The construction of this place was initiated by Tsewang Namgyal, the founder of the Namgyal dynasty of Ladakh in 1553 and was completed by his nephew Sengge Namgyal, the most illustrious king of Ladakh. It resembles Potala Palace in Lhasa, though in comparison much smaller. The palace has nine storeys and the upper floors accommodated the royal family while the lower floors held stables and store rooms. The palace was abandoned when Dogra forces took control of Ladakh in the mid-19th century and the royal family moved to Stok Palace.
The material used in the construction of the palace is stone, mud bricks, poplar wood, mud mortar and wooden rafters. The mud plaster utilized locally known as Mar-kalak.
The palace is in ruins and being restored by the Archaeological Survey of India. The palace is open to the public and the roof provides panoramic views of Leh and surrounding areas and in the back ground is the rising Ladakh mountain ranges. The imposing structure, speak of the royal glory of the bygone era.
This is without doubt the most adventurous road trip in India, the highway which connects the Manali town in the state of Himachal Pradesh and Leh the erstwhile capital of the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh, now the Leh district of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). This highway was designed, built and maintained entirely by the Boarder Roads Organisation (BRO) of Indian Army. This highway plays a major role in reaching the supplies to the Indian army units which are stationed in the international border with China in the north and east and the Line of Control along the Pakistani- administered territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan in the west and north- west.
The highway is open for only about four and a half months in a year during summer between end of May when the snow is cleared and to Mid-October when the snow fall again blocks the passes. The highway has an average elevation of more than 13,000 feet and its highest elevation is 17,480 feet. It is flanked by mountain ranges on both sides featuring some stunning sand and rock natural formations and breath taking sceneries.
This 500 km highway crosses many small streams of ice-cold water from snow-caped mountains without any bridges which demands driving skill to negotiate fast-flowing streams. After passing the Rohtang Pass, the landscape changes as this region lies in a rain-shadow and the slopes become brown and arid. The highway is generally two lanes wide without a road divider but has only one or one and a half lanes at some stretches. This highway is very tricky due to many damaged stretches and under maintenance portions, where little rainfall can cause landslide making it very dangerous to cross that stretch of the road.
Travellers may experience acute mountain sickness due to high altitude on this highway and is advised to stay at Manali one night and minimum one night at either Keylong or Darcha to get acclimated to lower oxygen levels. Travel time on this highway is unpredictable though minimum three days are advised for ordinary tourists because the real fun and pleasure is in the journey itself and not reaching the destination.
The Church of St John the Evangelist better known as Afghan church is located in Navy Nagar in the Colaba area of Mumbai. This Anglican Church was built by the British to commemorate the dead of the First Afghan War and the disastrous 1842 retreat from Kabul.
When we entered the church compound it gave a deserted look. But we could locate the care taker of the church in the nearby cottage who with reluctance agreed to open the doors of the church for us to see. But the grumpy guy refused to switch on the lights inside so we could not take good pictures of the interior of the church.
The foundation stone of the church was laid in December 1847 by Sir George Russell Clerk, Governor of Bombay. The church was consecrated on January 7, 1858 by Bishop of Bombay, John Harding. The imposing edifice was constructed using locally available buff-coloured basalt and limestone. Wide gothic arches and beautiful stained glass windows, decorates the interior of the church. The floor tiles were imported from England.
This church is a Grade I, heritage structure. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall attended a Remembrance Sunday service at the church during their visit to Mumbai in November 2013.
Chhatrapti Shivaji Terminus (CST) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Mumbai, India. This historic railway station is one of the busiest in India. Built in 1887 this gothic structure is the most photographed monument in India after the Taj Mahal. Originally it was called Victoria Terminus and was intended to house the main station and the administrative offices of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway the predecessor of Indian Railway. In March 1996 its name was changed to Chhatrapti Shivaji Terminus and known simply as CST. The CST has 18 platforms out of which 7 are reserved for local suburban trains and 11 are for long distance out-station trains.
Very few people are aware of the the existence of a Railway Heritage Gallery in the CST building which has a nice collection of old engines and other artefacts used by the Great Indian Peninsular Railway. This gallery is functional since December 2012 and is open to the public along with a guided tour of the heritage CST building. The areas covered in the tour are:
a) Heritage Gallery at Ground Floor
b) Dining Hall at Ground Floor
c) Central Dome View from Ground Floor
d) Star Chamber view from Ground Floor
e) Heritage Lounge at Second Floor
f) Four-Court at Ground Floor
The tour also includes tea and biscuits in the Heritage Lounge at second floor.
Heritage Tour Timings: 3PM to 5PM on Week days only.
Price: Rs. 200/- per Person & Rs. 100/- per Student
Just below the clock was a statue of Queen Victoria which was damaged by a lightning many decades ago and was never replaced.