Yearly Archives: 2015

The Canadian Heaven: Toronto

The Canadian Heaven: Toronto

The most popular city of Canada is Toronto which is situated on the coasts of Ontario Lake. With 2.6 million inhabitants living there, the city is the most astonishing tourist destination in the world. The city is in the center of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and is known as the anchor of the Golden Horseshoe area. This Golden Horseshoe region starts from the Ontario Lake and ends up at the Niagara Falls. According to the pools in North America, Toronto stands fifth in the list of urban agglomeration and is titled as the fourth largest city. The six internal neighboring cities are joined together in the year 1998 to make this mega city, named Toronto. These six districts that make Toronto are Old Toronto, Etobicoke, York, East York, North York and Scarborough. There are 16 official languages in Toronto. Toronto is the most multicultural city across the world as Canada is known as the country of immigrants but Toronto doesn’t demonstrate this fact totally.


We can call Toronto the largest city of Canada and is the host to many high class shopping centres and malls and other watchable sites too. The Niagara Falls offers the most beautiful site of Toronto. People will get the opportunity to ride in a boat and enjoy the various sceneries of falls from various viewpoints. There is a train, the Canadian, which will take you to a comfortable journey of three days and will allow you to have the beautiful sights of Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. Even a place named Jasper is the most visited place of Toronto. Tourists usually like to spend a night there to explore the place.


The second largest free standing structure, CN Tower, is also situated in Toronto only. The structure is 500 meters high and consists of a glass elevator at its top. This glass elevator will take you to about 1,122 foot high. There is a restaurant also which is quite adorable and even the view from the top of the tower is incredible. One can have the view of the whole city from the tower. The floor of the observation deck at the top is transparent and that’s why people find it difficult to walk over there. Some people even make reservations to visit the place.


Apart from the CN tower, the second most famous spot of Toronto is The Eaton Centre. It is an open and bright shopping mall which is situated in the heart of Toronto. The structure is four leveled and its dome is made up of glass. The whole building was designed by Michael Snow. More than 250 stores are opened on this mall. Most popular stores are Flight Stop and Geese Mobile. These stores are affordable and are budget conscious.

Casa Loma with Tulips in the foreground, Toronto, Ontario

Another interesting place to visit is Casa Loma which built in the 1900s by the famous Toronto businessman Sir Henry Pellatt. The architecture of Casa Loma is quite smililar to the Hearst Castle, California. The structure is a representation of one’s architectural dreams. The place is so beautiful that it was even used as a set for a film titled Chicago, which was released in the year 2002. If someone is in downtown Chicago then the person should spend some in the Distillery District of Toronto. The Distillery District is best suited for art and heritage lovers as the district offers some gorgeous heritage architectures, wellness centres, art and culture centres and even some pubs and restaurants also for regular people.

hall of fame

There is no harm in visiting the outstanding Hockey Hall of Fame which is always busy with exhibitions for kids and youngsters. The broadcast pods available will let you enjoy the actions of some of the latest epic hockey games including the famous Canada / Russia 1972 series. A gift shop, a dressing room and a trophy room is also featured in the building to give a perfect environment of backstage of Hockey. The tasty food of the restaurants of Toronto’s Chinatown is world famous. There are hundreds of restaurants lined in the Toronto’s Chinatown, serving authentic and fresh cheese along with other Asian and Vietnamese food. Apart from food, Toronto’s Chinatown is also known for its clothing, trinkets, exotic jewelry and even household stuff with a lot of bargain.

In addition to these places there are many other places to visit in Toronto including the AGO houses i.e. Art Gallery of Ontario. It is striking Frank Gehry building. This art gallery has a huge impressive collection of about 40,000 works. Thus, there is no doubt in the fact that this gallery stands at the tenth position among the largest art museums in the North America. This Art Gallery features the beautiful Canadian arts and also many masterworks from different countries across the world. To take a break from the hustle and bustle life of Toronto people can even visit the Centre Island and can relax on the beaches and recreational areas offered by the island. Another posh place of Toronto is Yorkville which is full of high class boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. Even the popular Toronto International Film Festival is also held there once in every year. Therefore, this amazing tourist destination has a bunch of exciting places for tourists. The tourists will not only enjoy but also memorize their stay in Toronto.

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The Backwaters of Kerala, India

The Backwaters of Kerala, India

Kerala, the moment you hear or utter the word you will feel or just imagine a picture of greenery, the Houseboat, the soft water flowing and the huge coconut trees surrounded by all the sides. It’s rightly called as God’s Own country. Every person on this earth wishes to get lost in the realm of nature and the Kerala sticks to it. The peace and enjoying the nature attracts everyone right from Family, Friends hanging out and specially Newly married couples. It will continue to be Hot spot for Honeymoon couples.



Now let’s see what is exactly The Backwaters of Kerala. It is nothing but the network of large lakes, canals linking to one another which is parallel to the Arabian coast. Some are manmade and some are natural which is largely formed by 38 rivers. It covers half of the length of the Kerala state. The most interesting point is the river water meets the sea water but measures are taken by building barrage so that salt water does not sink deep into river water so that water remains fresh intact and can be used for irrigation purpose. In the middle of Backwaters there are number of towns and cities beginning and ending point. And we find rich ecosystem around us like fishes, crab, marine creatures, Birds like Kingfisher and lots of trees, greenery bushes which will make you to surrender to the nature’s lap.

Lets unfold the myriad forms of Backwaters what all it consists of. We can explore firstly Alapuzza – The Canal cruise. It links to Vembanad lake, which is the largest lake covering 200km distance. This is the most famous canal cruise where you can hire small boats to large boats but if you opt for small boats it would be too convenient to enjoy the scenic beauty and the birds. Even you can stop at nearby village and see the methods how a coir is prepared and also you can try various Kerala cuisines specially if your non vegetarian try Tapioca and fish cuisines. Do try coconut toddy, a liquid extracted from coconut trees.

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Next is the turn of Alumkadavu, which is located in Kollam. It is one of the major tourist attraction particularly known for its rice barges traditionally known as Kettuvalloms which is constructed and later converted to houseboats. It is constructed using bamboo, wood and coconut fiber. You can also watch how they are constructed and learn the technique. It is famous for its coir products. Next is Backwaters of Ashtamudi which means 8 channel. It is the second largest lake in Kerala stretching about 16km.It is the trip between Kollam and Alapuzza which takes you to the out of the world feeling why because it is journey of 8hour’s.Boats are available and you can see the glittering sun rays making way into water ripples.

Chandragiri Fort and River which is located near Payaswini River and the Arabian sea. It is the 17th century fort built by Shivappa naik of Bedanore  and from this fort you can see the breathtaking scenic beauty of convergence of both the river and the sea. And it is also famous for its sunset watching. You can savor this chance from the ancient temple Kazur state temple. Every year Pattu Utsavam an annual festival is celebrated there. There are many Boat clubs which will arrange for wildlife tours, boat rides, island camping, houseboat cruises etc.

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The next destination is the most fascinating destination ever you have visited it is none other than the Kavvayi Backwater at Payyanur. It is one of the most attractive tourist spot which will make you to fall in love with it.Here you can simply take a walk and enjoy its scenic beauty or else you can take a boat ride and experience the cool breeze soothing your senses which is active stress buster it can be.Kavvaya Kayal is the combination of five rivers i.e. River kavvayi, Kankol, Vannathichal, Kuppithodu and Kuniyan. And the other most interesting thing is that it is surrounded by many small and big islands.The backwater Kavvayi is the biggest wetland in Kerala with an area of 37km.

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Next we have on the Kerala backwater list is the famous Kumarakom village which is actually cluster of small islands and it offers variety treat to your eyes. Here a Bird sanctuary is their which is spread across 14 acres and here we can see various types of  birds and it is rightly known as ornithologist’s paradise. Various birds like Egrets, herons, darters, teals, waterfowls, cuckoo, wild duck and Siberian stork. Even fishing facility is also available at an old bungalow turned into resort. There are many cottages available in and around which is run by Kerala tourist board and many holiday packages are available including backwaters.

Kuttanad, the rice bowl of kerala.Here you can see many paddy fields and if you have visited in farming season you can see farmers doing farming activities in traditional manners .And you can also observe flocks of Parrots around Paddy fields and it is a treat to your eyes and if you closely observe up above the sky you can a flock of birds flying higher. Next is the Marine drive in kochi which is a popular hangout in kochi and you can enjoy the spectacular view of Backwater and Kochi Harbour. The rainbow bridge is also one of the major attraction spot.

The Coral Reefs, Mauritius

The Coral Reefs, Mauritius


Swimming! We all enjoy it, right? The rush of simply being in water is a different experience even if it’s in a tank or a pool. For those who really love water and water citizens, it won’t be out of character to imagine taking a swim into the world of Poseidon.  Some do it as a part of adventure trip, some for hobby and others do it for the hell of it. Whatever be the reason, it is uber cool thing to try out atleast once in a life time. Now swimming with the sea creatures come in various forms, it may be snorkeling, scuba diving or deep sea diving. The choices are immense. One of the most loved choices is coral reef scuba diving. Mauritius boasts of a state of the art culture for arranging this particular experience. Apart from volcanoes, forests and gorgeous landscape, Mauritius is rightly proud of its reefs. How about a virtual voyage before you decide to go for the real one? Here we go.


Just to paint a picture, consider yourself a part of the world of Nemo or Ariel. (Cartoon!) Picture wide and Blue Ocean; decorate the seabed with millions and millions of colorful breathing live rocks. They may be flat or fanned out.  Then add fishes and the entire cute little battalion of marine animals lurking around, a wise old turtle maybe. This picture is what becomes reality when you take a dive into the coral reefs of Mauritius.

Coral reef of Mauritius has been a point of keen interest for the world since 1960s. In 1997/1998 the world saw the overall coral population take a hit with majority of them vanishing from the Indian Ocean. But Mauritius remains as one of the safe zones for the corals for they survived here and today are a major tourist attraction.


Coming to the corals of Mauritius, it is not less than slice of heaven for anyone who can appreciate a good place to enjoy this wet wonder. Northern Mauritius boosts of some of the most exquisite presence of colorful reefs with a plethora of fishes and sea turtle in their midst. Flat coral, fanned corals, soft corals all converge to during a riot of colors under water. The fishes swim in and around the reef making it a different experience for everyone who tries it.

The glass bottom boats are a good way to prep up for the coral visits for seeing the wonder first hand will make you want to go down there and have fun. The corals are a beautiful natural wonder of the world and hence the admiration for them is only expected.

If you do not know the drill, no problem. There are mandatory training sessions to be taken before you can dive headlong into the pool of fishes. The varied level of coral reef provides a wide canvas to divide the eager learners into groups varying from beginners to experts. With the right people and the right equipment’s you learn the drill and finally can join the fishes for a delightful swim. This can be a 4 day activity or a week long preparation as per the plan you choose but with every well-organized step you come a little bit closer to the reefs.


If you have taken the lessons already and want a bigger share of the coral pie, head to the Blue Lagoon and coral reef monitoring dept. and register as a volunteer coral conservationist. This is an opportunity to study learn and most importantly BE with the coral reef all day long. You can register for a week or more and then out in the water you go. Work with the classiest people who know everything there is to know about coral reefs.


If the training sounds like a deal breaker then how about a walk with the corals? Undersea walk is a real thing! If you have booked a hotel or are visiting with a travel agent, mention your interest in this activity. The lagoon waters are usually shallow providing excellent condition for the non-swimmers are the paranoids to don on a helmet, take the accessories and take a walk down the waterbed. The amazing color of the corals, the marine life will have you swoon. The pace of the walk is leisurely thus you can take your time to see feel and explore the region. The point being the corals, you get a magnanimous view of the life in water.

The coastal region of this island is almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs. Due to the coral reefs Mauritius gets the famous white sand beaches and the calm lagoon of after. The lagoon is essentially the water between the reef and the beach. These two factors together combine to give marine tourism a big boost. The overall flora and fauna of the region is immense and varied with sharks, dolphins leading the show followed by few of the rarest of rare species of fishes in the world. The virgin beaches do not hurt a single bit.


In past five years the population of the corals has reduced considerably. The government and the locals all pool their resources to bail out the reefs however the task is not an easy one.  Everyone who has seen this wonder wishes to see it over and over again, this says volume about its beauty and enormity. We hope and pray that the reefs survive for ages to come.


City of Alexandria in Majestic Egypt

Founded in 331 BC by Alexander the Great, City of Alexandria is known as The Pearl of the Mediterranean. Today the second largest city in Egypt, it served as the capital of Egypt during the Greco-Roman period. As a tourist location Alexandria has much to offer in terms of its archaeological importance and extremely rich history.

Citadel of Qaitbay

Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of ancient world was constructed here in 280 BC. Its fascinating history, and its remains discovered in 1994 are worth exploring. Today the Fort of Qaitbay stands in its location. Fort of Qaitbay or Citadel of Qaitbay was built in 15th century and it was built using the remains of Fort of Alexandria. Sultan Al-Ashraf Sayf al-Din Qa’it Bay established this citadel as a defensive fortress.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Alexandria was also known as the home of the largest library of the ancient world, Library of Alexandria, which was graced by many of the then prominent scientists and philosophers. Today the Bibliotheca Alexandrina stands in its place, a modern library and research center, which also happens to be the second largest library worldwide.

Pompey's Pillar

One of the largest monolithic columns ever erected, Pompey’s Pillar is another tourist attraction replete with fascinating history.  The overall height of the pillar is estimated to be around 27 m, and weighs 285 t. It is made of red Aswan granite. It was built in 297 AD as a triumphal column. It commemorates the victory of Diocletian, a Roman emperor.

Located in Abusir in Alexandria, the Temple of Taposiris Magna was built in Ptolemy era. Today the only remains that stand are the outer walls and pylons. Animal necropolis was found by archaeologists strengthening the argument that sacred animals were worshipped here. It was used as a church in later centuries as is evident from the remains of a Christian church here.

Roman Amphitheatre Ruins, Alexandria

Kom El-Dikka, or the Roman Theatre was built in 2nd century AD. This Roman amphitheatre had capacity of 800 spectators and consists of white and gray marble tiers and mosaic flooring. For history lovers a visit to these ruins is a must.


Brilliant harmonizing of different architectural styles which include Greek, Roman and Egyptian styles can be seen if one visits catacombs of Kom el-Shogafa. It is among seven wonders of the middle ages. Objects of funeral rites dating back to Pharanoic cult were excavated here. These archaeological artifacts, as stated above, have Roman as well as Greek influences. Stone coffins, pillars adorned with papyrus and lotus symbols, figurines depicting falcons, human and animal remains, mass burial chamber called Hall of Caracalla are some of the distinguishing features of Kom El Shogafa. Exploring the remains and the whole ambience of the place is a delight for anyone interested in history and archaeology.

Alexandria also houses Shallalat Gardens. These ancient gardens still contain the remains of Alexandria Wall. Long line of pavement booksellers on Nabi Danyal Street, opposite the French Cultural Centre are a delight for all book lovers. Arab world’s most bookshops and book sellers are located in the old town of Alexandria.


El-Mursi Abul-Abbas Mosque, located near Citadel of Qaitbay is a famous mosque. It is dedicated to El-Mursi Abul Abbas, a famous Alexandrine Sufi Saint of 13 the century. Another popular mosque is the Attarine Mosque. After the Muslim conquest of Egypt it was converted into a mosque, but originally it was built as a church dedicated to Saint Athanasius.

Stanley Bridge

Designed in 1870, Corniche is a waterfront promenade near eastern harbor. It runs from Citadel of Qaitbay, and ends near Montaza Palace. A drive around the Corniche provides one with innumerable sites that add to the overall vibe of the city. Statue of Alexander the Great, Bridge of Stanley are some of the worthwhile sightseeing attractions. Stanley Bridge over the Stanley bay and Stanley beaches are located near the city centre.

Montazah Palace

Montaza Palace and extensive gardens were constructed facing Mediterranean beaches. The Salamlek Palace was also located within these grounds. It was built in late 19th century. In 1932, under King Faud I, Al-Haramlik Palace along with royal gardens was constructed within these grounds. The distinctive features of this addition include Italian Renaissance designs, sea facing open arcades as well as marked influences of the Florentine and Turkish architectural styles.

Beach, Alexandria

Maamoura Beach is a famous tourist attraction, located near Montaza’s royal gardens. Its stunning beaches and picturesque parks make it a beautiful location. Presidential Palace of Maamoura, Plaza Mall, and Paradise Inn Resort are some of the popular spots alongside this beach.  Tourists can sunbathe or indulge in water sports available along these beaches.

Qaitbay Citadel

There are many remarkable museums within Alexandria which display glimpses of various aspects of Alexandrine history in all their diversity and glory. Royal Jewelry Museum for instance is an art and history museum. Established in 1986 it contains invaluable collection of jewels of Muhammad Ali Dynasty. Other than the jewels, this museum also boasts of a collection of 19th century paintings and statues which are exhibited here. Several other museums in Alexandria include Alexandria National Museum, the Graeco-Roman Museum among others. The collections displayed here depict the vast and vivid history of this area dating back to Alexander the great.

Alexandria offers diverse and different avenues for tourists to explore. The city leaves one with unique and memorable experiences.


Amesbury, England – the city of historic Stonehenge

Amesbury, England – the city of historic Stonehenge

Amesbury is popularly known as the nearest town to the historic monument Stonehenge which is one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites. Stonehenge is a revelation of the science and skill of a Neolithic civilisation. Stonehenge consists of sophistically placed stones of which the largest weighs over 40 tons in a concentric architectural design by unknown builders.

stone henge

Archaeologists believe that the Stonehenge was built around 3000 BC to 2000 BC. The evidences found by the Stonehenge Riverside project states that The Stonehenge could possibly have been a burial ground as cremated remains containing human bones were found when the ditch and the bank were first dug. Stonehenge is a famous pilgrimage of religious significance. A number of myths surround the Stonehenge which gave rise to multiple theories some more plausible than the others subjecting to debate as it was produced by a culture that left no written record regarding this site. There is no direct evidence stating the construction techniques employed by the Stonehenge builders. It is believed that either supernatural or Anachronistic methods were used as an average stone weighs around 30 tons which were impossible to move otherwise. However using conventional techniques proposed by Neolithic technology as basic as shear legs have been effective at moving and placing stones of similar architecture. British archaeologists were successful in discovering the remains of a massive Stonehenge, or ceremonial circle, which is believed to be a part of the ancient and celebrated Stonehenge complex, a discovery that throws new light on how the monument was built and the religious uses associated with it.

The new henge known as “ The Bluestonehenge “ as it was built with blue Preseli dolerite mined more than 150 miles away in Wales on the banks of  River Avon is a place where ancient pilgrims used to carry the ashes of their dead relatives. “Stonehenge Decoded “ a 1965 book by the astronomer Gerald Hawkins stated the most comprehensive hypothesis to date of Stonehenge’s purpose. Hawkins in his analysis identified 165 separate points on the monument and linked them with astrological phenomenon like the two solstices, equinoxes, lunar and solar eclipses. The theory proposed by Gerald Hawkins is a difficult theory to disapprove and some evidence is persuasive. Some theories by others are even more inventive.
However, Amesbury  in history has great importance beyond being a mere stepping stone. Amesbury is located in southern Wiltshire, England. Amesbury has also been known as “Ambrosbury”, “Ambresbury” and “Amblesberie” at various times in the past. Amesbury is considered to be a hub of Christian worship for centuries. “Choir of Ambrosius”, a great monastery of 300 monks is situated in Amesbury. Ambrosius Aurelianus who was the leader of several British tribes in the 5th century is believed to be the founder of this monastery. He established the area “Ambrose Burgh” as his headquarters and it is believed that the name Amesbury is derived from this.
The Stonehenge serves as an evidence which shows that the land surrounding Amesbury has been settled since prehistoric times. Archaeological studies have discovered a large Roman graveyard in the area of Amesbury Archer burial which reveals Roman excavations from Amesbury.

Amesbury is linked to the Arthurian legend as it is believed that Guinevere retired to the convent at Amesbury after leaving Arthur. The phenomenal discovery of the richest Bronze Age burial site ever excavated in Britain was made in May 2002 which further lead to the revelation of the grave of a man dating around 2,300 BC while performing excavations for a housing development in Amesbury. And the media entitled the man as “The Amesbury Archer ” or “The King of Stonehenge ”. It is believed that “The Amesbury Archer” has its origin either from the German, Swiss or Austrian Alps.The two graves contained more than one hundred objects which includes arrowheads, copper knives and gold earrings et cetera.

“Vespasian’s camp” a concealed Iron age hill fort is situated one mile west of Amesbury. This fort has the history of never being excavated after the Roman general and later emperor who campaigned this part of Britain.
Amesbury’s territorial boundaries were three sections, Amesbury proper, South Amesbury and West Amesbury. The South Amesbury wanted to separate from Amesbury but the same was rejected by the state legislature. West Amesbury comprises of pretty and charming thatched and timbered cottages. West Amesbury houses have residences with mullion windows. West Amesbury was previously known as “Little Amesbury” and is thought to have been associated with the priory at Amesbury containing the remains of a medieval house.
Amesbury is considered to be a town that dominated manufacturing of transportation for more than one hundred years.



Amesbury town has tremendously expanded in recent years after the establishment of the military and Armament experimental establishment. The old centre however has managed to retain its former charm dating from the earlier centuries even after new housing estates being constructed, and the most recent one is the Archers gate which has taken its name from the “ Amesbury Archer ”. There are many myths attached with Amesbury as well as The Stonehenge but the only certain consensus  is that as the sun rises and sets its mark, another day will pass with the complete answers to the mysteries about the sites origins firmly wedged in the past. Perhaps that’s how it is meant to be.

Beauty, Magnificence and Wonders of Rio de Janeiro

Beauty, Magnificence and Wonders of Rio de Janeiro

The former capital of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city of Brazil. Rio de Janeiro is built along the foothills of a mountain range and has Azure Sea on one of its side. The city has got beautiful white sand beaches, an amazing architecture and a beautiful skyline created by many concrete skyscrapers. The harbor of Rio is also one of a kind with a unique entry from the ocean. The harbor is surrounded by mountains on its sides and it appears to be the mouth of river. This harbor is also one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

When it comes to traveling and exploring Rio, Christ the Redeemer has to top the list. This statue is located on Corcovado Mountain and is the largest Art Deco statue in the world. This statue of Jesus Christ standing with open arms was constructed in 1920 and it symbolizes peace. Currently it is the most recognizable landmark of Brazil and is also a part of the popular culture as it has featured in many music videos, like Michael Jackson’s “Runaway”, as well as in trending video games, like “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” and “Angry Birds Rio”. On climbing the top of the Corcovado Mountain one gets a breath taking view of Rio. Particularly during the evening, the statue can be seen bathed in a golden color due to the lights lit around.

Rio de Janeiro offers the tourists many spectacular sights in form of its mountains, parks and gardens, football stadiums, museums and much more. The Sugar Loaf Mountains are one of these which are also Brazil’s top landmark. This pair of mountains has one short mountain and the other taller one and these have a tramway which takes the tourists to the top. At this point one can enjoy a phenomenal sunset view. Another place to watch an amazing sunset is the Arpoador.

In the middle of South Zone is a large lagoon called, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas which gives great views of Corcovado and Ipanema and Leblon beaches. At this place, there are jogging, cycling and skating areas and one can also hire peddle operated boats to the see the place around.

rio de janeiro parks

Rio de Janeiro has some wonderful parks and gardens where Parque Lage is one of them. Once used to be a private mansion now this place is home to many different species of plants and wildlife and also a school of fine arts work over here. Jardim Botanico is a botanical garden as well as a scientific laboratory which maintains a huge collection of plants. This garden was planted in 1800s and now one can find here plants from all over the world.


Rio de Janeiro has a popular beach culture with some amazing beaches in the world. Their beautiful white sand can amaze anybody that’s why you can always find a lot of beach goers walking, eating or just relaxing over here. There are free showers and one can also rent tents and chairs. The beaches also have bars offering food and drinks to the people. Some of the popular beaches of Rio are Ramos, Flamengo, Botafogo, Urca and Vermelha. All these are in bay beaches and are usually inappropriate for bathing. But the oceanic beaches like São Conrado and Abricó are appropriate for bathing. Abricó is a nudist beach.

rio de janeiro nightlife

Apart from the beaches and mountains of Rio de Janeiro, this city also has a very vibrant night life where you can find small and large, all kinds of clubs. These usually play the popular tracks but one can experience some out of the world Rock, E-Music and Rap too. Rio’s music has important Brazilian genres like Samba and Choro. In Rio one can also find some of the best musicians of the country and enjoy their musical talent at music shows and theaters. The New year celebrations of Rio are the largest and the most popular in whole Brazil with huge fireworks on display and free national and international concerts at the beach.

rio carnival

Rio de Janeiro has been regarded as the carnival city of the world and to not much surprise the carnival over here is still the biggest reason why a large number of tourist flock to this city every year. Held 40 days before the Easter, Rio Carnaval (Carnival in Portuguese) is a five day long wild celebration which is also the biggest carnival in the world. It happens in the hottest summer month of the Southern hemisphere and Rio which is February. The Rio Carnaval is a complete package of entertainment and culture. There is music, most of which is Samba, and people dance, sing and party their hearts out. The Rio carnival takes months of preparations but once it commences there is a carnival all over the place. The streets and the squares, the clubs and bars, all can be seen drenched in the carnival fever. A very important element of the Rio Carnaval is the Rio Carnaval Parade which is also known as the Samba Parade. For this the Samba schools create pageants and Samba nights are held to entertain the people gathered.

All in all, Rio de Janeiro is a place where you can see some of the most amazing views in the world and also you can enjoy like a total freak!

The Land of Beautifully Preserved History – Prague

The Land of Beautifully Preserved History – Prague

The capital city and the second largest city of Czech Republic, Prague is one of the most beautiful historical cities in the whole world. In the central Europe Prague is one of the largest cities and it has been the capital of historical Bohemian region for centuries. The city is known for its wonderful architecture, its theaters and a unique blend of an archaic and modern setting which makes this place quite magical and charming. The cobbled lanes, countless churches and 9th century castle give this city a beautiful archaic look. Whereas the music and energy, fine dining and cultural art events form the vibrant and modern soul of Prague.

Prague has an unpredictable weather that keeps changing throughout the year. Winters are beautiful but rare snowstorms can also hit you. The spring season is vibrant and colorful with the whole nature wakening up and filling the place with its own magic. This is usually the best time to visit the city. The summers over here are sunny and cheerful which causes a lot of tourists visiting the place in the month of May.

national museum, prague

Prague is famous for its number of museums that are home to some great collections of art works, motorcycles and other mobiles, maps and many exhibitions. Czech National Museum (Národní muzeum) is one such association of various museums which are dedicated to natural history and other subjects. Showcasing modern Czech art is a museum named Prague City Gallery whose main building is the House of the Golden Ring at the Old Town Square.

prague castle

When you are out in Prague wanting to see the beauty this city beholds then these are some must visit sights. The Prague castle has to be on number one. According to Guinness Book of World Records this castle is the largest ancient castle in the world and it offers the most beautiful views of the area below. The Palace Garden provides another stupendous sight and also takes you away from the hustle bustle of the city and let you feel its magic. The Old town is a historic center of Prague which has many historical buildings located nearby. Connecting the Old Town and the Lesser Town together is one of the most magnificent structures of Prague, called the Charles Bridge. Standing tall as a widespread religious symbol is the Infant of Prague which is a statue of Jesus Christ. Josefov, New Town, Lesser Town, Loreta, Strahov Monastery, Prague Dancing House are few other sightseeing spots worth a visit.

prague theatre

The amazing city of Prague is also quite popular for its theaters. These are unique, audacious and classical and they encourage music, dance and other innovative productions. One such amazing theatre of Prague is the Black Light Theatre. This theatre has a black backdrop, hence the name, and here many musicals and theatricals are performed which are loaded with special effects and superb actors. Or if you have a thing for classical dramas then Švandovo Theatre in Smíchov has to be a must visit. Here many international classics as well as Czech’s are played and even a language barrier doesn’t stop the tourists from visiting this place as English subtitles are projected during few performances. The Estates Theatre is another popular theatre in Prague where the Mozart himself conducted the premiere of an Opera, Don Giovanni. Even till today this opera is performed over here and it attracts many tourists from all over the world.

segway tours prague

In Prague you can find many different tours which can provide you with some recreational activity besides just admiring the beauty of the place. One can get running tours, Segway tours and even bike tours in Prague. The running tour over here can make you see most of the Prague in just 90 minutes. This lets one explore the city and also stay fit while doing so. Segway tours are another option. Segway can be rented by the tourists to explore the city and dwell in the magical mystery of Prague. Bikes can also be rented from cycling centers or cycle tour agencies. There are guided cycle tours available or one can also pick up a cycle and traverse the place on their own.

The culture of Prague incorporates opera and black light theatricals which often entertain the tourists though they are not up to the professional standards. Nevertheless you can enjoy them! Prague also holds a few festivals viz. Prague Spring, Prague Folklore Days and Prague Advent Choral meeting. Prague Spring is a classical musical festival while Prague Folklore Days is a folk dance festival.

Prague can be a shopper’s paradise as the city has got some amazing shopping malls including the largest one in the Czech Republic, OC Letňany. OC Chodov is another huge one with a hypermarket. The newest of all the malls in Prague is Paladium which is situated in the city centre. It is the most luxurious mall with a food court and few moderate as well as expensive restaurants. Other than the regular shopping from shopping malls one can also buy gifts and souvenirs from many design shops and studios located over here. De-Sign, Dox by Qubus, Hard De Core and Chatty are few of them. These sell varied designer products including custom made luxury clothes.

The Berlin Wall: An Enduring Symbol of Freedom

The Berlin Wall: An Enduring Symbol of Freedom

Irony is a wonderful thing. It greets you at the most unexpected place and restores your faith in the designs of fate. Consider for a fact that Berlin’s most famous tourist attraction is a place that does not, really, exist anymore. When it stood as the most potent symbol in the Cold War era, it not only divided a city but also the complete idea of humanity. For 28 long years it stood, silent and cruel and then one night in 1989 it was demolished, putting together not just a city but an entire definition of humanity.

4 R

Ever since its inception in 1949, the German Democratic Republic had faced a constant trickle of human resource drainage. In 10 years, nearly 3.6 million people had left for the West, leaving GDR in a precarious state. And thus in a last ditch attempt to stem the rising tide of outgoing flux, East German soldiers rolled out miles and miles of barbed wire one August night in 1961. The barbed wire was soon replaced with concrete and a sense of belonging with rootlessness. The 155 km long wall was initially called the ‘Anti-Fascist Protection Barrier’. Wet Berlin stood, a lone beacon of democracy in the middle of Socialism.  Over the decades of its existence the Wall became a symbol of ruthless oppression, complete with attack dogs, electric fencing, floodlights and trigger toting guards.  It claimed its first victim a few days after it came to exist but the most horrifying story is that of an 18 year old being shot and left to bleed to death in plain sight of the Eastern German soldiers.

berlin wall

On 17th August, 1962 Peter Fletchener met his end at the Berlin Wall. Today a memorial has been erected on the spot that he died in Zimmerstrasse. It took three decades of East Germans taking to the streets to finally tear down the Wall. The East Germans were up in arms against

the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands, SED) monopoly but the system looked as powerful as ever. And then in an yet again unexpected twist, on November 9, 1989 SED spokesperson Gunter Schabowski announced on the GDR TV that all restrictions to travel to the West would be lifted. The two Berlins came together in a mad celebration as revelers assembled to dismantle the concrete barrier with fanfare and gusto. Berlin had a party like never before.

Today only 1.5 km of the once dreaded concrete barrier stands. There is so little visual difference between the Eastern and Western parts of the city that it is impossible to ascertain where the Wall once stood if not guided by a 5.7 km long double row of paved cobblestones that stand today.

checkpoint charlie






One can avail bike tours along the original course of the Wall.  A 160 km long signposted walking trail exists around the wall’s former fortifications. It is called the Berliner Mauerweg and is equipped with 40 multilingual information centers.

A 140 meter long section of the former Wall was re-erected  at Checkpoint Charlie in 2004. In a field situated in the vicinity one thousand and sixty five crosses representing all the victims of the GDR era were put up. The temporary installation was demolished in July 2005.


War Veterans’ Cemetery

One of the aftermaths of the demolition of the Berlin Wall was the reopening of the War Veterans’ Cemetery or Invalidenfriedhof. In the GDR era there was a blanket ban on foreigners entering the area and even GDR residents required special passes to visit. Today anybody can visit the tombs that stand with their share of history. Some parts of the original wall and patrol road also exist.

East Side Gallery


The most visited and aesthetically appealing part of the remnants of the Berlin Wall today is the East Side Gallery. It is here that the erstwhile symbol of ruthless oppression has been transformed into a living monument of freedom and spirit. The East Side Gallery is a 1.3 km stretch of the former wall that has been adorned in murals by critically acclaimed painters near the centre of Berlin in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. In 1990, artists from all over the world gathered to paint the east side of the Wall in colors of freedom. 105 murals of great merit have converted this to the largest open air art gallery in the world. It symbolises hope and dreams for a better future n an unparalleled way; rising from its own ashes like a phoenix.


Notable artists whose work can be seen here include Narendra K. Jain, Kikue Miyatake, César Olhagaray, Gunther Schaffer and Bodo Sperling. One of the most famous paintings is the Fraternal Kiss by Dmitri Vrubel. It is a depiction of  Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker engaged in a passionate kiss. The mural reads, ” God help me stay alive, among this deadly love.”


However unfortunately due to lack of restoration initiatives, two thirds of these valuable works were destroyed due to vandalism, encroachment and graffiti. Non- profit initiatives in the recent years have restored some works to their original glory and yet circumstances are bleak. Some parts of the gallery are being demolished to make way for luxury apartments. Irony, as they say, is everywhere.


The Exquisite Ruins of Hampi, Karnataka

The Exquisite Ruins of Hampi, Karnataka

“A land without ruins is a land without memories; a land without memories is a land without history”. Situated on the banks of river Tungabhadra in Karnataka, the ruins of Hampi are a testimony to this statement. Within the wide expanse of these rocky structures we find ample traces of India’s rich historical, religious and mythological heritage. Hampi, tucked between a river on one side, and surrounded by hills on the other three, occupies a strategic position. This also made it a perfect choice to be the capital of the glorious Vijayanagar Empire in 14th century. The city, once a prominent centre though is reduced to ruins now. But it has still not lost its magnificence. The Ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Hampi, Ruins

Hampi has easy connectivity from Bangalore, Mumbai and Goa. Once you reach here it’s like taking a step back into a past age. For convenience the monuments and ruins can be clubbed under the categories of ‘Religious’ and ‘Royal’ depending on their past purpose.

There are innumerable places, structures and figures within these ruins, each with their own fascinating histories. Some of the more popular sites are Virupaksha temple, Vithala temple, Hampi Bazaar, Monolith Bull (Nandi), the iconic Stone Chariot, Elephant Stables, Matanga hill. But these are by no means the only places worth visiting.


Hampi is a historical and architectural landmark. Besides the enormous structures and the architectural details of the royal or military structures, the carvings and ornamentations of these ruins are also informed richly by traditional mythology. The major sites in Hampi are not restricted to a certain type; both sacred as well as secular structures can be found among these monuments. The best way to explore them is either on foot, or by using bicycles which are easily available for tourists.

Religious Structures

Virupaksha temple built in 1442 is among the oldest structures that one comes across in Hampi. The temple is dedicated to Shiva, the god of destruction according to Hindu religion. Another important temple complex is the Vithala temple, dedicated to Vishnu, the protector according to the myths. It also houses the famous stone chariot. Its outer pillars echo when tapped, which is why they are known as the “musical pillars”. These ruins are situated to the east of Hampi Bazaar, which is a wide street, lined with shops and homes and ends near the monolithic figure of Nandi. Vehicles are not allowed in this area, which is why tourists often stroll down these lanes. This also makes Hampi Bazaar a constant hub of activity.

Hampi, stone chariot

In close proximity to Hampi Bazaar is the Anjenaya Hill. There is a Hanuman temple built atop this hill and it is believed to be the birth place of Hanuman, a Hindu God who figures primarily in Indian epic Ramayana. Other sites include Krishna temple, Bhima’s Gate, further strengthening the presence of the legends from Hindu epic the Mahabharata, in addition to Ramayana.

Royal Structures

Zenana enclosure, Queen’s palace, Queen’s bath are some of the structures that stand out among the secular and royal section of the ruins. For instance the beautifully proportioned Elephant stables, as the name suggests, functioned as shelter for royal elephants.

Elephant Stables, Hampi

About 100 m from the zenana enclosure is the Tenali Rama Pavilion. Tenali Rama is a renowned personality in Indian folklore, and he was also a celebrated wit and poet of King Krishnadeva Raya’s court.

Lotus Mahal is another site worth mentioning. Its structure, resembling a half opened lotus bud, lends it its name. It was most probably employed as pleasure pavilion by queens. It is more interesting because its structure is clearly and hugely influenced by Islamic architecture, in addition to the Hindu influences.

In the city’s heydays diamonds and precious stones were sold in the main streets which surprisingly enough   was called the pan-supaari street. Archaeological Survey of India has excavated this site too within the ruins of Hampi, which are spread over more than 25 square kilometer.

Other Attractions

There are points near Virupaksha and Vithal temples where ferry rides are required. Ferries used for this purpose in Hampi are called coracle. Made of bamboo and cane their appearance resembles that of huge baskets. These ferry rides provide a unique experience in themselves.

First week of November witnesses the place hosting Hampi Utsav, a visual and cultural delight, where the monuments are lighted during dusk and dance and music form an integral part of the festival.

Hampi at night

The view from the surrounding hills in Hampi is spectacular. Paddy fields, coconut tree plantations and the ruins of Hampi are laid down as far as eyes can see. The sunset and sunrise from these points are also worth witnessing. The rock strewn landscape, massive boulders, snaking river Tungabhadra, typical plantations and the sun amid them, makes it a memorable vista.

The place is a heaven for rock climbers as well. Hemakuta hill and Matanga hill are among the most famous bouldering sites in Hampi. December is the most favored rock climbing season, when the place receives both national as well as foreign climbers.

Hampi Karnatka

On the banks of Tungabhadra, among these ruins we witness a harmonic amalgamation of different cultures. From classical Hindu myths, Muslim influences owing to the Sultanates of Deccan areas, to Jainism and its impact on the architecture of the place- Hampi and its ruins tell a rich and captivating story. The superior architecture and the brilliant craftsmanship attest to the advancement of India as far back as 14th century. Hampi and its surrounding areas today demand attention not just from pilgrims, but also tourists, history lovers, those seeking adventures, and those traveling to explore the mingling of nature and history. Hampi and its ruins form an exquisite sight, a place where history resides in every stone and at every rocky turn.

Rishikesh by the Ganges, India

Rishikesh by the Ganges, India

Located in the foothills of the Himalayas, Rishikesh, known as the ‘Valley of Saints’, is a town in the northern state of Uttarakhand. Along with the pilgrimage town of Haridwar and the state capital Dehradun, it forms the nerve-centre of the booming tourism industry in the state. In fact, the geographical proximity of these three towns plays a significant role in attracting tourists from India as well as all over the world.

Rishikesh attained international fame when the famous band Beatles arrived there in the 1960s to attend a session of Advanced Transcendental Meditation at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.  Since then, it has become something like the yoga capital of the world, and is visited by thousands of foreign tourists seeking spiritual guidance and enlightenment. There are hundreds of ashrams and yoga classes and meditation centres that have sprung up all over this little town. This has led to rapid commercialization of this once quiet region as the supporting infrastructure in the form of hotels, restaurants, clinics, photo-studios, etc. has also come up rapidly. Rishikesh is well connected by rail and road, and people find no difficulty in reaching it directly or commuting from the nearby towns of Haridwar and Dehradun, as there is a frequent bus-service between them.

Some of the most prominent landmarks of Rishikesh include the Laxman Jhoola and the Ram Jhoola. In this context, jhoola essentially refers to a suspension bridge which connects one side of the town with the other, as the holy Ganges flows serenely beneath. Cars and big automobiles are not allowed on these jhoolas, though one often shares space with other pedestrians, scooters, cycles and even cows! The jhoola offers a panoramic view of the river, the green forests and especially some of the ghats. Canoes, rafts and kayaks are a common sight! Crossing over the jhoola is akin to stepping into a different world. It is this part of town that is famous for little restaurants right on the banks of the Ganges and the ghats, serving all sorts of delicacies and at times, allowing the customers to discreetly smoke the widely popular and widely sold marijuana. Even though marijuana is illegal in India, it is still available, especially in ‘spiritual’ towns like Rishikesh, Haridwar, etc. This has led to the creation of a very mixed group of tourists, ranging from devout Hindus who worship the Holy Ganges or pray to the deities in the countless temples everywhere; the hippie crowd that stays on for months to meditate, learn yoga and indulge in smoking up; to the young students from towns and cities as distant as Delhi looking for a weekend away from their university.

The origin point of Marine Drive

The small shops in the bazaar sell all items of utility along with all sorts of souvenirs. However, owing to its religious importance, alcohol and non-vegetarian food are legally banned in this area. There is no shortage of accommodation as it ranges from hostels and dormitories to luxury hotels and camp-sites. Depending upon one’s budget, a very comfortable and economical trip can easily be planned. Apart from the jhoolas, the most prominent tourist-attractions are the giant statue of Lord Shiva on the banks of the Ganges, and the soothing and vibrant Ganga-aarti performed by the sadhus at sunset, every single day, drawing thousands of spectators to this beautiful spiritual spectacle. Owing to it natural beauty, Rishikesh is a haven for photography-enthusiasts too!

In the past decade or so, Rishikesh has also become a favourite hotspot for adventure-lovers from India and abroad. It is famous for bungee-jumping, white-water rafting, trekking, the flying fox and hiking, to name a few! At 83 meters, the bungee-jump in Rishikesh is the highest in India. The flying-fox arrangement has the distinction of being the longest one in the continent of Asia! Rishikesh is also the point of origin for a number of treks and hikes into the forests and mountains of the state of Uttarakhand, which is home to the ‘Valley of Flowers’, the Gangotri and Yamunotri glaciers (from where the rivers Ganges and Yamuna originate respectively), and the holy shrines of Badrinath, Hemakunth Sahib, Devaprayag, Gaurikund, Rudraprayag, to name a few. This is the common path tread by pilgrims and trekkers alike.

BRO Board

Another supremely popular provider of adrenaline-rush is white-water rafting, as the Ganges provides rapids rated as Class 3 and 4. A Class 5 rapid is also present, though rafting from there is strictly regulated, unlike the others which are very popular with the tourists. One of the most common routes for rafting is the Marine Drive, a stretch of 24 kilometres from the higher reaches of the valley to the town of Rishikesh. One can indulge in jumping off from cliffs upto 60 feet en route Rishikesh while rafting! Shops providing the necessary equipment as well as guides and services can easily be found.  For instance, the operator you choose for rafting will provide you a raft, helmets, life-jackets, the raft-guide and the conveyance to the origin of rafting. What makes Rishikesh’s tourism industry balloon are the nominal rates for most of such services, and the opportunity to bargain away to glory! Services are generally affordable and good.


Rishikesh has managed to retain its spiritual pull inspite of the changes the region has undergone in the past few decades. It provides you with a heady mix of spirituality and adrenaline, depending upon what you seek. And chances are, you will probably find what you seek.