Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Arc De Triomphe, Paris

If there is one road not to be missed in Paris it has to be this one; Walk from the largest and the most famous museum in the world (Louvre) through one of the most fashionable shopping avenue (Champ Elysees) to Arc De Triomphe is truely spectacular. It connects the heart of ancient Paris to modern day La Defense with Arc De Triomphe standing as a gate way. Coming from India, this thriumphal arc looks very similar to our own India Gate. It was built to commemorate soldiers who fought for France during Napolean's reign. Today it stands magnificiently amid a huge road intersection leading to four most important landmarks of Paris that define the city: The Eiffel Tower, Moulin Rouge, Louvre and La Defense.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jama Masjid, Delhi

Jama Masjid is one of my personal favourite monuments in Delhi. The walk from the Chandni Chowk metro station to the masjid is quite an experience. You have to pave your way criss-crossing through a zillion street shop vendors, hawkers, rickshaws, honking traffic and other pedestrians. Closer you get to the masjid, the closer you are to the ground reality in which millions of Indians live and more sceptical you are about the whole Indian growth story. The grand stairway is littered with rubbish and lined by disfigured beggars. It is after you have been through all this; that you appreciate the vast expanse, sacred facade and beautiful minarets of the masjid. You can buy a ticket for 10 Rupees to climb up one of the minarets and have a panoramic view of the city or just sit back in the open area and enjoy the hustle bustle of the crowd who are there to pray, relax or feed the pigeons. The mosque is situated at the centre of old Delhi in Chandni Chowk, so the only view you can have from the sides is of clogged roads and cluttered dilapidated houses. Jama Masjid is the biggest mosque in India and was built by the mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1656, who has also built Taj Mahal and the Red Fort.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tower Bridge, London

A perfect evening with friends hanging out at one of the cafes' on the Thames path near Tower Bridge on the north bank of the river. I feel amazing every time I look at the magnificient Tower Bridge all lit up and its even a better experience to take a walk though the grand structure which was built in 1894. It is considered an engineering marvel of the 19 th century and is the most famous Bascule Bridge in the world. Incase you are wondering what bascule bridge is -a bridge in which arms can be lifted to let ships pass through the river and lowered again to let traffic pass across the river. The mechanism to lift the arms is hidden in the two towers of the bridge. Its kind of exciting to see the bridge raise its arms for the ships to pass under it. Tower Bridge is one of the most iconic structures of the London city often mistakenly referred as the London Bridge which is actually another crossing just next to the Tower Bridge. It derives its name from the Tower of London near it which is home to the legendary Kohinoor diamond.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Colosseum, Rome

Colosseum in Rome is one of the most magnificent and imposing structures I have ever seen. With an entrance fee of 12 Euros, this approximately 2000 year old architectural feat is definitely worth a visit. The interior is as splendid as the outer facade. The construction of this grand amphitheatre began in 72 AD during the reign of Emperor Vespasian and was completed after his death in 80 AD by the emperor Titus who inaugurated the building with hundred day games in which approximately 9000 animals were slaughtered. This marked the beginning of enormous bloodshed colosseum had to witness for centuries. This great arena could host 50,000 spectators and was used for public entertainment which began with comic displays by gladiators and animals followed by gladiator combats culminating in death of one of the fighters. In 407 AD, Emperor Honorius banned gladiator fights but the animal combats continued for another century. The gigantic colosseum is the most amazing marvel built by Roman Empire which has seen it all – brave gladiator combats, cruelties used for public entertainment, famines, natural disasters and threats to demolition, but is still the most admired monument standing in the heart of Rome.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Right Time to Visit Bharatpur

Finally we were there at the right time at the right place amidst the beautiful birds resting in there natural habitat, as if they are on some vacation. So the best time to visit Bharatpur and Sultanpur Bird Sancturies is from October to March and the best way to explore the sanctury is on a bicycle which can be hired for 25 Rupees for the whole day. Other option could be a rickshaw ride, if you just want to enjoy the bird views without tiring your muscles.
The sanctury, now has been renamed as the Keoladeo National Park (named after the Keoladeo temple of Shiva within its boundaries) and is home to many endanged species like siberian cranes during the winter season. You can see clusters of huge birds with long beaks and colourful tails covering the whole tree tops. Bharatpur is approximately 180 Km from Delhi, which is about 4 hours drive and makes a good weekend get away from the city life. You can also visit Mathura (Birth place of Bagwan Krishan) and Vrindavan on the way or take a detour to Agra to visit Taj Mahal which is 55 Km and Fathepur Sikri which is 22 Km from the sanctuary.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary

One of the weekend trips to SultanPur Bird sanctuary which is about 50 Kilometers from Delhi and about 15 Kilometers from Gurgoan, its situated in, district Haryana. The ride to the sanctuary was as bumpy as it possibly could be and the road was one of the worst I have seen in my little experience of travel in India. With no knowledge of Bird kingdom and no aspiration to be an ornithologist we started our journey with ghar ke bane aloo ke paranthe on a scorching day (Some where in the end of August) in my car which unfortunately had no air conditioner. Something good about travelling in India is even if you don’t have GPS, you will always find people on road ready to help and tell you the directions, though sometimes they are themselves not very sure. So after a sweltering and bowel shaking drive, circumventing through tiny roads we finally made it to the sanctuary. Tickets were worth Rs. Five per person and surprisingly we were the only guests for the day. First thoughts were, are people in Delhi so ignorant that they don’t know about this place (of course very few people would actually bother), infact I didn’t know about it till the time we actually decided to go there, but the truth was this bird sanctuary is a protected area for migratory birds from Serbia, Europe and Afghanistan and they come here in the months of September and October and our timing didn’t match theirs. Even this did not discourage our spirits to make this trip successful, so we stepped inside the sanctuary with the hope of seeing some of the resident birds and other migratory birds that might have preponed there trip to the sanctuary. We walked through the narrow uneven path which was almost the parameter of the whole sanctuary, with the glazing sun over our heads, very little water and no food. We did have the glimpse of few of the birds from about half a kilometer, but none of us had the capability to tell us the names of the species. After this famishing and remember able walk we hogged in what ever was available at the nearby Haryana Tourism Resort and reiterated the lesson for the day to check for the timing before you visit a place and decided to visit Bharatpur another bird sanctuary , approximately 240 kilometers from Delhi at the right time of the year.