Monthly Archives: February 2014

Andaman- Beaches, History and Explorations



Andaman- Beaches, History and Explorations

Is travelling more to you than just the destination?  Would you enjoy diving deep both into the ocean and the history? Do you enjoy the colour green around you? Have you at least once imagined yourself all by yourself on a virgin sandy beach? Do you enjoy diverse cuisines and sea-food? Are you an explorer by default?

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If the answer to two or more of the above questions for yourself is in positive, then go to your calendar. Look for the next break in your schedule; and book a ticket to Andaman and Nicobar islands of India.

Where the Andaman Sea and The Bay of Bengal meet, there rise the Andaman & Nicobar clusters of islands. These two clusters in between each other cover a total land area of more than 8000 square kilometres. The islands after being occupied by first the Danish and then the British was finally merged with the Indian territory in 1950. The island clusters consist of exactly 572 islands in total out of which more than 35 are permanently inhabited. The Ten Degree Channel separates the Andaman from Nicobar Islands. They stretch over a distance of more than 800 kms from North to South. Some of the main Islands are Middle Andaman, North Andaman, South Andaman, Baratang and Little Andaman islands. The northern most point is Landfall Island and the southernmost, Indira Point.

Due to majority of people living on the Nicobar Islands being tribal people, the Nicobar cluster has been kept out-of-bounds for tourist activities and is used only for administrative and defence purposes by the Indian government. Rich forest cover runs throughout the hilly topography of the islands providing ideal habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna like wild boar, potted deer, pythons, gecko and crab-eating macaque. The bigger attraction though is the marine life, with amazing reefs, and spectacular habitat under the water Andaman has become one of the favourite spots was exploring marine life.

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The capital is Port Blair which comprises most of the mainland population of the islands and offers and array of interesting tourist spots. The first on any list would be The Cellular Jail. The structure encompasses both enriching history and brilliant architecture behind its high walls. It has been a close witness of the freedom struggle of India and confined thousands of freedom fighters behind these very walls in solitary confinement for years.  The story of this desperate struggle and its brave soldiers is told in the Light and Sound show at the Jail.

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Chatham Saw Mill, once Asia’s largest Saw Mill is located in Chatham Island & is connected to Port Blair by a Sea bridge. Other spots of tourist interest are the Gandhi park where people go to relax; the mini-zoo and more than a few museums.

The ethnographic museum called The Anthropological museum showcases the background, culture and history of the original inhabitants of the Andaman and Nicobar, the tribes. One can learn all there is to learn about the marine life around the island and in the Bay of Bengal or the Andaman sea at the Fisheries museum. The other notable museums are Samudrika, which is similar to the fisheries museum, The forest museum which has minutely detailed models of forest activities in Andaman and the Zoological Museum.

 Port Blair has its own fair share of nice beaches like the Carbyn’s Cove and North Bay Beach which are ideal for swimming and sun-basking but Radhanagar beach at Havelock Island feels like it’s from another world. Hailed as some of the most picturesque and pristine beaches of not just India but the whole world, a visit to Andaman is not complete without a visit to the Havelock Island. Accommodations of all sorts are not hard to find at both Port Blair and Havelock Island. The trip to Havelock from Port Blair takes 4 hours by the ship which is the only mode to travel. Most people take the next ship back to Port Blair after staying only a couple of hours at Radhanagar beach but the true enjoyment of Radhanagar Beach lies in being at the beach all by yourself with not a soul to be seen, which can be achieved only if one chooses to stay at the Havelock Island.

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There are more scenic beaches in Andaman than anyone can imagine; Elephant Beach, Vijayanagar Beach, both located at Havelock, being a few of them.

If one is for adventure and activities to make the trip memorable Andaman never disappoints. Scuba diving is the most popular marine activity and it indeed is a life time experience; for those who do not wish to go too deep, snorkelling is arranged very easily; and for ones who would take it a step higher they also provide for Sea-Walking where one walks on the sea-bed. Water sports of all kinds from motor boating, game fishing to water gliding are available and popular.

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For the other kind of nature lovers Andaman can mean camping both in the forests and the beach. Treks and hike are organized by tour operators on regular basis which take you on amazing stretches of varied distances.

With people from all over India residing in Andaman the place has come to be known as mini-India with people of all ethnicities and religions living harmoniously through ages. This also means the Andaman has a very rich variety of cuisines form south Indian to north Indian. Sea food as one can guess is delicious and easily available.

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Andaman can be reached by air from Delhi, Kolkata or Chennai and it is connected to Chennai, Kolkata and Vishakhapatnam by sea with voyages taking 50-60 hours and ships running every month.

Tourist from abroad need to avail prior permission for accessing the islands, which is easily available on arrival at Port Bair by flight or ship from the Immigration Authorities for 30 days.

Andaman and Nicobar islands are best bet for a different people to go together, as they encompass so much in between them that nobody would come dissatisfied from the trip. 

Rishikesh – The Worlds Yoga Capital



Rishikesh – The Worlds Yoga Capital

Ever since The Beatles decide to hit it on their travel map in 1968 and wrote songs like Mother Nature’s Son inspired form their stay, Rishikesh has been one of the most visited tourist destinations for foreign tourists in India. It enjoys a diversity of tourist population which only a very few locations around the globe have ever had the chance to; Rishikesh is not only the adventure hub for the zealous youngsters looking for adrenalin crazed action and people of all ages and ethnicities who come from all over  the globe seeking peace in its ancient yogic knowledge and wisdom; but it is also one of the most prominent religious destinations in India holding special significance for Hindus along with its sister city of Haridwar. Being located on the banks of one of the holiest and most nurturing rivers of the world The Ganga (Ganges) gives it an edge over any other tourist destination of its kind.

The two landmarks for which the town is known for all across the country are the two large suspension bridges over Ganga known as the Laxman Jhula and Ram Jhula. No matter how short one’s stay is at Rishikesh one is certainly in for more than a couple of trips over these structures as they fall right in the way of going almost anywhere in the town. The bridges are for pedestrians only and people used to Indian driving conditions are even able to hop two-wheelers on them.

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The whole town of Rishikesh is sopping wet with yoga and as soon as one gets down on a station or airport one begins to see people of all kinds from kids to yogis and sages in various poses of yoga. The town can be divided into two parts one which is the main township with all the stations, bus stands and bigger markets, the other is the smaller, more remote outer-township area where most of the ashrams and accommodations are located. This area is the major hub of all tourist interest and most people make it a base for their stay while roaming around to nearby towns and cities like Haridwar and Dehradun.

Rishikesh is believed to be the true Indian broadcaster of yoga to the whole world. The town even though small, has rich ancient history with mention of it even in Vedic scriptures; the name can be broken into two to more correctly understand its meaning, Rishi- meaning a great sage or sear and kesh- which in Hindi means hair.

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The whole town is dotted of Yoga Ashrams of varied sizes and standards, some more authentic then others. It attracts tens of thousands of tourists every year who come looking for inner peace, mental serenity or better health; and with the number of tourists only going up every year it can be certainly said the Rishikesh seldom lets you down. The Ashrams have a well-planned schedule once you register and are on deck; they take care of everything from the diet to accommodation. Most teachers are well-trained and experienced and are helpful to great extents.

People of Rishikesh are some of the most cordial people of all the tourist destinations in India. No matter what you ask of them, no matter the trouble they will always answer back with a smile. Rates are very much on the lower end due to a very competitive market for almost everything.

Rishikesh sees the arrival of both, rich and well provided folks who come for a different experience for their family and prefer all the luxuries that the place can provide; also large is the no. of backpackers who live with the spirit of wandering. The first is served by top-of-the-list luxury hotels and resorts whereas the latter find a very comfortable and safe adobe in the cheap lodges and guesthouses, most of which are very hospitable and budget friendly.  The Atali Hotel and Resort and The Shiv Shakti Guest House are two examples of both the categories respectively.

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Rishikesh isn’t really a food traveller’s delight but nice restaurants are not hard to find in proximity, especially near the two bridges. The town holds immense religious significance to millions of Hindus and thus non-vegetarian food and alcoholic beverages of any kind are not allowed inside the town and people often go to nearby cities like Dehradun for such tastes.

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Adventure sports in Rishikesh are an experience more intense and fun than anywhere else in India or for that matter even the south-east Asian sub-continent.  The crown jewel of Rishikesh adventure tourism is the White water rafting which is facilitated by a trail of rapids on Ganga the like of which are not found on any other river in the world. It attracts rafting and kayaking enthusiasts form all over the world. The rafting is cheaper than any other place in the world and people have an option in choosing the length of their adventure ride; distances of 8km, 16km, 24 km and 36 km are generally offered. The river has rapids from of grade 1 to grade 4, the biggest of which is The Wall.

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Bungee jumping is another thrill Rishikesh has in store for adrenaline junkies. It is offered by a private organization which also offers many other adventure activities like Flying Fox and the Great Swing. The people here are a little less cordial and there maybe a few hidden charges but all in all it is a profitable bargain.

Trekking and hiking tips are led by seasoned local guides who take to picturesque spots and scenic sunsets.

It is a place which awakens the explorer in anybody with events like the Ganga Aarti which is a religious ritual of Hindus which take place every evening at the banks of Ganga. People also visit nearby town of Haridwar much higher in religious significance and the Queen of Hills Mussorie which is not more than 70 km away from Rishikesh.

The nearest airport is located at Dehradun and the railway station at Haridwar; via road Rishikesh is only 6-8 hours from the capital Delhi.

Unlike many other places which one might visit, Rishikesh is one, which evidently brings the thought ”I’ll be back here again, sometime ”, come to your mind just as you are leaving it for your home.

The Black Forests of Germany



The Black Forests of Germany

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The Black Forest is not only a destination that is extremely varied but is also one of the biggest and best known holiday regions in Germany. Located in south western Germany in Baden- Wurttemberg, the Black Forest is a wooded mountain range.  It is mainly a granite highland with rounded summits. It embodies everything, from the Black Forest maids, farms, cherry gateaux and hats to cuckoo clocks that one might expect of a perfect German picture book holiday. The forest is bordered by the Rhine Valley in its west and south. The dark, slightly sinister canopy of evergreens surrounding the place gave the forest its name. It is also famous for its legends and the black fir trees that cover the landscape.

The terrain is about 200- 1500 meters above sea level, Feldberg (or the field mountain) being the highest point at 1493 m. It is almost rectangular in shape with a length of 160 km. The River Danube originates from the Black Forest. It also occupies a part of the continental divide between the Atlantic Ocean drainage basin and the Black Sea drainage basin. Initially regarded as a backward part of Germany, the forest first rose to commercial prominence for its timber and woodwork.  This was followed by the cuckoo clock industry, watch making, manufacture of musical instruments and gold mining. Today the region is best known for attracting tourists. ‘Black Forest Clinic’ a T.V series has also helped in promoting its fame far and wide as the series brought images of this perfect holiday destination to over 40 countries in 17 languages.

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The closest airports to the Black Forest are Karlsruhe, Strasbourg, Basel, Stuttgart and Zurich. One could catch the train or take a taxi from the airport. There are a couple of attractive towns and villages surrounding the forests which makes our tour more delightful. Baden- Baden is an old nineteenth century spa town in the north. Bad Wildbad is another village located in the Northern Black Forest well known for its marked drives particularly the scenic Schwarzwaldhochstrasse or the Badische Weinstrasse. These drives also lead us to the beautiful Gutach Valley, the most quintessential and traditional region of the Black Forest. There is also the provincial University City of Freinburg with its sun- soaked narrow streets. This is the warmest and most arid part of Germany from where you can explore the entire Southern Black Forest.

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A few minutes’ walk or a bike ride from these towns and villages will put you in the lap of nature, in the middle of a silent countryside filled with farmhouses, dairy cows and poultry farms. Titisee, a medium sized lake is another important destination in the tourist village of Neustadt. The Black Forest was the birthplace of skiing in central Europe. The first ski club was founded in the Feldberg Mountain. Cyclists and bikers also find the path leading to the forest ideal for travelling. More than 8,000 kilometres of cycle trails have been signposted for mountain bikers.  You can also spend your time indulged in adventurous sports like hiking, high altitude lake diving, mountain hiking, paragliding and many others. There are also numerous shorter paths suitable for day walks. The thermal baths in Baden- Baden and Badenweiler are also very famous. The Deutsche’s Uhrenmuseum at Furtwangen has the biggest collection of cuckoo clocks, renowned for their precision.

There are also several restaurants in the area with top chefs and Gault Millau even in the small villages where one could savour the taste of regional cuisine. The food is ‘wholesome’ and has lots of cakes, biscuits, wheat and gravies. The restaurants also provide the best drinks available. We get to taste some of Germany’s best beer and wine available in the region. Rothaus and Alpirsbacher are some of the highly renowned beers. The internationally known Black Forest Cake originated in this region. It is also called the Black Forest Cherry Cake and is made using chocolate cake, cream, sour cherries and Kirsch.

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The Flammkuchen made with ham, cheese and cream is also a Black Forest speciality. There are about 17 Michelin starred restaurants in the region. Hotel Sonnenhalde, Schwarzwaldstube and Bareiss in Baiersbronn, and Colombi in Freiburg are some of the famous restaurants in the area. We also get to see a glimpse of the old tile stoves that are still in use in many of the hotels in the region. Stay in the Black Forest is varied and plentiful, from simple rooms in farmhouses to five star luxuries. Accommodations are cheaper in the smaller towns and villages and often provide excellent home-food and special service. Those interested in hiking for a week or two can stay in the primitive lodging available in small cabins along the trails.

With around 28 million overnight stays round the year, tourism is the most important rice winner of the federal state of Wurttemberg. By touring around the dark, deep green woods of the Black forest one could marvel at the unspoiled nature and spend a few hours in blissful silence. Wood carving is a traditional cottage industry in the region that produces carved ornaments that are given as souvenirs to the tourists. Singing bird boxes were also manufactured in the past. Visiting the Black Forest is a once in a lifetime experience and we get to enjoy the best of nature.

Tuscany – The Jewel of Italy



Tuscany – The Jewel of Italy

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If Italy is the quintessential destination for tourists, then Tuscany is one of its jewels. The region of Tuscany is situated in the central area of the Italian Peninsula and is home to some of the greatest cities in Italy none more prominent then the city of Florence itself. The region which was the birth place of Italian Renaissance and high culture of Europe is one of the most visited regions in the whole world. Tuscany’s heritage, landscape, buildings, arts, culture and its people make it the undisputed ambassador for Italian tourism all over the world. This part of Italy stretches from the highlands of Apennines to the Tyrrhenian Sea providing variety of landscapes which are beautiful to witness as well as amazing in their richness of being.

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Tuscany was a thriving region with human activity since the bronze age with the region being largely occupied by the people of Apennine culture who thrived in these lands through the second millennia B.C, the developments of the first city states started out somewhere around the 1000-700 B.C. Around the eight or seventh century B.C the Etruscans developed the first full-fledged civilization in the Tuscan region leading to developments of roads, agricultural fields, mining and transportation systems. Tuscany finally fell to Romans hands by the first century B.C; the Romans having annexed Tuscany began developing it endowing it with technology, aqua ducts, and new methods of agriculture, buildings and sewer system. The Romans also laid the foundation of many of the now great cities of Tuscany such as Florence, Lucca, Pisa and Siena. After the fall of the Romans in 5th century A.D, Tuscany during the middle ages started to create its own identity though never fully given the political consent.

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In the middle Ages, it was an important passing route of the holy pilgrimage from France till Rome which resulted in the region garnering a lot of wealth and development, the requirement for food and shelter by the pilgrims allowed locals to set up communities near the churches. By the fourteenth century Tuscany was being informally ruled by the Medici family, it was during this time that Tuscany in general and Florence in particular gave birth to the Renaissance in Europe becoming the artistic, cultural and traditional center of Italy as well as Europe. Artists from the erstwhile Byzantine Empire immigrated to the beautiful city of Florence and left their mark all over the city in its marvelous piazzas, churches, clock towers and various public and private buildings. Florence gave Tuscany the identity it has today, during its high time Florence was able to annex the nearby provinces of Siena, Lucco and Pisa making Tuscany a political entity and forming the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

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Tuscany is just gorgeous in every sense of the word, the landscape with its enchanting colors, the architecture with its marvelous symmetry, the breathtaking art, the heritage, history and the people make Tuscany really the most mesmerizing of all places in European continent. The region has just so much to offer, its vibrancy is feverish, its culture is addictive and its landscape is romantic once here it’s just so hard to be anywhere else in the world. One can relax oneself in the long sandy beaches of the coast or get thrill while trekking up the high mountains of the Apennines or be lost in eternal glory of Florence or be gripped by the carnival-like mood of Sienna. The Tuscan Archipelago provides for some calm, sandy relaxation along the beaches, for adrenaline enthusiasts it also offers great water sports options such as wind surfing. If you are searching for a glimpse into the ancient past of Tuscany then you can visit the amazing Gulf of Baratti with Vetulonia, Vulci and Pitigliano which offer a peek into its Etruscan roots while Roselle and Cosa take you back to the Roman times.

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The region is full of UNESCO World Heritage Site allowing it attract tourists in millions every year. Florence is the darling of Tuscany; this provincial capital is a cradle of arts and culture of not only Tuscany but Italy too. An open air museum of sorts it really is an exhibition of the marvels of the Renaissance age, a time which gave Florence its many amazing buildings such as Duomo with Giott’s Bell Tower, Santa Maria Novella, Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery. The sight of many artists in the streets of Florence in the Mediterranean noon of the spring epitomizes the beauty that the region holds within itself. Siena a neighbor of Florence is no way going to be left behind in showing off its charm and no place is more charming in this extraordinary city than its marvelous town center which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pisa with its glorious medieval building among them the Leaning Tower is also a great place to visit along with the ideal Renaissance town of Pienza and San Gimignano. Tuscany is a treasure with a limitless supply of awe inspiring sights, nature, vineyards, cities, architecture and beaches. Its jewel of Italian tourism in every sense of the word and the visit of more than ten million people every year is more than a proof f its splendor.

Land of Magic And Nature: Norway



Land of Magic And Nature: Norway

The best things in life are evasive, transient, fleeting moments that can’t be captured by words, pictures or action; the only thing that aids you recalling those glorious moments is your fragile and gullible memory.  These are some of the greatest returns of travelling- moments that will leave you weak, spellbound, enthralled, mesmerised, motivated and a thousand other emotions you never knew you had before. The sheer thrill of discovering a new place is an adrenaline pump in itself. It constantly eggs you on to reach that edge of the cliff from where you can actually feel yourself alive. The realization that you had the fortune of seeing the world like this, and the goose-bumps that this thought entails, is what sets a traveller’s heart longs for. If there was something that you wanted to do if money was no obligation, I am sure travel would have been the majority’s course of life.

Such deep thoughts passed through my mind while I was going through the google pictures of Norway and related tourism. Prior to this, the only knowledge I had about Norway was that it’s the famous “Land of Midnight Sun”. The next encounter I had with the country was in the Electromagnetism chapter of my physics book which described the phenomenon of “Northern Lights” or Aurora Borealis- the colorful neon light display in the night sky like a magician’s wand at work.

Norway is one of the major Scandinavian countries found in the lap of the northern hemisphere as a part of the Europe continent. It is richly blessed in scenic beauty and landscapes, and the people have done well to preserve it in its purest form. You won’t find much of the usual bedlam associated with such major tourist sites which allows you to capture the essence of the scene perfectly. Most of the places in Norway find their way to travel enthusiasts’ lists of “Places to visit before you die”. Just travelling around Norway and not going anywhere in particular is enough to give you the thrills you came looking for. And the best part- according to a 2013 UN report on World Happiness, Norway took the 2nd spot.

Norway is not a part of the schenzen visa which allows you to travel around Europe, so you’d have to get a visa for Norway. It has well over 50 airports, and even the northernmost part of Lofoten is connected through a port. The capital is Oslo, where you are most likely to land. From there, there are numerous options to roam around the city. Personally, I think renting a car is the best because it allows you the freedom of time and choice. But it requires a valid driving license and issued a year before. The minimum age for renting a car is 19 years, and if you are younger than 25, most companies will require you to pay a young driver’s fee of approx. NOK 100 a day. It might be tad expensive but then, it’s a vacation and you have been saving up for this one for so long. Other options include bus, cabs, organised tour packages, trains and ferries. It’s going to be heavier on your wallet than the other European countries, so plan ahead.

The most awesome sights to see in Norway are plentiful with no particular sequence. You can set up campsites wherever you want (on uncultivated lands), thanks to a unique law called “Allemannsrett” and soak in the resplendent magical sun.

The best places to visit are:

Trolltunga and Kjeragbolten: The rocks, the cliffs! Scream your lungs out. And change your facebook dp!

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Next up in line is the Fjords. The magnificent mountains surrounding the sea in Bergen just take your breath away. There are regular cruises plying around these beauties. Also, the Seven Sisters waterfall is am amazing attraction in these hills and is a heavenly experience in itself.

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The Lofoten Islands in Norway are an incredible place to enjoy the pristine beauty of the nature. You can rent small and really cosy fishermen houses (called Rorbu) on the fjords and enjoy the amazing view.

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As I was saying, the roads to drive through are amazing. Like this one called the Atlantic Ocean road.

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The Troll wall in one of the Romsdalen valley is known for base jumping. Looks thrilling, doesn’t it?

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Hiking and trekking are some of the most popular activities enjoyed by the locals as well as tourists, as it allows optimum exposure to the beauties of the nature around, and there are a lot of places to facilitate that, like these mountains called Besseggen. Also, Norway is known to be the birthplace of skiing and you can go skiing almost anytime of the year.

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Of course, as we all know, due to the geographic position of Norway, you can see the Sun 24 hours throughout the place. It generally occurs in late May- late July. Apart from helping the locals to enrich their livelihood, it also serves as one of the most amazing wonder in the world.

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And this list is incomplete without the mention of the most attractive feature of this magical land- the Northern Lights. The colorful display in the night sky is facilitated by special glass-igloos through which you can sleep under the celestial magic. It seems sweeter than dreams.

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The list of places to visit in Norway is simply unending. It might take you a lifetime to explore this beautiful country.

The Food Of Italy



The Food Of Italy

Italy is the city of food as in Italy eating food is not just the activity of soothing down your muffled stomach. In fact in Italy eating is the synonym of togetherness, cordiality, a glass of wine with the slice of salami or just a piece of cheese. For Italians, the food time is the most amazing time of the day as for them it’s the time to enjoy with the family and friends; it’s the time for flavors, wine and laughter. So does reflects in the Italian Cuisine also as it’s all about the culture.

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The Italian cuisine is loved by liked everywhere outside Italy too. Sometimes the food of Italy referred to as the “the gastronomy of Italian regions” as it is the hodgepodge of the flavors, tastes, creativity along with the history and traditions of whole Italy. It’s the most requested and imitated cuisine around the world, as it is simple, highly digestible and most importantly excessively light and healthy most of times.

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The Italian food culture is all about living in the kitchen every single day; join the good time with family and friends and follow the ancient traditions of Italy to a better wakefulness of the use of food. The cuisine is quite rich in its recipes like: pizza, ravioli, spaghetti, lasagna, prosciutto ham, Parmigianino Reggiano parmesan cheese, ice cream (IT: gelato), espresso and more. It’s actually not possible to list all the recipes and products, but everybody just remembers it forever once it is being tasted anywhere anytime as it has the essence of all Italy. The best part of it’s culture is that the Italians have different food customs at different ceremonial occasions like they for the feast day have special Saint Joseph’s bread, Easter bread with hard boiled eggs, Saint Lucy’s “eyes” and a special Feast Of the Seven Fishes for their New Year’s.

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It’s been observed that whenever people think of Italy and its food they definitely think of Pizza but here I tell you out this that Italian cuisine has a lots of taste and flavors hidden in it so let’s here get it all explored!!!

 

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The people of Italy eat a lot of cheese in their daily meals and they have given a lot of different varieties of cheese to the world to eat upon among which one Parmigiano-Reggiano is sometimes referred to as Parmesan in the rest of world. This cheese got its name from the place where it was produced Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and Bologna. The fresh cheese has its own unique taste which is very essential in many Italian dishes and it gives very yummy taste when it pairs with numerous red wines. When you are in these regions of Italy definitely check for some for festivals out there and just enjoy the local production Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses!! Believe me once you re even back at home you will never forget the taste of the fresh cheese and would not actually wanted to buy the grated stuff in a can ever again. The Kraft Parmesan cheese that you sprinkle over the pasta at home is not actually the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses.

 Risotto

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Risotto a yummy creamy grained dish is indigenous to the Piedmont region of the northern Italy. It is made of the short-grain rice with the broth that makes a creamy dish. It is quite difficult to make this dish as slight improper cooking ca turn this scrumptious dish to crusty rice soup. Though being made of rice, it is a very light and healthy dish because of its cooking pattern and due to which it is liked a lot by the people all over the world and even in gourmet French restaurants this is very easily available. And if you want to learn to make a good Risotto at home you should definitely meet the chefs like Mario Batali who is actually considered to be the master of the risotto in Italy.

 

Spaghetti

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Another luscious dish of Italy Spaghetti is indigenous to the southern Italy. Many people have this illusion that pasta was not invented in Italy, though it is true that China has hold on the first known pastas but the popular pastas called as Spaghetti were originated in the Italy back in the 12th century. For Pasta lovers there is great opportunity to visit the Pasta Museum in Rome during your travels in Italy. It’s a big museum of 11 rooms with eight centuries of pasta history.

 Cannoli

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Cannoli is one of the most loved Italian dishes all over the world. Everyone knows it with its famous name as cannoli from Sicily as it was originated in the Palermo region of Sicily. Not just the taste of cannoli that attracts you to eat it but also it is beautifully garnished that you can’t resist yourself without eating it. If you have ever seen it, they are very small pastry kind of tubes with the stuffing of sweet, creamy cheese. Initially it was a dish that was prepared on the occasion of the Carnevale but later it become a part of the regular Italian cuisine and eventually found worldwide now. When you can’t go to Italy to have it all, we definitely suggest you to visit the cities with “Little Italy” outlets, they also serve you in the best possible manner Italians can.

Spumoni

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After taking taste of so many Italian dishes now comes the turn for the famous dessert of Italy called the Spumoni. It is basically a modeled Italian Ice cream. It was originated in Naples, Italy and its traditional taste could only be found in Italy itself as out of Italy you will only found spumoni ice cream at local grocers. And its taste is so luscious that keeps you craving until your next visit to Italy. It has many layers and every layered is different colored and contains different nuts and candied fruits.

This popular Italian dessert is so much loved in North America that there they are celebrating the two National spumoni days. The United States of America celebrates August 21 and November 13 in Canada is celebrated as the Spumoni days.

The Beauty beyond Vision – Edinburgh



The Beauty beyond Vision – Edinburgh

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Located in Lothian in the southern shores of the Firth of Forth, Edinburgh was the capital of Scotland since the 15th century. It is one among the most ancient cities of the world. Edinburgh has kept alive the legends of Scotland even today, by preserving its unique monuments that tell a million stories about the past. It is the second most populous city of Scotland. Edinburgh is also home to many national institutions.  The city is also deeply rooted to its rich and intriguing history. Edinburgh lies in an unforgettable setting that trigger a sense of nostalgia through the veins.

The Old Town and New Town of Edinburgh is even listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in appreciation of its unique architecture. One can find the best of both the worlds in Edinburgh. Irrespective of whether one is looking for history, heritage, landmarks, delicious cuisine or drinks, you will get it all in Edinburgh. It is one place where anything and everything is possible. The city’s rich cultural and social heritage has without doubt proved that Edinburgh is one of the most elegant and beautiful cities in Europe. “This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again” says Alexander McCall Smith, an author.

Edinburgh

The earliest known habitation in Edinburgh dates back to 8500 B.C. The modern city is believed to be built on seven hills, namely Carlton Hill, Corstorphine Hill, Craiglockhart Hill, Braid Hill, Blackford Hill, Arthur’s Seat and the Castle Rock, giving rise to the allusions of the seven hills of Rome. The Braid Hills and the Blackford Hills (a series of small summits spread over the south west of the city) gives us an expansive view of the city northwards, over the urban areas to the Forth. The Princes Street Gardens divide the city into two parts, with the Edinburgh Castle( built out of rocks) dominating the south and the Princes Street and the Old Town in the north. List most other cities of Scotland, Edinburgh has a moderate, relatively mild climate. Because of its close proximity to the sea and it being surrounded by coasts and hills, Edinburgh is also known as “the windy city”.

Edinburgh

 

Edinburgh is the best place one could visit on a family’s day out as it offers you a treasure trove of the major attractions of the world. Irrespective of whether it is a family’s day out or a cultural pursuit, the city has the majesty to satisfy its most discerning visitor. Arthur’s Seat, one of the earliest known sites of human habitation in Edinburgh, The Pentland Hills and Edinburgh’s Waterfront are the major attractions the make the city look incredible to the rest of the world. You could roam around the cosmopolitan streets of the Port of Leith, take a cruise on the River Forth and explore the rugged terrains in just one day. The Edinburgh Castle located at the Royal Mile on top of the Castle Rock provides an incomparable view of the grandeur the city holds.

The Edinburgh Zoo is home to more than 1000 rare and wonderful animals including the koalas, meerkats, giant pandas and the cheeky chimpanzees! One could only hold one’s breath and marvel at Scotland’s Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny. We can also listen to the One o’ Clock being fired from the ramparts from Mons Meg, the world’s oldest cannon. For those who would love to taste a cup of royalty, you could take a tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia which was the seabound home Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family for over 40 years. Edinburgh doesn’t disappoint the carefree, adventure loving spirits out there too. An exciting, scary and fun filled trip through the Edinburgh Dungeon takes us into the bloody history of Scotland.

balmoral-clock

Youngsters can take a trip down the memory lane and see a wonderful collection of toys and games at the Edinburgh Museum of Childhood. The museum also helps enthusiastic people to learn more about the children of the past and also has a puppet theatre, dressing-up area and a fantastic museum shop. Edinburgh is also the best when it comes to hosting cultural fairs and festivals. In recognition of its rich literary heritage, UNESCO gave Edinburgh the title of the City of Literature in 2004. The Edinburgh International Festival is and has always been the biggest art festival in the world since its founding in 1947.

For those who would love to know more about the city, Sarah Guppy, a city author has brought Edinburgh to life in her book of short stories. From a juggling care worker and a bargain-obsessed shopper to an enthusiastic playboy and a pensioner who resides with a speaking parrot, Guppy has tried to portray the social life in Edinburgh using quirky characters and interesting lives. A walk through Edinburgh is a constant reminder of the cultural foundations of the capital. “There’s more to Edinburgh than meets the eye. It’s also a walker’s city- small enough to walk around in one day. It’s a city of the mind- but if you scratch its surface you’ll discover there’s a lot hidden away.”

Land of Thunder Dragon-Bhutan



Land of Thunder Dragon-Bhutan

Bhutan is a mountain country with lush green valleys, unique wildlife and a rich historical and cultural heritage. It is a small country nested in the eastern Himalayas and is refered to as Druk-Yul or Land of the Thunder Dragons by the locals. Bhutan has attracted people across countries to its picturesque beauty and wonderful architectures.

You can visit Bhutan at any time of the year. The climate is warm and there are never ending festivities in this mountain country. One of the good and in-budget hotels to visit in Thimpu is Khamsun Inn, located around 500 meters from the Memorial Stupa. It has a restaurant, a massage parlor and a Free WI-Fi access. The Five-star luxury hotel, Taj Tashi  Bhutan, is located at the center of Thimpu. It is 7km from Buddha Point Thimpu and 60km or around 1-hour drive from Paro International Airport. The Naksel boutique Hotel and Spa is another hotel located 5km from the Taktsang Monastery. It is a distance of 4km from the hotel and 11km from the Paro International Airport.

 Tiger’s Nest

Tigers-Nest-Monastery-Bhutan

Paro Taktsang  or Taktsang Palphug Monastry famously known as Tiger’s Nest is a sacred Buddhist temple located in the Cliffside of Paro valley. The temple is surrounded by famous legends of a Guru named Padmasambhava, who is said to have meditated there for three years, three months, three days and three days back in 8th century. It was built around the cave of Taktsang Senge Samdup which are said to be an abode for the tigers, hence the name Taktsang or Tiger’s Nest. The hike to the top is quite tricky. The trail is slippery from the rains every now and then. The caves are situated at a height of 10,000 feet and the hiking is a treacherous one. The hikers get to pass through several steps, a small waterfall, prayer wheels and prayer flags across the way.  Once you reach the top the view is enthralling and worth the long hike. No photos are allowed inside the temple. The temples seem to create a sense of peace and serenity with a view pleasing to the eyes. The Tiger’s Nest Hotel is one of the brilliant hotels located at the base of the monastery, with good services.

Kuensel Phodrang Natural Trail Hike

Kuensel Phodran

This one day hike takes you through natural tracks across the Thimphu valley to the biggest Buddha statue in the world. The statue stands 169 feet tall and is a major pilgrimage centre for the Buddhist who come from all over the world to unite, meditate and offer homage. The way to the top can also be covered by driving up the mountains towards the majestic Buddha Dordenma. This Buddha statue also houses over a hundred thousand Buddha structures similar to the Buddha Dordenum that are made of bronze and gilded with gold. You can enjoy long and short natural hikes around the statue, through the large pine trees with beautiful birds singing overhead. There are benches and various picnic spots through the trails where you can have your lunch amidst the canopies of nature.

Po Chu- Mo Chu

rapid_mo_chu

Po Chu and Mo Chu are the Male River and the Female River respectively, splashing their way through the Punakha Valley. Rafting through the rivers is a thrilling experience in its own. Rafting in Po Chu is tougher, Class III rafting while Mo Chos recommended for the starters. The raft rides over the rapids and in between provides a beautiful landscape view of the paddy fields, forest and myriad birds and animals, of the Punakha Valley. Gliding down smoothly across the magnificent Punakha Dzong fortress, you might get a chance to see one of the world’s rarest birds, the White Bellied Heron and kingfishers over the river banks.

Thimpu

Thimphu

Thimpu, the capital town of  Bhutan, showcases a unoque combination of modern development and ancient traditions. The town is a tourist attraction and is famous for its architectural styles. There is an essence of serenity in the town and the people are quite happy and friendly.

Places of interest in Thimpu:

MEMORIAL CHORTEN

MEMORIAL CHORTEN

It a stupa built in1974 by King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, one of the late kings who was famously known as Father of modern Bhutan. The stupa houses painting and statues that reflect the Buddhist philosophy.

DZONG

Simtokha Dzong Thimphu Bhutan

Smitokha dzong

Dzong, meaning the place of happiness and bliss, Smitokha was built in 1627, stands on a low ridge 8km down the valley of Thimpu. It displays a great work of architecture with a series of finally crafted slates behind the prayer wheels in the courtyard.

Trashichhoedzong

Also known as ‘fortress of the glorious region’  was built in 1965.  This Dzong houses the throne room of the King of Bhutan. It becomes a home to monks headed by the Je Khenpo, during the warm summer when they head here.

MONASTRY

cheri

Goemba Tango

This monastery built around 15th century has got legends of its own. It nests to the North of Thimpu, and it takes around 30 minutes drive to get there. For the people who prefer walking under the beautiful and shady rhododendron  forest, it would take around 1 hour to reach the monastery. The monastery is a three storey tower, surrounded by buildings built around 18th century.

Goemba Cheri

This monastery was built in 1620, it constitutes of numerous hermitages and small temples, providing a spectacular view, across the slopes. The way to the monastery is a one way walk of about 4.5 kilometers, which would take around 2 hours. The trail allows you to cross a traditional wooden bridge expanding  across the Thimpu Chhu.

Botanical gardens, Serbithang

About 10 Km from the city, it offers a peaceful environment amidst the lush green hillside. With a collection of variety of exotic trees and plants, the gardens provide  a calm and pleasing place to spend few hours.

Coronation Park

Lord Buddha StatueCoronation Park

This parkland, spreading across 5.6 acres, is located along the banks of the river Wangchu. The park consists of stone footpaths with canopies and benches, swings and slides, a mini-basketball court and gardens with more than sixty species of flowers and trees.

There are a whole range of places to visit in this small green valley, with snow capped  mountain peaks and rich culture and heritages. This splendid country is a major tourist destination and attracts crowd from all over the world. Walk into the Land of Thunder Dragons and  marvel the beauty of this small yet stunning nation.

From Desolate Desert to Greenhouse Development: Negev, Israel



From Desolate Desert to Greenhouse Development: Negev, Israel

Located in Western Asia, Israel is a country which boasts of extremely ancient and rich histories, equally wide ranging geographical terrains and various kinds of traveling experiences from religious tourism, to historical and archaeological trips, and different avenues of adventure traveling. In Southern Israel is the desert region of Negev. The Negev Desert occupies more than half of Israel’s total area. It is easily connected by roads from the airports of neighboring cities of Tel Aviv and Eliat. Within the wide yellow and rocky expanses of Negev are hidden several traveling options for different kind of visitors.

Negev Terrain

Negev provides endlessly stretching lands replete with rocks and sand. The wild and uninhabited lands and the complete peace that the desert offers is as far removed from busy city life as is possible. There are many kinds of sightseeing as well as adventure activities available that one can undertake. But this in no way implies that this intimidating and desolate terrain is all that Negev has to offer. Within the wide expanses of Negev one can find several archaeological marvels. Besides these remains and ruins, the sparkling water bodies, seasonal spring, vineyards, and lush wilderness found in some areas of the desert make up for a sharp distinction and a respite.

Off Roading

There are many adventure activities for which the terrain of Negev is imminently suitable. From off-roading, to hiking, mountain biking, or desert-camping you can opt from a wide array of options depending on your disposition. Many overnight campgrounds are made available across the Negev desert. To spend your nights among the sand ridden surroundings, removed from signs of modern civilizations, to feel the quiet and silence, are all experiences which staying overnight in a desert is bound to leave you with. You can opt from different camps depending on the kind of experience you want, for instance you can stay in camps situated near the water bodies of the desert.

Camps in Negev

To see the extremely lush patches of greenery amid the arid deserts provides for a fascinating sight. If you are more historically inclined you can go with such campgrounds as the Moa. Asides from all the quintessentially desert experiences, this site is also steeped in history as it was originally a travelling Inn some 2000 years ago. You can observe the breathtaking views available in the deserts, with sands as far as the eyes can see and bonfires in night, clear star ridden skies.

Ein Avdat

Hiking among various trails in Negev is a popular tourist activity. If you want more adrenalin inducing pursuits you can opt for off-road drives, or mountain biking too. Ein Avdat figures as a famous hiking trail, owing to its scenic settings. The steep canyon, refreshing water body, the surprisingly well to do flora, presence of native fauna, make up for a beautiful location, worth exploring on foot.

nahal lavan

Nahal Lavan or White Stream provides several suitable settings for off-road safaris across its banks. Starting from Mount Lavan, crossing ancient cities like that of Shivta, various cliffs, sand dunes, water reservoirs, and historical ruins it provides for a fascinating exploratory tours of the places otherwise not easily accessible. Borot Lutz, a picturesque and vibrant cistern in the rocky expanses of Negev makes for stunning hiking trails.

Carpet of Flowers in middle of a Desert

The brown and yellow of the sands is carpeted with profusion of flowers such as tulips. There are many naturally abundant, geologically fascinating or archaeologically significant trails available for more adventurous sort of travelers.

Avdat

The history of human settlements in Negev can be traced back to some 7000 years ago. From Nomadic people to Byzantine, Islamic and British influences, Negev has seen it all. It has great historical and religious significance, as it figures in various stories of Bible too. The Avdat ruins are the ruins of Nabataean city dating as far back as 4th century BC. The ruins here illustrate the ancient methods of irrigation that were developed and employed for agriculture.

Cities on the Incense Route

This city and ruins are also important owing to their connection to the Nabataean Incense Route, which is a UNESCO World Heritage designated route in Negev. During the 3rd cent BC and later this route was very significant trade wise, and was used to transport spices and incense form east. Cities located along the Incense Route include those of Mamshit, Shivta, Avdat, Haluza to name a few. All of these places thus become significant from a historical point of view, and make for Negev’s tourist attractions.

Lost City

Mikdash HaNemerism or The Tigers temple located in Avdat is also an impressive site; these ruins dating back to 5th century BC were built by semi-nomadic societies. The Lost City as it is popularly known is located between Ro’eh Park and Hagai Observation Point. Dating back to 6th century BC, these extensive remains, the stone structures, and rock engravings all make up for a perfect exploratory trips located among striking hills.

Museum of Art

There are many cultural offerings in Negev. Various museums within this region shed light on different aspects of the religious, industrial or artistic influences on Negev. The Glass Art Museum for instance showcases a remarkable collection of artworks made of glass. These glass art pieces are of various colors and styles, and make up for a different sort of sightseeing. The Negev Museum of Art, Israeli Air Force Museum, Omer Industrial Park, Cochin Jewish Heritage Museum are some other museums and centers worth visiting, which illuminate cultural aspects and past of Negev and Israel.

Makhtesh, Negev Desert

The deserts of Negev also boast of a unique geological phenomenon, as they are home to 5 out of only 7 Makhtesh worldwide. Commonly called as craters these are landforms that result due to erosion over a span of time. A deep valley is surrounded by steep walls made of rocks, and this forms a Makhtesh. The largest within Negev is the Makhtesh Ramon. The rocks in this Makhtesh contain fossils of mollusks that became extinct some 200 million years ago. Other Makhtesh include Makhtesh Gadol, and Makhtesh Katan among others.

Negev in Israel consists of desolate terrains but equally rich and colorful span of lands. The immensely vast and varied historical, archaeological, geological, adventure and natural trajectories of Negev make for a diverse and brilliant traveling spot.

Get the Best of Scuba Diving at Blue Heron Bridge



Get the Best of Scuba Diving at Blue Heron Bridge

Those who are visiting the West Palm Beach of Florida should definitely experience Scuba Diving at Blue Heron Bridge. This renowned place is also known by the name Phil Foster Park. PADI, the famous sports diving magazine, awarded the Blue Heron Bridge as the Best Dive Site across the world as per the records of 2013. This terrific scuba dive site has amazing diversity of marine life and additionally they are easily accessible. Numerous sea creatures can be encountered in the sea, which are very rare to found. These sea creatures include the frogfishes, flying gurnards, stargazers, sea robins, batfish and other 100 different creatures. Even pipefish and seahorses can be found in different sizes and shapes. While diving in the sea of Blue Heron Bridge, mimic octopus can also be encountered.

Blue-Heron-Bridge

Diving At Blue Heron Bridge:

Diving at the Blue Heron Bridge is free and simple too. The sea is not too deep; the deepest you can go is 20 feet from the sea level. A dive of one and half hour will cover all the exotic scenes inside the sea. The location of the Blue Heron Bridge is so perfect that even the weather of the open ocean won’t affect the sea. Its intercostals waterway will be accessible in any kind of weather.

The diving area of the Blue Heron Bridge is divided into two separate sites: the larger one is on the south-eastern side and the smaller one is on the south-western side. A large beach stretch completely separates the two sides. One side is of the snorkelling trail and the other is a public protected and guarded area for swimming.

snorkel_trail_3

The Phil Foster Park Artificial and Snorkel Trail:

Snorkelling is also available at Phil Foster Park. Snorkelling at Blue Heron Bridge is a recent addition and was introduced in the year 2012. The Phil Foster Park Artificial and Snorkel Trail consist of rock boulders from Anastasia and offers varying depth ranging from six to ten feet. This artificial reef is an 800 foot large tract. This beautiful park was completely developed in a short time. This amazing area was now a home of countless incredible marine species. This spectacular marine park is open for non-certified scuba divers also. Night dives are the things for specialized scuba divers but night dives are not allowed with special permissions from the country itself.

diving

Things to Remember While Diving:

Although diving at the Blue Heron Bridge is quite easy but still there are some things that people should keep in their minds. Sometimes the tidal flow can be very strong in the sea as compared to other slack tides because the sea is very near to the Lake Worth inlet which is very huge. Visibility under the sea can be at its worst because of the dirty water that is coming from Lake Worth inlet. It will be good to enter the water sometime (atleast 4 hrs) before the high slack tide. The crystal clear Atlantic Ocean water enters the sea area at that time so sea water will be clear for some time. Those who are not divers should carry a dive flag with themselves to indicate danger if required. For the safety of the people a boat channel also runs parallel to the diving site. Diving is restricted in the eastern side due to safety reasons and only swimming is allowed on the eastern side. Apart from that there are many safety signs and orange buoys on the beach.

divers

Boundaries of Diving:

People who are new to this place can hire guides if they think they should. Guides can guide them throughout the day on their tour. Else they should enter the sea from the small bridge area and should remain on the west side only near the bark. Stick to swim on the right side to dodge sharks, turtles, mantas and groupers and you can even swim from south to the north.  You can navigate yourself with the concrete bridge panels. Bridge maps are also available for the swimmers. West side is not so safe and people often don’t prefer to swim too far in the west side and cross the 4th set of bridge column. Thousands of octopuses and many other amazing creatures can be found under the big bridge. So dive near the big bridge to have a look at them. To have more fun dive to the shopping carts and sunken rowboats where you can find many small fishes and lobsters hiding as it is their favourite hiding place.

Blue Heron Bridge

Blue Heron Bridge is also a place for professional photographers. To click the underwater marine life is a photographer’s dream. The mud and sand of the beach is a home to many creatures like frogfish, seahorses, nudibranchs and some other tiny creatures. People love to capture them on their cameras. Some other species that can be found there are barracuda, parrotfish, two sting rays, angelfish and bunch of lobsters. At the bottom of the sea many other distinctive creatures can be witnessed by the divers. Visiting this place will be the best chance for all the water lovers and divers to see the collaboration of many different and rare species at the same place. The tour of the whole sea will be once in a lifetime experience for all people.