Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Southern Cross Flight

The ‘Southern Cross’, the first flight across the Pacific (Eightieth Anniversary),

First trans-Pacific flight celebrates its 8oth anniversary in August 2008.

The Southern Cross inside the Kingsford Smith Memorial, a climate-controlled sealed glass building

The Southern Cross inside the Kingsford Smith Memorial, a climate-controlled sealed glass building

Our commercial flight operation is eighty years old.

Smith and Ulm were youngsters from the Imperial Air Force of Australia with un-satiable desire for flying over un-chartered territories; and taking risks was for them a way of life. This mission was not just risk taking; it was history in the making. At present when the age commercial aircraft operations is counted this land-mark flight is taken as the starting point and our commercial flights are eighty years old; as this Southern Cross flight occurred on 1928; crossing the mighty Pacific for the first time in an aircraft; covering a distance of 11588 km!

First lap from Oakland to Hawaii (3ist May 1928)

On 31st May 1928 they (the four member crew who took part in ‘Southern Cross’ Trans Pacific Flight) took off from Oakland in California and landed in Hawaii after 27hours. This event would have gone un-noticed had it been not the part of a great flight that turned out to be a marking in aviation history. As experienced pilots they knew the risks involved in such a long flight in a single engine aircraft. The team had a purpose too; to study the feasibility of connecting Australia with US by commercial aircrafts.


First edition cover of descriptive book of the flight

Second lap; a mission impossible (3rd June 1928)

These young pilots (Charles Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm) were from the Imperial Air Force of Australia and crazy for establishing records in flying. This particular mission – a really risky one-they took entirely to satisfy their own thirst for flying through un- chartered territories. The second lap was the most challenging part of the journey flying 7388 miles above the unending vastness of the mighty Pacific; from Hawaii to Suva in Fiji – a journey no one has undertaken so far. Considering the standards of aircraft design and crude technologies prevalent in the flying equipments (the electronic revolution was not born at that time); it was a mission impossible.

The vessel

The Kingsford Smith Memorial, housing the Southern Cross

The Kingsford Smith Memorial, housing the Southern Cross

The vessel that was to take them across the Pacific was a Fokker F VII b-3 monoplane with three engines; which they named ‘The Southern Cross’. It was 14.56 meters in length with a wingspan of 21.71 meters. The aircraft was powered by Wright Whirlwind motors that were 304 horse-powers each and could attain a speed of 208 kph (cruising speed 178 kph). The Fokker F VII b-3 could carry a load around 5300 kilo grams and attain height of about 4400 meters. No doubt it was the ‘most efficient’ aircraft of that time. The Fokker VII b-3 even commanded a market share that exceeded 50% of the whole aircrafts sold at that time.

The crew,

Cowards die many times;

Valiant never taste it but once!

Pilot; Charles Kingsford Smith (popularly called ‘Smithy’) was pilot of the Australian Imperial Air Force. He was born in Brisbane Australia in 1897); who along with Ulm were engaged by the Inter-State Flying Services to see whether Flights between Australia and America could be engaged commercially.

Co pilot; Charles Ulm (1898) was also an Australian (who later met with an air-crash while trying to create a record in flights between America and Australia and disappeared).

Two people also joined them; one Mr. James Warner as a Radio operator and Mr. Harry Lyon as Navigator; both of them were Americans.

The making of an airport

The second lap of the flight was intended to land on Albert Park in Suva the capital of Fiji; at that time there was no airport worth its name a tremendous problem as the field to be used for landing of the aircraft was dotted with banyan trees which stood blocking the landing. Cutting these trees was easier said than done; as sanction for the same was hard to come by as no official was prepared to take that risk.

Robert Farquar and Sir Eyre Hudson

Robert Farquar a radio operator of Suva; who had been communicating with Southern Cross could not ignore the request of the cruising team. His running for sanction for cutting of trees from pillar to post rendered no results and finally he approached Governor Sir Eyre Hudson; the Highest authority of the island. Hudson could understand the significance of the mission he issued immediate sanction for the cutting of the trees and leveling the park. The telephone lines that stood nearby also were transferred to safer location for the landing of the plane that carried along with a piece of history.

The grace of God!

The improvised airport (rather a converted Albert Park) turned out to be center of the whole island and almost all people assembled there to see the most wonderful thing on earth the flying machine! When the aircraft landed in Suva there was thrill as well as some suspense; the aircraft that had no brake ran almost off the ramp and almost collided with the embankment on its eastern side; but nothing untoward happened; by the grace of god!

In Suva

Next day in a welcome ceremony arranged by the island authorities; school children of Suva presented an American Flag made of wild flowers to the crew members. The plane had to fly 30 km to Nasilai Beach near Nakelo to take fuel which was brought in a steamer (HMCS Pioneer). On June 8th they left Nasilai on way to Brisbane but did not forget to fly over Suva in an attempt to bid farewell to its people who gave them a warm welcome and love!

At Brisbane

The Southern Cross at a RAAF base near Canberra in 1943.

The Southern Cross at a RAAF base near Canberra in 1943.

A 15,000 strong crowd was there to welcome the crew and their famous aircraft which they called the ‘Southern Cross’ (Smith affectionately called it ‘Old Bus’). They reached Brisbane nine days after they have left Oakland and flew to Sydney where there was a heroes’ welcome awaiting for them. Smith had taken many more adventures with his flying talent and he was honored with the Harmon National Award for Australia for his achievements. Smith later got killed along with his co pilot in 1935; while trying to create a flight record. As his true partner in most of the adventures Ulm followed the suit and got killed in a crash. Anyway in the 80thanniversary of that great event let their souls rest in peace and eternal happiness.

Home is the hunter; home from the hills;

And the sailor home from the seas.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Golden Temple of Dambulla Srilanka

Dambulla Cave Temple (Golden Temple of Dambulla) Sri Lanka

Temples of Bagan, Myanmar (Burma)

bagan temples

Bagan Temples and Pagodas

A city of ten million temples

Bagan is located in the Mandalay area on eastern bank of Ayeyarwady River at about 160 km from Rangoon (Yangon) Burma. Though small in size it is really big in its cultural heritage with countless temples most of them in various stages of decay and many still in ship shape and performing. Perhaps the only place that can be compared to Bagan in this regard is Angkor Vat of Cambodia in the sheer size and architectural magnificence. Angkor Vat temples are covered in thick forests and are only partly visible only from a height; whereas the ruins of Bagan are far greater in number and lie exposed in the tropical sun and are easily accessible.

Bagan; its rise and fall

As Burmese rulers used to shift their capital as per the wish of the ruling regime; Bagan got two chances to be the seat of power during 9th and 12th centuries; it is during these terms all these structures were built. A D 1287 came in the shape of the legendary Mongol conqueror Kublai khan who ripped those beautiful structures apart and did as much damages as he could before his retreat! As the town got deserted robbers took away whatever were left by the Mongols.

A man-made disaster!

bagan temple

Temples in Bagan

In 1975 when a massive earth quake hit the town and did much damage to the structures the ruling military junta of Burma (Myanmar) reacted by rebuilding some of them with modern materials like concrete and beautified them with enamel paint! A request from the UNESCO to list them as World Heritage Sites -so that they could be resurrected with the experts in the field- was blatantly ignored by the ruling regime. Thus Burma had to suffer one man-made disaster that followed a natural disaster.

At present

At present all the remnants of the structures of the ‘ten million temples’ lie scattered in 16 sq miles of land, looted, desecrated and getting damaged in sun and rain. About a thousand temples remain in good condition and some of them are functioning visited by devotees of which 10 temples that are immensely popular and remarkable in their make and hence covered in this article.

Sulamani Temple

bagan temple myanmar

The Payathonzu Temple is built in the Mon style

It is also known as the ‘Crowning Jewell Temple’ (in Sanskrit sula means trident and mani means jewel) and was built by King Narapathi Sithu in 1181, in style its construction is akin to the Thatbyinnu temple and has influenced the style of Dhammayangvi temple. This temple got damaged in the 1975 earth quake and was repaired. Sulamani Temple is also known for the beautiful frescoes and idols that decorate its interior.

Dhammayangvi Temple

The Dhammayangvi Temple is the largest structure of all the surviving temples of Bagan. It was built by the Bagan King Narathu who ruled a brief spell between AD 1167 and 1170. Its style of construction resembles to that of Ananda Temple of the same area. This temple was built by King Narathu (1167 – 1170).

Ananda Temple

pagan buddha

A Bagan Buddha, 12th century

This temple is 51 meters in height and was built exactly like the Nandamula Cave Temple in the Himalayan ranges India. The only difference is that the Ananda Temple is a bit smaller than the cave temple. It originally built during 1091 AD under king Kyanzittha but the gilding works that adorn the temple was done recently in 1990. As per Buddhism there are four Buddhas (prophets who have received divine revelations); the Gautama Buddha is the last of them There are four gigantic statues of the four Buddhas each looking to each direction (Kakusandha facing north, Konagamana facing east, Kassapa facing south and Gautama facing west).

Manuha Temple

Built in AD 1067 by Manuha; a Mon king of the Thaton country who was captured and held captive by Anawrahta. The most notable thing with this temple is that statues occupy whole area of the temple giving no space to the priests and devotees. Three huge Buddha statues in sitting posture and one gigantic Buddha in reclining posture; all idols virtually filling the entire space of the halls are the specialties of this temple.

Shwesandaw Temple

myanmar local

Its was built by king Anawrahta in 1057 AD, it is considered as most sacred among the numerous temples of Bagan by the Buddhists as the holy hair of Buddha has been enshrined in its stupas. This temple also has been called Ganesha Temple as during the ancient times four idols of Ganesha (the Hindu god with the head of elephant; considered very auspicious) were placed in its four conrers.

Mahabodhi Temple

As its name suggests it is a replica of the Bodhi Temple of Bodhgaya India. It was built by King Nataungamya between 1210 and 1234. (it was at Bodhgaya Gautama Buddha got enlightenment while meditating under a banyan tree; Bodhgaya is about 105 km away from Patna the capital of Bihar a state of India. There is still an old temple built by Emperor Ashoka with an equally old banyan tree. This premise is considered sacred by Buddhists and the seeds of this tree had been taken and planted in ancient Buddhist’s centers like Burma and Sri Lanka (Mahabodhi tree at Buddhist temple at Anuradha pura). This temple is decorated with numerous Buddha idols placed in niches.

Shwezigon Temple

ananda temple bagan

Gate tower of Ananda Temple

Its work was begun by King Anawrahta who made Bagan his capital but it had to be completed by King Kyanzittha in 1089. The Shwezigon Temple is religiously the most important temple among all the structures in Burma as some bones and hairs of Buddha is kept in this place. During Nadaw a Burmese month (Nov – Dec) devotees from all parts of Burma visit this temple

Gawdapalin Temple

The Gawdapalin Temple has a dome topped with a golden crown reaching sixty meters in height stupa. This beautiful temple that stands with grandeur on the bank of Ayeyarwady River was built by king Narapatisithu in late 12th century; it was badly damaged in the earth-quake which rocked the Mandalay region in 1975; it was rebuilt and at present it remains as one of the well kept temples in this region.

Mahamuni Paya

It is a crowd puller temple of the entire Mandalay region with a four meter tall idol cast in bronze that is covered with golden leaves; devotees bring golden leaves and decorate the idol for the fulfillment of their wish. It is said thus the weight of the idol has been doubled for the time due to this gold leaf adoration! The idol was originally situated in a temple in a village by name Rakhaing (located in the present Bangladesh). King Bodawpaya of Mandalay seized the image and brought it home to be placed in this temple. Women are not allowed to tough the sanctum sanctorum.

Bupaya Pagoda

There is dispute regarding the time of its construction one school of thought is that it was built in AD 200 by King Pyusawhti; as style of construction seems more advanced it is believed that it must have been built in around AD 1000. The large inverted bell shaped dome with golden coating is a really beautiful thing to watch. This small pagoda which was almost completely destroyed in the 1975 earth-quake was rebuilt to the present shape.

Disastrous aesthetics

that byin nyu bagan

Thatbyinnyu Temple

There are thousands of temple in the Mandalay region of Burma; a large number of them are irrecoverably damaged and many in critical condition. Rebuilding of the temples as a World Heritage Site by experts in the field is an urgent requirement. The present government is not willing to entrust the work to the UNESCO authorities making the work impossible. It is hoped that good sense would prevail upon them one day and those once marvelous structures will rise from their deathbed to fascinate the world!

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Beginner's Guide to World Travel

A Beginner's Guide to World Travel

A Beginner's Guide to World Travel
Whether we like it not

Traveling; whether we like it or not is an unavoidable part in daily life, there are people who spent their whole life time savings on a fortnight’s trip and return satisfied. Human being in its initial stages were vagabonds who lived on hunting and gathering food wherever it was available; whatever be the distance traveled.

Stone- age; lot a happy lot!

Those stone- age fellows were a happy lot; who had nothing to worry about troublesome things called a home or a farm. That vagabond still lingers in your genes and compels you to go places leaving the comforts of home; friends and native place.

Care your purse!

Traveling is expensive and often an invitation for real trouble; the issue is to lessen the expenses and avoid troubles as far as possible. It is said that while you travel you keep your open purse inverted; it is so money consuming; how that can be plugged? Let us see.

Why travel?

Man is no frog in a deep well; traveling; whatever be the risks involved is a thrilling and fruitful exercise; human life is a short-lived phenomenon; one day of travel in an unknown land is enough to get a thousand day’s pleasure in living in one’s home. Children should be taken along as it is kids who gain more from a travel the most. Men (especially kids) are wired to see and enjoy unknown places, culture, costume, and life-style; even reading hundred books don’t get that much first hand knowledge of seeing and hearing direct.

Early planning

No passport? Go and get it first.

Collect all information available about the destination (traveling too many places in one go is sheer waste as your pleasure get spread too thin); web sites, travelogues, books and maps are inexpensive sources to get a preliminary information.

Choosing the time and season of the place of visit are important things as your long awaited trip may get drenched in rain or may caught trapped in extreme conditions without even a drop of water to drink.

Choose the travel agency after consulting your friends regarding their quality of service, rates of accommodations and reach. Compare their rates with other agencies and bargain for discounts.

Pervious reservations in lodges and travel agencies save a lot of money as well as assure seats at discounted rates.

A small booklet on the local languages will be of immense use; the author remembers a Japanese visitor knocking doors to use toilet as he was in urgency.

If reservations in rooms, transportation are assured early start getting sanction for leave from your boss and avail any leave travel funding if available.

Chick list

It can be a whole family affair to prepare a check list for what is to be taken for the trip; luggage should comply with the regulations of the airlines. Reach in a consensus regarding materials that can be avoided.

A shoulder bag that can contain the following,

1, Passport and statutory papers for the visit,

2, Receipts and brochures received from the travel agencies as well as their franchisees or branches closer to your destination,

3, Local currency as well as some dollars (most merchants prefer dollars to local tenders) in small denominations save money while making payments,

4, A telephones index diary with all the names of your friends and relatives especially those who have visited the destination before or familiar with that place, An even better idea is to find yourselves a couch.

5, Credit cards (duly charged) that is valid at the place of visit,

6, Medicines which are to be routinely taken and that may be of use in contingency like first aid kits, a torch, needle and thread, shaving set, toiletries etc,

7, Good travel guide book would be immense use; can be had from the travel agency at no cost. An index of hotels and other accomodation is a must have.

8, Political and Route maps. you could download any street map from Google Maps.

Medium sized bags,

On family trips each kid can be entrusted with a medium sized bag loaded mostly with his own things; weight to match kid’s age.

Big bag,

A bigger bag (wheeled one is better) with bed linen, bath towel, night gowns, spare foot-wears, dress, books, kids’ food, water, fruits, pocket knife, mosquito repellents, woolen jackets (for cold places) etc. Store some snacks and cookies will prove helpful where there may be places without clean hotels.

While traveling,

Reaching the place of visit,

Select full body covering dress in tropical areas as hot sun and pests can do much damages to white skin. Tourists often fall prey to touts at the tourist spots, get information from the hotel itself regarding spots and call a vehicle from their list a good driver is a better guide. Be lavish while giving him some tip if service is good. Register complaint if there is any meanness on his part.

While walking watch the touts who hang around and suddenly approach you with helps or requests; just neglect them and walk off, if any help needed ask to any friendly person for directions;

Home sweet home!

The real pleasure of the trip lies in the safe return to the home and in relaxing after a bath, one may be a bit poorer but a lot wiser.

Home is the hunter home from the hills;

And the sailor home from the seas!

Happy Travelling.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Lake Tonle Sap Cambodia

Lake Tonle Sap Cambodia (Boeung Tonle Sap), Great Lake of Cambodia

Lake Tonle Sap Cambodia (Boeung Tonle Sap), Great Lake of Cambodia

tonle sap cambodia

Water dwelling on the lake of Tonle Sap near Siem Reap

The largest fresh water lake of Southeast Asia

Lakes especially the large ones have the power to influence the life style of the people who live around it by giving them food, water and transportation. But few lakes have influenced the life of almost three million people to such a great magnitude like Lake Tonle Sap located right at the heart of Cambodia. Lake Issyk Kul of Kyrgyzstan is a similar one but only a distant second!

How was it formed?

tonle sap lake combodia map

Map of Tonle Sap Lake and its floodplain

Scientists have an answer to any question asked; one version may vary with other ‘school of thought’ is another thing! They (the geologists) say that once- that is millions of years back- a tectonic plate bearing the Indian sub-continent (on which the present day nations like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc are located) moved towards the Asian plate and clashed giving birth to a tremendous stress in which meadows became mountains and plains deep depressions; like what happens when two cars collide! The Himalayan Ranges that bears Mount Everestthe highest peak in the world is the creation of that great upheaval. When Himalaya went up; the Cambodian portion declined water rushed in to fill it; that is the great Tonle Sap Lake the boon of Cambodia!

The real great lake!

lake tonle sap map

Lake Tonle Sap Location in Cambodia

Geography teaches us that the Great Lakes are located in the North American Continent but a Cambodian will ‘shout’ to differ; for him it is the ‘Boeung Tonle Sap’ that is great. Not because that the word Tonle Sap means great lake (large fresh water river) in Khmer language but Lake Tonle Sap is much more than a big lake; it is the bread donor to 3 million Cambodians, 75% of inland fish that nation gets is from Tonle Sap, sixty percent of the protein intake Cambodians get is from nowhere else but Tonle Sap the fish-rich and great lake.


Cambodia is a medium sized nation in Southeast Asia (area 181035 sq km) with a population of about 15 million. Its culture is mainly based on Khmer civilization that has its roots in ancient Hindu, Buddha, Thai, Javanese, Chinese cultures. Its architecture, arts, dance, music, magnificent temples like that of Angkor Watetc all are proofs for its association with old Hindu culture. The staple diet of Cambodians is rice and the lacustrine area nourished by the rich sediments of the lake in fact forms the rice-bowl of Cambodia which has only 13% of agriculture land of the total area (63% of area comprises of forests).

Tonle Sap River a two-way valve

Lake Tonle Sap is a combined system including a strange river (River Tonle Sap) that acts as a two way valve between River Mekong and Tonle Sap Lake. This river meets River Mekong at Chaktomuk opposite to Phnom pen. In summer ice on the mountains melts and River Mekong gets flooded; that time River Tonle Sap take the nutrient rich flood water to the lake. Same time during monsoon time when the Mekong is weak River Tonle Sap does the reverse flow taking water from the lake to Mekong River; about 50% of Mekong’s water during summer is sourced from Lake Tonle Sap. This water is not plain water it is rich in freshly hatched fish from the Tonle Sap flood plain; for nutrients received fish returned.

A river, lake, flood-plain, forest; combine


lake of Tonle Sapimage courtesy:

During summer this lake shrinks to just 2,700 sq km in area; at that time water from Mekong carried by River Tonle Sap is its only source; where as during monsoon it gets filled to the brim making it swell to the tune of 16,000 sq km! At this time all the surrounding areas including forests get inundated and they turn in to a rich hatchery for all sorts of fresh water fish making it the most productive inland natural fish-breeding area in the world. About 100 varieties of birds, two hundred varieties of fish along with amphibians multiply during this time. When Mekong is weak all this fish and beings are released along with water.


The Tonle Sap Lake of Cambodia is the largest fresh water body of Southeast Asia in area but it is comparatively shallow with a depth of one meter during summer but during monsoon its water level reaches to 9 meters and discharges huge quantity of water that is flooded with freshly bred fish in to the Tonle Sap River and then to River Mekong. This river-lake-flood-plain system combined with seasonally flooding forests is the last refuge of a unique eco system that is home to thousands of rare plants, birds, fish and amphibians of which many are in the endangered list; hence this biosphere has been listed by the UNESCO as ‘ecological hotspot’ since 1997.

Chong Khneas; the village that floats

lake tonle sap

Young boy from Tonlé Sap Combodia

The lake is about 15 km from the town Seam Reap; one can take a ferry from Phnom Penh and travel through the scenic lake and can visit the strange village Chong Khneas that floats on the lake waters! Houses, shops, schools, gas stations, flower and fruit gardens all float on the serene lake water (they even raise farms on these floating structures). When lake’s water level rises the village also rises along with; when lake recedes the vice versa! No flooding of homes or farmlands because all float.

There are more villages that look like floating like Chong Khneas but they use stilted structures that seem to float during monsoon but the stilts get exposed during summer when lake water recedes.

Chong Khneas attracts many tourists because of this particular feature; perhaps the present status of this lake itself is due to this floating village. Tourism has brought in jobs and money to the villagers and facilities to cater to the needs of tourists also has changed the shape and texture of the village.

Its people

tonle sap people

Young Girl from Tonlé Sap Combodia

The residents of Chong Khneas and other floating villages are mostly Vietnamese and Cham People. The Cham People are considered to have descended from Malay and Polynesian stocks; they own a history as the part of the 7th to 15th century Champa Kingdom existed in the present Vietnam. The language they speak is called Cham. It is needless to say their main occupation is fishing but bamboo basket making and catering to the needs of the numerous tourists who visit their village also is a source of income. Large fish traps floating houses, schools, farms, and gas stations dot the entire village and present a view to the visitor to remember.

Kampong Phluk and Kampong Khleang

Surrounding the lake are numerous villages as the lake’s water level varies these villages live in stilted houses (houses that are built on large poles up to 10 meters in height. Kampong Phluk is a cluster of three villages surrounded by mangrove forests; it has a population of around 3000 people and can be accessed from Siem Reap. Kampong Khleang is another such village that is flooded with stilted houses. When the lake dry up these people come down and live in temporary cottages built on the ground and return to the stilt when lake gets flooded. The main occupation is fishing and shrimp farming; these villages are not frequently visited by tourists as Chong Khneas.

Preservation of ecology

The Cambodian government and numerous agencies are keen to protect the unique eco-system that prevails around the lake. There is one bird sanctuary in Prek Toal located in the core area of the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve; it is Asia’s largest breeding area for large water-birds that are globally threatened. Spot billed pelican, painted stork, greater adjuncts, grey headed fish eagle all are found in abundance in this 31282 hectare wide reserve.

Inexpensive destination

lake tonle sap combodia

An old man rows a boat on the Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia

This reserve can be visited from Seam Reap town through boat. Moat Khla Biosphere Reserve area another one is located between Boeung Tonle Chma (another smaller lake located in the middle of the eastern shore of the lake) and Tonle Sap.

Stung Sen Biosphere Reserve is located in the southwestern part of the lake. Birds are in abundance during summer but the hitch is as lake water has receded boating becomes difficult but there are packages for tourists that include combined boating and trekking tours under guidance for nominal fees.

Cambodia is an economically backward country and hotels and other amenities are relative very cheap. A two hour boat ride from Siem Reap covering destinations including the floating village costs less than 10 dollars!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Qin Terracotta Warriors

Qin Terracotta Warriors

Terracotta Warriors, China

terracotta army xian assembling warriors

Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor

Some farmers, a well and a mystery

In 1974 some farmers belonging to Lintong County of Shaanxi Province China were for a well; quite unexpectedly they stumbled upon some potteries and unusual materials; even in their wildest dreams they did not see that site was going to be one of the best known land marks of modern China.

A village finding its place among stars

Soon archaeologists took possession of the land and In 1975; what they initially found was only a tip of the ice-berg; after the potsherds there come out thousands of soldiers, horses, chariots and what not a full fledged army with all paraphernalia enough to rule an empire! Govt established a museum displaying the wonderful warriors with their horses ET all occupying an area of 16,300 sq meters.

The whole museum that has so far unearthed is divided in to three parts called as pits in which the objects are being restored and displayed. Behind some clay statues rising to the status as the pride of a big nation; there is a long history engulfed in mysteries.

China; the land that has many to make one wonder

terracotta warriors china

Terracotta detail. No two life-sized figures are alike in the tomb.

Whether the time is ancient, medieval or modern; China has always had something to make the world wonder; even in the ancient times it innovated printing, gun-powder and printing; built Porcelain Pagoda at Nanjing; in the medieval times it could build the Great Wall, Forbidden City; in the modern time also China does not cease to wonder the world as the fastest growing economy that turns out materials at fraction of its cost dubbed as ‘the factory of the world’.

Not cast in a mould

Even if all these being admitted; how come some clay statues considered as world wonder can be a relevant question. These statues are not made out of a mould like a cup of saucer; each statue has been tailor made by an artist to match the character; a soldier as a soldier where as an officer is made as an officer; clowns, musicians, courtiers, horsemen et all; each figure has some special feature to match its rank and social status. In short no two statues are alike.

All the paraphernalia for the emperor

terracotta army china

The Terracotta warriors were once highly coloured

Terracotta Warriors (soldiers and horses funerary statues of the Huang Di) is no less intriguing than any other wonders before the world; 8000 soldiers (they include rank and file) no two statues are similar as god had made men! 670 horses of which 150 are for the cavalry, 130 chariots, acrobats, musclemen and musicians, all categories of courtiers that existed in a palace premises are here in the form of statues. Each statue has its own individuality as a musician can be recognized from a soldier. This has made most of the scholars conclude that each of the statues represent a real person served office at that time.

Who built them?

Qin Shi Huang Di (his personal name was Ying Zheng) of the Qin Dynasty ruled China between 221 and 210 BC, was an iron man in all sense; it was he who unified China in to a mega empire, it was he who introduced ‘Legalism’ the first form of totalitarianism in to China (that system still works there successfully), it was he who first constructed massive road system in China thereby making it more unified; more over it was he who made a museum the size of a city.

A Karl Marx of BC!

officer terrakottaarmen

Qin Terracotta warriors china

Mr. Shi Huang has done many other things also he burned all the books containing the teachings of Confucianism and destroyed every literature that he thought not agreeing with his thinking (one of the earliest reported ideological purge) making only Emperor’s dictum to survive; making himself an earliest Communist- far before the birth of Karl Marx! Qin Shi Huang Di is considered the architect of China as he has unified the warring territories and gave birth to the great empire; in the present day China he is held in high esteem.


China an ancient nature with a rich culture had many known scholars who engaged in spreading wisdom through their teachings. There were divergences among their teachings and four such schools were most prominent. First of course is Legalism which is for total subservience on the part of the subjects whatever the emperor has dictated has to be followed; no questions asked; mean rule of the law in the most brutal sense; the other three are Confucianism, Daoism and Mohism.


qin terracotta army china

Qin TerraCotta Warriors China

Sima Qian (145 to 90 BC); son of a perfect of the Han Dynasty; is considered as the father of Chinese historiography; his acclaimed work ‘Records of the Grand Historian’ which gives a record of 2000 years long history of China from the ‘Yellow Emperor to Wudi of the Han dynasty. As per Sima Qian this necropolis was made in 246 BC as an imperial palace constructed near Mount Lishang; Qin Shi Huang Di was the first to be buried there.

Sima Qian

Terracotta Warriors as per Sima Qian are Qin’s army; made to rule his empire at the nether world. Along with the warriors items like utensils, most exquisite materials available at that time, 100 synthetic rivers made of mercury; and what not all paraphernalia for the emperor. The tomb is enclosed in an earthen pyramid of 76 meters tall and 350 meters wide that has so far not opened. The saddening thing is that in the necropolis a walled structure that is comprised of various buildings several human remaining were found and they are thought of the workers who were shut inside; an ancient practice of killing the workers after the work so that the inner secrets are not leaked!

Pit-full of wonders

xian museum terracotta warriors

Qin Terracotta Warriors China

The Soldiers and horses are arranged in a military formations in 4 pits, the first one which is the biggest located about 1.5 km from the tomb is 230 meters long with 11 corridors. It is 3 meter wide and five meters deep; it contains 6000 soldiers facing the east (it was from the east the empire faced most threats). It is presumed that they were guards for the protection of the tombs; its design also has signs that this space was used by nobles. The second one was intended for cavalry and infantry units as there are chariots belonged to be of military guards. Pit number 3 is for high ranking officers and presumed that it was intended as a command post where as pit number 4 was unfinished and empty.

Gereral Xiang Yu

Sima Qian has described of one General Xiang Yu who led his forces to the site soon after the construction of the tomb and engaged in rampant looting and arson; as a result the wooden structures that contained the statues got extensively damaged and rare and valuable artifacts which would have been of immense importance at the present time were looted; inflicting one of the greatest national losses to the nation of China. In this carnage only one statue of an archer survived undamaged in this carnage. Tremendous amount of resources and time was required for the restoration of the statues and the restoration work is yet to complete.

Warriors under attack!

qin terracotta soldier horse

A terracotta soldier and his horse

The whole of king’s army horses and weapons find it hard to counter the devastating effects of tourism and the atmospheric pollution. Unless the Government takes drastic steps coming generations will not be fortunate enough to see these wonderful army. The influx of tourists have made many problems to the warriors who were lying there undisturbed for several centuries; humidity from the breathing air adds humidity that promotes growth of moulds on the clay structures; the heat in these pits have slow oxidizing effect on clay surface and cause fading its luster; moreover the opencast coal mining method of China release so many soot to the air that gets accumulated everywhere including these valuable artifacts speeding up their gradual degradation.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bali Island Indonesia

Bali Island Indonesia

Bali Island, Indonesia, The ultimate island’

mother temple of besakih in bali island

The Mother Temple of Besakih one of Bali’s most significant Hindu temples

The Island of Bali is unique in many aspects; it is a cultural entity; an island in the Islamic sea of the Indonesian Archipelago. A tiny island that still remembers the myths it was taught by the ancient masters who came from India armed with baggage full of myths, legends and never ending stories. Mahabharata, Ramayana and all epics found their way direct in to the hearts of a group of people who were not used to stories of such proportions. There a Hindu Empire by name Majapahit was established on these ancient wisdom and unending myths.

The rise and fall of Majapahit

Majapahit ruled most of the islands of the present Indonesian archipelago including Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan (Borneo), Bali etc. But an empire that was based on myths, wisdom, arts and culture could not endure the onslaught of Islam; it got weakened and finally crumbled down forcing its priests, scholars, artists, sculptures dancers et all to flee to Bali the nearby island. Thus Bali got enriched by this rare exodus and became the ‘ultimate island’ of myths, culture, arts, and wisdom.

The island of thousand temples

agung bali island

Southern Bali in the foreground and Mount Agung behind

Bali is often described as the island of thousand temples; in fact there are several thousands of temples even the government does not have an accurate count. Every village has minimum three temples and every home have at least one facing Mount Agung the highest place in Bali. For Balinese the mountains are the abode of gods; plains for human beings and the lowest plains are for the dead and demons.

Pura Puseh are temples dedicated to the founders of the villages and are placed on the highest places of the villages where Lord Brahma; the creator of the world resides.

Pura Desa are temples Pura Desa are temples located in the middle of the village; they are dedicated to Lord Vishnu who is the maintainer of the world. Some of the Pura Desa have Bale Agung an assembly held in every month; where Goddess Devi Shree is worshipped. In Bale Agung villagers assemble and discuss issues concerning the village.

Pura Dalem is the place for the dead; built in the lowest place of the village; it is dedicated to Lord Shiva who is associated with the duty of destruction.

The Besakih Temple is the largest and the most popular among the numerous temples of this island; it has about 35 shrines and big halls. The Besakih Temple is located 3000 feet above sea level on the slopes of Mount Agung; yet this temple was spared when the volcano erupted last time (in 1963).

The deity of this temple is (Naga Basukia) mother goddess. As per the Bali concepts gods are not permanents residents of temples but visit them only on auspicious occasions and offering is done on that time only. People from local areas visit this temple wearing sarong and carrying offerings in baskets made of plated coconut leaf. They collect the water from this temple which is blessed by the priest and take home for daily use.


bali island people

The Balinese are renowned for their sculpting

Bali is a comparatively small mountainous island dotted with short but fast flowing rivers; active volcanoes, deep ravines; sacred caves rice terraces and crater lakes. Its wide and sandy beaches are famous spots for surfers; while more than 11000 temples offer good sights for family vacationers. Bali has an area of 5561 sq km and a population of 3.15 million. The population of Bali is less than 3% of Indonesia’s total count. They speak mainly Balinese and Indonesian; but the trade of tourism has popularized western languages.

Brave hearts

Though the Balinese are hospitable and god fearing they are fiercely independent. The Dutch have experienced it thrice; the first encounter was in 1906 at Sanur. There 4000 Balinese resisted the well armed Dutch and embraced martyrdom. Two years later at Klung kung there was another war there also almost all of the royal members resisted the Dutch and chose death to subservience. The final war was in 1946 when the Dutch came back to reclaim there land; Balinese fought and got wiped out; but they never let the Dutch to interfere in their culture and style of living.

The Subaks of Bali

bali rice terrace

Rice terraces near Ubud

The Subaks are irrigation communities of Bali that laces various small farmers together so that farming can be done sharing available water on terraced lands. For Bali rice fields are temples and farming worship. It can be described as a ritual group farming.

The Subak is a social set up with a religious connotation that oversees the ritual of rice farming. Total area under a Subak can vary from 8 to 800 hectares consisting of numerous small farmers. More than allocating water; the subaks manage every thing related with farming as if the performance of a ritual.

The central water pool is the ‘water temple’ (known as Pura Subak or Pura Bedugul) from where community channels originate to reach every farm creating an ambient ecology for farming. The system is controlled by the priest of the water temple who ensures the resource is equally distributed. About 18% percent of Bali’s total area comes under Subak system.

These subaks have traveled along with the Balinese people who migrated to other Indonesian Islands and at present wherever there is Balinese settlements there will be Subaks, because it has got that much associated with Balinese population and way of living.

Mountains of Bali

bali kuta blast monument

Bali blast monument.

Bali being a mountainous island has no dearth for mountains; most of them are active volcanoes; the mountain ranges stretch from Batukaru in the west to Gunung Agung in the in the east. Mount Agung is the tallest among them (height 10308 feet); an active volcano that erupted in 1963. There is another one by name Mount Batur which is also active but has not erupted for several thousand years.

Lake Batur

It is Bali Island’s largest lake which was formed in a large volcanic caldera, when a huge volcano collapsed in to the magma chamber beneath it. At present among Bali’s numerous geographical phenomena that have turned out to be tourist spots; the Batur Lake along with the Kintamani Volcano that stands nearby remain as prime attraction for its visitors.

Beaches of Bali

Though the trump card of Bali is its cultural exclusivity; its beautiful beaches with unpolluted water, coral reefsand white sand play an equally important role in roping in tourists.

Nusa Dua is the southern most part of Bali; a peninsula jutting in to the sea is one of the best locations for recreation. It has crystal clear water, white sand and hotels with world’s best cuisine. It’s northern and southern parts offer best surfing opportunities.

Padangbai is a small beach town with a beautiful beach that is known for its affordable eating places known as Warungs which are family managed. Etc.

Kuta and Legian beaches are on the opposite side of Sanur (southwestern side); it is more commercialized with pubs, traditional dances performed for tourists, surfing facilities and shopping arcades etc. These are perhaps the most crowded beaches of Bali.

Jimbaran is a bottle-neck like area between mainland and Nusa Dua. It has calm waters as sheltered by Benoa Harbor. There are numerous resorts and tourist facilities in the village of Jimbaran.

Sanur, Changgu and Kuta beaches in Denpasar offer snorkeling, scuba diving and such facilities. They are in the southeastern side of Bali less than a 10 minutes drive from the heart of the city. A good location for watching sunrise an ancient temple is also in the vicinity.

Towns of Bali

bali ubud

Temple offering in predominantly Hindu Bali island.

Denpasar the Provincial Capital is the biggest city and that offers more amenities like beaches, spas, restaurants etc to the tourists. Ngura International Airport the main gateway to Bali is in Denpasar. The Shops of Denpasar are much sought after for artworks, exquisite pottery, hand-printed cloth (batik), silver-ware etc.

Ubud which is located amongst rice terraces and deep ravines is in one way more prominent as it is has richer artists in dance, sculpture, handicrafts, music etc. Ubud is perhaps the best place to stay while on visit to Bali as it is the heart of the Island not only as it is located at the center but the rural life the ‘hanging gardens’ (rice terraces), Balinese dances, ethnic music etc are at their best in this town; moreover there are numerous hotels offering accommodation.

Singa Raja (meaning lion king) was the seat of Buleleng Regency of Bali; it was also the administrative seat of the Colonial Dutch. The statue of the winged lion by name Singa Ambara Raja holding a bunch of maze-corn is the landmark of the town. It is built in front of the office of the Regent of the Singa Raja Province and is the symbol of the Buleleng Regency. Singa Raja has a famous library by name Gedong Kirtya which has classical works of historical importance.

The ultimate uncontaminated island

In many a aspects Bali is an ultimate island as often described; it was the ultimate refuge of Hindu faith that was exterminated from the archipelago, the exquisite dance (Barong), the subaks that excel most modern farming techniques, handicrafts, music, drama, colorful traditions, enchanting beaches, countless temples and what else. The ‘Wayang Kulit (leather puppet play) is another magical play where puppets made of leather play, sing, talk, fight and dance thrilling the entire audience. Bali has everything that can thrill a visitor.

Wonderful resilience

Most wonderful aspect of this small island is its resilience to protect and nurture its rare culture not getting diluted even if living as a part of the Islamic nation for the past centuries. The Dutch, Islam every thing had to leave the Balinese as Balinese who chose death to contamination.

Join celebrations

how the balinese see the tourist girls

Ogoh-ogoh monster in Ubud

Bali is a hot tourism spot both for pleasure and sight seeing. It is just 5 hour flight from Singapore or 8 from Tokyo. For Balinese their lives are filled with celebrations, it can be birth, birthdays, tooth filling, marriage, temple festivals or anything; it is a reason to celebrate, tourist who come to this island can witness either one or many celebrations here and there; and it also remains as one reason of so many people keep on coming to this small island.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tips to Avoid Tripping up on Trips

Tips to Avoid Tripping up on Trips
travel tipsThe Great Traveller Charles Alexandre Lesueur in the Forest by Karl Bodmer 1832 - 1834.

Vacations are meant to be times to relax and leave the cares of your everyday routine behind for a while. But when your travel is not planned well in advance, there are a variety of factors that can go wrong, and you come back feeling worse than ever. Travel plans differ according to the number of people going on the trip, their age and sex, the mode of transportation, the climate native to the place you’re going to visit and the kind of activities you’re going to be involved in once you reach your destination.

1. Plan your journey well in advance, right from your to and fro transport to where you’ll be staying to the schedule you’re going to follow (even if you’re just going to laze around) on your vacation.

2. If you’re flying to your destination, make sure you follow airline and country-specific rules regarding carry-on luggage, especially if you are crossing international borders.

3. If you’re taking a road trip, make sure you fill up with enough gasoline to last you till the next station on the way. Map the route you’re going to take so you don’t get lost. .

4. Long car trips with children can get really annoying if you do not provide them with some form of entertainment. Load up with car games and snacks to last you till your destination.

5. If you’re going to be traveling around a lot with stopovers at many different places, pack light. It’s a pain to unpack and repack at each of your destinations.

6. Pack according to your destination – do not carry your entire wardrobe for a few days of vacation. Be sensible and take only what you really need.

7. Pack sensible footwear if you’re going to be physically active during your vacation.

8. Remember to carry a basic first aid kit with supplies to treat cuts and bruises and common colds and headaches. As soon as you reach your destination, or even as you’re booking accommodation, check with your hosts (or hotel) if there is a doctor you can call on in case of emergencies.

9. Traveling to some countries may require vaccination or inoculation against certain diseases. Check your local consulate’s website for precautions to take before you set out on that vacation.

10. Familiarize yourself with local customs and common words in the local language before you visit new countries.

11. Don’t spend all your money buying trinkets and memorabilia to remind you of your trip. You’re invariably going to lose more than half the stuff you bring back once you’re back to the hustle and bustle of the daily grind.

12. Do not carry around too much cash; use traveler’s checks or global debit cards. Remember, using your credit card abroad is a pretty expensive option and one to be avoided except in emergencies.

13. Make sure your children remember the name of the hotel or address of the house you’re staying in while on vacation. Getting them to memorize the phone number is an added bonus in case they get lost.

14. And last but not the least, leave your work behind – there’s just no point in going on a vacation if you’re going to take the office with you.

About the Author:

This article was contributed by Heather Johnson, who is a regular writer on the subject of colleges for criminal justice. She welcomes your questions, comments and writing job opportunities at heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot com.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Forbidden City

Forbidden City China

Forbidden City (Zijin Cheng Purple Forbidden City or Gu Gong = old palace), Beijing, China

forbidden city china Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing and Shenyang

forbidden city china Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing and Shenyang

Gu Gong (old palace)

Located in the middle of Beijing the capital of China; this ‘once forbidden city’ remains not just as a mere complex of several palaces but as a symbol of Chinese sovereignty and pride. The image of this city depicted on China’s National Seal itself is ample proof of the importance China attributes to this complex. The Forbidden City is a gigantic complex of palaces that lie spread in 720,000 sq meter area in the western side of the well known Tiananmen Square. For Chinese it is either Zijin Cheng (purple city) or ‘Gu Gong’ meaning old palace.

In the heart of old Beijing (Peking)

This palace complex has world’s largest collection of preserved ancient wooden monuments with finger print of various emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. In 1900 the Ming Emperor Yong Le moved the capital of China to Beijing and he started construction of a fresh city (a walled and secure one; forbidden one for ordinary people) in the middle of old Beijing in 1906. After Yong le 24 generations of emperors resided in this complex and it remained as the center of power of the Chinese Empire for more than five hundred years.

Largest by any means

forbidden city china The northwest corner tower

forbidden city china The northwest corner tower

It is also the largest palace complex in the world and was home to 24 emperors for a span of 5 long centuries. The Forbidden City houses 800 buildings with altogether 9000 rooms and corridors. Each emperor who used to reside has done something in the way of modifications or alterations thereby making his foot print in history. Even the Communist regime has not lagged behind in transforming this ancient palace complex in to a museum of magnificent collection of monuments and adding to its beauty and grandeur to this complex by renovating and beautifying it spending millions.

Intriguing and forbidden and a World Heritage Site

forbidden city china map

Forbidden City China Map

Its unfriendly name the Forbidden City has its origin in the early rule that entry in to it and exit required permission of the highest authority; hence this territory practically remained inaccessible for ordinary mortals. First people called it by that name and as the name got established even authorities called began to mention it as ‘The Forbidden City’! The abundant complexes in this city remained as the most intriguing place for the outside world. At present this palace complex is a World Heritage Site listed by the UNESCO (since 1987) and functions as a Palace Museum; still retaining some of the intrigue with so many articles collected and used by 24 generations of emperors.

China; the land of innovation

China is the third largest country in the world with the largest population and an ancient culture that flourished with the back support of ancient science and wisdom. Gun powder, paper, printing, abacus (the front-runner of computer), mariner’s compass, steel forging, copper, gun-powder, coins, tooth-brush all are just one of the Chinese innovations! They excelled in the construction of large structures like The Great Wall of China, theTemple of Heaven, Yuyuan Garden etc forgotten world wonders like the Porcelain Pagoda of Nanjing (that eventually got destroyed), all were proofs for Chinese skill in innovations. The Forbidden City is built in customary Chinese style and it is in no way less in magnificence and grandeur than these ancient structures Chinese have built.

The city wall

The Nine Dragons Screen in front of the Palace of Tranquil Longevity forbidden city

The Nine Dragons Screen in front of the Palace of Tranquil Longevity forbidden city

This ‘city’ was built to stand any threat; its walls are 7.9 meters high; 8.62 meters wide at the base and 6.6 at the top; built of rammed mud as the core and an outer layer of baked bricks; and the gap filled with mortar. A six meter deep and 52 meter wide moat adds perfection to its invincibility. On the four corners there are observation towers with intricate built roofs; for one who view from outside (so far it could be viewed from outside only; because it was forbidden) these towers were the most visible and prominent sights.


The walls have four gates on each direction of which the most important one is the Meridian Gate (WuMen meaning front door) with a large portrait of Mao Zedong at its top; it is reachable from the Tiananmen Gate (TianMen Gate).

The Meridian Gate (Wu Feng Lou meaning Five Phoenix Tower) is on the south which is the largest gate of this complex. It is 35.6 meters high and has five openings surrounded by phoenix looking pavilions (five is a sacred number for the Chinese as the Confucian teachings are based of five principles).

Of the five openings the central one was exclusively reserved for the emperor; the empress was allowed only once in her life time immediately after her wedding! The eastern entrance was exclusively and strictly for the ministers whereas the western entrance for the royal family. Other two were for officials and none for the ordinary people because they were forbidden in the Forbidden City!

Other Gates

The other gates that pierce the outer wall are namely the

Gate of the Devine Might on the north, East Glorious Gate on the east and West Glorious Gate on the west. All these gates have doors with golden nails to add grandeur. The Northern Glorious Gate faces the Jingshen Park. The whole city within the walls can be divided in to two as the Outer Court and the Inner Court. The naming of the structures of this complex is done in a poetic way and they can ring bell in to the ears of one who hear it.

The Gate of Supreme Harmony (TaiHe Men) that is located after the Meridian Gate and the following five bridges leads to the proper Outer Court which consists of three main halls located on a raised white marble platform. Across another courtyard is the Hall of Supreme Harmony (TaiHe Dian) which is the largest courtyard in the Forbidden City as well as the largest surviving wooden structure in China. It has a height of 30 meters and an area of 30,000 sq meters; this hall was used as the Ceremonial Center of the Imperial like coronations, investiture and royal weddings.

The next one is the Hall of Preserving Harmony (a slightly smaller structure was the rehearsing center for the ceremonial parades).

Forbidden city china The Hall of Central Harmony (foreground) and the Hall of Preserving Harmony

Forbidden city china The Hall of Central Harmony (foreground) and the Hall of Preserving Harmony

The Hall of Central Harmony (Hall of Complete Harmony) is comparatively smaller and was intended for the emperor to take rest before and between ceremonies. There is a beautiful throne with Unicorns (Luduan a Chinese mythological beast that could travel 9000 miles a day and that could speak 9000 languages) placed on both sides as a mark of the abilities of the emperor. Also on display are two exquisite sedan chairs in which the emperor was made to sit and was carried around the city. In the southeastern part of the Outer Court are theHalls of military Eminence (where the emperor held court of ministers) and the Hall of Literary (the royal press as well as venue for ceremonial lectures held by Confucian Scholars of high esteem).

The giant ramp

There are ramps flanked by stairs to ascend and descend the raised marble platform; these ramps are real works of art depicting dragons, emperors and other images; the emperor makes his ascend sitting in his sedan. At the center of the ramps leading to the terraces are the ceremonial ramps with carvings of symbolic bas reliefs; of which that behind the Hall of Preserving Harmony there is the largest carving in China a monolith ramp weighing 200 tons that is 16.57 meters long 3.07 meters wide and 1.7 meters thick; a real ceremonial ramp indeed!

The Inner Court; Yin, Yang and the holy union

The Forbidden City as depicted in a Ming Dynasty painting

The Forbidden City as depicted in a Ming Dynasty painting

While the Outer Court was intended for royal ceremonies the Inner Court; which has been separated from it by a long courtyard was more private in its function. There are three halls namely Palace of Heavenly Purity, Hall of Earthly Tranquility and Hall of Union.

Holy Unions

Here emperor is ‘yang’ representing the heavenly purity; living in the Palace of Heavenly Purity; whereas the empress is ‘Yin’ representing the earthly tranquility living in Hall of Earthly Tranquility.

The Hall of Celestial and Terrestrial Union (Diao TaiDian) is the place where the empress receives her birthday greeting. It is intended for the auspicious marital life of royal couple.

On the left side of the throne there is a chime clock that is 210 years old and still working smooth and in the right side a water-pot clock older than the chime clock with a technology more than 25 centuries old. Both of these items are enough to herald the expertise of Chinese skill in innovation. Many items belonging to the Qing dynasty are on display like the imperial seals other ceremonial items.

The Imperial Garden

The Gate of Terrestrial Tranquility (KunNing Men) leads the visitor to the Imperial Garden (YuHua Yuan); it is the last spectacle to be seen in the city. It was a private space for the royal families and was built in 1417 by the Ming dynasties. This garden is not as elaborate as one may presume (12,000 sq meters in area) but there are very beautiful landscapes made in typical Chinese style to be seen.

The selling point

The selling point of the Forbidden City is its well preserved condition and the largesse of the items displayed in it more over the buildings, courtyards, and ramps all are made in such large scale that visitors never feel crowded like other palaces.

There is enough space for every body for sight seeing and for taking some rest in a shade. The woodworks are such that they smell fresh and brand new even after standing there for the last several centuries.

The ‘Un forbidden’ City

The throne in the Palace of Heavenly Purity forbidden city china

The throne in the Palace of Heavenly Purity forbidden city china

After all it is no small thing to see the works and royal possessions belonged to 24 generations of monarchs who lived under one roof a very rare thing that no other palaces can take claim of. Come to the hospitable palace complex (please excuse for an inhospitable name; the Forbidden City) and smell a rich history of a rich and innovative nation.