The Road Trip Continues: Amazed at the HAL Museum


One of things that a traveller should do is to always ask what are the unimportant things to see when you visit a place? I’ve often noticed that we have wonderful experiences going to places which locals think are insignificant or unimportant.

One such place near the new Bangalore airport happens to be Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. India historically has never been renowned for excellence in defence and defensive/ protective equipment. Or fighter planes for that matter. Still we have to be lauded for making an effort.

And the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd Aerospace Museum is just about that. Bringing to a country’s notice that while it had worried about growth and political economics of deficits and quotas, HAL has manufactured over 3658 Aircraft/Helicopters, 4178 Engines, Upgraded 272 Aircraft and overhauled over 9643 Aircraft and 29775 Engines.

While I was not someone who was interested in aeronautics unless it was mentioned in a work of fiction, my dad was and still is an enthusiast for any new technology especially aerospace and robotics. So this was a wonderful experience for all of us.

When we were dropped off to the door, I was surprised. I didn’t expect a museum to have large gardens, contemporary colours and wide paths.

There is a main building and also some models which have been displayed out in the gardens. These include models that the HAL has indigenously developed and also those which have been manufactured from Russian blueprints under technology transfers.

Most of the aircrafts are displayed outside the museum except HUL-26 Pushpak and the HAL Basant. The photo gallery of the museum contains pictures of Vengeance bombers under construction in the 40s, Dakotas being overhauled, Tempests, Devons, under overhaul in the 50s, Vampires, Gnats, and Maruts under construction in the 60s. An air control building is also available in the museum. there was also the Sea King MK 42 helicopter on display. Air Traffic Radio Antenna and Radars dot the landscape.

Models of GSLV and PSLV Satellite launch vehicles are also exhibited. The Museum also houses a small souvenir shop that sells mementos, postcards and posters. There are also aircraft simulators, air traffic control towers and an aero-modeling club. (=www.bangaloreorbit.com)

Every model that is displayed has information at the side about the features like Period of Production, length, span, height, speed, rate of climb, range etc. it was interesting to read all these details. In the building there are also models of the HUL Pushpak and HAL Basant along with pictures of everyone who visited the Museum. it was heartening to see the way everything had been preserved. It is said that pictures always have their own story to say.

It was a really proud moment  for us when we saw the indigenously developed models like Kiran. It made me proud to know about all this because when you read the papers, it is almost always a regulatory fault or a collapse of systems and every blasphemous articles berating India.

Another thing worth mentioning is the Aircraft simulators. Priced very cheap (Rs 50 per person for half an hour) you get to sit inside an aircraft and modulate controls and there is a screen that shows you the aircraft. In a way it resembles a video game with controls. But who are we to have a first class experience at piloting, so we did it, and I crashed my aircraft two times ;).

The best part is the Aviation Traffic Control or the ATC. Photography is not allowed so I don’t have any to show. But the ATC there opens to the Bangalore Airport where you can watch the planes take off and land. There is a simulation of an actual ATC with the controls and everything. A security guard explains everything to you about the controls. it was fascinating to see the number of controls that one person needed to man.

There was also a café where we stopped for tea. The HAL Museum was eye opening. I never knew that India had done so much in aerospace. Like all the books I’ve been reading, I thought that India used to have a treasure cove of intelligence but that drained over the years. I used to always think that Museums are boring and for the bookworm types. But that opinion has been changing lately

After this wonderful experience in the HAL Museum, we went to meet my cousin and her baby!! After a morning in marvel, it was time for an afternoon of fun!!

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Bangalore Masti-Lalbag and Around


20th April 2010: Bangalore, India
The day dawned bright and clear. We decided to roam about today and also visit a few relatives and friends. We started the day with breakfast at MTR’s. This is the famous one which has the amazing Badaam milk and all the super ready to eat mixes. We did not explore Bangalore in our Civi, instead opting for an Innova because a Metro was being constructed in Bangalore too as a result of which a lot of roads were blocked or closed and we didn’t know all the small lanes which couldn’t be navigated using a scale map.
It was a good idea because traffic in Bangalore is messy and unregulated with people driving like maniacs without adequate signals. It takes a trip to other cities to see that our relentless criticism about Mumbai is unwarranted and the city does fare well on a lot of indicators especially traffic discipline.
MTR looks like a shabby place from the outside, not some place you would notice while driving past anyway. The inside is like a typical small town hotel teleported to a big metro. But despite its appearance, a lot of people frequent it and morning breakfasts are enjoyed with friends and a regular camaraderie with the waiters and staff.
Finally Breakfast:We settled for some tasty rava idli and some upma and kesari bhat(=typical menu). After all that, we decided to have some delicious fruit salad. The waiter who waited on our table was a smiley guy who made us feel jolly and nice. Often we rate a restaurant on the overall experience of which interaction with staff and ambiance forms a major part. If the waiter is smiley then it makes our day even without us realising it. So on this waiter(=his name was Sundar, like how he way all smiley and jolly) This fruit salad was a lot of fruits, custard, the all famous badaam milk, dry fruits and jelly!! Pure delight!!! Plus the rava idlis came along with fragrant ghee. It’s astonishing to see that in South India most of the dishes come along with ghee which improves the taste of the dish and gives satiety to the person. After a super delicious breakfast we left for LalBag

LalBag: Lalbag Botanical Gardens are spread over 240 acres of land This huge space has so many different varieties of plants in it. It has a bonsai display, a horticultural section, an indoor plants section , a decorative plants section, a lake…..!!! But most of the displays and exhibits were closed because it was not the best season to visit. If you really want to visit Bangalore then the ideal time would be January or August because then you can see all the exhibits at the Botanical Gardens.

Now because LalBag is so big, it has 4 gates so that you can enter from any direction,(=i agree its a great route for a morning walk bt not so for a tourist). Sensing this difficulty, the Gardens have arranged for a small van(=electronic van, no pollution) and a guide who’ll take us around all the locations in about an hour so what would take you days to explore on your own by foot is covered in an hour. Smart!!


Our first stop was the LalBag Glasshouse. This is the place where they hold all the flower shows. After that, we made our way to the Lake which had a lot of birds circling it. The gulmohar trees on one side of the lake were in full bloom. Opposite the lake there were black bamboo trees specially imported from Japan. The best feature of LalBag was that they imported internationally known varieties of plants and were constantly pruning the plants and maintaining the park. Also there were many dustbins around all which looked like tree stumps and animals so that there was no littering. One thing i could observe was that this park was maintained superbly and that people did not litter it as they did in parks and roads in Mumbai.
After that, we saw the specially trimmed bushes so that they looked like birds. Also there were birds who were drinking water from an open pipe which was great because the weather was absolutely beastly and hot. We also saw trees which were 100,150 and 200 years old which surprised us because it must have been excellent foresight and planning that they planted so many trees and made gardens long time back. Research yielded that this garden was commissioned during the reign of Tipu Sultan, one of India’s greatest kings.

Then we drove past the indoor plants section and also the horticultural section. There were so many departments and research labs which showed that research personnel were very much-needed for essential jobs like maintaining and the upkeep of gardens.

After that, we ended our tour with the final destination, the Kempegowda temple on top of a hill there. It is said that you can view the entire city of bangalore from here. All in all our trip to LalBag showed su how plants and trees are important for cities and also are a sight for sore eyes. Superbly maintained plants and flowering trees make good viewing!!!!

Coming up Next: Relative visits, our apartment and Art of Living Ashram

 

Journey to Bangalore-Fast Forward Now!!!


19th April 2010: Karnataka Hinterland, India
So here i continue from where i left off. The journey was totally uninteresting because the road was straight stretched ahead of you and this made it boring to look out. In contrast to the fantastic views when we were driving across coastal Karnataka, the central part was flat and didn’t have much for us to see. There were also many signs so that made navigation a piece of cake. We kept driving in and out of small towns and villages which we could see as dots in the Map we had.
 
We were out to find out the place where Satya Sai Baba would reincarnate somewhere in Srirangapatnam which is a few kms off Bangalore. But while going, we saw a board which said Sri Satya Sai Baba orphanage so we decided to stop there. It was a small serene place. There were some slides and swings in a corner and close to the swings sat 2 calves. There were a few people who were sitting near the entrance. We approached them and went inside. There were a lot of pictures of Baba and even Guruji(=H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ) out there. The second room was like a prayer room. It was filled with hundreds of pictures of Baba when he was young and recent pictures. The room exuded serenity and peace. we sat and meditated for a while. The place had symbols denoting all religions showing neutrality towards one and all.
While we prayed, a lady came and gave us some honey and some vibhuti. There was a picture of Baba which was filled with Vibhuti and this honey i’m sure must have also fallen on its own from the pictures. Such amazing grace!!! And the honey was so delicious, it wasn’t like any other honey i’ve ever tasted.
After that, we went to the courtyard where there were some boys playing with a ball. There was also an idol of Baba’s feet. If you rubbed your hand or handkerchief there, it would smell of incense. We also went up and saw their meditation hall. All in all this was a refreshing break for us because the road journeys were really wearisome.
We made our way towards Bangalore. We were supposed to stop at Kamath’s for lunch but we were so hungry and we couldn’t find it so we stopped at a Mc Donalds on the way. Burgers were good to eat after a long time. We got some sweets and water from a nearby general store. There, they were also selling wooden toys. There is a village which makes wooden toys, Channapatna which we passed through.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
There was a huge golden ganpati that we drove past. Also there was a huge arch with an upper road which led to the Satellite Town and the lower road leading to Bangalore. So we took the upper road by mistake and had to turn back. Apart from this, we reached Bangalore without a hitch. After going through Ring roads and various other roads, we made our way to my Dad’s office. We were staying in a service apartment which was fully furnished with a cooking range etc etc so that we could cook whenever we want. This booking was done through my Dad’s office. So we got going there and then checked into our room and then rested.For dinner we were going to my aunt’s place which was at the other extreme end of town. We had
specially told her to prepare simply ‘Aamchi’ food because we missed it so much. The food was amazing and delicious(=song and daali always does the trick). We also had a fun time chatting with Sankalp and Vishal who came late from work. There was also a Mumbai Indians Match that day which kept everyone entertained. For dessert,we had ‘Chocolate sheera’ yummy!!!!
I also got some Korean currency for our coin collection!!!

After this super amazing end to a tiring day, we slept, waiting to explore Bangalore!!
Some Rocky Terrain on the wayBaba’s photos.Baba’s feet

the Golden Ganpati