Monthly Archives: April 2014

Bohemian Paradise, Czech Republic



Bohemian Paradise, Czech Republic

Also known as ‘Český ráj’, the Bohemian Paradise is one of Czech Republic’s natural reserve areas.  The area covers a vast 182 sq kilometres and stretches all the way up to Malá Skála in the north from Jicin in the south. The area lies north-east to the city of Prague. The name of this area was given by the patrons of the nearby spa in the 19th century at Sedmihorky. The area is one of the most sought after destinations for tourists travelling to the Czech Republic due to its exceptional chateaus, rock dwellings, castles and ruins. The area attracts a huge number of visitors in summer, so the best time to visit the Bohemian Paradise area would be in Spring i.e. in the months of April to May, or in Autumn.

Attractions

Valdštejn Loggia

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Wallenstein’s Loggia is located 2 kilometres from Jicin, very close to the Bohemian Paradise. What is now called the Loggia was once a distinguished villa established by Albrecht of Wallenstein. Today, Wallenstein’s Loggia is one of the most important and scenic monuments of the Jincin region; a symbol of architectural and cultural significance. Built at the foot of the Zebina hill, the garden was equipped with fountains and pools, but, the complex was never completed. A train or bus from Jicin will get you to this baroque monument. A boulevard of Linden trees welcome the visitor to the Loggia whose landscape and architecture are an inspiration for artists, and museums. Many events like concerts, weddings and performances are carried out in the various rooms of the Loggia. A huge romantic park is located outside the complex where there is a stone grotto bearing a hermit’s statue. The visitor will also find a huge meadow with a fruit orchard.

Trosky Castle

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The castle is widely known for being a symbol of the Bohemian Paradise area. Its Gothic architecture traces its development back to the 14th century. Being a national monument, the castle is administered by National Heritage Institute. The word Trosky means ‘ruins’ and it is most significant of the ruined castles in the same area. The two towers of the castle were built on two intimidating and unapproachable basalt rocks. The castle on the higher peak which is about 57 m in height, is called The Virgin (Panna in Czech) while the castle on the smaller peak, only 10m less than the bigger peak is called locally as the Old Woman (or Baba in Czech). The Bergov dynasty once had its hold on the castle, and legend has it, that one of the Bergovs had treasures hidden in the castle’s cellars after he destroyed a monastery. Many believe that the treasure is still hidden in the castle’s strong foundations. Visitors can climb both the twin towers through the stairs that go right up to the topmost point. A viewing platform that is situated on the rocky base allows tourists to witness breathtaking views of the countryside.

Prachovské scaly

prachov rocks

Lying in the heart of the Bohemian Paradise, is the Prachovské skály or the Prachov Rocks, an entanglement of sandstone caves and passages and intricate pinnacles. Certainly, its characteristics make it the most well-made rock area in Czech Republic. It is also renowned among the rock climbers in the whole of Europe for its rock climbing and hiking challenges, with its first club being established in 1907. The rocks can be accessed by car or bus transport from Jicin, which is roughly 7 kilometres away from the area. There are visible hiking trails, some of which are challenging, but volunteers are available to guide the visitor. There is also a tourist cottage between the cliffs. On the top of one formation, the visitor will see a Czech flag and a canister that contains a notebook where visitors can write their names.

Hrubá Skála Chateau

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Built in the 1300’s, this gothic castle was constructed on a rock platform by Hynek from Valdstejn. Later a renaissance chateau was built in its place in the 16th century. The site can be accessed from either Turnov or Trosky. A six kilometres hike from Turnov will allow the visitor to see this gothic masterpiece. The Hruba Skala rock formations can be reached through the Gold trail. The tower which holds a stunning view of the Bohemian Paradise and the courtyard is accessible to the public. Today, the palace stands as a luxury hotel that also has a restaurant that is open to visitors.

Humprecht Castle

humprecht-castle

A castle built on a tower, amidst the orchids, by Italian Carlo Lurag, in the 16th century for Humprecht Jan Czernin of Chudenic. The castle is situated on a basalt hill, right above the city. Thus many rooms of the castle including the 17 metre high banquet hall, now used for performances and weddings,  was inspired by the smaller castles in Italy. There are exhibits with information on the Czernin family and there is also a museum in the castle’s interiors. There is an open air wooden terrace on the second floor that enables visitors to view the stunning panorama of the Sobotka countryside. Visitors can access the site from Sobotka railway station, which is the closest stop.

Visit the Pearl of Oregon: Salem City



Visit the Pearl of Oregon: Salem City

Salem is the capital of Oregon and also the second largest city. It is located in the center of the Willamette River Valley located just 47 km from Portland. This amazing city is mostly famous for old communities, historical attractions, performing arts, rich nightlife, lots of festivals, museums, wineries and recreations. The location of Salem, in the heart of Willamette Valley, makes it the center of attraction for the visitors travelling to Oregon. As a matter of fact, it has been selected an All America City by National Civic League twice, 1961 and 1982 because of a number of educational institutions, governmental services and good transportation services. The history of Salem takes us to 1851, when the capital was moved from Oregon City to Salem and then to Corvallis and then again to Salem in 1855. The name “Salem” was selected by David Leslie and W. H. Willson in 1850-1851.

Salem-Oregon-Coast

Salem has a typical Mediterranean climate with dry and warm summers. The winters go quite mild and temperature varies from 34 F to 83 F during the year. The warmest month of the year is July with maximum temperature of 85 F and December is the coldest month. Most of the rain is seen in December and the sky remains full of clouds during this period. The chances of snowfall are highest in January and the best time to visit Salem is during spring when the weather remains pleasant most of the time.

How to get here?

How to get here

Salem’s McNary Field Airport is located just 3 miles from city downtown and offers easy access to General Aviation and Corporate Jet Aircraft. There are two jet runways and operated by the Urban Development Department. You can easily reach downtown from a lot of transportation resources outside the airport. There is also train service named Amtrak Cascades which connects Salem with other cities.

Accommodation and Food

Accommodation

In a short span of time, Salem has made a mark in the shelter business and it provides plenty of lodging options for the visitors. There are many B&B, Inns, hotels, motels, villas, resorts located right in the heart of the city and some are within walking distance from historic buildings and attractive tourist spots. There are two famous resorts in Salem providing facilities like full service spa, outdoor pool, bar, restaurant and opportunity to hold conferences and meeting. These are Oregon Garden Resort at W Main Street and Spirit Mountain Lodge at SW Salmon River Highway. Other choices of visitors are Best Western Pacific Highway Inn, Best Western Plus Mill Creek Inn, Budget Lodge, Comfort Suites and Crossland Economy Studios.

Food

Salem features a world of wine, cider and brews with wide range of restaurants, bars and cafes around the city. Whether you prefer American food or Mexican, Fast food or Seafood, Steakhouse or Sunday Brunch, Pub or Sports Bar, you will not be disappointed. Some of the best restaurants are Adam’s Rib Smoke House Co., Annette’s, Busick Court Restaurant, Creekside Grill & Grotto Martini Bar, Flight Deck Restaurant and Lounge, Oak Tree Inn Restaurant, ram Restaurant & Brewery, Robert Crossing, Sybil’s Omelettes Unlimited, Willamette Valley Grill and Wooden Nickel Pub & Eatery.

The Attractions

Oregon State Capitol

Oregon State Capitol

The state legislature and the offices of the Governor, secretary of state and treasurer of Oregon are housed in the Oregon State Capitol. The Capitol is located at Court Street NE and was built in 1935 and opened in 1938. The main attractions here are Art of the Capitol featuring a collection of artwork by Oregon Artists, Capitol Historic Gateway featuring the information about Oregon’s democracy, a climb of 121 steps to the observation deck and Oregon Rock & Mineral Exhibit. There is also the Capitol Gift Shop with a variety of Oregon products offering free gifts with it. You can take various type of guided tours any time of the year except December.

Oregon Garden

Oregon Garden

Oregon Garden is a botanical garden located at W Main Street in Salem and covers an area of 80 acres featuring more than 20 gardens with variety of plant species and their habitat. It also has one of the largest collections of miniature conifers in US and an iconic Oak tree which is 400 years old and classified as Oregon Heritage Tree. The garden was opened for the public in 2001 and since then has been the center of attraction for tourists. The garden remains open every day and ticket price is $11 for adults and $8 for juniors.

Mission Mill Museum

mission mill

Mission Mill Museum is located at Mill Street in Salem and features working displays of Thomas Kay Wooden Mill with some historic buildings. Thomas Kay Wooden Mill was founded in 1889 by Thomas Lister Kay and was closed in 1962. It was then purchased by Mission Mill Museum Association in 1964, which renovated it as a museum with displays of original machinery of industrial wool processing. The museum remains open only on Monday and cost $6 for adults and $4 for children.

Elsinore Theatre

Elsinore Theatre

The Elsinore Theatre was opened in 1926 at High Street SE in Salem by George Guthrie and since then it has been a hub of quality performing arts events and silent movies. It is also popular for weddings, receptions, conferences, meeting and performances. You can take a guided tour of the theatre and get amazed at its beautiful and unique architecture.

To Greater Heights: Mount Roraima



To Greater Heights: Mount Roraima

Nature as an able sculptor has decorated this world with imposing structures that leave us awestruck. One of the oldest natural mountain formations, Mount Roraima is one such structure. It plays hide and seek with the clouds and threatens to touch the sky. Also known as Roraima Tepui or Cerro Roraima, it forms a natual border between three countries- Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana in South America. The 400 m tall cliffs leading to the mountain top have always been a source of awe, mystery, myths and legends for the indigenous people of the area.

Mount Roraima lies on the Guiana Shield in the southeastern corner of Venezuela’s 30,000 square kilometre Canaima National Park forming the highest peak of Guyana’s Highland Range. The mountain’s highest point is Maverick Rock which is  2,810 metres (9,219 ft) high at the south end of the plateau within Venezuela. The geological formations of Mount Roraima date back to two million years and today the breathtaking hiking trails are a dream come true for hiking  and travel enthusiasts.

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Needless to say, the mountains are extremely rich in unique varieties of flora and fauna. Pitcher plants form an integral part of the biodiversity. The Pemon and Kapon natives of the region of Gran Sabana believe that Mount Roraima is the stump of a mighty tree that once held all the fruits and tuberous vegetables in the world. Felled by Makunaima, their mythical trickster, the tree crashed to the ground, unleashing a terrible flood. Mentions of the mountains can also be found in popular culture. For example, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s seminal work “Adventures of the Lost World” are believed to have been inspired by real life explorations of this region. The “Paradise Falls” of Pixar’s much loved animated movie ‘Up’ has also been inspired by Mount Roraima. The documentary “the real Lost World” offers much useful insight into the biodiversity of this region. In course of the shooting of the documentary, two million years old caves of Roraima were discovered for the first time with distinct carrot like formations growing inside them.
UP movie wallpaper poster-Disney Pixar

Hiking in Mount Roraima

Hiking in the region has gained widespread popularity in the recent years. These days it is difficult to start hiking from the Brazilian side. (The access is through  Raposa-Serra do Sol Amerindian reserve, where armed conflicts between the natives, rice farmers and the authorities have been frequent). Thus hikers popularly choose to start ascending from the Venezuelan side.

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Ascent from Venezuela

The four day hike offers natural beauty, a sense of adventure and memories to last a lifetime. The sandstone cliffs are particularly beautiful and when clouds play peekaboo with the 400 m high cliffs, it is a  striking sight to behold. To go hiking you can fly to the Santa Elena de Uairén airport. It is a town the Venezuelan side very close to the border and a number of buses and shuttles can be availed from here to reach the village of Paraitepui, which is the ascend point of the hike.

The fascinating hiking trails are a delight. Local people (the Pemon Indians) also operate as tour guides in exchange for small sums of money. One cannot leave the village after 2 pm though. Moreover any hiker is allowed to carry only 15 kg of luggage with them and hence the journey has to be planned accordingly. As the hills are part of a National Park, one is not allowed to carry off rocks or plants away from the trails (rule to be strictly adhered to). Prospective trekkers have to undergo thorough checking before they can start off with the trail.

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The tabletop formation of the mountains resulting in steep cliffs make hiking rather difficult. One cannot undertake the climb without climbing gear from the Guyana sides. However it was the first ever tepui to be climbed.

Hikers start from Paraitepui and reach the base of the mountain in two days. Two more days along “La Rampa”which is basically a natural staircase shaped path takes you to the top. It is possible to set up tents at the top of the mountains and many hikers choose to spend one night atop the mountain enjoying the exemplary and breathtaking views. In that case return takes two days.

 Longer treks can also reach the northern portion of the tepui, mostly in Guyana, with less explored and more intriguing sites such as the Lake Gladys, although this offers more dangers than its more popular southern part of the Mount Roraima and should only be attempted by well supplied groups. The less adventurous can also reach the mountain by helicopter tours available from the city of Santa Elena de Uairén (under favorable weather conditions).

The thing with Mount Roraima is that it still remains largely unexplored even today overshadowed by the fame of the  nearby Machchu Pichchu ranges. This fact adds to the mystery surrounding the place however. The heady cocktail of adventure, a touch of mystery and its extraordinary other worldly natural beauty makes the place irresistible. So if you have any taste for either of the three mentioned above, go ahead and add Mount Roraima to your list of places worth visiting.

Jewel of the South West: Margaret River, Western Australia



Jewel of the South West: Margaret River, Western Australia

Widely known as the Jewel of the South West, Margaret River in Western Australia has been globally touted as one of the finest holiday destinations down under. A confluence of quaint country charisma and urban sophistication, the region offers the tourist nothing but the best with a bit of nature, some sand and surf, a little adventure and a quality hub to wine and dine.

Margaret River

Resplendent forests, glistening white beaches, pristine waters, lush meadows, world class cuisine, boutique shopping and artisan retreats are found within a few kilometres of each other, making the region ideal for a romantic drive or walk. Margaret River is named after Margaret Whicher, cousin of the founder of Busselton.

Although the most popular time to visit would be the Australian summer, the town offers something special to the visitor all year round. You can take early morning walks through the beautiful forest in autumn, spend cozy nights around a burning fire with good friends in the winter, watch the wildflowers bloom in spring, spend lazy hours by the beach in the summer and wash it all down with some of the best wine in the world.

Margaret River

Tourist Information

Located 280 km from Perth, a three-hour drive from Western Australia’s capital city is the best way to get to Margaret River. You’ll know you’re nearing the beautiful region when you start spotting vineyards. If you don’t have a car, it is advisable to rent one, as a vehicle is more convenient for sightseeing. Accommodation is available for all budgets.

Margaret River Vineyards

Margaret River is about 9km from the Indian Ocean and has a humid Mediterranean climate with 1130 mm of average annual rainfall. Summers are usually very warm coupled with sea breezes.

Attractions

Take a tour of the Margaret River town, home to around 5000 people. A modern visitor hub, the town boasts supermarkets, restaurants, cafés and specialty shops to cater to tourist needs. Take a walk along one of the numerous Heritage Walking Trails that the town opens up to. Feed your soul at the St. Thomas Moore Catholic Church constructed of rammed earth on Wallcliffe Road. Notice the remarkable details on the stained glass windows. If you have time, pay a visit to see “Kate”, a steam engine built in England in 1889 at the Rotary Park.

Margaret River Town

Although, Margaret River isn’t a coastal town, it has its fair share of immaculate beaches in the vicinity, the closest being Prevelly Beach. Drive down to this stunning location, home to the Margaret River-Indian Ocean estuary and feast your eyes on the picturesque scenery. Take the road from the top of the Leeuwin Naturaliste Ridge to find yourself on a ceaseless coastline fringed by a mammoth blue ocean. Gnarabup Beach nearby offers you the swim of a lifetime.

Margaret River Beaches

The Margaret River coast is internationally renowned as a Surfer’s Paradise. Head up to Surfer’s Point at Prevelly to eye local surfers battle the waves. If you make it in time for the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, a world class surfing competition, you will be amazed at the sights of these surfers taking on exhilarating waves. After that adrenaline rush, if calmer waters beckon, you could always pack up to Meelup, Eagle Bay and Bunker Bay for a relaxing seaside picnic of delicious food and local wine.

Margaret River Surf

Speaking of wine, you cannot leave this region of fine wine without sampling the delectable culinary delights it has to offer. A gourmet paradise, Margaret River allows you to dine on fresh seafood, local organic beef, truffles, artisan cheeses, handmade chocolates and scrumptious fudge, all made locally. Wash down your meal with a local beer at the boutique breweries or a glass of the region’s famous wine.

Margaret River Food and WIne

Spend a day or two touring the area’s award winning vineyards and wineries. The temperature, rainfall and soil are all conducive to grape harvesting. First established in 1967, these relatively young vineyards have created world class Chardonnay, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz. Some wineries you might want to frequent are Leeuwin Estate, Vasse Felix and the pro environment Cullen Winery. Do visit the Wine Tourism Showroom in the Margaret River Visitor Centre to up your wine knowledge where you can experience bottle and glass displays, wine tastings, sensory display and wine making apparatus. If you’re more of a beer person, don’t fret. Breweries are plenty too.

Margaret River Winery

Margaret River is home to hundreds of caves, all housed within the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park. Of the six of these open to the public, the multi-chambered Mammoth Cave takes the cake. Located about 21 km south of the town, it houses fossils dating back 35,000 years. You can explore the cave by yourself with an audio guide. The other five caves you can visit are Jewel Cave, Ngilgi Cave, Calgardup Cave and Giants Cave. If you are an experienced cave explorer, you can access most other caves with a permit. Don’t forget to visit CaveWorks, an interpretative centre at Lake Cave. It is also a regional centre to help preserve the delicate living geology and ecology of the area.

Margaret River Caves

For a change of scenery, lose yourself in the Boranup Karri Forest between Caves Road and the coast. A regrowth forest just over a century old, keep your eyes peeled for the Karri, the third highest tree in the world and the pale barked trees looming a minimum of 60 metres high. Visit in spring to watch the forest turn into a canvas of colour with the wildflower in bloom as far as the eye can see.

Margaret River Forest

OF KOLHAPUR TEMPLES, CHILLIES, CUISINE AND CHAPPALS



OF KOLHAPUR TEMPLES, CHILLIES, CUISINE AND CHAPPALS

 

kolhapur

Kolhapur is known as the land of religious and ancient temples with lots of significance. Kolhapur is one of the typical Maharashtrian city which makes Maharashtra proud for its various reasons. Kolhapur is aslo termed as ‘Dakshin Kashi’, which means a prosperous city with joy all around. Kolhapur is located in the south west of Maharashtra along with the ranges of Sahayadri hills and on the banks of Panchganga river. Kolhapur is also a harmonious mixture of spiritualism, culture, education and modernism.

kolhapur mahalakshmi temple

Kolhapur is famous for its Goddess lands, the very famous Mahalakshmi temple is located in Kolhapur. The temple is known as one of the Shakti peethas and is also listed in lots of puranas. Shri Mahalakshmi is known as the consort of Shri Vishnu and they both resided in the area of Karveer.  Goddess Mahalakshmi is also known as Goddess Ambabai and the temple is famous as one of the important spiritual centres in India. The temple of significance is known to be built in the 7th century by the rulers of Chalukya. The temple is one of the six abodes of Shakti and thus it is said that people can fulfill all their wishes and desire after worshipping the Goddess. Pilgrims in number of millions comes every year to worship the Goddess. It is said that after the worship of Lord Balaji at Tirupati or any other such place, one should worship the Goddess of Mahalakshmi in Kolhapur, this is essential to complete the pilgrimage. Thus there is a Balaji Mandir situated on the way to Kolhapur, people worship there first and then proceed to Kolhapur’s temple of Goddess to complete the pilgrimage.

goddess mahalakshmi

Kolhapur is famous all over the nation and globe for its famous spicy kolhapuri lavanga mirchi, kolhapuri chappals, kolhapuri gur and kolhapuri cuisine. Chilly of Kolhapur are famous as one of most spicy chillies in the world. The chilly which can burst out ears are famous here. They are very spicy and hot and adds the flavors of kolhapuri cuisine. People who love spicy foods, kolhapuri cuisine is a best option to try for its traditional spicy recipes. Dishes like kolhapuri sabzi, kolhapuri missal, tambra/ pandra rassa etc are very famous for its hot and spicy features. Kolhapuri thali is a best option to try for. There are many restaurants in Kolhapur which serves the best kolhapuri dishes. Kolhapur sabzi is famous nationwide and is easily available in all of Maharashtra. Kolhapur is also famous for its gur also known as jaggery. Since there are lots of cultivation of sugarcanes around the area, place has lots of exporting business for its gur. Organic gur are also available in Kolhapur.

kolhapuri mirchi

Kolhapuri chappals are famous for its leather handcrafted and durability. It is perfect for daily wear and tear use. They are also known as Pie-taan. With various sizes and varities available, Kolhapur chappals suits for all occasions. Fancy chappals enhanced with gold, laces and fancy materials like pom pom and velvet lace can be used for festive occasions like marriages and other traditional functions as it goes well with the traditional outfit one wears during occasions. Kolhapur chappals are famous amongst all Indians and tourists. For Indians it remains as the evergreen option and a pair one should always possess. Kolhapuri chappal are not made by nails but is made up of cords which are also made of leather which adds to the durability and comfort of the chappal. New designs evolved recently appeals lots of youngsters as it has a modern appeal and goes well with any formal outfits.kolhapuri chappal

Apart from the famous temple of Goddess Mahalakshmi, kolhapuri mirchis, kolhapuri cuisine and kolhapuri chappals, Kolhapur offers a lot more for its visitors to lookout for. Ranakla lake is one of the tourist attraction in Kolhapur for its historical importance, beautiful well maintained gardens around the lake and shalini palace along the garden. New palace also known as Shahu museum is a tourist spot in Kolhapur. The culturally rich heritage showcases the combination of Hindu and British style of architecture. A part of palace known as Shahu museum, showcases rare paintings, weapons and arterials. Jyotibha temple is also a famous temple in Kolhapur. Around Kolhapur there are places like Panhala fort, Jyotibha temple, Narsobawadi, Bahubali, Siddhgiri, Gramjivan museum, Gaganbawda, Amboli etc are the places of tourist attractions. Local people of Kolhapur are very friendly and co-operative.

There are many good hotels for accommodations in Kolhapur. The Maratha regency, hotel pearl, hotel jotiba, hotel raysons regency, hotel victor palace, etc are the few of the good hotels for staying. There are many restaurants providing kolhapuri and multi cuisine in Kolhapur. Milano, texas lounge, uncle’s kitchen, little Italy etc are few of such restaurants.

Kolhapur is one of easiest accessed destination. Kolhapur is easily accessed by roads with all modes of road transport. Through air, the nearest airport to Kolhapur is at ujlaiwadi which connects to Mumbai. Kolhapur is also accessed by trains as it is connected with many cities in India

Kolhapur thus is rich in its heritage, religious and cultural significance. One must visit the place one to explore the divine and historical aspects of the place and to know the reason why the city is a proud to Maharashtra.

HANG SON DOONG CAVE, VIETNAM



HANG SON DOONG CAVE, VIETNAM

The pool in the cave

 

Hang Son Doong Cave,Vietnam

Hang Son Doong Cave,Vietnam

Hang Son Doong Cave is the largest cave in the entire world which was discoverd in 2009.This has a giant cave column moving in flow stone towers.There are many caves which are discovered lately along with this caves but this cave is recorded as the largest one which gains its prominence.Son Doong cave is in the middle of the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in Quang Binh province.

Location:

The location of the Hang Son Doong cave

The location of the Hang Son Doong cave

Hang Son Doong Cave is the largest cave which is situated in the Quang Binh province in Vietnam.It is located near the Vietnam-Laos border.It is over 5.5 miles long ,650 feet wide and 550 feet tall and it has a small forest and a river and with its walls,it easily fits a 40 storey skyscraper.Hang Son Doong  is a part of a group of nearly 150 caves.

Discovery:

Mr.Ho Khanh who is the first navigator for the cave

Mr.Ho Khanh who is the first navigator for the cave

The Hang Son Doong cave was not detected and was lying underneath the Annamite mountains until when it was found by a local man named Ho Khanh in 1991 but he didn’t step in as it is very steep and recently discovered by British Cave Research Association in 2009 which was led by Howard Limbert as the head.Accodring to Limbert, the Hang Son Doong cave is five times larger than the Phong Nha cave which was considered as the largest cave previously.

This cave has been created 2 to 5 million years ago according to some records which was caused by the river water eroding limestone underneath a mountain when the limestone was weak and  the ceiling has been collapsed and hence the  name ‘Son Doong’ cave is the meaning to the ‘mountain river’.This cave was used a hideout area at the time of the war in Vietnam from American Bombardments.

Attractions:

These caves are situated in the deep jungle with an entrance to the cave which is attracted bu many of the film companies like BBC,National Geographic,Japanese and Brazilian teams.The National Geographic Magazine featured this ave in 2011 on their magazine.

The specialty of the cave is that since its discovery,only a few number of people were able to navigate this cave.It takes nearly 6 hours of walking for a 10 kilometer forest path to reach this cave.

The daylight windows

The daylight windows

Hang Son Doong caves are the unique ones in the earth.There  are two huge daylight windows consisting in this giant cave and at the base of these windows,there are large jungles where trees are up to 30 meters tall which is due to the light coming through the windows.

Cave formations

Cave formations

The Hang Son Doong is not only famous for its size but also for its cave formations which are known as speleothems in the world.These giant formations are nearly upto 80 meter high and these are known as the best earth’s speleothems. Also,there are large pools present around the caves which are beautiful.

The pool in the cave

The pool in the cave

These caves are also the best examples for the giant cave pearls which are formed over hundreds of years due to the water dripping down which dries up and leaves the layers of calcite crystals on the sand of grains and newly discovered passage which is full of large fossils which are about 300 million years old.

The giant cave pearls

The giant cave pearls

There are also many varieties of plant species along with numerous new animal species which have been lately discovered.Monkeys,flying foxes,horn bills are some of the animals seen in the jungle section known as Garden of Edam.

Flying Fox living in Hang Son Doong cave

Flying Fox living in Hang Son Doong cave

The visitors also can camp near Hand of Dog which is a large cave formation which seems to be like a dog’s paw.The ancient pools have been formed into blankets like fields of algae present in the cave’s interior.The fierce full rivers flowing here are in complete darkness.

Hand of Dog in Hang Son Doong

Hand of Dog in Hang Son Doong

You can also do trekking and also caving is allowed by renting a English speaking guide or Local Tour Operators.The best time for it is from March to August as the temperature is more pleasant.

Even though it is an amazing lifetime experience visiting the cave,this is also quite dangerous because of its poisonous centipedes in the cave and also once you reach the cave we need to be cautious of our path not to go too far as the path may be misguided sometimes.

The Government of Quang Binh Province approved Oxalis recently to tun pilot tours to these Hang Son Doong caves from August 2013 and later on they are supposed to conduct an official opening for the caves.These tours are not organizes from September to January as it is a flooding season.

The beauty of the Mountain River Cave

The beauty of the Mountain River Cave

The Hang Son Doong cave is a perfect trip for a mini expedition.It is an amazing sight to see and we need to conserve the caves by not causing damage to those caves.This is one of the best trips and treks in the world.

 

HITACHI SEASIDE PARK,JAPAN



HITACHI SEASIDE PARK,JAPAN

Hitachi Seaside park,Japan

 

Hitachi Seaside park,Japan

Hitachi Seaside park,Japan

Hitachi Seaside Park,proud of its wide variety of seasonal flower gardens.The park is mainly famous for its blue Nemophilias. These Nemophilia are nothing but the annual flowers with transparent blue petals.More than 4.5 million blue Nemophilias bloom spreading the park just only in the spring season for which the park is famous.It resembles as we are in a heaven on the earth.The two hills are covered with numerous blue flowers in the month of may.The rest of the part is okay but it really worth for watching this stunning view.

Location of the park

Location of the park

Hitachi Seaside Park is situated in Hitachinaka,near Ibaraki prefecture in Japan which is next to the Ajigaura Beach.This is a flower park and a famous tourist destination.It is just less than 2 hours from Tokyo with an area of 3.5 hectares.This land is close to the Hitachi city’s Pacific Coast to explore this area of wonderful cultivated plot.This park covers an area of 3.5 hectares which  is covered around flowers.

Daffodils in spring

Daffodils in spring

 

Tulips

Tulips

The Hitachi Seaside Park is best known for its seasonal flowers-Daffodils and Tulips in the month of spring,Nemophilia and Rose in early summer and Kochia,cosmos are blossomed in autumn.

cosmos in autumn

cosmos in autumn

 

The park is best known for its seasonal flowers-  Daffodils and Tulips in spring,  Nemophilia and Rose in early summer and Kochia and cosmos in autumn(in the month of october).
The famous blue Nemophilias

The famous blue Nemophilias

Nemophilia are little blue flowers ,which is derived from its Greek words-nemos means small forest and phileo means love,which means baby blue eyes.The blooming period is in the month of the may which is known as the Nemophilia Harmony which resides in the Miharashi no Oka area.
Hitachi Seaside Park,the flower paradise

Hitachi Seaside Park,the flower paradise

Hitachi Seaside Park is a home of daffodils which are present among pine trees and
also we can find about 170 varieties of tulips and many other beautiful flowers in thee park.Also,you can find a  many  variety of flowers throughout the year which is a stunning view to the visitors.The tulips reside in the Tamago no Mori Flower garden
The twin like flower whose name is Dutch windmill gives the tourists a splendid feel of strolling through them.The area of Daisougen flower garden has brassica rapa flowers of nearly 500,000 in number.
Every season is having its unique set of colors from fall’s orange color,spring’s baby blue color and summer’s red and green color which indicates a sign that it truly is a flower’s paradise.
Hitachi Seaside park resembling the rainbow

Hitachi Seaside park resembling the rainbow

The hill’s pathways will reach the hill top from where the beautiful sceneric sight of the Pacific Ocean and the seaside park is enjoyed which is really a great pastime for the visitors.As many people call,it is just a multi colored hill during autumn which just looks like a beautiful rainbow.
The best way to explore the path is on foot as it enables us to view the flower’s every angle of its beauty and we can be mesmerized.
Cycling to the amusement park

Cycling to the amusement park

seaside train

seaside train

 

a play area for the kids

a play area for the kids

For the sake of the tourist attraction,there is an amusement park named Pleasure Garden,consisting of various rides and shows inside the park which is a great place to see  and there are also cycling courses in here.The bicycles are rented according to the charges given there which is really worth it.Also,a play area is available for kids for no charge at all but rides have some special charges.The seaside train  is the most loving ride where we can hop and drop off the ride instantly which gives an entire glimpse of the park in 40 minutes.T gives an amazing day with the park,amusement park,seaside train,barbecues,seaside cafes.
Also,for the sake of tourists visiting worldwide,there are hotels to spend with all of the cost prices affordable to every category of people where some of the luxurious hotel bookings can be made via online.
Koi no bori at Hitachi Seaside park

Koi no bori at Hitachi Seaside park

It has a exhibition of their country side homes which is purely an educational one which is a nice thing by which we can know the culture of theirs.There is an event on the occasion of the children’s day named  Koi no bori which are nothing but giant streamers hung on a long pole.
West Lake near Nishiguchi

West Lake near Nishiguchi

The West lake is a lake which is very near to Nishiguchi to the west side of the park is a sight to watch.
This park due to Tsunami was affected a lot but was restored in 2011 adding more beauty than its previous one.
Amazing view of the flower paradise

Amazing view of the flower paradise

Totally,this park is a wonder which is just one of the best tourist spot on the world no wonder,because of its millions of wonderful and colorful flowers blloming throughout the year,

The Captivating Cathedral Cove, New Zealand



The Captivating Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

Each one us is striving to reach the top of an invisible podium. We are all living with a restless mind and an unhappy soul. Waking up every morning, jumping onto the tracks and joining the rat race of our unfulfilled and incomplete lives. This race is an unending quest to excellence as we are constantly trying to get a hold of the material securities, which provide us with momentary pleasures. These momentary satisfactions are sand like which keep on slipping from in between our fingers. This makes us continuously strive for the best each day. In This running around and living a robotic, machine like life our body, mind and soul get highly neglected. We all need to escape this rat race in order to rejuvenate ourselves and to think better. One way to do this is to explore quaint holiday destinations. The Te whanganui-A-Hei (cathedral Cove) Marine Reserve is one such refuge from the monotonous hum of life. A place although not very far from civilization has been bestowed with nature’s bounty and gives a feel of sitting as if in isolation. One of New Zealand’s eye catching beaches and marine reserves, the Cathedral cove is full of treasures such as the crystal clear waters, the conspicuous rock formations, pure white sands and impressive coves. Let’s dig a little deeper and give our senses and soul the much needed treat by exploring these hidden treasures. Since time immemorial we have been servants to our greedy mind let’s for once give something valuable to our souls..

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Te whanganui-A-Hei (cathedral Cove) Marine Reserve, which lies in the lap of the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand, spreads across an area of 840 hectares (2100 acres). The Cathedral Cove is christened thus after the cave like structure, coupling the Mare’s leg cove and the Cathedral Cove.
This duo of coves constitutes sculpturesque natural rocks ,The Sphinx rock in Mare’s leg cove and the Pumice Breccia popularly called as ‘Te Hoho’, in the cathedral cove. Just off the Hahei beach at Cathedral cove is a large pinnacle of the ‘Te Hoho’, which over the centuries has been carved by wind and water- it now seems like the bow of a gigantic ship steaming into the beach.
The archway of the Cathedral cove is the product of the most amazing artist created by God, nature. It is by far the most scenic locations in the Coromandel Peninsula.

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One can stroll from the gorgeous Hahie beach to the scenic cathedral cove, where this gift of nature, the beautiful naturally formed archway, awaits your attention. From the north end of the Hahie beach, one can take a walk, on the hour long walking tracks, which lead along the top of the cliff and then decide to descend to the Cathedral cove. The cathedral-like archway gives one a feeling of being present in the air of total magnificence. The picturesque duo of the two bays, the Gemstone and the Stingray, is accessible by the Cathedral Cove walking track. It also leads to the sandy shores of the cathedral cove. This trio of the two bays and the shores is bifurcated by the majestic rock arch.

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The name ‘Te Waghanui -A -Hei’, is a ‘Maori’ word which literally means ‘The great bay of Hei’. Maori is a dialect spoken by the indigenous ethnic group of New Zealand. The Maori people are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. Over numerous centuries in isolation, the Polynesian settlers developed a new culture, with their own language, affluent mythology, various crafts and forms of performing arts. The Maoris arrived from Hawaiki ( a mythical homeland in tropical Polynesia) in a large canoe. Archaeological evidences indicate that the first settlers came from east Polynesia and became the Maori. Being a member of the Eastern Polynesian languages, Maori has been one of New Zealand’s official languages. The name Te whanganui-a-hei, refers to Hei, who was a ‘Tohunga’, which means an expert practitioner of any skill or art, which can be religious or otherwise, according to the culture of the Maori of New Zealand. A Tohunga includes expert priests, navigators, healers, builders, carvers, Teachers and last but not least, advisors. Hei was a Tohunga from ‘Te Arawa waka’, literally a canoe, that gets its name from the red shark that it resembled while battling a storm. Te Arawa’s present day population is about 40’000. It is a confederation of the ‘Maori iwi’ and the ‘Hapu’ tribes of New Zealand. The men from Te Arawa fought in the New Zealand land wars that took place in the mid 19th century, in the north island of New Zealand.
As per the Maori tradition, Hei picked the area encompassing the Mercury bay as a dwelling for his people. Hei proclaimed the ownership of this island by re naming it ‘Te Kuraetanga-o-taku-ihu’ which literally means, the outward curve of my nose. The Mercury bay is an enormous ‘v’ shaped bay, situated on the eastern coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, on the north island of New Zealand. The bay was named after the English navigator Captain James Cook, during one of his expeditions. Numerous tiny islands spread across the northern and the southern ends of the bay. The bay serves as a great location for game fishing, since the bay is inhibited by the marlin fish. Due to the Whanganui-a-hei (cathedral cove) marine reserve, fishing is not an indulging activity for the people, but the abundance of fish in the reserve leads to fishing taking place outside the areas lying within the marine reserve. The bay is widely known for its yachting activity. The Mercury bay yacht club was the first challenging club in New Zealand’s first challenge for the America’s cup in 1988.
The cave and the beach near the Cathedral cove have widely been used in various famous Hollywood ventures one of them being The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian, where its used as the tunnel which leads the main characters of the movie, the Pevensie children, to re-enter the kingdom of Narnia. Recently the cove was employed in a music video of the sound track ‘Can’t Hold Us’ by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, featuring Ray Dalton. Kadira Jennings an astounding artist is currently working on a series of paintings inspired by the Cathedral Cove, by the name ‘The Cathedral Cove: a series is born’.

The Adventures to indulge in…

  • Let’s go Kayaking within the Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve-

Most of the natives of New Zealand shall be well versed with the breath taking coastal walk leading to the Cathedral Cove, but perhaps the best way to explore the stunning coastline of the marine reserve is by Kayak, water taxi or the marvelous Boat cruise. The arresting Limestone cliffs, gorgeous volcanic coastline, clear water and abundant marine life of Hahei’s marine reserve interfuse to create New Zealand’s best Kayaking journey. During this journey of exploring the marine reserve, your tour guides shall take you kayaking through Limestone archways, under water caves and your journey shall conclude with a delicious café quality cappuchino waiting for at the Hahei beach. The site is rich with traditional maori tales about the many navigators who first discovered the Mercury bay, like Cook, Kupe and Hei, after whom the marine reserves have been called.

• A Picturesque adventure trip-

The fantasy of every photographer, this one hour tour highlights the indescribable sites of the marine reserve, the tour departs daily from the Hahei beach. This journey has been made lucid by boating in and around this stunning coastline with a tour guide who shall help you explore the scenic Hahei beach.

• The spectacular Cathedral cove walk-

The land is rich with numerous scenic walking tracks adjoining the marine reserve. These walking tracks include the 2hour return walk to the cathedral cove track which provides an entry to the Gemstone & Stingray bays, the Mare’s leg cove and the Cathedral Cove. Foot access to the Cathedral cove car park can be found at the western end of the Hahei beach and vehicle availability is up the Grange road, one has to turn left past the shops and go all the way up to the Grange road.
If the camera is your companion, buckle up and join the spectacle at the Cathedral Cove, New Zealand !!

Mardi Gras : The Cultural Phenomenon RTR



Mardi Gras : The Cultural Phenomenon RTR

One of the most notably celebrated carnivals of today, the festivities of Mardi Gras indeed form a cultural phenomenon. The celebrations date back thousands of years to Pagan Spring and Fertility rites and have assumed their modern day form through evolution and religious adaption over time. Countries with large Roman Catholic populations celebrate Mardi Gras with much pomp and gusto on the day before the beginning of the Lent season (traditional season of abstinence).

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‘Mardi Gras’ is indeed French for ‘Fat Tuesday’ and culminates on Ash Wednesday  before the Lent season. The celebrations of Mardi Gras basically represents a last night of indulgence before the season of abstinence begins. Thousands of tourist flock to marvel at the public festivities that is the Mardi Gras of Brazil, Venice and New Orleans.

Traditional Practices

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Traditionally, the celebrations endorse one final period of debauchery before the Lent season. In olden days, the celebrations basically centred around binge eating of wine, cheese and meat around the house. Today, Mardi Gras has come to stand for flamboyant celebrations which often involve masquerades, street parties, lavish dinners, dances, parades, sports competitions, pageants and a basic overturning of social conventions. No doubt the celebrations have caught on to the wider public fancy. In fact Mardi Gras is now supposed to be the singles’ answer to the couple-centric celebrations of St. Valentine’s Day.

Mardi Gras in the United States

Mardi Gras was never a traditional American holiday. In 1699 French explorers Iberville and Bienville  landed in present day Louisiana and introduced the concept of Madri Gras to American soil. The first American Mardi Gras is believed to have been celebrated on March 3 the same year. Today New Orleans is the epicentre of the celebrations in America and has almost become synonymous with Mardi Gras holidays.

Anyway, in 1699 Iberville and Bienville had a small celebration and named the place of celebration Point du Mardi Gras. Over the following decades, the celebrations gathered popularity in the French settlements of Louisiana, New Orleans and the surrounding areas. Street celebrations, Masked balls and elaborate dinners took over. However after Spanish occupation of New Orleans, the rowdy rituals were banned. Mardi Gras in New Orleans was revived only after Louisiana became a US state in 1812.

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Come 1827 and a group of students took over the streets of New Orleans. They danced in emulation of the Mardi Gras revelry and celebrations of France. Ten years later was recorded the first New Orleans Mardi Gras Parade. In 1857, a secret society of New Orleans businessmen called the Mistick Krewe of Comus organized a torch-lit procession with marching bands and rolling floats redefining the standards for future public celebrations in the city. The Krewes have remained a prominent fixture of the Carnival scene in Louisiana ever since then. The other lasting customs that one can observe in New Orleans Mardi Gras celebrations include throwing beads, trinkets, wearing masks, decorating floats and eating King Cake.

Mardi Gras is a legal holiday in the state of Louisiana. Celebrations are also carried out in other parts of America like Alabama and MIssissippi. Traditions and customs understandably vary from place to place as can be easily concluded.

Mardi Gras Celebrations around the world

Brazil

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Pre Lent activities are celebrated with equal spirits and gusto in many parts of the world. The carnival activities last for a week in Brazil and the customs are a wonderful amalgamations of African, European and native traditions, customs and influences. The traditional dance form Samba is a crowd puller and an integral part of the Mardi Gras parades. Large processions are taken out in different cities with large samba dromes. The celebrations reach a fever pitch in the capital city Rio de Janeiro where millions of people literally take to the streets to be a part of the celebrations. Salvadore is another Brazlian city where the carnival is notably and exuberantly celebrated.

Canada

The Canadian city of Quebec hosts the famous Quebec winter carnival in this time.

2125 Happy Mardi Gras

Karneval in Germany

In Germany, the festivities are called Karneval. Customs include flamboyant parades, costume balls and women cutting off men’s ties.

Carnevalle in Italy

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The Italian celebrations date back to the 13th century. The Venetian Carnevalle celebrations are marked by the elaborate Venetian masks and an elegant mystic touch with the masquerade balls. The Italian town Ivrea  has its characteristic ” Battle of Oranges”, a practice whose roots go back to the Medieval times.

Carnival of Binche

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The Carnival of Binche is indeed a crowd puller of the Belgian city of Binch. On the day of celebrations traditional carnival songs are played in the city throughout the day as thousands of Gilles dance from morning past dusk as an important part of the celebrations. In 2003, the “Carnival of Binche” was proclaimed one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Indeed, Mardi Gras is celebrated with varying customs and practices throughout the world. However the fact that the carnivals ultimately celebrate the exuberant human spirit and all that is beautiful can not be denied. Mardi Gras celebrations have thus become highly anticipate din different parts of the world today.

Cleopatra’s Pool, Turkey: In Healing Waters



Cleopatra’s Pool, Turkey: In Healing Waters

Ancient Civilisations have always been of much interest to the history geek. And when historical value, natural beauty and myths of miraculous properties come together to describe a particular place, there is no doubt in the fact that the travel enthusiast is automatically attracted to it. One such place of interest is the fabled Cleopatra’s Pool located in Modern day Turkey. The Pool is located as a part of the ancient Hierapolis city complex. Hierapolis is the remains of an ancient city which means “Holy City” in Greek. Located on hot springs in classical Phrygia in southwestern Anatolia, parts of the Hierapolis Archaeological complex have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site is close to Modern day Pamukkale in Turkey. Situated in the Turkish Aegean region, the place enjoys a temperate climate throughout the year.

Cleopatras pool at Pamukkale

Hierapolis was founded in 2nd Century B. C. as a thermal spa within the Seleucid Empire. The ruins consist of several important and architecturally notable springs. However the most distinct features of this ancient place are its natural thermal pools, one of which is called Cleopatra’s Pool. Cleopatra’s Pool is in fact a thermal Pool where visitors can go for a swim in exchange of an entrance fee. The great ambience and surroundings make the swim one of the most relaxing and rejuvenating experiences possible. Locker rooms, changing rooms, food and beverages are available on the premises keeping in mind tourist convenience. A swim in Cleopatra’s Pool is indeed a must do on a visit to Pamukkale.

Miraculous Properties of Cleopatra’s Pool

The hot springs of Hierapolis have been used as spas from as early as 2nd century B. C. Patrons have been known to choose Hierapolis as the place to retire for the fabled quality of its hot springs. Many even chose to die here and hence the Necropolis of the city is filled with Sacrophagi, which gives the city an unique historical intrigue. ( The graves are fascinatingly constructed as per the dead’s social and fiancial standing. There are simple graves for common people, raised sacrophagi for the rich and influential. Instances of larger family graves and monuments have also been found in the Necropolis.) Graves belonging to the late Hellenic period, Roman era and even the early Christian period have been found.

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In fact, the city of Hierapolis was indeed well known as a health centre specially in the Roman Empire Period. Visitors from far and wide used to throng to the city to take a dip in one of its miraculous hot springs. There were fifteen of these springs in the city. Notable among them are the Antique Pool and Cleopatra’s Pool. One might find it interesting to know  that the shape of the present day Antique Pool has been formed due to an earthquake in the 7th century A. D. The marble portico with an ionic arrangement fell into the pool during the earthquake and remains like that till today.

A bath in Cleopatra’s Pool has always been known to possess healing properties. It is actually a thermal pool where the water temperature ranges from 36 to 57 degree Celsius. The pH value of water is 5.8.  Radon value is 1480 pico Ci per litre of water. The water has 2430 MG/liter melt metal value. The pool water is also rich in substances like bicarbonates, sulphates, iron and carbon dioxide. As can be gathered, the water of the spring is suitable for taking baths and drinking, and can be found to be beneficial.

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Modern Day Cleopatra’s Pool

Today Cleopatra’s Pool is maintained by the Private sector and is open all the year round to allow visitors to swim in its waters. Here we have compiled a short list of essential information you might find handy if you plan to go for a swim in Cleopatra’s Pool.

1. Entrance Fee: An Entrance Fee of 30 TL is charged from visitors looking for a swim in the spring.

2. Availability: The Pool is open around the year.

3. Locker Room Facilities: The administration provides the facility of changing rooms and lockers for the convenience of tourists. However, towels are not available.

4. You might be able to avail for a discount on the entrance fee to the Cleopatra’s Pool if you have booked a package tour of Pamukkale and Hierapolis beforehand.

5. Food and Beverage: Cafes and counters present in the premises serve good quality food and beverage at reasonable prices. Thus after the beautiful and breathtaking swim you can laze beside the pool lapping up an ice cream.

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To summarise, Cleopatra’s Pool indeed is visited by tourists around the year. Hence though you will never find the waters of the spring devoid of swimmers, the number of swimmers is not large enough to deny you a rejuvenating swim and a healing experience tat you have been promised. If you have to even queue up, the breathtaking experience of the pool and its warm waters will make sure that your toil was worth it. Thus if you plan on visiting Pamukkale, Turkey anytime make sure that you do not miss a swim in the fabled Cleopatra’s Pool.

A swim atop ruins of history, what else can one ask for?