Monday, March 30, 2009
The Cyclades islands, Greece are composed of 39 islands of which 24 are inhabited. The Cyclades are the most famous of all Greek islands with Amorgos, Anafi, Andros, Antiparos, Delos, Ios, Kea, Kimolos, Folegandros, Milos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Santorini, Serifos, Sikinos, Sifnos, Syros and Tinos. Travel there, where one can find vivid cosmopolitan nightlife and at the same time tranquility and peace.
Amorgos Greece is a popular islands of the Cyclades. It is the island that was chosen by filmmaker Luc Besson for the scene of “The Big Blue”. The island’s trademark is the beautiful monastery of Hozoviotissa which is wedged into a huge precipice at 300m from the sea. The Greek island of Amorgos has a lot to offer: beautiful beaches in crystal waters, whitewashed houses and windmills, Venetian castles.
Andros Greece is only an hour and a half away from Athens. Andros is a very attractive island whith some traditional and very picturesque villages. The fortified capital of the island is a real jewel which combines Venetian and Cycladic architecture, narrow stone paved alleys, arcades and bright coloured flowers. Andros is a great holiday destination.
The Greek island of Antiparos Greece is a small island of the Cyclades located just next to Paros Island. This island is a nice destination for holiday or for a day excursion from Paros. It is a small island with 57 km seashore.It has a charming village where most activities are concentrated and also many beaches. The island was mostly known for a stalactite cavern and in the 1980s for the "Rock and Roll" lifestyle of the tourists.
Folegandros Greece is an enchanting little island of the Cyclades group, in the Aegean Sea. It is a place where you can go to relax. Folegandros hasn’t been impacted by mass tourism and still holds its traditions and character. The most impressive thing about Folegandros is the spectacular landscape. There are several small villages, but the capital and the port town Karavostasi is where most of the accomodations and entertainment are found.
The island of Ios, in Greece, is a part of the Cycladic Islands. It is famous for its intense nightlife which can be experienced in the touristy and lively beach resort of Mylopotas and in the harbor named Ormos. But aside the fun, Ios has many beautiful sights to offer to visitors and various quiet and peaceful places. Its coastline is adorned by kilometers of fine soft sand and crystalline emerald waters which are a real temptation.
Island Greece is part of the Cyclades group of Islands. It is also known by the name Tzia and lies to the south of Lavrion town, Attica. Kea counts on important archaeological sites, locations of unique natural beauty, wonderful beaches and picturesque villages surely worth visiting. Nightlife is mostly concentrated in Vourkari and most accommodations in Korissia.
Koufonisia Greece is a mesmerizing set of little islands of the Cyclades group, in the Aegean Sea. It is an ideal place to go in order to unwind and relax. There are many fantastic beaches to visit including some that can only be reached by foot or even by boat. Koufonisia is known for the many caves that can be found everywhere on the island.
Kythnos Greece, the island of Apollo, is a beautiful mountainous island located in the western part of the group of islands called the Cyclades. The Greek Island of Kythnos is quite a verdant island, full of olive trees which are creating a beautiful scenery along with the glimmering white of the flat roofed houses, the deep blue and turquoise sea and the bright red and fuchsia of the bougainvilleas.
Milos Greece is a wonderful island of the Cyclades, Aegean, full of surprises, charms and beauties. It is mostly known for the statue Venus of Milo (Aphrodite) and its rich natural resources. Milos is unique for its astonishing lunar landscape which creates unbelievable and imposing rocky formations coloured in deep red, brown or glimmering white. Those fantastic hills and rocks are often emerging from a turquoise sea, boarded by fine golden, white or grey sand.
Mykonos island is part of the Cyclades islands group, in the Aegean Sea. Mykonos Greece is the most famous and popular Greek island and attracts thousands of visitors every year. Mykonos island is famous for its cosmopolitan atmosphere, its exciting nightlife, its picturesque Cycladic capital full of whitewashed houses and blue domed churches and its magnificent sandy beaches.
Naxos Greece is the biggest and largest island of the Cyclades Greece, in the Aegean Sea. It is the nuptial isle of the god Dionysus and has the highest mountain of the group, Mount Zas. The island was for many centuries under the rule of the Venetians and Marko Sanudo. Naxos Greek Island is characterized by its venetian town, its many picturesque and wonderful mountainous villages, the fertile valleys, the long golden sandy beaches of the group and the crystalline turquoise waters, the marble gate called Portara and the Kouros.
The Greek island of Paros Greece is one of the most popular and touristy destination. The Greek island is located in the heart of the Cyclades, in the Aegean sea, near Naxos. It attracts thousands of visitors every year. And the reasons are obvious: exquisite sandy beaches in crystal waters, traditional villages with whitewashed cubic houses in narrow paved alleys contrasted with the many bougainvilleas, lovely chapels, an exciting nightlife.
The Greek island of Santorini Greece or Thera is located in the Cyclades islands, in the middle of the Aegean Sea . Santorini, Greece is, along with Mykonos, the most famous Greek holiday destination. It is a small group of volcanic islands and its name was given by the Venetians in reference to Saint Irene. The island was also called Strongili and Kalisti and was the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions but what remains today is a submerged volcano and a caldera.The island of Santorini is related to the myth of Atlantis, the amazing views from the villages of Fira, Oia perched on cliffs, the sunset, the black and red beaches, the wine .
Serifos Greece is a mesmerizing set of little islands of the Cyclades group, in the Aegean Sea. Serifos is an ideal place to go in order to unwind and relax. There are many fantastic beaches to visit including some that can only be reached by foot or even by boat. Serifos is known for the many caves that can be found everywhere on the island.
Sifnos Greece, the island of Apollo, is a beautiful mountainous island located in the western part of the group of islands called the Cyclades. The Greek Island of Sifnos is quite a verdant island, full of olive trees which are creating a beautiful scenery along with the glimmering white of the flat roofed houses, the deep blue and turquoise sea and the bright red and fuchsia of the bougainvilleas.
Sikinos Greece, Sikinos is a tiny island in the southern Cyclades between the islands of Ios and Folegandros. Because of its size, it is ideal for a pleasant and peaceful holiday. Mass tourism hasn't reached Sikinos in any true sense yet and you'll find that the islanders speak only a few words of English, but that they are very friendly and do their best to make you feel welcome.
Syros Greece is a Cycladic island and its wonderful capital, Ermoupolis, is the capital of all the Cyclades. The Greek island of Syros is full of beauties and charms created by its unspoiled landscape, its authenticity and its traditional villages. The town of the island is full of Venetian and neoclassical buildings which make it one of the most beautiful towns of the country. Nice beaches with crystalline waters and a medieval village can be found.
Tinos Greece is one of the biggest Greek islands of the Cyclades. Tinos is famous, among religious, for its huge Church of Panagia (Virgin) which has a miraculous icon and is attracting thousands of pilgrims from all over the country on the 15th of August, feast day of the Virgin. The island has many picturesque mountainous villages, superb dove cotes which are embellishing it and a tradition in marble carving.
Ferry routes separate the Cyclades into western, northern, central and eastern subgroups.
Most ferry services operating within the Cyclades connect one of these subgroups with the ports of Piraeus, Lavrio or Rafina on the mainland. The central Cyclades (Paros, Naxos, Ios and Santorini) are the most visited and have the best ferry links with the mainland, usually to Piraeus.
The northern Cyclades (Andros, Tinos, Syros and Mykonos) have excellent connections with the mainland. The mainland port for Andros is Rafina, but it’s possible to reach Andros from Piraeus by catching a ferry to Syros, Tinos or Mykonos and connecting from there.
Lavrio is the mainland port for ferries serving Kea, from where connections south to the other western Cyclades are not good.Kythnos has a reasonable number of connections to Piraeus and good connections south to other islands. Milos, Serifos and Sifnos have seen greatly improved ferry connections with Piraeus in recent years. Folegandros and Sikinos have less frequent connections with the mainland.
The eastern Cyclades (Anafi, Amorgos, Iraklia, Schinousa, Koufonisia and Donousa) are the least visited and have the fewest ferry links with the mainland. However, for the foreseeable future Blue Star Ferries is running a regular service to Amorgos, Iraklia, Schinousa, Koufonisia and Donousa. These islands also have a daily service in summer to and from Naxos. Anafi is best reached from Santorini.
When planning your island-hopping it pays to bear this pattern of ferry routes in mind; however, Paros is the ferry hub of the Cyclades, and connections between different groups are usually possible via this port.
Fast boat & catamaran
Large high-speed boats and catamarans are a regular feature on Cyclades’ routes, mainly during the late spring to early autumn period. Their travel times are usually half those of regular ferries. Seats fill fast in July and August, especially on weekends, so it’s worth booking your ticket a day or so in advance. For some travellers, the downside to using the smaller fast ferries is often the need to book well ahead; the regimented seat allocations; the absence of deck space; the limited view and the possible queasiness from being on these ferries, the result of rough sea conditions and the inescapable company of fellow sufferers. High speed certainly, but when there’s a swell, there also can be an element of high roll.
Olympic Airlines (www.olympicairlines.com) has flights between Athens and Naxos, Syros, Santorini, Mykonos, Paros and Milos. From Mykonos there are flights to/from Thessaloniki, Santorini and Rhodes.
Aegean Airlines (www.aegeanair.com) flies to Mykonos and Santorini from Athens and Thessaloniki.
Sky Express (28102 23500; www.skyexpress.gr) flies to Santorini from Athens and on from Santorini to Rhodes.
Until suspension of operations in July of 2007, the innovative AirSea Lines (www.airsealines.com) ran seaplane flights daily from Thursday to Monday between Lavrio (in southern Attica) and Mykonos, Paros, Ios and Santorini. It also ran flights daily from Thursday to Monday between Mykonos and Kalymnos and Kos (both in the Dodecanese).
Due to upgrading requirements the company suspended its Aegean schedule in July 2007. The schedule was still suspended at the time of writing (September 2007). The company states, however, that it will resume its Aegean service as soon as possible and readers are advised to check the company website..
Sunday, March 29, 2009
The land of Varanasi (Kashi) has been the ultimate pilgrimage spot for Hindus for ages. Often referred to as Benares, Varanasi is the oldest living city in the world. These few lines by Mark Twain say it all: "Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together". Hindus believe that one who is graced to die on the land of Varanasi would attain salvation and freedom from the cycle of birth and re-birth. Abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati, the origins of Varanasi are yet unknown. Ganges in Varanasi is believed to have the power to wash away the sins of mortals.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Standing on the western bank of India's holiest river Ganges, Varanasi is the oldest surviving city of the world and the cultural capital of India. It is in the heart of this city that there stands in its fullest majesty the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in which is enshrined the Jyotirlinga of Shiva, Vishweshwara or Vishwanatha. Here gravitate the teeming millions of India to seek benediction and spiritual peace by the darshan of this Jyotirlinga which confers liberation from the bondages of maya and the inexorable entanglements of the world. A simple glimpse of the Jyotirlinga is a soul-cleansing experience that transforms life and puts it on the path of knowledge and bhakti.
Vishweshwara Jyotirlinga has a very special and unique significance in the spiritual history of India. Tradition has it that the merits earned by the darshan of other jyotirlinga scattered in various parts of India accrue to devotee by a single visit to Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Deeply and intimately implanted in the Hindu mind, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple has been a living embodinent of our timeless cultural traditions and highest spiritual values. The Temple has been visited by all great saints- Adi Shankaracharya, Ramkrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekanand, Goswami Tulsidas, Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati, Gurunanak and several other spiritual personalities.
The Temple opens daily at 2.30a.m. in Mangala Aarati 3 to 4 a.m. ticket holders are permitted to join. From 4 to 11 a.m. general Darshan is allowed. 11.30 to 12 a.m. mid day Bhog Aarati is done. Again 12 noon to 7 p.m. devotees are free to have darshan. From 7 to 8.30 p.m. evening Sapta Rishi Aarati is done after which darshan is again possible uptill 9 p.m. when Shringar/Bhog Aarati starts. After 9 p.m. Darshan from out side only is possible. Shayana Aarti starts at 10.30p.m.The Temple closes at 11p.m.
Durga temple, also known as the "monkey temple" is one of the important temples of Varanasi. This temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga. The Durga temple was built in the eighteenth century. A Bengali Maharani built the Durga temple in Nagara Style (the North Indian style of temple architecture). It is stained red with ochre and has a multi-tiered shikhara (spire). The Durga temple is situated on a rectangular tank, called the Durga Kund. According to the Puranas, Goddess Durga has kept this place for many centuries and protects the holy city, Varanasi, from the South. According to legends, the present statue of Goddess Durga was not made by man but appeared on its own in the temple. The Durga temple is also called Monkey temple because of the presence of large number of monkeys. In Hinduism, Durga is represented as the embodiment of shakti or female power, clad in red, riding a tiger and fully armed with Shiva's trident, Vishnu's discus and a sword. Non-Hindus can enter the courtyard of the Durga temple but not the inner sanctum. Thousands of Hindu devotees visit the Durga temple during Navratri and other auspicious occasions.
Bharat Kala Bhavan
Bharat Kala Bhavan, located inside the BHU campus, is an art and architecture museum and houses a vast collection of paintings, Hindu and Buddhist sculptures and other materials of archeological importance. The Bharat Kala Bhavan was established in the year 1920 A.D. In the main hall of the Bharat Kala Bhawan, there is a figure of a man standing on one leg and one hand on his hip and lifting a mass of stone above his head, with one hand. The figure is said to be of Lord Krishna, lifting Mount Govardhana. Many images in the Bharat Kala Bhavan confirm to the existence of Krishna cult in Kashi in 15th and 16th century. Bharat Kala Bhavan also has a great collection of miniature paintings from the courts of Mughals and other Kingdoms and principalities. Some of the important sections in the Bharat Kala Bhavan are Mahamana Malaviya gallery, Nicholas Roerich gallery, Chhavi (Painting Gallery), sculpture gallery, Nidhi (Treasures) gallery, sculpture gallery, archaeological gallery, decorative art gallery and Banaras through ages gallery.
The Banaras Hindu University
The Banaras Hindu University or BHU is an internationally reputed University and is situated in Varanasi. The great nationalist leader, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, founded the Banaras Hindu University in the year 1916. Dr Annie Besant also played an important role in the formation of the BHU. The Banaras Hindu University played an important role in the Indian independence movement. Over a period of time, it has developed into one of the greatest centers of learning in India. The BHU has produced many great freedom fighters and Nation builders. It has immensely contributed to the progress of the nation through a large number of renowned scholars, artists and scientists. The Banaras Hindu University has a sprawling campus, spanning across 1300 acres. It has well maintained roads (crossing each other at right angle), extensive greenery, a temple, an airstrip and buildings, which are an architectural delight. There is another campus of the Banaras Hindu University at Barkachha, in Mirzapur district, covering an area of 2700 acres. The BHU comprises of 3 Institutes, 14 Faculties, 124 Departments, 4 Interdisciplinary Centers and 3 Constituent Schools, spanning a vast rang of subjects pertaining to all branches of humanities, social sciences, science, technology, medicine, fine arts and performing arts. Banaras Hindu University also has 6 centers of advanced studies, 10 Departments under Special Assistance Programme and a large number of specialized Research Centers. There are four Degree Colleges in Varanasi that are affiliated to the BHU. The Bharat Kala Bhavan, an art and archaeological museum, is a treasure trove of rare collections. The Banaras Hindu University also has a medical college (Institute of Medical Sciences) and an engineering institute (Institute of Technology). Sir Sundar Lal Hospital (having a capacity of 927 beds) is equipped with all the modern amenities and caters to the medical needs of a large population. The University also provides for a well-developed sports infrastructure. BHU has wide range of facilities for sports and hobbies. It has large playgrounds, a big auditorium, a flying club and many other services and utilities like Printing Press, Publication Cell, Fruit Preservation Center, subsidized Canteens, Employment and information Bureau, Security, etc. The Banaras Hindu University consists of about 15000 students, coming from to all streams of life, castes, religions and races. It has about 2000 teachers and nearly 5000 non-teaching staff. Another important feature of the BHU is the number of foreign students. A large number of students come from the U.S.A., Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa, etc.
Jantar Mantar is an observatory, built by Jai Singh, the Maharaja of Jaipur in the year 1737. Jai Singh was a great admirer of science and technology and he was particularly passionate about astronomy. Before the commencement of construction (of observatories) he sent scholars abroad to study the foreign observatories. The emissaries returned with many manuals on astronomy. The Jantar Mantar at Varanasi was built in line with Delhi, Mathura, Ujjain and Jaipur observatories. The Jantar Mantar was built to measure the local time, the Sun's declination, altitude, the declination of stars, planets and to determine eclipses The Jantar Mantar at Varanasi has several masonry instruments to record the motion, speed and properties starts and planets and study astronomy that are accurate and can still be used efficiently today. The Jantar Mantar incorporates multiple structures of unique form, each with a specialized function for astronomical measurement. These structures with their striking combinations of geometric forms have captivated the attention of architects, artists, and art historians. Originally, there were many yantras (instruments). Some of the important ones are the Krantivritta Yantra, Digansha Yantra, Samrat Yantra, Prakash Yantra, Ram Yantra, Disha Yantra and Dhruva Yantra.
The Ramnagar fort
The Ramnagar fort lies about 14 km. from Varanasi and is situated on the opposite bank of river Ganga. It is the ancestral home of the Maharaja of Banaras. Maharaja Balwant Singh built this fort-palace in the eighteenth century. The fort is built in red sandstone. The Ramnagar fort has a temple and a museum within the grounds and the temple is dedicated to Ved Vyasa, who wrote Mahabharata, the great Indian epic. Legends have it that Ved Vyasa stayed here for a brief period. The Ramnagar fort houses a museum displaying the Royal collection which includes vintage Cars, Royal palkies, an armory of swords and old guns, ivory work and antique clocks. The Durga Temple and Chhinnamastika Temple are also Located at Ramnagar. A temple of Dakshin Mukhi Hanuman is there. Inside the giant walls of the Ramnagar fort-palace, there is a big clock. This clock not only displays year, month, week and day but also astronomical facts about the sun, moon and constellation of stars. An interesting array of ornate palanquins, gold-plated howdahs and weapons are some of the artifacts on display in the Ramnagar fort-palace museum.
Varanasi is well connected and accessible to major Indian cities and tourist spots. There are daily domestic flights to and from Varanasi to several cities in India. Apart from the state owned Indian Airlines, there are many private airtaxi operators that offer their services from Varanasi to other Indian cities. In fact, the daily flights on Delhi-Agra-Khajuraho-Varanasi route are quite popular among the tourists.
Since Varanasi lies in the heartland of the North Indian plains, it is well connected to Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and other parts of India. There are two railway stations in Varanasi, the Kashi Junction and the Varanasi Junction (also known as Varanasi Cantonment). Rajdhani Express from Delhi or from Calcutta passes through Varanasi too. One can also catch trains from Mughalsarai, just 10 km south of Varanasi.
Situated in the flat Ganga plains, Varanasi has a good network of roads. frequent public and private buses and road transport to all the major towns of Uttar Pradesh and nearby areas.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Lucky you! Mother Nature was very generous with these 115 islands scattered in the Indian Ocean and has spoiled them rotten. Undeniably, the beaches are the big attraction, and what beaches: exquisite ribbons of white sand lapped by topaz waters and backed by lush hills and big glacis boulders. And nary a crowd in sight.
Which island should you go to? Don’t sweat the decision too much. Be it one of the three main islands of Praslin, La Digue or Mahé - its mountainous interior being home to Morne Seychellois National Park - or any outlying island, you’ll strike gold.
With such a dreamlike setting, the Seychelles is, unsurprisingly, a choice place for a honeymoon. But there’s much more to do than simply cracking open a bottle of champagne with the loved one in a luxurious hotel. Having earned a reputation as a paradigm of ecotourism, the Seychelles is a top spot to watch birds and giant tortoises in their natural habitat. And a vast living world lies just below the turquoise waters, beckoning divers of all levels. When you tire of beaches you can venture inland on jungle trails, indulge in fine dining or enjoy the sublime laid-back tempo.
And time has come to spread the word: yes, this paradise is accessible to us all. On top of ultra-luxurious options, the Seychelles has plenty of quaint, affordable self-catering facilities and guesthouses, often situated on some of the best land. Though it remains an expensive destination, its tourist authorities are now targeting non-millionaires, promoting these economy options. But fear not: mass tourism it will never be.
A wicked seductress, Praslin has lots of temptations: stylish lodgings, high-quality restaurants serving the freshest of fish, tangled velvet jungle, curving hills dropping down to gin-clear seas, gorgeous stretches of silky sand edged with palm trees and a slow-motion ambience. No, you’re not dreaming!
Lying about 45km northeast of Mahé, the second-largest island in the Seychelles falls somewhere between the relative hustle and bustle of Mahé and the sleepiness of La Digue. Like Mahé, Praslin is a granite island, with a ridge of mountains running east–west along the centre. The island is 12km long and 5km across at its widest point. The 5000 inhabitants of Praslin are scattered around the coast in a series of small settlements. The most important from a visitor’s perspective are Anse Volbert (also known as Côte d’Or) and Grande Anse. At the southeast tip of the island is Baie Ste Anne, Praslin’s main port.
Praslin has all you need to decompress and throw your cares to the wind. Prepare yourself for soggy fingers and toes: here you’ll probably spend as much time in the water as out of it. But if playing sardines on the strand ceases to do it for you, there are a few walks, boat excursions to nearby islands famed for their birdlife, scuba diving and snorkelling that will keep you buzzing.
Remember that tropical paradise that appears in countless adverts and glossy travel brochures? Here it’s the real thing, with jade-green waters, lovely bays studded with heart-palpitatingly gorgeous beaches, and green hills cloaked with tangled jungle and tall trees. The coup de grâce (though a bit overhyped for some tastes) is Anse Source d’Argent on the west coast, with its picture-perfect, sea-smoothed glacis rocks. As if that wasn’t enough, La Digue is ideally situated as a springboard to surrounding islands, including Félicité, Grande Sœur and the fairy-tale Île Cocos.
Despite its lush beauty, La Digue has managed to escape the somewhat rampant tourist development that affects Mahé and Praslin, and there’s only one settlement on the island, La Passe. Sure, it’s certainly not undiscovered, and the recent small casino has brought some protest from locals anxious to preserve the island’s traditional way of life. But La Digue has a more laid-back feel than the other main islands, with only one surfaced road and virtually no cars, just the odd ox cart. Time moves at a crawl, the atmosphere is chilled out to the max, and the place is definitely more a back-to-nature than a jet-set-tourist kind of haven, making it possible to find a deserted anse (bay) to commune with your quest for inner peace.
Transport to La Digue is absurdly easy. It’s only about 5km from Praslin, and getting by boat from one island to the other is simplicity itself, so you’ve no excuse not to spend a day or two at the very least on this island.
If money’s any object, La Digue has a growing number of quaint family guesthouses and self-catering apartments in which to rest your head. While hardly glitzy, they usually boast loads of gracious charm.
When it comes to wishing for the archetypal idyllic island, it’s impossible to think past the glorious bays caressed by gorgeously multihued waters (the ones you see in travel mags) of Mahé. To the northeast, a range of granite peaks, including Mahé’s highest point, Morne Seychellois (905m), adds to this vivid panorama.
By far the largest and most developed ofthe Seychelles islands, Mahé (named by the French in honour of the 18th-century governor of Mauritius, Mahé de Labourdonnais) is home to the country’s capital, Victoria, and to about 90% of the Seychelles’ population. Small wonder that it has excellent vacation and adventure opportunities. Best of all, most spots along the coast are easy to reach by bus or car, so travellers have no trouble sampling the full variety of options the are there offers.
There are a number of modes of transport in Seychelles. Seychelles possesses transportation systems which include: 453km of roads (of which 400km are paved), seaports and airports. The country lacks any railways. In terms of sea transport, the main port is Victoria, and Seychelles has no merchant marine. There are fourteen airports in Seychelles, the major ones including Seychelles International Airport and Praslin Island Airport. Of the fourteen airports, six have runways that are paved.
In rural areas, especially on La Digue, a popular way of public transport are ox-carts.
In order to truly understand the real Cambodia, one must visit one of the great archaeological sites in the world; the spiritual heart and identity of the Khmer people: the Angkor complex. Had any of the main temples, especially Angkor Wat been built anywhere else they would be as famous or as visited as the Taj Mahal, the Parthenon, the Coliseum or the Pyramids of Egypt. Angkor is without doubt one of the most breathtaking architectural masterpieces left standing in the world today. Without witnessing them at first hand it is impossible to gauge the enormity of task faced by the builders of the time and the fact they are so complete after all this time is further testament to the advanced construction techniques employed more than a millennium ago. Everything is built on a massive scale and one can only imagine the awe felt by ancient visitors as the civilization was at its peak. It is estimated that over one million people lived there making it the largest metropolis in its time. Witness the two hand dug reservoirs that served the civilization's rice growing agriculture: The Eastern Baray measures 7 km by 1.8 km and the Western Baray a staggering 8 km by 2.3 km.
Angkor Wat is the cultural home of the Khmer people and its form, in various guises has appeared and is still on the national flag. Had it been located in the Mediterranean basin it would have been one of the eight wonders of the world. The Lost City of Angkor was to remain undiscovered by Western archaeologists until the late 19th century and ever since has continued to amaze all who see it for the first time: neither words nor pictures do it justice. Angkor Wat is a legacy of the might that was once the Khmer Empire, a detailed history of which has been carved into the many walls of this fortified temple. The temple is accessible by a giant stone causeway across the hundred ninety meter moat, itself an incredible feat of engineering, to the west face of the Wat.
Angkor Thom was built by Cambodia's greatest builder, Jayavarman VII. This ten square kilometer city is enclosed by an eight meter high wall and encircled by a hundred meter moat said to have been inhabited by fierce crocodiles. There are five twenty meter high gates in the wall in each of the North, West and South walls and two in the East Wall. Access is via causeways over the moat that are flanked by the statues of fifty four Gods on the left and fifty four devils on the right, all seemingly engaged in a game of tug of war.
Bayon is located in the geographical heart of Angkor Thom. The fifty four tower temple is a quite remarkable sight. Initially the temple seems to be a shapeless mass of grey and brown stone but as one approaches one realizes that each of the towers is in fact carved and there are over two hundred huge enigmatic faces of Avalokitesharva bearing down on you wherever you turn. The Bayon is easily the most popular sight after Angkor Wat and no visit is complete without a trip to see this amazing and unique temple.
Ta Prohm was built in the late 12th century by Jayavarman VII as a shrine to his mother and is another must for anyone coming to Siem Reap. As a monastery there were nearly three thousand priests here including eighteen high priests. Ta Prohm is unforgettable due to the massive trees that were left here intentionally by the archeologists working on the site. While clearing back the forest it was decided to leave them in place to serve as a reminder of how the original discovers found it and other temples. Many of the trees have grown around and through the remains, and soar high above the temple. This temple, along with those of the Bayon and Angkor Thom form the core of any visit to Siem Reap.
Phnom Bakheng served as the temple mountain of the first city of Angkor as opposed to the previous center of Roluos. The capital built on a lone hill offers panoramic views of Angkor Wat. Angkor Thom and the surrounding areas. It is best visited in the late afternoon for a spectacular sunset or in the early morning for sunrise over Angkor Wat.
Banteay Srei. While some of the temples are impressive because of their sheer size, Banteay Srei stands alone in the quality of its construction and decoration. Its pink sandstone wall are decorated with what some consider to be the best carving of all and in an amazing state of preservation. Built in 967 and dedicated to Brahma it is located twenty five kilometers North of Angkor Wat.
The Small Circuit takes in several of the major and minor temples in the area. Beginning at Angkor Wat and running for seventeen kilometers the circuit takes in the major elements of Angkor Thom, Ta Phrohm, and Banteay Kdei, and some of the minor but interesting temples such as the Baphoun, The Terrace of the Leper King, The Terrace of the Elephants, the Twelve Prasats, Spean Thma and Sras Srang before returning to Angkor Wat.
The twenty-six kilometer Grand Circuit is an extension on the little circuit but taking in Preah Khan, Preah Neak Pean to the Eastern Mebon and the various monuments like Ta Som, Preah Rup, before returnin to Angkor Wat and is highly recommended for anyone spending three or more days in the complex. The Big Circuit encompasses a good representation of the rich variety of architecture here.
Phnom Kulen is widely regarded as the birthplace of the ancient Khmer empire and is some forty eight kilometers from Siem Reap. This hilltop site has the country's largest reclining Buddha and it was here that the King Jayavarma II proclaimed independence from Java in 802 A.D. It has only just returned to government hands after the fall of the Khmer Rouge and is currently fairly inaccessible due to the poor state of the roads especially in the rainy season. Cutting through the area is the River of 1000 Lingas. Just five cm under the water's surface over 1000 small carvings are etched into the sandstone riverbed while further downstream larger blocks of stone are carved with Apsaras, Vishnu, and other figures. All the sandstone used in the construction of Angkor was quarried here.
Comfortable, economical and reliable - Prompt, professional and friendly service- Ride is pleasant, breezy and fun- Customize your own itinerary- Explore the temples at your own pace- Takes you anywhere you want to go- Flexible schedule that fits your needs- Space for lugguageA tuk tuk is a two person motorcycle trailer (moto-romauk) with a cover that protects you from the sun and rain.
There are lots of flights from major south east asia city such as Vientien, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Lanzarote is of volcanic origin. The island was created about 35 million years ago by the Canary hotspot. Alfred Wegener arrived in 1912 and studied the island and showed how it fitted in with his theory of continental drift. The island along with others was created after the breakup of the
African and the American continental plates.As of 2006, a total of 127,457 people lived on Lanzarote. The seat of the island government (Cabildo Insular) is in the capital, Arrecife, which has a population of 55,203. The majority of the inhabitants (73.9%) are Spanish, with a sizeable number of residents from other European nations, mainly British (4.0%), Germans (2.6%) and Irish (2.5%). Other populous groups include immigrants from Colombia, Morocco, Ecuador, Western Africa, China and India, which constitute for a large proportion of the remaining 15.6% of the population.The island has its own international airport, Arrecife Airport, through which 5,626,337 passengers travelled in 2006. Tourism has been the mainstay of the island's economy for the past forty years, the only other industry being agriculture.
If you want to catch a more modern and metropolitan side of Lanzarote then visit Arrecife, the islands capital. Here you will find a lively port city, shaped both by its seafaring past and its current, rapid regeneration.
Arrecife is home to around half the island’s inhabitants, with a population of some 45,000 and boasts shopping galore, beaches, parks, promenades, nightlife and all of the attendant urban hustle and bustle.
Widely known as the valley of 1,000 palms, Haria has much to offer the visitor who wants to see a real slice of Lanzarote.
A rural community, cut off from much of Lanzarote, the town is starting to recover it’s golden past.San Bartolomé
San Bartolomé lies right in the heart of Lanzarote — both geographically and culturally. Find out all about it in our Visitors Guide to San Bartolomé.
La Villa de Teguise
Teguise was the capital of the island for hundreds of years, until it lost this title to Arrecife.
Now largely ignored by tourists — other than for the Sunday Market — it remains a great place to visit in the week, as it has some excellent architecture and remains relatively quiet.Tias
Despite being one of the oldest and most important towns on the island Tias doesn’t often feature very prominently in many tourist guides and, on the face of it, appears to boast few major attractions.
Yet this busy town, overlooking the main resort of Puerto Del Carmen, is home to a Nobel prize winner as well as a growing army of ex-pats. It also boasts a growing reputation as a destination in it’s own right and is the conduit through which the vast majority of the island’s sizeable tourist revenue flows.
Voted the Prettiest village in Spain on more than one occasion, Yaiza is a quiet and tranquil place to explore.
Lucky to still be here at all, because of it’s proximity to the volcanoes at Timanfaya, it should be on any visitors list of places to see.
There are still a number of small, sea-side villages which have escaped the developers excesses found in the main resort areas.Caleta de Famara
Small fishing village on the North-West coast, which is highly popular with local and international surfers.
With some stunning views, bracing walks and a selection of nice — if simple — restaurants, it has much to offer if you want to chill out for a while.
Just a few kilometres South of Puerto Calero, this is a very small village, where the houses spill right onto the black, volcanic beach.
It certainly offers an insight into what Lanzarote used to be like, before it was discovered by the tourist trade.
Carnaval — which takes place at the end of February to the Beginning of March — attracts many visitors from all over Europe, joining the local residents in their celebrations.
The end of July signals the Fiesta de Carmen, patron saint of Puerto del Carmen. Visitors again make the population swell as folklore performances, singing and dancing fill the night until the early hours of the morning. Specially decorated fishing boats setting out to sea, to pray for good catches in the coming year, signals the end of this particular fiesta.
Buses To and From Arrecife Airport
Most tourists are transferred to their resort accommodation by coach, courtesy of their tour operators, or by taxi. There are no airport shuttle buses to the main resorts.
But there is a public bus that services Arrecife Airport. However, this route is very limited – running solely in between the main bus depot in the nearby island capital of Arrecife and the airport.
This service runs is in the opposite direction to the resorts of Playa Blanca, Puerto del Carmen and Matagorda. So unless you have a lot of time to kill or are on a very tight budget this is not the best option for reaching your accommodation quickly and comfortably.
Tourists staying in Costa Teguise however can take the bus to Arrecife bus station and then get a connection onto Costa Teguise from there. Again, this would still be a relatively time consuming option – despoite the short distances involved.
The public bus service runs directly from outside the arrivals hall at Terminal 1. The bus line number is 22 or 23. Journey time from the airport to the bus depot in Arrecife is around 20 minutes. The fare is approxinmately €1.
For a full bus timetable visit Arrecife Buses.
Taxis To And From Lanzarote Airport
The taxi rank is located directly outside the arrival hall at Terminal 1.
You can find up to date taxi pricing for transfers to all parts of the island by visiting the official Lanzarote taxis website. Where it is also possible to book a transfer direct online.
NOTE – passengers can be subjected to lengthy queues for taxis on arrival – especially on peak days such as Thursdays (the main changeover day on the island) and during the busiest periods of the year.
Taxis are metered. Tipping is at your own discretion. Passenger numbers are limited to four people per taxi.
Lanzarote Airport Transfers
Book a private airport transfer online. Visit our airport transfers booking page for more information.
Taxis :: In Resort
Taxis are a relatively cheap way of getting round your resort as short hops usually cost little more than a few euros.
A taxi is free for hire when displaying a green light and can be flagged down in the street. Alternatively, there are taxi ranks throughout all of the main resorts.
Taxi ranks can also be contacted on the numbers below – however it is pot luck as to whether the person answering your call can speak sufficient English to understand you.Arrecife: 928 812710
Costa Teguise: 928 590863
Playa Blanca: 928 830163
Puerto del Carmen: 928 524220
Teguise: 928 845533
Buses Around The Island
There is a public bus service on Lanzarote and it is both cheap and reliable. However, the frequency of service in areas outside of the main resorts and conurbations is not always conduicive for sightseeing.
For full timetables across the island visit Arrecife Buses.
Lanzarote Car Hire
Car hire on Lanzarote is realtively inexpensive – starting from around €17 per day for a basic model such as an Opel Corsa. There are many different companies to choose from – all in truth offering fairly similar levels of pricing and service. Visit our Lanzarote Car Hire page for further information.