Daily Archives: 02.04.2014

Biggest Mosque of Maldives : The Grand Friday Mosque



Biggest Mosque of Maldives : The Grand Friday Mosque

Location

Mosque is basically a place of devotion for the devotees of Islam. Mosque is very vastly known as the provider of information , giving quality education and it settles the disputes among the citizens .The Grand Friday Mosque is considered as the biggest and phenomenal Mosque of the Maldives . It is located in the Male, Maldives.The name of the biggest Mosque is Sultan Mohammad Thakurufaanu Al  Auzam  of the Maldives  which was built bu Sultan Ibrahim Iskandhar in the year 1656.

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History

The most famous architectural landmark is a beautiful and magnificent place which will make you feel into a different world.It is one of the former mosque which dates back to when Islam religion was introduced . It is believed that there was an old temple at this place , which was destructed and transformed into the mosque. The walls of the Mosque are assembled very beautifully with corals and many arabic writings of that time are engraved on the walls. Entering the interior of the mosque is allowed only to muslims . Entry of non-muslims is forbidden to the interiors of mosque.

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Highlights

This mosque also serves as an home to the ministry of Islamic affairs. It got established to substitute the Supreme Council of Islamic affairs.  Grand Friday Mosque can lodge 5000 people at at  time . The art work of this mosque is simply outstanding and it can be called beauty beyond sight. A beautifully carved wooden side panels and doors certainly enhance the beauty of the mosque. The Mosque has impressive Chandeliers that serves as the centre of attraction of the mosque . To watch the Chandeliers glowing is certainly adds the glow and it serves as a treat to the eyes of the visitor .

It can be said that a visitor can feel the inner beauty of the soul by getting attached to the almighty divine and  at the same exterior beauty can be felt by  watching the beauty and designing art of the Mosque . It has unique miranets ,mind blowing coral engravings and beautiful tombs of national heroes and members of royalty . All these things provides the visitors to get the glimpses of the past by watching this divine beauty .At the same time , it is very striking in the plainness.

As it  is located exactly in the center of the Male , hence , it is clearly visible from all the parts of the entire Maldives . As it  served as a magnificent place , its beauty is vastly  admired .The mosque represent the importance of the Islamic religion that has ruled all the ingredients of life in the country for the centuries.

The glittering gold in the sun is very clearly visible in  the sun from the boat coming on the way to Male. The Islamic center also  has a vast conference hall where meeting and conferences take place ,a big library and big classroom in order to provide quality education. It is the significant landmark of the Maldives that is worth a visit.

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 When to visit the Grand Mosque ?

It is opened 24 hours a day .It would be very suitable to visit the Grand Mosque between between 9 am and 5 pm . And furthermost , outside prayer timings .  It is said that the best timings to visit the mosque are between 2 pm and 3 pm. It is extremely large ans spacious . The permission of the elder staff member is required before clicking pictures and making videos in a religious place .

It is vastly believed that if you are very beautifully dressed , you will be welcomed very warmly with the staff members. It is a custom that men must wear long trousers and women must wear long skirts or a beautiful dress in order to get a warm welcome by the staff member. In short , The whole body of the female should be covered and she should follow the strict code of dress . The entire dress should be very decent as it is a known custom to visit a religious place in  decent clothes . The Grand Mosque should be the first visit after entering Maldives . It is usually the venue for major international events , lots of meetings and conventions .

The “Male ” area of Maldives has its own swimming track, artificial beach , historic sites , beautiful islands but the grand mosque is the “heart” of the Maldives. It gives you a surreal atmosphere and it will leave you with a feeling of relaxation and after coming out of the Mosque , it feels that you no longer carry the selfishness with you ., All your prides have vanished . This magnificent Mosque has been hailed as the most striking mosque in Maldives.

The mosque is very old , but it still looks new . It is very clean and awe-inspiring . It is one of the finest sights in the Maldives that deserves its admiration . It is known as the one of the finest ancient mosque of the Maldives  which has the incredible Islamic art that leaves the visitors with prepossesing feeling and with the instant reaction “Wow” . Thus , it is a place not to miss if you are in the Maldives . Indeed , the grand mosque should be the very first choice of the tourists .

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Backpacker’s Hangout, Khao San Road, Bangkok



Backpacker’s Hangout, Khao San Road, Bangkok

Every budget backpackers’ paradise is the Khao San Road. It is a short street of about 1 kilometre in Bangkok, Thailand. Name it and you have it for your backpack! Yes, travellers from all over the world swarm in here to find all kinds things starting from souvenirs, cheap second hand guide maps and books, T-shirts, sandals, silverware, hand made jewellery to inexpensive, budget accommodations for the night. It is street full of activity all around the year. It is a very busy and colourful street full of activity and a variety of shops,accommodation, clubs, bars, book stores and what not!

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Vendors of different products put down their stalls and women dressed in ethnic clothes are vendors from the northern hill tribes move along the streets to sell their goods like ethnic jewellery, ornamental frogs and hammocks. There are not many big showrooms or malls on this road. It is more like a flea market and mostly consists of street side stalls. Usually, the bars of Khao San road are the best places to sit and enjoy people watching with a glass of cocktail!  In the resent years, it has become quite famous for party life too. The pubs and bars become bright and filled with party people coming from all over the city to enjoy the night. These pubs and bars are also the place to listen to good Thai band music and some other Rock music bands too. Some bars have DJ’s while some have live music or both. As the sun sets, mobile bars line up on the road and serve cheap cocktails and a variety of drinks. Most of the clubs die down by 3:00 am in the Khao San road.

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The best time to go shopping on the Khao San road is usually during dusk as the temperature becomes cool, favourable and pleasant for shopping and most vendors open their stalls only in the evening and the road gets busy. You can find souvenir stores, clothing, stationary, music CD’s, DVD’s, jewellery, craft pieces and handmade products here. The Khao San road offers a variety of spicy and delicious food from Thai, Italy, Japan, Korea, India, and other western dishes too are available in the street side food stalls. These are also quite cheap as it is the most important aspect of the Khao San road.  There some international franchises opened recently such as McDonalds’, Burger King, Starbucks and Subway in this area. There a plenty of book stores and second hand book shops, though dusty, they have all kinds of novels and tour guides, magazines and so worth the few sneezes. ;-) There are many massage parlours too, where you can go and relax after all the stressful shopping and haggling. Moving on to the accommodations, Khao San is famous for its numerous budgets rooms and guesthouses. You can also find fine hotels and accommodations too depending on your budget. ATM’s are also available and there are many money exchange offices around too, which makes it easy. But most of the ATM machines accept foreign cards but there may be some exceptions as well.

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Though there are no actual transport facilities within the street, trams, boats, taxis and tuk-tuks can be taken from nearby areas to reach this road and there are no tourist attraction spots or monuments to visit on this street as it is solely dedicated for budget shopping. So the best is to go on foot along the street while shopping. But a few places can be visited which are quite nearby. The Soi Rambutri is a street just behind this area. It is a laid back version of the Khao San road (KSR). It is almost the same with all the bars and restaurants but with less chaos and crowd when compared to KSR. One can visit the Bangkok National Museum having some of the collections of ancient relics and Thai artefacts, The Grand Palace which is architecture of sheer beauty and craftsmanship, the National Gallery which houses Thai artists’ works right from the 17th century onwards. Other places include the Wat Mahathat dedicated for study of Buddhism and meditation, Democracy monument, four equally spaced large wings situated around a small shrine as a symbol of democracy awakening in the country.

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The most important thing to be kept in mind while visiting this busy shopping street is “haggling”. Yes, one must know how to haggle if they want to buy any good product here. The vendors usually start it off with a really ridiculously high price for any item. It could be in the multiples of tens or hundreds or even thousands. So make sure you know how to bargain to get the best out of this street. Most importantly, one must take taxis and tell them to take the meters as these taxi drivers try to make huge money without putting on the meter. It is also advised not to buy silver products and other expensive things on this road as the vendors make huge profits by selling them at relatively very high costs. Street smartness is a necessity to be a successful shopper on the Khao San road.

Antelope Canyon : Beauty beyond sight



Antelope Canyon : Beauty beyond sight

Antelope Canyon

Location

Nature has always kept us amazed with so many things , and one of them is “Antelope Canyon”.When you hear about Arizona , the first thing that comes to the mind is Antelope Canyon which is the most pleasing and the most photographed slot canyon in American southwest. It is located on Navajo land near land page , Arizona. Antelope Canyon is one of the most beautiful and popular location for the photographers that has been accessible by permit only since 1997 when the Navajo tribe made it a Navajo tribal park.

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History

Till now,it is not known exactly when people first uncover Antelope canyon.But, according to Navajos who were the inhabitants  there for some time , the Canyon and Lechee area were places where cattle pastured  in the winter.Antelope Canyon is a devotional experience and it has always allowed Navajos to leave with an uplifted feeling of the nature. One would definitely feel devoted after entering into the Canyons.Navajos would probably pause before entering into Antelope Canyon because entering a place like Antelope Canyon was like entering a Cathedral.

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Division

Antelope Canyon has been divided into two photogenic slot canyon sections

a. Upper Antelope Canyon or The Crack
b. Lower Antelope Canyon or The Corkscrew

Upper Antelope Canyon

The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is the bighanilini, which means the place where water runs through rocks .It is at about 4,000 feet raised and the walls rise 120 feet above the streambed. This canyon is smaller but it is filled with beauty and also the Upper Antelope Canyon is worthy for  all the age groups . As it entrance is at ground level , visitors feel more inclination towards Upper Antelope Canyon .The light beams certainly get  pierced from cracks on the ceiling shining down into the depth of the deep Canyon walls is one of the zenith of the Upper Antelope Canyon.It is said that most of the best photography can be done in the Upper Antelope. The best month for the beams are June ,July,August. So , the most popular time for the sightseekers to photograph Upper Antelope Canyon is around 11 am to 2 pm.The higher sun provides additional sight to the canyon and it will also bestow to the formation of beams of light filtering from selective ceiling track .

 

Upper Antelope Canyon is slightly compacted smaller if contrasted  with Lower Antelope Canyon.The best option to visit Upper Antelope Canyon will be in the fall or spring months as it will be less overfilled  and also it may have lower tour costs.Due to limited space at the beam areas, you have to have a courtesy to share the place with other photographers also .It is such a beautiful sight that giving other photographers the shaft is actually considered a good thing .

 

The beam of light that comes from small cracks at the top as the sun passes aloft  during certain times of the day .Upper Antelope Canyon is visited much more than the Lower Antelope Canyon and usually it gets very crowded.One has to arrange a guide and there is a 2 hour limit inside Upper Antelope Canyon .

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Lower Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon is called hazdistazi or spiral rock arches by the Navajos . It is located just slightly down the road and across the street from the Upper Antelope Canyon. As compared to the Upper Antelope Canyon, the Lower Antelope Canyon is much larger , longer and it is very less crowded. One has to basically pay an entrance fee to get into both the Canyons . The best time to visit Lower Antelope Canyon is early morning .Depending upon the time of the year , there are few places that a shaft of light appears in the lower Antelope Canyon area.Guides inside the Canyon always answer your questions and they even advice on the best location to photograph. Lower Antelope Canyon contains a long spiral stairway that goes to the surface . The best option is to go up the stairs and walk down the dirt path to the parking lot. It also provides some picnic table next to the parking lot to relax after the adventure. As the sun moves across the sky , the views in the Lower Antelope Canyon keeps constantly changing creating a dazzling display of colour , light and shadow.

 

Thus , in both the Canyons, rocks are beautifully shaped . For your good understanding of  the Canyons ,the  guide explains each rock and name it.Most of the people feel that Lower Antelope Canyon is far better that Upper Antelope Canyon as it is more affordable as it does not require any advance booking and usually it is less crowded . But , beauty of both the canyons is beyond excellence .

 

 

Even pictures cannot exactly capture the beauty of both the canyons.

The Upper Antelope canyon is darker that Lower Antelope Canyon .One should expect larger exposures for Upper Antelope canyon . Also , using a flash for exposure in Upper Antelope Canyon will ruin other photographers shots that are using long exposures as the flash may bounce off the Canyon walls . Avoiding flash will help to capture amazing pictures in the Upper Antelope Canyon .

 

The Canyons are made from millions of years of water cutting through a crevasse over time which had made the walls very smooth. Also , the lights from the sun that get through into the canyons cast rays represent the beautiful scenario of the canyons .

Thus , the nature is at its best here . It is one of the amazing places to see before you die .$20 is more than worth for this amazing tour . It is definitely an absorbing and fascinated place to visit .

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Temple Of Dawn: Wat Arun, Bangkok



Temple Of Dawn: Wat Arun, Bangkok

Adorning Bangkok’s skyline and postcards with equal splendor, any trip to Thailand’s capital city is incomplete without a visit to Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn. This Buddhist temple bags the honour of being one of the most exquisite architectural wonders of Thailand, owing to its location on the Thonburi west bank of the Chao Phraya River and its distinctive design.

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The temple is named after the Hindu God Aruna, often portrayed as the vermillion rays of the rising sun. The sight of the first rays of sun reflecting off the temple surface is a souvenir you must add to your memories. Being one of the six temples to bear the honour of the first class Royal Temples, the temple itself has practically seen Bankok grow into the city as it is.  Wat Arun is easily recognised by its 80 metre high spire or prang, lording over the river in all its majesty.  Ironically, the best view of the Temple of Dawn is seen at sunset from the eastern side of the river where the Wat Arun is lit up in all its glory and shines radiantly against a dark, night sky backdrop.

Religious Significance

Wat Arun is said to be an architect’s attempt at epitomizing Mount Meru, which is the centre of the world in Buddhist cosmology. Mount Meru essentially symbolizes the centre of the universe and the unification of the goals of the mind sought by monks and devotees. This location is believed to exist beyond the realm of material actuality in a demesne of perfection and transcendence. This symbolism is brought to life with the four corner (satellite) prangs of Wat Arun, containing images of the guardian gods of the four directions.  The satellite prangs are in honour of the Wind God and the yakshas at the entrance, the white figure being Sahassa Deja and the green one being Thotsakan (aka Ravana) from the Ramayana.

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Worshipping the prang at Wat Arun is said to bring eternal happiness and a new dawn or beginning. Holding three joss sticks and a pair of candles, one must encircle the prang thrice in a clockwise direction.

History

Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan or the Wat Arun temple is deeply rooted in the history of Thai culture and religion.

It began its journey into documented history in the Ayutthaya Dynasty as a Buddhist temple named Wat Makok after the village of its location Bang Makok. The term Wat means a group of religious buildings enclosed by a multi gated wall. The Ayutthaya Era saw ships from all over the world sailing up and down the River of Kings. These ships would stop at the junction of the Chao Phraya river called Thonburi to restock their supplies for the journey while the sailors would sojourn in reverence to the old temple.

Wat Arun was shown in French maps during the 17th century rule of King Narai according to the historian Prince Damrong Rajanubhab.

King Taksin’s royal fleet disembarked at Wat Makok precisely at the hour of dawn. They stopped to pay their respects to the Holy Relic housed in the Pagoda and the temple was subsequently renamed to Wat Chaeng- the Temple of Dawn. Upon proclaiming himself ruler, King Taskin deemed Wat Chaeng a royal temple within the grand palace on account of it being the first place in Thonburi to see the morning sunlight. In order to worship privately in the temple, the king ill treated the monks and expelled them from the place.

The temple was home to the Emerald Buddha image before being moved to Wat Phra Kaew on the eastern bank of the river in 1785. King Taskin’s successor Rama I relocated the palace to the other side of the river, leaving the temple abandoned until Rama II restored it and lengthened the pagoda.

Architecture

An architectural marvel in itself, the temple is characterised by a colossal 79-80 metre prang built in the Khmer style and is fenced by four smaller prangs. The large prang is adorned and caked with ceramic tiles and porcelain fragments of various colours previously used as ballasts by boats from China, creating a visually appealing spectacle. The architecture, on close inspection reveals a subtle burst of colour complete with mosaic adornments. The central prang is crowned by a seven pronged Trident called the Trident of Shiva. Its base is ornamented by sculpture depicting Chinese soldiers and animals. The second terrace features four statues of the Hindu God Indra. The satellite prangs house images of and are dedicated to Phra Phai, the God of Wind.

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Tourists and devotees are permitted to walk up the steep steps of the main prang upto a certain point which offers scenic views of the Chao Phraya river. The stairway opens up to a pair of terraces fashioning the prang foundation The second terrace features four statues of the Hindu God Indra. Various layers of this material depiction of the thirty-three heavens are supported by sculptures of Kinnaree (demi humans) and yakshas (demons).

The central prang, according to Buddhist iconography has three symbolic levels indicating existence, gratification of desires and six heavens of the seven realms of happiness respectively. At the riverside, you will find six Chinese style pavilions made of green granite which have landing bridges. There is also an Ordination Hall near the prang housing a Niramitr Buddha image which has a central spired roof embellished with coloured ceramic and stuccowork enveloped in coloured china.

Tourist Information

Situated directly opposite Wat Pho, you can easily reach the temple by taking a river boat from Sapphan Taskin Boat Pier stopping at Pier 8. A small shuttle boat transports you across the river from here. The entry fee to the temple is 100 baht.

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The temple is open daily from 08:30 am to 5:30 pm, but the best time to visit is sunset as the temple is resplendent across the twilight sky and offers stunning views. If you want to avoid the crowds, early morning would be the best time to visit.

Climbing the steps of the prang is a little difficult owing to the steep declivity, but it offers magnificent views of the river and the grand palace.  It is necessary to dress appropriately and certain cover-ups are available for hire at the entrance.

Basking in the sunlight or shining through the darkness, visit this temple for an architectural feast, a historical spectacle and a renewed sense of spirituality.

Splurge on Private Indulgence: Nusa Dua Beach, Bali



Splurge on Private Indulgence: Nusa Dua Beach, Bali

Nusa Dua Beach, a place of one of the best resorts in the world, is one of the few best places to splurge on private indulgence. With an array of good number of luxurious resorts, it is a place where visitors can relax from their hectic work schedules and readily spend some time with nature. The calmness of sea waves, an array of luxurious hotels provide services such as spa, which make the visit to the place worthwhile.

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Nusa Dua means two islands.(Nusa stands for island and Dua for two).Nusa Dua Beach, is located in Bali, Indonesia. Located in South-eastern Bali, this beach is said to be an enclave of large 5-star international resorts. It is located 40 km from Denpasar, the provincial capital of Bali.

Nusa Dua beach has various interesting places to visit to (other than the beaches ofcourse!) such as “Water Blow”.

Nusa Dua with its white sand, clean beaches, warm water, calm waves makes it a safe and calm place for families. Though some people argue for it to be artificial due to various luxurious resorts, this beach is different from others for the serenity it provides.

Geger Beach

Geger Beach or Pantai Geger is a beach in Nusa Dua. It is an apt beach for swimmers as they prefer swimming here. Seaweed is also grown by localities. Geger Beach is one of the few famous beaches in Nusa Dua. Here the umbrellas and other sea beach commodities are easily available at rent.

Water Blow

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As the name suggests, here water blows after touching the rocks and it seems that as if sea water is soaring into air. Located on the edge of peninsula, there is no fee charge for this place. Sunrise and sunset is what the visitors look for. They are said to be the most spectacular moments.

Water sports

Water sports such as parasailing, surfing are easily enjoyed here. Beaches have an option for the visitors so that they can indulge in the activities and be adventurous. Tanjung Beona is a place famous for it.

Tanjung Beona

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It is a place to indulge in various activities. Once you reach here, you can go for a market trip, cooking classes, glass bottom boat rides, jet skiing, under water activities etc. This is usually a crowded place as visitors flock this place for its famous water sports. Visitors have the option to choose from variety of options available here.

Devdan Show

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Devdan Show can said to be a view of Indonesian culture- Music, costume and dances. It is held four times a week. The prices of the show vary for kids and adults. It is a good show for those who want to know about Indosenian culture. It also satisfy curious minds regarding their music, costume and dance.

Museum Pasifika

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A museum for different art is also located here and could be visited by art connoisseurs.

Serengan Island

This is the turtle island but here animals are treated mercilessly. Only the visit to this place in glass bottomed boats is worth mentioning but the visit to it usually doesn’t leave people with good memories.

Balangan Beach

It is a famous beach for surfing and is favourite among the surfers. It is near to Nusa Dua Beach.

Weddings-(On Beach!)

Along with other places to visit this place is also famous for weddings. Weddings take place at various resorts and theme weddings especially beach weddings could be there. Many resorts here have provision for this facility and is enjoyed by many.

Spa and other Activities To Indulge Into

Nusa Dua Beach is also famous for spa. Various resorts have excellent spa facilities. Spa as known helps the person to relax him/her and have a calm mind away from regular worries.

 Shopping

Nusa Dua also has boutiques and various gift shops here, which provide the visitor to indulge in as much shopping as desired. Shopping at the Bali Collection enriches user experience about the culture of the place.

Nusa Dua is also home to quite a few temples worth visiting. It gives the visitor an insight into history and culture of the people of Bali.

It is also home to the finest golf course in Bali, where golfers would like to enjoy themselves.

Therefore, with variety of activities to offer to all, being a secure beach, this place is of interest to many who prefer this type of relaxing place.People here are especially fond of non-vegetarian food.And drinks are readily available and enjoyed by the tourists here.

Water sports, different culture, friendly people, clean beaches, Indonesian food all set it apart from other beaches. With options to indulge in Water sports, to spa and other facilities provided by the resorts make it a good beach to splurge on private indulgence away from hustle bustle of other beaches.

Like every place, this place also has its pros and cons. It being a beautiful place, many argue it to be artificial due to the luxurious resorts, but this place attractive for its option to relax and enjoy. The array of five star hotels, luxurious resorts, beautiful scenery all make it a worth visiting place.

Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh



Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh

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Lying in the idyllic Himalayas of North India is the Spiti Valley. It is located in the state of Himachal Pradesh in India. Spiti also means ‘The Middle Land’ that is the land in between of India and Tibet. Spiti lies in between of Ladakh, Lahaul, Tibet, Kullu and Kinaur. It is surrounded by high mountain ranges on all the sides and is a stark high-dessert. Spiti is also called as ‘Little Tibet’ because of the similarity of its vegetation, climate and terrain with Tibet. It also possesses a unique Buddhist culture similar to the one found in Tibet and Ladakh. There are very few villages in Spiti, making it one of the least populated regions in India.

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ACCESS

There are two basic approaches to reach the Spiti Valley.

The first being from Manali via Rohtang Kunzum La is one of the best routes to reach to Spiti as it is a sight to behold with desert landscape and no human civilization anywhere on the way until Kaza. There is a bus service available to reach till Kaza which is an ideal base at Spiti Valley. However, you can also hire a SUV from Manali which would be a better option. But check the road conditions before going due to the harsh weather conditions here. Also, this route is open only from June to October. On the way there is a small village called Chhatru having a Government Guest House and four shops where you can get some food. This is the last place to get mineral water and soft drinks. After almost five hours from Rohtang pass you will reach the Kanzum pass which is the highest point on the road.

The second route is from Shimla via Kinnaur valley. This route is open from May to October. This is a longer and a fascinating route with typical Himalayan landscape unlike the Manali route. If you plan to take on this route then you can stay overnight along the way at Reckong Peo.

Finally, make sure that the SUV driver that you hire is an experienced one as this will give you a better opportunity to make the best of your travel and to visit some spectacular places. Also, the accommodation beyond Shimla and Manali is very basic so don’t have very high expectations. However there are few new hotels built at Kaza but are still basic.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The best time to visit Spiti Valley is during summer that is from the month of mid May to mid October. As this region is covered by snow throughout the year it gets difficult to gain access to this place during winter. Also the Rohtang Pass remains closed during the other time of the year.

THINGS TO SEE

Ki Gompa

This is a one of the biggest monastery of Spiti Valley. It is situated on the top of a hill at about 4166 metres above the sea level and is also very close to the Spiti River. The view from the top is very beautiful. There are about 300 monks living here along with the many students from surrounding villages.

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Dhankar Gompa

This is a Buddhist temple situated at a height of 3894 meters in the Spiti Valley between the two towns Kaza and Tabo. This is a 1200 year old monastery home to about 150 monks.

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Tabo Monastery

This is one of the oldest functioning Monastery that was built in 996 AD. Some of the original wall paintings and artefacts are still present in the monastery. It is about 50 km away from Kaza.

Museum

Just downhill from the village of Dhankar there is a small museum which you could visit. There are certain costumes, instruments and antique Buddhist devotional objects at display over here.

Pin Valley National Park

There is a national park in the region of Spiti which is also the coldest area. It was declared as a national park in the year 1987. It is home to some of the endangered wild animals like the snow leopard, lynx and blue sheep.

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Chandra Taal Lake

This means the lake of the moon. It is situated at a height of 4300 metres in the Himalayas. The name of the lake is so given because of its crescent shape just as that of the moon. It is a beautiful picturesque location.

Suraj tal, at approx 4800 metres above sea level

Amongst the other places includes the Saskyagongmig Monastery, Ghungri Monastery, Dhankar Tso, etc. There are also many famous places where you can go trek. With the help of the locals you can arrange for a trek. While trekking, you can also camp near the Chandra Taal Lake. It is one of the best experiences here. And while in Spiti it is recommendable to have a home stay as this gives you a better insight into the life of the people there and their way of living.

If you are a travel junkie and a mountain lover then a visit to this place is a must. Also Spiti is very popular for its age old monasteries located high on the mountains which will give you a good insight into the Buddhist culture. This place is a must visit for its beautiful landscape. Thus, the less explored region of Spiti by humans is definitely once in a lifetime experience.

Willemstad: The Golden Rock



Willemstad: The Golden Rock

Willemstad is a separate constituent country and a part of the Kingdom of Netherlands. It is an island residing in the southern Caribbean Sea and is also known as the capital of Curacao. The city was founded in the 1500s by the Spanish people and was named as Santa Ana. Later in the 17th century, the Dutch traders renamed the city as Willemstad because of its natural harbour. Previously the city was the capital of Netherlands Antilles before its dissolution in the year 2010. The city has approximately 150,000 inhabitants. The city is actually divided into four quarters: First is the Punda and the second is Otrobanda; both of these are disjoined by the Sint Anna Bay. The third one is the Sacharloo and the fourth one is the Pietermaai Smal quarter which is on the Waaigat harbour. UNESCO declared the city as a World Heritage Site as a result of its glorious architecture and harbour entries.

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The capital city is filled with casinos and this is the main attraction among tourists. Other than the casinos, the colonial architecture of Willemstad is very charming as it is designed in Dutch style and thus grabs much tourist attraction. The entire city is pastel coloured and is also known for its red roof houses. Some work of Archaeological research is also established there. Tourists who want to visit this place can travel through flights. The only major airport in Willemstad is the Hato International Airport. The national airline of Curaccao- Insel Air serves this airport. The two main quarters- Otrobanda and Punda are connected through Queen Emma Bridge and this bridge is used by cars and busses to enter the city. Another bridge Queen Wilhelmina Bridge is also nearby but is not under the proper condition to use.

The main tourist attraction in Willemstad is the Saint Anna Bay. The Saint Anna Bay is the heart of the capital. The Bay is deep enough to allow cruise ships to run between towns. There are two bridges that span the bay. One is Queen Juliana Bridge which is modern and is about 50 m high i.e. 164 ft. The bridge is also accompanied with a 4 lane modern highway. The highway is large enough to permit the largest mega-cruise ships to sail under it. Another bridge is the Queen Emma Bridge which is pedestrian only bridge. This bridge opens after every half-hour and allows the ships to pass through it. The Queen Emma Bridge is a beautiful pontoon bridge.

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The Brionplein square is dominated by the famous statue of Pedro Luis Brion. The statue is actually situated on the edge of the pontoon bridge at the Otrobanda quarter. The statue is of Brion who was born in the year 1782 in Curacao. He was best known as a war hero and was recognised as the favourite son of the island. He was a soldier and an admiral under the leadership of Simon Bolivar. He showed his bravery in the fight of independence of Colombia and Venezuela also. This statue of Pedro Luis Brion symbolises the strength and courage of a soldier.

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An unusual and very famous museum at Klipstraat is Museum Kura Hulanda. The museum is one of the largest in the Caribbean. The museum is situated between some 19th century buildings and is dedicated to Jacob Gelt Dekker. It is being said that the museum symbolizes the passion of this man. During his young age only he collected many historic, prehistoric and some cultural artefacts which are from the Africa, Americans and Middle East. One of his collections is an interior reconstruction of a slave ship which has tasted the fossils, fertility dolls, stone sculptures and Ivory Coast. The whole tour of this museum is guided and you will find it slow in the beginning but will quickly become an interesting one. Tourists have to pay some entrance fee also.

Climbing Christoffelberg, the highest mountain on Curacao, Netherlands Antilles

For bird lovers, the next attraction is the best one. Christoffel National Park, which is located in Savonet is the biggest park in that area, features the orchids, cacti, bromeliads and also the Dutch Leewards’ highest point. There are many different bird species as well as animals that are very rare to be found in an area like that. Curacao deer, donkeys, iguanas, wild goats and many other species of birds live in the arid countryside. Another park which is very famous is the Saint Christoffelberg. This park is open for all on weekends as well as weekdays but people have to pay some entrance charges to visit the garden. The park is very much decorated with beautiful flowers, trees and some old plantation. There is a museum also which is recently renovated and has some great artifacts on display. The view of the spectacular landscape is no doubt stunning. The place is very much picturesque; so you will find many people clicking white and black photographs.

Curaçao_Sea_Aquarium_Dolphin_Show

People who literally want to explore the marine life should visit Curacao Seaquarium which displays around 400 different species of marine invertebrates along with unique sea lions, sharks, turtles and dolphins. This large place displays the biggest aquarium ever in Curacao. To have a larger than life experience one should take a step ahead on this aquarium. Apart from the above famous places there are many other interesting and beautiful places to visit. In short, Willemstad has many things in store for everyone!!

Flic-en-Flac, Mauritius



Flic-en-Flac, Mauritius

Flic en Flac 1

Mauritius, one of the Mascarene Islands once ruled by pirates is today best known for its reasonable luxury hotels on white and pink sand beaches. It is land of Indian temples, colonial houses, botanical gardens, bird watching, sea diving and what not! The famous writer Mark Twain once said: ‘You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first and then heaven was copied after Mauritius’. Although the locals seem westernized, Mauritius is a conservative culture. Though a small island travelling through Mauritius needs time as the island has in store a lot of extraordinary and fascinating sites and adventures for its visitors. One such destination that keeps its audience in awe is Flic en Flac!

Flic en Flac, originally a local fishing village where people from nearby villages only came to bury the dead is today a popular tourist destination in Mauritius. The place has some of the best beaches in Mauritius. When explorers first arrived in the 18th century, the place was known as Fried Landt Flaak (Old Dutch meaning Free and Flat Land). It is situated between the districts of Albion and Black River along the west coast of Mauritius. It is the second most populated tourist area in Mauritius after Grand Baie. It is about 15 km south of Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius. Flic en Flac offers the best scenic view in Mauritius. It is a one hour drive from the airport to Flic en Flac. The place also has a good bus route leading to key locations In Mauritius. It is linked via road to Quatre Bornes in the East and Tamarin in the South.

Flic en Flac 2

The village is very quiet, pleasant and charming with beautiful white sand beaches and blue lagoons. The long sandy beach stretches down the west coast to Tamarin. It is one place where you can see horse riders ambling along the shore early in the morning and watch the sky turn pinkish orange late in the evening! A lot of minimum budget restaurants and supermarkets also contribute to making stay at Flic en Flac extremely comfortable. It is a fun place to spend your holiday indulged in water sports, afternoon walks and basking in the beaches. Flic en Flac also offers a quiet setting for complete relaxation.  The 65-villa Taj Exotica overlooking the Tamarin Bay offers a free daily meditation session and a four hour ‘dinacarya’ treatment: a combination of ayurveda, yoga and a vegetarian meal that will help in relieving stress. One can even go picnicking under the shades of the Casurina and Filao trees that border the coastline.

Over the past few decades, Flic en Flac has changed from being a secret paradise known to a small number of travellers to to a popular holiday destination. Today the village is home to a vast range of hotel networks, from 5 star deluxe networks to family owned bungalows, apartments and villas catering to the needs of its customers. Hilton Mauritius, Golden Beach Resort, Villas Caroline, La Pirogue and Pearl Beach are some of the main hotels found along the Flic en Flac beach. Of these hotels, the Hilton Mauritius offers the best scenic view of the village surrounded by reefs and lagoons. The hotel has an indulgent spa with face and body treatments, sauna, yoga and tai chi. Other highlights of Hilton Mauritius include indoor and outdoor games, cocktail lounge, aqua-bar and four unique Mauritius restaurants.

Flic en Flac 3

The Tamarina Golf estate that gives one an exceptional golf experience is only a 20 minute drive from the resort. Those not interested in golfing can go quad biking at Domaine de L’Etoile or trekking in the Black River Gorges National Park. Also, the Casela Nature and Leisure Park where you can discover the unique flora and fauna of Mauritius takes only a 10 minute walk from Hilton. The Pamplemousses Botanical Garden and the Medine Sugar Factory are other important tourist destinations of Flic en Flac. While Hilton Mauritius lies in close proximity to the important tourist destinations of Flic en Flac, it is only a short walk from Villas Caroline to the Casino, shopping mall, bank, local stores and the best beach club in the Indian Ocean.

Flic en Flac 4

The beach is also famous for its excellent dive sites. Sun Divers based at the La Pirogue hotels offers the best diving experience. Boat cruises, fishing excursions, undersea walks and submarine safaris are other adventurous activities available at Flic en Flac. Since Mauritius is where the east meets the west, the food served is a mixture of Indian, European and Creole cuisines. From posh and elite restaurants to fast food stores, Flic en Flac has an assortment of dishes to offer! The most popular among them is Jeanno Burgers, a small beach hut that serves home-made burgers and hot-dogs with a Mauritian smile. The Ocean Restaurant, on the other hand serves the best seafood in Flic en Flac. Chez Michou, located along the coastal road offer the best yummy ice creams and tasty pastries. Delicious and mouth watering Italian food is served in Chez Pepe.

Walks and strolls along the 8 km long beach is an unforgettable experience. The long stretches of white sand, diving and palate pleasing restaurants are incomparable. Flic en Flac is the best place to spend a nice and relaxing holiday in an enchanting environment. Unique in its style and tradition, Flic en Flac provides a very inviting atmosphere.

Grand Bazaar, Turkey: The World’s Hub Of Trade



GRAND BAZAAR  covered market, grand bazaar  

Grand bazaar is a shopping world within itself. Centuries ago, grand bazaar was created after sultan Mehmet II had an edifice erected devoted to the trading of textiles. Grand bazaar is the world’s largest covered markets. Grand bazaar is located in the district of Fatih, city of Istanbul, Turkey.

Being the world’s first shopping malls and the largest covered markets, grand bazaar raised its name in the hub of trade and commerce. Grand bazaar with its more than 3000 covered shops and more than 60 lanes is famous for the items like the traditional furnitures, antique jewelry, Turkish carpets, leather goods, lanterns, clothings, antiques, belly dancing costumes, copperware, handbags, briefcases, ceramic objects and souveniers and silverware. The culture of old traditional Istanbul and turkey clearly reflects in all the shops through their collection. With so many shops under one roof selling the same stuff, bargaining is a pretty common practice here. If your deal is not settling in, you can always try other shops around, as there is no limitation of the shops and products in the whole of grand bazaar. So, one must brush- up their bargaining skill for the best deal in grand bazaar.

grand bazaar, istanbul

In grand bazaar you can find everything of Turkish origin giving you a natural feel of you being in turkey. With its beautiful features like tiled arches and other beautiful decorative touch ups all around the bazaar, it distinguishes it from other such markets. Grand bazaar being so huge and large is organized nicely for the comfortable shopping experience. Though  Grand bazaar has many gates, there are four main gates and shops are arranges according to their wares, like all jeweler’s together, all leather shops together, all carpet and furniture shops together and names of the street are also according to the products the streets are selling.

The speciallity of grand bazaar is for selling the beautiful ancient stuff like carpets, ceramics etc. The specaility of beautiful carpets and kilims are that they were a part of Turkish nomadic household thousand years ago, the beautiful design on the carpets too reminds you of the famous cartoon Aladin, which featured the ancient life in turkey and Istanbul.lanterns and carpets, grand bazaar

Turkey has been famous for its colored tileworks since 16th centuary and hence the ceramic itmes like bowl, excellent plates, tiles etc are very famous in grand bazaar and its beauty attracts many tourists to shop those ceramic stuff having its ancient importance and for its uniqueness.

ceramics at grand bazaar

Grand bazaar is also famous for its Turkish designs in jewelry for its big, bold and old designs. Necklaces, brooches, belts etc are finer and have more delicate work. Brassware and copperware in grand bazaar are beautiful, attractive, decorative and inexpensive showcasing the origin and ancient designs.

Kilims is another traditional ancient product of turkey available in grand bazaar, kilim is a woolen mat without a nap like in a carpet. The earthly colors and bold designs of kilims are valued very much in turkey. Kilim is known as Turkish hallmark and is considered as inferior to carpets. In ancient times it was much cheaper than the carpets but now in today’s times its value has increased and is priced accordingly.

kilims and carpets, grand istanbul

Other interesting novel items available in grand bazaar are leather apparels, meerschaum, it’s a soft white stone carved beautifully into smoking pipes and cigarrete holders and also used in making necklaces and brooches, it has different uses according to the purpose. Nazar bonjuks is the other interesting thing in the market of grand bazaar, known as Turkish evil eye beads it has a traditional value and significance, a beautifully handcrafted item is known to keep the bad evils away and people wear them for good luck. People keep them in houses, cars etc.

evil eye beads

With the glance of such shopping items and the glossy tomes of grand bazaar, you will be lost in this grand liveliest market of turkey. The tiles,glasses, carvings and the beautiful tomes makes it more attractive. And since it’s the ancient of all it has more stories to tell with the significance importance of history. Grand bazaar has survived many earthquakes and fires over the centuries and has still stood strong and vibrating enough attracting lakhs of people and tourist everyday. Along with the shops, grand bazaar also has a police station, mosques, post-offices, banks etc. With such huge market for shopping which will take almost a day to finish, there are many restaurants and cafes available for the refreshment of the people. Grand bazaar thus becomes a perfect spot for business meetings and a meeting joint as it has all facilities. Though there are many things to add in grand bazaar just to enhance its beauty and significance more, a restoration project was done to renew its infrastructure and solve other problems of heating and lighting systems and thus to make it more strong to overcome any future calamities and to shine for years and years.

Grand bazaar is open on all days except for Sunday and other few holidays from 9 am to 7pm. Grand bazaar is easily accessible from Istanbul through private vehicles or trams. No trip to Istanbul is complete without a visit to one of the world’s heritage and world’s largest market, grand bazaar!

Rann Utsav : Glory of Kutch



Rann Utsav : Glory of Kutch

white sand desert

‘Kutch nahi dekha , toh kuch nahi dekha,’ aptly said by the people and the Gujarat tourism.

Rann utsav is the festive glory of kutch. Rann utsav is a three month festival on the white desert starting from December and continues till march. Prolonging for three months, this annual winter festival shows its visitors the myriad color and true exploration of the culture and tradition of rann of kutch.

Apart from the hills, mountains, seas, lakes etc. in India, nature has also got its different phase altogether to treat the eyes of any nature lover. Rann of kutch is famous for its natural beauty white sand desert, located in the north part of kutch, having its various diversities of its appearance from dawn to dusk. Salt on the sand hues  of white desert,  glitters and dazzles like diamonds under the sun. The view of the white desert is just marvelous in the night on the full moon day. Since summers in kutch are very hot with the scorching sun, the best time to enjoy the beauty of place and to celebrate the festivals is winter. Thus, the ran utsav is taken place in winter.

moonscape of rann of kutch

Rann utsav is organized by the Gujarat tourism department. It’s held every year in the winters during the full moon time. The festival has lots of cultural programs, events and carnivals for three months. It reflects the essence of culture of kutch, with all its traditions and ethnical values. Its highlights the vibrant bright colors of kutch and gujarat with its diversities of the area. Various numbers of cultural events going on since morning like folk dances, music, pageantry, carnival processions, craftmanships etc keeps the visitors busy with the spirit of the festival. There are many exhibitions and stalls selling the traditional clothes, handicrafts of that particular place.

folk dances,rann of kutch

To enjoy the beautiful culture of kutch and the festival of rann utsav one must take a package of one or two night stay. Rann utsav provides amazing tents for staying with all the facilities and amenities. There are two variety of tents, one is non- ac tent with the tariff 7500 rupees and other is ac-tents ranging from rupees 8500. The experience of staying in tents rather than those luxury hotel rooms is completely different. There is no inconvenience at all as the tent provides all facilities that like of hotels. But the experience is just mindblowing and cannot be described in few words. It adds five stars in the experience of the rann utsav. Starting your day with the splendid view of white desert and nights with the beautiful moonscapes and the sand which reflects the blue sky along with all the events and activities gives you fun and enjoyment more than what you expect. Rann utsav altogether gives you the experience to discover the incredible india, as the whole of your experience is unique unlike other vacation spots where u stay in hotels, visit few places and come back with shopping and dinner.

gujarats CM gazing the sunset, rann utsav

kite flying carnival

Rann utsav keeps you engaged with its own cultural activities and other activities  like sit by the evenings along bonfires, watching artisans work live, dancing with the local folk dancers and folk music and enjoying  camel safaris. The display of the traditional stuff by local artists and NGOs of gujarat is worth buying. Rann utsav attracts many tourist every year and they are left with in incredible culture and festive spirits and bright colors of kutch and experience a different part and beauty of nature. Spending two to three days in ran utsav gives you the complete package of incrediable experience. You can enjoy kite-flying, witness the grandeur sunset, other night events, camel safari to kala dungar and you can watch the indo- pak border according to what package you select. The advance booking is a must to enjoy all the activities.

camel safari, rann utsav

Bird lovers gets a chance to explore the chance of watching different birds, specially the flaming flamingos and other migratory birds. The pristine beauty of white desert comes alive in the festival of rann of kutch where people celebrates life. The white desert is brightened with bright colors and festive zest during this time and with the music and dances in the arid lands of kutch one can just feel the varsity of kutch and historic significance of its culture.

Along with the cultural and festive zest, rann utsav has one more reason to fall in love with the culture, food is just the thing to explore. Unlike other places you don’t get a multi-cuisine food options here. You get a chance to explore the delicacies of traditional food of kutchh and Gujarat. The delicacies like khaman dhokla, sev tamatar ki sabzi, undhiya, bhakari, daal- dhokli etc are the most popular dishes you can try with. It gives your taste-buds a whole new experience like the place. Enjoying the lunch and hi- tea time and dinner on the white deserts with all the carnivals and festivals gives you a perfect treat.

Rann utsav is accessible through roadways, a 2 hour drive from bhuj, which is nearest to the desert with any private vehicle or the buses or vehicles provided by the tour agency. Prior advance bookings are required to experience the splendor view of lifetime.