Monthly Archives: July 2014

Visit the Place de la Concorde, Paris

Visit the Place de la Concorde, Paris


Paris is known for its unique fashion, culture and romantic views. May be that’s the reason it is called the “City of Romance”. It is home to Disneyland which receives 15 million visitors each year and who can forget its landmark, the Eiffel Tower, a structure that was the world’s tallest building until 1930. There is a place of great heritage, a reforming place for all sorts of street artists and a place for taking pictures with the Eiffel Tower on the horizon. Yes, you guessed it right. Place de la Concorde, located between the Tuileries and the Champs-Elysees, is the largest square in Paris covering area of 84,000 square metres. The biggest attraction here are two fountains called ‘La Fontaine des Mers’ and ‘Elevation of the Maritime’ and visitors keep photographing them over and over again.


In 1792, During the French revolution, the statue of King Louis XV was replaced by another large statue called ‘Liberte’ which means freedom and the square called Place de la Revolution. A guillotine was installed at the center of the square and in a time span of only a couple of years, 1119 people were beheaded here. Amongst them were many famous people like King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and revolutionary Robespierre. After the revolution, the square was renamed several times until 1830, when it was given its current name, ‘Place de la Concorde’.

How to get here?


Place de la Concorde has its own metro station. You can catch metro lines 1,8 or 12 to station Concorde. You also have option to walk up from the Louvre and the Tulleries Gardens or down from the Champs-Elysees.

The Attractions

The Luxor Obelisk

Clouds floating behind the Obelisk of Luxor

The Luxor Obelisk is the oldest piece of art in Paris. It is over 3000 years old. It weighs 230 tons and standing 22.83 metres high in the center of the place. It is made of red granite and it has hieroglyphics from the Egyptians that depicts the rule of Ramses II and Ramses III. It simply means that Luxor Obelisk is  an important monument for the world, not just Paris. The Khedive of Egypt, Muhammad Ali Pasha gifted two obelisks that stood at the entrance of the Luxor temple in France in 1829. The first of the two obelisks departed from Alexandria in 1833 and in 1836 King Louis Philippe had it placed in the center of the Place de la Concorde.


There is a pyramidion placed on the head of Obelisk. The pyramidion is made of bronze and gold leaf and is three metres high. Since 1937, the Luxor Obelisk is classified as a historic monument and the pyramidion was placed under the presidency of Jacques Chirac as a part of the celebration to mark Franco Egyptian relations.  However, the Place de la Concorde has a lot more to see than just the obelisk.

The Fountains

BIG_Paris - Jets des fontaines de la Concorde_1387529846137

The two fountains in the Place de la Concorde have been the most famous of the fountains built during the time of Louis-Philippe and came to symbolize the fountains in Paris. They were designed by Jacques-Igance Hittorff, a student of the neoclassical designer Charles Percier at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. The German born Hittorff had served as the official Architect of Festivals and Ceremonies for the deposed king and had spent two years studying the architecture and fountains of Italy.


‘La Fontaine des Mers’ Fountain is dedicated to the rivers Rhone and Rhine, with a nod towards industry and agriculture while ‘Elevation of the Maritime’ Fountain was built with the seas in mind – the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.  Both fountains display the same structure of a stone basin with two tiered circular Vasquez that support various figures, such as fish or allegorical statues, with spout water out to the basin below.

La Grande Roue


The La Grande Roue de Paris is a 60 meter high Ferris wheel that entertains both adults and kids. It was erected in Place de la Concorde in 1999 and opened for public operations in December of that year. Very nicely lighted in bleu shades like all the Champs-Elysees, the Grande Roue is a magical place to take the kids and enjoy a different perspective on the City of Romance.


It was built for the millennium celebrations and was supposed to stay at the Place de la Concorde for only one year. The owner Marcel Campion refused a judge’s order to have the wheel taken down and the wheel was dismantled only in 2002. It again came back to Paris in 2007 and is supposed to illuminate the Place de la Concorde and Tuileries for the end of the year festivities every year. It is opened everyday from 11 am to 12 pm and costs just $14 for adults and $7 for children.

Tuileries Garden


Tuileries Garden is one of Paris’s most visited gardens because of its central location between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde. It is one of those parks where you can grab a chair for free and sit wherever you like. It also features several fountains, two large basins, numerous sculptures and two museums, the ‘Galerie Nationale du Jey de Paume’ and the ‘Musee de I’Orangerie’, which displays Claude Monet’s large water lily paintings.

There are many other attractions in Paris but if you don’t have a very tight schedule then you got to stop and Place de la Concorde as it is beautiful and historically significant.

Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur (Tanjore)

Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur (Tanjore)


A stupendous work done during the Chola dynasty, a thousand years ago, the Brihadeeswarar temple in Thanjavur district (formerly known as Tanjore) is a masterpiece of architecture. Located in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, this temple finds its place in the World Heritage sites declared by UNESCO. The temple is also known as Peruvudaiyar Kovil and Rajarajeswaram temple. The sculpted brilliance depicted through its architecture, sculptures, paintings and its hugeness, was a tribute given to Lord Shiva by the then king Rajaraja Chola I (Arulmozhivarman). A symbol of his power and his relationship to the universal order, this temple was the prime location for all the worships during his rule. The entire monument is made out of granite and is a 66m tall structure which soars into the sky. A one of its kind temple, and considered as the temple of the temples, Brihadeeswarar temple is the largest temple in south India.

Temple Complex

temple complex     lingam

Protected by the high walls of more than 15m height, the main temple is located at the center of this rectangular boundary. These boundaries also house the Nandi, a pillared hall, an assembly hall and a number of sub shrines. A rectangle formed by two squares constitutes the area of the main temple. The main tower which represents mount Meru, is built on the rare side of the rectangle and has 16 tiers. The Kumbam (kalash; the tip of the temple) mounts the gopuram (the pyramidal structure on top), which has been made from a single piece of granite rock and has been carved magnificently. The Karuvarai (innermost sanctum or garbhagriha) shelters the lingam which is 3.7m tall. This entire structure has been placed on a plinth. At the end of the main rectangle, there is a porch which is supported by 20 pillars and has three stair cases that lead the visitors downstairs to the huge Nandi statue. The walls of the inner sanctum display the 108 karmas that are dance poses by Lord Shiva himself and have been delicately yet precisely sculpted throughout.  The exterior walls of this temple also show evidence of the mesmerizing skills of the sculptors and the painters as well as the architects of that era.

Beauty and Beliefs

gopuram     inscriptions

It is believed that the king, Rajaraja had thought about this architectural marvel when he was in Sri Lanka. With the view of establishing his universal rule and to show his people the power he possessed, the temple was constructed to these heights for the portrayal of the same. Built in a single granitic stone, the entire Gopuram; weighing more than 80 tons was pushed by elephants on a mud slope that started a few kilometers away from the actual site. It was then placed in position. The prime deity being Lord Shiva, it is one of the temples which have the deities of all directions (also known as Ashta-dikpaalakas or Guardians of direction) in one temple. Situated in the respective corners of the temple, there were idols of the Gods of all eight directions. As of now only four remain intact (Agni, Varun, Vayu, Isaanya). It is also believed that the temple has been so constructed, that the shadow of the gopuram never falls on the ground; at least not in the entire premises of the temple.

painting in Breehadeswarar   sculpture

Another fascinating thing about this temple is the inscriptions on the temple walls. Written in ancient Tamil, these narrate the passion of the king who built the temple. Also, the astounding paintings or murals are a beauty in itself. With different colors and figurines, the murals showcase the heroic deeds of Lord Shiva when he killed the demons. The murals portray even the demonic women as beautiful, which is really spectacular. The other tales portrayed by the frescoes are the journey of Saint Sundarar and Chera king to heaven and the battle scenes from the war of Tripantaka between Lord Shiva and the Asuras (demons). Unfortunately, due to the continuous exposure to smoke from lamps, these majestic artworks have been damaged to a large extent. The soot has deposited on the murals covering them up in black color. The archaeological Survey of India has tried to replace them with the 400 year old paintings given by the Tanjore Nayak, and are exhibited in a different hall.


Apart from the sacred sanctorum, the temple also has a shrine with a picture of Ganpathi (Lord Shiva’s son) in it. On the left side of the main temple is a 6m wide statue of the Nandi (Lord Shiva’s vehicle, a bull). Built in a single stone, even this is one of the sculpted beauties, with the artistic delicateness that has been portrayed through the minute details sculpted precisely.

Marking its 1000 year completion in the year 2010, the Government had organized Millennium celebrations and now the temple also finds its place on the stamps and coins released in the same year. A two day fest in September had converted the city into a festival hub, where people could experience the greatness of the temple. As a part of celebration, the temple also hosted the Bharatnatyam Yajna.

The existence of this temple even after 1000 years, in itself is a wonder. Open from 6.00am to 8.30pm the temple is crowded throughout. But if you really want to experience what greatness is, then the wait is worth it. The temple in true sense leaves your eyes wide open and your heart astounded.

Get Clicked with the Best: Madame Tussaud’s, London

Get Clicked with the Best: Madame Tussaud’s, London

From meeting your favourite celebrities, to world leaders; from the royals of United Kingdom to the world famous sports persons that you love, you can meet them all right here in the very heart of London, at Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. Known for its beautiful wax sculptures of famous personalities, the museum has rapidly become a popular tourist attraction in London.

Set up in 1884 by wax sculptor MarieTussaud, this delightful museum in London was the first Madame Tussaud’s museum to ever be built. Since then it has opened several branches worldwide in cities such as Amsterdam, Hong Kong, New York, Shanghai, Washington DC, Bangkok, Berlin, Hollywood and Las Vegas. These intricately made life-like wax statues provide wonderful photo opportunities for tourists. You can come here and get a photograph with the most famous celebrities, sports persons, political leaders and more. You can also enjoy the other attractions such as the Spirit of London ride and the Chamber of Horrors zone. So come prepared to be wowed and amazed by this museum.


The Party Zone

In this Party zone you are the VIP guest invited to stand on the red carpet alongside Hollywood’s elite actors and actresses. You could stand alongside A-listers like Kate Winslet, and Collin Firth or hang out with the Hollywood’s hottest men like Brad Pitt, Leonardo Dicaprio and Taylor Lautner. So come along and meet these stars and get pictures that could be cherished for a lifetime.


The Bollywood Zone

Being the largest film industry today, Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum honours the top most Bollywood icons such as Madhuri Dixit, Amitabh Bachan, Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai Bachan and Shah Rukh Khan. These extremely well made wax statues will amaze you with their lifelike qualities! Take pictures with these Bollywood divas and share them with your friends and family.


The Film Zone

In this zone you can meet all of Bollywood and Hollywood’s greatest stars. From Marilyn Monroe to Charlie Chaplin and from Shrek and Tinkerbell to Indiana Jones! You can meet them all and make sure you take plenty of pictures here. These wonderful wax figurines and statues will surely leave you in awe.


The Sports Zone

If you are into sports and want to get photographed with your favourite sports idols, then this is the place to be! Come and get clicked with leading sportsmen like David Beckham and Sachin Tendulkar. This interactive and fast-paced zone will enthral you as you compete with your favourite sportsmen.


The Royals Zone

In this zone, show off your elegance and poise right alongside the royal people of the UK. Past and Present Kings and Queens await your presence here! Hurry and get clicked with the Royal family, the charming Prince Harry and Prince William as well as the lovely Princess Diana. Surely you wouldn’t want to miss the chance of meeting them when you come to London. You can also be photographed with the late Henry VIII, and Queen Elizabeth the first amongst many other past Kings.


The Culture Zone

In the Culture zone you could meet with the brilliant Albert Einstein or get photographed with Shakespeare, the king of literature. You can get photographed with Picasso as you compare your creativity, or with Charles Dickens as you talk about your favourite books. The extremely lifelike wax statues of some of mankind’s most wonderful people should definitely be on your photo list!


The Music Megastars Zone

This is the place where you can run into the best of the best, and the most popular and iconized musicians of all times. Whether it is Elvis and Beatles who were the favourites of the older generations or young Justin Timberlake and Beyonce who rule the pop world today, there Is a statue for every music lover out there.


The Scream and the Chamber of Horrors

Of course, what museum full of wax statues of people is complete without a horror chamber. Over here, you must get ready to either scream your lungs out or be brave and make your way through a prison that holds unhinged inmates who want nothing more than to penetrate your nightmares and make a place for themselves there. So grab the closest hand to you and begin this journey at Scream, nestled deep within the Chamber of Horrors.

Spirit of London

The Spirit of London

The infamous black cabs of London are waiting for you here, so hop on with your partner and enjoy the historical evolution of this capital city from your cab. This black cab will take you through the different historical periods of this beautiful city. You will travel through the Tudor ages in London to the Victorian era and finally to the modern day London that we all know and love.


The Marvel Super Heroes Zone

The startlingly wonderful wax statues bring these superheroes to life! Take pictures with the best of the best. After that enjoy a classic 4D movie experience with the Marvel Superheroes! Equipped with powerful effects of water, wind and tremors, this experience will make you feel like a part of the movie. In this 360 degrees theatre you can get together with the Hulk, Spiderman, Iron Man and Wolverine and fight against the villainous bad guys right here in London.

Prayers are Answered: Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai, India

Prayers are Answered: Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai, India


Haji Ali Dargah is a mosque located in the Southern part of Mumbai. It is one of the most famous religious places in Mumbai. It is also one of the most popular and prestigious landmark of India. It is situated in the middle of the Arabian Sea and is about 500 yards away from the Mumbai shoreline. It floats like a sacred mirage off the coast in Mumbai and contains the tomb of the Muslim Saint Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari. There is a Masjid too at Haji Ali along with the tomb of the Saint. A long cause way is built in order to reach the Dargah. It is also an example of the beautiful Indo Islamic Architecture. This structure was initially built on a set of high rising rocks and in the early 19th century after the trust was legally formed as an entity in 1916 it was given its present day shape.

haji ali1


The Haji Ali Dargah was built in the year 1431 in the memory of Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari who before making his pilgrimage to Mecca gave up all his worldly possessions. He travelled the world in the early 15th century and then settled in the present day Mumbai.

According to the myths about his life it is said that once he saw a poor woman on the road crying and holding an empty vessel. When he asked her as to why she was crying, she replied that she accidentally spilled the oil from the vessel and her husband would beat her up if she went home with that empty vessel. So the saint asked her take him to the place where she had spilled that oil. Upon reaching there, he jabbed a finger into the soil and the oil came out. The woman overjoyed with that filled her vessel and went back home.

Later, the saint kept getting the same disturbing dream where he had injured the Earth by his act. Full of sorrow by that thought, he soon fell ill and told his followers to cast his coffin carrying his body into the Arabian Sea instead of burying it somewhere when he was dead. His followers followed his instructions and left his body into the sea. The coffin carrying his body floated back to the shores and was stuck in the string of rocks. And thus, the Dargah was constructed at that very spot.



The Haji Ali Dargah is a blend of the Mughal and Indo Islamic architecture. It is built using the same marble ‘Makrana’, which Shah Jahan had used to build the Taj Mahal. The Haji Ali Dargah occupies 4500 sq meters of space and it is 85 feet tall in height. While entering the Dargah complex the very first thing that you will notice is the marble courtyard with the central shrine and the mosque which is decorated using the red and green sheets. The artistic marble pillars and the mirror work in kaleidoscopic patterns makes the mosque very attractive and a beautiful sight to witness. On the mirrors of different colours there are ninety nine names of Allah inscribed on it in Arabic. The Dargah has typical white domes and minarets. But as the Dargah is very old it has started corroding at various places due to the saline winds so the Dargah trust is trying to rebuild the structure at various places that are corroded.



The Dargah can be visited only during the time of low tide. During high tides the water covers the cause way that is built for people to reach the Dargah making it impossible to visit it. According to the Muslim tradition, Haji Ali Dargah has two praying rooms one for ladies and another for men. Once inside some visitors frequently kiss the dressings of the tomb. The Dargah is a famous pilgrimage site for Muslims. However, Non Muslims are allowed to visit too. Thousands of people come here every day and visit the Dargah. People of all caste, creed and religion visit this place in order to gain the blessings of Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari and for the fulfilment of their wishes. Some pray for health while some for wealth, children, etc and all have their wishes being granted here.

The number of visitors increases on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Lakhs of people visit the Dargah on the second day of Ramzan Eid and Bakri Eid making the pathway appear like a sea of humanity. Sometimes, especially on Friday’s special Sufi musicians come to the Dargah in order to sing and perform. They sing devotional music called Qawalli here at the Dargah. On certain important events like the death anniversary of Peer Haji Ali and the birth anniversary of Prophet Mohammed the food is distributed amongst the visitors, devotees and Fakirs.


Apart from visiting the Dargah and seeking the blessings you can also enjoy the local stalls outside the complex on the pathway which will give you a chance to indulge in some delicious local specialities such as Mughlai Biryani, Kebabs, Hyderabadi fast food and chat. Thus Haji Ali Dargah is one of the most visited and most popular attractions in Mumbai.

Space Needle: Seattle’s Glass eyed bird

Space Needle: Seattle’s Glass eyed bird

A tower that looks like it is right out of a movie set? A structure that is remiscent of space age films? The glass eyed bird soaring in the Seattle sky? Or better yet, the infamous tower that features in gripping climax of the film ‘Sleepless in Seattle‘ ?

If you were thinking Space Needle, you got it right!

No doubt this is the most prominent of all concrete structures blanketing Seattle’s skyline. Towering and outshining all other buildings, the Space Needle is the jewel left behind from a nation wide event in the year 1962. What began as a rough sketch by an architect in an obscure coffee shop, soon became the designated attraction for the World Fair conducted that year. When it was finally unveiled to the world, America saw it first glimpse into tomorrow. The Space Needle which would put away the existing architectural niches as archaic and allow futuristic designs to stem from the American soil.

Seattle Space needle with crescent moon  Seattle-skyline-space-needle

The Space Needle was originally intended to be an observatory tower but today it is also globally recognized as an icon, something to remember the city by, and also doubling as something close to a historic landmark. A trip to Seattle almost warrants a whirl around the observatory in the deck, which is only about 500 feet above ground level. This basically means that the world below is almost negligible with other smaller buildings appearing as but tiny figures and one is literally walking amidst clouds. Mount Rainier and Mount Baker which drape around the Seattle city appear as artistic curvatures in the mornings and gorgeous silhouettes by dusk from so high up in the air. But of course, a brilliant city vista is a given from this dreamy altitude. Many placards are placed conveniently around the viewing areas in the different corners of the tower to explain the various attractions and its history.

The famous Space Needle elevator ascends upwards at a speed of 10 miles per second taking all but 41 seconds to reach this uppermost level. A large plush restaurant featuring cuisines from around the Pacific is the highlight of this deck. This restaurant is perhaps one the first ever to have had a revolving floor deck theme to it. Although a tad bit expensive SkyCity offers a fine spread for anyone who has worked up their way to this exclusive top level. The whole level that the restaurant is seated on languidly revolves around a completing a 360 degree haul in 47 minutes offering a complete view of Seattle in all its beauty. Bacon wrapped cheese is proclaimed as one of the phenomenal ‘must try’ dishes of this restaurant that boasts of amazing service. Sunday brunches here are also a general favorite among people with all kinds of different taste buds. One of the perks of dining at the restaurant is that the ride to the top is absolutely free of cost.


Besides offering a restaurant experience, Space Needle also sublets its ample space to people for conducting their private events, elegant banquets, parties, receptions and the like. All this is done safely 100 feet in the air with the whir of the wind, a painting like view and a touch of class. For everyone who wants to take home a memory of visiting Space Needle, SpaceBase is an exciting enclosure of the tower which encloses the world of interesting souvenirs. Gifts, cards, jewelry, almost anything to remember Seattle by, can be purchased here for a few quick dollars. This is conveniently located in the first floor of the Needle itself.

The most impressive thing about the Space Needle is that, although it is similar to many other sight seeing towers of the world, one must remember that it was built way back in 1960s. It belonged to an era when no country’s skyline could boast of anything similar in design or conception. It was a trend setter in its own respect and continues to awe people with its beautiful interiors and stellar views.


Although the view in summer is priceless with the sun streaming down the concave glass, the best time to visit Space Needle would be around Christmas season. This is when the tower is lit up and the festivity is brimming in full swing in the whole of the tower all the way out to its Sky lighting. Some fantastic shots of the building can be recorded on camera around this time of the year. The souvenir store is also stacked with Christmasy goodies and favorite picks of some great gifts to hand out for the season. On all other days of the year, with a snack or beverage in hand and the city within eye’s limit one can relax under the quiet spell of the wind and enjoy watching the Ferries, ships, water and the mountains from the amazing vantage point. And if you’re lucky, you might even catch a close-up view of an aircraft flying by.

So,what can top a camera full of perfect pictures, a peace inspiring altitude and the wondrous sleekness of an architectural masterpiece?

Of course it has to be the see-through elevator that takes you on a ride up the clouds!

Closer to heaven: Meteora, Greece

Closer to heaven: Meteora, Greece

A place built on the rock pillars, as if they are suspended in the middle of the sky, built by monks (hundreds of years back) taking you closer to heaven, is  Meteora situated in Greece. Meteora is a place where one can enjoy the scenic beauty (from height above), feel relaxed and enjoy adventures here such as climbing, trekking etc.


Meteora literally means “suspended in the air”, “middle of the sky” or “in the heavens above”. It is located in Greece, a southern Europe country. Athens is the capital of Greece. Meteora is easily accessible from all places especially Athens, as Meteora is a very popular destination. Meteora is located in Thessaly (Central Greece) and the nearest town is Kalampaka.

Meteora owns its popularity not only to scenic beauty, awesome view of nature from heights above and a place to practice adventure sports but also to the religious importance of the place. It was the religious importance of the place which was the first reason to  attract lots of visitors here.



The place holds religious importance not only due to monasteries but the fact that these monasteries are built on the top of pillars (or mountains), as they take the onlooker by surprise, astonishment and admiration for the one who built it. Though the scenic beauty of the place is attributed to nature, monasteries on the top of it are efforts of the monks who lived centuries ago. They built them when no such technological advancements were there, when no other means would have helped them except for their strength, efforts and will. The place also becomes a source of inspiration for many as to see that nothing is impossible. The monasteries draw an utmost respect for its creation.

Formation- Meteora


Formation of sandstone rock pillars is of huge interest to all geologists owing to the place being unique in the world. Many theories have been there for the formation of this place but the theory that is mostly accepted is the one given by German Geologist Philipson, who visited the Greece and propounded his theory. It is said that there existed a lake in the place of Meteora. The lake existed for many years and depositions took place. Then, due to some geological disturbance(earthquake) the rocks started getting formed. Therefore after millions of years being subjected to various nature’s phenomena, the rocks took the present shape.

History-Religious importance of Meteora

It is said that during some odd century monks started inhabiting this place to avoid distraction and to avoid Turkish invasions. Thus the monks started living on these rocky cliffs (conglomerates) and started building monasteries. Though many monasteries were built, the six monasteries are quite famous.

Holy monasteries

meteora      metero

The six monasteries are famous and usually tour guides and plans provide a tour to all of them. They are St. Nikolaos Anapafasa Monastery, St. Stephen’s Monastery, Varlaam Monastery, Roussanou Monaster, Holy Trinity Monastery and Great  Meteoron Monastery. Varlaam Monastery has a rich collection of artifacts and sacred things. Great Meteoron Monastery is the oldest monastery and built on widest of rocks, in 14th century. Holy Trinity Monastery is the one which is most difficult to reach due to its location.

MR0105      meteora-monastery-greece_60700_990x742

The place in listed in UNESCO world heritage sites due to its being one of the kind in the world and nature at its best. Here, one may also find variety of flora and fauna as of nature being natural. Sunset tours are also famous in the place owing to the captivating view sunset provides from the tops. This is quite famous among tourists and is a must visit for everyone there especially during sunset.

Adventure at  Meteora

meteora1    Rock_climbing

The place along with its religious importance is also famous for its challenge to adventure sports lover. From mountain biking to trekking to climbing, this place has the option and architecture for all. A sports person can indulge in new challenges and can uplift their levels. All the sport enthusiasts love to flock this place for its typical and adventurous environment.

Nearby cities to visit


Along with visiting these places, nearby cities are also an interesting place to visit. Kalampaka Town, Kastraki Village and Trikala are such places. They also offer a variety of tourist spots. Kalampaka town is the nearest town to Meteora. Kalampaka (prestigious castle) has got a rich history and is home to quite a few old churches. The other two towns also boast of rich culture and history of Greece.

If one is visiting Greece, then Meteora is a must place to visit. The towns help visitors to experience the history, culture and heritage of the place.

A visit to Meteora will leave you with immense pleasure from sightseeing, admiration for nature and monks, and satisfaction and spirits to your sporty nature. In fact visit to this place is almost recommended by everyone who are frequent travelers and who love to travel a lot. A perfect place built by nature through its forces (for years and years to count on) to look at awe inspiring nature, being in a different world altogether is a must experience for one and all.

Visit the City of Medicines: Durham, North Carolina

Visit the City of Medicines: Durham, North Carolina

Located right in the heart of North Carolina, Durham is a city of creativity, sheer beauty, artistic culture and emerging industry. It is one of the most visited cities of Carolina as more than 8 million visitors here to have some good time. It is also the county seat of Durham County and got its name in 1853. Durham is home of famous Duke University and North Carolina Central university and you can enjoy a lot of jazz festivals, art exhibitions, plays and other events all year round in this city. As a matter of fact, Durham has more than 96000 of hardwood forests with only one in the world, Piedmont bottomland forests. It is also called the city of medicines because of a major industry of almost 300 medical health companies and practices.


The climate of Durham is quite moderate with four seasons i.e. summers, winters, autumn and spring. The most pleasant season is spring with average temperature of 22 C. October is the driest month and the weather remains mild and sunny during this period. Summers are quite hot and you can see some rain during July and August. In the winters, Durham experiences snowfall occasionally and January is the coldest month with freezing weather.

How to get here?

How to get here

There are a lot of options to reach Durham and get around the city. The nearest airport is RDU International Airport at the edge of Wake County which receives all the major airline carriers like Air Canada, Frontier Airlines, United Express, Delta Air Lines and many more. You can also get to the city by the intercity passenger rail service, Amtrak, which serves almost 46 states and three Canadian Provinces. Bicycles, Charter Bus Services, Limousine service, Rental Cars and Taxicabs can be used to get around the city.

Accommodation and Food


There are a lot of accommodation options available in Durham from bed & breakfast inns to hostels and luxury hotels to budget motels. There are total 67 hotels and inns in the city offering all range of stays. One of the most popular is the King’s Daughters Inn, which is a four star hotel located right in the heart of city with free Wi Fi, Spa, Free Parking and accessible facilities. There are many other good options like Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn & Suites, Washington Duke Inn, Staybridge Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Springhill Suites, Chapel Hill, Marriott at Research Triangle Park, Homewood Suites, Wingate by Wyndham Raleigh, La Quinta Inn & Suites, Hilton Durham near Duke University and Red Roof Inn at Triangle Park.


There are more than 40 restaurants, café and pubs around Durham City and a lot of experienced, imaginative and reputed chefs offering from burgers to some luring dishes. You can visit The Palace International for great African food, Rise Biscuits & Donuts for some unique biscuits, Elmo’s Diner for tasty breakfast, Only Burger for great burgers, Sitar Indian Cuisine for Indian food, Lilly’ Pizza and enjoy delicious salad at Saladelia. If you get out for a casual lunch then Foster’s market of Chef Sara Foster will be a good choice.

The Attractions

Museum of Life and Science

Museum of Life and Science

Museum of Life and Science is a museum located at W Murray Ave in Durham and displays a lot of exhibits related to natural science. It is one of the most visited attractions in North Carolina and covers an area of more than 84 acres with an interactive science park, a butterfly conservatory and outdoor exhibition of rescued black bears. The parking is free and there are some additional facilities available like Sprout Café, Stroller rentals, picnic area and Elements Coffee Bar. The museum remains open from Tuesday to Saturday and ticket costs $14 for adults and $10 for kids.

Eno River State Park


Eno River State Park is a famous park, covering an area of 4200 acre, in Durham and Orange Counties. There are a lot of wilderness trails and the Eno River joins the Flat River to fall into Falls Lake. The park features five areas open for public with hiking trails and some historic sculptures. Famous trails include Cox Mountain, Cabelands, Eno Quarry, Eno Trace and Fanny’s Ford. There is a festival held at Eno River in July every year which exhibits music, food and environmental awareness.

Duke Chapel

Duke University Chapel in Durham North Carolina

Duke Chapel is located in the campus of Duke University in Durham and its structure is so magnificent that your tour would not be complete without visiting this great architecture. It was built in 1930 and commenced its work in 1932. It is recognized as a place for worship, music, learning and service. This cathedral like centerpiece is 210 feet tall and is easily accessible by all means of transport from any corner of the city.

Cameron Indoor Stadium

Cameron Indoor Stadium

Cameron Indoor Stadium is an indoor sports place situated in the West Campus of Duke University, Durham. It has been a classical venue of many basketball games through the years. It is one of the smallest arenas with seating capacity of only 9314 people. It opened its gates in 1940 with quite a big area but got renovated in 1972 and its name was changed from Indoor Stadium to Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Bennett Place


Bennett Place is also known as Bennett Farm and is famous for being the location of surrender of Confederate soldiers ending the American Civil War in 1865. It is located on the Bennett Memorial Road and can be easily reached by cabs, buses or tubes. It is historically important place for US as Johnston surrendered to Sherman at the end of the Civil War here.

There are many other places to visit in Durham like Carolina Theatre, Falls Lake State Recreation Area, Duke Lemur Center, Ayr Mount, Durham County Stadium and many more.

The Old City of Bern, Switzerland

The Old City of Bern, Switzerland

A medieval city center of Bern, the fourth most populated city in Switzerland, the Old city of Bern is built on a narrow hill, surrounded on three sides by the Aare River (a tributary to the Rhine, is the longest river that both rises and ends entirely in Switzerland). The layout, in which the city was constructed in, has remained essentially unchanged.

bern 3

The city was rebuilt in sandstone, after half of it got ruined, when a fire broke out in 1405, substantial construction work was carried out in the 18th century. But in spite of that the city has retained its medieval character.

The old city of Bern is a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site, due to the compact and generally intact medieval essence and houses Switzerland’s tallest Cathedral as well as Churches, bridges and a large collection of Renaissance fountains. A number of buildings in the old city have been enjoying the Swiss Properties of National Significance status, including the entire old city itself.

A little into history…the city was founded by a Duke, who vowed to name the city after the first animal he hunts, the first animal happened to be a bear and so the city was christened thus after a Bear.


The city is a hilly peninsula surrounded by the Aare River on three sides. The location was chosen as it made it easier for the army to defend the city. The city was later modified to suit everyone’s day to day needs. A long narrow shape of the peninsula, made the city develop as numerous long, parallel rows of houses. The cross streets going north and south, marked the stages of development and expansion of the city, as they developed along the city walls and were moved from time to time, to allow the city to expand.

the city was expanded thrice in its history,

The first expansion happened when the city was founded and was divided into three longitudinal streets. Two streets were added one on the north edge and the other on the south edge of the city. A Woodbridge was built over the Aare River, in order to carry out trade activities.


The second expansion happened when a city wall was added, on the western part of the city. This new wall was added to protect the streets known as the new city. The city expanded southward during the second expansion phase.

The third expansion happened when the people started residing outside the city walls and so a new wall was built to protect the increasingly growing population. A series of six streets and a few defensive walls were added to the new city.

In 1405 a fire broke out in Bern, the city then was mostly made of wood. The fire raced through the city and destroyed most of the buildings. After this deadly disaster, the city was rebuilt with stone, but the medieval character was kept intact. Since the city has undergone en number of modifications. A number of public fountains were added to the city; these fountains were coupled with large allegorical statues and showed how powerful and prosperous the city of Bern was.

Some of the ‘must-visits’ and attractions of the city..

  • The Munster of Bern (cathedral)-

Is a Protestant Gothic Cathedral, situated on the south end of the peninsula. The Cathedral is a home to a 100m Bell tower, the tallest in Switzerland. The largest bell in the bell tower is also the largest bell in Switzerland. The bell weighs 10 tons and is 247 cm in diameter. It rings so loudly that one needs to cover their ears in order to prevent hearing damage. The Cathedral houses a collection of Gothic sculptures, that represent the Christian belief in the Last Judgment, where the wicked will be separated from the righteous. The Cathedral is large and spacious. The stained glass windows of the cathedral are regarded as the most valuable in Switzerland. These windows include a number of religious images as well as an entire ‘Dance of Death’ window.

  • The Holy Ghost Church-

Is one of the largest Swiss Reform churches in Switzerland. The Church has six bells. The interior of the church is basically monolithic columns made of sandstone. The church can house up to 2,000 people, which makes it the largest Protestant church in Switzerland.

  • The Renaissance Fountains-

the old city of Bern has over 100 public fountains, out of which eleven are crowned with Renaissance allegorical statues. These fountains originally served the purpose of public water supply. As the city grew powerful and expanded with every passing year, the fountains too were expanded and decorated, but retained their original purpose. The fountains include Vennerbrunnen, Mosesbrunnen and Simsonbrunnen .

Apart from the Cathedral, the fountains and the church, there other significant places such as the Parliament buildings, the clock tower and the Nydegg Church, which are quite capable of luring your attention.

If you are a lover of history and are keen on tasting the medieval essence and also take a look at the Gothic and the Renaissance architecture, do make a trip to The Old City of Berns, Switzerland. Trust me, you won’t regret it !!

The Pride of California: Palo Alto

The Pride of California: Palo Alto

Palo Alto is a city of California US, located 35 miles south of San Francisco and 14 miles north of San Jose within Santa Clara County and San Mateo County borders. The city of Palo Alto is a historic blend of tradition and innovation which reflects from the architecture, municipality services, food, tourist places, friendly and sophisticated residents and supportive government. There are a lot of parks around the city which makes it more of a natural habitat and a 31 mile fiber ring is also developed in Palo Alto which has helped people to access internet at ultra fast speed. The name of Palo Alto is taken from a 1000 years old coastal redwood tree in San Francis Quito Creek. You will find all the streets tree lined and a lot of historical buildings around the city.


The climate of Palo Alto is very mild and the weather remains pleasant all year round. The summers go hot and winters are not bone chilling. Almost 261 sunny days are witnessed per year and July is the hottest month. The winters bring some rain with it with absolutely no snow fall and the temperature rarely reaches to minimum of 30 degrees. You can visit this city anytime during the year.

How to get here?

How to get here

Palo Alto has only one municipal airport just two miles from city center but there are three International Airports within 30 miles range. These airports are Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, San Francisco International Airport and Metropolitan Oakland International Airport. If you are arriving by a chartered plane then there are no private airstrips here so you will have to land at the airstrip located 30 miles from the city. There are all means of transportation available at airports to reach downtown. There is also rail service available as Caltrain station of Palo Alto connects the city to various stations.

Accommodation and Food


There are a lot of hotels, motels, apartments, inns, B&Bs around the city within all price ranges. There is recently opened Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel which provides every luxurious facility you wish for. It has free internet in each room, sleep advantage bedding and onsite dining for every guest. You will also like Crowne Plaza Cabana and Westin Palo Alto with 184 rooms, 19 suites, pool fitness center, restaurant, bar and free internet. In budget options, there is Cowper Inn with 13 rooms and 4 suites, Quality Inn with 53 rooms, free parking and internet, Cardinal Hotel with 60 rooms and 3 suites. You can also choose from Days Inn Stanford, Menlo Park Inn and Country Inn motel.


Palo Alto has some the best eating places in the Bay area and is favorite dinner spot for locals throughout Silicon Valley. You will find some good dining lunching, snacking, sipping and slurping spots in the downtown Palo Alto like Evvia with delicious Mediterranean food, Oren’s Hummus Shop, Philz Coffee with best brewed coffee, Hunan Garden, Pastis, Baume, Sundance the Steakhouse, St. Michael’s Alley, Reposado Restaurant, Fraiche Yogurt, Tamarine Restaurant with great Vietnamese dishes, The Fish Market and La Bodeguita del Medio with some good Cuban cuisine.

The Attractions

Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts

Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts

Iris & B.Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts is an art museum, located at Stanford University, featuring wide range of exhibitions, docent tours, lectures, symposia, classes and special events. It remains open everyday and admission is free for everyone. This museum is home of paintings, sculptures and artworks from Europe & America, Asia, Africa, Oceania and Native Americas.

Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Artscd

Some famous exhibitions of the Arts Center include Jim Dine and Claes Oldenburg, The Royal Image, The Honest Landscape and Conversation Pieces. You can also get membership of Cantor Arts Center and get chance to participate in activities and involve in the behind the scenes programs.

Hoover Tower


Hoover Tower is a 285 feet tall tower which provides a panoramic view of the Stanford campus and surrounding area. It was built in 1941 to celebrate the University’s 50th anniversary and today it has become center of attraction in Stanford University. It was founded by Herbert Hoover and you can see the documents and memorabilia of his life and career in the rooms on the ground floor of the tower. You can go on a student guided tour and explore the tower as well as other landmarks of Stanford University.

Hewlett Packard House and Garage

Hewlett Packard House and Garage

Hewlett Packard House and Garage is a private museum of the company HP located at Addison Avenue in Palo Alto. It is the place where Hewlett Packard Company was founded in 1939 by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. The first product of HP was built in this garage which was an audio oscillator. In 2000, HP decided to acquire this place to preserve its history and bought it for 1.7 million dollars.

Hanna Honeycomb House


Hanna Honeycomb House, located in the Stanford University Campus, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1936 for Stanford Professor Paul Hanna and his wife Jean. You will be amazed to see the elegant design and beautiful architecture of the house. It was occupied by the Hannas till 1975 when they gave it to Stanford. The public tours of the house remain open 4 times a month with 3 tours per day and tour fee is $10 per person and children under 12 are not allowed on the tour.

Other attractions in Palo Alto include Professorville, Windy Hill Open Space Preserve, Searsville Dam, Black Mountain, Adobe Creek, Lambert Creek, Matadero Creek and many more.

Shirakawa-go Village, Japan

Shirakawa-go Village, Japan

Shirakawa-go village,Japan

‘The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama’

Shirakawago village is one of the most scenic places to be that is to be visited in Japan.It is surrounded by pine tree covered mountains and it is located along the Shokawa river.They are famous for their traditional Gassho-zukuri farmhouses, out of which few are more than 250 years old. Gassho means praying hands, suggesting the form of hands raised in prayer to the Buddha.These villages have houses that are very big, and have thick thatched roofs that come down steeply.In this way the snow can slide off the roofs.There is also enough space under the roofs to store raw materials and supplies for long winters.Most house owners make the most of their inner space and use up every square inch by dividing it into several parts,sometimes up to five, levels.The inhabitants of these villages used to earn their money in the silk-industry.

Shirakawa-go village,Japan

Shirakawa-go village,Japan


In the 8th century AD this ie., the Shirakawa-go village and Gokayama area was opened up as a place for ascetic religious mountain worship, centered on Mount Hakusan,for an order that combined ancient pre-Buddhist beliefs with esoteric Buddhism.There are approximately 180 thatched farmhouses, sheds, and barns, and most of them were built about 200-300 years ago.Shirakawa-go was a part of the territory Takayama Clan at the beginning of the Edo period,but from the late 17th century until the Meiji Restoration of 1868 it was under the direct control of the military government. Gokayama was under direct rule by the Kanazawa Clan throughout the Edo period.The remote mountain villages of Gassho-style houses in Shirakawa-go and Gokayama on the Hida Highlands were registered as cultural heritage sites during the year 1995.

Beautiful village in Japan

Beautiful village in Japan


Shirakawa-go is situated at the foot of Mt. Haku-san in northwestern Gifu Prefecture.It is a quiet mountain village with rice fields and a river running through it.The beautiful Shirakawa-go village is Located in a mountainous region that was cutoff from the rest of the world for a long period of time,these villages with their Gassho-style houses shows the cultivation of mulberry trees and the rearing of silkworms.

Location of Shirakawa-go village

Location of Shirakawa-go village


Shirakawa-go can be reached by using highway bus from most major cities in Japan.Tickets for buses to Takayama should be reserved before few days of our approach as Takayama is popular tourist destinations for both Japanese and foreigners.Beside buses we can reach the village by catching the Shinkansen Bullet Train to Nagoya and there we have to transfer to a standard train to Takayama. Then we can move to Takayama Bus Station and can take a ticket to Shirakawa-go.From this train one can enjoy mountainous beauty that Japan offers to the tourists.Another best option is to hire a car and drive to Shirakawa-go. A new ‘super-highway’ is now open which will have you in the village in under an hour.On our way we can see few more tourist spots too.

Bus to Shirakawa-go

Bus to Shirakawa-go

Train facility also available

Train facility also available


Suganuma,one of the main attractions of Gokayama, is made up of two areas,Sunganuma village and the Gokayama Gassho no Sato.The Pleasant and easy way to explore the village is by foot, the two areas are connected to each other by a tunnel, which also connects to the parking lot on the hill overlooking the village via an elevator.Near the village,we can find Gassho-zukuri Minka-en outdoor museum which is made up of 27 thatched roof houses that have been relocated from various areas in Shirakawa-go.We have two museums in this village: Saltpeter museum and Folk museum.Making saltpeter, an ingredient in gunpowder, was an important industry for the region during the Edo period.This museum has exhibits on the procedures, tools and history of the industry in Gokayama.Where as the Folk Museum displays tools and household items used in daily life.It also displays some of the exhibited items include tools used for farming, raising silkworms and making washi paper.

Houses in Shirakawa-go

Houses in Shirakawa-go



To enjoy the village beauty the best time to visit is to go is during December until march, where you can still see the winter wonderland, best time to go is from morning until evening.We can enjoy the snowfall take snaps around the beautiful locations.There are several beautiful natural landmarks nearby this village.One is the Mount Haku and another is the Three Amo Waterfalls: Taka falls, Naka falls, and Ki falls which are must visit places when reached this village.The Doburoku Festival is held in the village every autumn.In this village Doburoku is a type of white,unrefined sake and it is served to visitors during the festival period.During this festival period the visitors can learn about Shishi-mai which is a type of lion dance.

Shirakawa-go village in winter

Shirakawa-go village in winter

Water is sprayed at Shirakawa-go

Water is sprayed at Shirakawa-go

Hospitality and Livelihood:

Although Shirakawa-go is well worth to visit,But for stay the people of Shirakawa-go only allow guests to a maximum of 1 night in each house.If you would like to stay 2 or more nights you will need stay each night in different houses.These Shirakawa Gassho village has a couple of places to eat.There are few restaurants available which will be opened only during day time.As the village mostly being visited during day times tourist oriented,so the restaurants over there will close down after the sun sets.