Archive for July, 2007

Shimla – The Queen of the Hill Stations

Friday, July 6th, 2007

Shimla is situated in North India and is a very well renowned and sought after hill station both by Indians and foreign tourists. This city owes its name to Goddess Shyamala, which is another form of the powerful Goddess Kali. A temple for this Goddess was consecrated here, in the middle of the Jakhu Hill forest in the 19th century. The city was named Shimla by the English during their occupation of the Indian territory.

Shimla, India

What You Should See In Shimla?

As a great tourist attraction Shimla has a lot to offer in terms f natural beauty and historic monuments. Some of the must-see in Shimla are briefly described below:

1. The Jaku Hill – this is situated just two kilometers outside Shimla. This is the highest peak in Shimla at 8000 feet. On the top you will find a beautiful Hanuman temple which hosts a great number of monkeys who are perpetually waiting to be fed.

2. The Annadale – this is one of the most favorite picnic spots in Shimla. Situated at an enviable height of 6117 feet above sea level, it offers a breathtaking panorama for those who dare to reach at the top.

3. Kufri – Just 16 kilometers from Shimla this is the best spot to learn skiing in winter (January and February). High above the sea leave at 8.600 km height, this place is an ideal picnic spot as well as sports hub.

4. The Mall – this is a must-stop for all those who want to take home some souvenirs for their friends and family at home. You will find here a kaleidoscope of shops, restaurants, bars, clubs, etc. There are two exclusive points for meetings – i.e. where youngsters just hang out – these two places are, The Ridge and The Scandal points.

5. The Christ Church – this is renowned as he second oldest Church in North India. The Church has stood stoically against the ravages of time and nature and still stands in it full majesty promoting the story of Christ and His eternal love through the exquisite glass paintings. This is definitely a must-see when in Shimla.

6. Museums – there is a distinguished museum – the Shimla State Museum – which have managed to show case the best possible face of this wonderful town. You will find a surprising number of miniature Pahari paintings, jewelry, bronze or wood carvings seem to come alive in this museum.

7. The Summer Hill – you will find this Summer Hill at a distance of about 5 km from the Ridge, at a height of 6,500 ft above the sea level, right on the Shimla-Kalka railway line. This is the place where Mahatma Gandhi took rest whenever he was this side. He always advised, ‘eat for yourself, and dress for others’.

Check out with the doctor before you start any type of herbal diet. It usually okay the way it is – and adding few more Rupees would really not mind.

Las Vegas – The Gambler’s Paradise

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

Las Vegas is the largest city (by population) in the State of Nevada. This is one of the most wanted tourist destinations in the world especially for gambling and entertainment. Las Vegas is the largest city founded in the 20th Century (founded in 1905).  Also known as the Entertainment Capital of the World, Las Vegas is the gambling center of USA.

The glamour of the city, the 365x24x7 availability of alcoholic beverages and the specialization of gambling and adult entertainment earned this city another name that it is wearing well, the Sin City.

Las Vegas, Nevada

The Thrill of Las Vegas

Everything that you see and experience in Las Vegas is thrilling. Wherever you look you can see glamour, luxury and pure entertainment. This city is built for entertainment and it is the only city in the world which was built with these two purposes in mind – tourist attraction and entertainment of tourists.

The Las Vegas strip or the Las Vegas Boulevard which is mostly outside the Las Vegas city limits is replete with exceptional sights such as unusual sculptural structures, such as the Treasure Island Pirate battle, the volcano explosion, the Mirage among others. Wherever you go you will find an entertainment extravaganza. The greatest thing you will observe in Las Vegas is that it is unique in all the entertainment it offers.  There is no imitation here, no equals – each hotel, each inch in Las Vegas is unique.

Outside the gambling, luxurious decadence of the hotels lies another world of entertainment – take a short trip to the Shark Reek and Dolphin Habitat at Mandalay Bay.  You need to make it a point to see the exceptional Star Trek presentation of the Las Vegas Hilton. For children, you have the GameWorks where the kids can play at a wide variety of arcade games.

Nature lovers can enjoy the Red Canyon Rock which is just outside the city and if you are culture and tradition freak, you should visit the Hoover Dam and the Mormon Fort which would live a lasting impression.

Las Vegas is great in day time – but its forte lies in entertainment at night. This Sin City specializes in providing with any and all the entertainment you would ever need. If you can think about it – you will find it in Las Vegas – from all types of gambling games to dancing showgirls, to complete family entertainment.

The attraction is Las Vegas is more in the fact that it makes the tourist feel like he or she is in a magical land where everything is meant for their comfort, luxury and pleasure. It is a heady experience – one that you would never forget.

Hampi – A Legendary City of The Past

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

For all who are familiar with the famous epic Ramayana, Hampi would be of great significance. It is believed that Hampi was the Monkey Kindgdom (Kishkinda) that was mentioned in the Ramayana.  History shows that this city’s significance as a center of trade grew from around 1336 AD when it became the foundation of the Vijayanagara Empire. By 1565 the empire was covering the whole area between the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal Ceylon and the Deccan Plateau. It reached its zenith under the ruling of Emperor Krishnadevaraya.

This is not exactly a place where you would have regular tourist fun. Hampi is a treasure for people who love history and the knowledge it disseminates regarding the past ancient Indian civilization. This ruin city bears silent yet loud testimony of a glorious past of India and would thrill anyone who enjoys the soundless testimony its ruins brings to us, the modern generations.

Hampi Ruins

Today, Hampi is a recognized and protected world heritage monument under UNESCO and Indian Government. Archeological excavations have unearthed a treasure of artifacts in the form of carved stone figurines and statues and many other things that are amply shown as ruins of grand palaces of the past kings of India. Buddhist inscription dated 2-3rd Century were also found at this site indicating the Buddhism was maybe a well known religion in this area during that time.

Many great travelers in the past have mentioned Hampi’s grandeur and beauty when it was at its peak. Domingo Peas compares it to Rome an says, “…it is undoubtedly the best provided city in the world.” The trade that flourished in those times in the city of Hampi was specially based on precious and semi-precious stones.

The city’s architectural richness have totally enthralled historians and historic visitors alike. There are architectural masterpieces such as the temples of Hazara Rama, Balakrishna and the Vitala; there are impressive structures that show the advanced knowledge of engineering and architecture of that period of time  such as the Queen’s Bath, the Kamala Mahal (Palace) and so on.

The glory of Hampi came to an end when the empire fell in the Battle of Talikota in 1565 AD and came under the ruling of the alliance of five Bahamani Kings who completely destroyed the city while ransacking for war spoils.  In spite of the massive destruction that had befallen, Hampi still lives on to say the whole story of its glorious past.

Hampi is a place which will easily transport you back in time to the 13th century with each stone and ruined remains that is available. The place is vibrant with the richness of the past and continues to create and attract the fascination of people from all over the world.

Kuala Lumpur – A Guide to Some of the Must-See Places

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

Kuala Lumpur is a great place to visit anytime of the year. This is a paradise for people who love sight seeing and shopping. You would find a lot of the famous exquisiteness that the Orient is so famous about, as well as great food and even greater diversity of entertainment. Some of the must-see places when you visit Kuala Lumpur are given below:

1. The Mega Mall – this is specially a great stop for those who love shopping. This is a giant shopping mall where you would find anything you can think about in the hundred odd shops aggregated here. You could really shop until you drop here. There are plenty of restaurants that serve excellent meals and fast food for those in-between shopping moments. This is a sure-fire way to have fun and get some excellent stuff for those at home.

2. Revolving restaurant on the top of the Telecommunications Tower – you can have a fascinating view with your meal while also enjoying one of the tallest structures in Kuala Lumpur – the Telecommunications Tower. You may like to take the lift – though some prefer to climb the 2000 odd steps (the Tower is 421 meters tall) – to the top where you would be regaled by the view of the city. For those who want to savor the place for a while, a meal at the revolving restaurant here on the top of the world could be just the right thing.

3. Taman Tasik Perdana (The Lake Gardens) – nature enthusiasts cannot miss this exceptional exhibition of flowers and birds. The Lake Gardens are sprawled over an unending 90 acres of land around a man-made lake. You will find here stunning exhibits of orchids, hibiscus, birds and so many other attractions that would keep you entertained for hours.

Taman Tasik Perdana, Kuala Lumpur

4. The Petronas Twin Towers – this is the tallest of the buildings in Kuala Lumpur standing at an impressive 452 meters height. The beauty of the architecture of this place is unparalleled. Famous as the second tallest building in the world, the Petrona Twin Towers would thrill you with the splendid view of the city. While you are up there do not forget to visit the viewing deck on the sky bridge that joins the twenty-first floors of the Twin Towers. This experience is something you would definitely not forget in a hurry.

5. The Batu Caves – you will find the Batu Caves just outside the city limits towards Kuantan. This place, besides being stunningly beautiful, is a significant and scared place to visit for Hindu people. The caves are about 100 meters high and about 400 meters long. Your visit to the Batu caves would be very entertaining due to the “hospitality” of the monkey which would accompany you during the visit. Keep some nuts handy if you are fond of animals. The monkeys look forward to the tidbits.

Frankfurt – The Unforgettable City

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

As a tourist you would be awed by the beauty of this wonderful city. There are a myriad of things to see and experience in Frankfurt. You will find here entertainment, culture, festivals, beer and many other things that Germany is famous for. One thing that would definitely leave some impact on you is the excellent German jazz that you will find played at almost all the available taverns in the city.

Frankfurt Opera and Eurotower

Some of the must-see and must-experience sights in Frankfurt are briefed below:

1. Local Cuisine – if you are among the people who simply have to know about the local culture and cuisine, the Lorsbacher Tal is a good place to start your quest. This is an exceptional apple wine serving restaurant which offers you solid German ambiance and excellent local cuisine.

2. Jazz in Frankfurt – This is a small but delightful restaurant where along with the excellent meals served you would be regaled with some extraordinary music. This could be anything from a Flamenco dance to Jazz, to Blues, to Swing. The ambiance here is relaxed and food excellent.

3. A Rendezvous with Culture – Frankfurt hosts the house of the famous poet Goethe. The poet lived in this house until 1775. The house is now converted into a museum and National Monument open to visitors.

4. The Senckenberg Museum – you will find in this museum an extraordinary collection of more than 500 thousand exhibits on the development of earth and life on earth over the past million of years. This is simply fascinating to say the least.

5. Nature Lovers Behold – The Palmengarten or the Palm Garden should definitely be on your list of must-sees if you are a nature lover. This is a huge garden and park spread over 20 acres exhibiting some mind-boggling 300 varieties of orchids and over 1600 species of cactus.

6. The Zoo – Since we are speaking of nature lovers, can animal lovers be left far behind? Frankfurt has an excellent zoo which houses some 650 types of animals. There are about 6,000 animals accommodated in this zoo – and the arrangements are delightful. Keep a whole day in hand if you are planning to visit this zoo. There is plenty to see and enjoy here with the animals.

7. Night Sights – What is a visit to Frankfurt if you have not seen the Berger Strasse or the Berger Road. This road is famous for its night life, bars, round the clock cafes and restaurant. There is not one dull moment on this street and people who visit it once would love to return again and again.

The above is not an exclusive list, so feel free to explore the attractions of this wonderful city, called Frankfurt. This is a city that would remain with your forever.

Madrid – A Capital City for Six Centuries

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

This is a famous world destination for its exceptional blend of resent and past and for the fact that it is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the whole world. The fame of Madrid was established way back in the 16th Century when King Philip II announced it as the capital. From then until today Madrid has remained the capital and one of the most important cities in Spain.

Madrid, Spain

Madrid has something excellent to offer and show for each and every person that visits – no one ever came to this wonderful city and left without a burning desire to come back and relive the experience again. 

1. Art lovers – there is a Golden Triangle created by three world famous art museums, i.e.the Prado Museum which houses some of the best and most sought after paintings of the Renaissance period, the Thyssen Museum which focuses on Western Art (mostly private collections) and the Sofia Museum which exhibits works of art by masters such as Dali, Picasso and Miro. This is a place that would enthrall even regular visitors; however, for art lovers this is hallowed ground.

2. Gourmet treats – food is something that you would enjoy in plenty in Madrid. People here give high priority to food and though sometimes you would not get exactly what you are looking for – you would still find the cuisine served delightfully different and exceptionally tasty. While you are in this great city, make it a point to drop by the Botin Restaurant which has entered the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest restaurant in the whole world. History has it that Goya had eaten at this very restaurant before he became recognized as a painter; Hemmingway was another patron of this restaurant and had mentioned that this was one of his favorite hangouts. It is like being able to touch history.

3. Columbus celebrated – The travails of Columbus have been displayed with extreme accuracy and interesting facts about his travels in the middle of the Gardens of Discovery. This place has been dedicated to the famous explorer and by reading the detailed inscriptions you would be very likely to discover some great tidbits about history yourself.

4. Imposing Palace – visit the Royal Palace that has housed the Royalty ever since 1764 and the famous Cathedral of Almuenda where Prince Felipe’s marriage was solemnized.  Take a walk into the Sabatini Gardens and enjoy the beauty of the Royal Palace from a new angle.

If you want to enjoy this city and understand its nuances, make it a point to walk a lot. Walking around in Madrid would fill you with awe at every corner and will make your visit unforgettable.

Amsterdam – The City of Tulips and Windmills

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

Netherlands has always been synonymous with tulips and windmills. This is why when you say Amsterdam, the first thing that comes to one’s mind are these very things. However, there is more to the lovely city of Amsterdam than flowers and renewable energy sources. Amsterdam is a delightful place with plenty of impressive things to see:

1. A Glimpse into Amsterdam History – visit the Rijksmuseum is you are fond of culture and history. This museum specializes in exhibiting art from the Golden Age. Art lovers would love to visit the Rembrandt and the Van Gogh museums too, which have some stunning exhibits from these ageless masters. A short visit to Anne Frank’s house – the little girl whose diary describing her ordeal during Nazi occupation has become an international bestseller – would give you a glimpse into the horror of the past when the Jews were fighting for their lives against one of the most cruel and condemnable periods in history.

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

2. Shopping for a Souvenir – for people who love shopping the Albert Cuypmarkt is the ideal place. This is a huge shopping mall which has absolutely everything you would ever want to buy and more. You can spend months window shopping in this mall without getting bored. Enjoy a day long leisure shopping day here and ensure that you get some memorabilia for your friends at home from here.

3. The Nightlife in Amsterdam – there is round the clock entertainment in Amsterdam which means that whether it is night or day you are guaranteed to have fun wherever you are. However, for people who love night life activities, a visit to the Leidseplain would be lovely. You will find here plenty of night clubs, 24 hours restaurants and cafes, as well as cultural entertainment. At Leidseplain, every where you turn would be an opportunity for fun.

4. Its Festival Time! – people who visit Amsterdam during June would have the benefit of experiencing the Holland Festival which is held during the month of June every year over a period of three weeks. And then there is the Queen’s Day where people who believe in same sex love and marriage celebrate on the streets. By the way, the Netherlands was one of the first countries to accept and recognize legally this type of attraction.

Everything in Amsterdam is simply great – the sights, the people who tend to go out of their way to welcome visitors and make them feel comfortable, the nightlife, the flowers, the great culture – everything would make you forget that before you visited this grand city, you were thinking that Amsterdam was only the City of Tulips and Windmills.

The Fascinating Island Nation – Japan

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

Japan is a fascinating island nation, situated on the Pacific Ocean, in East Asia. Al though a small country with an area of 377,835 square kilometers, Japan comes with an incredible variety of vacation spots, such as historical sites, museums and monuments. The country has the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea to the south, the Sea of Japan on the west, and the Pacific Ocean on the north.

The country abounds in scenic beauty, and places to see here range from ancient temples and shrines to castles and museums. Each and every region in Japan has its own specialty. When some Japanese regions are renowned for its historical prominence, some others may be famed for breathtaking natural attractions covering lakes, mountains, and beaches. Perhaps most fascinating of the Japanese attractions would be Tokyo, the capital city, which comes with a spectacular array of destinations such as historic spots, innovative cityscapes, and cultural entertainments. Just few to mention are Ginza offering great shopping experience, the Imperial Palace with its breathtaking moat, Tsukiji Fish Market which has been here since 1500s, West Shinjuku that is highly famed for its Gothem City skyscrapers, and museums including Hara Museum of Contemporary Art. Also, a great draw of Tokyo is the Asakusa-Kannon Temple – an exciting Buddhist complex.

Largest Buddhist Temple in Japan

Discover the wonderful natural beauty of the country by taking excursion to such unique destinations as Tohoku, whose attraction is spread across three national parks. For a great cultural experience, visit lively Japanese destinations like Sendai, which hosts great events including Tanabata Star Festival. Another exciting travel destination is Nara where the largest Buddhist temple in the world is situated, which in turn is declared as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. A visit to Japan is incomplete without taking an excursion to Kyoto, which is especially known for its numerous Buddhist temples as well as Shinto shrines, apart from attractions including Kawai Kanjiro’s house, Nijo-Jinya, and Sho-sei-en.

Acknowledged as ‘the Manchester of Japan,’ Osaka is also a great destination in Japan. From Umeda Sky Building and Tsutenkaku Tower taking after the Eiffel Tower in Paris to Osaka Historical Museum and Expo Memorial Park, Osaka’s attractions are immense.

Japan’s attractions also include an amazing host of natural wonders including 86 active volcanic, of which most significant is the Mount Fuji, which is noted for its exceptional rock formations, waterfalls, and trees. Equally well-known is Japan’s hot spring resorts, such as Toyako Onsen on the shores of the spectacular Lake Toya, Hakone on the shores of the Lake Ashi, Nikko at the foot of the Mount Nantai, and Nyuto Onsen in the mountains of Akita Prefecture.

In a snap shot, all of Japanese specialties including Kimono – the traditional costume, sumo wrestling, ryokan – the traditional guest houses, the country’s bullet train – shinkansen, and cuisines including soba and ramen noodles, are really worth mentioning.

Egypt – the land of pharaohs and pyramids!

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

Popularly known as the land of pharaohs and pyramids – Egypt is one of the most popular tourist destinations in northeastern Africa. From attractions ranging from the red sea to the Sinai Desert and Cairo to Abu Simbel, Egypt is a magical destination which you must take a visit at least once in your lifetime!

All of the cities in Egypt are dotted with awe-inspiring ancient monuments and temples, high mosques, and exciting museums. For instance, a visit to Cairo – Egypt’s capital as well as the largest city in Africa – would be really a great experience. Among many of its marvelous attractions are the Hanging Church – the seat of Coptic worship, the Ben Ezra – the oldest synagogue in the country, Ibn Tulun mosque – one of the largest in the world, the Al-Azhar mosque within which the oldest university in the world is situated, the modern opera house, and the Egyptian Museum housing more than 1, 00,000 artifacts including mummies, pottery, and ancient jewelry.

Egypt, Giza Sphinx

Perhaps, most interesting as well as significant of Egypt’s attraction would be the pyramids of Giza, which are one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Each pyramid consists of tomb of different Egyptian kings, of which the most remarkable is the Great Pyramid of Khufu, built by Pharaoh Khufu of the Fourth Dynasty in around 2560 BC. Also, great are the pyramids of pharaohs such as Kafhre and Menkaura. One of the interesting things regarding these monuments is the image of Sphinx – a cat-like structure lying on its front. A specialty of this structure is that it is carved out of a single block of stone.

After Giza pyramids, the most frequently visited Egyptian site is Luxor whose prime attraction is the world’s largest ancient site – Karnak Temple, situated on the banks of the Nile River – the longest in the world. The focal point of the temple is an open air museum with four parts such as the precincts of Amon-Re, Amenhotep IV temple, Mut, and Montu.

Close to the Egyptian border near Sudan, Abu Simbel is another great destination, with amazing monumental treasures such as the magnificent rock temples of Hathor and Re-Harakhte. Abu Simbel’s attractions also include the Lake Nasser, a man-made lake erected during 1960s. Apart from these, Abu Simbel hosts a range of events and festivals including Abu Simbol – the light and sound show, Lake Nasser Cruise, and Sun Festival.

Interesting destinations in Egypt also include Alexandria – the second largest city as well as the main port of Egypt. Of its main attractions are Graeco-Roman Museum, Pompei’s Pillar, and the Roman Amphitheatre. Other popular attractions in Egypt include Aswan with highlights like Nubian Museum; Port Said – an unusual destination famed for its colonial architecture and parks and gardens; and Siwa Oasis – a marvelous destination to relax as well as swim.

Explore the history of Egypt by taking a tour to destinations such as El-Alamein and the commonwealth war cemetery. Egypt also has to its credit the largest desert in the world – the Sahara, stretching more than 3,320,000 square miles.

Besides many other things to do in the country, a cruise on the River Nile (referred to as Egypt’s lifeblood) would be a fabulous experience. The country also has superb options for activities like swimming, diving, and snorkeling.