Posted by: Rasma R | September 25, 2016

Kaohsiung, Taiwan

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In our armchair travels we just finished touring some cities in Pakistan. So I imagined myself as a pinpoint on a map standing at the border of Pakistan wondering where to go next. So I decided to hop on over to Taiwan which is a small island nation 180km east of China and is officially known as the Republic of China or ROC.

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The first city we’ll be touring is Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan. It is home to many interesting temples, impressive skyscrapers and lots of greenery in parks for relaxation. Kaohsiung is Taiwan’s largest port, its second-largest city and the center of the country’s heavy and petrochemical industries. Visitors enjoy the wide streets, waterside parks and airy cafes. There are even two swimming beaches within the city.

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To the west of Kaohsiung City you’ll find Sizih Bay/Sizihwan Beach. Its location is between Wanshou Shan and Chichin Island. This is a sandy beach with lovely coral formations on the coastlines. It offers fantastic views of nature.

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The famous Sun Yat-sen (Chungshan) University was built here in 1980. It was the first university in Taiwan with awesome ocean views. Some of the other interesting places you can see here are the Coastal Garden, President Chiang’s Memorial Hall and the historical museum.

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Sizihwan Beach is famous for its swimming beach. In the summer you can sunbathe or participate in volleyball games. It is well-known for its shimmering blue water, awesome sunset and natural coral reefs. Picture a most lovely setting with coconut trees waving in the ocean breeze and the white sand beneath your feet. The sunset here has been acknowledged as one of the eight famous scenes in Kaohsiung.

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The Old British Consulate is just five minutes from Sizihwan Beach, sitting atop of a hill overlooking the harbor. This is an impressive red-brick building which was once the colonial mansion for the British Consul. Inside you can find small exhibitions and you can sit on the open terrace and enjoy a drink and a meal. It was built in 1865 70m above the mouth of Kaohsiung Harbor. It is a great place from which to watch giant container ships sail through the tiny mouth of the harbor. Visitors also like taking a look at a tiny temple found to the left of the larger temple beside the consulate. This is the only shrine in Taiwan to deify 17th century Dutch naval commanders.

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Museum of History is housed in a former city government building. Here visitors walk upon blonde-wood floors and along marble hallways. There are photographic displays, a semi-permanent 2-28 memorial and other exhibits that change quarterly. This building was one of the important historical sites of the 2-28 incident and it’s said that the first gunshot in Kaohsiung was fired here in March of 1947.

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Don’t pass by the chance to take a ferry to Cijin Island. This is a lovely island that is known for the quality of its sea products and even has a road called Seafood Street. Here you can enjoy taking strolls, bike or swim. You’ll find a wonderful lighthouse which offers fantastic views.

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See the Cijin Tianhou Temple where the sea goddess Matsu has been worshipped for more than 300 years. This is Taiwan’s first temple to Matsu and is also Kaohsiung’s oldest temple. From the architectural side it is a southern-style temple with two halls, five doors and two guard rooms. The temple’s roof is a swallow-tail ridge decorated with two dragons. Inside are many important artifacts and the temple is the city’s local religious center.

Cijin Island acts as a buffer to the harbor and extends down the city coastline, connected to Kaohsiung at its southern tip by a tunnel. Visitors and locals enjoy the trip here to see the lovely temple, the light house, partake of the delicious seafood, enjoy the beach and the picturesque coastal park with seven wind turbines.

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Cijin Wind Turbine Park has seven 3-blade wind turbines that generate enough power to provide the park with four hours of illumination during the nighttime. The park also has coastal plants, a  lawn, a viewing platform and a performance square.

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You just have to love a city that is divided by The Love River. The banks of the river are lined with open-air cafes and wonderful little parks. The river begins at Bagualiao in Kaohsiung City’s Renwu Dirstrict. The banks are connected by the Jianguo, Cisian and Jhongiheng Bridges. Originally the river was called The Kaohsiung River but in 1948 when the Love River Boat Company opened up near the Jhongiheng Bridge it was renamed the Love River. The bridges have been recently renovated and now give off rainbows of lights after dark.

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On the east bank you’ll find the amazing Soaring Dragon Fish Statue, created for the 2001 Kaohsiung Lantern Festival. The dragonhead and fish body is a symbol of Kaohsiung. The statue is 25m tall, weighs 30 tons and built of stainless steel. During festivals flickering lights illuminate the dragon’s body and the dragon breathes smoke.
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Yuanheng Temple is an impressive Buddhist Monastery perched upon a ridge, at the southern edge of Shoushan Hill. In front you will find three giant Buddhas.

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To go hiking in the great outdoors head for Monkey Mountain which got its nickname because of the large Macaque monkey population. The monkeys are safe to be around but are getting more and more inquisitive. Take note of the signs not to feed them other wise they’ll attempt to sneak food away from you. The best times to see them are in the mornings or late afternoons.

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Snake lovers will enjoy these mountains as there are plenty of snakes slithering about. You might not see them during the day while hiking but if you go night hiking you will definitely see the bright green, red-eyed bamboo snake. Down around rivers and lake areas you’ll find the Taiwan cobra.

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An impressive example of classic Chinese architecture is The Martyr’s Shrine. It was built in a scenic location high above the city on the southern slope of Shoushan. There are lots of enjoyable hiking trails.

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For some great views, fine strolling and people watching head for the Kaohsiung Harbor. You can see ships loading and unloading containers, do some cycling and have a drink by the water side. There is plenty of action at the Gushan Ferry Pier on weekends.

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The Fine Arts Museum  is located in the middle of a quiet park. The museum displays both local and foreign artwork. There is a four-floor high sculpture room with a skylight. Artists from the south and indigenous artists are frequently featured.

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Lotus Pond is a scenic pond in the north of the city and is a popular destination for both visitors and locals. There are many temples along the shoreline.

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If you start from the southern end of the pond and head clockwise around the lake first you’ll encounter sections of the Old Wall of Fengshan built in 1826. The north gate which is still intact runs along Shengli Rd.

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Out onto the pond extend the Dragon & Tiger Pagodas, built in the 1960s as an extension of the Ciji Temple opposite. If you enter the dragon and exit the tiger you’ll have good luck.

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Next you come to the Spring & Autumn Pavilions. These are dedicated to Guandi, the god of war and feature Guanyin riding a dragon.

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Across the road is the Temple of Enlightenment, the largest temple in the area. It’s guarded by two giant temple lions hugging giant stone balls.

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The City God Temple has traditional woodcarvings fill with symbolism like the fish representing Yin and Yang and the crabs representing official promotion. The roof has great examples of dragons and phoenixes in jiannian (mosaic-like temple decoration).

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At the back of the pond follow along the pier to the walkway and onto the imposing 24m statue of Xuantian Shang-di, the Supreme Emperor of the Dark Heaven and Guardian of the north.

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The final temple is the Confucius Temple on the lake’s northern end. It was completed in 1976 and is the largest Confucius temple in Taiwan.
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For a flavor of all kinds of artwork go to Pier-2 Art District. This is an area consisting of 25 warehouses from the 1970s that have been turned into galleries, boutiques and places of entertainment. There are three groups of warehouses along two boulevards by the port. The first group features designer workshops, boutiques selling local and imported lifestyle products, a vintage shop, Ham Gallery and trendy cafes. On weekend afternoons you’ll find a flea market here.

In the second group are former bicycle warehouses which now house children’s theaters, game and ice cream parlors, Eslite bookstore and a stationery store. The third group has performance venues like in Our Time, restaurants and beautiful lawns full of huge installation works made with materials from Kaohsiung’s industrial past. Disused rail tracks here have been covered with flowers.

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The Shoushan Park in the Gushan District has a zoo with dozens of animals from all over the world among them camels, antelopes, macaques and ostriches. The highlight here is the amazing Formosan Black Bear and the aviary where you can see birds at eye level. It is the largest public zoo in southern Taiwan and was established in 1978. Once the area was transformed into a campus for Sun Yat-Sen University the new zoo was built on its current site and opened to the public in 1986. Mountains surround the zoo on three sides and there are a variety of area including small animals, mammals, predators, a bird park, a reptile center and a nocturnal animal center. The zoo also has an education center where stuffed animals and information are displayed. The entrance features the largest wall mosaic in Taiwan and the walkway features paintings from various schools.

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Daitian Temple has a Taoist hall in the front and a Buddhist hall in the back. Both of them are intricately decorated with folk art. This is the largest collection of artwork by master painter Pan Lishui than in any other temple in Taiwan. The square in front of the temple has old shops and at night vendors sell traditional food such as flying-fish balls and Shantou noodles.  The complex includes a small museum with more artwork by Lishui.
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Fisherman’s Wharf and Banana Pier has become a tourist area with al fresco dining and a promenade that offers great views of the port. The main attraction is the Banana Warehouse, a restored structure that was used in the 1960s to store fruit. In the warehouse are wonderful displays that explain the trade and shops which sell banana-themed items.

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A must to visit is the Liuhe Night Market located right in the heart of Kaohsiung. The highlight of the market is the seafood with stands selling crab, shrimp, octopus and squid. There are some stands which are restaurants. There are some stall selling clothing and accessories.

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For a real great shopping experience you have to see Dream Mall which is the city’s first international class shopping and leisure center. The mall has nine above ground floors plus two underground levels for parking. There are around 600 major retail stores among them five anchor businesses – Uni-Hankyu Department Store of Japan, Britain’s Marks & Spencer Department Store, Japan’s Hokkaido Ice and Snow Theme Park, Hello Kitty Ferris Wheel, Happy 100 and Cinemark Cinema as well as 18 box stores. The innovative mall design incorporates natural and maritime motifs based on four major themes – water, flowers, nature and the universe.

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The Tuntex Sky Tower was the tallest skyscraper in Taiwan till the Taipei 101 took the title. Still it is the tallest skyscraper in Kaohsiung. There are 85 floors and it’s a multi-functional building with offices, residential apartments, a department store, Grand Formosa Hotel and an observation deck for spectacular views. Its unusual architectural design was created based on the Chinese character “gao”, meaning tall. “Gao” is also the first character of the name of the city, Kaohsiung.

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Just like New York City in the U.S. Kaohsiung has its own Central Park.  Both locals and tourists enjoy the lovely greenery here and recreational facilities. You can stroll about the park or rent a bike. The park includes such features as Kaohsiung Literature Library, Scenic Lake, Middle Island, Speech Square, Water Square, Hedgerow Labyrinth and Outdoor Terrace. Everyone enjoys the 20 minute-long water dance performed daily at the Water Square.

 
http://www.taiwanese-secrets.com/kaohsiung.html

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/taiwan/southern-taiwan/kaohsiung-city

http://khh.travel/Article.aspx?a=6904&l=2&stype=1059&sitem=4147

https://www.englishintaiwan.com

https://www.travelking.com.tw/eng/tourguide/kaohsiung/tuntex-sky-tower.html

https://www.travelking.com.tw/eng/tourguide/kaohsiung/kaohsiung-central-park.html

https://www.travelking.com.tw/eng/tourguide/kaohsiung/sizih-bay.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cijin_Wind_Turbine_Park

https://www.englishintaiwan.com

 

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Posted by: Rasma R | September 21, 2016

Islamabad, Pakistan

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Islamabad is the capital city of Pakistan located in the Federal Islamabad Capital Territory. The city is the 10th largest city of the country. Islamabad’s twin city if Rawalpindi and quite often they are looked upon a being one. However these two cities are not identical. Islamabad is a late 20th century capital while Rawalpindi grew out of a backwater village into a sprawling hub during the 19th century. Even though neither city is a major tourist draw Islamabad is well-worth taking a look at with its unique mosques, impressive architecture, interesting museums and wonderful nature parks to explore.

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You’ll hardly believe your eyes when you get a look at Shah Faisal Mosque at the foot of the Margalla Hills. It is one of Asia’s largest and offers an eclectic blend of ultramodern and traditional architectural designs. Instead of a dome this mosque has slopping roofs. The main prayer hall and courtyard can hold about 100,000 people. The cost for building this mosque was a gift from King Faisal of Saudi Arabia.

The mosque was designed by Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay and built between 1976 and 1986. It has a geometric design and there are four 88m minarets towering over the prayer hall. Inside the ceiling rises to a height of 40m. Visitors are welcome, but non-Muslims are requested to not come at prayer times and Fridays. Before entering the courtyard you have to leave you shoes at the counter and you must dress conservatively with women wearing a head scarf.

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Lok Virsa Museum has a fascinating array of traditional handicrafts among them embroidered costumes, old jewelry and intricate wood carvings. There is a reference library with resources on history, art, crafts, traditional music and ethnography. At the bookshop you can purchase books and other media of folk and classical music. Taking photos inside the museum is prohibited.

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About 4km northeast of the Diplomatic Enclave you’ll find Nurpur Shahan Village, a shrine to Shah Abdul Latif Kazmi. He was a 17th century Sufi teacher and Islamabad’s unofficial patron saint. On Thursday evenings you can find a festive air here with pilgrims and trance-like gawwali (Islamic devotional singing). Tourists are always welcome but should dress conservatively. In the last week of May the death-anniversary festival of Shah Abdul Latif Kazmi is celebrated here.

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If you’re looking for a spot to relax and have a picnic then head for the Margalla Hills, Daman-e-Koh where you can fine panoramic views over Islamabad. The Margalla Hills are full of hiking trails that head up ridge tops and down through forested valleys. You can pick up a copy of “Hiking Around Islamabad” at any major bookstore which provides details of hikes ranging from short walks to three-day excursions.

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The Margalla Hills National Park stretches along the foothills of the Himalayan Range. The park was established in 1980 and is popular among tourists and residents. It is home to a wide range of wild animals like wild boars, barking deer, chinkara, Asiatic leopard, red fox, leopard and jackals.

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It is also a wonderful place for bird watching. There are many different species of birds such as , kestrel, Indian sparrow hawk, lag gar falcon , white cheeked bulbul, peregrine falcon, Egyptian vulture and griffon vulture.

It is a preferred hiking area because the weather always remains pleasant on Margalla Hills. The national park was established to protect the natural environment and to encourage public interest in the conservation, expansion and administration of forests, wildlife and other natural resources.

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The urban wilderness south of Islamabad is known as Shakarparian and it has an arboretum with trees and plants planted by dozens of foreign heads of state like kings, prime ministers and presidents. There are also sculpted gardens and panoramas of Islamabad and Rawalpindi from the east lookout.

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Right at the beginning of Shakarparian is the Star and Crescent Monument.

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It is a most beautiful place and one of the best picnic spots in Islamabad. There are two lovely point for great views – West View Point and East View Point. You can also get great views of Murree, a hill station. Nearby is also a small garden of pine trees.

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Downhill and to the east of Shakarparian is the 20 hectare Rose and Jasmine Garden which is the site of several annual flower shows. The garden is famous for its flowers which are specifically grown during the spring season. There are around 250 roses among them local roses or desi, climbing roses, tea roses and fragment roses among others. The gardens also have about 12 varieties of jasmine. The gardens can be admired from benches along the way. Many families come here to picnic.

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Shakarparian is also site to the impressive reddish-brown granite Pakistan Monument built to represent Pakistan’s diverse culture and national unity. It is flanked by well-tended gardens and shaped like an unfurling flower. The four main “petals” represent the provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), with the three smaller “petals” depicting other regions including Kashmir. There is a museum that showcases post-independence memorabilia.

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The Pakistan Army Museum is home to well-kept galleries that exhibit a limited but impressive collection dating from prehistoric times among the items rifles, swords, Stone-Age hand-axes, a former Russian missile system and an Australian harpoon.

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Ayub National Park was named after General Ayub Khan, the first of Pakistan’s martial law administrators. The park offers visitors 900 hectares of paths, gardens and lakes with boats you can rent. There is a wonderful playground for children. The Tropical Forest Kingdom has beautiful trees and cradles, swings and boats for children to enjoy. Walking through the park you’ll also see  statues of animals as well as real wild animals. Horse and camel rides are also available.

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Visitors enjoy the color and excitement of Rajah Bazaar. Here you can wander for hours and purchase most anything you can imagine. Around it you’ll see crumbling stone towers of old Hindu temples.

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Rawal Dam/Rawal Lake is an artificial reservoir that provides the water for the twin cities. Rawal Dam is located in an isolated section of the Margalla Hills National Park. Around the lake are flowering trees and you can find lovely gardens, picnic spots and secluded paths. The terraced gardens and the lake are used for picnics, fishing and boating. The highest point in the garden offers a panoramic view of the lake, Margalla and Murree Hills and both Islamabad and Rawalpindi. To the west of the lake is the Islamabad Club, providing different sporting facilities.

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Japanese Park is one of the most beautiful and finest looking parks in Islamabad. The park was presented by Japan as a gift on December 30, 1985. It is favored by families since it also has many activities for children like swings, slides and monkey bars. There are also walking paths to stroll on and people enjoy picnicking here.
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Pakistan Museum of Natural History or PMNH was established in 1976. The museum has four divisions – Botanical, Zoological, Earth Sciences and Public Services. The first three divisions are related to plants, animals, fossils, rocks and mineral resources of Pakistan. The museum also provides consultancy and advisory services to the public and private sector. There are also 3-dimensional displays and dioramas.

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A newly constructed park is Lake View Park. It has also become a popular picnic spot and was built beside Rawal Lake. Here you can participate in adventurous sports like wall rock climbing, quad motocross, paintball, scooter boats, car dodging and speed boats. You can also rent a simple or motorized boat. There is also a zoo for uncommon species of birds. A restaurant is also available named “Dera”, offering food and refreshments. At other spots in the park you can find small refreshment stalls. There is live music in the park.
https://www.lonelyplanet.com/pakistan/islamabad-and-rawalpindi

http://www.rawalpindiweb.com/2007/10/rawal-dam-rawal-lake-is-artificial.html

http://www.pmnh.gov.pk/htm

http://www.toppakistan.com/

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Posted by: Rasma R | September 17, 2016

Karachi, Pakistan

kaKarachi is the largest and most populous city in Pakistan. It is the capital of Sindh Province and the main seaport and financial center of Pakistan. At one time this city was the capital of Pakistan until the city of Islamabad took over the role. It is a city with many different nationalities among its residents. There are many historic mosques to see and lots of interesting mountain trekking to participate in.

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For holiday fun or a relaxing Sunday both tourists and families head for Sandspit. This is a natural breakwater. It is best to swim in recognised areas. The beach is great for taking long strolls. Some of the beaches stretching along the coast contain stinging jellyfish which emerge especially during the monsoon from July to September.

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The  busiest beach is Clifton Beach where people prefer to stroll rather than take a swim. The sand is mud-grey. It is a wonderful spot to people watch. You can take along a picnic or  barbecue right on the beach. You can have the beach practically to yourself before late afternoon when it fills up. It is particularly festive on Sundays. You can have camel and horse rides and there are stands that sell cold drinks, chai (tea) and grilled corn. For a small fee you can enter the park and promenade.

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Other attractions here include a nearby amusement park with fun rides. Tri-bikes have become popular and can be booked on hourly rates. For movie fans there is the Cineplex Cinema.

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Just a short ferry ride away Manora Island awaits you. This was the site of a fort where Karachi’s Talpu rulers surrendered to the British, who later erected a lighthouse in its place. The lighthouse still stands. There is a small beach overlooking the remains of a 19th century Hindu temple. Swimming is discouraged due to strong currents and pollution. However it is nice to stroll about the beach and enjoy the sea breezes. You’ll find food stalls here that sells food items like fresh fish in batter.

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The Defence Housing Authority Mosque is Pakistan’s most eccentric looking mosques, It was built in the late 1960s. This is a low-slung mosque with one vast dome and has no supporting columns or vaults. At 72 diameters this tent-like dome claims to be the world’s largest. It was constructed of white marble and has thousands of mirror tiles in its thermally proofed interior, giving the impression of twinkling stars. Visitors are welcome here but prayer times should be avoided and Fridays. It is also known as the Defence Society Mosque.

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The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Museum is a most impressive outdoor museum with more than 30 aircraft on display including an Indian Gnat that was captured by Pakistani forces in 1965. Guided tours are free and you’ll find that weekdays are much less crowded.
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Karachi has many architecturally interesting British Raj buildings. One of the ones that stands out from the rest is the palatial Karachi Metropolitan Development Corporation Building. Most of these buildings are used for government offices so are not always accessible to sightseeing. This particular building was built in 1935 to mark George V’s Silver Jubilee. The building has Oriental cupolas at its four corners and a lofty clock tower.

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Quaid-i-Azam Mausoleum is an oddly shaped mausoleum which stands as a monument to Pakistan’s founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah. The mausoleum sits upon a stepped pyramid in a small park. It was built from 1958-68 and designed by a Turkish architect. The white marble structure supports a semicircular dome.
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The National Museum of Pakistan displays items like a two-million year old Stone Age axe that was recovered from the Potwar Plateau and other artifacts from around Pakistan. There is an interesting Islamic section that outlines the early Arab settlements of Debal and Mansura. In the “Freedom Movement” gallery you can find a collection of photos and newspaper articles that tell the story of the independence movement.
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Mohatta Palace was a residence of Jinnah’s sister Fatima. This is an impressive British Raj building that went through restoration in 1999.Exhibitions here detail the history of Pakistan’s distinctive artistic heritage. Afterwards you can take a relaxing stroll in the gardens.

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Another fine example of British Raj architecture is the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Inside you’ll find some fascinating plaques that were erected to the memory of British soldier who died in various campaigns. Church services are held at 9AM every Sunday.
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On a hill above Clifton Beach stands the Ziarat of Abdullah Shah Gazi, a green-domed shrine dedicated to a 9th century Sufi. On Thursday nights Qawwali (Islamic devotional singing) takes place here. Beneath the shrine is a freshwater spring that pilgrims say has mystical healing qualities.
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Flag Staff House, an imposing British Raj mansion is also known as the Quaid-i-Azam House. It was once owned by Mohammed Ali Jinnah. The house was built more than 100 years ago and has extensive grounds. Today it is home to the Jinnah House Museum. Visitors can see Jinnah and his sister, Fatima’s private apartments with period furniture and accessories.

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Jinnah was born and raised in Wazir Mansion. The home contains some relics related to the revered leader. Advise of your visit beforehand and it should be arranged through the PTDC office.

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The Empress Market is a famous marketplace in the Saddar Town locality of Karachi. The market was constructed in the British Raj era and today is among the most popular places to do some shopping. At the market you can purchase a wide range of products like condiments, fruit, vegetables and meat as well as textiles and products for pets. The building was arranged around a courtyard with four galleries each. The galleries provide accommodation for 280 shops and stall keepers.

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Merewether Clock Tower or Merewether Tower is a memorial for Sir William L. Merewether, who served as “Commissioner-in-Sindh” from 1867 to 1877. The tower stands on a 44 foot square base and rises to a height of 102 feet. It was designed in the Gothic Revival style that was popular in Victorian England. The structure was built of buff colored Gizri Stone and shows great attention paid to detailing with an emphasis on carving and decoration. It takes the form of an Eleanor Cross.

Eleanor Crosses were a series of 12 monuments erected in England by Kind Edward I between 1291 and 1294, in memory of his wife, Eleanor of Castile. Other impressive clock towers are found all over Pakistan.

 

 

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/pakistan/sindh/karachi/sights

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empress_Market

http://www.gpsmycity.com/attractions/merewether-clock-tower-33525.html

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Posted by: Rasma R | September 13, 2016

Lahore, Pakistan

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Another county bordering India is Pakistan. It is officially known as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and is a federal parliamentary republic in South Asia. Its coastline runs along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman.

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One of the cities we’ll be visiting in Pakistan is Lahore. So sit back and get ready for a most interesting tour. Lahore is the capital city of the Pakistan province of Punjab and is an intellectual, cultural and artistic hub. It is interesting to note that there are cities about which you can just not say enough this is one of them and the amazing and interesting facts about this city just kept leading me onward and onward.

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You can get to know Lahore by the delicious smells and tastes found along its Food Street. There you can get a taste of all of the delicious dishes that Lahore has to offer. The MM Alam Road that runs from the Main Market to Firdous Market is a major road that was named after Muhammad Mahmood Alam, a well-known figure in the Pakistan Air Force. This is the place to go when you want to enjoy eating great food in a restaurant.

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For an interesting and colorful shopping experience head for the Liberty Market and Anarkali Bazaar where you can find everything from leather goods to silk to footwear.

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Looking to have a relaxing time and some fun then an ideal place to go is the Mini Golf Club. You can spend the day playing mini golf and then enjoy the atmosphere of the club and sampling some delicious fusion food.

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For more shopping and entertainment check out Fortress Stadium. Here you’ll find play-lands for children like Joyland and Sinbaad. This is the finest shopping mall in Lahore. Among the many shops here is Hyperstar, which is the Pakistani version of Walmart.

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In 1566 Emperor Akbar had Lahore Fort built. It has since then gone through many changes and been rebuilt and restored. Today it is the main attraction of the Old City. In 1618 the fort was modified by Jahangir and later it was damages by the Sikhs and the British. Mughal emperors built palaces, halls and created gardens. It is believed that this site includes some of Lahore’s most ancient remains.

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Visitors can enter the fort through the colossal Alamgiri Gate, built by Aurangzeb in 1674 as a private entrance to the royal quarters. The gate is large enough so that several elephants carrying members of the royal household can enter at one time.

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Moti Mosjid or Pearl Mosque was built by Shah Jahan in 1644 to be used privately by the ladies of the royal household and was restored to its original form in 1904.

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In 1631 Shah Jahan built the The Diwan-i-Aam or Hall of Public Audience and Akbar added an upper balcony. Here emperors would make a daily public appearance, receive official visitor and review parades.

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To the north side is  Khawab Garhi-Jahangir or Jahangir’s Sleeping Quarters, Here is a small museum of Mughal antiquities.

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The Shish Mahal or Palace of Mirrors was built by Shah Jahan in 1631. The stucco interior is decorated with glass mirrors. You can see wonderful views of the fort from here.

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On the west side is the marble pavilion Naulakha decorated with studded tiny jewels in the intricate floral motifs.

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Visitors can exit the fort by going down the Hathi Paer or Elephant Path  and through the Shaj Burj Gate. On the outer wall you can see fine painted tile work.

On the site are three small museums (photography forbidden):

The Armory Gallery exhibits items like pistols, swords, daggers, spears and arrows.

The Sikh Gallery displays rare oil paintings.

The Mughal Gallery has exhibits of old manuscripts, calligraphy, coins and miniature paintings among them an ivory miniature of India’a Taj Mahal.

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Both Lahore Fort and Shalimar Gardens are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Shalimar Gardens was created by Shah Jahan in the 17th century. This is a Mughal garden with enclosed walls, a rectilinear layout of paths and has flowing water. It is arranged on three terraces and there are elegant pavilions among the poplar and cypress trees which reflect in pools of water.

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At the foot of Lahore Fort you’ll find Old Lahore with narrow alley ways surrounded by a 9m-high wall with 13 gates. You’ll be stepping back in time here. To find your way in and out it is best to orientate by one of the main gates – Delhi Gate. In local language the Old City of Lahore is also referred to “Andron-e-Shehr”, meaning Inner City and was fortified by a city wall during the Mughal Period. At this time only six gates are operational.

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Near Delhi Gate you’ll find Wazir Khan Mosque, built in 1635 by Wazir Khan, Governor of Lahore. This mosque is famous for its wonderful tile work. At one time it was an important center for training Islamic calligraphers.

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Among the oldest and finest havelis or mansions is Mubarak Haveli. It was built by Mir Bahadur Ali, Mir Nadir Ali and Mir Bahar Ali the sons of  a well-known “tabeeb” and “hakeem” during the time of Mughal emperor Muhammed Shah. It too three years to built and after the three brothers moved in, Bahadar Ali’s wife gave birth to a sun and this was seen as a good omen after which this haveli was given its name. The family continued to prosper in the fields of business and medicine and after some time branched off into tow major components, the Fakir family and the Syed family.

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To the right of Bhatti Gate you’ll find a small mansion that is home to the Faqir Khana Museum. This museum displays the treasures of the Faquir family, who have lived in Lahore since the 18th century. It is said to be the largest private collection in South Asia, with  more than 13,000 pieces of art. Among the items on display are relics of the Prophet Mohammed (displayed only for one day during the Islamic month of Muharram), early Qurans and other illuminated manuscripts, miniature paintings, porcelain pieces, old coins, Islamic artwork, carvings, clothes worn by the Mughal emperors, a small armory of Sikh weapons and carpets from the royal courts. Since this is a private collection you must call the curator in advance. No photography is permitted and you should take your shoes off and refrain from touching any of the items.

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Badshahi Mosque was completed in 1674. It is located opposite the main gateway to the Lahore Fort and is one of the world’s largest mosques. Here you can see huge gateways, four tapering minarets of red sandstone, three vast marble domes and an open courtyard that can hold up to 100,000 people. The rooms above the entrance gate supposedly house the hairs of the Prophet Mohammed and other relics. When illuminated in the evening the mosque looks particularly lovely.

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In the courtyard stands the Tomb of Allama Mohammed Iqbal. This is a memorial built with red sandstone to honor the philosopher-poet who in the 1930s first postulated the idea of an independent Pakistan.

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No visit to Lahore is complete unless you spend an evening at the Wagah Border. This is the place that marks the border between Pakistan and neighboring, India. Every evening tourists gather here to see the Wagah Border ceremony, a military practice performed by both Pakistan and India at the same time since 1959. The elaborate drill done on both sides is an exciting experience to view.

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Jahangir’s Tomb stands in a garden on the northern outskirts of Lahore. It has elaborately decorated sandstone and the tomb is that of Emperor Jahangir. It was built in 1637 by his son, Shah Jahan and it is believed that it was designed by Jahangir’s widow, Nur Jahan. The tomb is made of marble and has trellis decorations of pietra dura bearing the 99 attributes of Allah in Arabic calligraphy. These are inside a vaulted chamber, decorated with marble tracery and with four minarets.

Outside is a sunken passageway where at one time one tunnel lead to Shalimar Gardens and another to Hinar Minar. Today both tunnels stand bricked up.

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The entrance to the tomb courtyard lies to the right of Akbar’s Caravanserai, a 180-room resting place for pilgrims, travelers and their animals. It was built by Shah Jahn at the same time as the tomb. The western gateway leads to the Tomb of Asif Khan, Jahangir’s brother-in-law and father to Mumtaz Mahal (the lady for whom India’s Taj Mahal was created.

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In Bahria Town, Lahore you’ll find the Grand Jamia Mosque, which is the third largest mosque in Pakistan and the fifth largest in the world. It was built in 2014 in a lovely combination of modern architectural styles.

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Looking ahead a few hundred meters from Grand Jamia Mosque you’ll start to wonder just where you are at the moment. This is because there stands a replica of the Eiffel Tower and it has become a tourist attraction in Lahore.

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Take the time to visit the excellent Lahore Museum, offering exhibits spanning the recorded history of the subcontinent. This is the biggest museum in Pakistan. There are almost 20 galleries that display items from the Stone Age to the 20th century. Some of the highlights include Gandharan sculpture (especially the haunting Fasting Budhha), manuscripts, Qurans, an array of miniature paintings, carpets, various pieces of art from the Islamic period, articles from Moenjodaro, Harappa and other Indus Valley civilization sites and a wonderful collection of coins from the Achaemenid Empire onwards. At Kim’s Bookshop you can find interesting novels and general-interest books.

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Zamzama the mighty cannon sits on a brick platform opposite the old Ajaib-Ghar – The Wonder House as Pakistanians call the Lahore Museum. This cannon was made famous in Rudyard Kipling’s classic 1901 novel titled “Kim” and was originally named Zamzama, meaning “Lion’s Roar”. The cannon was used in various battles and later brought to Lahore by Maharaja Ranjit Singh as a symbol of his conquests. Kipling’s father was the first curator of the Lahore Museum and the author himself worked at the now defunct Civil & Military Gazette in Lahore from 1882 to 1887.

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Soaring high up into the sky in Iqbal Park is the 60m tall Minar-i-Pakistan. It was built in 1960 and commemorates the signing of the Pakistan Resolution on March 23, 1940 by the All India Muslim League, which paved the way for the founding of Pakistan. There are marble tablets all around the base that record the text of the resolution, as well as the 99 attributes of Allah, passages from the Quran and the works of Allama Iqbal and Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the two most important figures of the Pakistani Independence movement. Unfortunately due to the high rate of suicides the lift and stairs to get to the top of the Minar for awesome views of Lahore have been closed. In the afternoons people enjoy gathering in Iqbal Park to enjoy the weather, take a stroll, play cricket or fly kites.

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Prince Kamran Baradari Park is located upon a small island in the Ravi River. Here you’ll find the baradari or summer pavilion of Prince Kamran, the son of the first Mughal emperor Zahiruddin Babur. At the time that this was completed in 1540 the Ravi was just several meters away and the baradari was in a large garden adjacent to the town. Its two stories still open to a 12-columned vaulted veranda (baradari literally means 12 gates).Today few visitors come here but if water levels are not too low there are rowing boats that can seat up to 10 people making the trip from the Lahore side.

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Jallo Park or Jallo Wildlife Park was established in 1978. It is a public recreation and wildlife site located in Lahore District, Punjab, Pakistan. It stretches for 461 acres and is one of the three main wildlife parks in Lahore. The other two are Changa Manga and Lahore Zoo Safari. The park has a Forest Research Center, Wildlife Breeding Center, restaurants, coffee shops, a theme park, a sports complex, a swimming pool and a large lake for boating and fishing.

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Among the bird population are the common pheasant, Indian peafowl and rock pigeon. Among the mammals are the Asian black bear, Bactrian camel, Chital, Chinkara and Sambar. Reptiles include the Indian cobra and the Muggar crocodile .

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/pakistan/punjab/lahore/sights

http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Asia/Pakistan/Punjab/Lahore-1310056/Things_To_Do-Lahore-TG-C-1.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jallo_Park

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/171

http://theculturetrip.com/asia/pakistan/articles/the-top-10-things-to-do-and-see-in-lahore/

http://www.wonderfulpoint.com/2015/11/30-places-you-must-see-on-your-visit-to.html

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Posted by: Rasma R | September 6, 2016

Dhaka, Bangladesh

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To the east of India on the Bay of Bengal you’ll find the South Asian country of Bangladesh. In this country there are many waterways and the Padma (Ganges), Meghna and Jamuna Rivers create fertile plains and one of the most common forms of travel is by boat. On the southern coast, the Sundarbans, a huge mangrove forest that is shared with Eastern India, is home to the royal Bengal tiger.

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The Sundarbans mangrove forest is one of the largest such forests in the world and it lies on the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna Rivers on the Bay of Bengal. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is adjacent to the border of India’s Sundarbans World Heritage site.

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This site is intersected by a complex network of tidal waterways, mudflats and small islands of salt-tolerant mangrove forests. This area is well-known for its wide range of fauna that includes 260 bird species, the Bengal tiger and other threatened species among them the estuarine crocodile and the Indian python.

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We’ll be taking a look at the capital city of Bangladesh, Dhaka, which is also the largest city in the country. It is located in a lovely setting beside the Buriganga River. The 17th century old city was the Mughal capital of Bengal and many of the palaces and mosques still stand.

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Sadarghat or Sadarghat Port is the Dhaka City River Front located in the southern part of the city on the Bunganga River. It is one of the most dynamic places in Dhaka and is the largest riverboat terminal port. One of the fascinating ways to see the city is by riding a riverboat. Along the river front you can see children with fishing nets and men cleaning up ship hulls. Among the large ships that sail here are tiny wooden vessels which are also available for hire for a one-hour tour of the river. You can choose to ride on one of the ferries which will take you across the river. The attraction is the trip itself but on the opposite side you will find clothes shops and stalls, snack stalls and even tea stands.

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Lalbagh Fort is surrounded by well-tended garden in which people can stroll and relax. The fort was started in 1677 by Prince Mohammed Azam. The completion of the fort came to Shaista Khan but upon the death of his daughter, Pari Bibi (Fair Lady) which was considered a bad omen the fort was never completed.

Within the fort complex three architectural monuments were completed – the Mausoleum of Pari Bibi (in the front as you enter), the Diwan or Hall of Audience (to the left) and the three-domed Quilla Mosque (to the right). These all date back to 1684.

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The only monument that can be entered is the Diwan, a two-story structure that houses an excellent museum displaying Mughal miniature paintings, coins, carpets and calligraphy as well as swords and firearms. In this same buildings, a massive arched doorway leads to the hammam (bathhouse). Outside is a huge disused bathing tank.

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The Mausoleum of Pari Bibi is unusual in the way it was constructed with black basalt, white marble and en-caustic tiles of different colors to decorate the interior. The central chamber, where Pari Bibi is buried in entirely in white marble.

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The Liberation War Museum has found a home in a lovely whitewashed colonial-era building. This is a small museum that chronicles the 1971 War of Independence, one of the 20th century’s deadliest wars. Among the displays are a room full of personal items each with a short story of the owner’s life, a large pile of human skulls and bones and some disturbing photos.

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Ahsan Manzil or Pink Palace was built on the site of an old French factoy by Nawab Abdul Ghani, the city’s wealthiest landowner. At one time it fell into disrepair but then the palace went through massive restoration in the late 1980s aided by photos of each of the 23 rooms. These photos are still on display as well as various family portraits and the skull of Nawab Abdul Ghani’s favorite elephant, Feroz Jung.

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World-renowned American architect Louis Khan was commissioned by the Pakistanis to design a regional capitol for East Pakistan in 1963. The National Assembly Building due to the liberation movement and ensuing war wasn’t completed until 1982. This building is often featured in books on modern architecture and is regarded as one of Kahn’s greatest works. It was constructed of concrete cylinders and rectangular boxes with multi-story circular and triangular apertures rather than windows. The building can be entered only on a pre-arranged four-hour guided tour, booked in advance.

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Bara Katra was once a great palace but has since become a dilapidated Mughal-era structure and is one of the oldest buildings in Dhaka. It was built in 1644 and now has a street running through its arched entrance. Only a small portion of the original structure still stand and the building is now mostly used for storerooms. On the top you can find a small prayer room.

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You’ll find the Armenian Church of the Holy Resurrection in a small area that is known as Armanitola. It was named after the Armenian colony that settled here in the late 17th century. This white and lemon painted church dates back to 1781. There are many beautiful gravestones with Armenian inscriptions. There is a caretaker on the premises who has helped with church restoration and enjoys giving personal tours. He unlocks the gates for visitors.

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Dhakeshwari Temple is the center of the Hindu faith in Bangladesh. It is dedicated to Dhakeswari, the protector of Dhaka and an incarnation of the goddess Durga. Visitors are welcome at any time but must remove their shoes before entering. Every year in September (the exact dates are per the Hindu calendar) the temple and surrounding streets are full of celebrants for Durga Puja, the goddess’ annual festival.

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For colorful excitement and atmosphere head for the Shankharia Bazar. You can smell incense in the air. Along the street you’ll find old houses, garlands of orange marigolds and dark doorways that lead to tiny shops and workshops. This is a most photogenic part of Old Dhaka. Here Shankharis (Hindu artisans), whose ancestors came here more than 300 years ago, work on creating kites, gravestones, wedding hats and even bangles made of conch shells. This is a most flamboyant area during Hindu festivals.
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Central Shaheed Minar in front of the Dhaka Medical College, University of Dhaka is a symbol of Bengali nationalism. The monument was built to commemorate the martyrs of the historic language movement of 1952. Here people gather with floral wreaths and bouquets on February 21 to pay respect to the departed. This date was designated by the UN as International Mother Language Day due to the event and celebrations begin at midnight.

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Adjacent to the Dhaka University Mosque you’ll find the National Poet’s Graveyard. Revolutionary poet Kazi Nazrul Islam who died on August 29, 1976 was buried here.

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The Islamic building Hussaini Dalan was built in 1642 as the house of the imam of the Shi’la community. The architecture might seem Baroque but the original building was Mughal. Restoration changed the building after the 1897 earthquake but a silver filigree model of the original building can be seen in the National Museum.
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The excellent National Museum has several floors. It begins with the geological formation of Bangladesh and takes visitors through the nation’s flora and fauna, through a Buddhist and Hindu past and brings them up to date with the War of Liberation and the creation of the modern state. Among the highlights are 6th century terracotta Hindu plaques, Buddhist statuary, vignettes of village life and a wooden river racing boat.

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The unusual Star Mosque has striking mosaic decoration and dates back to the early 18th century. Originally it was built in typical Mughal style with four corner towers. About 50 years ago a local businessman financed its redecoration with Japanese and English porcelain tiles and the addition of a new veranda. Looking closely you can see tiles illustrated with pictures of Mt. Fuji.

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Khan Mohammed Mridha’s Mosque was erected in 1706 and this Mughal structure is similar in style to Lalbagh Fort. It was built on a raised platform up a flight of 25 steps. There are three squat domes, with pointed minarets at each corner which dominate the rectangular roof. Come at prayer times about 1 PM otherwise the gate is locked.

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Suhrawardi Park starts at the Old High Court and stretches all the way to the National Museum. At one time this was a racecourse where both the Bangladeshi Declaration of Independence and the surrender of Pakistani occupation forces took place in 1971. The park becomes an open-air market at night.

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Within the park you’ll find the Mausoleum of Three Leaders, a significant architectural monument. Here are the graves of three pre-liberation politicians from Bengal in the 20th century – A.K. Fazlul Huq, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and Khwaja Nazimuddini. All three men served as the Prime Minister of Bengal in British India.

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The National Botanical Garden of Bangladesh is a shady, tranquil place that stretches for more than 40 hectares and are home to more than 1000 species of local and foreign plants. Birds flock to the lakes and ponds here. In the distance you can see Turag River. The garden has around 56,000 trees, herbs and shrubs among them a huge collection of aquatic plants. You’ll find thousands of migratory birds here during the wintertime.

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Among the rare and exotic plant species are Victoria amazonica and the African tulip tree.

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The Dhaka University or DU dates back to 1921. Here you can see some fine old buildings. An architectural masterpiece is the red=brick Curzon Hall. It is a fine example of the European-Mughal style of building erected after the first partition of Bengal in 1905.

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If you’re looking to relax head for the Baldha Gardens. The two walled enclosures, Cybele and Psyche were once the private gardens of Narendra Narayan Roy, a wealthey landlord, whose grandson gave the gardens to the government in 1962 as a tribute to the family. There are many indigenous and exotic plants. In the Psyche section is a lily pond, massive sundial, blue nympheas, papyrus and other kinds of plants.
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Chota Katra this Mughal-era structure dates back to 1663. At one time it was a caravanserai for visiting merchants. It is similar in design to the nearby Bara Katra. Not much of this structure remains, except for the archways at either end. It is now home to some small shops.

This run-down Mughal-era structure dates from 1663, and was a caravanserai (an inn with a central courtyard) for visiting merchants. It was similar in design to nearby Bara Katra, but there’s not much left, save the archways at either end, which now house small shops in their recesses.

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Ramna Park is one of Dhaka’s largest green areas. The Mughals first set this area aside for recreation. There are lots of trees and a lake at its center. In the park are 71 species of flowering trees, perennials and annuals, 36 fruit bearing plants, 33 species of medicinal plants and 41 forestry species among others. There are wonderful walkways in the park and five new gates provide entry from different sides.

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St. Thomas Church is a small Gothic-style church that was built in 1819. It is home to the Anglican church in Bangladesh.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/bangladesh/dhaka/sights

http://wikitravel.org/en/Dhaka

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/798

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mausoleum_of_three_leaders

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Botanical_Garden_of_Bangladesh

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Posted by: Rasma R | September 3, 2016

Kathmandu, Nepal

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Pull up your armchairs and sit back comfortably. We now find ourselves in Nepal a landlocked country in South Asia that is officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. The official language is Nepali and we’ll be taking a tour of the nation’s capital and largest city Kathmandu. Unfortunately a major earthquake struck Nepal in 2015 and caused severe damage in Kathmandu. So if you should decide to travel there you should check ahead with the various travel sites to see which buildings have survived and which have been destroyed.

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Kathmandu is still very much worth a visit as you will see from all the wonderful historic temples. Several hundred years ago it was one of three rival royal cities, along with Bhaktapur and Patan. They are in close proximity one to the other and today they almost run together. The highlight of the Kathmandu has always been Durbar Square, the largest of the palace squares in the three royal cities and today it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site. Not all of the temples and buildings surrounding this square have survived the earthquake.

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Bhaktapur, the third of the “Royal Cities” can be found on the old trade route to Tibet, just outside of Kathmandu. The population here is primarily Hindu. The best way to begin a tour of this city is to start from Durbar Square. Many of the buildings here were damaged during the 2015 earthquake. The entire area in a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Durbar Square in Kathmandu was the place where the kings of the city were once crowned and legitimized and from where they ruled. “Durbar” means palace. The square is and remains the heart of the old town and here you can see traditional architecture. There is much to admire like the terraced platforms of the towering Maju Deval. The square dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries but some of the surviving older buildings are a lot older. There was great rebuilding done after an earthquake in 1934 and this became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.

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Hanuman Dhoka

Durbar Square is actually consists of three loosely linked squares. To the south is the open Basantapur Square area that was a former royal elephant stables and now is home to souvenir stall. Along the northeast is a second part of Durbar Square, containing the entrance to the Hanuman Dhoka and various temples. The open area Makhan Tole that at one time was the main road into Kathmandu is still the most interesting street walk down, continuing toward the northeast.

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The best place to start exploring this square was with the oldest building in the valley Kasthamandap. It had survived many earthquakes but unfortunately came down in the last one. It was one of the largest and most noted pagodas of Nepal and enshrined a statue of Gorakhnath. You can see what it used to look like.

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The Bodhanath Stupa, just outside of Kathmandu, is one of the largest stupas of its kind in the world. It dates back to sometime around the 6th century but could be even older. It also lies on the old trade route to Tibet and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It suffered minor damage in the earthquake. It is a symbol of enlightenment and each different shape represents one of the five elements – earth, water, fire, air and sphere. These are also the attributes of the five Buddhas. All brought together in the form of the stupa.

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Pokhara sits at the base of the foothils, 200 km west of Kathmandu and is surrounded by some of the highest mountains in the world such as Dhaulagiri, Manaslu and Annapurna I. For those who enjoy trekking, Pokhara is the gateway to the Himalayas. This is the starting point for treks to Jomson and the Annapurna region. Even if you’re not going trekking Pokhara offers lovely scenery.

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It is the second largest city after Kathmandu and the Kathmandu valley offers cleaner air and pleasant climate. At Lake Phewa there are many lakeside hotels to choose from, restaurants and shops just for relaxation and one-day excursions.
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One of the most popular trekking regions is the Annapurna Region. Here you’ll find three main routes with intersect and combine in places. It takes around 21 days to complete the Annapurna Circuit around Annapurna Mountain. Annapurna is a Sanskrit name, meaning “Goddess of the Harvest”. This route is sometimes referred to as the “Apple Pie Circuit” because most of the tea houses along the way serve their own version of fried apple pie.

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The Annapurna Sanctuary lies between the peaks of Annapurna and takes five days to reach. On the way you’ll find Muktinath. The Muktinath Route runs in the Kali Gandaki Valley on the east flank of Annapurna and takes seven days.

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To the north is Mustang, a small region that opened up to tourists in 1992. The Annapurna Region is a great walking area. You can see a great contrast between the people and cultures when it comes to houses, lifestyle, customs and religion. This region was declared a protected area in 1986. It has good infrastructure to aid trekkers and the paths are well-maintained and food and lodging are available.

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If you want to experience a different side of Nepal then head for the Chitwan National Park. Here you’ll find yourself in an area that is great for wildlife viewing and offers a safari-kind of atmosphere. This area has a tropical monsoon climate and visitors mostly come here to see wildlife. The lodges offer visitors tours into the park on foot or on elephants so they can get a closer look at the animals.

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This national park is home to rhinos, Bengal tigers, leopards, sloth bears, gaur (buffalo) deer and other animals.

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In the rivers and streams are freshwater dolphins and crocodiles but they’re not seen as often. Over 500 species of birds make their home here so it is a great place to do some bird watching.

Chitwan National Park is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and the best time to visit is from October to February.

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The Langtang Region is home to Langtang National Park. Here you can do some great hiking as it offers high passes, extensive views, old monasteries and lovely mountain scenery with rhododendron forests that bloom during the spring hiking season. You can find villages with guesthouses and place to get food all along the route. This area can be easily reached from Kathmandu by jeep in seven to eight hours.

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On a clear day you and see the peak of Langtang Lirung at 7,245 meters, dominating the surrounding area and can be seen from Kathmandu. The trekking routes vary and some can be trekked in a few days while others take a couple of weeks.

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Swayambhunath sits atop of a hill to the west of Kathmandu and is the second most important shrine in the Kathmandu Valley after Boudhanath. Monkeys have taken up residence here so the temple is also known as the Monkey Temple. 

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Swayambhu Stupa has been painted with the eyes of the omnipresent god and forms the centerpiece of the temple complex. It dates back to the 5th century. Swayambhu plays a major role in the lives of the Vajrayana Buddhists of Northern Nepal and Tibet, but especially of the Newari Buddhists of the Kathmandu Valley.

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Mount Everest is the highest mountain on earth its summit reaching 8,848 meters or 29,028 feet into the sky. The challenge of trekking here became popular with the first legendary ascent to the peak in 1953 taken by Edmund Hillary from New Zealand and the Sherpa Tensing Norgay.

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There are also those who trek the route to Everest Base Camp just to get an awesome view of the peak towering above. Of course the earthquake in 2015 and previous avalanches have left their mark on Everest trekking and climbing. The main trekking seasons are in the spring and fall, from March to May and from September to December.

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Those who still want to get great views of Mount Everest can see it on clear days from the hill town of Nagarkot near Kathmandu. The service is great since hotel staff knock on guests’ doors to let them know on clear mornings that Everest is visible.

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Lumbini is famous for being the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, the historic Buddha, known as Buddha Shakyamuni. The place is off the main tourist track and some 250 km from Kathmandu. It is well worthwhile to take the detour on route from Pokhara to the Chitwan National Park. Lumbini is a pilgrimage town and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Many of the visitors here are Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world as they retrace Buddha’s footsteps through the stations of his life.

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The Maja Devi Temple, dedicated to Buddha’s mother, is believed to be the place where Buddha was born. It contains an ancient stone relief dating from the 2nd century AD depicting Buddha’s birth.  

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A popular trekking area is the Helambu Region. Here trekking companies offer guided hikes. It is popular due to its closeness to Kathmandu and it doesn’t have extremely high elevations but does offer fantastic mountain scenery. The region is inhabited by the Sherpas and is located in the upper part of the Malechmi Khola Valley. The Helambu Trek can be started in Kathmandu and completed in five to eight days. The typical seven-day itinerary is circular. Accommodation is available in lodges and village guest houses.

 

http://www.planetware.com/tourist-attractions/nepal-nep.htm

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/nepal/kathmandu/sights/historic/durbar-square#ixzz4J4aRkYTT

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Posted by: Rasma R | August 31, 2016

Thimphu, Bhutan

 

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Our armchair travels take us from India to Bhutan a Buddhist kingdom on the eastern edge of the Himalayas. It is a country known for its monasteries, fortresses or dzongs and dramatic landscapes. We are going to take a look at the capital Thimphu which lies in a valley in the country’s western interior. The city is the seat of government and known for its Buddhist sites.

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Trashi Chhoe Dzong is an impressive fortress that sits on the west bank of the Wang Chhu. This was the site of the formal coronation of the fifth king in 2008 and it hosts the city’s biggest annual annual celebration, the colorful tsechu festivities. The name of this dzong means Fortress of the Glorious Religion. It was once home to the National Assembly and now is home to the Secretariat, the Throne Room and offices of the King and the Ministries of Home Affairs and Finance. The whitewashed two-story outer structure has three-story towers at all four corners that project out over the walls. On the eastern side there are two main entrances. The southern entrance leads to the administrative section and is off-limits to visitors. The northern entrance leads to the monastic quarter, the summer residence of the dratshang or central monk body.

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Entering from the northeast visitors are greeted by the four guardian kings and the step are flanked by the images of Drukpa Kunley, Thangtong Gyelpo and Togden Pajo (the founder of nearby Phajoding Monastery). You’ll be impressed by the architecture in the courtyard. A large utse separates the northern monastic courtyard and its Lhakhang Sarpa from the southern administrative courtyard. In the northern assembly hall is a large statue of Sakyamuni the historical Buddha and the thrones of the current king, past king and Je Khenpo. There is a painted mandala on the ceiling. The large open-air courtyard on the north side of the dzong hosts the dances of the annual tsechu festival in September.

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For a colorful adventure head for Thimphu’s Weekend Market which is located on the west bank of the Wang Chhu. Vendors arrive on Thursday and stay until Sunday night. You’ll find a large variety of items like souvenirs, clothing, incense, spices and different kinds of food.

Changangkha Lhakhang (Monastery)

Changangkha Lhakhang (Monastery)

Changangkha Lhakhang is a popular fortress-like temple that sits on a ridge above central Thimphu. The temple was established in the 12th century on a site that was chosen by Lama Phajp Drukgom Shigpo. It is traditional for parents to come here to get auspicious names for their newborns or to get blessings for their young children from the protector deity Tamdrin. Children are blessed by a phurba or ritual dagger and given a sacred thread. Inside are impressive murals. If you give the resident astrologer your birth date he will consult divination charts to decide which kind of protective prayer flags will benefit you. Take the time to see the shrine to the tshomen or mermaid in the central courtyard and see the great views from the back kora or pilgrim path with its beautiful black and gold prayer wheels.

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National Memorial Chorten is a large Tibetan-style chorten or stupa (a mound-like or hemispherical structure that contains relics). This is one of the most visible religious structures in Thimphu and for many Bhutanese the focus of their daily worship. This whitewashed chorten is decorated with richly painted annexes that face the cardinal directions and feature elaborate mandalas, statues and a shrine dedicated to the popular king.

Weaving classroom at the National Institute for Zorig Chusum. Thimphu, Bhutan.

Weaving classroom at the National Institute for Zorig Chusum. Thimphu, Bhutan.

The National Institute for Zorig Chusum is commonly known as “the painting school” and offers four-to-six-year courses which give instruction in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts. Students specialize in painting, woodcarving, embroidery or statue-making. The showroom sells good-value pieces made by students.

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The National Textile Museum is the city’s best museum and is part of the Royal Textile Academy. This is the place to get to know about Bhutan’s living national art of thagzo or weaving. The ground floor displays royal ghos including the wedding clothes worn by the fourth king and his four wives. On the upper floor you can learn about major weaving techniques, styles of local dress and types of textiles made by women and men. In the museum shop are some interesting books and fine textiles. No photos. Across the courtyard is the Royal Textile Academy conservation center, where visitors can observe a small group of weavers working on their looms.

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Simtokha Dzong was built in 1629 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It is said that this site guards a demon that had vanished into the rock nearby. That is why it was given the name Simtokha from simmo (demoness) and do (stone). This site was also placed in a strategic location to protect the Thimphu Valley and the entryway to the Dochu La and estern Bhutan.
Officially it is known as Sangak Zabdhon Phodran or Palace of the Profound Meaning of Secret Mantras was the first dzong built in Bhutan. Dzongs date back to 1153 but this was the first one built by the Zhabdrung and was the first structure to incorporate both monastic and administrative facilities. It is the oldest dzong to have survived as a complete structure. Above the dzong is the Institute for Language and Culture Studies.

The utse is three-stories high and behind the prayer wheels around the outside there’s a line of more than 300 fine slate carvings that depict saints and philosophers.  The large central figure in the central Ihakhang is of Sakyamuni and is flanked by the eight bodhisattvas. The dark murals inside the Ihakhang are some of the oldest and most lovely in Bhutan. In the western chapel you’ll find the statues of Chenresig, green and white Taras and an early painting of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. In the eastern goenkhang tiger tails and guns hang from the pillars. The protector chapel is dedicated to the protectors of Bhutan – Yeshe Goenpo (Mahakala) and Pelden Lhamo.

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Tango Goemba was built by Lama Drukpa Kunley in the 15th century. Today it serves as a university for Buddhist studies and is the residence of Gyalse Rinpoche, an important trulku (reincarnated lama), who is recognised as the seventh reincarnation of the fourth desi (secular ruler) Gyalse Terizin Rabgye (the founder of Taktshang Goemba. This is a popular place to visit during the memorial of the death of Zhabdrung Jigme Chhogyel in April or May and is known as the Zhabdrung Kuchoe.

From the parking lot you’ll follow a trail that goes up 280m and as you head up this spiritual path you’ll be able to read Buddhist quotes to inspire you. When you get closer to the monastery first visit the meditation cave where log ladders lead into a little chapel that features a large crystal, carried here from Tibet. It is used in visualization meditations. Here is also a statue of the Zhabdrung as well as the local protector Bayup, riding a horse. Tango translates as “horse head” gotten from the natural shape of this rock outcrop.

At the main three-story goemba are several chapels that you can visit. On the 3rd floor are the zimchung or living quarters of the fourth desi where you can receive a blessing from his walking stick. At the base of Tango Hill a new Buddhist college campus was built in 2016 to replace aging goemba buildings.

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The National Institute of Traditional Medicine was established in 1978. Here you can find medicinal plants collected from remote corners of the Bhutanese Himalayas, such as Lingzhi, Laya and Lunana. At the institute pills, tablets, ointments and medicinal teas are made. The small museum displays some of the 300 herbs, minerals and animal parts that Bhutanese doctors choose from. Of particular interest is yartsa goenbub (cordyceps), the high-altitude “Himalayan Viagra” which is actually a caterpillar that has been mummified by a fungus. This unusual “worm-root” sells for up to $25,000 USD per kilogram in China. If necessary and you don’t feel too well the on-site clinic can prescribe all natural medicines or treatments free of charge.

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A huge 51m-tall steel statue of Buddha Dordenma stands at the entry to the Thimphu Valley. In the massive three-story base is a large chapel and inside the body itself are 125,000 smaller statues of Buddha. The massive Buddha looks at its best in the morning light and at night when it’s illuminated. This statue was made in China and reassembled in Bhutan. The paved road that leads to the site, also known as “Buddha Point” passed by a Hindu temple and is also a popular biking route. Nearby is a 3.5km mountain bike trail. This area is also called Changri Kuensel Phodrang after the former palace of the 13th Druk Desi which once stood here.
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The National Library was established in 1967 to preserve ancient Dzongkha and Tibetan texts. It offers impressive architecture and you can see some great historic photos. On the top floor is a copy of a letter sent from the Druk desi or secular ruler to the British army officer and surveyor Samuel Turner in 1783. On the top floor are also traditional books and historic manuscripts and include texts from the famous Tibetan printing presses of Derge and Narthang. There are scriptures from all religious schools. Most of the books are Tibetan-style, printed or written on long strips of handmade paper stacked between pieces of wood and wrapped in silken cloth. The carved wooden blocks used for printing the books are also on display.

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It takes 45 minutes to hike up to Cheri Goemba, Bhutan’s first monastery. The monastery was established in 1620 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. This is an important place for meditation retreats, with 30 monks living here for three years, three months and three days. The goenkhang (chapel dedicated to protective deities) features the two protector deities of Cheri and Tango. Then it’s a steep climb to the Demon-Subjugating Monastery, built into the cliff where the Zhabdrung overcame local demons. Keep an eye out for tame brown gora (mountain goats) grazing on the monastery grounds.

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Pangri Zampa was founded in the early 16th century and is a college for traditional astrology. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal lived here after he arrived in 1616 because this temple appeared in the vision which directed him from Tibet to Bhutan. In front of the complex are two huge cypress trees that are said to be the biggest in the country. It gets it’s name from the photogenic traditional bridge beside the complex. Drolma Zhingkham Lhakhang was built next door by the Royal Grandmother and is dedicated to the 21 images of Tara. Nearby is Dechenphu Lhakhang, home to Gyenyen, the valley’s protective deity but it’s not open to tourists.

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Motithang Takin Preserve was originally established as a zoo but since the fourth king decided that a zoo wasn’t in keeping with Bhutan’s environmental and religious convictions the zoo was closed. The animals were released in the wild but the takins, Bhutan’s national animal were so tame they took to roaming the streets of Thimphu looking for food. The solution was to make a preserve for them. As you go up the trail you get to a large fence enclosure where the takins can now live in peace.

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You can get fantastic views of Thimphu Valley from the Bhutan Broadcasting Service or BBS Tower which rises 2685m over the city. The area is known as Sangaygang.

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Dechen Phodrang is the site of Thimphu’s original 12th century dzong. Since 1971 it has been home to the state lobra or monastic school which offers an eight-year course to over 250 students. The 12th century paintings in the goemba’s main chapel have been restored and on the upper floor you can see a large figure of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. There is also a chapel dedicated to protective deities.

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Voluntary Art Studio this is a studio and art gallery that is the main center for local artists. The studio’s goal is to promote both traditional and contemporary Bhutanese artworks, provide vocational training for young artists and to be a meeting place for artists. Here you can see the latest exhibit and speak to the artists. Outside in the public park you can also see some art pieces displayed.

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Visit Nado Poizokhang Incense Factory for an interesting and sweet scented excursion. Here at the traditional workshop 10,000 incense sticks are handmade per month. Visitors can watch the production process or browse for products in the nearby showroom.

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The Royal Botanical Garden at Serbithang is just a few minutes drive from Thimphu. It is a wonderful place to visit during the spring and summer. There are various kinds of flowers and medicinal plants and it is a great place for a picnic. The garden is located on the side of a hill offering great views of Thimphu Valley. You can look over the Bhutan landscape and see temples, monasteries, stupas, prayer wheels and colorful prayer flags.

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The Royal Botanical Park at Lampelri is also known as the Rhododendron Garden. It is the first botanic park in Bhutan and forms the backdrop of the Dochula Pass. This is a nature reserve that is rich in flora and fauna. You can feel close to nature here and listen to birds twittering and the distant barking of a Barking Deer. Among the species that make their home here are monal pheasants, blood pheasants, musk deer, tiger, leopard, red panda and the leopard cat.

Blood Pheasant

Bhutan

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The Rhododendron Garden offers 46 species of this flower. The park has various vantage points, trekking routes, a lake and a canteen.

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You can also enjoy the Dochula Pass which is a mountain pass in the snow covered Himalayas within Bhutan on the road from Thimphu to Punakha. Along the way you can see 108 memorial chortens or stupas known as “Druk Wangyal Chortens”.

 

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/bhutan/thimphu/sights

http://www.bhutan2bhutantravel.com/royal-botanical-garden-at-serbithang-thimphu.html

http://www.bhutan2bhutantravel.com/the-royal-botanical-park-lamperi-thimphu.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dochula_Pass

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Posted by: Rasma R | August 28, 2016

Agra on the Yamuna River

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Usually in our armchair travels the last place we visit before moving from one country to the next is the capital city. In this case I have made an exception and left the city of Agra as the last city we’ll visit in India. This is because this city is home to the fabulous Taj Mahal. Agra sits on the banks of the Yamuna River in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

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The Taj Mahal is one of the finest monuments ever built. In 1983 it became a UNESCO World Heritage site. This world-renowned wonder at times is referred to as the epitome of love. It was built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. Construction was started in 1632 and completed in 1653. The lovely monument sits on the bank of the Yamuna River. There are two smaller red stone buildings, one is a mosque and one a rest house. To be able to enter the mausoleum you have to put a cloth around your feet just like for any other temple in India. It is possible to rent a piece of cloth. You can see impressive marble carvings decorated with precious and semi-precious colorful stones.

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Within the Taj complex, on the western side of the garden you’ll find the small but excellent Taj Museum. On display are a number of original Mughal miniature paintings, among them a pair of 17th century ivory portraits of Emperor Shah Jahan and his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. There are also some well-preserved gold and silver coins, architectural drawings of the Taj Mahal and some celadon plates. It is said that these plates will split into pieces or change color if the food served on them contains poison.

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The Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah is a Mughal mausoleum. People also refer to it as a jewel box, Baby Taj and even a draft of the Taj Mahal. This tomb was commissioned by Jahangir’s wife Nur Jahan, for her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg, who had been given the title Itimad-ud-Daulah or Pillar of the State. The mausoleum sits in a large cruciform garden that is criss-crossed by water courses and walkways. The walls of the mausoleum are white marble, encrusted with semi-precious stone decorations such as cornelian, jasper, lapis lazuli, onyx and topaz.

Agra - An Architectural Marvel of India tourism destinations

Agra – An Architectural Marvel of India

In Sikandra, in the suburbs of Agra is the tomb of Akbar the Great. This is an important Mughal architectural masterpiece built between 1605 and 1613. It was Akbar himself who began the construction of the tomb, according to Tartary tradition. The South Gate of the tomb is the largest with four white marble chatri-topped minarets. The buildings were built from deep red sandstone. An inscription on the mausoleum reads: “These are the Gardens of Eden, enter them to dwell eternally”.

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Mankameshwar Mandir is an ancient temple devoted to Lord Shiva.  Legend says that the Shiv linga here is covered by silver metal and it was founded by Lord Shiva himself during the Dwapara era. A flight of stairs will take you down into the sanctum sanctorum. The temple complex includes several small temples.

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Mehtab Bagh is a garden complex that overlooks the Agra Fort and the Yamuna River. The name of the garden means moonlight garden. It counts as one of the most scenic spots in Agra. It is one of the eleven similar gardens built by the Mughals. It was built by Emperor Babur and offers an awesome view of the Taj Mahal. The garden is a recreational complex with pools, fountains and trees.

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One of India’s most historic structures and a UNESCO World Heritage site is the Agra Fort. The fort was the seat of the Mughal Empire. It took 4000 workers and eight years to build the fort. It was completed in 1573. The 94-acre fort has double ramparts with massive circular bastions. The fort is accessed through four gates. The grandest gate is Delhi Gate and was the gate for the king’s formal entry.

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Take a look at the impressive Octagonal Tower which is also known as Musamman Burj. It was built by Shah Jahan and dedicated to his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The tower was built for the ladies, it has a fountain outside and a huge verandah. Unfortunately this was the place that Shah Jahn spent his last years, imprisoned by his son. From here he could gaze out and see the Taj Mahal. When he died his body was taken by boat to the Taj Mahal.

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Another structure in Agra Fort is Jahangir’s Palace, where the Rajut wives lived during the rule of Akbar. It was built in a mix of Hindu and Central Asian architecture. This palace was a token of the great Mughal emperor, Akbar to his beloved son Jahangir, who later succeeded him as emperor. There is a huge bowl which is known as Hauzi-Jahangir, carved from a single stone and holds fragrant rose water.

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Kinari Bazaar is a most colorful market. Here you can purchase most anything clothing, shoes, fabrics, jewelry, spices and even marble work. There are many snack stalls. Don’t be surprised to see a buffalo or a working elephant making their way through the crowds.

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Soami Bagh is a huge, white marble mausoleum which houses the tomb of Sri Shiv Dayal Singh Seth, the founder of the Radhassoami Faith. It took 80 years to build. Inside you’ll find a 1904 painting that shows what the mausoleum should look like when finished, complete with a gold-latticed dome.  This has become a work-in project undertaken by devotees.

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Chini-ka-Rauza is the Persian-style riverside tomb of Afzal Kahn. He was a poet who served as Shah Jahan’s chief minister. The tomb was built between 1628 and 1639. It sits in a wonderful spot down an avenue of trees on the east bank of the Yamuna.

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On the banks of the Yamuna River is the lovely Rambagh Garden. This was the very first garden of the Mughals that was built in India. The garden was created to entertain the Emperor’s guests and as a place where the Emperor and his loyal people could relax. The garden is popular for its design and natural setting. There are four main sections that are criss-crossed by waterways and pathways. Since it sits on the banks of the Yamuna River the garden draws its water from it. The water gets distributed throughout the park in a cascade that has been built over three terraces. You can also see some ruined houses that were built from red sandstone. The first level of the garden has flowers and vegetables, flower beds on the second and tanks and terraces on the third.
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When visiting Agra take the time to visit the lovely city of Fatehput Sikri, just around 25 miles away. This city was built between 1569 and 1585 and due to lack of water was abandoned. Now visitors are starting to return to this ghost town. Here you can see ornate Mughal architecture and tour mosques, squares and palace rooms. It is advisable to rent an electronic audio guide. It is now a UNESCO Heritage site.

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Visit the pearly white Moti Masjid, a holy place in Agra. It was built by Shah Jahan so that court members had a place to worship. It consists of 12 arches facing from the North, East and South. The main entrance is on the east side. The prayer chamber is ornamented with intricate designs. The sanctuary is sheltered by three bulbous-sized domes.

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Relax by the lovely Keetham Lake also known as the Sur Sarovar. This is a most scenic lake in pentagonal shape. There are artificially created islands for shelter and breeding grounds for migratory birds. Here you can find over 100 species of migratory and resident birds. Some of the important aquatic birds that make their home here are: Little Gerbs, Cormorants, Darter, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Paddy Bird, Cattle Egrets, Large Egrets, Smaller Egrets, Little Egrets, Night Heron, Indian Reef Heron, Black necked Stork, white Ibis, Spon Bill, Greying Goose, Bar headed Goose, Lesser Whistling Teal, Ruddy Shelduck, Pintail, Common Teal, Spot Billed Duck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Shoveler, and Comb Duck.

 

http://travel.india.com/agra/places-to-visit/

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/uttar-pradesh/agra/sights

http://travel.usnews.com/Agra_India/Things_To_Do/

http://www.mapsofindia.com/agra/places-of-interest.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keetham_Lake

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Posted by: Rasma R | August 24, 2016

Delhi, India

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Delhi is India’s capital territory and officially known as the National Capital Territory of Delhi. The city is home to the imposing Mughal-era Red Fort which is a symbol of India.

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The Mehrauli Archaeological Park is a forest park with lots of ruins of tombs, palaces and colonial follies. As you enter the park the first monuments you see are the tombs of Balban and Quli Khan.

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The park’s most impressive structure is the Jamali Khamali Mosque which is attached to the tomb of the Sufi poet Jamali. Inside the tomb you can see upon the intricate incised plaster ceiling Jamali’s verses.

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To the west is the Rajon ki Baoli, a majestic 16th century step-well with a monumental flight of steps. Walking from here towards Mehrauli Village you’ll see Adam Khan’s Mausoleum which at one time was used as a British residence, then a police station and then a post office.

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One of Delhi’s most captivating mausoleums is Humayan’s Tomb. It was built in the mid-16th century by Haji Begum, the Persian-born senior wife of the Mughal Emperor Humayun. This tomb mixes Persian and Mughal elements, creating a template that strongly influenced the Taj Mahal. The tomb, other monuments and gardens went through a restoration in 2013. The arched facade is inlaid with bands of white marble and red sandstone. The building adheres to the strict rules of Islamic geometry, with an emphasis on the number eight.

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In the beautiful gardens you can see green parakeets. There are also the tombs of the emperor’s favorite barber and Haji Begum. As you enter the complex to the right is Isa Khan’s Tomb which is a fine example of Lodi-era architecture. Further south is the monumental Khan-I-Khanan’s Tomb. The site has a new visitor center.

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Jama Masjid is India’s largest mosque and can hold up to 25,000 people. It towers over Old Delhi. It was created by architect Shah Jahan and built between 1644 and 1658. This mosque has three gateways, four angle towers and two 40m high minarets. It is constructed of alternating vertical strips of red sandstone and white marble. Entry is from gates 1 or 3. At the entrance you can purchase a ticket and climb 121 steps up the narrow southern minaret. From the top you can see one of the features that architect Edwin Lutyens incorporated into his design of New Delhi – the Jama Masjid, Connaught Place and Sansad Bhavan (Parliament House) are all in a direct line. Visitors should remove their shoes at the top of the stairs. There is no charge to enter the mosque but there is a camera charge.

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The impressive Red Fort was converted into a barracks by the British. It is protected by a amazing 18m-high wall and the monuments here were built with marble and sandstone. Shah Jahan founded this fortress between 1638 and 1648. Every evening except for Mondays the fort hosts a sound and light show with colorful spotlights and a portentous voice over that highlights key events in the history of the Red Fort. When you purchase a ticket you can also visit the museums inside the fort and there is a fine audio tour available.

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Hazrat Nizam-ud-din Dargah is the marble shrine of the Muslim Sufi Saint, Nizam-ud-din-Auliya. He died in 1325 at the age of 92 and his mausoleum became a point of pilgrimage for Muslims from across the empire. There are many nearby Mughal tombs since kings and nobles wanted to be buried as close to the saint as possible. Other tombs in the compound include the graves of Jahanara (daughter of Shah Jahan) and the renowned Urdu poet Amir Khusru. It is interesting and inspirational to sit down on the marble floor at sunset and listen to Sufis singing rousing gawwali or Islamic devotional singing. There are other tombs scattered about and you’ll also see a huge baoli or step-well.

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Of special interest is the Qutb Minar Complex. The first monuments here were built by the sultans of Mehrauli. The complex hosts The Qutb Festival of Indian Classical Music and Dance every November/December. You can also see many different ruined tombs and monuments.
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Akshardham Temple is a mixture of traditional Orissan, Gujarati, Mughal and Rajasthani architecture. It is a most fascinating structure where you can take a boat ride through 10,000 years of Indian history as animatronics tell stories from the life of Swaminarayan and musical fountains. The interior features a journey through Hindu mythology with 20,000 carved deities, saints and mythical beings.

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Lahore Gate is the main gate to the fort and it looks toward Lahore in Pakistan, which is the second most important city in the Mughal Empire.

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Just beyond the gate is Chatta Chowk where once silk and jewels were sold and now you can purchase souvenirs. At the eastern end of the bazaar you’ll find the arched Naubat Khana that once accommodated royal musicians and was a parking lot for royal horses and elephants. Upstairs in the Indian War Memorial Museum you can see an impressive collection of historic weaponry.

Walking toward the north you’ll come to the Museum on India’s Struggle for Freedom. Walking through the dilapidated barracks you’ll find a deserted baoli or step-well which the British used as a prison. A causeway leads to the Salimgarth, a fortress built by Salim Shah Suri in 1546. It is still occupied by the Indian army but visitors can visit the ruined mosque and a small museum.

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The National Museum displays rare relics from the Harappan Civilization, Buddha’s 4th to 5th century BC effects, antiquities from the Silk Route, exquisite miniature paintings, woodcarvings, textiles, statues, musical instruments, an armory with practical weapons and a suit of armor for an elephant.

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Gandhi Smriti is a poignant memorial at the spot where Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead by a Hindu zealot on January 30, 1948, after campaigning against inter-communal violence. You’ll see concrete footsteps leading to the spot where Gandhi died, marked by a small pavilion. Adjacent is a house where Mahatma Gandhi spent his last 144 days. The rooms have been preserved as he left them. You can see dioramas depicting scenes of his life and upstairs is an interpretive exhibition Eternal Gandhi. In Gandhi’s room you can see a walking stick, spectacles, a spinning wheel and a pair of sandals.

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The lake at Hauz Khas, meaning royal tank was built by Sultan Allauddin Khilji in the 13th century to provide water for Siri Fort. Here you can see many birds and it’s surrounded by parkland. There are the ruins of Firoz Shah’s 14th century religious school and tomb with an amazing calligraphy-covered incised plaster ceiling.

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To get to the lake shore go through Deer Park where you can see many deer and a popular drumming circle.
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The colonial heart of New Delhi is Connaught Place, named after the paternal uncle of George V. Whitewashed, grey-tinged streets radiate from the central circle of Rajiv Chowk, lined with shops and restaurants. The outer circle is technically known as Connaught Circus and the inner circle as Connaught Place however locals call the whole area CP.

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Just for the wonderful scents alone you must visit Delhi’s wholesale spice market. There are huge sacks of herbs and spices and you can purchase everything from lentils and rice to giant jars of chutneys, pickles, nuts and tea.

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Mosque of Sheesh Gumbad, Lodhi Gardens

 

del lodi bridge

Lodi Gardens is a peaceful park dotted with the crumbling tombs of Sayyid and Lodi rulers including the impressive 15th century Bara Gumbad Tomb and Mosque as well as the tombs of Mohammed Shah and Sikander Lodi. There’s a lake that is crossed by the Athpula eight-piered Bridge, dating from the reign of Emperor Akbar.

del india gate3

 

 

Right in the center of Delhi is the amazing 42m high India Gate, standing in the middle of a crossroad. It commemorates the 70,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British Army during WWI. This memorial shows the names of over 13,516 British and Indian soldiers killed in the Northwestern Frontier in the Afghan War of 1919.

The foundation stone was laid by the Duke of Connaught in 1921 and was designed by Edwin Lutyens. Under the arch an eternal flame burns to remind the nation of the soldiers who laid down their lives in the Indo-Pakistan War in December 1971. At night it is illuminated by floodlights and nearby fountains are lit by colorful lights. The India Gate is surrounded by lush green lawns where people enjoy picnicking.

 

 

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/delhi/sights

http://www.delhitourism.gov.in/delhitourism/

Google images

Posted by: Rasma R | August 19, 2016

Blogger’s Recognition Award

recognition-award

It is an honor to have been nominated for the Blogger Award for the first time. I have never gotten an appreciation award and was more than glad to accept. I was nominated by Mike Senczyszak. He has a great blog where there is always something interesting, fascinating or impressive going on. His blog is titled Solsbury Hill https://senczyszak.com.

I suggest you check out his blog and one of his latest posts which in itself is interesting about a business he has opened up : https://senczyszak.com/2016/08/13/peters-cellar-revisited

As per the rules, I’ll be answering some questions as follows:

How did I get into Blogging?

It was early days and I was just stumbling around writing bits and pieces on various sites. Suddenly someone mentioned that I should try my hand at blogging. My first effort was over at Blogger but I will tell you this is a bit amusing. Not knowing what blogging was really all about I put in some posts which people seemed to like but each of them I put in as a new blog. I had no knowledge of what was going on. Then I moved over to write for another site leaving my blogging behind. It was then that someone mentioned WordPress. Through WordPress I learned what blogging was all about and ever since then I have been writing up a storm and enjoying every moment. I even returned to Blogger and I am now doing things correctly. Personally I love to blog in both places and I am enjoying it very much.

What two pieces of advice do I have for new Bloggers? 

  • Well first of all I strongly suggest you don’t do what I did – do not enter the world of blogging knowing nothing about it. Do some reading right here on WordPress and see what is happening in the blogging world. Make your choice about what you would like to share with others and then bravely step forth and set up your own site.
  • Once you have begun blogging do it with your heart and soul. Never be afraid of sharing anything that you wish to share. You might think – Will it interest anyone? Soon you will see that you find people who relate to what you are writing about. Once you start to get followers you will be elated and then the true spirit of blogging will take over. Just never, ever stop and put all doubt aside. Full speed ahead and keep on blogging.

Once again thank you for the nomination and for enjoying my blog. Let’s keep on blogging and let’s meet up in cyber world.

As per the rules I’ve nominated 15 great Bloggers below and the official nomination and rules will be sent to each of them.

https://gettingrealwithptsd.wordpress.com

https://cradleofjoy.wordpress.com

https://sparkleblossomgoodsblog.wordpress.com

https://thepoetrychannel.wordpress.com

https://leafandtwig.wordpress.com

https://grevilleacorner.wordpress.com

https://krcsite.wordpress.com

https://thefeatheredsleep.wordpress.com

https://aheartafire.wordpress.com

https://strassenfotografien.wordpress.com

https://thelonelyauthorblog.wordpress.com

https://coronet66.wordpress.com

https://mysuccessisyoursuccess.wordpress.com

https://aquileana.wordpress.com

https://greenlifebluewater.wordpress.com

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