Never miss to try a Fish n’ Chips while in London. This traditional dish consists of fried battered fish and hot chips. It is a common take-away food. In London fish and chips shops traditionally use a simple water and flour batter, adding a little baking soda and vinegar to create lightness as they create bubble in the batter. Other recipes may use beer or milk batter, where these liquids are often substitutes for water. This one is a must try while in London.
River Thames intersects the city of London into two. One can enjoy a walk along its banks and can have the nice view of the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge. Tower of London is a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. The white tower which gives the entire castle its name was built by William the Conqueror in 1078 and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite.
Tower Bridge, the iconic symbol of London is a combined bascule and suspension bridge built in 1886-1894. The bridge crosses the River Thames close to the Tower of London. The bridge consists of two bridge towers tied together at the upper level by two horizontal walkways.
Buckingham Palace is the London residence and administrative headquarters of the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom. Located in the city of Westminister, it has been a focal point for the British People at times of national rejoicing and mourning. The palace chapel was destroyed by a German bomb during World War II and in 1962 the Queen’s Gallery was built on the site and opened to the public to exhibit works of art from the Royal Collection.
The Victoria Memorial was created by sculptor Sir Thomas Brock in 1911 and erected front of the main gates of the Buckingham Palace.
St Paul’s Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of London and the mother church of the Diocese of London. The present church, dating from the late 17th century was designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren. This Anglican cathedral is one of the most famous and most recognizable sights in London.
The London Eye the giant Ferris wheel, is located on the south bank of the River Thames. Also known as the Millennium Wheel this 135 meter tall wheel has diameter of 120 meter. The wheel’s 32 sealed and air-conditioned ovoidal passenger capsules are attached to the external circumference of the wheel and rotated by electric motors. Each capsule can hold up to 25 people, who are free to walk around inside the capsule, though seating is provided.
Big Ben the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminister is officially known as the Elizabeth Tower. The tower holds the second largest four-faced chiming clock in the world and is often referred as the most prominent symbols of the United Kingdom.
Patan Durbar Square is situated at the centre of the city of Lalitpur in Nepal. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Patan is the oldest of all the three cities of Kathmandu valley. It is best known for its artistic heritage. The city is situated on a plateau across Bagamti River. The city is surrounded by 4 stupas at 4 corners of Patan, one at each corner of its cardinal points and is believed to be built by the Emperor Ashoka. The former royal palace complex is the center of Patan’s religious and social life and houses a museum containing an array of bronze statues and religious objects. There are three main courtyards or chowks in Patan Darbar Square – central Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk and Keshav Narayan Chowk. The Sundari Chowk holds in its center a masterpiece of stone architecture, the royal bath called Tushahity.
The square was heavily damaged in the earthquake of 25 April, 2015.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is the plaza in front of the royal palace of the old Bhaktapur Kingdom, 1400 m above sea level. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located in the current town of Bhaktapur also known as Bhadgaon which is 13 km east of Kathmandu. The complex consists of four distinct squares – Durbar Square, Taumadhi Square, Dattatreya Square and Pottery Square. The whole area is informally known as bhaktapur Durbar Square.
The Durbar square is surrounded by spectacular architecture that vividly showcases the skills of the Newari artists and craftsmen, over several centuries. The royal palace was originally situated at Dattatraya square and was only later moved to the Durbar Square location.
The Mini Pashupatinath Temple in Bhaktapur Durbar square is a replica of the original one in Kathmandu. Also known as the Yaksheswara Mahadev Temple, it was built by King Yaksha Malla in either 1475 or 1482. The legend is that Lord Shiva asked the king to build the Pashupatinath Temple and so he did. The temple contains several graphic erotic carvings in the pillars and roof struts.
The Durbar Square houses the 55 window palace which was constructed by King Jitamitra Malla and was home to the royalty until 1769. It is now a national gallery. The main attraction is the golden door, the most beautiful and richly molded specimen of its kind in the entire world. Close by is the golden gate which leads into Mulchok Court which is home to the Taleju Temple. This temple like other in the main towns of Kathmandu valley is dedicated to the goddess Taleju Bhawani and includes shrines to both the Taleju Bhawani and Kumari.
Nyatapola Temple is a five storey pagoda, built by King Phupatindra Malla in 1702 and dedicated to the Goddess Siddhi Lakshmi. To make the brick and wood temple strong and powerful, King Bhupatindra Malla ordered guardians be placed in pairs on each level of the base leading up to the Nyatapola Temple. On the first level is a pair of likenesses of Bhaktapur’s strongest men, Jaya Malla and Phatta Malla. On the next tier are two elephants, followed by two lions, two griffins, and finally ‘Baghini’ and ‘Singhini’, the tiger and lion Goddesses. The entities in each level are supposed to be 10 times as strong as the one on the next lower level. The temple is the tallest temple in the Kathmandu Valley and stands 100 feet high. It was so well designed that it withstood a powerful 8.3 earthquake in 1934.
The Dattatraya Temple is as old as the 55 windows palace. Consecrated by King Jayayakshya Malla in 1427, this temple, according to popular belief, was built out of the trunk of a single tree. It was subsequently repaired and renovated by King Vishva Malla in the mid 16th century. The temple is dedicated to Vishnu and Shiva and shows symbols of both gods.
The Siddhi Lakshmi Temple is a Sikhara style temple next to 55 Window Palace. The steps up to the temple are flanked by male and female attendants.
Next to the Vatsala Devi Temple, in front of the 55 Windows Palace is the Chayslin Dega. This octagonal temple was originally a viewing point for noble writers, observing festivals and rituals. It was built during the 17th century by King Jitamitra Malla and was used as a rest house by the pilgrims.
The Vatsala Devi Temple is a small temple in right in front of the Golden Gate. This Sikhara style temple completely constructed in sandstone and is built on three stage plinth. It is dedicated to Batsala Devi, a form of Goddess Durga. The stone temple shows many intricate carvings. It is most famous for its bells.
The Bhairabnath Temple is dedicated to the dreadful aspect of Lord Shiva. It stands a short distance away from the Nyatapola Temple. This three storied temple was originally constructed by King Jagaj Jyoti Malla and remodelled by King Bhupatindra Malla.
More views from the Bhaktapur Durbar Square…
A major earthquake on 25 April 2015 had badly damaged many buildings in the Bhaktapur Durbar square. The mini Pashupatinath temple lost its roof, while the Vatsala Devi Temple was demolished by the earthquake.
Sarangkot is a village just above Pokhara, famous for its spectacular views of one of the largest mountain ranges in the world, the Annapurna range including the Annapurna I which is the 10th highest mountain in the world. At dawn, the sun transforms the peaks from pink to celestial gold. Never miss a visit to Sarangkot while in Pokhara, which also offers a nice glimpse into the peaceful, slow village life and more.
The distance to Sarangkot from Pokhara is around 12 km. You can hire a taxi in the early morning to make a visit to the view point at the time of sunrise. The main village is just below the ridge, but a set of steps leads uphill to a dramatic viewpoint, the site of an ancient kot or fort.
On our way back we paid a visit to the Radhakrishna Temple, Bindhyabasini, Pokhara. Atop a hill this temple complex with amazing views around is worth a visit.
The Pashupatinath Temple is located on the banks of the Bagamati River in the eastern outskirts of Kathmandu. This is the most sacred of all the Hindu temples in Nepal and the seat of national deity, Lord Pashupatinath. This temple complex is on UNESCO World Heritage Sites list since 1979. The temple was erected anew in the 15th century by Lichhavi King Shupushpa after the previous building was consumed by termites. Over a time, countless further temples have been erected around this two storied temple. The area of Pashupatinath encompasses 264 hectares of land including 518 temples and monuments. Main pagoda style temple is located in the fortified courtyard within the complex on the western bank of the Bagamati River. The two storied roof is made of copper and is covered with gold. The temple is richly decorated with wooden sculptures and the most astonishing decoration of the temple is the huge statue of Nandi.
There are several complex stories involving the origins of Pashupatinath. One story goes that Shiva and Parvati came to the Kathmandu Valley and rested by the Bagamati while on a journey. Shiva was so impressed by its beauty and the surrounding forest that he and Parvati changed themselves into deers and walked into the forest. Many spots in Kathmandu Valley have been identified as places where Shiva went during his time as a deer. After a while the people and gods began to search for Shiva. Finally, after various complications, they found him in the forest, but he refused to leave. More complications ensued, but ultimately Lord Shiva announced that, since he had lived by the Bagamati river in a deer’s form, he would now be known as Pashupatinath, lord of all animals. It is said that whoever came here and beheld the lingam that appeared there would not be reborn as animal.
Only followers of Hinduism can enter the main temple, but all the other buildings are available for foreigners to visit. From the eastern bank of the river Bagamati the main temple can be seen in its whole beauty. Numerous religious buildings are also located on the eastern bank of the Bagamati, most of them devoted to Shiva. Along the western bank of the river numerous platforms for funeral pyres are built. The cremations on these platforms are a common sight at any point of time. Even though there are many other places in Kathmandu where cremations take place, this place is considered to be the best as the ashes are cleared into the Bagamati River which eventually flows in to the Ganges. By the river side there is a home were terminally ill people can wait for their death and can be cremated here. According to the Nepalese Hindu tradition, the dead body must be dipped three times in to the Bagamati River before cremation, so that the reincarnation cycle may be ended. Yes, here on the banks of sacred Bagamati, one moves from mortality to immortality. The chief mourner (usually the elder son) who lights the funeral pyre must take a holy river water bath immediately after cremation. Many relatives who join the funeral possession also take a bath in the Bagamati River or sprinkle the holy water on their bodies at the end of cremation. It is believed that the Bagamati River purifies the people spiritually.
Once you cross over to the eastern bank of the river, you will be met with many sadhus covered with ashes and colourful robes. Watch out for monkeys in the temple complex, who may snatch things from the tourists and pilgrims.
Pokhara is the second largest city of Nepal and the headquarters of Kaski District. It is located 200 km west of the capital Kathmandu. Due to its proximity to the Annapurna mountain range the city is a base for trekkers undertaking the Annapurna Circuit in the Himalayas. Pokhara is home to many Gurkha soldiers. It is the most beautiful and clean city in Nepal and also the most expensive city.
The Seti Gandaki River (White River) flows through the Pokhara city. In the south, the city borders Phewa Lake a fresh water lake which covers an area of 5.23 square km. It has an average depth of 28 feet. The Tal Barahi Temple situated in the middle of the lake is a major attraction. Baidam is the eastern banks of the Phewa Lake which is also known as Lakeside. This is the area where all the hotels, lodges, restaurants, book shops, souvenir shops etc. are located.
Pokhara Shanti Stupa
This Buddhist pagoda style monument on Ananda hill is a major tourist attraction of Pokhara. It was built by Nipponzan-Moyohoji monk, Sonin with local support under the guidance of Nichidatsu Fujii a Buddhist monk and founder of Nipponzan-Myohoji. It provides panoramic view of the Annapurna mountain range, Pokhara city and the Phewa Lake. The hilltop provides splendid view of sun rise and sun set. Nepal has two of the eighty peace pagodas in the world one in Lumbini and the other in Pokhara.
The pagoda is 115 feet tall and 344 feet in diameter. It has two tiers for the religious people to circumambulate. Second tier displays four statues of Buddha presented as souvenirs from different countries – ‘Dharmachakra Mudra’ from Japan, ‘Bodh Gaya’ from Sri Lanka, ‘Kushinagar’ from Thailand and ‘Lumbini’ from Nepal. Each statues represents the important vents related to Buddha and named according the place where it took place.
There are several ways to reach the peace pagoda. There are hiking trails, cycling tracks and the blacked topped road to the stupa. However the most popular and adventurous trails is by crossing the Phewa Lake by a local boat and climb uphill through the local villages that takes about an hour and a half to reach the hilltop. We followed this trail which was very soothing to the eyes owing to the nice views of the mountain range and the aerial view of the Phewa Lake. There have been cases of mugging in these trails, in the previous years.
Rome has a history that spans for more than two and a half thousand years. Roman mythology dates the founding of Rome around 753 BC. But the site has been inhabited for much longer, making it one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Europe. The city successively became the capital of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire and is regarded as one of the birthplaces of western civilization. It is referred to as “Roma Aeterna” (The Eternal City) and “Caput Mundi” (Capital of the World).
Rome today is one of the most important tourist destinations of the world, due to the incalculable immensity of its archaeological and artistic treasures as well as for the charm of its unique traditions, the beauty of its panoramic views and the majesty of its magnificent parks. The most significant resources are the museums, aqueducts, fountains, churches, palaces, historic buildings, the monuments and ruins of the Roman Forum.
The Arch of Constantine is a triumphal arch in Rome situated between Colosseum and Palatine Hill. It was erected by the Roman Senate to commemorate the victory of Constantine I’s victory over Maxentius. Dedicated in 315 AD, it is the largest Roman Triumphal arch which spans the Via Triumphalis, the way taken by the emperors when they entered the city in triumph. The last of the existing triumphal arches in Rome, it is 21 m high, 26 m wide and 7 m deep. It has three archways.
The Colosseum also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre is an oval Amphitheatre in the center of the city of Rome. Built of concrete and sand it is the largest Amphitheatre ever built. It is situated just east of the Roman Forum. Construction began under the emperor Vespasian in 72 AD and was completed in 80 AD under his successor and heir Titus. The colosseum could hold an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 spectators. It was used for gladiatorial contest and public spectacles such as animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles and dramas. Despite in ruins due to earthquakes and stone robbers the colosseum is still an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome.
The Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in the city of Rome and perhaps one of the most famous fountains in the world. Its height is 86 feet and width is 161 feet. The fountain has appeared in many notable movies. Already in the fifteenth century a small Trevi Fountain was built here during the papacy of Nicholas V. In 1732, Pope Clement XII commissioned Nicola Salvi to create a large fountain at the Trevi Square to replace the existing fountain. The fountain, which is designed like a monumental triumphal arch, was built against a wall of the Palazzo Poli. The central figure on the fountain, standing in a large niche, is Neptune, god of the sea. He rides shell shaped chariot that is pulled by two sea horses. Each sea horse is guided by a Triton. One of the horses is calm and obedient, the other one restive. They symbolize the fluctuating moods of the sea. On the left hand side of Neptune is a statue representing abundance and the statue on the right represents health. Above the two allegorical statues are the bas reliefs, one on the left shows Agrippa, the general who built the aqueduct that carries water to the fountain. The bas relief on the right captures the moment the virgin points to the source of the spring. The allegorical statues on the top, in front of the attic, symbolize the four seasons. Crowning the top is the coat of arms of pope Clement XII.
It is believed that you will return to Rome if you throw a coin into the fountain’s water basin. You should toss it with your right hand over your left shoulder with your back to the fountain. You are not supposed to look behind you while you are tossing the coin but the fountain is so large it is basically impossible to miss. An estimated 3000 euro coins were recovered from the fountain every day which is used by the Municipality of Rome to finance a special supermarket that serves the poor in Rome with the help of the Italian Red Cross.
Saints Vincent and Anastasius at Trevi is Baroque church located near the Trevi fountain, built from 1646 to 1650. It is notable as the place where the embalmed hearts of 25 popes from Sixtus V to Leo XIII are preserved. The church was reconstructed on the order of Cardinal Mazarin, whose triumphantly presented coat of arms and cardinal’s hat supported by angels, is focus of the façade composition. It is rumored that Mazarin’s niece, Marie Mancini, a mistress of Louis XIV of France, is also portrayed on the façade, in the central female mascaron.
The Piazza del Quirinale and the Palazzo del Quirinale sit atop Quirinal Hill, the highest of the seven hills of Rome. The major structure in the piazza is the huge obelisk with fountain that sits in the middle. This is known as the Dioscuri Fountain and features the 18 feet tall sculptures of Castor and Pollux as horse tamers. These statues – Roman replicas of Greek originals from the 5th Century BC, once stood at the entrance of the baths of Constantine. The 14 m tall central obelisk once held a place of honor at the entrance to the mausoleum of Augustus. The Statues were placed here in 1588 by pope Sixtus V. The obelisk was added in 1786 and the fountain’s granite basin was added in 1818.
The Salita di Montecavallo, the staircase leading to the entrance of Piazza del Quirinale. See these statues which are installed in 1866.
Trajan’s Column is a Roman triumphal column that commemorates emperor Trajan’s victory in the Dacian Wars. It is located in Trajan’s Forum, built near the Quirinal hill north of the Roman Forum. Completed in 113 AD, the freestanding column is most famous for its spiral bas relief, which artistically describes the epic wars between the Romans and Dacians. The structure is about 98 feet in height and 115 feet including the large pedestal. The structure is made of a series of 20 colossal Carrara marble drums, each weighing about 32 tons with a diameter of 12 feet. Inside the shaft, a spiral staircase of 185 steps, provide access to a viewing platform at the top. The capital block of Trajan’s Column weighs 53 tons. Ancient coins indicate preliminary plans to top the column with a statue of a bird, probably an eagle but after construction, a statue of Trajan was put in place but this statue disappeared in the Middle Ages. On December 4,1587 the top was crowned by Pope Sixtus V with a bronze figure of St Peter which remains to this day.
The Altar of the Fatherland (Altare della Patria) also known as National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II (Monumento Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele II) is a monument built in honor of Victor Emanuel, the first king of unified Italy. It is located between Piazza Venezia and Capitoline Hill. It was completed in 1925 and features stairways, Corinthian columns, fountains, an equestrian statue of Victor Emanuel and two statues fo the goddess Victoria riding quadrigas. The base of the structure houses the museum of Italian Unification.
The Kala Ghoda precinct is Mumbai’s premier art district. It has large number of city’s heritage buildings and art galleries like Jehangir Art Gallery, National Gallery of Modern Art etc. Also the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalyaya is located in here. The area is sandwiched between the Lion Gate to the east, Regal Cinema to the south, Fountain to the north and Oval Maidan to the west.
The name Kala Ghoda means Black Horse, a reference to the presence of a black equestrian statue of king Edward VII placed in the area. Even though the statue was removed from the precinct in 1965 and subsequently placed inside the Byculla Zoo, the area was continued to be called as Kala Ghoda (but alas without the black horse).
The Kala Ghoda Association was formed on 30th October 1998 with the object of maintaining and preserving this art district of south Mumbai. Every year, since 1999 the association hosts the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. The nine days long festival commences on the first Saturday of February and closing on the second Sunday of February. Over the years, the festival has grown in stature and popularity attracting visitors and participants from other parts of the country and the world. The festival sections are visual arts, dance, music, theatre, cinema, literature, workshops, heritage walks, urban etc. Entry to all the events is free to all, as the costs are met through corporate sponsorship.
The Rampart Raw being the centre of the Festival is closed off to vehicular traffic for the duration of the festival, with the entire area becoming a street mela, with interactive art installations and stalls of artisans selling their creations. In the recent years, the festival has expanded beyond Kala Ghoda area with many events being held in Cross Maidan and Horniman circle as well.
Kala Ghoda Art Festival-2016 was held during 6th February to 14th February 2016. Some pictures from the Festival…
Boudhanath is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. This stupa is located about 11 km from the center of Kathmandu. The stupa is one of the largest in the world. It is known as ‘Khasti’ in Nepalese Language. The Stupa is on the ancient trade route from Tibet which enters the Kathmandu Valley by the village of Sankhu. The influx of large population of refugees from Tibet has seen the construction of over 50 Tibetan Monasteries around Boudhanth. As of 1979, boudhanath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Gopalarajavamsavali says Boudhanath was founded by the Nepalese Licchavi king Sivadeva (590-604 AD), though other Nepalese chronicles date it to the reign of King Manadeva (465-505 AD). However Tibetan emperor, Trisong Detsan (755-797 AD) is also traditionally associated with the construction of the Boudhanath Stupa.
Myths of the Holy Stupa
Once in ancient Nepal, there lived a very grumpy, rude and irreligious man who was detested by everyone and never once did anything pious in his life. He owned a shop in the complex but no one really came to his shop because he used to speak ill of everyone who came there. When he died he fell straight to hell and when he was about to get sentenced for his sins, the Buddha appeared and nullified his sentence. When the demons asked the holy one why he did this the Buddha said “Yes, this man has done many sins in his life, but once he circled the Boudhanath while chasing a dog and had gained a little merit thus the Buddha shall grant him one chance to atone”. After this incident it is believed that even if a person who has committed great sins circles around the stupa even once shall be granted one chance to atone for his sins.
Boudhanath stupa is said to entomb the remains of Kassapa Buddha. According Theravada Buddhist tradition, Kassapa is the twenty-seventh of the twenty-nine named Buddhas, the sixth of the Seven Buddhas of Antiquity and the third of the five Buddhas of the present Kalpa.
The earthquake of April,2015 has badly damaged the Boudhanath Stupa, severely cracking the spire.