West Lake in Hangzhou

West Lake
West Lake With 2 Tourist Boats
Photo from: Paulchu, Creative Commons
West Lake Sunset View
Sunset View of West Lake
West Lake Morning View
West Lake Morning View
Photo from: Pedronet, Creative Commons
Sunset at West Lake, Leifeng Pagoda in the Back
Sunset at West Lake, Leifeng Pagoda in the Back
Photo from: Pedronet, Creative Commons
Thre Pools Mirroring The Moon Island
Three Pools Mirroring The Moon Island
Photo from: Wikipedia, Creative Commons

West lake is located in Hangzhou, the most famous tourist venture spot in china and it is defined as China’s most elegant nature lake. West Lake is also defined as “Paradise on Earth”. It takes three and half hour’s drive from Shanghai to Hangzhou City. Hangzhou is the biggest tourism venture spot in the Yangtze Dynasty because of West Lake. It is the best place on earth to spend leisure time. West Lake also represents the beautiful legendary track of Chinese history, artistic work, culture and literature. It has a vast landscape of 5.6 square kilometers in an elliptical shape with attractive scenery shots. West lake is divided into different spectacular spots by Su Causeway, Bai Causeway and Yanggong Causeway.

Best Scenery Spots Of West Lake:

West Lake Spring Dawn at Su Causeway: Spring Dawn at Su Causeway is the spot visited the most at West Lake. The name Su Causeway was given in fond memory of Su Dong Po , the governor of Hangzhou. Su Causeway landscape is around three kilometers with all six arch bridges named as Ying Po, Wang Shan,Yia Ti, Dong Pu and Qua Hong. Each bridge has its own uniqueness in defining the nature beauty and also reveals the poetic feel of the nature to every visitor.

West Lake Lingering Snow on Broken Bridge: The broken bridge is located in the east of the Su Causeway. This is the most famous bridge among all the bridges in West Lake. This bridge was constructed during the Tang Dynasty and later reconstructed in 1921 by the Hangzhou city. This bridge is the most attractive spot to the tourists during snowing season, that’s why it is named as Lingering snow on Broken Bridge. These snowy days were very precious and most memorable days because snowing season in southern part of China doesn’t lasts for longer period.

The West Lake Breeze – ruffled Lotus at Quyuan Garden: Tourists will enjoy the joyful lotus blooming theme of summer vacation at Quyaun Garden. This West Lake breeze stands in the second position of the top ten scenes of the West Lake. Visitors enjoy the blossom summer breeze of lotus in the pools while relaxing. The bridges in the West Lake are surrounded by the lotus which reveals the beauty of the West Lake.

West Lake Leifing Pagodain Evening glow: Tourist will enjoy this beautiful scenic spot during sunset time as the pagoda looks in a spectacular elegant view with yellow shining glow. This Leifing pagoda was constructed with seven stories supported by pavilions and ladders. This pagoda resembles the Chinese architecture the scene is the most attractive spot in the West Lake for all the tourists.

Three Pools mirroring the moon in the West Lake: In West Lake, there are three small islands in which the biggest one is named as “Lesser Yingzhou”, this one is the famous and finest of the remaining two. The scenic view of these three islands and the lake brings the rhythm and beauty of the nature with “lake within the islands and islands within the lake”.

Fishing at Flower Harbor : Flower harbor is located close to the Su causeway. This harbor is comprised of Flower Garden, Red fish Pool,Peony Garden ,Widespread Woods and Lawns. Flower Harbor is the best place for refreshment of one’s mind. This Harbor is becoming famous for day-by-day because of its tourist attractions to the splendid decoration of numerous flowers, goldfish and trees.

March 2, 2009 at 5:33 pm | 2 comments

Daitokuji Temple

Daitokuji Temple
View of Daitokuji Temple Among the Trees
Photo from: Paul Davidson, Creative Commons

Daitokuji Temple is said to be the head temple of Japanese Zen Buddhism and it is located in the temple city of Kita-ku, Kyoto. The Daitokuji Temple is also called “Ryuho-zan” which actually means “Dragon Treasure Mountain”. Daitoku-ji Temple is not just a popular tourist spot but also one of the best places to experience Zen in Japan.

Daitoku-ji Temple was established in the year 1319 by Shoho Myocho. During Onin war, many temples were burned down which were rebuilt in the 15th century. Afterward, Daitoku-ji became the center of cultural activities in the form of landscape gardens, tea houses, sliding screen paintings, hanging scrolls, calligraphy and many more by the tea association. Daitoku-ji has several buildings in the complex namely Sanmon, Butsuden, Hatto, Hojo, Yokushitsu, Kyozo. Daitoku-ji operates about 22 sub- temples in which the most significant are Daisen-ji, Shinju-an and juko-in.

Apart from amazing sub- temples, there are superb dry landscapes, rock gardens like the Koto-in and the Ryogen gardens. Some sub temples even offer meditation classes. There are also two high class Buddhist vegetarian restaurants on the compound which is true in its quality.

Traveling to Daitokuji Temple

The easiest way to reach Daitoku-ji Temple is traveling through Karasuma line from Kitaoji Subway station. The alternate way to reach Daitoku-ji Temple is to take a bus from Kyoto station to drop at Daitokuji-mae. The admission fee for entering into the main buildings is absolutely free but the admission fee to visit the gardens and the sub temples varies. The sub-temples and gardens are open from morning 9:00 am to evening 4:30 pm.

March 1, 2009 at 1:01 pm | 3 comments

Daibutsu of Kamakura

Daibutsu - Great Buddha
Daibutsu – Great Buddha of Kamakura
Photo from: wikipedia, Creative Commons

Daibutsu in Japanese means Great Buddha and most westerns refer to Daibutsu as the Great Buddha of Kamakura. Great Buddha of Kamakura is located in Kamakura, Kanagawa prefecture, Japan. It is made of bronze and it is located in the Kotokuin temple, one of the most famous Buddhist temples of the Pure Land Sect in Japan. The Daibutsu monument is said to be the second largest monumental Buddha in Japan.

The statue of Kamakura was founded in the year 1252, but the buildings were wiped out by the tsunami tidal wave in the 15th century and now, the statue lies in the open with no roof. The buddha of Kamakura is of 13.5 meters (43.8 ft) tall, weighing about 93.1 tons, which is most impressive to hear. The great Buddha is seated in lotus position with hands forming a gesture of meditation called “DHYANI MUDRA”. The Daibutsu has a spectacular sight with a backdrop of wooden hills.

The statue of Kamakura is a 5 minute walk from the Enoden railway station which is the third station from the Kamakura main station. The temple is open from morning, 7 am to evening 6 pm and the admission fee for adults is 200 Yen and 150 Yen for children. There is also an opening to get inside the Great Buddha statue which has extra admission fee of 20 Yen. There are no closing days within the year, so the temple is always filled with visitors. The experience of seeing the Great Buddha of Kamakura cannot be described until we see it with our own eyes.

March 1, 2009 at 12:17 pm | 11 comments

Chion-In Temple

Chion-In Temple
The Chion-in Temple’s main hall “Mieido”

Chion-In Temple is one of the most sacred sites in Kyoto, Japan. Chion-In Temple is said to be the head temple for Jodo (pure land) sect of Buddhism. The temple was originally built by the priest Honen who is said to be the founder of Jodo sect (pure land Buddhism) and it is a place where the Jodo priests used to stay. The gate of Chion-In is the largest wooden gate in Japan till date.

The temple was built in the year 1234. Pure land Buddhism was actually founded in the year 1175 by the priest Honnen who used to teach that one could be reborn in the Jodo sect simply by reciting “amida amida amida Buddha” in devotion and faith. Due to the simple teachings and simple applications to the common people, the Jodo Buddhism became the most popular sect in Japan. Honen died in the year 1212 on the site of the temple.

The gate of the Chion-In Temple is the main attraction and it has a copper bell which is also the largest bell in Japan famous for its tolling in the midnight especially during the New Year’s Eve. The bell is said to be the heaviest in Japan which is of 74 tons. Chion-In Temple’s bell takes at least 17 monks to ring during the eve and this kind of amazing sight can only be seen near the temple. The main hall is so huge that 3000 people can occupy the hall and there is also a corridor behind main hall which leads to “UGUISU-BARI” (Assembly Hall) which was built with the finest architecture.

The easiest way to reach the temple is to travel through Tozai line which takes to Higashiyama station. From Higashiyama station, it takes about 10 minutes to reach the temple by walking. Temple grounds are always open and there are no closing days where the admission is absolutely free of cost. I would suggest the readers not to miss an opportunity of visiting the greatest temple of Buddha sect if planning a vocation to Japan.

March 1, 2009 at 11:41 am | No comment

Asakusa Kannon Temple

Sensoji - Asakusa Kannon temple
Sensoji – Asakusa Kannon Temple From The Front
Photo from: wikipedia, Creative Commons

Asakusa Kannon Temple, which is also known as “Sensoji” is a Buddhist temple located in Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo. Sensoji was built in 645 A.D with the finest Japanese architecture. Asakusa is a famous district in Tokyo, Japan located in the center of Shitmachi which literally means “low town” or “low city”. Asakusa is very well known for various temples in which Asakusa Kannon Temple is the most famous and also the oldest temple of Tokyo.

According to the legends of Asakusa, two brothers fished the statue of Kannon (goddess of mercy) from the river Sumida. They tried to put the statue back into the river but fortunately the statue always returned to them. So they planned to build a temple which started in 628 A.D and finished its construction in 645 A.D.

The travelers initially enter through the “Kaminarimon” (thunder gate) which is the outer gate of “Asakusa Kannon Temple “or “Sensoji” and also the symbol of Asakusa. Then after the way leads to a shopping street of about 200 meters called Nakamise, giving a way to the second gate called “Hozomon”. The shopping street consists of various traditional garments popularly known as “Yukata”, local snacks, folding fans etc, which are said to be very unique and high in business. Beyond the second gate, “Hozomon” stands at the Sensoji temple main building with five stories tower with multiple eaves which is the most attractive part of the building.

With so many temples in the area, each temple hosts at least one festival per year. The biggest and the most popular festival is “Sanja Matsuri”, which is celebrated in the month of May. During the festival, the streets of Asakusa district come alive with number of dancing girls with different costumes along with traditional Japanese sounds. Various festivals and events are held throughout the year in the area of Sensoji temple. Some of the other festivals are”Hozuki-ichi”, “Asakusa Samba festival”, “Tokyo Jidai Matsuri” and “Hagoita-ichi” held in the months of July, August, November and December respectively. A small carnival complex was constructed next to the Sensoji temple grounds which have the stalls of rides, booths and games. Since many of the tourist were from Japan, a theater was constructed which specializes in showing classic Japanese films.

Asakusa Kannon temple is very near to the Asakusa railway station which is highly served by many sublines. The easiest way to reach Asakusa is to take JR Yamanote line from Tokyo station to Kanda station which is approximately two min of journey and then transfer to the Ginza subway line for Asakusa which is approximately ten minutes of journey.

The climatic conditions of Japan are very favorable to the tourists all the way. During the months of November, December, January, February, March is about 10°C (50°F) and the rest of the months are about 28°C (82°F). Most of the travelers visit Asakusa Kannon Temple during May which held the biggest festival. One should definitely visit the mighty Sensoji at least once in a lifetime as Asakusa Kannon Temple is the most ancient temple of Japan.

For for information, visit: Sensoji Official Site

Tokyo Famous Landmarks

March 1, 2009 at 12:29 am | No comment

Akashi Kaikyō Bridge

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge
View of Akashi Kaikyō Bridge From the Air
Photo by: wikipedia, Creative Commons

Akashi Kaikyō Bridge, also called “Pearl Bridge”, is located in Japan and considered as Japan’s finest engineering feat. Akashi Kaikyō Bridge is the world’s longest suspension bridge in the world with a length of 3911 meters (12,831 ft). The Akashi Kaikyō Bridge serves as a link between the city of Kobe and Iwaya by crossing the Akashi strait. The construction was finished in a span of 12 years which actually begin in the year 1986 and completed in the year 1998. The bridge plays an important role in providing three routes across the inland sea.

Architecture

The Akashi Kaikyō Bridge applies some of the best architectural design and technology across the three spans. The Akashi Kaikyō Suspension Bridge has been designed to withstand earthquakes and harsh sea conditions. The Kobe earthquake in January 17, 1995 is an example of the bridge’s strength.

History

Before the construction of the bridge, boats and ships (ferries) were used to carry passengers and vehicles across the Akashi strait. The Akashi strait is an international waterway approximately 1500 meters wide and serves as a shipping lane. The Akashi strait waterway was a dangerous waterway prior to the construction of the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge. In 1955, a severe storm came upon the area, in which two ferries sunk, resulting in the death of 168 people. As a result, the Japanese government developed a suspension bridge to cross the strait. Originally, the plan was to construct a railway along with a road bridge. But the construction was restricted to a road bridge consisting of 6 lanes.

Tourism

The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge has become a tourist attraction in Japan. Two amazing parks have been built near the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge. The two parks are named Maiko and Asagiri. The view of the bridge from the park is an absolutely magnificent sight. Both parks can be reached using the coastal train line.

Pictures & Photos

February 27, 2009 at 7:30 am | 49 comments

Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji
Main View of Mount Fuji, Truly Amazing
Photo by: emrank, Creative Commons

Mount Fuji, which is known as Japan’s highest mountain stands at a height of over 12,388 ft (3,766 m) at the central area of Honshu, Japan. Fuji, Japan’s tallest mountain is considered to be one of the “Three Holy Mountains” along with Tate and Haku. Mount Fuji also serves as a border between Shizuoka and Yamanashi. It is in the shape of a cone which is mostly portrayed in pictures; Mount Fuji is a great tourist landmark where adventurous sport like climbing most often takes place.

Climate

The climate is extremely cold as the surface of the mount is covered with snow for most of the months during the calendar year. The coolest temperature here was -38.0 °C (36.4 °F) and the hottest temperature was 17.8 °C (64.0 °F). From Yokohama, Tokyo, this place is visible during summer. The name Fuji-san is often referred as Fujiyama but it proved wrong in Japanese, later it became popular as Fuji.

Volcanic Activity

Volcanic activity has been discovered by scientists at four stages at Mount Fuji. The starting stage includes Sen-Komitake which contains Aden site which was found deep inside the mountain. The next stage is followed by Komitake Fuji, which was formed in the ancient times. The next stage is followed by Old Fuji which stood over Komitake,the present Fuji is said to be the top of all which was formed 10,000 years back. The last time this volcano erupted was recorded on December 16, 1707 and lasted unto January 1, 1708, this is also known as “The Hōei Eruption of Mount Fuji”. During that time, burned pieces of coal and ashes came out like rain. Ever since 1708, no eruption signs has been discovered and today, this mountain has a less risk of volcano’s eruption.

History

Mount Fuji is thought to be discovered by a monk in 663 AD. Considering the place as sacred; women were not allowed on the summit until the Meiji Era (1868-1912). In September 1860, Sir Rutherford Alcock was the first person to climb the mountain; it took eight hours to climb up to the top, three hours to come down. Also, Lady Fanny Parkes was the first woman to climb the mountain in 1867. This place is also known to be home for warrior’s culture where the samurai used the place as their training area. From 2006, the military camps of Japan and United States are operated from this place.

Climbing Mt. Fuji

Climbing Mount Fiji is an adventurous sport and it starts from July 1st to August 27th. The rising of the sun can be seen from this place and more people climb the mountain during the night in order to see the sun rising. Every year, over 200,000 people are expected to climb the mountains, out of that, 30% of the people are from the western countries. Also, there has been a paragliding from Subashiri and Hoeizan.  There is a forest named Aokigahara, which is located at the bottom of the mountain. This forest is known to be the suicide spot with an average of 30 suicides every year.

Pictures & Photos

February 27, 2009 at 5:30 am | 10 comments

Meiji Mura Museum & Theme Park

Meiji Mura
Facade of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel, Meiji Mura

The Meiji Mura is an outdoor Museum & Theme Park located in lnuyama within Aichi prefecture, Japan near Nagoya (capital of Aichi prefecture). In March 18, 1965, the Museum was opened to the public. Meiji Mura shows the ancient history of Japans’ buildings from 1867-1989. It consists of 65 buildings at the time of Meiji period since 1868-1912. During that time at Lake lruka, more than 60 famous buildings were moved and reconstructed over an area of 247 acres. This museum is known to safeguard the ancient constructions. Meiji Mura is open to public from 9:30a.m. to 5:p.m

The most recognized building at the this theme park is the main entrance of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo 1923 to 1967. The original structure was taken out and a new one was constructed for the hotel. Taniguchi Yoshiro was the person who started the Meiji Mura, known to be an architect and Moto Tsuchikawa, and eventually the vice president for Meiji Mura and later the president for Nagoya Railroad. Nagoya Railroad is the place that operated the Museum. When Meiji Mura was first opened in 1965, the Museum director was Taniguchi with over 15 buildings.

At the time of construction, Japan has seen a most influenced change. Japan started using the skills of western countries, which included techniques in construction changes in the construction style. The main motto of Meiji Mura is to safeguard the historical buildings which included their past culture. The architecture determines their methods and their strong techniques used in the construction. This museum also includes Hawaii, Seattle and Brazil buildings.

As per 2005, a post office which is operational till date has been included. Among all buildings, some buildings are empty and some buildings determine the history such as its period, furniture etc. Some other structures including summer house of Shizuoka and St. Francis Xavier cathedral are preserved at Meiji Mura. The St. Francis Xavier cathedral is available for everyone for weddings.

For more information, please visit Meiji Mura official site

February 27, 2009 at 12:17 am | 1 comment

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu
Main View of Machu Picchu, Truly Amazing
Photo by: wikicommons, Creative Commons

Machu Picchu is a pre-Spanish, Inca civilization site located almost 8,000 feet above sea level. The site is located on a mountain ridge above the valley of Urubamba in Peru. The city is also called the “City of the Incas”. Machu Picchu is perhaps the most well known places affiliated with the Inca civilization.

Machu Picchu was built around 1450 for the Inca emperor Pachacuti, but was abandoned only 100 years later with the arrival of the Spanish. Although the city was known by the local inhabitants, it was not given global attention until 1911, when the American historian, Hiram Bingham, announced its presence to the scholar community. During his ensuing excavation, hundreds of artifacts were taken from the ruins and sent to Yale University of study. Recent discoveries also show that the site may have been visited by various other foreigners before Bingham, at which point even more artifacts were taken. The site was labeled as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983.

Traveling to Machu Picchu

The site as built in typical Inca style with dry stone polished walls and its most famous buildings are “The Temple of Sun” and “The Room of Three Windows.” It is located 80 kilometers northwest of Cusco and sits between two mountains. From Cusco, a train to Aguas Calientes, and then a bus ride up to the mountain will take you to actual site.

Machu Picchu is one of the top archeological sites in the world. It is also one of Peru’s most popular and lucrative tourist sites, bringing in 400,000 foreigners in 2000. With the number of tourists growing each year, preservation of the site has become a huge concern, with UNESCO considering adding it to their list of World Heritage Sites in Danger. In an effort to reduce traffic related damage, various restrictions have been placed on the number of people admitted to the site each day.

Pictures & Photos

February 25, 2009 at 8:14 am | 40 comments

Marrakech City

Marrakech Main Public Square
Main Public Square at Marrakech, Morocco
Photo by: wikipedia, Creative Commons

Marrakech, or Marrakesh, is also known as the red city. It is a significant and a vital city located in Morocco. The city is situated in the foot hills of the Atlas Mountains which are covered with snow all year round. The word Marrakesh is an Arabic word and it means the land of God and idols. Marrakesh is the capital city of the Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz region. The Europeans, Arabs and the Persians long ago used to call this place the Kingdom of Marrakesh.

The city has one of the largest traditional markets and it stays busy the entire year. Tourists come from all over the world to buy items from Marrakech. Not only does the area have a very active day life, but as the night descends, the city becomes even more interesting and active. The place is a city of entertainment and one can find great artists, drummers, dancers, musicians, comedians and storytellers.

There are countless options for dining, from fast and cheap to slow and expensive, everyone will find what they are looking for. The city does not have many historical monuments, rather, its beauty lies in the location and weather.

Pictures & Photos

February 23, 2009 at 5:19 am | 3 comments

Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge View With Lightning in Wiltshire, England
Photo by: wanderlustphoto, Creative Commons

Stonehenge is a prehistoric and a mystical monument that is located in the county of Wiltshire, England, about 3.2 km west of Amesbury. The Stonehenge structure is a formation of stones in a circular fashion that are standing upright. The construction of this monument started more than 5000 years ago and many tourists and visitors are amazed that they are still standing in place after such a long time.

Scholars have different theories about Stonehenge. Some say that the stones were initially erect; it was only after 2400 BC that they changed positions. Others say that the blue stones could have been the ones that were erected. Others believe the structure was built as a place of worship because all the stones are placed perfectly with the sunrise.

The site of Stonehenge is also another addition to the UNESCO and it has been a part of the World Heritage Sites since 1986. It is also protected by the Scheduled Ancient Monument and managed by English Heritage. The land on which Stonehenge is located is held by the National Trust.

Recent evidence has shown that Stonehenge has served as a burial ground from its beginning. Research shows that there are people buried there dating all the way back to 3000 BC. The huge stone formation and its mysterious past are a couple reasons why nearly 8,000,000 people visit this landmark every year.

Pictures & Photos

7 Wonders of the Medieval World

February 22, 2009 at 1:43 am | 14 comments

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal
Mausoleum of the Taj Mahal in Agra, India
Photo by: Zatrokz, Stock.xchng

Taj Mahal is a tomb situated in Agra, India. It was built by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is one of The Seven Wonders of the World and is said to be one of the finest exhibitions of Mughal art and architecture. The architecture has a mixture of Persian, Ottoman, India and Islamic influence. It was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983.

Some legends say that after the Taj was built, the Mughal Emperor cut off the hands of all the men who built it so that the same masterpiece could not be made again. The Taj Mahal is located on the banks of the river Yamuna in Agra. It was built in 1631 and was completed in 1653, spreading over 32 acres of land.

The Taj Mahal is also called the Taj and is a symbol of love, known for its monumental beauty. The monument is one of the main tourist attractions in India. The beauty of the Taj goes beyond words and it is said that the place looks magnificent during the full moon. The word Taj Mahal means Crown Palace in English and it is made up off mainly white marble and colorful gemstones.

Pictures & Photos

February 21, 2009 at 8:14 am | 85 comments

The Pyramids of Giza

Great Pyramids of Giza
From the Right: Khufu (biggest), Khafre & Menkaure Pyramids
Photo by: wikipedia, Creative Commons

Egypt has more than 100 pyramids that are spread all over the country. These pyramid structures are made up of sandstone brick. The pyramids were built for the rulers of Egypt. The first pyramid that was built in Egypt was the Pyramid of Djoser during the third dynasty.

The three most well-known Egyptian pyramids are the Pyramids of Giza. These pyramids were built on the outskirts of Cairo. They are located five miles from the old city of Giza which resides on the Nile River.

The Pyramid of Khufu at Giza is the largest Egyptian pyramid ever built. These pyramids are included as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The three are named the great pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), the pyramid of Khafre (Khafra) and the pyramid of Menkaure. The pyramid of Menkaure has three smaller pyramids that are right next to this main structure and are called the Queen’s Pyramids.

The pyramids at Giza attract great tourist attention every year. Out of all the three pyramids at Giza, only the pyramid of Khafre retains some parts of the originally polished limestone casing near its pinnacle. To the naked eye, the pyramid of Khafre looks to be the tallest, but in reality the pyramid of Khufu is the tallest of them all. Nearby, visitors can see the huge sculpture of the Great Sphinx. There are also many cemeteries and a village where the workers lived. The Pyramids of Giza are the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Pictures & Photos

February 20, 2009 at 9:28 am | 36 comments

Petra in the Arabah

Petra Jordan - View of Treasury
Black & White View of “Treasury” in Petra
Photo by: taraskalapun, Creative Commons

Petra is a site in the Arabah, Jordan that was discovered by a Swiss explorer called Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812 and is considered to be, yet another splendid beauty in the history of mankind. Arabah is a section of the Great Rift Valley and it is located between the Dead Sea (north) and the Gulf of Aqaba (south) forming part of the border between Jordan (east) and Israel (west).

Petra represents the ancient world’s heritage culture. It is a beauty hidden behind layers of mountain. The ones who have seen it say it is a treasure beyond comparison. It is now said to be one of the seventh wonder of the world and it belongs to the UNESCO world heritage site. The entire red rose city of Petra has such a charismatic appeal that it attracts anyone & everyone who enters the city, taking them to a different world of divine beauty and mystery. Petra mainly is admired because of its picture perfect architecture, its complex structure, quality and the non mentionable mere size.

Petra is said to have its origin before 106 AD; its culture is said to have been flourished in almost 400 years old. The one’s who visited it say that it is a site that can never be forgotten. The city of Petra takes its name, which is the Greek word for “rock”, from the fact that it is most notable for its buildings and tombs that are carved directly into the red sandstone that serves as the city’s natural protection from invaders. Its popularity with tourists may also have a connection to the city’s Biblical significance. It is here where King Aretas called for the arrest of the Apostle Paul at the time of his conversion.

How to Get to Petra

This historical fortress is located 170 miles southwest of Amman, Jordan on the edges of the Wadi Araba desert. It is also 50 miles south of the Dead Sea and the only way to enter the city is through a narrow crevice called the Siq. One has to uncover a very narrow path of mountains, kilometer by kilometer before they get to see the majestic beauty of Petra.This path is only about five meters wide, with sandstone walls towering up hundreds of meters high on both sides. This long, narrow & not very well lighted gorge is very cool & soothes the visitors before it unfolds the mystery step by step.

A taxi is the best means of transportation to get from the Queen Alia International Airport to Amman. Remember to ask the driver to take you to the Wahdat bus terminal, since there are two major bus stations in Amman. Destinations are usually printed in Arabic on the respective buses, so if you do not read Arabic, ask to be shown to the bus that will take you to Petra.

Pictures & Photos

February 19, 2009 at 4:31 am | 30 comments

Christ The Redeemer Statue

Christ The Redeemer Statue World Perspective
Statue of Christ The Redeemer With The World As Background
Photo by: Wili Hybrid, Creative Commons

Christ the Redeemer is a statue of Jesus Christ in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The statue is 120 ft tall and weighs 635 tons. It is now a part of the modern Seven Wonders of the World. It is located on Corcovado Mountain at its peak 700 meters, or 2,300 feet high in the Tujuca Forest National Park overlooking the city. The statue is made of concrete and soapstone. As a symbol of Christianity, it has become an important icon of Brazil, with Jesus Christ appearing to open his arms wide to embrace the entire city below.

The 1850s marked the first time it was suggested to construct a statue of Christ on the top of Carcovado by Catholic priest Pedro Maria Boss. The request of the finance was sent to Princess Isabel to build this huge religious mountain. Initially, the idea was dismissed. Finally, in 1921, the Catholic Circle of Rio proposed plans for a large statue of Christ.

During this time, in order to gain more publicity, the group organized an event for a week where donations were taken from the public and signatures were taken for those who were in favor of building the statue. Most of the donations came from the Brazilian Catholics. A lot of suggestions were given; some suggested that the cross of the Christ should be represented along with Christ, or that the statue should be of Jesus with a globe in his hands. Finally, a statue of Jesus with open arms was chosen. Construction of this religious symbol took nine years to complete, beginning in 1922 and ending in 1931. It was struck by lightning in February of 2008 during an electrical storm. Several trees were felled, but the statue was left unscathed, owing to the fact that it was made with a top layer of soapstone, which is a good insulator.

Traveling to Christ The Redeemer

Devotees flock to the site to get a sense of the peace and hope it provides, and ordinary tourists approach it to appease their curiosity regarding the spirituality that this statue evokes in many. Once in Rio, the monument can be reached by taxi or, if a more scenic route is preferred, by train from Rua Cosme Velho.

Pictures & Photos

February 18, 2009 at 5:55 am | 59 comments

Bagan Temples & Pagodas

Bagan Temples
The Many Pagodas of Bagan
Photo by: ZaNuDa, Stock.xchng

Bagan is a plain that covers an area of about 16 squares miles alongside the Ayeyarwaddy’s east bank. The temples and Pagodas of Bagan that are now decaying were constructed mainly between the 11th and 13th centuries A.D., which was during the time that Bagan was the seat of the Myanmar Dynasty. Local chronicles have carried tradition that says that 55 kings ruled over the Bagan Kingdom over the span of twelve centuries.

The Bagan temples are known as “gu” and were inspired by the Buddhist rock caves. These were big multi-story buildings that people could enter and were places where people went to worship. The interiors have richly frescoed corridors and sacred images and shrines that used to be worshiped. The temples are often massively built oblong or square structures with terraces on the outside to represent Mount Meru, which was a symbolic home for the gods. The Bagan temples were also surrounded by a thick wall so that it would separate the sacred realm from the world outside.

The pagodas of Bagan are funerary monuments that have acquired a Buddhism cosmic symbolism. The Bagan pagodas also contain relics that are associated with Buddha. Some of the monuments were constructed in honor of a notable person. These structures are built in the shape of a bell that is set on an octagonal or square base. They usually travel up to a tapering peak covered with jewels and metal, with a sacred decoration shaped like a parasol called a “hti” on the top.

Pictures & Photos

February 17, 2009 at 6:39 am | 18 comments

Ngorongoro Crater (Conservation Area) – Africa Safari

Ngorongoro Crater
Overlook on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater, Panorama View
Photo at: wikipedia, Creative Commons

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area of Tanzania stretches 8,300 square kilometers and supports a multitude of people, landscapes, and wildlife. Here you will find the Ngorongoro Crater, which is one of the greatest natural spectacles in the world and is considered to be the world’s 8th wonder.

The crater is located on the border of the Serengeti National Park, only a few hours away from Arusha, a town located at the bottom of Mount Meru. Ngorongoro Crater is one of the World Heritage Sites and is the biggest unbroken ancient caldera worldwide. It is almost 3 million years old and is alleged to be a potential location of the Garden of Eden in Africa. Before the Ngorongoro volcano exploded, collapsing 2 million years ago, it was one of the tallest mountains in the world. The crater actually measures 12 million inches diameter and the rim is 2,000 feet above the floor of the crater.

The abundant wildlife and stunning landscapes attract visitors from around the world. The wildlife here consists of wild game, lions, zebras, buffaloes, rhinos, elephants, gazelles, wildebeests, and many more. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is said to have about 30,000 different animals, all of which are protected by the steep walls that ring the crater. The natural landscape offers shelter for the crater’s grasslands, lake, springs, and forests.

Within the conservation area, the Maasai people have made a home around the crater. Visiting these temporary, traditional villages is a highlight of the area for visitors, who can watch while the nomadic warriors and herders create beadwork, fashion bright colored robes, and utilize cattle.

Pictures & Photos

February 15, 2009 at 7:55 pm | 2 comments

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls Panorama
Victoria Falls With Bridge
Two Panoramas of Victoria Falls
Both Photos by: Mister-E , Creative Commons

Victoria Falls is located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe and is one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders. The Zambezi River flows placidly until it reaches a broad edge measuring 1700 meters and plunges 100 meters into the frothy, thunderous abyss below.

The first European to see the falls was David Livingstone in November of 1855. However, records show that other foreigners had visited the falls before him. Livingstone first viewed the falls from the island before the first drop. He named the site Victoria Falls in honor of the queen, and the island was called Livingstone Island after him.

Even though it is not the highest or the widest waterfall, Victoria Falls is considered the biggest waterfall in the whole world as it has the widest sheet of falling water in the world. The falls have become a very popular place for visitors to go white water rafting, river boarding, and even bungee jumping. The downstream rapids of the river after the falls provide some of the scariest river boarding and white water rafting for beginners, as well as for those with experience.

Bungee jumpers also enjoy the thrill of Victoria Falls. Adventurers can jump down 111 meters off of the bridge by the falls, which was just recently named the highest commercial bungee jump in the world. Aside from rafting and bungee jumping, however, visitors can also enjoy bird watching, aerial trips on a helicopter, walking trails, and shopping.

Pictures & Photos

7 Wonders of the Natural World

February 14, 2009 at 7:51 pm | 36 comments

Angkor Wat Temple

Angkor Wat With Buddist Monks
Angkor Wat With Buddhist Monks in Front of Reflection Pool
Photo by: tylerdurden1, Creative Commons

Built in the early 1100’s by the Khmer King Suryavarman II, the temples at Angkor represent one of the most advanced architectural achievements in relation to its time. The temple was originally dedicated to the Hindu god, Vishnu, but later became a site for practitioners of Buddhism. Today, the site is a major tourist location, pulling in upwards of 600,000 foreigners every year. Efforts to preserve and restore the temple have been ongoing since the 1980’s and various countries have made efforts to protect the site including, the U.S., France, Germany, and Japan.

Conflicting theories exist in relation to the temple’s purpose. Unlike most of the other temples in the area, Angkor Wat’s main entrance faces westward. This has led some historians to believe that the temple was actually built as a funerary site for Suryavarman II. However, others reason that the temple faces west because the Hindu god, Veshnu, was affiliated with that direction. Regardless of the site’s purpose, though, it is agreed that Angkor Wat was once one of the largest cities in the world, and that it combined secularism and spiritualism.

Angkor Wat was built early in 1100s by Suryavarman II over an estimated 30 year period. It honors Vishnu, and the ruins are a symbolic structure of Hindu cosmology. The temple is located about 4 miles to the north of Siem Reap and south of Angkor Thom, its only accessible entrance through the gate to the west.

Angkor Wat is one of the largest religious sites in the world, covering around 500 acres of land. Its five walls and moats are a representation of mountainous chains, as well as the cosmic ocean. The vast compound’s short dimensions are aligned precisely along the north-south axis, and the east to west axis was diverted deliberately 0.75° to give its observers an anticipation of the equinox in spring for three days.

Pictures & Photos

February 13, 2009 at 4:37 pm | 42 comments

Teotihuacán Pyramids in the Valley of Mexico

Teotihuacan View From The Pyramid of the Moon
Valley of the Dead Taken While Standing on Pyramid of the Moon

Teotihuacán is a sacred site that is about 30 miles northeast from Mexico City, Mexico. This is a very popular area to visit from the city, as these ruins are among Mexico’s most remarkable sites. Some historians consider them to be amongst the most important in the world. Teotihuacán was built about 300 AD and is characterized by enormous monuments that have been carefully laid out based on symbolic and geometric principles.

The Temple of Quetzalcoatl is one of its most monumental structures, located in the center of the area. It boasts fine decoration and lavish offerings. The front of the temple has large, finely carved serpent heads that jut out from feathered collars that are carved into its stone walls. This temple has a pyramid built on top of it called the Feathered Serpent Pyramid. Here over 200 ceremonially buried warriors’ skeletons have been found by archaeologists.

The Pyramid of the Sun is positioned on the Avenue of the Dead’s east side. It is the third biggest pyramid in the world and the largest pyramid that has been restored in the Western Hemisphere. This structure has not been completely understood yet, but it is built over a sacred cave that has the shape of a four leaf clover. The first part of the Pyramid was built about 100 BC and was completed 400 years later.

The Pyramid of the Moon faces the northern plaza and has no discovered features in its interior. It is smaller than its neighboring pyramid but appears to be the same since it is built on higher ground. This pyramid seems to have been built in a pattern to reflect the sacred Cerro Gordo Mountain to the north.

Pictures & Photos

February 9, 2009 at 9:33 pm | 8 comments

Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef of Australia is an extensive complex of islets, shoals and, of course, coral reefs. It is located off of Australia’s northeastern coastline in the Pacific Ocean. The Reef expands over 1,250 miles to the northwest-southeast, at about 10 to 100 miles offshore and is about 135,000 square miles in area. This wonder has been characterized as the biggest structure that living creatures have ever built.

There are actually 2,100 reefs and 800 fringing reefs around the Great Barrier Reef. All of the reefs, however, share a common origin. They have all been formed from the skeletal waste and skeletons of living marine organisms over the course of millions of years. The framework of the reef is formed from tiny creatures’ calcareous remains, which are known as hydro corals and coral polyps. Bryozoans and coralline algae are what hold it all together.

At the Great Barrier Reef, at least 300 different species of hard coral, worms, sponges, anemones, crabs, prawns, crayfish, lobsters, gastropods, and a wide variety of other fish and birds can be found. The crown-of-thorns-starfish is actually the reef’s most destructive animal, with population outbreaks responsible for up to 90% of coral destruction in some reefs.

The Porolithon and Lithothamnion red algae forms most of the characteristic features of the Great Barrier Reef, and Halimeda green algae can be found nearly everywhere. There is not as much plant life on the surface, with only 30 to 40 different species.

Great Barrier Reef


7 Wonders of the Natural World

7 Wonders of the Underwater World

February 7, 2009 at 10:34 pm | 16 comments

The Forbidden City in Beijing

Forbidden City Overview
Overview of the Forbidden City
Photo by: Stas Kulesh, Creative Commons

The Forbidden City of China is located right in the heart of Beijing and was home to 24 emperors of the Qing and Ming Dynasties. The grand palace’s construction started during the Yongle Emperor’s 4th year of ruling the Ming Dynasty in 1406, ending 14 years later in 1420.

When the city was built, the emperor was believed to be the son of heaven, having supreme power. Therefore, their home on Earth was meant to be a replica, built to resemble the Purple Palace in heaven. A place as divine as this was forbidden to ordinary people, which is where the Forbidden City got its name. Its splendid architecture is a representation of the culmination and essence of the traditional Chinese style. The Palace Museum has become home to various Chinese historical and cultural relics and was recognized as one of the top 5 most important palaces worldwide.

During 1961, the museum was named an important historical monument under the Chinese central government’s special preservation. Then in 1987, the museum declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO foundation. The Forbidden City is the country’s best preserved imperial palace and the world’s biggest ancient palatial structure. It covers about 72 hectares of area, having a total of 150,000 square meters of floor space. There are 90 courtyards and palaces, 8,704 rooms, and 980 buildings. The city is surrounded by a moat that is 6 meters deep, and a wall that is 10 meters high with gates on every side.

Pictures and Photos of The Forbidden City

January 31, 2009 at 6:53 pm | 7 comments

Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China With Beautiful Sky View
A Beautiful Shot of The Great Wall With a Gorgeous Sky
Photo by: topgold, Creative Commons

The Great Wall of China, a memorable landmark, is the most popular tourist attraction in China. The Wall has fascinated the minds of many in the world and it is part of the Seven Wonders of the World. The Great Wall is the ultimate tourist destination for sightseeing. People from all over the world visit China to see this exotic architecture because it is one of the most appealing attractions of China. It has its share of fans including those who spread speculations about it being seen from the moon.

Why, When, and Who Built The Great Wall?

Looking down at the Great Wall from the sky is truly amazing, the Wall resembles a Chinese dragon circling the mountains. There is a common term use by The Chinese call “Wan Li Chang Cheng” which defines as “Wall of 10,000 Li”  (10,000 Li = 5,000 km). There were three main Chinese dynasties that contributed to the construction of the Great Wall: first, the Qin from 221-207 B.C., then the Han from 206 B.C – 220 A.D and the Ming from 1368-1644 A.D. Their common purpose was to stop the “barbaric” Huns in the North from invading the Chinese borders. Millions of people labored on the Great Wall and many died while working.

How Long is The Great Wall?

After the Qin emperor unified China, he connected the walls across the country into one, The Wall extended up to 10,000 Li (5000 km) and it helps keep out intruders from the north. What seems to be a Chinese zigzag dragon, the Great Wall of China spreads across deserts, rivers, mountains, grasslands and plateaus expanding nearly 6,700 kilometers. It has been built for over 2 millenniums and it stretches from the east side to the west side of China. Due to modern technologies and lack of usefulness, pieces of the structure are left in ruins and the Chinese leaders do not care to fix it. This marvelous segment of Chinese heritage swept through Shanhaiguan Pass, then to Liaoning, then Hebei, continuing onto Tianjin, expanding to Beijing, reaching Shanxi, and into Inner Mongolia, next to Ningxia, arriving at Gansu and finally ends in Jiayuguan Pass. The Great Wall length measures about 6,700 km long. Height wise, it is 4.5m to 9m. Depth wise, it is 4.5m to 8m. The entire structure was built by hand using stone, bricks, soil, sand, straw, wood, clay or whatever was available depending on the territory and time period.

The Great Wall Today

The existing Wall today was constructed by the Ming Dynasty over 600 years ago. During that time, the original wall was in ruins. Ming emperors order to rebuilt the wall over the course of 200 years. The reason the wall still stand today is because there was an invention during that time, mixing rice flour to create extremely tough bricks and mortar. Today, few parts of the Great Wall are in great condition because it was restored to attract tourists. To get a good deal on a tour to The Great Wall visit China Great Wall Tours.

Great Wall of China Videos

Pictures & Photos

7 Wonders of the Medieval World

7 Latest Wonders

January 23, 2009 at 4:21 am | 24 comments

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