Posted by: Rasma R | October 22, 2016

Chongqing, China


A large city in southwestern China Chongquin is located at the confluence of the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers. This is a vibrant and exciting city with a lot to offer visitors. The city center is a peninsula jutting out horizontally between the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers.


There is a steep climb leading up to Baolun Temple. The temple dates back to the mid-6th century. From the temple you can get fantastic views over the town and the river. This is one of the last remaining of Ciqikou’s five temples.


Three Gorges Museum offers visitors the history of settlement in the Chongqing region. You can see displays that include a model of a dam, clothing and artwork relating to southwest China’s minority groups.


Luohan Temple was built around 1000 years ago. Today it’s an active temple surrounded by modern skyscrapers. One of its notable features is a corridor flanked by intricate rock carvings.


The main attraction is Arhat Hall which contains 500 terracotta arhats (a Buddhist term for those who have achieved enlightenment and who pass to nirvana at death).


Huguang Guild Hall is an amazing museum complex that once served as a community headquarters for immigrants from the Hu and Guang provinces, who arrived in Chongqing several hundred years ago. The museum rooms display artwork and furniture. There is a temple, a tea house and there are several stages for Chinese opera performances.

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Visit the interesting Ciqikou Ancient Town which gives visitors the opportunity to get a look at old Chongqing. It is located in Shapingba district on the Jialing River west of the center. Go through the archway that is the entrance to the town and you’ll see that most of the buildings date back to the late Ming Dynasty. The central street offers a lot of different things for sale and away from it you’ll find a living and working village. At some tea houses you can hear performances of traditional Chinese music.


Only a fragment of the Chongqing Ancient City Gates remain. They were once a magnificent part of the Ming Dynasty city wall that stretched 8 km around the Jiefangbei peninsula and was over 30 m tall in places. Two of the 17 gates that were standing before demolition in 1927 still remain. The moss-hewn Dongshui Men can be found beside the Yangtze River Hostel and the other Tongyuan Men near the Qixinggang metro station.


Liberation Monument is a clock tower monument right in the heart of the city. It commemorates China’s victory over Japan in WWII. The pedestrian streets surrounding the monument offer great shopping in the malls.


Hongya Cave is a Disney-like recreation of the old stilt houses once lining the river fronts of Chongqing. Today this is an eleven story shopping, dining and entertainment complex.


The Dazu Rock Carving is located in Dazu County 167 km from Chongqing. Here you can find stone statues distributed in 76 places in all of Dazu County. There are 60,000 stone statues.


General Stilwell Museum was founded in 1991. It is the former residence of General Joseph Warren Stillwell. He was the Chief of Staff of the Allied Forces in China and the Commander in Chief of the US forces in the China Burma India Theater (CIB) and stayed here from 1942 to 1944 when he was in China.


In the museum you can see the guard’s room once used by the General’s adjutant. There is the conference room once used for military discussions with a military map on the wall, a mini cinematograph, a gramophone and different military documents. Visitors can also see the General’s office, living room and dining room. In the basement are exhibits of various articles and items and over 200 historic pictures record the General’s time spent in China. Visitors can see how General Stilwell helped the Chinese government and the people fight against Japanese aggression. There are also military vehicles displayed in the museum.


Chongqing People’s Hall was built between 1951 and 1854. It is known as the Sino-Soviet Building. The hall has a 4,000 seat auditorium. It is considered to be one of the symbols of the city and has a large square in front of it with fountains and lights. The square is used for performances and official functions. The building has a red-tiered dome that is 55 m high.


Loquat Mountain Park is located on Loquat Mountain 345 m above sea level. The park is the highest place in the old urban area and offers fantastic views over the city. Here you can find winding roads, evergreen trees, bamboos and flowers. People enjoy watching Chongqing at night from here.


At the top of the mountain you can find the Red Star Pavilion, built in 1955 and is located in the highest place of the park.

In Fuyuan Garden visitors can enjoy attractions like the long gallery, a pavilion, a pool and the lute-playing girl-shaped statue.


Chongquing Zoo has more than 200 species of animals and 1,000 birds. Visitors can see the rare South China Tiger which is considered to be the rarest kind of tiger and there might be less than 20 left in the wild. There is also a Tibetan bear with a yellowish head that dance when people offer it treats.

Netizen Accused Chongqing Zoo Not Giving Enough Bath To Giant Pandaschon-zoo-red-panda

The Panda Room has giant pandas and small cat-like pandas. Between 8:30 and 10:30 AM is the panda feeding time.

There is also a children’s play area, a roller skating rink, a stage and some restaurants.

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Posted by: Rasma R | October 18, 2016

Shanghai, China


Shanghai is located on the central coast of China. It is the country’s biggest city and a global financial hub. The heart of the city is the Bund, a popular waterfront promenade that is lined with colonial-era buildings. When you take a look across the Huangpu River you can see the fantastic futuristic skyline rising high into the sky in the Pudong district. The city also has many green spaces for rest and relaxation.


A most symbolic part of the city is the Bund which at one time was the city’s Wall Street for financial wheeling and dealing. The name of the area is an Anglo-Indian term for embankment of a muddy waterfront. For visitors it is a great place to take a stroll and get an awesome view of Pudong’s skyline.


A great many of the art-deco and neo-classical buildings along the Bund were built in the early 20th century. Today this is a designer retail and restaurant zone and the place where you can find the city’s most exclusive boutiques, restaurants and hotels. At night the buildings all along the Bund are alight. You can take a boat tour on the Huangpu River for great views and a relaxing time. You can enjoy the peace and beauty of Huangpu Park. 


Huangpu Park is one of the most lovely spots on the Bund. It was completed in 1868. Here you can enjoy wide trees and flowers and relaxing garden landscapes. To the west of the park you can see old western buildings that were built at the beginning of the 20th century in a region known as Rockbund. This is the origin of the Bund with the earliest buildings.


Shanghai Mansion also known as Broadway Mansion is a five-star foreign hotel. It stands in a prominent position at the north end of the bridge. It was built in 1930 and completed in four years.


Waibaidu Bridge is one of the city’s landmarks spanning the Suzhou Creek and at the confluence of this creek with the Huangpu River. This is Shanghai’s earliest and largest steel bridge. It joins the north end of the Bund and faces the rippling river. From the bridge people can get great views of the skyline. 


Shanghai Tower is China’s tallest building. The tower rises 632 m into the sky and has 121 stories. It opened its doors in mid-2016. This spiral-shaped tower has office space, entertainment venues, shops, a conference center, a luxury hotel and “sky lobbies”. It has a corkscrew form and its nine interior cylindrical units are wrapped in two glass skins. At this time it is the second-tallest building in the world. The observation deck is the world’s highest on the 118th floor. Visitors are greeted by breathtaking views on the sky deck transported there by the world’s fastest lifts at 40 mph designed by Mitsubishi. A six-level luxury retail podium fills the base of the tower.


Yuyuan Garden is a beautiful place to visit. It was once the private garden of the Pan family in the Ming Dynasty. It is uniquely designed with elaborate pavilions, shimmering pools, zigzag bridges, pagodas and impressive rockeries.


Visit the famed Jade Rock, a 5-ton beautifully-shaped rock or climb to the top of the Great Rockery. Here you can see Shanghai’s flower the Magnolia grandiflora. Among the trees here are the luohan pine, willows, gingkos, cherry trees and redwoods.


Next to the garden entrance you’ll find the Mid-Lake Pavilion Teahouse, one of the most famous teahouses in China.


Next to Yuyuan Garden is Jyuan Bazaar with many small streets and lanes among them restaurants, tea houses and shops. It is a great place to try some local snacks and buy souvenirs.


An active temple with 70 resident monks is the impressive Jade Buddha Temple. It was build between 1911 and 1918 in the style of the Song Dynasty. Here are symmetrical halls and courtyards and bright saffron yellow walls.


The centerpiece is a 1.9 m high white jade Buddha. The seated Buddha is encrusted with jewels and weighs about one thousand kilograms.

A smaller, reclining Buddha lies on a redwood bed. In the large hall you’ll find three gold-plated Buddhas. There are also many other artifacts and about 7,000 Buddhist sutras line the walls.

The first temple on the left is the Hall of Heavenly Kings with the statues of Four Heavenly Kings, looking upon the four cardinal points.

Directly opposite is the Grand Hall where worshipers pray to the past, present and future Buddhas. Here you’ll also see carved luohan or arhats lashed to the walls with wires and a copper-colored statue of Guanyin.

As you pass through the Grand Hall you’ll come to a gated tranquil courtyard where stairs lead up to the Jade Buddha Hall. Here the centerpiece is the jade Buddha.


In the Reclining Buddha Hall is a small reclining white jade Buddha from Burma.

Beside the temple is a branch of the Antiques and Curio Store, selling miniature sandalwood drums and gongs that are replicas of the large ones used in ceremonies.


The Jin Mao Tower is a complex with offices, a convention space and a hotel.


50 km from the Bund is Zhujiajiao Water Tower. This gives visitors a feel of an ancient town. It is similar to Venice, Italy with well-preserved bridges and boats for transport. Zhujiajiao is a township in the Qingpu District of Shanghai. In the past it was a trading area with many canals used to provide products in little boats and barges. There are 36 ancient bridges and traditional Chinese-style residences.


Fengsheng Bridge is one of the main attractions among the ancient 36 stone bridges. It was built in 1812 and is thought to be the largest stone arch bridge in Shanghai.


Jing’an Temple has been restored. The original dates back to 1216 AD. It brings visitors back into the past with the tinkle of wind chimes and the scent of burning incense. The temple was constructed mostly of Burmese teak.


It has many impressive statues among them a huge 8.8 m high, 15-tonne silver Buddha in the main Mahavira Hall. A five-tonne Guanyin statue can be found in the Guanyin Hall, carved from a 1000-year old camphor tree.


In the very center of Shanghai is the Shanghai People’s Square. By 1993 after reconstruction the square encompassed an area of around 140,000 square meters and it has become the largest public square in the city.


The Shanghai History Museum offers displays of stuffed animals, dinosaurs and interesting interactive features. The architecture of the building is a highlight set in the art-filled Jing’an Sculpture Park. The exhibitions are spread over five levels and you can see realistic animals, birds and reptiles. One of the highlights is The African Savannah exhibit in the basement.


You’ll be amazed at the Shanghai World Financial Center rising 492 m high. This building has three observation decks on levels 94, 97 and 100. The top two are known as Sky Walks, offering floor of transparent glass. You can enjoy the Park Hyatt Restaurant on the 91st floor.


For a walk through Chinese history visit the Shanghai Museum. You can visit the Ancient Chinese Bronze Gallery and the Ancient Chinese Sculpture Gallery as well as the Zande Lou Gallery and the Chinese Calligraphy Gallery. Of interest are Chinese paintings, seals, jade, Ming and Qing furniture, coins and ethnic costumes. The building has been designed to resemble the shape of an ancient Chinese ding vessel. It includes an excellent museum shop selling postcards, books and replicas of the museum’s ceramics and other artworks. It is well-worth to purchase the audio guide.


Visit the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. This is a 468 m tall poured-concrete tripod tower. Its image can be seen all around the city on postcards and T-shirts. It was built in the Deng Xiaoping-era design. The highlight is the Transparent Observatory where you can look down through a glass-bottomed walkway. In the basement you’ll find the Shanghai History Museum. On the Sightseeing Floor at 263 m you’ll have fantastic 360-degree views across the city. Other features of the tower include a revolving restaurant at 267 m, a Space Capsule Sightseeing floor, a 5D cinema and an indoor roller coaster.


The Shanghai Ocean Aquarium adjacent to the popular Oriental Pearl TV Tower is one of the largest ocean aquarium in the world with the world’s longest submarine viewing tunnel that measures 155-meters in length. The aquarium consists of two pyramid-shaped buildings. Along with the exhibition area there is a gift shop and a restaurant that can seat up to 300 people.


The main building is divided into different exhibition zones – China, South America, Australia, Africa, Southeast Asia, Cold Water, Polar, Sea and Shore and Deep Ocean Zones. Exhibits include over 300 types and 15,000 water creatures and rare fish like poison dart frogs, jellyfish, moonfish, leafy sea dragons and emperor penguins.

At present this is the only aquarium in the world to have a China Zone. This zone specializes in exhibiting aquatic organisms and ecology of the Yangtze valley as well as some endangered aquatic species. Most creatures in this zone are under national protection like the Chinese sturgeon, mullet, Yangtze alligator and giant salamander.


Longhua Temple and Pagoda is Shanghai’s oldest and largest monastery that is named after the pipal tree (longhua) under which Buddha achieved enlightenment. Here trees are decorated with red lanterns and the scent of incense fill the air. Monks can be heard chanting. The temple dates back to the 10th century.

The main halls here are Maitreya Hall, Hall of the Heavenly Kings, Grand Hall of the Great Sage, Three Sages Hall and the Laughing Buddha Hall. This temple is popular for its 6500 kg bell, cast in 1894.


Opposite the temple entrance you’ll see the Longhua Pagoda rising seven stories at 44 m high. It was originally built in 977 AD.


Shanghai Zoo is a large-scale state-level zoo. It is located on the western outskirts of Shanghai. The zoo exhibits over 6,000 animals among them 600 rare animals. Among the animals from China are giant pandas, golden monkeys, South China tigers, Manchurian tigers, Yangtze alligators and elks. There are also animals from other parts of the world like giraffes, kangaroos, penguins, hippopotamuses, sea lions, ostriches and cougars. The zoo is divided into five exhibition areas – Primates, Herbivores, Carnivores, Birds and Amphibians.


Walking into the zoo you’ll find the Primate Zone with golden monkeys, hamadryas baboons, gorillas and chimpanzees. The golden monkey is a unique and rare animal from China.

In the Herbivore Zone you’ll see giraffes, Asian elephants, hippos and alpacas.


Giant Pandas live in the Carnivore Zone along with Bengal white tigers, South Chinese tigers, African lions and Sun bears.


The red panda area is circular and lets red pandas rest in trees or enjoy the sunshine.

The Carnivore Zone also includes Lion and Tiger Hill. It is divided into east, central and west hills. Here you can see Manchurian tigers, African lions and South China tigers.


You can view lovely birds like an elegant swan or the beautiful Jackass Penguin. The Bird Zone is amazing. 40 kinds of birds nest in the zoo, among which the oriole, skylark, swan, cuckoo and mandarin duck are famous. The Oriental egret, black swan, whooper swan, flamingo, peacock can also be seen here. Swan Lake is particularly lovely surrounded by various plants.


In the Amphibian Zone you’ll see Yangtze alligators, sea turtles and pythons among others.

All around the zoo are lovely flowers and more than 100,000 trees. The Scientific Building is the first of its kind established in China.

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Posted by: Rasma R | October 13, 2016

Nanjing, China


Nanjing, is the capital of the eastern Jiangsu province in China. It is located about 300 km up the Yangtze River from the city of Shanghai. During part of the Ming Dynasty it was the national capital. There are many impressive temples, monuments and landmarks among them Zhonghua Gate or Gate of China, a preserved 14th century section of the massive wall that contained the old city’s southern entrance.


Amazing Qixia Temple is a sacred site found on Qixia Mountain, 22 km southeast of Nanjing. It was founded by the Buddhist monk Ming Sengshao during the Southern Qi Dynasty. It remains an active place of worship. Today it is still one of China’s largest Buddhist seminaries.


Visitors enjoy the mountain’s colorful autumn.


There are two main halls:

Maitreya Hall – with a statue of the Maitreya Buddha sitting cross-legged at the entrance.

Vairocana Hall – with a 5 m tall statue of the Vairocana Buddha.


Behind the temple is the Thousand Buddha Cliff where you can find several grottoes housing stone statues carved right into the cliff side.


Sharira Pagoda was built in 601 AD. The upper part has engraved sutras and carvings of Buddha; around the base, each of the pagoda’s eight sides depict tales from the life of Sakyamuni.

Look all about you for wonderful views where steep paths lead you past pavilions and rocky outcrops. You can bring along lunch and enjoy your time here.


The Linguu Temple Scenic Area this expansive temple complex includes one of the historic buildings in Nanjing – the Beamless Hall. It was built in 1381, containing no beam support and built of brick and stone.


On both sides of the hall is a road leading to two flights of steps that go to the impressive Pine Wind Pavilion. It was originally dedicated to Guanyin as part of Linguu Temple.


Uphill at the rear of the temple is colorful Linguu Pagoda a nine-story, 60 m high octagonal pagoda dating from 1933.


Ming Xiaoling Tomb is the tomb of Zhu Yuanzhang, the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty. He was the only Ming emperor buried outside of Beijing.


The area surrounding the tomb is known as the Ming Xiaoling Scenic Area where a tree-lined pathway around the pavilions leads to picnic grounds and ends at scenic Zixia Lake.


The first section of this marvelous mausoleum is a 618 m “spirit path” that is lined with stone statues of lions, camels, elephants and horses meant to drive away evil spirits and guard the tomb. Among them are two mythical animals – a xie zhi which has a mane and a single horn on its head and a qilin with a scaly body, a cow’s tail, deer hooves and one horn.

Near the entrance is Plum Blossom Hill.


Plum Blossom Hill is toward the south from the mausoleum. The planting of plum trees here dates back Six Dynasties. This hill is famous as the “No. 1 Plum Blossom Hill under Heaven”. The plum blossom garden has over 13,000 plum trees from more than 400 species. This is one of the four plum blossom gardens found in China. The fragrant flowers bloom from late February to mid March.


Sun Yatsen Mausoleum is located at the top of a huge stone stairway consisting of 392 steps. Dr. Sun is esteemed by both communists and Kuomintang and is referred to as guofu, “Father of the Nation”. He died in Beijing in 1925 and it was his wish to be buried in Nanjing.


At the beginning of the path is a dignified marble gateway, topped with a roof of blue-glazed tiles. The blue and white mausoleum symbolizes the white sun on the blue background of the Kuomintang flag.


The crypt lies at the top of the steps at the rear of the memorial chamber. Upon a tablet hanging across the threshold is the inscription “Three Principles of the People” as formulated by Dr. Sun – nationalism, democracy and people’s livelihood. Inside is a statue of a seated Dr. Sun (better known to the Chinese as Sun Zhongshan). The wall are carved with the complete text of the “’Outline of Principles for the Establishment of the Nation”.


A prostrate marble statue of Dr. Sun seals his copper coffin.


To the west of the parking lot of Dr. Sun Yatsen’s Mausoleum is the May-ling Palace built in 1931. Looking from above the Mausoleum Road resembles a necklace and the palace seems to be an emerald. It has been referred to as the “Official Residence on the Red Hill” because at one time it was the residence of the chairman of the National Government. Since later on Chiang Kai Shek and his wife Soong May-ling spent their holidays here it was renamed May-ling Palace.

The roof of the palace is decorated with green glazed tiles and carved with over 1,000 phoenixes. Under the eave are yellow walls, red pillars and lovely paintings. In the front of the building is a Buick car that was presented to Soong May-ling by the American government.


Zahn Garden is a wonderful traditional Chinese garden right in the heart of town. Visitors delight in the willows, acers, magnolias, bamboo, potted bonsai pines and a beautiful lawn. The garden also has been decorated with courtyards, pools, corridors and rockeries. Part of the garden is The Taiping History Museum.


Taiping Heavenly Kingdom History Museum was once home to Taiping officials. The museum displays maps that show the progress of  the Taiping army, Taiping coins, weapons, uniforms and texts that describe the radical Taiping laws on agrarian reform, social law and cultural policy.


The Buddhist Jiming Temple was first built in 527 AD. during the Three Kingdom period.


Yaoshi Fo Pagoda rises seven stories tall and offers fantastic views over Xuanwu Lake. Entering the base of the pagoda you’ll see hundreds of gold Buddha figures in cabinets. At the rear of the temple you can take a relaxing walk along the city wall. There is a popular vegetarian restaurant on the premises.


Xuanwu Lake Park is a vast lake in a lovely 530-hectare park that has five interconnecting islands. The park has bonsai gardens, camphor and cherry-blossom trees, temples and bamboo groves. It sits at the foot of Mt. Zhongshan and is one of the three most famous lakes in Nanjing. The lake got its name because a black dragon was said to be on the lake.

Huan Isle has many willows, Ying Isle is famous for cherry blossoms, Liang Isle is where the annual grand traditional exhibition of chrysanthemums is held and Cui Isle has dark green pine, cypresses, willows and light green bamboos.


The Yangzi River Bridge opened on December 23, 1968 and is one of the longest bridges in China. It is a double-decker with a 4.5 km road on top and a train line below. On the approaches you can see socialist-realist sculptures. The easiest way to get on the bridge is through the Bridge Park. Unfortunately this bridge has become the world’s premier suicide site, surpassing even the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California in the U.S.

Bridge Park



Zhōnghuá Gate has four rows of gates and could house a garrison of 3000 soldiers in vaults in the front gate building. Horse ramps lead up the side to the wall.


Presidential Palace after Taiping took over Nanjing the Mansion of the Heavenly King was built on the foundation of a former Ming-dynasty palace. The palace was reconstructed and is now known as the Presidential Palace and has a classical Ming garden.


The Ming Palace Ruins lie scattered about Wuchaomen Park. The palace was built by Zhu Yuanzhang and served as a template for Beijing’s Forbidden City. You can climb atop of the ruins of Meridian Gate. In the park you can see local residents practicing ballroom dancing while saxophonists, clarinet players and other musicians gather together in the resonant tunnels beneath the gate.


Visit the historic campus of Nanjing University. It is a lovely campus with traditional architecture, lovely trees and green spaces.


Towering above the eastern suburb of Nanjing is awesome Purple Mountain which is known as one of the four most famous mountains in southern China. It got its name because purple clouds can be seen at the top of the mountain. The mountain is also rich in historical and cultural relics. It covers an area of 12 square miles and has over two hundred scenic spots.


There are four core scenic areas among them Dr. Sun Yatsen’s Mausoleum on the southern slope, Xiaoling Mausoleum to the west, the Linguu Temple Scenic area to the east and the Toutuo Ridge Scenic Area at the top of the mountain.


The Open-Air Music Hall is located southeast of the Dr. Sun Yatsen’s Mausoleum Square. The hall was built in one year from 1932 to 1933. Musical performances and public speeches are held here. This semicircular hall is made of concrete and steel. At the center is the stage and in front is a banana-shaped lotus pond. The semicircular lawn can hold three thousand people. Visitors can relax on the surrounding lawn.


Don’t forget to buy some foodstuff for the lovely resident white pigeons.

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Posted by: Rasma R | October 9, 2016

Wonderful Macau


Amazing Macau is an autonomous region on the south coast of China, across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong. It has been given the nickname of “Las Vegas of Asia”. For over 300 years it was a Portuguese colony. Here you can see many amazing things like ancient Chinese temples and buildings with a mix of impressive architecture. The Macau Peninsula  includes the old city center and further south are the conjoined islands of Taipa, Cotai and Coloane.  Visitors can find preserved Macanese architecture in Taipa, the new megacasinos in Cotai and colonial villages and lovely beaches in Coloane.


The most treasured icon in Macau with a towering facade and stairway are all that remain of the Church of St. Paul, a 17th century Jesuit church. It was designed by an Italian Jesuit and completed by early Japanese Christian exiles and Chinese craftsmen in 1602. It was a fire in 1835 that destroyed most everything. There are many interesting and spiritual carvings on the facade. Behind it is a steel staircase which visitors can climb to the top.


The Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt is a small museum found behind the ruins of St. Paul. There are carved wooden statues, silver chalices, monstrances and oil paintings on display. Among the oil paintings is a 17th century painting that depicts the martrydom of 26 Japanese Christians by crucifixion at Nagasaki in 1597. The adjoining crypt holds the remains of Asian Christian martyrs and includes the tomb of Alessandro Valignano, the Jesuit who founded the College of the Mother of God and helped establish Christianity in Japan.


For awesome views of the city and surroundings head for the highest point on the peninsula, Guia Fort. At the top visitors will find the amazing Chapel of Our Lady of Guia, built in 1622 and still retaining most of the original features like some of Asia’s most valuable frescoes. Next to it is the oldest modern lighthouse on the China coast dating from 1865. The lighthouse is a 15m tall structure which is closed to the public. If you prefer you can take the Guia cable car to the top. It runs from the entrance of Macau’s largest public park, Flora Garden.


Spread out at the base of Guia Hill is Floral Garden, a European-style garden. At one time these were the grounds of the Flora Palace, an aristocratic Portuguese mansion. The stone gateway at the entrance was once the palace guardhouse. There is a straight pedestrian avenue that is lined with tall palms and flowering shrubs. Within the gardens is an aviary, a small zoo and a tree-shaded refreshment patio. You’ll see formal flowerbeds and a stone pathway, winding upward past small waterfalls and belvederes to the top of Guia Hill where you can get spectacular views.


Macau Museum of Art is a wonderful five-story museum with displays of art created in Macau and China. Among the paintings are the artwork of Western artists like George Chinnery. Some of the other highlights include ceramics and stoneware that were excavated in Macau. The museum also features 19th century Western historical paintings from all over Asia as well as contemporary Macanese art.


Sir Robert Ho Tung Library is housed in a lovely building that was founded in the 19th century. It was once the country retreat of the late tycoon Robert Ho Tung, who purchased the house in 1918. The building has a dome, an arcaded facade, Ionic columns and Chinese-style gardens. It was given a modern extension by architect Joy Choi Tin Tin and the new four-story structure is all in glass and steel with Piranesi-inspired bridges connecting to the old house and a glass roof.

St. Joseph’s Seminary and Church is one of Macau’s most impressive models of tropic style Baroque architecture. The church was consecrated in 1758 as part of the Jesuit seminary (not open to the public) and features a white-and-yellow facade, a scalloped entrance canopy and the oldest dome ever built in China.


Mandarin House was built around 1869 and has more than 60 rooms. It was the ancestral home of Zheng Guanying, an influential author-merchant whose readers included emperors, Dr. Sun Yatsen and Chairman Mao. At the compound is a moon gate, tranquil courtyards, lovely rooms and a main hall with French windows. The windows have all been arranged in the labyrinthine-style that was typical of certain Chinese period buildings. Guided tours in Cantonese are offered on weekend afternoons.


Take a visit to the beautiful neighborhood of St. Lazarus Church District. Here you’ll see colonial-style houses and cobbled streets.


Lou Kau Mansion was built around 1889. This is a Cantonese-style mansion with southern European elements that once belonged to merchant Lou Kau. There is a flower-and-bird motif on the roof. On weekends free guided tours in Chinese are offered.


Lou Lim Ieoc Garden is the most Chinese of all of Macau’s gardens. It was built in the 19th century by wealthy Chinese merchant Lou Kau. The gardens were restored and opened to the public in 1974. This garden was modeled on those of Suzhou, the most famous of all Chinese classical gardens. It is enclosed by a high wall and has narrow paths winding through groves of bamboo and flowering bushes. There is a large pond full of golden carp and lotus flowers. Across the pond a nine-turn bridge zigzags. According to legend, evil spirits can only move in straight lines. The bridge comes to a large pavilion where you can find art and craft exhibitions and hear recitals during the annual International Music Festival.


Take a walk in Macau’s oldest Portuguese quarter along the Avenida da Republica. Here you can see some grand colonial villas, the Residence of the Portuguese Consul General and the Santa Sancha Palace that was once residence to Macau’s Portuguese governors. Today it accommodates state guests. In the area are also some lovely, abandoned art-deco buildings.


High above the villas of Avenida da Republica rises Penha Hill. It offers visitors fantastic views and a tranquil place to relax. On top of the hill is the Bishop’s Palace, built  in 1837 and a residence for bishops (not open to the public) and the Chapel of Our Lady of Penha, once a place of pilgrimage for sailors.



In the very heart of the Macau’s historic center you’ll find the Church of St. Dominic. This is a yellow Baroque church with a lovely altar and a timber roof. It was founded by three Spanish Dominican priests from Acapulco, Mexico in the 16th century. Its former bell tower is now home to the Treasury of Sacred Art. It displays ecclesiastical art and liturgical objects on three floors.


A-Ma Temple dates back to the 16th century. A-Ma aka Tin Hau, is the goddess of the sea. Fishermen would come here to replenish supplies and pray for fair weather.


Rising high above Macau is the 336 m Macau Tower. Observation decks are on the 56th and 61st floors. If you are into some real excitement you can try the climbing wall, a bungee platform that is supposedly the highest commercial bungee jump in the world, a sky walk around the rim of the tower and more daredevil stuff.


The Macau Wine Museum has more than 1100 kinds of wine on display. It is the only museum in Macau that allows beverages. Around 90% of the wine are Portuguese, including the oldest bottle – the Porto 1815. For MOP $15 you can have a taste from selected bottles. They also offer a rundown of Portugal’s various wine regions and you can see a display of wine racks. barrels, presses and tools.

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Posted by: Rasma R | October 4, 2016

Hong Kong


Our armchair travels have taken us to China. This populous country located in East Asia has a diverse landscape with grassland, desert, mountains, lakes, rivers and over 14,000 km of coastline.

Our first stop is Hong Kong an autonomous territory and former British colony found in southeastern China. It is a densely populated urban center, a major port and global financial hub. Its skyline is studded with skyscrapers. There are many architectural landmarks in the business district or Central.


Lai Chi Wo is a 400-year-old village located in Plover Cove County Park. It’s Hong Kong’s best preserved Hakka walled village and it has a Feng Shui woodland. This means that the baking of a wood brings good luck and fosters a good life. There are 200 houses, three ancestral halls, two temples and a square surrounded by banyans, opening out onto revived rice paddies. This is also one of the city’s most biologically diverse freshwater wetlands. Besides the rice paddies, cow and pig sheds have been restored and once shuttered village houses are now education and research facilities.


On the way to the village along a stream you’ll see the looking-glass mangrove with butress roots which form a lace-like pattern. There is also the white-flower Derris, a climbing vine with supple branches like elongated arms. This plant is poisonous  but it can be used as a fish stunner or insecticide.

Every Sunday and on public holidays the village offers 90-minute guided tours. There is also a Hakka sticky-rice dumpling making workshop.

Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple has colorful pillars, roofs, lattice work along with lots of flowers and incense. This is a destination for people from many walks of life in Hong Kong. Here a fortune teller will tell you your fortune using chim – bamboo fortune sticks. This complex was built in 1973 and dedicated to the god of that name, who began his life as a shepherd in Zhejiang province. At the age of 15 he was taught how to make an herbal potion that could cure all illnesses. So he is worshiped by the sick and those who want to stay healthy and is a favorite god among business people.

hong-good-wish-gardenBehind the main temple you’ll find the Good Wish Gardens with colorful pavilions like the hexagonal Unicorn Hall with carved doors and windows. There are zigzag bridges, waterfalls and carp ponds.


Take the time to wander through the Victoria Central Business District. Here you can see some colonial buildings and high-rising skyscrapers among them the famous


Bank of China skyscraper and one of the largest and oldest Chinese temples on Hong Kong Island the Man Mo Temple. It is also close by to the zoological and botanical gardens.


Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens – this Victorian-era garden is a delight for visitors with fountains, sculptures and greenhouses as well as some wonderful aviaries. This is home to some 160 species of birds. The zoo has a large collection of monkeys, sloths, lemurs and orangutans. It is one of the world’s leading centers for the captive breeding of endangered species.


One of Hong Kong’s oldest temples and a declared monument is the Man Mo Temple dedicated to the gods of literature (“Man”), holding a writing brush and of war (“Mo”), wielding a sword. It was built in 1847 during the Qing dynasty by wealthy Chinese merchants. There are large earth-colored spirals suspended from the roof which are incense coils burned as offerings by worshipers.


The highest point on Hong Kong Island is Victoria Peak rising 552 m into the air. It is one of the most visited places by tourists because it offers fabulous views of the city and there are woods to explore while you go walking. Here you can also follow the 50 km Hong Kong Trail.


The best way to reach the peak is to take the 125-year old gravity defying Peak Tram. The tram rises almost vertically up above all of the high-rises. It is Asia’s oldest funicular. At the lower terminus you can see an interesting gallery that features a replica of the earliest carriage. The Peak Galleria which adjoins the anvil-shaped Peak Tower offers a viewing deck.


Tai O  is the historical home to the Tanka boat people and their life is all about the sea. Here houses are built on stilts above the ocean and elderly residents dry seafood on traditional straw mats and make the village’s celebrated shrimp paste. Tai O is built partly on Lantau and partly on a tiny island about 15m from shore. With the large number of sampans in the small harbor Tai O was given the nickname “The Venice of Hong Kong”. You can get a rope-tow ferry on some weekends and holidays. Visitors enjoy wandering the back alleys, taking photos, strolling the long causeway and buying seafood at the markets.


Temple St. has the liveliest night market in Hong Kong. Here you’ll find merchants selling clothing, watches, CDs, footwear, cookware and many other items. There are also fortune-tellers, herbalists and on occasion some Cantonese opera performances. Take a taste of the street food on Woo Sung St. where you can get anything from a bowl of noodles to a full meal. You can rind a few seafood and hotpot restaurants in the area. The best time to shop here is from 7 PM to 10 PM.

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Chi Lin Nunnery is a lovely and large Buddhist complex dating from the 1930s. It was rebuilt of wood not using a single nail in the Tang dynasty style in 1998. This is a serene place with lotus ponds, bonsai tea plants and bougainvillea. Nuns make offerings of rice and fruit to Buddha and arhats (Buddhist disciples freed from the cycle of birth and death, Building this without a single nail was meant to demonstrate the harmony between people and nature.


The complex is entered through the Sam Mun, a series of “three gates” that represent the Buddhist precepts of compassion, wisdom and “skillful means”. The first courtyard contains the lovely Lotus Pond Garden which gives way to the Hall of Celestial Kings, with a large statue of the seated Buddha surrounded by the deities of the four cardinal points. Behind it is the main hall with a statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha.


No visit to Hong Kong is complete without a ride on the Star Ferry with a fleet of electric-diesel vessels with names like Morning Star, Celestial Star and Twinkling Star. Take a trip on a clear night to see all the lights. At any time of the day it is impressive to see all of the skyscrapers and the green hills all around. This is a 10-minute journey but they also offer a 60-minute Harbor Tour.

The Star Ferry was founded by Dorabjee Nowrojee, a Parsee from Bombay, India. Parsees believe in Zoroastrianism and the five-pointed star on the Star Ferry logo is an ancient Zoroastrian symbol.


Take a walk along the Tsim Sha Tsui East Promenade which is one of the best ways to view all of the skyscrapers and other buildings. It is especially wonderful to stroll along at night during the nightly Symphony of Lights, an impressive sound-and light show including 44 buildings on the Hong Kong Island skyline.


One of the finest city skylines in the world has to be that of Hong Kong Island, and the promenade here is one of the best ways to get an uninterrupted view. It’s a lovely place to stroll around during the day, but it really comes into its own in the evening, during the nightly Symphony of Lights , a spectacular sound-and-light show involving 44 buildings on the Hong Kong Island skyline.


The first part of the promenade is the Avenue of Stars, paying homage to the Hong Kong film industry and its stars with hand prints, sculptures and information boards.


Officially the promenade starts at the New World Centre shopping center and runs parallel to Salisbury Rd. It is especially crowded during the Chinese New Year because of the fireworks displays and in June during the Dragon Boat Festival.

At present all or most of the promenade has been closed for renovation through late 2018.


HSBC Building is an impressive building that was designed by British architect Sir Norman Foster in 1985. Upon completion it was the world’s most expensive building.



The harbor side entrance is guarded by two bronze lions called Stephen on the left and Stitt on the right. They were named after HSBC managers from the 1920s. Visitors can rub their paws for luck. The ground floor is public space then the elevators take you to the main banking hall. It is well-worth it to go to the third floor to see the cathedral-like atrium and the natural light filtering through the windows. The Chinese refer to this 52-story glass and aluminum building as the “Robot Building”.


The Hong Kong Museum of History offers visitors a look into the territory’s archaeology, ethnography and natural and local history. The Hong Kong Story tells visitors about the past taking them through eight galleries beginning with the natural environment and prehistoric Hong Kong and ending with the territory’s return to China in 1997. There are replicas of village dwellings, traditional Chinese costumes and beds. Free guided tours are available in English.


St. John’s Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral where services have been held since its opening in 1849.  There are lovely stained glass windows that show scenes of vernacular Hong Kong life. From the ceiling hang tattered regimental flags which were buried during WWII to hide them from the Japanese.


The Hong Kong Heritage Museum is a spacious, high-quality museum. Among its highlights is a children’s area with interactive play zones. The New Territories Heritage Hall has mock-ups of traditional minority villages, the Cantonese Opera Heritage Hall lets visitors watch old operas with English subtitles and there is an elegant gallery displaying Chinese art. On display until July 2018 is a Bruce Lee exhibit with some 600 items of memorabilia.


Hong Kong Park is one of the most unusual parks in the world. It puts emphasis on creations like its fountain plaza, conservatory, waterfall, indoor games hall, playground, taichi garden, viewing tower, museum and arts center.

For shopping and entertainment head for Tsim Sha Tsui. This district is a melting pot of culture and commerce. The main road is Nathan Road along which you’ll find many restaurants, boutiques and other shops.


Of interest in the area is the former Kowloon-Canton Railways Clock Tower, a Hong Kong landmark.


The Tsim Sha Tsui Cultural Complex is home to the Hong Kong Space Museum and the Hong Kong Museum of Art.


For thrills and excitement visit Ocean Park where you can walk through Old Hong Kong, ride roller coasters and see rare and exotic wildlife. It is also home to the largest aquarium dome in the world. There are thousands of fish from 400 species, a Reef Tunnel and a chance for a hands-on experience with sea stars and sea cucumbers.


You can participate in a Giant Panda Adventure and see giant pandas, red pandas and the endangered Chinese Giant Salamander.

Among the fun rides is the Mine Train, Raging River and Space Wheel.


Hong Kong Disneyland opened in 2005 and is divided into seven areas – Main Street USA, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Adventureland, Toy Story Land, Mystic Point and Grizzly Gultch. This is a small version of Disney and except for some spectacular roller coasters most of the rides are appropriated even for small children. A Feng Shui master was consulted when building the park and the number eight is prominent here. The official spokesman for the park is Canto-pop singer Jacky Cheung. Don’t worry about finding something good to eat. You can get snacks or full meals. Eastern food – dried squid, fish balls on a stick and dim sum or Western food – burgers, cotton candy and muffins. Like at any Disney themed park costumed characters can be found everywhere.

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Posted by: Rasma R | September 30, 2016

Taipei, Taiwan


We’ve arrived in the capital of Taiwan, Taipei. The city has a skyline that is dominated by the Taipei 101 skyscraper. There are many wonderful temples to see, amazing contemporary buildings and lovely green parks.


In Xinbeitou you’ll find hot springs with high temperatures that are caused by the terrestrial heat of the Datun Mountains. Thermal Valley is one of the earliest hot spring sources in Taiwan. The hot spring here is white sulfur and it’s been famous since Japanese colonial times. You’ll also find some historic monuments and natural scenic spots in the area.


You cannot miss the Taipei 101 building rising high into the sky. It was completed in 2004 and was the tallest building in the world at that time. In 2011 it received the LEED Green Building Platinum Certification, which made it the tallest green building in the world. The shape of the building reminds one of a bamboo, symbolizing “success after success”. Up on the 85th floor you can enjoy great food and drink at the sky restaurant. From the Observatory on the 89th floor you can see fantastic views of the city. At night the building is illuminated in rainbow colors and the walls display special messages or pictures during major holidays. Visit the Taipei 101 Mall for a fantastic shopping experience and enjoy the largest indoor cafe and restaurant area.


At the Longshan Temple there are hundreds of statues of Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian deities. This temple mixes traditional Chinese siheyuan (four-building courtyard) with palace architecture in its design. The temple is divided into front hall, main hall, rear hall, right wing and left wing. The temple walls have paintings of vivid creatures and stone statues of mystical creatures guard the temple grounds. The roof is decorated with figures of dragons, phoenixes and other creatures. They represent the pinnacle of mosaic art in Taiwan. This temple has been declared a Secondary National Heritage Site.


After leaving the temple head into a little street that is known as Herbal Medicine Lane. In days past before the development of western medicine, the local people would come here to buy traditional herbal medicine especially after praying at Longshan Temple. Slowly this neighborhood became a thriving marketplace for herbal medicine. You can enjoy a soothing and relaxing cup of herbal tea.


The National Palace Museum offers visitors over 690,000 artifacts on display. It is one of the most celebrated museums of Chinese arts. The museum is designed in the style of a Northern Chinese palace. The entire collection here covers 5,000 years of China’s historical and artistic achievements. The museum provides Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Spanish and Korean language guides and museum-related literature. After you have visited the museum stop by The Silks Palace restaurant next door, offering the National Treasures Banquet which creatively incorporated the treasures of the museum into their dishes. The museum also provides romantic evening strolls on Friday and Saturday nights when the main halls remains open until  9 PM.



Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall was built in memory of the first president of the Republic of China. The building of the hall was started in 1976 one year after the president passed away. The hall was designed by C.C. Yang. The hall is white with a blue roof, representing the dominant colors in the ROC flag and the emblem of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) adorns the vaulted ceiling. There’s a bronze statue of Chiang Kai-shek looking symbolically to the west toward the Presidential Office Building and mainland China. Democratic assemblies are held on the front plaza.


Enjoy Dadaocheng Pier where you can get great views of the Tamsui River. This is a scenic riverside area. Visitors can take a boat ride on the river, ride a bike or just enjoy the riverside landscape. In good weather couples enjoy strolling under the romantic lighting at dusk. You can enjoy street performers and watch the people going by.


The Evergreen Maritime Museum offers visitors displays of ship models, dugout canoes, sailing vessels, machine-powered ships and much more. You’ll find bamboo rafts that feature Taiwan’s island culture and the “King Boats”, bearing religious significance. There are also a large number of marine paintings on display dated from the 18th to the 20th centuries. The museum also offers an exploration area so visitors can enjoy first-hand experience of navigating through the display of navigation equipment and the multimedia interactive learning device.


In the evenings the Holy Family Catholic Church is bathed in a pure white light. Inside the light through the stained glass windows offers a spiritual peace. The interior is adorned with 18th century-old reliefs depicting stories from the Bible.


The Taiperi Fine Arts Museum opened its doors in 1983. This was the nation’s first museum devoted primarily to the promotion and display of modern art. In 1998 they added the “Taipei Biennial” an event that attracts the participation from artists from all over the world. The museum remains open until 8:30PM on Saturdays.


Next door you’ll find the Taipei Story House that was converted from a tea merchant’s villa that was built during the Period of Japanese Occupation. This is an open museum dedicated to exhibits about tea. It hosts over 100 diverse activities annually among them exhibitions and seminars, musical performances, tea lectures and fairs.


The Taipei Zoo is one of the ten largest municipal zoos in the world and the largest in Southeast Asia. The zoo offers seven indoor exhibits, each with a different theme.  Among them are the Insectarium with various butterfly species, the Koala House and the Penguin House. The zoo has two giant pandas from China and they’ve become the resident celebrities.

At one time the star of the zoo was the Asian elephant known as “Grandpa Lin Wang” who lived to the ripe old age of 86. When he died he was stuffed and put on display in the Education Center and counts as the world’s largest stuffed Asian elephant.


The zoo has eight outdoor exhibits among which the most popular are the Children’s Zoo, “Formosan Animal Area” and “African Animal Area”. The Formosan Animal area has animals found only in Taiwan including the Formosan sika deer, Taiwan macaque and Swinhoe’s pheasant.


The Maokong Gondola is the first gondola system in Taipei. One-way travel on a gondola is about 20 to 30 minutes. The gondola ride includes four stops – the Taipei Zoo Station, Taipei Zoo South Station, Zhinan Temple Station and the Maokong Station. Among the best times to take a gondola is in the mist after a rainfall, when the sun is setting and when the lights of the city go on at night. One of the highlights of the ride is after passing the Zhinan Temple Station and entering a steep V-shaped gully. At the final stop Maokong there are many tea plantations and tea shops to visit.


Zhinan Temple is one of Taiwan’s famous Daoist temples. Daoism is an ancient religion that originated in China. Practitioners believe the dao to be the source from which the entire universe was created. Inside the temple you’ll see a plaque in the main hall with the inscription “The supreme mountain under heaven”. The inscription not only alludes to the surrounding mountain scenery but also to the temple’s patron god, Lu Dongbin, who is the most famous of the “Eight Immortals” of Chinese mythology. His great powers have been described in various folk tales.


If your into wild bird watching head for The Huajiang Wild Duck Nature Park. Here you’ll find a vast stretch of sandbars and wetlands which have become a habitat for various migratory birds. The park is divided into a Core Zone, a Buffer Zone and a Sustainable Utilization Zone. The area inaccessible to the general public is the Core Zone which is a major wetland restoration site mostly dedicated to the restoration and maintenance of bird habitats. There is an eco-system consisting of freshwater ponds, tidal ponds, aquatic plants and marsh plants. The Sustainable Utilization Zone has been installed with a duck-watching trail, a bird observatory square and a family-friendly zone, where people can enjoy outdoor activities.

Around the end of the 1800s, Ximending was planned as a residential area for the Japanese during the Japanese era. The Ximen Market was constructed in 1908. At one time The Red House was the entrance to the market, which was the main shopping area for Japanese living in Taipei.


The Red House was transformed into a Chinese opera theater and a movie theater after the Nationalist government took over Taiwan. It is now a municipal-designated historic site. Today it’s a municipal-designated historic site and transformed into a platform for creative arts and reopened in 2002. The Ximen Red House Tea Shop offers tea and snacks. The building in cross-shaped and in the back are several small workshops that sell Taiwan-made products. On the second floor is The Ximen Red House Theater, holding regular activities like Chinese crosstalk, traditional opera, stage plays and concerts. Art signing and autograph signing events are held by famous entertainers on the square in front of the house, making it an interesting place and an emerging tourist attraction.



The Taipei Confucius Temple was modeled after the original Confucius Temple in Qufu, China. Among the Confucius temples in Taiwan, this temple is the only one adorned with southern Fujian-style ceramic appliqué. In the main hall of the temple a black plaque with gold lettering reads “Educate without Discrimination”. Every year on September 28, a grand ceremony with traditional music and stylized dancing is held at the temple in honor of Confucius.


Yangmingshan National Park is the one national park located closest to a metropolitan center. The park features a diverse terrain and ecology. It’s home to many protected species. If you get lucky you might get a glimpse of one of Taiwan’s endemic bird species – the Formosan Blue Magpie.


This national park is full of plum, cherry, peach and pear trees. Once the cherry blossom season is over in mid-March the calla lilies start to bloom at Bamboo Lake.


One of the highlights in the park is the “Flower Clock” that is composed of a variety of seasonal flowers.

There are also hot springs and nearby Xing-yi Road is lined with hot spring restaurants. You can take a relaxing dip in the sulfur springs. The park has everything great to offer – lovely flowers in the spring, a place to relax and cool-off in the summer, silver grass and maple leaves in the autumn and hot springs in the winter.

ta-beitu-library Beitou not only offers hot springs but it is home to Taiwan’s first  “green” library located in the lush greenery of Beitou Hot Spring Park. The library was the first building in Taiwan to receive the certification of “Green Building”. The structure has French windows and natural light and it looks just like a large tree house. Part of its roof is covered in solar panels that can store up to 16 KW of power. The wooden balcony is eco-friendly; its vertical design conserves energy by reducing the amount of heat-causing rays allowed to enter the rooms. The building was painted with eco-friendly paint to reduce the amount of toxins released into the environment. You can choose a good book and read in the quiet and lush green natural surroundings.


The Rainbow Bridge is 167-meters long and spans the Keelung River. It’s suspended at the center by four steel cables; the unusually S-shaped, red-painted bridge has an arch structure reinforced with steel ribs and has wooden railings. It has been paved with pink and pale blue tiles and can be accessed only on foot and by bike. At night it is illuminated.


The 116-meter Baishihu Suspension Bridge spans the Zhongyong and Daluntou Mountain systems and is accessible from the entrance by the parking lot of Bishan (Kaichang Shengwang) Temple. This keel-inspired bridge stretches from the Dragon Boat Rock in the east to Yuanjue Waterfall in the west and connects all four mountains – Baishihu, Daluntou, Zhongyong and Liyu. On the other side of the bridge is a 100 meter Chungiu Footpath that offers visitors a horticulture area. Around the suspension bridge are temple yards, orchards, forest footpaths and the lake-strewn wetland.

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Posted by: Rasma R | September 25, 2016

Kaohsiung, Taiwan


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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).

Xuan Wu on Lotus Pond at dusk

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.


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.

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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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Posted by: Rasma R | September 21, 2016

Islamabad, Pakistan


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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.

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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.


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.


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.



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.

ka-dolmenLater on you can head for Dolmen Mall which has become a popular shopping destination since you can find international brands here and international fast food.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.


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.

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.


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.

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Posted by: Rasma R | September 13, 2016

Lahore, Pakistan


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.



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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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 .

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