Daily Archives: 14.04.2014

Quang Binh – The land of rich culture



Quang Binh – The land of rich culture

Quang Binh is a province located along Vietnam’s north-central coastal land. Initially, it was called Tien Binh when it was under the rule of Le Trung Hung, the ruler of the Le Dynasty. Later in the year 1604, it was renamed to Quang Binh. This province covers a total of 8065.8 kilometer square on land and has a population of over 850 thousands. Around the province of Quang Binh, located are the Khammouane Province of Lao in the western direction, Quang Tri Province in the southern region, the North Pacific Ocean in the eastern direction and the Ha Tinh Province in the northern direction. The region of Quang Binh was under Vang Lang historically and later belonged to the Champa Kingdom. It was then claimed by Dai Viet. Having these many changes in the regimes and rulers, the province has become a very important part of the history of the country and the world. The battlefields of the war between Champa and Vietnam are the lands of Quang Binh. Many places in the province are the attractions for tourists from all over the world.

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park:

Phong-Nha-Ke-Bang-National-Park-9

The most famous attraction of Quang Binh is the National Park of Phong Nha Ke Bang. This national park was listed under the World Heritage Sites by the UNESCO in the year 2003. Covering a region of greater than two hundred thousand square kilometers, the national park is a protected area located in the Minh Hoa and Bo Trach districts. These are situated in the North Central Coast of Vietnam. This national was created with an intention to protect the largest karst regions in the world having around 300 caves and caverns and also for protecting the limestone forest and its ecosystem located in the Annamite Range in North central Vietnam’ coast. The most famous part of the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park is the 70 kilometers long system having 300 grottoes and caves out of which the British and Vietnamese scientists have only explored 20 caves. This park has the “Longest underground river” in the world, the “Largest Caverns” and the “Largest passageways” in the world. Most of the caves and regions are unexplored because of the lack of the roads and other facilities on the way.

Beaches:

Da Nhay

The Quang Binh has a lot of beaches for the tourists. The best out of all are the Nhat Le, Da Nhay and Ly Hoa beaches. The Mhat Le beach is located in the Dong Hoi district of the province. From the Dong Hoi centre, the Nhat Le beach is just a walk away. The Nhat Beach and the river are equally enjoys by the tourists and the locals. A lot of hotels and restaurants are located on the beach and there is also an amusement park for the kids. This is a very pleasant beach with a strong current. The public on the beach is mostly family groups, usually Vietnamese and Russian. This is a great place to enjoy family vacations. The Da Nhay beach is located right below near the foot of the mountain Ly Hao. The beaches have fine sand of white color. The water is very much clean and has crystal blue color. These are most attractive and clean beaches in the whole country of Vietnam.

Tien Son Cave:

Gruta-Tien-Son-Quang-Binh

The Tien Son Cave is also known as the Dry Cave and is located in the Phong Nha Ke Bang area having natural miraculous attractions. The Tien Caves were discovered in April 1935 under the mountains of Ke Bang. It is at a distance of 400 meters from the world renowned Phong Nha Grotto and is at a height of 135m. The length of the Tien Son Caves is more than 980 meters. After travelling 400 meters in the cave, you can see an abyss which is 10 meters deep. After 500 meters comes another part of the caves which is a bit dangerous to walk further. Currently, only 400 meters of the cave has been facilitated by installing the lighting system which makes it safer for the tourists. Different sized and shaped stalactites and stalagmites, hundreds in number, are found inside the caves which make it even more marvelous. Some will resemble a human figure; some will resemble the structure of an animal, or like some architectural wonder. The ceiling of the cave has veins that look like glittering gold and shining silver.

Quang Binh Border Gate:

quang_binh_gate

The wall of Quang Binh was built in the year 1630 with an intention to protect the capital city of Phu Xuan under Nyguyen Dynasty. This architectural structure around the border is made of porch and walls. There has benn a lot of damage caused to the gate due to the number of battles fought in those periods and weather changes. But the gate has benn restored as it looked originally. The landscapes surrounding this gate are beautiful and delight every passerby.

Apart from the abouve mentioned beautiful and attractive sites in Quang Binh, there are a lot more to explore. One is the Bang Spa which is hot water spring area located in Le Thuy District which can have water of temperature upto 105 degree Celsius. Also the Ho Chi Minh trail has many sites of Vietnamese war.

Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand



Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand

Valley_of_flowers_uttaranchalValley of Flowers National Park in located in the state of Uttarakhand in India. Valley of flowers is popular for its wonderful natural beauty, rare animals and endemic alpine flowers. It was declared as a national park in India in 1982 and is now a world Heritage Site declared by UNESCO. It is spread over an area of 88.50 sq. Km. The park is surrounded by forests on all the sides. The beautiful waterfalls, picturesque landscapes and meadow add more beauty to the Valley of flowers. The Valley lies on the Zanskar range of the Himalayas and the highest point in the Valley of Flowers National Park is at 6,719 metres above the sea level called as Gauri Parbat.

HISTORY

This place was inaccessible initially and hence not very known to the world. However, the locals were aware about this place but never visited it because they believed it was the land of the fairies and whoever visited the place would be taken away by the fairies and would never return. In the year 1931, three British mountaineers namely, Frank S. Smythe, Eric Shipton and R.L.Holdsworth while returning from a successful expedition to Mt. Kamet lost their way and happened to reach the valley which was full of colourful flowers. They stumbled upon looking at the beauty of this place and named it as “Valley of Flowers.” Later, Frank Smythe also wrote a book of the name Valley of Flowers. The Valley of Flowers is also believed to be the place from where Hanuman of Ramayana brought the magical herb Sanjeevani to save the life of Laksmana. The legend still holds, as many people continue to believe that the magical herb Sanjeevani continues to grow in the park.

valley-of-flowers-uttarakhand2

FLORA AND FAUNA

The density of wild animals is not very high in the park but it is home to some of the rarest and most endangered animals. There are about 13 species of mammals found in the park. Some of the rare animals found here include the snow leopard, blue sheep, Asiatic black bear and brown bear. Other animals like the Himalayan musk deer, red fox, langur, yellow throated marten, etc are found here. It is also home to various different types of birds like the snow partridge, Himalayan monal, Himalayan golden eagle, Himalayan snow cock, snow pigeon and sparrow. It is a home to various butterflies and insects. Some of the types of butterflies are lime butterfly, common blue Apollo, common Mormon, etc.

snow leopard

There are about 500 different types of plants to be found here. And the Valley is home to about 300 different types of alpine flowers. There are also many rare and valuable medicinal plants to be found here like Acotinum heterophyllum, Taxus wallichiana,etc . The various flowers found here include Orchids, Daisies, Primulas, Poppies, Anemones, Calendulas, etc.

Lime_Butterfly

HOW TO GET THERE

The nearest airport to this place is Dehradun which is 295 km away and closest railway station is Rishikesh which is 276 km away. The closest that one can reach to The Valley of Flowers by road is Govind Ghat. To reach here you will have to drive 10 hours from Joshimath. From Govind Ghat it is further a 13 km trek along a steep and narrow but well defined mountain trail to base camp at Ghangaria. The trek takes 4-8 hours. The start of the main Valley of Flowers is another 3 km away from Ghangaria. You are not allowed to camp or stay at The Valley of Flowers and hence the closest you can stay to the place is at Ghangaria.

WHEN TO VISIT

The park remains closed almost throughout the year due to the heavy snow fall. However it is open to the public from the month of June to September. The best time to visit The Valley of Flowers would be from mid July to mid August. At this time just after the first monsoon rain the flowers are in full bloom. If you go before July then you will find very few flowers as they are yet to bloom but you could see the melting glaciers. And after August the flowers start drying and hence the colour of the valley changes from Green to Yellow. However, the Valley of Flowers presents a different look every day. And considering the weather then it gets cold in the night and early morning. The maximum temperature here is 17 degrees which falls to a minimum of 7 degrees Celsius. But this weather is perfect for trekking in the valley. And the park is only open during the daytime. Its timing is from 6 am to 6 pm.

v-of-flowers

The main valley is stretched along an area of 10 km and 2 km in width completely covered with flowers. The pristine nature and beauty of this place has been saved only because of the absence of road connectivity and the ban on human settlement and grazing of animals. The only way to reach here is by trekking. There are many groups that arrange treks to the Valley of Flowers. Thus, if one could describe the Valley of Flowers in words then the only words that come to one’s mind are beautiful, enchanting, magical and scintillating. This place is definitely a must go for every nature and adventure lover.

The Pink Lake – Lake Hillier



The Pink Lake – Lake Hillier

Amazing view of pink lake

The Hillier Lake,Western Australia

The Hillier Lake,Western Australia

The Lake Hillier.which is also known as The Pink Lake, is situated in Cape Arid near the southern coast of Western Australia.It is a lake of salty water of 40% which makes the Dead Sea of Jordan which eases the floating.It is one of the natural wonders and a mystery of Australia,which can be only seen from sky.It is a large inland body of still water in Australia.

Map:

location of pink lake

location of pink lake

Lake Hillier rests like an enormous body rested at the corner of Middle Island in Western Australia.It is surrounded by a thick forest of sand,paperbark trees and eucalyptus trees that looks green surrounding the lake and it is 600 m(nearly 2000 feet) long.A narrow strip of white sand ridges are piled up,which are covered by vegetation, seperating it to the north from the Southern Ocean.It is located on the edge of Recherche Archipelago’s largest island, in Australia.

Origin:

Pink Lake

Pink Lake

The Pink Lake is originated at 1802 by a British explorer Mathew Flinders who visited this  wonderful place on his way to Sidney,who was doing  mountaineering.The captain was so shocked to see the pink lake and was overwhelmed and collected the water,which later on was discovered as saline.The pink is similar to the rock salt found in Himalayan region.

Similar lakes around the world:

There are 7 pink lakes in the world other than Lake Hillier.Although they may not considered as bright pink like that of Lake hillier as it depends on the salt present in the water.

1. Pink Lake of Quairading, Australia

2. Pink Hutt Lagoon, Australia

3. Pink Lake of Salina de Torrevieja, Spain

4. Pink Lake, Australia (Goldfields-Esperance area)

5. Pink Lake Retba, Dakar Region, Senegal

6. Pink Masazir Lake or Masazirgol, Azerbaijan

7. Dusty Rose Lake, Canada

Mystery behind the lake:

The lake is of bright pink color and the reason behind this is yet not clarified.But, according to the researches,the color is permanent even the water is poured in a container.

Amazing view of pink lake

Amazing view of pink lake

In the mid twentieth century,scientists after doing many studies about this lake thought that the algae Dunaliella salna,which is resting in the lake’s salt deposits,produces a red dye is the reason behind this.Some say that that the color is of some lack of nutrients in the lake.But,either way  it is not proved.

In early  20th century,a salt mining project has been started which was abandoned within 6 years as it proved no good result.Except the time of this project,the lake never changed its color which looks like an icing cake.

salt mining project

salt mining project

Attractions:

This pink link attracts everybody as a mysterious natural beauty which is a unique beauty in the world which seems like a fiction.It is viewed from the sky only as stepping foot on the island is prohibited.

view of pink lake from the sky

view of pink lake from the sky

This paradise view may seem like an abandoned island but tourists are attracted to this,which looks like a yummy strawberry milkshake.Tourists usually book a helicopter which takes them past the lake so that they can watch the beauty from there.

The  saline lake is  fine for swimming lovers even though it seems uncomfortable at some times due to its salinity but it is not advisable for swimming.

swimming in pink lake

swimming in pink lake

Also,now-a-days, tourists can come and explore these islands and wildlife of the Recherche Archipelago on a cruise .

This  lake has been identifies by Bird life International as an Important Bird Area as it many unique native and migratory birds visit this lake.

migratory birds

migratory birds

Trips to Esperence:

Pink lake which is near Esperence is set as an backdrop,which is sometimes in purple color , a stunning beauty where we can do horse riding,cycling,trial walking,biking,scuba diving,whale watching,fishing,wind surfing and kayaking trips.This lake is just two miles to the west of Esperence.

It is a beach lover’s paradise which has its clean and neat beaches with gentle ,warm breezing seas.

There is an Esperence Museum which displays material about the local history which consists of pioneers,shipwreck items and many more artistic items which feel from US Sky Lab .

Esperence Museum

Esperence Museum

Also,there is an artificial reef which is at the outskirts of the town ,which is a nice spot for fishing or a walk.

Life in Pink Lake:

As  no oxygen is present,there is no scope for any organism to live but only an organism that lives in the depth of the water i.e., an anaerobic prehistoric organism,which is a pink photosynthetic bacterium,which does not need oxygen and it needs sulphur when it transforms sunlight into energy.

Lake Hilliery

Lake Hilliery

It also acts as a home to three-spined stipleback fish,which is a saltwater fish,which is been used to the conditions of the lake’s gradual desalination and today lives in the lake’s fresh water.

Usage of the lake:

The one and  only use for this lake is to preserve this in a bottle and export  it as a medicine for problems like stomach upsets, heartburn,nausea,diarrhea and indigestion.

The Pink Lake is just an charismatic beauty to admire and is an extraordinary tourist spot to visit as it is worth to be.

Tower of David: Tallest Slum in the World



Tower of David: Tallest Slum in the World

The Tower of David or Torre de David, more officially known as Centro Financiero Confinanzas is currently the second tallest (third tallest if we consider The Parque Central Complex as two different buildings) building in Venezuela. The building is situated in the capital of Venezuela, Caracas. The building made the headlines for being the tallest slum or the tallest skyscraper which is actually a slum.

Some Facts about the Tower

A man lifts weights on a balcony on the 28th floor

The complex or building as of 2013 stands at a height of 190 meters or 620 feet. The building comprises of 45 floors and the total floor area occupied by this building is near about 121 square meters. The main architects of the building were Enrique Gómez and Associates. Brewer and Brewer Engineers S.C were responsible for being the structural engineers of this colossal building. The main developer or investor of this building was J. David Brillembourg. Nearly 3000 people call this building their home and reside happily in the Tower of David. The building due to its great height and inhabitance of squatters has been given the title of ‘world’s tallest vertical slum’. The building has a helipad which is still intact after all these years.

Current Status

The current status of the building is that it is still not complete, because after the construction began in 1990 the construction of the building was halted in the year 1994 due to the great Venezuelan Bank Crisis in which several banks were taken over by the government. The building at present lacks elevators, water supply, electricity, windows and even walls in some places.

History

Men rest after salvaging metal on the 30th floor of the Tower of David skys

The name of the tower is quite fascinating and to some it might appear that there might be some story related to the bible character of David involved in the naming of the tower but the actual reason why this tower was named as the tower of David was because of its main investor who was David Brillembourg, who died in the year 1993. In the year 1994, due to the catastrophic Venzuelan Bank crisis which shook the whole Venezuelan economy by its roots, the building came under the direct control of the government and the government has made no efforts to restore completion work till now. The president at the time when squatters invaded this building was Hugo Chavez, who turned a blind eye towards the whole incident.

Life in the Tower of David

Children play in the corridors

The building has been a ray of hope for people who cannot afford housing in a city like Caracas. Due to the presence of housing shortage in Caracas, the building has become a home to many squatters. The state in which the building was found before these people became inhabitants of this building was quite horrendous and didn’t have any basic amenities, but since these squatters have taken over, the condition of the building has slightly improved given their inadequacy to spend a lot of money on repair and maintenance work. The building now has water reaching all the way upto the 22nd floor and amazingly the residents of this building can use motorcycles to travel upto the first 10 floors but have to use the staircase after that. The residents have occupied almost all the floors till the 28th floor of the building. The building even provides shelter to an unlicensed dentist. The initial days when people were making their move to this tower were quite tough for the current inhabitants of this tower because people had to spend months in tents but with the passage of time people have developed their style of living here and now almost everyone lives in better homes. It has been reported that some residents even park their cars in the parking garage of the building. The residents have somehow made arrangements to electricity and other basic necessities in this building.

The building has corridors where children can usually be seen playing. The building even houses a basketball court right at the ground floor. Even though the building does not have any proper lifts, elevators or other mediums for making a person reach the higher floors, if a person does reach the upper end of the building somehow, he is sure to experience some gusting wind on his face. The building is after all, is one of the tallest buildings in Venezuela and does not fail to provide a scenic view of the beautiful skyline which Caracas possesses.

People who live in the Tower of David don’t just live there, but they have also opened different type’s sources of income for themselves. The tower has a few warehouses, beauty parlors and even a few day-care centers. Inhabitants of the tower help themselves by working in all these places of work and earn their daily bread. Even though the people have tried their level best to provide themselves with the best environment they can afford for themselves, one cannot ignore the fact that the building does not have a proper sewage system, well lit lights and some recent migrants to this building have to live in tents and hammocks. The building is quite unsafe for families with young children. A girl once fell to her death after falling from a high floor of the building.

One might not think of the Tower of David as a place worth seeing but one can surely not ignore the ‘Tallest Slum in the World’.

The Umaid Bhawan Palace, where royalty resides



The Umaid Bhawan Palace, where royalty resides

pillars pool risalaThe Umaid Bhawan Palace, situated in Jodhpur, the Sun city  of Rajasthan, is one of India’s largest private residences. Housing around 347 rooms, the palace serves as a private residence for the Royal family of Jodhpur. Christened thus after late Maharaja Umaid Singh ji, a part of the palace is managed by the Taj group of hotels.

A little into the history…this architectural masterpiece was previously called the Chittar Palace, during its construction, after the name of the chittar stone used to build it. Maharaja Umaid singh ji, built the palace with the motive of providing relief and employment to the thousands of people affected by the famine caused by a drought.

About the family.. Former Maharaja Gaj Singh Ji the second, was born on the 13th of January 1948, and was the only son of Maharaja Hanwant Singh ji of Jodhpur by his wife erstwhile Maharani Krishna Kumari of Dhrangadhra. Gaj Singh ji belongs to the suryavanshi family of the Rajputs. He was installed on the throne after the sudden death of his father in a plane crash. At the age of eight, Gaj singh ji was first sent to Cothill house, a primary school in Oxfordshire, England and then to Eton College and Christ church, Oxford, where he received a degree in Philosophy, Politics and economics. In 1963, he married Hemlata Rajye, daughter of Raja of Poonch and his wife Nalini Rajye Lakshmi Devi of Nepal. They have two children Yuvraj Shivraj singh and Yuvrani Shivranjini Singh.

Shivraj singh was born on the 30th of September 1975, in Dehradun. He was educated in Mayo College of Ajmer, then moving to Eton College. After leaving Eton, Shivraj studied at Oxford Brookes University, where he received a degree in Business Administration. Shivraj is an avid polo player and a popular face in the Delhi high society. He got married to Gayatri Kumari Pal, from the former royal family of Askot, in Uttaranchal and has a daughter.

This palatial piece of beauty finally materialized in 1943.The type of architecture employed to build the palace is Indo Art Deco style. Geometric angular forms, exotic materials and linear decorations, characterize the Art Deco style. The look is strong and bold, with no hint of romance anywhere in sight. The palace was later renamed after the late Maharaja Umaid singh ji and has since served as a residence to the Maharaja and his successors.

Today, the  Palace is bifurcated into three functional parts- a splendid Taj palace hotel, the residence of the royal family and the palace museum .

The palace converted into a hotel in 1972, opened its doors to the public, as an exquisite residential hotel. State of art living, peppered with royalty, accompanied by precious antiques, period furniture and priceless artefacts, adorning the public areas and the private hotel rooms, defines the experience of the guests and the residents. This palatial paradise has been recognised as a 5 star deluxe property by the Government of India. Armed with every modern convenience, the palace caters to the needs of today’s travellers.

The Umaid Bhawan Palace hotel has numerous unique features which makes it one of a kind..

  • The central dome skyrocketing 110 feet overhead, provides a splendid centrepiece- a focal point for all the visitors to the property.
  • The Trophy Bar-

Experience a royal nightlife at the trophy bar with soothing lounge music and an ambience full of artefacts, wildlife trophies, accumulated by Maharajas during their reign. Decorated with Tiger skin cushions, Gazelles, bears, tusks of wild boars, binoculars and an exclusive fishing gear, the bar gives one a glimpse of the sporting lives of the Maharajas.The drinks menu at the trophy bar is a melange of a selection of Whiskeys, cognacs, tequilas, martinis, Bellinis, liqeuers and cuban cigars.

  • The Risala Restraunt-

Large dinning tables with comfortable chairs, walls holding portraits of the great Maharajas, warm dim lighting topped with finger licking cuisines from all around the world, describe the Risala at Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel. The Risala makes one feel as if one is dinning with the actual royalty.

  • The Marwar Hall-

if you are planning to hold Conferences, presentations, seminars or any other kind of meeting event, you need not exit the palace as it provides you with the Marwar Hall, which is your conference hall away from office !

  • The Pillars –

the sunset view from the pillars is an absolute treat to the eyes, one can see the landscaped gardens and spacious lawns, that create an ambience which is at once serene, restful and yet spectacularly royal.

  • The Kebab Konner-

serves mouth watering varieties of kebabs with delicious chutneys and cocktails. In the winters, the place is warmed with lamps, which give the little corner a fairy land look.

The Zodiac Swimming Pool-

built in the heart of the building, is a cool blue respite from the scorching heat of the city, it is accessible only to the residents, as it is tucked away in the basement of the hotel. The pool has hot and cold water settings which meet everyone’s needs and makes it unique.

In the past few years Umaid Bhawan Palace hotel has garnered the reputation of being one of the finest holiday and conference destinations in the world, since the building contains various small and large meeting places within its boundaries. If you are visiting Jodhpur, the Umaid Bhawan should be at the top of your Must-visit list…it is an absolute value for money, time and energy !

World’s Largest Sand Island: Fraser Island, Australia



World’s Largest Sand Island: Fraser Island, Australia

Fraser island

Fraser Island is a large sand island located off the southern coast of Queensland, Australia. It is spread over an area of 184,000 hectares. The island is 122 km long and 22 km at its widest point. It is a very popular travel destination among people and also the largest sand island in the world. It was also listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the year 1992. It is a place with extraordinary beauty having long incessant white beaches bordered by stunningly coloured sand cliffs, tall rainforests and many freshwater lakes having crystal clear water. Fraser Island is the only place in the world where the tall rainforests appear to be growing on sand dunes at elevations of over 200 metres. The enormous sand dunes that make up the island are a continuous record of climatic and sea level changes over the past 700,000 years. It has a very complex dune system which is still evolving. The highest dunes reach up to 260 m above the sea level. There are also many dune lakes to be found on the island.

FLORA AND FAUNA

Birds are most abundantly found on the island. This place is home to more than 350 species of birds. It is also a very important site for the migratory birds which use this place as a resting area during their flight from Southern Australia and their breeding grounds in Siberia. You can also spot the ground parrot which is one of the most endangered birds in Australia. There are about 25 species of mammals found here which included the possums, flying foxes, echidnas, etc. Dingoes which were once very common are now endangered on the island. This is the only place in Australia where they are considered as dangerous due to frequent attacks on humans. This place is a very poor habitat for fish and other aquatic animals due to the acidity and low nutrient levels of the water. Though there are some frogs that have adapted to this environment called as acidic frogs. You can also spot whales here during the months of July and August.

Dingo-Fraser_Island

GET IN

The only way to reach Fraser Island is by a ferry. There are ferry services available. Sunstate and Flight West airlines have daily flights coming to Hervey Bay. So you could fly to Hervey Bay and then take a ferry from there to reach Fraser Island or there are some charter flights and helicopter services that offer travel to Fraser Island. These helicopters land on the main beach only at the time of low tide. However, once at the island the only way to travel around is by taking a four wheel drive vehicle as there are no paved roads.

THINGS TO SEE

Lake Mackenzie

This is one of the jewels of Fraser Island. It is one of the most famous places so it gets really crowded during the middle of the day in the peak season. It is a large perched lake with crustal clear blue water having white sands. Here you can exfoliate your skin with the mineral sand and soften your hair using the clear water.

Fraser_Mackenzie

Lake Wabby

It is a green coloured freshwater lake which is about 30 minutes walk from the beach. You can spot the freshwater turtles and catfish swimming in this lake. The lake is adjacent to a sand blow which is now moving into the lake making it eventually disappear under the sand. It is also one of the deepest lakes in the Island having a depth of 12 metres.

Lake Wabby

Indian Head

Indian Head is located at the northern end of the main beach. It is situated at one end of the beach. It is a rocky outcrop on which you can climb and get the spectacular 360 degree view of the entire island and also spot some wildlife from here. It is a major tourist spot on the island. However, camping is restricted in this area.

Indian_Head

Maheno Shipwreck

In the year of 1935, the retired passenger steamer Maheno was being taken to Japan for scrapping when a storm forced it towards the shore. It was one of the fastest ships in the world. During World War II it was used for target practicing by the Australian Air force. It is situated a few kms away from the Eli Creek.

Maheno shipwreck

Central Station

Central station used to be the main quarter of the loggers and forestry station from the year 1920 to 1959. You can find several displays on the history and ecology of the island here. This place is surrounded by pine trees on all sides. Some of the rarest ferns grow here too. There are also picnic facilities available at the Central Station.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Apart from these places there are many other places like Eli Creek, Wanggoolba Creek, Champagne pools which can be visited. This place is also very famous for trekking. There are many possibilities for overnight hiking on the island. The most famous trek here is the 90 km trek called the Fraser Island Great Walk. There are also various camping areas however permits are required for the same. Thus, made from the wind and sand, beautiful blue freshwater lakes, giant sand dunes and the rainforests this place is like a floating paradise which is a must visit for ever traveler.

Topkapi Palace, Turkey



Topkapi Palace, Turkey

The Topkapi palace is the largest palace in Istanbul, turkey. This royal palace was used for sittings for state occasion and royal entertainment now this place is a major tourist destination containing important holy relics of the Muslim world, including Mohammed’s SAW clock and sword. Topkapi palace is among the monuments contained within the historic areas of Istanbul, which became a UNESCO world heritage site in 1985.

TOPKAPIPALACE-3

The palace,  best known for ottoman architecture.  it contains large collection of historical objects, robes, weapons, shields and weapons ,is considered as a home of 4000 people, complex of this palace consists of 4 main courtyards, harems and many similar looking buildings, interconnected with galleries and passages, surrounded by high walls. This palace located on the seraglio point, one of the highest points close to the sea. Total size of complex around 592,600 square meter.

Topkapi_Palace_Seen_From_Harem

Starting with The imperial gate is the entrance to the palace and first courtyard. All the four courtyards lead to entrance to each other. The first courtyard consisting of purely functional structure of royal time is an outer precinct or park is the largest of all the courtyards. Than the gate of salutation, through which only the passage of sultan was allowed leads to second courtyard. This crenelated gate has two large octagonal pointed towers. This gate is richly decorated on the both sides and in upper part with the religious inscriptions and monograms of sultans upon passing the imperial gate, the visitors enters second courtyard, which is a park full of peacocks and gazelles, used for gatherings. at the end of second courtyard gate of felicity made entry to 3rd courtyard.

elaborate-entry-to-throne-room-in-topkapi-palace-in-istanbul-ruth-hagerimperial-hall-of-harem-in-topkapi-palace-ayhan-altun

The gate of felicity, the ceiling is partly painted and gold leafed with a golden ball hanging from the middle, in past no one could pass this get without permission of sultan has a doe supported by marble pillars. Beyond the gate of felicity is the 3rd courtyard also called inner palace, regarded as heart of palace. It has audience hall surrounded by  a colonnade of 22 columns, supported the large roof with hanging eaves, inside is the throne room with dome, the ceiling of the hall painted in ultramarine blue and studded with golden stars. Than the dormitory of the expeditionary force houses the imperial wardrobe collection with a valuable costume collection of about 2,500 garments of sultan and uniforms and robes worked in silver and gold thread.

Topkapi Mughal Throneistanbul-ottoman-tour-topkapi-palace-and-blue-mosque-in-istanbul-40665

Than visitors can visit to the Imperial council has multiple entrances both from inside the palace and from the courtyards. The porch consists of multiple marbles and porphyry pillars with an ornate green and white colored wooden ceiling decorated with gold. The tower of justice located between the imperial council and the harem having several stories high and tallest in the palace and the arm collection, one of the richest assemblages of Islamic arms in the world. Currently on exhibition are some 400 weapons. Than the imperial treasury contains the vast collection of work of art and jewelry belonging to ottoman dynasty. the objects exhibited in imperial treasury is made of gold, decorated with rare jams, cut diamonds and other precious materials. The most eye catching jewel in the third room is the spoonmaker’s diamond set in a silver and surrounded in two ranks with 49 cut diamonds and among the exhibition the two large golden candle holders, each weighing 48 kg and mounted with 6, 666 cut diamonds than the fourth room consisting of throne of sultan in Indian style decorated with pearls and emeralds.

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Than opposite to treasury is another set of wonder, the holy relics in the suite of the felicitous cloak also called sacred safekeeping rooms. At the entry notice carved door from the kabba in mecca. To the left side a room contains the prophet Mohammed’s footprint in  clay and the sword of the prophet david.  Visitors can also have look to the kitchens of the palace. The palace kitchens consists of 10 dome buildings for providing food to 4, 000 peple with as many as 6000 meals a day could be prepared. Around 10, 700 pieces of Chinese porcelain displayed here.

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Adjacent to imperial treasury there is miniature and portrait gallery displaying the old and precious Qurans, hand painted, handwritten bible, 37 portraits of different sultans and first world first map by the turkey. The other beautiful example of ottoman architecture is the liberary of sultan ahmed III consisting of around 3,500 manuscripts. Than the mosque of the agas, the oldest and largest mosque of the palace. The privy chamber, the most sacred relics of the Muslim world exhibiting the several sacred objects.After treasury the way lead to the harem, which is built on a hillside contain more than 400 rooms the hall of the ablution fountain also known as sofa with fountain, entrance hall into the harem. Than the courtyard of the sultan’ consorts and the concubines, privy chambers of Ahmed 1 and II. The imperial hall known as throne room is a dome hall in the harem is considered as a largest dome in the palace. In the hall stand sultan’s throne.

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Than the courtyard of the favorites form the last section of the harem and overlooks a large pool and the boxwood garden. The fourth courtyard known as imperial sofa consists of a number of pavilions, gardens and terraces. First the circumcision room, its interior and exterior are decorated with a mixed collection of rare recycled tiles such as the blue tiles with flower motifs at the exterior. Baghdad kiosk situated right side of terrace, interior is an example of an ideal ottoman room with yellow and blue tiles. In the middle of this room is  a silver Mangal (charcoal stove), a present of king Louis XIV. Than the gilded Iftar kiosk regarded as moonlight seat offers  a view on the golden horn and is a magnet for the tourist for photo opportunities and Terrace kiosk the only wooden building in the innermost part of the palace. This palace is place of many secret and historical stories unknown to the world with providing panoramic view of sea of Marmara so visitors must visit to this palace to get to know the Islamic royalty. 

The Hills Are Alive: Vivanta by Taj, Madikeri Coorg



The Hills Are Alive: Vivanta by Taj, Madikeri Coorg

Tucked away amongst the densely forested slopes of the Western Ghats in south west Karnataka, Coorg has a quaint charm of its own. The land of coffee, cardamom, colonels and the Cauvery, Coorg’s seemingly modest offerings leave no stone unturned to provide you with one of the best holiday experiences ever. Find yourself traversing through its lush green valleys, lose yourself in its pristine forests, breathe in the raw fragrance of its spices and marvel at its rich and varied history soaked in tales of courage right from primitive hunters and warriors to many of today’s valiant gems in the army.

Vivanta by Taj, Madikeri Coorg

For a taste of all those treasured souvenirs at the pinnacle of luxury, look no further than the iconic luxury resort Vivanta by Taj, Madikeri-Coorg. Quench your travel and leisure desires at this idyllic nirvana. Located just around 7 km from the sleepy town of Madikeri, the resort offers you a getaway of complete serenity with 180 acres of virgin rainforest to call home.

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An ecosystem in itself, the hotel offers you a host of amenities, dining options, activities, attractions and world class accommodation. The cherry on the cake has to be the extremely warm and friendly staff and management who work to the fullest of their abilities to make every guest feel at home. Like all of the best holiday getaways, this charming rejuve will leave you wanting more where it most satisfies.

Getting There

You can catch a flight to either Bangalore or Mangalore and drive the rest of the way to the resort. The road from Mangalore is shorter, but the Bangalore route offers a smoother drive. Either way, it should take you around 7 hours to get there plus any time spent sightseeing on the way. Rental cars are available at both airports but it is advisable to book one in advance. The routes are lined with cafes and restaurants for a stopover at regular intervals.

The Hotel

After a long drive, the picturesque view of expansive, ceaseless, rolling green hills will refresh you. The lobby itself is designed with a minimalist outlook. Where opulent tapestries and palatial interiors adorn the lobbies of its counterparts, the Vivanta by Taj, Madikeri Coorg is beautifully simple with stark wooden panels, well placed fishponds and an unassuming corner front desk. The real show stopper however, remains the breathtakingly invigorating view. The surroundings have been meticulously designed to complement the view rather than to overshadow it.

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Each guest is welcomed warmly with delicious freshly made Coorgi coffee. You would be perfectly content spending a couple of hours gazing at the charming view itself. There are buggies driven by the staff members to ferry guests around different parts of the huge property but make sure you take a walk around the pathways at least once for a delightful experience. The staff is extremely courteous and make sure you feel at home by making small talk on buggy rides and also at mealtimes.

Sleeping

Different kinds of rooms are available at three different rates. Each room is a tiny little cottage fashioned out of black wood and designed simplistically. All of the cottages offer fantastic views of the resplendent forest. Facilities such as heated water, WiFi, dry cleaning, etc. are available. Temperatures are cool so it is advisable to carry light woolens on your trip. Some rooms even have their own fireplace where you can cozy up with your loved one on a cold night. All of the cottages are carefully constructed at specific locations throughout the property so as to minimize damage to the immaculate forest.

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Dining

Vivanta by Taj, Madikeri-Coorg has a trio of wonderful restaurants.

The Fern Tree is an all day dining restaurant which serves continental food. A few Indian specialties are also available. The ambience is minimalistic offering one of the best views of the property. Come armed with a camera when you dine here.

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Nellaki serves Coorgi cuisine which uses spices and meat extensively. It serves lunch and dinner.

For the health conscious, Dew, the wellness restaurant is an excellent option centering their menu on organic ingredients and pro health preparation methods. The hotel also has its own bar called Hive.

Activities

The hotel has both an indoor and an outdoor pool for guests to swim. The indoor pool is temperature controlled and equipped with a Jacuzzi. There is also a gym if you want to work out during your stay. Yoga classes are conducted in the mornings.

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There are a number of nature trails, morning walks and treks conducted around the beautiful forest. The guided tours ensure you get a good look at the astounding number of species of flora and fauna that the Western Ghats house.

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For the more adventurous, there are mountain biking activities as well as a zip line across a part of the forest.

Apart from that, the resort offers pottery, culinary and baking classes for children and adults. Last but not least, you can wind down after a long day at the Jiva Spa boasting a number of special treatments to keep you calm.

Attractions

Stay at Vivanta by Taj, Madikeri Coorg for a year and you’ll still never have seen the resplendent rainforest in all its majesty. Yes, the forest is the main attraction here; one you can’t afford to miss.

For a bit of history and culture, head to hotel’s conservatory, a mini museum with lucid displays of Coorg’s varied history.

Go to the quiet retreat of the Buddha garden, where the only sound you’ll hear is the bubbling laughter of the brook as it trips over pebbles. Romantic dinners are organized in this area too.

If this resort fails to keep you entranced for the entire duration of your stay, you can have a look at some of the other attractions in the area. Make sure you visit the Tibetan village. Karnataka’s own little Tibet is home to an architectural marvel, the Tibetan Golden Temple. The entire complex and interior is peppered with stunning architecture, gorgeous art and fabulous sculpture.

Raft across a section of the Cauvery to Dubare Elephant Camp to ride elephants and help them bathe in the river. Bathing takes place only in the morning, so set out early. Other nearby attractions include a waterfall called Abbi Falls, a rabbit and deer par called Nisargdhama and a flower garden called Raja’s seat.

For a heavenly getaway, leave your heart behind at Vivanta by Taj, Madikeri Coorg. It sure is a splurge, but it’s worth every penny.

 

 

Dharamshala, where divinity dawns



Dharamshala, where divinity dawns

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In the lap of the Kangra Valley and the shadow of the Dhauladhar mountains, situated in the Indian state of Himachala Pradesh, surrounded by a thick sheet of coniferous forest, domintated by Deodar Cedar trees, lies Dharamshala also called ‘Dharamsala’. The name leterally means ‘ a religious sanctuary’. Dharamshala is a city and a Municipal Council of the Kangra district. Nicknamed ‘Dshala’, the city holds The Dalai Lama’s residence, as well as the the headquarters of central Tibetan administration.

Resting 2 kms away from Kangra, the city of Dharamshala is situated at an acclivity of 1457 metres and covers an area of almost 8.51 sq km. The city is bifurcated into two distinct sections, Kotwali bazaar and the surrounding markets are called ‘lower Dharamshala’ or just Dharamshala, while the areas further up the mountain are called Mcleodganj or ‘upper Dharamshala’. One can commute between Mcleodganj and Dharamshala through small cars and taxis. Mcleodganj is enveloped in Pine, Himalayan Oak and Rhododendron. Dharamshala has a monsoon influenced humid subtropical climate. The times when the city is   most inviting, are the Autumn and the Spring months, October and April respectively.

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Digging deep into history…

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The Katoch dynasty ruled over Dharamshala until the British Raj took over. The royal family still holds a residence there by the name of ‘Clouds End Villa’ and has been the oldest serving royal family in the world.

Dharamshala is inhabited by the Gaddis, the indeginous people, who are a predominantly hindu group, who traditionally lived a transhumant lifestyle. The lack of permanent settlement in the area, led to some Gaddis losing their seasonal pastures and farmlands, with the arrival of the British and the Gurkhas.

Dharamshala being made a subsidiary cantonement, hosted the 66th Gurkha Light Infantry, which was moved from Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, to Dharamshala. A perfect position for the new base was located on the slopes of the Dhauladhar hills. A hindu resthouse, stood on this plot of waste land, after which the new cantonement was named. This was hence the beginning of the Legend of the Gurkhas . They worshipped at the ancient shiv temple of ‘Bhagsunag’. The Gurkhas reffered to Dharamshala as ‘Bhagsu’ and themselves as ‘Bhagsuwalas’.Many places are still known by their former cantonement names such as the Tirah lines, Depot Bazaar etc. Dharamshala now began serving as a cool respite during hot summer months.

On 4th of April 1905, the city woke up to a trembling earth, that demolished a major part of the cantonement and the Bhagsunag temple. The Gurkhas rebuilt the town and also the temple.

Coming in of the Tibetans…When the spiritual leader of the Tibetans, H.H. The Dalai Lama, had to flee Tibet and take refuge in India, he chose to reside in Mcleodganj, along with his followers. They then established ‘the Government in Excile’ in 1960. Having been connected with Hinduism and Budhism, Dharamshala holds a number of Monastries. The library of Tibetan works, opened by the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, now considered one of the most important institutions for Tibetology and other resources related to the Tibetan history.

Presently a several thousand Tibetans, reside in Mcleodganj. Mcleaodganj, popularly known as ‘Little Lhasa’, after the Tibetan capital, hosts several monastries, temples and schools and has become an arresting tourist spot with hotels and restraunts.

Dharamshala International Film Festival..

In 2012 Dharamshala began hosting the Dharamshala International Film Festival, in Mcleodganj. Presented by the White Crane arts and Media Trust, established by Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, DIFF hosts the showcasing of the recent Indian and world cinema, including Fiction, Documentries, short films etc. The main aim behind the establishment of DIFF, was to promote contemprory arts, cinema and independent media practises in the Himachal region.

The Trekking Tales of Dharamshala...

The trekking trails in Dharamshala, lead the trekkers across Dhauladhar, into the upper Ravi valley and Chamba district. En Voyage one crosses a thick jungle of Deodar, pine, oak and Rhododendron. The presence of streams, ocassional waterfalls and glaciers, makes the trail, picturesque, begging for photographic attention.

The various passes used for trekking include, the Toral pass, which is 4575m, nearly 10km away from Dharamshala. The Bhimghasutri pass, 4580m, laid on steep cliffs and dangerous gorges, is one of the toughest trekking trails and takes around 6 days to complete. Last but not least, the Bleni pass, measuring 3710m, is the easier one as compared to the others. One passes through Alpine pastures, streams and woods, while trekking on the Bleni pass, which takes around 4-5 days to complete.

Dharamshala Cricket Stadium..

One of the most attractive cricket stadiums in India, serves as a home ground  to Himachal Pradesh cricket team and rarely the IPL team of Punjab, Kings Eleven Punjab. The first One day international held in DCS was played between England and India in 2013.

The alluring must-visits in Dharamshala…

  • Masrur (or Masroor)- situated 15km south of Kangra, Masrur is one of the most attractive places in the city. These are the fifteen, impeccably carved monolithic rock temples, dating back to the 8th century. In the sanctum of the main temple one can find images of Lord Ram and Godesses Sita and Lakshmi. The catching point here is that the carvings on these temples is similiar to the Kailash Temple at Ellora.
  • Bhagsunag Temple-devoted to Lord Shiva, is one of the oldest temples, built and worshiped by the Gurkhas. Situated 2km away from Mcleodganj, the temple is one of the major tourist attractions in Dharamshala.
  • Bhagsu Waterfall- Lying behind the Bhagsunag temple, 2 km away from Mcleodganj, the Bhagsu waterfall turns into a 30 feet deluge during monsoons.
  • Naam art gallery- is one of the most renowned tourist spots in Mcleodganj, that houses paintings by the famous German painter Elsbeth Buschmann and English painter A.W. Hallett. The gallery is situated in the sidhbari village, on the main Dalhousie-Chamunda road.
  • Kangra Meuseum- housing items back to the 5th century, the Kangra meuseum, is one of a kind, displaying artefacts of Tibetan and Buddhist cultures. If history facinates you, Kangra meuseum is the ideal place for you, since it is rich in crafts, arts, coin memorabilia, embroidered costumes, sculptures, jewellery, carvings and much more. The meuseum consumes 30 minutes or maximum 1hr of your day and can be reached easily by taxis or buses.
  • Kunal Pathri Temple- situated 3km away from Kotwali bazaar,the temple is dedicated to goddess Kalpeshwari. The temple was built with the belief that a part of goddess Sati’s skull fell here at the time her charred body was being carried by Lord Shiva.
  • Chamunda temple- 15km away from Dharamshala, on the right bank of the Baner river, on the Mandi-Pathankot highway, the temple is supposed to have been the very spot where goddess Kali killed demons chand and mund.
  • Dal Lake- spread over an area of 1km, the lake is bounded by Rhododendrons, deodars and Juniper forest. One needs to walk 2km westwards from Mcleodganj bazaar to reach the lake that has become a tourist spot due to the annual festival held at the Kali temple and another temple dedicated to rishi Durvasa.
  • Triund- a trekking destination resting at the foothills of Dhauladhar, around 17km away from Dharamshala, is a paradise for nature lovers. One is offered a brilliant panorama of mountains and valleys, served on a platter. The trekkers take nighthalts in small time caves, used by Gaddis as shelters during rains.
  • Naddi- a picturesque picnic spot, situated 5 km northwest to Mcleodganj, offers a spectacular view of the Kangra valley. One can trek to Guna devi, Triund and Kareri lake from here.

Other tourist spots include, Mcleodganj bazaar, Sidhbari village with its temples and educational institutions, the Jama Masjid and the Thaneek Pura hill station.

Dharamshala can be reached by Gaggal airport, which is 15 km south of the town and 10 km north to Kangra. One can also take a train to Kangra, by Kangra valley railway lines from Pathankot 94 km away and then take a bus or a taxi. Several buses each night connect Mcleodganj with Majnu ka tila, the Tibetan settlement in Delhi.

Take a break, forget the city, become nature’s ally and embrace divinity.. visit Dharamshala !

Ruby Falls, Chattanooga, Tennessee



Ruby Falls, Chattanooga, Tennessee

If you love traveling and visiting all kinds of exotic places then the Ruby Falls, near Chattanooga, Tennessee in the United States is a must-see in your list. This 145 feet high underground waterfall is a treat to the eyes. On seeing this beautifully lighted and splendid waterfall anyone will go “wow”, such is the beauty and enchantment of this place. Chattanooga is a beautiful city with many attractions and Ruby Falls is one among them. You should definitely visit this place when you visit Chattanooga. Ruby falls is located within Lookout Mountain, near Chattanooga, in the United States of America. The falls is owned by the Steiner family of Chattanooga. It is named as one of the” ten most incredible cave waterfalls on earth.

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It is America’s deepest public waterfall and largest underground waterfall, standing at 44 meters tall and located 341 meters beneath Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga. The entrance to Ruby Falls is housed within an unusual stone building. The structure has a large ivy-covered tower resembling that of a Gothic castle. Visitors who climb to the top of the tower are rewarded with a beautiful view of Chattanooga. The grounds are beautifully-landscaped. An elevator takes visitors, 26 stories below the surface. The cave path is full of beautiful stalactites and stalagmites which makes the little journey more amazing.

 

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Unlike the other south-eastern caves of the United States of America, you will not find much artifacts in the Ruby Falls Cave as it did not have any natural opening of its own and couldn’t be entered until the 20th century. During the 1900s, the Lookout Mountain cave’s natural entrance was shut due to certain construction work of a railway tunnel, however in the 1920s, Leo Lambert, a chemist and cave enthusiast, thought of reopening the cave as a tourist spot and formed a company to work on it. He decided to make a new opening which would be further up the mountain than the previous or the original opening and planned the transportation of the tourists via an elevator. To accomplish this purpose his company bought a land on the side of the Lookout Mountain Cave and began to drill through the limestone in 1928. While working on this they discovered a small, about 8 inches high and 4 feet wide, passageway. Exploring this passageway Lambert discovered the formerly concealed Ruby Falls Cave and its waterfall. Today, the caves and waterfall are illuminated by various electric lights and shine in all shades of colors, including ruby red. But that’s not how the cave got its name. On Lambert’s next trip to the place he took his wife Ruby there and named the waterfall after her, thus the name Ruby Falls.

 

history

The formation of the Ruby Falls Cave took place along with the formation of the Lookout Mountain. The eastern part of Tennessee about 200-240 million years ago was covered with a shallow sea, whose sediments eventually formed the limestone rocks. And about 200 million years ago this area was uplifted and subsequent erosion formed the present topography. The cave which formed on the limestone is still horizontal, as it was while below the sea level. The Ruby Falls Cave is a limestone cave and limestone caves are formed when slightly acidic groundwater enters the subterranean streams and engulfs at a relatively soluble limestone, causing narrow cracks to broaden the passageway and cave in the process of chemical weathering. The stream that makes up falls entered the cave only after its formation. The falls are located in a large vertical shaft at the end of the main passage of the cave. The stream which is 1120 feet under the ground is fed both by spring water and rainfall.

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This place contributes a lot to the Chattanooga tourism industry. Its annual visitation exceeds 4, 00,000. The Ruby Falls Cave and the underground waterfall are open to the public year round for exploration and enjoyment. A guide leads you through the cave showing the different formations. Ruby falls can be visited daily from 8:00am -8:00pm. Ruby Falls offers a variety of combination tickets that provide you a substantial savings. Your Ruby Falls ticket includes the tour of Ruby Falls, Fun Forest Playground area, and the Lookout Mountain Tower view. Tickets for adults cost 18.95$ and for children (3-12 years) 10.95$. You can also purchase an annual pass which costs 32.95$ for adults, 16.95$ for children (3-12 years of age) or buy the VIP Cavern Card (includes 2 specified adults and 2 children or grandchildren) for129.95$. Tours to Ruby Falls are sent every 15-20 minutes based on demand. The tour to Ruby Falls lasts on average 1 hour and 15 minutes. The tour is approximately 4/5 of a mile. The tour is on a paved pathway with only a couple of gradual slopes. There are approximately 35 stairs on the pathway, each paired in set of 4-5 with handrails provided.

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FACTS

1. Ruby Falls was one of the first caves in the world to use electric lights.

2. At 145 feet tall, Ruby Falls is one of the largest underground waterfalls accessible to the public.

3. A tour of both the Ruby Falls Cave and the Lookout Mountain Cavern lasted up to four hours in the 1930s.

4. Cavern Castle, the Ruby Falls entrance building, was once used as a dinner/dance hall.

5. The first elevator cost $20,325.

6. Ruby Falls is 837 feet above sea level.

7. The first tour guides were all men. They were paid 75 cents an hour. Women were only used to run the elevator.

8. The best estimate to the actual age of Ruby Falls is 30 million years.

9. When you are at the waterfall, you are actually 10 feet higher than you were when you started the tour.

10.  The word “Chattanooga” is a Creek word meaning “rock coming to a point” and it is thought to be a description of Lookout Mountain.

11. Leo Lambert was the first person to explore the Tennessee cave on Mount Etna. It is now popularly known as Raccoon Mountain Caverns

 

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