पॉवर प्लांटकडे वळवला जातो, 

स्नोक्वॉलमी नदी तशी शांत परंतु काही वेळा नदीचा प्रवाह संपूर्ण खोऱ्यातून वाहून जाण्याइतपत उंच असतो, ज्यामुळे जवळजवळ एक आंधळा स्प्रे तयार होतो. पाणी जास्त असताना, धबधबे पडद्याचे रूप धारण करतात. अभूतपूर्व असे हे द्रुश्य मनाला भुरळ घालते. मुसळधार पाऊस किंवा हिमवर्षाव असेल आणि त्यानंतर जर उबदार पावसाळी हवामान असेल तर जास्त पाणी येते. नोव्हेंबर ते मार्च या कालावधीत, पावसाळ्यात हे द्रुश्य पहावयास मिळते.  या ओळींची आठवण झाल्याशिवाय राहत नाही;

All the waters run to the sea,

And yet the sea is not full,

And from the place where they began,

Thither they return again!

आजूबाजूचा निसर्ग अत्यंत मनमोहक आहे. अनादी कालापासून इथे जमिनीत भूकंपीय प्रक्रिया सुरु असतात, अजूनही आहेत. मॅग्मा नावाचा खडक त्यातून निर्माण झालाय आणि तोच या कॅस्केड डोंगर रांगांमधे प्रामुख्यानं सापडतो. वीस मिलियन वर्षांपूर्वीच्या ज्वालामुखीच्या प्रक्रियांमुळे या नदीला उचललं गेलं आहे. पाणी अत्यंत वेगानं दरीत झेप  घेतो आणि त्याचा वीज निर्माण करण्यासाठी वापर करण्यात येतो. हे तंत्रज्ञान सतत विकसित होत आहे. अखंड वॉशिंग्टन मध्ये ही वीज वितरित होते.

स्नोक्वाल्मी फॉल्स हे, वॉशिंग्टन राज्याच्या पश्चिमेला असलेल्या स्नोक्वाल्मी व्हॅलीमध्ये अनादी काळापासून राहणाऱ्या स्नोक्वाल्मी लोकांसाठी, एक संस्कृती, श्रद्धा आणि अध्यात्माचे केंद्रस्थान आहे. हा एक पारंपारिक सांस्कृतिक वारसा आहे असं म्हटलं तर वावगं ठरणार नाही. इथे त्यांचे पारंपारिक दफन स्थळ आहे. अशी श्रद्धा होती की धबधब्याच्या पायथ्यापासून उगवलेले धुके, स्वर्ग आणि पृथ्वीला जोडतात. त्या शक्तिशाली प्रवाहातून उगवणार्‍या धुक्यांद्वारे परमेश्वराची प्रार्थना केली जात होती. पहिल्या स्त्री आणि पुरुषाची निर्मिती इथे झाली होती, असे म्हणतात. 

1992 मध्ये, राष्ट्रीय स्तरावर, ऐतिहासिक स्थळांच्या यादीत, पारंपारिक सांस्कृतिक मालमत्ता म्हणून, ह्या धबधब्याचे प्रथम नामांकन करण्यात आले. परंतु प्युगेट साउंड एनर्जी मालमत्तेच्या मालकांनी या सूचीवर आक्षेप घेतला. कालांतराने मालकांनी त्यांचा आक्षेप मागे घेतला आणि 2 सप्टेंबर 2009 रोजी, ह्या फॉल्सची औपचारिकपणे नॅशनल रजिस्टरमध्ये नोंद झाली. मुकलशूटने स्नोक्वाल्मी फॉल्सच्या वर एक हॉटेल, कॉन्फरन्स सेंटर आणि 175 घरे बांधण्याची योजना आखली. स्नोक्वाल्मी इंडियन ट्राइबच्या सदस्यांनी सगळ्या गोष्टींना विरोध केला आणि "Snoqualmie Falls वाचवा" मोहीम सुरू केली. 

सध्या पर्यावरण संरक्षणासाठी अनेक योजना इथे राबविल्या जातात आणि इथल्या स्वच्छ प्रदूषण विरहित वातावरणाचा पावलोपावली अनुभव येतो. वर्ष भर इथे खूप थंडी असते आणि प्रसन्न झिरमिर पाऊस! आल्हाददायक वातावरण आणि आजुबाजुला घनदाट झाडं!

दरवर्षी दीड दशलक्षाहून अधिक प्रवासी फॉल्स बघायला येतात. इथे दोन एकर जमिनीवर एक सुंदर पार्क, एक निरीक्षण डेक आणि भेटवस्तूंचे एक दुकान आहे. अत्यंत प्रेक्षणीय अशा या स्थळाला एकदा तरी भेट द्यावीच! 

1914 साली थॉमस हार्डी यांच्या सुरेख शब्दात, अखंड वाहणारा हा जलस्रोत;

The purl of a runlet that never ceases, 

In stir of kingdoms, in wars, in pieces;

In a hollow boiling voice it speaks, 

And has spoken since hills were turfless peaks! 

Green Blogger

Dr. Jaya Kurhekar 

Sunday, May 14, 2023


Going to Himalayas is always an intriguing, rather a mesmerizing experience! Many movies in the 1970s and 80s picturized these beautiful mountains in such an dreamy way that a visit at least once in a lifetime is a must! When we decided on Sikkim as our next destination in 2019, just before Corona wave (BC – Before Corona), we were quite excited! I had heard about the mountains, rivers, borders and the mist! Little did we know before leaving that all our dreams would be fulfilled! We landed at Bagdogra from Pune and were taken in vehicles which were suitable for the mountains! In a short time, we would get acclimatized to the twists, turns, U pin roads and the tummy lumps associated with  that. The roads were beautiful and  clean, as if washed, with meaningful, nature conservation related plaques greeting us, throughout the journey. The mountain air was fresh, pollution free, with a natural scent. Our travel was through Gangtok to Lachung, Pelling and Darjeeling.

The scenic beauty spread all around us was just alluring. The breathtaking views, mountains, falls took away all our fatigue. The wooden hutments, small houses with sloping roofs built on the mountain slopes reminded me of all old movie scenes, as if some one was calling out from the mist, "Aa ja re"!

The Rumtek  Monastery,  Ranka Monastery, situated serenely in the mountains reminded us of the yesteryears bringing to our minds the images of Buddhist monks trekking up the road, in search of bliss and peace. 

Another solace to our eyes, mind and body were the waterfalls at various places, Banjhakri Waterfall, Bhim Nala Water falls, which are now popular tourist places. 

Sikkim boasts of gardens full of flowers and of course tea plantations. 

We also visited the famous Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, which exhibits the gear required for Himalayan trekking, the famous trekkers, Mount Everest climbers and the related information. It was a first hand exposure to something at its origin! Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park was another treat to the eyes where a large number of lions, tigers and bear could be seen, along with friendly monkeys, chimpanzees and the like.  

We visited the beautiful spiritual Dardul Chorten Stupa, with 108 prayer wheels.

Our stay was at Pelling, close to Tashi view point, a perfect place to witness the brilliant surroundings like mountains and valleys, best sunrise and sunset views. We witnessed the changing of colors of the Kanchenjunga and Siniolchu Peaks in early mornings, clouded in mist; one of the highlights of our visit. Tranquil environment, sound of birds and breeze enveloped us! 

Another highlight of our trip was the visit to Pelling Skywalk and Chenrezig Statue complex at Sangachoeling; India's first glass-bottom Skywalk. It connects us to the giant Chenrezig statue located on a hilltop; one of the famous tourist attractions in India. The walk on the glass bridge was an amazing experience giving us a feel of walking on the air. On the way to Chenrezig statue a lot of prayer wheels of different sizes were hung where prayer music was continuously played, giving it a spiritual and tranquil environment. 

Siddheswara Dham is a recent Pilgrimage-cum-Cultural Centre, situated atop Solophok Hill in South-Sikkim, with a 26½ m high statue of Lord Shiva in sitting posture, the main temple. In addition, replicas of twelve Jyotirlingas, Badrinath, Jagannath, Dwarka and Rameshwaram; the four Dhamas, in the seven acres complex amidst the serene environment of Sikkim, were peace giving! The misty, cold weather added to the serenity of the pious place! It was as if we were close to heaven.

From Lachung, we set out for the Zero Point, Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary and the majestic Yumthang Valley. Zero Point is the last outpost of civilization, offering an adventure; walking in the snow and getting a glimpse of how our brave soldiers must be facing the ever-changing weather!

The whole route is lined with highly soaring snow-capped peaks, Himalayan bird cherry, Sikkim fir, Himalayan poplar trees, peacock orchids and maple, pine and chimal trees colored in green, red and yellows. Red moss carpets lied around, as we climbed up to the scintillating Zero Point.

Army run Daring La Café near the Shiv Mandir Check Post offers food, hot and delicious. Hot soup was something I would remember the whole of my life. A few kilometers away was the breath taking Yumthang Valley View Point, exhibiting unparalleled beauty of North Sikkim, in glorious abundance, for the visitors to savor in!

Snow-capped mountains, topped by floating clouds, a large number of yaks grazing in pristine grasslands were a normal sight. 

Reaching the Zero Point was an exciting moment for all of us!

The next visit was to Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple, in the memory of a soldier of the Indian Army, known for selflessness and bravery; popularly known as the 'Hero of Nathula. At 26, he sacrificed his life for motherland and in September 1967, was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra for his bravery and martyrdom. Baba Harbhajan Singh Memorial Temple is located between Nathula Pass and Jelepla Pass and is one of the major tourist attractions. 

A glacial lake in the East Sikkim, Tsomgo Lake or  Tsongmo Lake or Changgu Lake,  is around 40 kilometres from Gangtok, at 3,753 m height. The lake remains frozen during winter and its surface reflects different colors with changing seasons. I could almost hear the tranquil "Kanchi re kanchi re" emanating from the clouds coming up the valley!

An extremely adventurous sport was the next one on our agenda, Tista River Rafting. It was something, which had to be experienced to believe. Geared up in the necessary attire, the next  60 mins, we were riding on the very rough river waves, under the expert guidance of two sikkimese boys. The joy after completing it safely was unexplainable! 

Darjeeling was the next stay, where Tiger Hill, a mountain located in Darjeeling, exposed us to a panoramic view of Mount Everest and Mount Kanchenjunga. At a height of 2,590 m, it is a popular tourist destination. 

Siliguri to Darjeeling is an enchanting ride on the Mini Train, passing through the Batasia Loop or the Windy Place and the War Memorial. A special feature of this place is that it is the highest peak  in the world where Locomotive Engines operate. A spectacular view of Mt. Kanchenjunga and snow-capped Himalayan could be witnessed from here! The center of Batasia Loop marks the upright War Memorial, commemorating brave Gorkha Soldiers, who sacrificed their lives for the motherland. There is a great market selling woolen clothes and handicrafts, attracting tourists from all over the world. 

Siliguri to Darjeeling is an enchanting ride on the Baby Train, passing through the Batasia Loop or the Windy Place and the War Memorial. A special feature of this place is that it is the highest peak  in the world where Locomotive Engines operate. A spectacular view of Mt. Kanchenjunga and snow-capped Himalayan awaits us; at the centre of Batasia Loop stands a War Memorial, commemorating brave Gorkha Soldiers, who sacrificed their lives for the motherland. There is a great market selling woollen clothes and handicrafts, attracting tourists from all over the world. 


Beautiful gardens and zoos adorn Darjeeling. It was a pleasure to see the blooming flowers and orchids.

With a heavy, though singing heart, we left the dreamy, misty terrains, bidding it a goodbye, already thinking of the next trip to be planned to Sikkim!

I could not help but hum to myself "Dil dhoondata hai fir wohi, fursat ke raat din!"