Daily Archives: 12.02.2014

Kyoto: A City of Temples, Colorful Shrines and Thousand Secrets



Kyoto: A City of Temples, Colorful Shrines and Thousand Secrets

Kyoto, the city of japan served as the capital of Japan for more than a millennium (one thousand years) and is the most beautiful city of Japan. Currently, it is the capital of Kyoto Prefecture of Kansai region. The city of Kyoto is located in the centre of the island of Honshu in Japan and houses a population of 1.5 million. Visitors will not find the beauty of the city immediately but will have to work to see the actual beauty of the city. The city has hidden beauty which will not appear to you in the first look. There are approximately two thousand temples and shrines in the city and the tourists visiting this place are more than 30 million per year.

They are a lot of tourist attractions in Kyoto and every visitor should better plan an itinerary will in advance. UNESCO’s World Heritage List was expanded in 1994 by addition of 17 sites from Kyoto. These sites were added to the group named Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. Out of these, 14 are located exactly in the city while three in the neighboring cities.

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The most favorite of the tourists out of all the 14 places of Kyoto is the Kinkaku-ji Temple. Kinkaku temple is also known as the Golden Pavillion. It is a temple build on the land facing the Kyoko-chi pond which shows a reflection of the monument including the reflections of the islets and trees. This reflection of the entire space creates a very pure and beautiful atmosphere to amaze you. The Zen temple is a representation of Kitayama-bunka and the culture that is blending mixture of new samurai culture and traditional aristocratic culture. This entire landscape looks very peaceful and is a historic site giving insight about the place, its culture and history.

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Another very famous temple and world heritage site in Kyoto is the Kiyomizu-dera Temple. This temple is visited by more than 4 million tourists every year and one of the most famous places in the city of Kyoto. The main hall of the temple is called hondo which is the major attraction of the temple. This is because the hall is constructed on a steep slope with a stage in its front. The entire building of this temple is laid on the foundation of total 139 pillars without the use of any nails. This specialty in its construction will win your hearts. This form of architecture is very rarely anywhere in the world and is a very important place for not just the temple but the whole nation.

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Nijo-jo Castle is one of the heritage sites of the country and is a very ancient building. It is called Ninomaru-Goten Building having three gardens around this castle. The castle building is traditional samurai architecture for residential buildings. There are Shoheki-ga paintings in the castle building which are the work of renowned painter Kano Tanyu. The pond stroll garden in the complex of the castle is named Ninomaru teien which is designed in the style of days of Edo era from 1603 to 1867.

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There are Imperial villas in the city, managed and maintained by Imperial Household Agency, which will be worth all your attention and time. There are two Imperial villas: Kastura Imperial Villa in western Kyoto and Shugakuin Imperial Villa in north Kyoto. There are two palaces: Imperial Palace and Sento Imperial Palace. There places and palaces have all those teahouses, all the royal furniture and gardens which look best and colorful during spring and autumn season. All the visitors and tourists from the city, country or overseas are allowed to go inside the Imperial houses which offers guided tours of the place (usually in Japanese) and are very amazingly beautifully decorated with antiques from Imperial period. To visit this place, please book in advance on the internet or in person or you may be disappointed otherwise.

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An experience that you must have when you are in Kyoto is that of a public bath. Public baths, also called sento, are very famous in Kyoto and have been a part of the society since many centuries. They were first heard about in the 13th century. There are more than 40 bathing houses in whole city and the oldest one among them is the Funaoka Onsen. It has a very classic building and architecture of the place is a perfect example of the ancient architecture in Kyoto. Take out some time from your schedule and be to any newer or older bathing houses in Kyoto to have a relaxing feeling and get an experience of the history of the place.

Other places in the northern region of Kyoto are: Ryoan-ji, Kozan-ji, Ninna-ji and Shimogamo Shirne. Places and sites in the Central Kyoto, apart from the Nijo Castle, are Nishi Hongan-ji and To-ji. In the Eastern region of Kyoto you must visit Ginkaku-ji Temple; visit the Tenryu-ji Temple in the western region; and in the southern region, you should visit the Diago-ji Temple. All these sites are a part of Heritage Sites of Kyoto, Japan. You must also go for blossom viewing in Kyoto which is the best view for the eyes. This is the most famous place in the country to view cherry blossoms during the season which starts at the beginning of April.

Hidden Beach, Marieta Island, Mexico



Hidden Beach, Marieta Island, Mexico

We have all seen beaches- some beautiful and others even more beautiful! But it is a lesser known fact that there is a beach on this earth which is practically invisible to the eye, unless, the person knows where to get into it! It is a beach which anybody from outside cannot see but the people on the beach can see the world outside! It is no science fiction but the Hidden Beach of Marieta Islands in Mexico.

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Some creations are born out of destruction and Marieta Islands stand as silent witness and proof of this statement. Marieta Islands are located in Mexico, off its cost of Nayarit. The islands, a creation of volcanic activities thousands of years ago, are protected by the Mexican government in a bid to save its rich biodiversity which offers a site for fame and tourist attraction. It is rich in flora and fauna varieties and fishing or hunting is prohibited on the islands. These islands have not only seen yeas of volcanic lava, but also bear scars of explosive and military trainings in he early twentieth century by the Mexican government. Just like then, till date also, these islands remain uninhabited but are a popular tourist destination for what they have to offer to those who flock in large numbers to these islands.

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Due to the military training and explosions on the face of Marieta Islands, various rocks, caves and other formations sprung up  which are very fascinating to the eye. Jacques Cousteau was a scientist and researcher who in 1960s began a protest against the government for carrying out such activities on the islands that could harm the natural biodiversity there. Eventually the government of Mexico declared the Marieta Islands as a national park and strictly banned any form of poaching or hunting in the area. In 2005, the islands were re named as Parque Nacional Islas Marietas. The government also declared swimming, kayaking and sunbathing as the only legal human activity allowed or permitted by law on these islands.This has encouraged the thriving of a beautiful marine ecosystem on the islands. Various other conservation efforts have proved to be fruitful for the Islands which are quite well protected from any damage to their natural beauty.

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But what is most pleasing to the eye is something else on this island. It is a hidden beach which remains unobtrusive to anyone who would casually overlook it. Seems to be a place straight out of a fantasy land but it is in fact on the very Marieta Islands formed out of destructive explosions and having a history of volcanic activities! The Hidden Beach is called Playa Del Amor. Playa Del Amor means the Beach of Love. No wonder that such a wonderful destination would be popular among love birds!

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The Hidden Beach gets its name from the fact that the whole beach is hidden behind a very small hole (relatively). It is basically a structure of one of the islands of  Marieta Islands and is  located in the west of Puerto Vallarta at the mouth of Banderas Bay in Mexico. It is believed and claimed that the hole revealing the Hidden Beach was formed due to deliberate bombings in the early 1900s on this island by the Mexican Government.

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The Hidden Beach is actually not visible to the eye from the outside, and it is only accessible by way of a long water tunnel that links the beach to the Pacific Ocean. There is a space of approximately six feet above the water level, so the tourists can reach the hidden beach by swimming or kayaking! Thus, the visitors of this island have to swim through a small tunnel which opens up at the mouth of this wonderful and spectacular Hidden Beach. The whole beach is also surrounded by wildlife and natural varieties and species of flowers and plants. The Beach is also a home to the astonishing species of sea turtles, manta ray, wild dolphins, octopus, humpback whales as well as thousands of varieties of tropical fish that all add to the natural biodiversity of the area. About some thousands of birds are also found on this island of which one of the very rare but famous species Blue-footed Booby is also found on the Marieta Islands Hidden Beach.

Over the years the Hidden Beach, due to its surprising location, wonderful and picturesque scenic beauty as well as the perfect blend of the warm yellow sun, blue-green clear water and the rich biodiversity, has been increasing called the Paradise of Lovers. It looks no less than the heaven on this earth where the effectiveness of the wildlife and biodiversity conservation programs of the Government of Mexico have been implemented very effectively. Although these islands are frequently visited by the tourists through small boats or by swimming, even to this date these islands remain untouched by human habitation, thus preserving its pristine ecosystem!

Moai Head Statues, Easter Islands



Moai Head Statues, Easter Islands

The Moai statues are the monolithic wonders that have fascinated archaeologists for so long that they had been named Ghosts of Easter Islands (carved by the Rapa Nui people).  In history, these people were the natives of the Easter Islands,  which were also called Rapa Nui  and lie in the Pacific Ocean. These people have a culture which is many centuries old and a part of which is represented by the Moai Statues in the Eastern Island. They believed to have been carved by the Rapa Nui people from 1250 to 1500 AD in the Rapa Nui quarry which is in fact the  area called Rano Raraku, an extinct volcano. Though more than the actual number of statues installed were carved at Rano Raraku, some of them, which itself is a large number of 887, were carried out to the perimeter of the Eater Islands and installed there. All the statues are characterized by a little less that half of the height of the statue comprising the head of the figure, thus giving the impression of them being Moai Head Statues. Legend has it that the king of the islands had summoned the gods and had commanded the Moai Statues to walk on their own to their destinations.

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The Easter Islands have been a favorite subject of research for archaeologists for about 120 years. Moai Statues are about four meters tall and have distinct features which make them resemble the ideal of the Polynesian culture. There were some interesting discoveries during these expeditions and research works. Some of the statues seemed to have been wearing hats or having their hair tied in a top-knot called pukao! About thirteen Moai Statues were carved out from the basalt and six out of these have been transported to safer locations to conduct further research on them.

 

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As mentioned before, these statues have a very large head as compared to the total size of the body. The head alone accounts for around three eighths of the whole body of the Moai statues. These seem to represent the strong cultural as well as political power as large head was symbolic of power and authority as well as the Polynesian belief that large head was depiction of chiefly trait. All the statues have very heavy eyebrows and long noses with very distinguished nostrils that resemble a fish-hook. Lips are again small and protruding out in a pout but thin. The ears are longer than usual just like the nose. The statues have a very firm jaw and a very heavy torso. Except for one single kneeling Moai statue, none of the others have clearly distinguishable legs or feet.

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Although it is unsure when the islands were first settled by the natives of this place yet several estimates have concluded a band range of 800 to 1200 AD. Also, the reasons that led to the eventual wreckage of the islands are unknown but it seems that the major factors could have been the cutting of millions of giant palms as well as setting fires to clear out the area. It is also quite probable that the invasion of Polynesian rats along with the human settlers led to wide spread consumption of the seeds which increased that chances of trees getting decimated in the end. Whatever be the reasons, all this led to the soil on the islands to be prone to erosion and thus the volcanic island’s rich soil began to face rapid erosion. History accounts the fact that when in 1722 the island was discovered by the Europeans, they found the whole place quite barren and only a handful of inhabitants had survived and were thriving on the negligible resources. Quite surprisingly the archaeologists have also uncovered that when the Rapa Nui’s ancient inhabitants had left the quarry where they carved the Moai Statues, they had left the place in such a wonderful condition that about 400 statues could be unearthed or discovered in a shape that showed them to be in various stages of completion.

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Tukuturi was a path breaking discovery. It was the one and only statue of all the Moai Statues that was carved in a sitting position called the tuku turi on the Easter Islands. This is the posture in which people used to sit while celebrating the festival of rui and singing in the chorus. This unusual Moai Statue seems to be the last of its kind as seems to be the representative of a cultural singer of those times since the statue has a backward inclined trunk, a head held higher and a goatee which were all distinct features of a singer.

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The Moai Statues were earlier believed to have just heads rising from the ground but after a successful expeditions by archaeologists, the Moai Statues were discovered to have whole bodies, and not mere heads as presumed otherwise. Moreover, the special marks on the bodies of these statues were well preserved since they has been buried under ground for so long.

Hong Kong – Expansive Skyline and Deep Harbours



Hong Kong – Expansive Skyline and Deep Harbours

There are two Special Administrative Regions (SAR) of China: Macau and Hong Kong. Hong Kong, being one of the SAR of the People’s Republic of China, is a very major city in the country. Located on the southern coast of China, bounded by South China Sea and the Pearl River Delta, Hong Kong covers a land of 1104 square kilometers. The population of this city is more than seven million and only 6.4% of the entire population belongs to other groups and remaining rest of the population (93.6%) are ethnic Chinese.

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The first and foremost place that any tourist going to Hong Kong must go is the Victoria Peak. You can get the view of the entire Hong Kong Island from this wok-shaped peak tower. This tower was for the richest residents of the city and neighboring territories during the period of British Colonization and local Chinese were allowed to enter this place only after the end of World War II. The tower is not just for viewing the scenery around but also a lot of other things. It also is a shopping mall having many shops for various materials, dining (restaurants), entertainment venues and museums in the tower too. The height of this tower is about 396 meters above standard sea level. This top of the tower is called Sky Terrace and offers you a 360o view of the whole city which looks very beautiful, active and vibrant when viewed from this height, especially at night. You can take a walk around this tower to have a stunning view of the sides of the island on the walks like Lion Pavilion Lookout. They also have a laser show at night which is a very beautiful one.

Street Art Graffiti

Another very unique sight in Hong Kong is the Graffiti Wall. It is the most famous wall in Hong Kong and a very special one. They re-paint this wall every week with another new and unique graffiti. To reach this wall, you will have to take a metro to Mong Kok East and exit from the station through Gate B. when you reach outside the station, go right and you find yourself facing this wall.

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Hong Kong have everything very unique and one of its kind. Another example to prove this is the “Symphony of Lights”. According to Guinness World Records, this one is the ‘Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show’ in the world. This show involves above 40 buildings on either side of the Victoria Harbor. It starts every night at 8 pm and provide a spectacular view of the lights in complete synchronization with music showing a large spirit and energy in the city.

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There are theme parks in Hong Kong as well, like in every other city. But the theme parks here are very special and different from rest of the world. The most popular theme park is the Disneyland Resort which was inaugurated in 2005. It is located on the Lantau Island at Penny’s Bay which is 12 km away from International Airport of Hong Kong. The entire place has a Disneyland Park, a central lake and two resort hotels. It is smaller than the actual Disneyland Parks but is equal fun, if not more. It is also being expanded to include other attractions like the Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch, etc. this place is magical fun when you come with friends and families.

Ocean Park is another theme park on the land of Hong Kong and is very famous in the world being the ‘7th most popular amusement park of the world’. It is situated on the southern side of this island. There are many roller coasters and other rides which will pump your adrenaline in the park with large aquariums. There is a cable car, a funicular railway, etc. in the park to keep you there for the entire day.

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Hong Kong also has the traditional style theme parks and not just the modernized fun parks. ‘The Ngong Ping 360’ is a place on the Lantau Island. It is a Buddhist theme park and presents all the Imperial architecture of the Chinese, preserved natural and ecological environment, it conducts interactive shows and demonstrations, houses many coffee shops and restaurants, etc. The main highlight of the place is the cable car. It is the longest cable-car ride in Hong Kong and will be a delight to your eyes with the most amazing view of the place and surroundings. The largest statue of Buddha seated outside is in Hong Kong (called the Tian Tan Buddha) and the cable car takes you there. It is a very peaceful place which will enlighten your mind, refresh your body and is a must visit if you are in Hong Kong.

For those in love with the historical and traditional places and monuments, do not be disappointed after watching the modernized sky scrapers and laser shows. Hong Kong also has the heritage and traditional places. There is a Ping Shan Heritage Trail in the New Territories in Hong Kong. Walk on this trail will give you a sight of the most ancient and historically important sites. There is a walled Hakka village named Tsang Tai Uk, a traditional market with the name ‘Fu Shin Street Traditional Bazaar’, temples like Che Kung Temple and Man Mo Temple, a temple of ‘Ten Thousand Buddhas’, etc. the place also has Museums and if you are actually interested to learn about the history of the place and watch the beautiful sculptures, you must visit them.

Behind the Hills – Pacifica, California



Behind the Hills – Pacifica, California

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Pacifica is a small city situated in the middle of the hills of central part of north California and the coastal beaches which are stretched all the ways for around 10 km. The city of Pacifica is surrounded by the rocky bluff of Pacific Ocean in the west; it is covered by Montara Mountains in the south and by the Sweeney Ridge in the east. The city of Pacifica is majorly situated in the peninsula of the San Francisco Bay of California

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The city of Pacifica is quite famous among the adventurous surfers. One of the surfing beaches there is Linda Mar Beach. Another beach named Rockaway Beach offers great recreation activities, shopping and scenic beauty. The above beaches are also famous for their food habits. A park of Pacifica named Pacifica Skateboard Park is ranked as the top most beautiful park in the year 2000. Many trails of the city include Pedro Mountain Road, some of the areas of Golden Gate National Recreation Park and Sweeney Ridge. It is an enjoyable experience in mountain biking and hiking around the trails and crossing the valleys and beaches. Some of the famous hiking spots of the place are San Pedro Valley Country Park, Mori Point, Milagra Ridge and the Sanchez Adobe; these are the many trails which move along the bluffs and beaches. Pacifica Spindrift Players are there for the local art and craft along with the performances of local theatre. These get mingled with the musical presentations of Pacifica. In sports, it is the home of the famous sport Sharp Park Golf Course; it was invented by an architect Alister Mackenzie in the year 1931. The well known bromeliad nursery named Shelldance Orchid Gardens is also located on the highway of Pacifica near the hiking trailhead of Sweeney Ridge. Well coming to the environment of Pacifica, it is surrounded by many beautiful natural wonders and subsequently places that emphasis greatly on environment sensitivity.

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The city of Pacifica is majorly divided into twelve distinct regions stretched from north to south; these are Fairmont, Westview of Pacific Thailand, Edgemar, Pacific Manor, Fairway Park, Sharp Park, Rockaway Beach, Vallemar, Shelter Cove and Pedro Point in the south west, Park Pacifica in the south east and Linda Mar Valley in the South. Linda Mar Valley is sometimes also called as San Pedro Valley. Park Pacifica is known as Back of the Valley. The city of Pacifica is situated in the south of San Francisco so it takes around 15 minutes from the coastal Route 1 in CA. For a bus journey, it is preferred to take Samtrans 112 or Samtrans 118 as of colma Bart Station or from Daly City.

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Pacifica is majorly famous for its numerous beaches. One of its most amazing beaches is Linda Mar Beach at the south of Pedro Point. The beach front is called as Taco Bell; is also well known for its own scenic beauty. Other beaches are black sand beaches amid riskily steep seashore. Some of the famous cafes of the place are Nona’s Kitchen, High Tide Café, Gorilla BBQ, Nick’s, Colombo’s Dlicatessen and Geurerro’s Tacqueria. Fog Wine Bar and winter’s Bar are the famous grape wine bars.

History

Initially when Europeans settled in the city, Pacifica was the home of two important Ohlone Indian villages: Timigtac on Calera Creek in the neighbourhood of Rockaway Beach and Pruristac situated at San Pedro Creek near today’s Adobe Drive. The city of Pacifica is the home of the oldest European inventory of the San Francisco Bay. The Sanchez Adobe is the oldest region of Pacifica city in the San Mateo Country. Pacifica is announced as the union of nine distinct communities including Edgemar, Sharp Park and Pacific Manor in the year 1957 which is comparatively recent in the past of San Mateo Country. The name of the city is voted as Pacifica from the name of a runner up “Coatside”.

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Art & Culture

Pacifica is also a well known place for art and culture. Numerous plays, art exhibitions, local shows, many cultural events and concerts are organised as the tradition follows. The date and time of the event can be guided by an itinery. Various organizations such as keyboard productions, ArtGuild of Pacifica and Pacifica Performances are formed for all the above purposes.

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Waste Drop

Certain no of food service ware ordinances are being followed in the city. Food vendors of the city are given measures to use reusable, biodegradable, recyclable and compostable food wares for selling the prepare foods. For this reason, it is banned for the businesses that sell preserved foods for outings or those who provide containers for the leftovers, are not allowed to use containers made of polystyrene foam. A specific plan is used for recycling of electronic gadgets such as laptops, computers, small electronics, phone equipments and network equipments.

Recycling of Commercial Waste

All businesses are offered a course named Recology of the Coast for recycling the waste. Dumpsters are provided for recycling of cardboard and wheeled carts are supplied to each business tycoon. Recycling of newspapers, cardboards, paperboards, mixed papers, cans, plastic, colored glasses, cereal boxes and bi-metal cans id done by the recyclers.

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The Quaint and Beautiful Pondicherry, India



The Quaint and Beautiful Pondicherry, India

The beautiful and serene town of Pondicherry often called as the “The Europe of India” was a French colony till 1954. The town architecturally has a rich cultural heritage, owing to the colonial structures as well as Tamil influences in many buildings. Some of the major tourist attractions include:

Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Sri Aurobindo Ghosh founded the ashram in 1926. He was an Indian freedom fighter and philosopher. It is an immensely popular ashram, whose main tenets involve harmonic collaboration of yoga as well as science. It is a place to experience a different spiritual ambiance and the tranquility.

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Matrimandir

Mirra Alfassa, a Parisian follower of Sri Aurobindo was known popularly as ‘Mother’. She conceived the idea of Auroville or the “City of Dawn”. Situated 8 km from Pondicherry, Auroville is an experimental township founded in 1968. It is meant to be a universal town, where irrespective of nationality, or race, people of all countries will be able to live in peace and harmony. On the inauguration ceremony in 1968, soil from 124 countries was placed in a lotus shaped urn and mixed to symbolize oneness universally. This project was endorsed by Indian Government and UNESCO. Matrimandir occupies the center of the town of Auroville. A Huge golden globe, Matrimandir contains a meditation hall, which provides a unique spiritual experience.

Aayi Mandapam

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It is situated in Bharathi Park. This structure is a visual reminder of the allure of French architecture. This also functions as the emblem of Government of Pondicherry. It is very fascinating to explore the story behind its conception, about why it was built and why it was named after a courtesan by the same name.

Pondicherry Botanical Garden

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Previously known as “Colonial Park”, this botanical garden was created in 1826. It has some 1500 rare species of plants. The park also has musical fountains which operate during the weekends. The gates of the park have heavy influences of French architecture. There is also a children’s train within the garden’s premises. It is a popular place among nature lovers.

Religious Places

Temples: There are many historically significant and famous temples in Pondicherry. Located on MG Road, and dating back to 600AD, Varadaraja Perumal Temple is perhaps the oldest temple in Pondicherry. The temple has clear Dravidian influences in its architecture. Mankula Vinayaka Temple dates back to before the French rule in Pondicherry. Kanniga Parameswari temple which is also located on MG Road is worth mentioning too, mostly owing to the mixture of Tamil and French architecture.

Church of lady of immaculate-conception

Churches: Immaculate Conception Cathedral on Cathedral Street was built in 1692. Housing an orphanage, it is one of the first churches in Pondicherry. Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is popularly called Sacred Heart Church. Situated on the South Boulevard, it is an exemplary structure depicting the oriental and gothic influences. It is dated back to 18th century when it was built by French Missionaries. Events from Christ’s life and various other saints, is depicted in stained glass panels. These glass panels are known for their uniqueness and stunning quality.

Pondicherry Museum

This museum and its various collections give a sense of the immensely rich and varied history of Pondicherry. The installations in the museum showcase the cultural past of this region and its people, it includes art influenced by Pallavas, Cholas as well as Vijaynagar dynasties. It is a treat for the history lovers.

Ousteri Lake

Ousteri Lake, located some 10 km from Pondicherry, it is situated in beautiful surroundings. The natural scenic beauty makes it a delightful place for boat riding, and also bird watching. This lake is also dwelling place for many migratory birds.

Beaches

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Serenity Beach: Located in the northern part of Pondicherry, this beach as the name suggests is known for its tranquil and peaceful surroundings. The unspoiled beaches, the pristine waters and the calming waves make it the perfect spot to introspect and to get away from the speed and sounds of a busy city life. The beach is lined with palm trees, and a walk down the beach in moonlit nights is a memorable experience. The beauty and the serenity palpable on this beach make it an idyllic tourist destination.

Serenity Beach in Pondicherry

Promenade Beach: Around this beach, a 1.5 km long promenade is a must visit place for tourists. Many of the most popular landmarks of Pondicherry are situated alongside the seafront. These include the statues of Mahatma Gandhi, Joan of Arc, Dupliex, the war memorial, old lighthouse among others. Surrounded by eight granite pillars, is the 4 m high statue of Mahatma Gandhi. There is also a marble statue of Joan of Arc, which is situated in front of Church of Our Lady of the Angels. It was erected in 1923. A 2.8 m tall statue of Joseph Francois Dupleix (a popular French Governor) was erected in the 1870s at the southern end of park. French War Memorial on Goubert Avenue was built in 1971 to honor the soldiers martyred in World War I.

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Other Beaches include Mahe beach, Karaikal beach and Plage Paradiso Beach. All these beaches are remarkable for their undisturbed beauty and the quiet and calm which permeates every visitor. Lined with palm trees, the golden sand and the deep blue of the water all create a soothing and relaxing ambiance. Karaikal beach also offers various water sports. Chunnambar is very popular as it provides various water sports activities, a definite attraction for the more daring and adventurous of the travelers. Kayaking, canoeing, boating, sailing etc are offered here.

Auroville beach

The golden yellow of the sand and the deep blue of the sea make the beaches in Pondicherry a beautiful site.  From sunbathing to swimming or simply relaxing in a calm ambiance, these beaches have something for all kinds of visitors. These beaches provide a calming ambiance, though that does not mean that they are ill equipped to deal with the tourist traffic. Cafes and other amenities are available for the tourists easily. A quiet and calm comes over one upon looking out towards the magnificence of sea and the vastness of sky, the rejuvenating waves and the golden sands.

Pondicherry is a stunning and serene location for travelers looking for a place away from hectic modern life, a place that is wrapped in beauty and tranquility.

Siem Reap: Great Gate to Angkor



Siem Reap: Great Gate to Angkor

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The capital city of Siem Reap Province is a famous town, situated in the northwestern Cambodia. The name of the city, Siem Reap, was given by the King Ang Chan (1516 to 1566) as per the oral tradition. The name means “the flat defeat of Siam”. The king named it that way because of the defeat of the Siamese invasion over Ang Chang’s army. The city was also known by the name Nakhom Siam in the 18th century under the regime of Ayutthaya Kingdom. The Old Market and the Old French Quarter is planned in Chinese style and Colonial architecture. The city being a famous tourist destination has many resorts, hotels and restaurants. For the Apsara dance performances there are a large number of museums. The city is famous because of the Angkor temples. The prices in the city are quite high in comparison to the other places of Cambodia.

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Exploring the Ancient Temples of Angkor is the favorite pastime of the tourists.  The re-invention of the Angkor was done in 1901 after the EFEO (French School of the Far East) decided to restore and clear the whole place. Thus, Angkor re-discovered its place in the modern arts. One early visit sight at Angkor is the “Angkor Wat”. People like to visit this place early in the morning to see the coming light from its spectacular morning sunrise which offers a fabulous view. People can even hire a tuk-tuk or a bike to reach the place. There are various temples at Angkor with mysterious histories and unique symbolism to explore. The temple of ‘Ta Prohm’ is the one where the famous movie, Tomb Raider, was filmed. The trees surrounding the temple are the biggest trees you have ever seen with a spectacular landscape. The whole experience of discovering the temples of Angkor will be great.

The renowned Cambidian Landmine Museum is focused towards the removal of landmines in Cambodia. The museum is owned by an NGO which provides education to the children who are affected by the landmines. Although the museum is located in a small village situated in the northern part of the city, the museum is a fascinating and lovely place to visit and that too for a great cause. The people of Cambodia have suffered from huge traumas in the past fifty years. Thus, to help those people by just visiting the museum which is very informative is highly recommended. Even the well known Banteay Srey Butterfly Farm is just a few kilometers away from the museum in the same road. Along the road there are some Cambodian Cuisine restaurants which are really good. These restaurants offer Mexican food also along with Cambodian food. Walking around the rural roads of the place will make you feel like you are in a clean village.

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Tourists often prefer to visit the city during the gorgeous Angkor Photography Festival, The Water Festival and The Annual Street Puppet Festival. The Angkor Photography Festival is a 7 day artistic festival which is organized in the last week of November every year. This festival showcases 10 gallery exhibitions and 7 outdoor projections in a week. This festival is held at different venues around the city on different days. The talent of Asian photographers was highlighted in the exhibitions. During the event some lucky photographers can even get a chance to participate in free workshops. All the money earned by the organizers of this event will be donated by them to a local NGO for street children.

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Next is the Water Festival which is the most overgenerous festival in the list of the Siem Reap people and even the tourists. Above million people attend this festival in the starting of November. Many bright and colorful boats from all over the country rushes out towards the banks of Mekong Rivers and Tonle Sap in Phnom Penh. This is a boat racing competition where almost 50 paddlers participate and battle with each other. The sight of these decorated boats and the fireworks in the sky are very eye-pleasing to the viewers. Last but not the least is the Annual Street Puppet Festival which offers a unique and cute puppet show to its viewers. The event is very exciting as they use stilts and sticks to hold and command the puppets.

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A place to explore the cultures and customs of different places is the Cambodian Cultural Village. The Village was introduced on 24th of September in the year 2003. This Cultural Village has 11 different villages representing the local customs, cultural heritages and characteristics of multiple races (atleast 21). To explore the Archaeological treasures of the place one should visit the Angkor National Museum which has its eight galleries showcasing the history, cultural heritage and civilization of Khamer. There are some temples around the town which are WatPreahPromRath, WatProhm Rath, WatPreahEnkosa, WatPreahEnkosei, Wat Bo, Wat Po Lanka and WatKesararam. Most of these temples are dedicated to Bhuddha. Central Market and Old Market is the place to go for shopping of accessories, jewelry, clothes and even antiques. People can enjoy popping around the small galleries and markets, taking a walk along the Siem Reap River and complimenting the Chinese style architecture. There is no doubt in the fact that Siem Reap is the best place for strolling and exploring.

Silicon Valley – Synonym to Advanced Technology and Innovations



Silicon Valley – Synonym to Advanced Technology and Innovations

Silicon Valley is a pet name for the San Francisco Bay Area’s South Bay portion in Northern California, United States. The Valley is stretched about in the same area as Santa Clara valley along with the surrounded areas like San Jose and other towns where most of industries are located. The Valley is actually a home for world’s largest technology conglomerates along with many the small startups. Actually the Bay was nicknamed for its being the highest silicon chip innovators and manufactures. But now the Silicon Valley is used to refer to the high-tech corporate of the areas and in fact now it’s like synonym for highest technology sector of America.

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Though the whole United States is full of high-tech economic centers but still Silicon Valley is yet the leading hub for high-tech innovated developments. It brings home about one-third of total venture capital investment of United States. Silicon Valley geographically covers the southern Peninsula, Santa Clara valley along with the southern East Bay.

Valley of Heart’s Delight

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Before 20th century the Bay’s area was a rustic region lead by agriculture and was known as the “Valley of Heart’s Delight”. The name of the valley was obliged to the fruits and veggies grown in its orchards. But later with the materialization of the computer and electronic industry for the advancement of digital economy and Internet in the part, the valley was referred to the Silicon Valley keeping in the state of mind region’s economic development and wealth of American people. Many countries have tried so far to create the Silicon Valley but have failed to re-create the elements and essence of original one.

 

Terman and Stanford Industrial Park

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Frederick E Terman the man behind the Silicon Valley’s success and fame. An electrical engineer and administrator when join the faculty at Stanford he realized that the department of electrical engineering at Stanford is lacking. But at MIT from where he did his PhD he saw that how the faculty there was pursuing research as well as was in connect with the industries through consulting and placement of students in different conglomerates and he follow the same vision there and made the Stanford as the center for the Radio and communications research and also encouraged his students William Hewlett and David Packard (owners of Hewlett-Packard Company) and Eugene Litton (owner of Litton Industries. Inc)  to establish their small start-up enterprises with the mission to incorporate the university with the business in the region.

 

And with his continuous efforts finally by 1949 the Stanford became recipient of government contracts among the top three industries and surpassed the other departments of electronics and finally a Stanford Industrial park was established in the year 1951. And this brought up revolution in America as this helped in granting the leases on the university land for high-tech firms for long time. And soon companies like  Varian Associates, Inc. (now Varian Medical Systems, Inc.), General Electric Company, Lockheed Corporation (now Lockheed Martin Corporation), Eastman Kodak Company, Admiral Corporation,  Hewlett-Packard Company, and others changed Stanford Research Park into United States prior largest technology developing region.

 Transformation of Transistor of Silicon to its Valley

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In 1953, William Shockley left the Bell Labs due to divergence over an issue of transistor’s invention with his colleagues. As unlike his colleagues who were his fellow researchers too used germanium as the best semiconductor material but Shockley had different belief, he believed that silicon was better as a semiconductor as compared to germanium and finally he built a Shockley diode which replaced simple transistor. And later in 1957 when the research upon silicon transistor ended the people from the Shockley’s company had left because of his offensive management style and formed Fairchild Semiconductor which was referred as “traitorous eight” by Shockley as it was started by eight of his team members.

 

Later, on many law and venture capital firms were established in the valley to manage capital transaction legally between the firms. Although the valley still has semiconductors as its major component for its economy. But nowadays the valley has been extensively influenced with the rise of software for computer operating systems and user interfaces.

 

The Other side of the Silicon Valley

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Being the world’s leading high-tech industry hub Silicon Valley has its totally different side into scene nowadays Bill Moyers did a segment on Silicon Valley called “Homeless in High Tech’s shadow” gave  a very different perspective of the valley and people there. Moyer in his segment mentioned a former National Semiconductor employee who has not even a roof over her head at the age of 54 just because company’s stiff hiring policies.

The Associated press conducted last year reported in an article about Silicon Valley’s economic downfall.

 

 “Food stamp participation just hit a 10-year high, homelessness rose 20 percent in two years, and the average income for Hispanics, who make up one in four Silicon Valley residents, fell to a new low of about $19,000 a year— capping a steady 14 percent drop over the past five years”

Moyers in his segment argued that wealth discrepancy in the valley is just because of the off shoring policies of the high-tech industries. These issues are very much intricate to be handled and loss of middle class type mechanized jobs had a bad impact on the economy in the States. But rather it is very interesting to see how hard role is played by the Silicon Valley, even though with sunny face of the general economy here.

World’s Leading Biodiversity – Kakadu National Park, Australia



World’s Leading Biodiversity – Kakadu National Park, Australia

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Here comes the Australia’s biggest National Park Kakadu, the name of the National Park is came from the unusual floodplain language known as Gagudju which was one of that language vocal at the beginning of the twentieth century in the north part of the park. Nowadays it is not spoken but people who understand Gagudju still live in Kakadu. Around 110,000 square kilometres is covered in the eastern corner of the territory by Arnhem Land and Kakadu National Park. It is the largest National Park of Australia. The location contains sites of some of the highest concentrated areas of rock art in the world; the example of these can be Ubirr and Noulangie Rock.

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A variety of stories and secrets are connected with the Kakadu National Park. Unimaginable sites and stories are spoken by the locals of the place. Everyone take their own part of time and discover the secrets to visit the place. It is not possible for a person to go through the beauty of the whole of the Kakadu National Park in one fleeting visit. It will take around a week to go through all the area and enjoy the scenic beauty of the park.

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Kakadu National Park is rich in the complete biodiversity. A perfect combination of flaura and fauna is found at the place. Besides these, the Ahmen Land is known for its beautiful tradition, rich culture, savannah woodlands, profolic wildlife, lush wetlands, and wild coastline. A place near Darwin known as Mary River region is the shelter of millions of birds, fishes and saltwater crocodiles, which makes it a hot spot for fishing including the mighty barramumdi.

History

Kakadu National Park was established in the year 1981. It will get authorised by the aurtralian government and Aboriginal traditional land owners: the Kunwinjku, Krakeourtinnie and the Jawoyn people. The Kakadu National Park is accepted as the world heritage recently.

The park is stretched around 1,980,400 hectares of the terrain and wetlands. It is around the size of Israel so as one of the biggest National Park of the world. It is the home to 120 reptiles, 26 frogs, 68 mammals (which is one-fifth of Australia’s mammals), around 300 species of tidal and fresh water, over 2000 plants and 10,000 insect species. The National Park is home to more than 290 species of birds (which is one third of Australia’s birds). One of the major staging points of the migratory birds is the Kakadu’s globally precious wetlands. Various birds and mammals of the National Park are being extinct and endangered.

Culture

Kakadu is rich cultural heritage. The conventional owner named Bininj Mungguy have lived and bothered about the place for over 50,000 years. Their high and spiritual concern about the land leads back to the formation and that will always remain the important part of the history of Kakadu.

Listing of World Heritage

The ancient cultural heritage and the unexpected natural beauty of the land were renowned internationally as the world heritage in the year 1981. Afterwards it was added to the final listing in the year 1987 and 1992. In the year 2011, another structure named the Koongarra land had been formerly been barred from the listing because of the possessions of potential uranium which was added to the area of Kakadu World Heritage which was under the custody of Koongarra’s senior referee Jeffrey Lee. Today the land is the part of the Kakadu National Park, shielding the heritage and cultural values for the future generations.

Flora and Fauna

It is a great pleasure to sightseeing the view of the wetlands of the park. It comprises of the freshwater, estaurine lazy crocodiles sleeping on the banks of the river, swimming and floating billabongs all around the place in the day time. Diversity of birds arises from Jacana (the Jesus Bird) to Jabiru, it is an enjoyable view to see as it steps from lily to lily. During dusk hundreds of herons and Ngurrungurrudjba (Yellow Water Billabons) loop over the clouds and take off from the inundated trees. The billabongs of the National Park are the same as the stagnant pool of water. Wallabies can be seen very commonly; who act as the ‘roadkill’. Various water buffaloes, feral horses, frilled lizards and pigs can be seen roaming around the area. Kakadu National Park comprises of various types of falls: some of these are Bowali Visitor Center which is located near Jabiru; the Warradjan Aboriginal Culture Centre which is situated in Cooinda; the Nourlangie Rock which is the walls of the Nourlangie site of Rock Art and Ubirr which is one of the well known aboriginal gallaries of rock art of Kakadu National Park.

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The unique ethnological and archaeological reserve, which is situated in the Northern Territory, has been settled constantly for more than 40,000 years. The archaeological sites, rock carvings and the cave paintings records the way of life and the skills of the regional inhabitants, from the aboriginal people to the hunter gatherers of the ancient times. A complete wrap up of floodplains, ecosystems, lowlands, including tidal flats and plateaus is provided for a broad range of plants and animals.

Cuzco: La Ciudad Imperial (The Imperial City)



Cuzco: La Ciudad Imperial (The Imperial City)

Cusco

 The city Cuzco is the capital of the Cuzco Province and Inca Empire and resides in the southeastern part of Peru. The city is elevated from the Knot of Cuzco (its eastern end) by 11,200 ft (3,400m). The city is populated with over 358,935 inhabitants. UNESCO declared the city as a World Heritage Site in the year 1983. The city is among the most visited sites of Peru as over 2 million visit this place in a year. Even the Constitution of Peru has Cuzco as its Historical Capital. The world famous battle of Pizarro’s men and Inca was fought in the area in 1536 which surrounds the city. Still some remains of the battle can be found there, the most remarkable ruin is Sacsayhuaman. The whole city was shaped as a figure of Puma which is a scared animal. There are two sections in the city, namely urin and hanan. These two sections are further divided into four provinces, Qullasuyu (SE), Kuntisuyu (SW), Antisuyu (NE) and Chinchasuyu (NW). These quarters are designed in such a way that a road from any of these provinces will led you to the quarter of the empire. When the rule of Pachacuti ended and Inca died, his son became the emperor and the process of split inheritance was done as the property was distributed to the relatives. It is compulsory for each leader to build a home in the city.

Machu Picchu, Peru

As per the Inca legend, Sapa Inca Pachacuti builds the whole city and made the city a wide empire of Tawantinsuyu. The city plan was so unique. There are two rivers which are channeled across the city and this plan is replicated around the whole city. In 1933, the city earned the title of the Archeological Capital of the Americas by the Congress of Americanists in La Plata. Cusco was declared as the Cultural Heritage of the World in 1978 by the 7th Convention of Mayors of Great Cities of the World which was being held in Milan. The city earned the title of Cultural Heritage of the Nation by the Peruvian government. It is also the Tourism Capital of Peru. The major attraction of Cuzco is Machu Picchu which is now one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The sight of this monument is very enduring as the structure is very attractive. People say that in 1535 Pizarro, the Spanish explorer sacked the Inca city including the palace of Inca. The remains of this palace is still there in the Temple of the Virgins of the Sun and the Temple of Sun (Qurikancha). These two temples also grab much of tourist attraction.

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The Qurikancha, which is also known as the Golden Palace of Cuzco, was built centuries before during the Inca Empire. As said before this temple is dedicated to the Sun God. The presence of a huge solid golden disc, with some embedded beautiful stones made the place more attractive. This golden disk is dedicated to the Inca Sun God (Inti). Garcilaso De La Vega, the Chronicler, wrote some ancient chronicles about this sun temple. In these chronicles, the garden before the temple was described as a scared place with trees and plants with silver stems, 20 life size gold llamas, leaves coated with gold, golden herders and solid gold corn cobs. The sight is this garden is heavenly. But the Spanish invaders destroyed the temple as they wanted to take the city’s wealth, shrines and idolaters. Today, the remains of the inner temple and the outer walls are recognizable.

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In 1539, the Iglesiadel Triunfo cathedral was build on the grounds of the Place of Viracocha in Inca. This is the first cathedral of Cusco. The Cathedral of Santo Domingo is the most popular among the Spanish colonial buildings. This cathedral is known for its beautiful collection of arts and paintings. People visit this cathedral for its Cuzco School paintings which is a very different style of paintings. The paintings of many local artists of the city are in the collection. Two most famous Cuzco School paintings are the “Twelve Apostles” which is a traditional Andean delicacy depicting a guinea pig and the “Last Supper” which has a painting of Jesus in it. The Cathedral of Santo Domingo is the bench of Archdiocese of Cuzco. The whole cathedral is decorated with Baroque, Plateresque and late-Gothic interiors with Renaissance style. This cathedral even exceeds the height of many other tall buildings in Cuzco, having one baroque tower.

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This World Heritage Site has many other beautiful sights. The most picturesque site, Barrio de San Blas, is very famous among tourists. You will find many tourists clicking themselves and their friends with its beautiful background. Many old houses were still situated there with narrow and steep streets which are said to be built by the Spanish. The Parish church is the oldest church of Cuzco and it is accompanied by a very attractive square. Another street, Hatun Rumiyog, is also the most visited place of tourists. This street is commonly referred as the one with the big stone. This street was located in the Inca Roca. On the way there are places like Barrio de San Blas, Plaza de Armas and the most popular the Stones of Twelve Angle which is the so called big stone. Other must visit place is the Convent and Church of la Merced which is dedicated to the god of Inca. In the entire city is a beautiful place with a large collection of preserved colonial architecture and complex mysterious history.