Category: Travel

Ten startling facts about Machu Picchu

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Machu Pichu lies more than 7000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains in Peru. Once the seat of power of the great Incan empire, it was build around 1450AD. It was officially announced as an ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site’ in 1983; in 2007, it was listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. Here are 10 intriguing facts on the Machu Picchu in Peru:

1. “Machu Pichu”, in the Quechua Indian language means “Old Mountain” or “Old Peak”.

2. There are over 150 buildings that range from temples to houses, baths and sanctuaries in the Machu Pichu.

3. The compound houses over 100 separate flights of stairs. These individual staircases were mostly carved out of a single slab of stone.

4. Though the massive stones that were used to build the city weigh in excess of 50 pounds, it is widely believed that hundreds of men, and not wheels, transported these heavy boulders all the way up the steep mountain side.

5. The purpose behind building Machu Picchu is unknown, though the widely circulated theory is that it must have been a secret ceremonial centre or royal estate among them.

6. Historically, the Incas were great builders, and were considered the best masons in the world. The most striking feature of their building structures is the use of a technique called “Ashlar” in which stones cut are fit together without mortar; not even the sharpest knife blade can cut between the stones.

7. Machu Picchu caught public attention only in 1911 when Yale Professor Hiram Bingham re-explored the site and recorded his findings in his book, “ The Lost City of the Incas”.

8. There has been an ongoing disagreement between Yale University and Peru Government in a bid to get possession of rare artefacts collected by Bingham during the excavation of the site. Yale lays claim to the items, whilst Peru insists they were offered only on loan.

9. Once an astronomical observatory, Machu Picchu houses its sacred Intihuatana stone that accurately represents the two equinoxes  two times a year, when the sun’s rays is perpendicular and in a straight line with the stone casting no shadow.

10. Unfortunately, like most civilizations destroyed by colonial powers, the Incas were given a death blow by the Spanish conquest. Machu Picchu was almost shunned from the modern world, making it one of the most well-preserved ancient cities and an archaeological wonder!

Things to do in the Black River Gorges National Park in Mauritius

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The Black River Gorges National Park is the largest national park in Mauritius in terms of area. This delightfully charming national park is enclosed by two sides – a drier lowland and humid upland. Formed in 1994, the park caught public attention quickly with stunning gorges and exciting hiking activities. It is also the home to several exotic species of animals like wild pigs, Rusa deer and endangered species of birds such as the echo parakeet, the pink pigeon, Mauritius grey white-eye, Mauritius olive white-eye, Mauritius fody, Mauritius cuckoo-shrike and the Mauritius kestrel. It boasts of having 700 species of flora. There a multitude of activities you can catch up with including hiking in the Macchabée Trail, the Grosse Cateau Verte trail, the Black River Piton, the Savanne sud and Cascade des Galets (Cascade 500 feet)

Birdwatching is another popular activity that tourists get immediately hooked to because it allows them to enjoy what nature has to offer in their very own way.

The Black River Gorges National Park in Mauritius is located in the west region. These gorges make a strikingly lovely canon-like shape which is often compared to the likes of the Grand Canyon in the US. This said it lends a lusher and even more verdant green and refreshing look to it.

How to reach?

The Black River Gorges National Park is close to the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport. You can reach the park entrance boarding private busses plying regularly from the airport. There are taxis available outside of the airport which can drive you all the way to the outskirts of the park. For information on the Black River Gorges, there are two information centres, one separated by 8km from the Trois Bras Junction, and the other is situated on the east side, some 2km off the Grand Bassin. The best to visit the park is between January and September. The park is open from 7 AM to 4 PM for public, and there is no entry fee to the Black River Gorges National Park.

All about the famous French War Memorial in Pondicherry

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Goubert Avenue, the 1.5km seafront which runs along the beach, often dubbed the ‘Pride’ of Pondicherry, houses the famous French War Memorial, a must-visit place while you are in the erstwhile French colony of Pondicherry. The French War Memorial is built in the living memory of those valiant soldiers who sacrificed their lives for their country in the World War I (1916-1919). Located closely to the Gandhi statue, the French War Memorial is surrounded by eight pillars.

Every year on the 14th of July, the war memorial is brightly illuminated to commemorate the first French victory on Bastille Day in 1789. People from Pondicherry and other areas gather at the war memorial to pay homage to the soldiers in the line of duty.

Erected in 1937 and opened to public view on April 3, 1938, by the then Governor Crocicchia, the war memorial comprises a bronze bas-relief that represents the arrival of the Governor-General of French India Dupleix in Pondy in 1742. The statue of a soldier resting on a rifle that stands at the centre of four stark tall white columns— two on both sides is very much “life-like”, carrying French inscription ‘Aux combatants des Indes Francaises morts pour la Patrie, 1914 – 1918” over him.

The monument itself makes a fantastic sight, but the large sculptural metal plaque on its rear face can only be witnessed when the enclosing area is opened, as during the ceremony seen above. The monument is just a stone’s throw away from the beach, and you can take a good view from a fair distance. The magnificence and importance of the war memorial have caught the attention of several filmmakers. The landmark features in several scenes of the Bollywood comedy film ‘One Two Three’ (2008).

Don’t think the war memorial is built on a sprawling landscape, unlike most war memorials in other parts of the world – it is pretty much small in area, yet an intriguing tourist destination. Visitors are usually restricted from walking into the grounds of the war memorial.

You can take a Gorimedu bound bus, auto-rickshaw or taxi either from the Bus Stand or the Railway station, and alight at the Government Hospital (GH). This touching war memorial is about 500metres from the Bus stand.

Interesting facts about the Padmanabhapuram Palace in Kanyakumari

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The moment you think of Kanyakumari, popular tourist destinations such as Vivekananda Rock Memorial, the exotic Kanyakumari Beach, Thiruvalluvar Statue and Gandhi Memorial would pop up on your mind in a flash. Interestingly, Kanyakumari has a good bit of history: that, if one wishes to understand should visit the Padmanabhapuram Palace, once the hotbed of the erstwhile rulers of Travancore. Situated in Padmanabhapuram of Kanyakumari District, formerly the capital city of the Kingdom of Travancore, separated by 64kms from Thiruvananthapuram and 20 km from Nagercoil, the Padmanabhapuram Palace was built in 1601 AD by a ruler called Iravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal, who bestowed the entire stately structure to his family deity.

The palace was later renovated in 1750. Once the capital of Travancore was shifted, the palace was stripped of its original charm and recognition. Built on a sprawling landscape, the palace, which houses a palatial complex, upholds the traditional culture and values of Kerala architecture.

One of the most beautiful historical monuments out of the many palaces belonging to the royal family, the Padmanabhapuram Palace is a quaint palace marked by serenity and simplicity. This palace, now a major tourist attraction, has several divisions: the Mantrasala, or the King’s Council Chamber, where the king used to hold official and personal consultations and meetings with his ministers. Decorated with ritzy mica windows and lavish interiors, the Mantrasala is a classic example of the Kerala style of architecture.

The Thai Kottaram, or the Queen Mother’s palace, was built around the mid of 16th century. This structure is supported by four massive pillars. In addition to these divisions, you can find a Central building, Nataksala (or Hall of Performance), Clock Tower, Thekee Kottaram (or Southern Palace) and a Big Hall. The palace also possesses several murals belonging to the 17th and 18th centuries.

Interestingly, tourists can get to see royal chairs made of Chinese carvings, teak carved ceilings, ancient rosewood, musical bow in mahogany and many more. Step into the King’s bedroom, and you won’t be disappointed by the sight of mural paintings, pictures of Lord Krishna, medicinal bed and a magnificent hall. The royal splendour of Travancore is sure to tickle your fancy. The palace, though located in Kanyakumari, comes under the administration of the Kerala Government. Nagercoil (Tamilnadu), which is about 16 km from Kanyakumari, is the nearest railway station. The nearest airport is the Trivandrum International Airport.

All about the famous Kodaikanal Lake

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People who have travelled to Kodaikanal, one of the most popular hill stations of South India, next only to Ooty (Nilgiris) in terms of natural charm and beauty, would have probably visited the famous Kodaikanal Lake, located in the heart of the Kodaikanal city. The lake is spread over a total area of 60 acres; Kodaikanal comes from two Tamil words ‘Kodai’ meaning forest and ‘Kanal’ meaning gift. Kodaikanal, as its name tells us, is a gift of the forest.

Enveloped by the north-western Palani Hills, the Kodaikanal Lake plays host to a number of adventure sports like cycling, horse riding and boating. In case you plan to hit this place, there are quite a number of resorts around the lake for you to stay if you stop by. Here are some of the must-know facts about Kodaikanal Lake if you think it’s the best hill station for your next holiday:

The Kodaikanal is a not a natural lake, it is a manmade water body first excavated by Sir Vere Henry Levinge, the collector of Madurai, in 1863, and this means the lake is a century and a half old! He translated his vision of turning this place into a popular tourist spot at his own expense!

The lake, originally, was three streams of water, and it was Sir Vere Henry Levinge again who transformed the marshy land by building bunds across the three water streams. A reservoir, shaped in the form of a four-point star, was constructed adding to the beauty of the lake. The lake was filled with aquatic life.

The first boat that floated on the lake was bought by Sir Vere Henry Levinge from Thoothukudi (Tuticorin), a port city in the state of TamilNadu, which was famous for boat building including mechanised fishing boats.

The lake, today, is a point of recreational use. However, there was a time when people used to swim for pleasure in the see-through waters of the lake. Later, punts, or flat-bottom boats, were used for recreational boating. Later, a boathouse and boat club was set up near the lake to give a fillip to tourism. Several hill station resorts mushroomed as tourism started to boom.

The recommended time to visit the hill station is between October and December, as the hills receive monsoon during the end of the year. Lose yourself at the sight of the lush green slopes, gushing waterfalls, picturesque estates, murmuring streams and exotic flora with the calm Kodaikanal Lake shining as a backdrop.

A peep into the “The City of a Thousand Temples” – Kanchipuram

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The city of Kanchi, more popularly Kanchipuram (or Kancheepuram) is the ‘cradle of Tamil Dravidian tradition and culture’. Known in the world over for its delicate and intricate weaving style, the Conjeevaram or Kanjeevarum Sarees are woven from the purest mulberry silk. Several dynasties that ruled the region such as the Pallavas left an indelible mark in the construction of ‘world-famous’ temples of sound structure and rich architecture. Let us take a quick stroll along the city…

9 Things to do in Jekyll Island, Georgia

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Jekyll Island is probably the most popular and well-known among all of the islands off the coast of Georgia. It has lots to see and do whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, family vacation, or a weekend of exploration.

Here are some of the top things to do when you visit Jekyll Island, Georgia.

Here are some of the top things to do when you visit Jekyll Island, Georgia.