Archive for the 'Landscapes' Category

25
Mar
12

21st of March: the start of the meteorological springtime

Meteorologists generally define four seasons in many climatic areas: spring, summer, autumn and winter. These are demarcated by the values of their average temperatures on a monthly basis, with each season lasting three months. The three warmest months are by definition summer, the three coldest months are winter, and the intervening gaps are spring and autumn. Spring, when defined in this manner, can start on different dates in different regions. In terms of complete months, in most North Temperate Zone locations, spring months are March, April and May, although differences exist from country to country.

“The flowering of love is meditation.”

 

Jiddu Krishnamurti

 

The phenological definition of spring relates to indicators, the blossoming of a range of plant species, and the activities of animals, or the special smell of soil that has reached the temperature for micro flora to flourish. It therefore varies according to the climate and according to the specific weather of a particular year.

“Let a hundred flowers bloom.”

 

Ramakrishna

 
Extreme weather conditions characterize the spring season. This is due to the fact that during this season the warm winds coming from the lower regions are accompanied by the cold air which originates from the Polar Regions. During the spring season the weather can be severe. The seas and rivers are full because the snow begins to melt. Rainfall is also heavy often leading to serious flood situations. Floods are most common in the hilly areas. In addition to all this, tornado, hailstorms and heavy downpour are also common features during the spring season.

 

“A flower falls, even though we love it; and a weed grows, even though we do not love it.”

 

 

Dogen

Next time when you notice a newly budding leaf, be sure that spring has arrived.

 

 

“Earth laughs in flowers.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 
18
Apr
11

Annapurna trekking circuit in Nepal, mountain views on the way.

Nepal has some of the best trekkings in the world, to and around several of the world’s highest mountains, including Mount Everest. Many people visit the country just to trek and the tourism industry is well prepared to facilitate all manner of trekking styles and destinations. On the one hand you could spend a year planning an expedition to wild and lofty places; on the other you could land in Kathmandu with no plans and be on the trail to Everest Base Camp (EBC) in a matter of days.

“Teahouse trekking” along the main trails is the most common style, with decent lodges in every settlement (and between), it is possible to trek in comfort with minimal preparation, equipment and support. There is no need to camp and a selection of western style foods are readily available from a menu system. No special permits are required, just national park entry tickets. The main areas for these treks are Everest, Khumbu and Annapurna.

Facilities available in remote areas are less extensive than in the more popular areas. Off the main trails where there are no lodges and food from menus a Nepali guide becomes essential, and it may be advisable to visit such regions with organized groups, including guide, porters and full support. Mustang, Kanchenjunga, Manaslu, Dolpo and Humla are in remote areas. Many of them require also special permits.

There are lots of agencies in Kathmandu and Pokhara who are always keen to broker the services of a guide and/or porter. During the main seasons the agencies run regular group treks, both teahouse and camping styles, and it generally possible to join a group doing a trek of your choice. Independent trekking is quite easy with straight forward preparations.

A trekking permit is required to trek in any part of Nepal. If you want to trek two areas, you will need two permits. Each permit requires details for the route and region. Police check points are set up in some areas so do not venture off the set route. Annapurna trail starts from the North of Pokhara, from lush middle hills into high mountains. A circuit leads up the Maryangdi river to Manang, over Thorung La (5400m) to the Hindu temples at Muktinath. Down the Kali Gandaki on the Jomsom trail enjoying Gurung and Thakali hospitality. Up through spring rhododendron blooms to Poon Hill for a dawn Himalayan vista. Trek up into the very heart of the Annapurna Sanctuary for an awesome 360′ high mountain skyline.

Altitude sickness is a significant risk when trekking on any trails above about 2500m. Be familiar with the symptoms and do not ignore them. If you keep to a conservative ascent schedule and drink plenty of fluids then most people can acclimatize. If you or anyone in your party begins to experience symptoms of AMS then do not ascent, and if they do not improve then descent to a lower altitude. This is the only option to consider.

14
Apr
11

Amarapura, Myanmar: U Bein bridge, the longest teak bridge in the world.

Amarapura is a former capital of Myanmar, and now a township of Mandalay. Amarapura is bounded by the Ayeyarwady river in the west, Chanmyathazi township in the north, and the city of Innwa in the south. Amarapura was the capital of Myanmar for three discrete periods during the Konbaung dynasty in the 18th and 19th centuries, before being finally supplanted by Mandalay 11km north in 1857.

The U Bein Bridge is a 1,2 km wooden footbridge (longest teak bridge in the world) and is built by the mayor U Bein, salvaging the unwanted teak columns from the old palace during the move to Mandalay. The bridge still serves as the most important communication link for the people of his villages.

The best time to travel to U Bein Bridge is in the afternoon. The view of sunset from and around the bridge is perhaps the most beautiful scene around Mandalay. The weather is also cooler and more comfortable, with a cool light breeze blowing over the serene lake. You can sit on the river bank of Taungthaman Lake, sipping beer with fried shrimps and fishes freshly caught from the lake. Then, take a boat ride along Taungthaman Lake. Walk along the bridge until the end, and meet the local villagers coming back from work to their villages on the other side of the Lake. You will realize this is one of the best places in Mandalay.

12
Apr
11

Nature Trail Trekking in Nepal: Sunrise at Poon Hill

Poon Hill trekking is a colorful short foray into the Annapurna region. The trail winds through patchwork valleys, dense mossy forests and past icy waterfalls where you can stop to cool your face. Behind every corner is a tantalizing glimpse of the high mountains, whole horizons of which will be revealed to you as you reach the high points of your trek.

This trek in the Annapurna foothills to the view point of Poon Hill, offers all the best of trekking in Nepal. Enjoy trekking in the spectacular mountain scenery through charming villages inhabited by the Gurungs and Magars, dense rhododendron (Nepalese national flower) forests full of birds and deep sub-tropical valleys, all set below the Annapurnas with the picturesque peak of Machhapuchhare (Fish Tail Peak) dominating the skyline.

You will pass many villages such as Nayathanti and Ghorapani before reaching Ghorapani Pass. Ghorepani Pass is the closest village to Poon Hill and it is recommended that you spend the night here in order to get an early start for the sunrise from Poon Hill. It is about 45 minutes to an hour to the top of Poon Hill (at 3210m ) from Ghorapani Pass.

The climax of this trek is for sure the climb to Poon Hill at dawn ,to enjoy one of the most spectacular mountain scapes on Earth. As the sun touches the snow-capped summits the Himalayan giants, Dhaulagiri (8.167m) and Annapurna (8.091m) along with a maze of other peaks, slowly begin to appear, like magic, before our eyes. A rewarding trek that can be enjoyed by every lover of nature and beautiful landscape.

10
Apr
11

Feel the sense of Bali temples: The Ulun Danu Temple

Ulun Danu Temple is located in the village of Bedugul, in the Tabanan region, about 62 km from Denpasar. The temple of the Lake Goddess at Bratan is one of Bali’s most visited and most spiritually important Balinese temples.

This temple is dedicated to Dewi Danu, the Goddess of the Water and the Bratan Lake. The temple was founded in the 17th century and it is the focus of numerous ceremonies and pilgrimages to ensure the supply of water. The temple sits on the shore of the lake.

The Ulun Danu Temple has a classical Hindu thatched roof ( multi roofed shrine ) called Meru. The unforgettable surround setting is typical Balinese. At the edge of Bratan Lake irises bloom in shades of yellow, fuchsia and magenta;  young girls and old men fish in clusters among the tiger lilies whilst the misty peak of a dormant volcano emerges in the distance. It’s a most picturesque view that you must experience.

09
Apr
11

Hagia Sofia: An Architectural Masterpiece in Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sofia is a former patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, now a museum, in Istanbul, Turkey. Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture. It was considered the largest Christian Church in the world for nearly a thousand years, until the completion of the Medieval Seville Cathedral in 1520. The current building was constructed as a church between 532 and 537 AD on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, and was in fact the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site. It was designed by two architects, Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles. Hagia Sofia contained a large collection of holy relics and featured, among other things, a 50 ft. silver iconostasis. It was the patriarchal church of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the religious focus point of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly 1000 years.

Hagia Sofia or Holy Wisdom is the mother church of all Eastern Christians of the Byzantine liturgical tradition both Orthodox and Greek Catholic. Architecturally the grand basilica represented a major revolution in church construction in that it featured a huge dome which necessitated the implementation of new ideas in order to support the weight of this dome, a feat which had not been attempted before. The dome which became universal in Byzantine church construction represented the vault of heaven thus constituting a feature quasi-liturgical in function. In the days when there was no steel used in construction, large roofs and domes had to be supported by massive pillars and walls. The dome of Hagia Sofia was supported by four piers (the solid supports from which the arches spring), each measuring about 118 square yards at the base. Four arches swing across linked by four pendentives. The apices of the arches and the pendentives support the circular base from which rises the dome which is pierced by forty single-arched windows which admit light to the interior.

The church itself measures 260 x 270 feet; the dome rises 210 feet above the floor and has a diameter of 110 feet. The nave is 135 feet wide, more than twice the width of the aisles which measure 62 feet. Because Constantinople lies in an earthquake-prone region, the massive structure of the Great Church was deemed sufficient to meet the threat. That expectation however was disappointed when in later years earthquakes destroyed parts of the church and dome, requiring massive repairs including the construction of large buttresses to support the walls which in turn held up the dome.

In 1204 AD, Roman Catholic crusaders of the Fourth Crusade attacked and sacked Istanbul and the Great Church, leaving behind a legacy of bitterness among Eastern Christians which continues to this day. In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks and Sultan Mehmed II ordered the building to be converted into a mosque. The bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels were removed, and many of the mosaics were eventually plastered over. The Islamic features – such as the mihrab, the minbar, and the four minarets outside – were added over the course of its history under the Ottomans. It remained as a mosque until 1935, when it was converted into a museum by the secular Republic of Turkey.

In its prime as the Imperial church, Hagia Sofia was served by 80 priests, 150 deacons, 60 subdeacons, 160 readers, 25 cantors and 75 doorkeepers. It was used as the model for other Byzantine churches throughout the Eastern Christendom. Many examples can be seen in the Slavic, Russian and Ukranian churches.

 

07
Apr
11

Dubai desert, a place for adventurous people

The deserts in Dubai are the silent spectator of the transformation of this Gulf country. Located in the coast of the Arabian Gulf the deserts in Dubai are intrinsically linked with the history of Dubai. Dubai desert is perhaps one of the astonishing creations that can be found in this earth. It’s pretty hard to locate a desert that has developed to reach where Dubai is at the moment.

In the middle of that desert are the tallest and well-designed buildings that can be found in the Middle East. The Dubai desert has grown in leaps and bounds not only due to tourism but also as a result of business and good governance. The sparkling sand of the Dubai desert is one of the major attractions to those who visit there always. It’s a wonder since you will be able to walk on the finest sand possible. What can be said to describe the real beauty of the great mountains and plains present in this part of the world. One must literally marvel at the finesse of the Mother Nature in letting the dwellers to access these places very easily. They are a little different from what are available in other parts of the world because of the challenge that comes while trying to access them. You will appreciate facing a rare challenge such as your car getting stuck in loose soil that’s completely dry.

 Furthermore, while in Dubai, you can opt to take some lessons that would offer you a lifetime experience, which is a rare thing somewhere else. You can opt to learn a skill in desert driving hence making you able to go to the many different places alone. It’s a lip smacking place for all those daredevils out there. In addition to the natural sceneries that are found in Dubai and its environs, there are also many festivities that act as major tourist attractions. There are many things that happen such as sports and many other cultural festivals, which attract many people around the world. The warmth and friendliness extended by inmates here, and the friendly business environment would make you rejoice every minute of stay.

To be able to tour Dubai desert, it’s important that you plan well in advance. The heat is above what is available in other parts of the world. This may do some harm to your skin hence ensure that you take the necessary precautions. Carry enough water with you whenever you are touring anywhere in the desert since you will face the possibility of getting dehydrated. This should not scare you at all but should fuel your desire of wanting to tour that place a lot. Especially when you are visiting there during summer, you should get prepared to face scorching heat, unending dust and many more characteristics that typifies this side of the Gulf. Hence it’s important that you get prepared. Have all your preparations in place to avoid getting disappointed when you go there. You will definitely be one of those who will appreciate making repeat visits there.