Daily Archives: 04.03.2016

Hampi – Of Giant Boulders and Ancient Temples



Hampi – Of Giant Boulders and Ancient Temples

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Tucked away in the northernmost corner of the state of Karnataka in India, Hampi is a small village with a great treasure and a charm that is unlike anything anywhere else. The small village of Hampi near the town of Hospet in Karnataka is special due to it being the site of the ancient capital city of Vijayanagar belonging to the Great Vijayanagar Empire around the 14th and 15th century. Once a thriving, golden capital of one of southern India’s greatest empires; this small village surrounded by giant boulders, thick forest and nurtured by the mighty waters of the Tungabhadra has today become an open-air exhibition of some of the finest architectural marvels of the medieval era in Indian history. The creations of the Kings of the Vijayanagar Empire who ruled the lands here for two centuries are a great example of India’s culture and heritage.

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What is Hampi today used to be the capital city of the Vijayanagar Empire called Vijayanagar and was one of the greatest cities in Southern India and a representative of it might. The Vijayanagar Empire rose out of the need for the southern Indian Kingdom to protect their lands against the barrage of Muslim invaders from the northern part of the country. The founders of the empire were Harihara I and Bukka Raya who are believed to have belonged to the Sangam Dynasty and the erstwhile Hoysala Empire which later merged with the Vijayanagar Empire to form a solid counter to the Muslim invaders. The Vijayanagar Empire soon became a very powerful player in the region’s economy, politics and trade soon after occupying Goa the empire established trading relations with European civilizations which brought new methods of building, irrigation and trading prospered.

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The rulers of the Tungabhadra River and most of southern for over two centuries, the Vijayanagara Empire that started from around the Deccan Plateau started to cover almost the entire Indian peninsula by the turn of the 16th century. During this rein its capital at Hampi became more and more beautiful, elaborate and fortified representing the pride of the empire and a symbol of the Vijayanagar style of architecture. By the middle of the 16th century, the empire had a stronghold on the regions wealth and had done a lot to promote art, culture and heritage of the Karnatic culture which also the development of the Carnatic house of music in Indian Classical music. The empire went into a continous decline after the loss in the Battle of 1565 in which the Deccan Sultanates were finally able to defeat the Vijayanagar Empire.

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The legacy of the Vijayanagar Rulers, Hampi is truly a gift from them to the world which showcases the inherent creativity, intellect and love of humans for changing their surroundings into sights of true marvel. The five hundred odd monuments which are in themselves small pieces of history of one of the greatest period in southern history dot the mighty landscape of Hampi attracting thousands every year to tell them the story of the glorious past that they once belonged to. Each street and corner of Hampi is a mystery which waits for some explorer to unravel it, if traveled well Hampi is a delight for any lover of adventure, heritage and culture. Hampi is in many ways an open air museum spread in an area of 26 sq. km near the Tungabhadara River and the small town of Hospet. Hospet is the gateway to this erstwhile capital of the Vijayanagar Empire; it is the main entrance to Hampi as it connects it to various parts of the country due to the presence of a well-maintained Railway Junction and a Bus terminal.

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To get into the this UNESCO World Heritage Site you can take Indian Railways trains from Hubli, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Goa which will drop you at Hospet from where you can take a cab, or a bus to Hampi. If traveling by plane the nearest airport will be at Hubli some 150 km from Hampi from where you can take a cab or catch a train till Hospet. Once in Hampi, you will be awestruck by the site of this marvelous place, a whole ancient city ruins located in the middle of thousands of big rock boulders with marvelous ruins of temples, palaces, courthouses, markets and many more. One can do so much in this quaint and rustic place from exploring the wilderness nearby to visiting the ancient ruins, from cycling around the town through rock boulders to bouldering in the thousands of boulders around the ruins the list goes on. Getting around the city should not be a problem as Hampi is not a big place one can easily travel and explore the city through rented bicycles, on a pre-booked ca or a hired rickshaw. The must visit attractions are the Hampi Bazaar, the Monolith Bull, the Virupaksha Temple, Hemakuta Hill Temple, Big Shivaling, Vithala Temple, Royal Enclosures, the Queen’s Bath and many more temples that dot the entire area. A must try when in Hampi is trekking and bouldering both are adrenaline pumping activities, trekking to nearby hills will provide a stark and beautiful view of the whole ruins.

Tianzi Mountain Reserve, China



Tianzi Mountain Reserve, China

It is said that photos cannot capture these majestic structures and the view it gives to human eye, The Tianzi Mountain and the ranges. This mesmerizing natural wonder is sure to keep you dazed for a while. These mountains will surely remind you of the “Avatar” mountain. This mountain is a part of the Wulingyuan District in Zhangjiajie, China. This place is known for its scenic beauty and attract a huge number of Chinese tourists. Lately, it has also been a top spot for tourists from the world over.

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This place is dated back to over 100,000 years and is believed to have been one of the most forward sites which was on par with other areas like Beijing, Xi’an. It is also believed that, about 10,000 years ago people who lived in this region which is presently known as Zhangjiajie were advance and used fire to bake pottery. This technique was know to these people much before it came to light of the other world. This place has many tales and stories attached to it. The Tianzi mountain is named after a local farmer, Xiang Dakun who led a fruitful revolt and called himself Tianzi ( Son of Heaven ). The mountain ranges are known as Tianzishan. This place is also famous for its Huanglongdong and Longwangdong caves which have rock paintings that date back to 10000 years.

one of the view points    tianzi oeak
This place has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the early 90′s. It has some spectacular views that attract lots of people. There are four special attractions here. The Sea of Clouds, the Radiance of the Moonlight, Rays of Sunshine and the Snow in winter. Legends say that, these magnificent peaks are symbols of soldiers that are ready to be reviewed. It is also believed that while Xiang Dakun was fighting, he jumped off a cliff and a girl who was in love with him, laid flowers all along and it became a statue of stone.
The tianzi mountain range is spread over an area of 16500 acres and the highest of the peaks in this range is about 1200 meters about the sea level. The numerous peaks in this place provide a fingers-like view from the highest peak. The highest peak provide a enchanting view of all the other peaks in the area.

Zhangjiajie
This place has a mean temperature of about 12 degrees centigrade. Annually experiences rainfall of about 180 centimeters. The best time to visit this beautiful place are April, May, September and October. The places is always packed with tourists. You can also find many small shops and stores where you can get yourselves souvenirs and do some shopping.
The transport is a variety here. The Cable car is available that provides some excellent views of the place. There also is an elevator that climbs up to 300 meters in a couple of minutes which takes you to the top must faster than the cable car. You can also hike or climb the entire distance to experience the beauty to the inch. The Heaven Bridge is an attraction that also provide spectacular views. Visiting this place in the appropriate time of the year is very essential. The dense fog that covers the place would deprive you of the breath taking views this place has to offer.
This marvelous landscape is also home to the very famous Chinese Salamander and also houses many endangered species of flora and fauna. The main attractions in this place are Sheng Tang Wan Gulf, Imperial Brush Peak, Fairy Offering Flowers, Helong Park and Fields in the Air.
Sheng Tang Wan Gulf

the lake

This place is one of the most mystic places in the world. Legend says that Kin Xian died there. The bottom of this gorge is covered with mist all the time. The only was to get to the bottom of this gorge is using a 9 step terrifying natural ladder. Moreover, this allows only only foot at a time. At the bottom you’d find a dark pool. The feeling when you get down there is the inexpressible. You can hear Horses neighing, drums and human voices at the bottom. this should be a definite place to see when you go to Tianzi Mountain nature park

 

One dangerous leap!

marshal rock

This is one exciting place, it is separated by a meter and it gives you an adrenaline rush. How about jumping to the other side?

The Bridge of Immortals

the bridge

This is a beautiful natural bridge that is seen at the Monkey gate. This natural masterpiece is so elegant that also has steps that are made out of natural stones. Sends a chill down your spine while you’re here. This bridge is decorated with red pines and is made of sandstone.

Heavenly Warrior’s Gathering

tianzi in winter

The view which show the numerous peaks rising through the mist resemble soldiers standing and listening to an order given by their general. This is one of the most common photographer’s spot that captures the entire landscape, if not completely, at least partly.

Tianmen Mountain

tianmen mountain

This place is beautiful, terrifying and will scare you. The glass path that is built perpendicularly to this mountain is simply amazing, Its a place which is one place you should definitely visit when you are here. This mountain, shows the beauty of China and the extent of its technological advancements.

The Imperial Brush Peak

imperial brush peak

This peak is located in the west of the Tianzi reserve. When looked at from a vantage point, it looks like an inverted brush and all the peaks to the left of it look like a finished painting. This peak is believed to be King’s brush.

Tianzi Peak

tianzi mountain

This place is the highest in the region. The 1200 meter mountain remains the best view point in all of the region. This is a place which should definitely be visited.

Tropical Heart of Australia, Cairns



Tropical Heart of Australia, Cairns

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Cairns is the jewel in Australia’s tropical crown and is the tropical heart of Australia. Cairns is the perfect gateway to one of the famous world heritage Great Barrier Reef and to the rainforests, Kuranda village.

Cairns is the capital city of far north Queensland, Australia. It’s a favorite destination for tourists for the rare mixture of ecological environment and colorful coastal character. To the north of cairns is located wet tropical rainforest and world heritage national park. To the south lies rugged ranges and numerous waterfalls and lakes. To the east lies the worlds most famous, beautiful and colorful reef, The Great Barrier Reef and tropical islands and to the west lies the mountainous rainforest and the plains of the Atherton tablelands.

great barrier reef

Bordered by the great barrier reef, the mountains of the great dividing range and a number of nearby attractions, there is no shortage of things to do in cairns. When in cairns, a visit to the great barrier reef is the most popular thing to do. It’s the place of breathtaking vast beauty and one of the seven wonders of the natural world. Great barrier reef is a precious gift from nature to Australia. Its more special and a romantic gateway for the reef is heart shaped. It is the largest coral reef system in the world. It has a delicate reef ecosystem that evolved over hundreds of thousands of years and gave life to more than 6,6000 species and plants and beasts. Its still home to endangered species including the endangered green loggerhead turtle and is breeding site for humpback whales. There are many aqua adventures to explore the reef and the experience to remember for the rest of your life. If you know swimming, snorkel and scuba diving is the easiest and most popular wayto have eye to eye contact with the marine creatures and to feel one amongst them. Once you are underwater it gives u the divine feeling of peace and so much away from the stressful world outside. So even for the non-swimmers to have such divine experience sea walker is the perfect and best way out to enjoy the colorful coral reef and touch the depth. Scuba doo is same as sea walking but with a different concept. Glass bottom boat gets you  to enjoy the coral without getting wet. The marine experts who drive them will whisk you over shallow reefs, point out the different corals, look for turtules and other species and things they can find.

heart shaped great barrier reef

 

The other ways to enjoy the beautiful heart shaped reef are submarines, helicopters, seaplanes, etc. There are many hotels, resorts etc along the coast having an easy access to great barrier reef.

kuranda rainforest

The other things for which cairns is famous is the rainforests and the kuranda rainforest village for its  many tourist attractions, the picturesque mountain retreat of kuranada village is just 25km northwest of cairns in far north queensland, Australia and is surrounded by world heritage rainforest. Kuranda is a little township in the rainforest, situated where both skyrail and kuranda scenic journeys terminate. Its famous for its arts and crafts and indigenous artefacts and the excellent attractions of the butterfly sanctuary, koala gardens, birdworld and the aviary. Historic buildings from the past now house a variety of upmarket restaurants, cafes and bars. It is still laid back, but with a style and sophistication sets it apart from other cairns venues and attractions. Set on 100acres of world heritage rain forest, this unique and award winning eco-friendly tourist attraction hosts many parks, sanctuaries and zoos such as army duck rainforest tour, pamagiri aboriginal experience, koala and wildlife park, Australian butterfly sanctuary etc. Kuranda skyrail rainforest cableway is a unique rainforest experience taking you on an unforgettable journey. It’s the worlds only rainforest cableway, traversing the barron gorge national park, offering super and mindblowing views of the coral sea and worlds heritage rainforest from a ‘birds eye view’. To get the most from your kuranda experience, travelling one-way on skyrail forest  cableway and one-way on the kuranda scenic rail is a must.

kuranda

Cairns also provides a chance to experience hot air balloon. Cairns is the most popular place in Australia for hot air balloon rides. Cairns specially chosen location at mareeba, provides ideal weather and climate conditions for this gentle activity and this beautiful region offers unrivalled panoramic views of unique Australia.

hot air ballooning, mareeba cairns

Cairns city has a nightlife that caters to everyone, from partying single travelers to families seeking a peaceful retreat. Nightclubs, casino, dinner cruises, dinner shows, waterfront dining overlooking  the large boats in the cairns marina is just a perfect thing to do while on a trip.

Apart from the tourist attractions, cairns is famous for its agricultural activities. Sugar cane is the major export crop for the cairns region with the dairy industry growing at an equally fast pace on the Atherton tableland.

Cairns has an international and domestic airport that is located a 10 minute drive from the city. And by city transport, taxis or private vehicles, all the attractions are easy to reach. Cairns is accessable by all means and modes of transport.

Cairns is thus a most tourist friendly spot for its tropical attractions and colorful coral reef and all other adventures and experiences.

The Royal Serenity: Lake Pichola



The Royal Serenity: Lake Pichola

lake palace udaipur

” If the Venetian owned the Pichola lake, he might say with justice,  see it and die.”  – Rudyard Kipling

Seen through the eyesight of the kings of mewar, lake was specially expanded to complete the perfect scenic view of the midst of tree lined hills and grandiose palaces. Lake Pichola is the heart of Udaipur city in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It is named after the nearby village picholi.

Lake Pichola is what makes Udaipur and its palaces more royal and more special. It enlights the beauty of Aravilli ranges. Lake pichola is an enticing sight and surrounded with royal palaces and temples, which compliments the incredible view. Lake pichola has surely been a proud of the King Maharana Udai Singh and he would have been captivated by the charm of this pristine lake.

Lake was built by Pichhu Banjara in 1362, during the ruling period of Maharana  Lakkha. Lake pichola comprises several islands, most renowned Lake palace and Jag mandir are located on an islands of the lake. Udaipur’s most renowned City  palace and other palaces are located on the shores of lake pichola. It’s the only lake in India having beautiful picturesque background with a royal touch and feel. To feel the real beauty and royalness of the lake , take a sunset boat cruise and see the lake light up. Lose yourself in the beauty of glassy lake, embracing the Aravilli hills, musical chirps of the birds of different types, cool breeze and crystal shine reflection of the sun. Apart from the nature adding beauty to the lake, there are grandiose palaces to admire and beautiful temples surrounding the lake. Most of the royal palaces have turned into royal luxury palace hotels. The lake palace formerly known as Jag niwas is now known as Taj lake palace hotel and has been voted as the most romantic hotel in India and in the world. Jag mandir too have few luxury rooms is situated on an island in the south of the lake pichola, is a true wonder of Udaipur , embracing the beauty of lake pichola. The 17th century  Jagmandir island palace was once a place of refuge to the late Mughal emperor Shahjahan . It is said that the idea of Taj Mahal’s dome came from the Jag mandir’s  dome. Jag mandir is also known as lake garden palace. The royal family used the palace as a summer resort and pleasure palace for holding parties.

jag mandir, lake pichola 

view of lake pichola from jagmandir

The view of lake pichola , lake palaces and other haveli’s is just a perfect royal treat for eyes.

Every part of lake pichola tells a story. Lake pichola has a heartly  connection with the Mewar empire, Rajputs and Rani padmini. Mohan mandir, arsi villas too have its own connection with the history and culture of  this lake. On the shores are the Oberoi Udaivilla’s , the Leela palace kempinski, two heritage hotels Shiv niwas and Fateh prakash and the City palace museum.

Most of the old palaces that still retain their aura and magnificence have been converted into luxurious five star hotels, thereby allowing travelers to experience  at least for few days the lifestyle of royalty. The owners of most of these palace hotels were kings, ministers, rich merchants and nobles. Their properties were bought over by the government and post independence , all the royal titles were eliminated and these palaces were turned into heritage hotels. The buildings of Jag niwas were starting to fall down and was turned into a hotel because it seems the only viable way that it could be maintained and it helped in the restoration of the original property and bringing it to such high royal standards again. Such luxury hotels are the Oberoi Udayvillas, the Leela palace, Taj lake palace  and many more.

lake pichola

There are many rooftops, garden restaurants and coffee shops all over  lake pichola. So once in Udaipur , one should never miss out on the royal  opportunity to visit the lake pichola, a ride on a sunset boat cruise and a lavish dinner in any of the rooftop restaurants to enjoy the beauty of serenity in lake pichola. Indulging in this royal treat will distress your soul and mind and you will feel connected to the history , culture  and origin of India. There are many facilities available for spa and massages on the cruise to rejuvenate yourself while on a trip tp lake pichola. Only the luxury hotels provide you with such facilities on the cruise. rooftop restaurants, lake pichola boat tide lake pichola

Now-a-days beauty of this lake and royal palaces is attracting people for their wedding  and honeymoon destinations. Lots and lots of movies are shooted here to capture the royalness and  beauty of the place with so much of historic  and cultural values of ancient India .

The lake pichola is easily accessable by roads from the Udaipur city through local buses, tangas, auto rickshaws , taxis and private vehicles. Udaipur city is well connected through road networks, trains and airways. Thus everypart of lake pichola invites you for the royal treat, aptly said in rajashtan’s folk song “Padharo Mhaare Desh”- welcome to my land.

Once if you see the serene beauty of this pristine lake, you would definitely fall in love with its royalty it give you!

Tulip fields, Lisse Netherlands



Tulip fields, Lisse Netherlands

orange tulipImagination of a world full of colors and the blooming beauty of tulips can be much more mesmerizing than reality can actually hypnotize you with the hue of the tulips of Netherlands in the land of Lisse. Lisse is a town in the western part of Netherlands in the province of South Holland, Amsterdam. A mind-blowing display of colors is witnessed in the renowned place called Netherlands which is popularly known as the Land of tulips. There is no actual best time in the year to visit the flower fields than spring because this is the time when the tulip bulbs are in their full bloom period and it is a very pleasing sight to be viewed.

tulip in keukenhofNetherlands which is commonly known as Holland is the home for tulip plantation and is known in the entire world for the same. It has been the largest exporter of flowers for many years. Tulips has its roots from Asia and Mediterranean until it was introduces in Holland by Charles de L’Ecluse also known as Carolus Clusius a famous biologist in the 17th century. This flower is being grown in here since almost 400 years. The plantations became popular during late 1636 to 1637 February and created a Tulip Mania during the Golden Era of Dutch. The prices of the tulip flowers was much high and it turned out to be a status symbol for those who were in a position to afford the flower in the Dutch period.

tulipThe weather in Holland is very much suitable to grow tulips with the cool springs. There are enormous types of tulips available that the Dutch horticultural society has grouped them into several categories with differentiating the species in the groups. This is the best tulip season that starts from mid of March till the end of May.

keukenhof-gardensNetherlands has been proven as an extravagant bloom from the moment the first tulip was planted into the Dutch soil. It has been like thrall to flowers and inventing a whole new horticultural industry which inwardly turn the lowland fields into a land of colorful blooming sheet of blanket. The flowers bloom and reach the climax in April and May when Holland offers Europe’s quintessential spring drive at this period of the year. Western Holland is termed as the prime location in case of Tulips, Hyacinths, narcissi, flowering shrubs, Daffodils and ancient age old trees covered in blossom. Other attractions in here are the indoor and outdoor exhibitions which are the flower parades, seven theme gardens, a corn mill, a sculpture trail and a special route for children especially.

AmsterdamKeukenhofSignAmsterdam’s garden has a lot to itself to showcase in terms of flower exhibition where hundreds and thousands of glamorous indoor as well as outdoor gardens create a majestic colorful atmosphere. This garden is located on the outskirts of Lisse between The Hague Den Haag and Amsterdam in Stationsweg 166a, 2161 AM Lisse, Netherlands. This garden opens only during spring when the tulips are flowering and to add to this beauty there is a flower parade called the Bollenstreek which is held through the main streets of Lisse. In August as well the festival named Castlefest is held in the gardens of Castle Keukenhof.

gardensThe Keukenhof gardens are open from March 20th till May 18th daily from 8.a.m. to 7.30.p.m. but the ticket window closes down at 6.p.m. sharp. The cost of each ticket in here is 15 euros for adults and 7.50 euros for children in the age group of 4 to 11 years. Whereas admission and parking tickets can also be purchased online.

In order to reach this garden from the Hague have to take A44 towards Amsterdam then exit at Sassenheim and take N208 towards Lisse and again then from Amsterdam take A4 towards The Hague and exit at N207 towards Lisse and the signs will direct to Keukenhof. Another route is by bus 197 which leaves from Amsterdam from Leidseplien Museumplien to Schiphol airport and there are direct buses to Keukenhof from Schiphol Airport which is bus 858 and even from Leiden central station there is a bus 854 to Keukenhof.

When arrived at Keukenhof, five hour tour id systematically perfect for the visitors who are awaiting to see the amazing colorful spectacle and that includes three hours of free time available to explore independently where a stroll down the beauty glazed paths of Tulips, Narcissi’s, Hyacinth’s, Daffodils and Bluebells. There are dotted lovely greenhouses, brooks and shady ponds. There are various restaurants and snacks stands available at the ground level and the prices are not cheap but not even unreasonable. The visitors are allowed to bring in their own snacks and lunch boxes which can be ate on the benches and tables spread throughout the entire garden.

Keukenhof-tulips-garden

Inside Keukenhof gardens, visitors are allowed to bring alone their dogs on the grounds but they are not allowed inside the flower pavilions and restaurants. Rented bikes are available in order to have a quick tour through the bulb fields. The tour inside the garden is a must into the check list of the tourists and the visitors especially the ones who are visiting during the spring season because the tour to Keukenhof gardens cannot me missed. As great picnic experience can be conducted with the entire family in this garden and a trip to be remembered by all.