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Outside the New Siddhidata Kulam Building

Now that the new metal building is finished on the outside, including gutters and drain pipes to move rainwater away from the building, the Siddhidata Kulam is adjusting the surroundings. The ground is now sloped away on three sides, with a slightly lower pathway cut to channel water further away. Narrow concrete pipes already in our possession were laid next to each other to form a wide culvert for diverting a large amount of water out into the nearby orchard. The road over this culvert is the main route for coming to and from the new building. A round catchment tank is being installed as another source of rainwater storage for emergency use, and we also just purchased a used, large, stainless steel tanker as another source of backup water. A mound of dirt and mulch is established around the south side of the building to grow plants for a visual barrier.

Rock and Gravel Finished for Last Section of Pilgrim’s Path

With some helpful dry weather in the last week, our big equipment operator and engineer Dennis Wong was able to complete the process of laying down rocks and gravel for the farthest section of the Iraivan Temple pilgrims' path. This portion is the most challenging because of longer distance for transporting the material, and susceptibility to muddiness in wet weather. He will move on to the flatter sections in the weeks ahead. The rocks and gravel were laid a bit further than the temple entrance hill steps, over to a picturesque stream. Next, Dennis is working backwards, currently around the svayambhulingam area.

Siva’s Sacred Gardens

In a walk near the Path of the Saiva Satgurus this morning we were greeted with this remarkable orchid in bloom. Wow! It is Grammatophyllum wallisii, a rare native of the Philippines. It is among the largest orchids in the world and has many nicknames in the botanical world: Giant Orchid, Tiger Orchid, Sugar Cane Orchid. The flowers are a full 3.5 inches in diameter and the 8-foot-long spikes each have dozens. In the days ahead the spikes will extend and the drama will only increase. The plant as it grows older will form a basket of aerial roots, which is designed to catch falling leaves which will decompose and release nutrients and thus sustain the plant. Above is a Before & After slider of Iraivan from high above.

Mondo Grass Planting Update

On this dry and sunny afternoon we get a few shots of more mondo sprigs (the dark green fluffy grass) being added on the west side of Iraivan Temple. We've hired some extra help to move the big project forward a little quicker. The silpis are up there making some corrections on roof stones.

Two Unusual Photos

Fun photos for today. The first is a shot of Nimu, the African Grey parrot you have seen on TAKA before. This morning he was caught piloting our drone (which can be seen on the other side of the glass if you look closely).

The second is a shot of Rudraksha tree roots, taken in May by Rajkumar Manickam. This tree is near the Swayambhu Lingam, near the Muruga shrine.

Siva’s Sacred Gardens on July 19th

Today our peripetetic photographer roamed and captured a handful of the many botanical exhibitions in the garden. The amazing thing about a mature garden is that it is different each day, always something new, something blossoming, something growing high above in the trees.

Moving a Rose Granite Bench

Years ago, seeing the deterioration occasioned by the tropics on all things wooden, we decided as much as feasible to use longer-lasting materials. So when a wooden garden bench rotted out, we had four rose-colored granite benches made by our team in India, and installed them in the gardens.

One among them became overgrown by the foliage, and no one was using it. So two days back we took a team of six out and moved it to a new location. It now sits near the flagpole, overlooking Rishi Valley, a place it will be used often and enjoyed.

Story in the slideshow.

Amazing Rudrakshas

For a week now the editing team of Hinduism Today has been designing and editing a 12-page article on Rudrakshas, an untold story soon to be told. Our Nepalese writer/photographer flew to the remote valley (just 33 miles from Mount Everest) where Nepal's Rudrakshas are grown and marketed, and hers is a revealing story. Spoiler alert: Nikki reports that the most expensive single bead ever sold went to Chinese buyers for $84,000!

As the story comes together, we are again reminded of our own Sacred Rudraksha Forest and its natural beauties. So sharing some of that today.

New Electric People Mover

Last year two pilgrims were taken through the gardens in our road-weary gas-guzzling, past-its-prime People Mover. They were moved to upgrade future pilgrims' experience, and made a gift to inspire an electric one. It arrived and was blessed two days back. We have named it Mayil, Lord Murugan's vahana, the peacock. It is a giant step up for hosting guests in the sacred gardens. Of course, it's quiet, and you can talk while it is running and people can hear and understand you. Our old one forced us to turn off the engine if we wanted to share something. Those days are history. Jai Murugan!

The Hawaiian Honu, Green Turtle

The silpis have reinstalled our rose granite turtle near Iraivan. It is one of the small carved marvels that pilgrims stumble upon in their explorations of the sacred gardens. The short story is that the fins were broken after it arrived from the Artha Enterprises worksite in Bengaluru four years back, so new ones had to be carved. They arrived in November and have been affixed in the last few days. This honu, symbol of widsom and good fortune, sits on his rock overlooking Iraivan Temple. With thanks to our multi-talented silpis.

Some honu facts: The Hawaiian turtle, also known as the honu, is a beloved symbol of good luck and longevity in Hawaiian culture. These gentle sea creatures can often be found basking on the sandy shores or swimming gracefully in the warm waters of the islands. With their green and yellow shells and friendly faces, honu are a cherished sight for both locals and tourists alike. In Hawaiian tradition, the honu is seen as a symbol of wisdom and is said to bring good fortune to those who are lucky enough to spot one. They also play an important role in Hawaiian marine life and are protected under state law. Whether you're swimming with them, watching them sunbathe, or simply admiring them from the shore, the honu is a truly special and revered creature in Hawaiian culture.

The honu is also commonly known as the green turtle. It gets its name from the greenish color of its cartilage and fat, which is visible through its translucent skin. The green turtle is considered an endangered species globally, according to IUCN Red List. Human activities such as hunting, egg collection, coastal development, pollution, and accidental capture in fishing gear have all contributed to the decline in green turtle populations. Conservation efforts are in place to protect the species and its habitats, such as protected nesting beaches, but more needs to be done to ensure the survival of this magnificent animal.

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