Category Archives: Travel

Dublin – Ireland Travel Guide

A small capital with a huge reputation, Dublin’s mix of heritage and hedonism never disappoints.
“Guiness does not taste as good anywhere as in Ireland”

To experience Dubliners at their most comfortable and convivial, you’ll have to spend some time in a pub. Dublin’s relationship with alcohol is complex and conflicted, but at its very best, a night out in the pub remains the city’s favorite social lubricant and one of the most memorable experiences of a visit to Ireland. Everyone has their favorite pub: for some it’s a never-changing traditional haunt; for others, it’s wherever the beautiful people are currently at. Either way, you’ll have over 1000 to choose from.
All the World is Dublin

Dublin may be a small capital, but its cosmopolitan bonafides have been firmly established. Beyond its impressive collection of museums and galleries, and its choice of food from all four corners of the globe – in both restaurant and market form – this is a city that conspicuously embraces diversity and has been transformed by two decades of multiculturalism. It used to be said that ‘real’ Dubs had to be born within the canals like their parents and grandparents before them: these days, you’re as likely to meet a Dub whose parents were born in Warsaw, Lagos or Beijing.
Layers of History

Dublin’s been in the news since the 9th century, and while traces of its Viking past have been largely washed away, the city is a living museum of its history since then, with medieval castles and cathedrals on display alongside the architectural splendours of its 18th century heyday, when Dublin was the most handsome Georgian city of the British Empire and a fine reflection of the aspirations of its most privileged burghers. How power was wrested from their hands is another story, and you’ll learn that one in its museums and on its walking tours.
Why I Love Dublin

By Fionn Davenport, Writer

More than anything I love Dublin’s intimacy. It’s really just a big capital village, where going for a walk is as much an opportunity for socialising as actually making an arrangement to meet someone. As a travel writer, I’ve always played host to visitors from out of town, which means I get the chance to experience the city with an outsider’s perspective, exploring those corners I often take for granted and discovering new bits to be enthusiastic about.
Personality Goes A Long Way

Even Dubliners will admit that theirs isn’t the most beautiful city in the world, telling you that pretty things are as easy to like as they are to forget…before showing you the showstopper Georgian bits to prove that Dublin has a fine line in sophisticated elegance. Their beloved capital, about which they can be brutally unsentimental, has personality, which is much more important and lasts far longer. Garrulous, amiable and witty, Dubliners at their ease are the greatest hosts of all, a charismatic bunch whose soul and sociability are so compelling and infectious that you mightn’t ever want to leave.

Video Courtesy: Expedia
Review Courtesy: Lonely Planet

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Timeless in Ladakh

#Leh (Ladakh) is a paradise on earth with its mesmerizing scenic beauty and is blessed with majestic snow laden Himalayan ranges, lush green landscape, sparkling blue waters and deep gorges. This timelapse video below truely captures the beauty of Ladakh.

Leh is a serene, calm and an ideal place for spending your vacations away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Adventure enthusiasts will fall in love with Leh because it has some of the best trekking trails on which one can have incredible trekking experience.

Besides its magnificent beauty, it has a spiritual value because it houses some of the most royal ancient monasteries like Raisi fort, Royal palace, Phyang, Likir, Spituk and Thiksey.

Here are the top 5 things to do in Leh:
1. Pangong Lake
Pangong lake is one of the most popular places to visit in Leh and is located just 160 kilometers away from Ladakh. The drive to Pangong lake is an exciting experience offering scenic views. It is a beautiful lake with crystal blue clear water blessed with pleasant weather throughout the year.

Enjoy the solitude near the placid waters of this magnificent lake and take out your cameras to capture the picturesque view of this wonderful place. Black necked Siberian can be spotted near the Mahe marshes, the only breeding place for these rare migratory birds

Pangong Lake

2. Magnetic Hill
One of the places to visit in Leh is the Gravity hill having strong magnetic properties which can pull cars uphill and make Aircrafts go higher in terms of altitude so that they could bypass magnetic interference. Due to this amazing effect, millions of people from all over the world are attracted towards this place.

magnetic hill

3. Nubra Valley
Trekking on the rocky, colossal trails of this valley is a truly exciting experience as it is situated near the banks of the pure nubra river.

The valley is named as “the valley of flowers” and it has some of the most beautiful, vibrant and colourful flowers set amidst lush green landscape. This place is popular because of its serene and tranquil ambience.

Nubra Valley

4. Khardungla Pass
Situated at an altitude of 5359 meters, it is the second highest motorable pass in the district of Leh. The drive from Leh towards this pass is a fun-filled experience yet scenic experience. The word Khardungla signifies the “pass of lower castle”.

Khardungla

5. Motor Biking
Hire a bike and hit the road of Leh and explore the surrounding regions. Riding around this region is a truly hair raising experience.

Motor Biking

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Norway Northern Lights

#AuroraBorealis – Fire in the Sky. This mesmerizing phenomenon feels just like God weaving his magic in the sky. Like god’s every creation it is absolutely stunning & artistic..

It’s like a celestial ballet of light dancing across the night sky, with a color palette (green, pink, violet) obtained from a really cool fashion show from the 1980s. You can see pictures or videos of it, but only those lucky enough to experience it first hand can fully comprehend the almost divine attraction that the northern lights possess.

To the locals in Northern parts of Norway, the northern lights are a part of their life, as they light up the night sky in surroundings dominated by snow, rugged mountains and harbors. In this area the aurora has been, and still is, a fertile source for art, mythology and legends.

It’s important to remember that aurora can be a bit of a diva, and she will only start the show when she feels the time is right. Patience is a virtue, also when chasing the northern lights. But here’s how you maximize your chances of a sighting: The lights are at their most frequent in late autumn and winter/early spring. Between late September and late March, it is dark between 6pm and 1am, and you have the best chances of spotting the lights.

Video Courtesy: National Geographic Channel

Taj Mahal Secrets & Mysteries

Tajmahal is an engineering marvel that continues to amaze all of us but are you aware of all the mysteries surrounding it. This documentary unravels all the hidden secrets & mysteries associated with Taj Mahal.

Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built this tomb in memory of his favourite wife, the Taj Mahal is the jewel of Art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.

The Taj Mahal is located on the right bank of the Yamuna River in a vast Mughal garden that encompasses nearly 17 hectares, in the Agra District in Uttar Pradesh. It was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal with construction starting in 1632 AD and completed in 1648 AD, with the mosque, the guest house and the main gateway on the south, the outer courtyard and its cloisters were added subsequently and completed in 1653 AD. The existence of several historical and Quaranic inscriptions in Arabic script have facilitated setting the chronology of Taj Mahal. For its construction, masons, stone-cutters, inlayers, carvers, painters, calligraphers, dome builders and other artisans were requisitioned from the whole of the empire and also from the Central Asia and Iran. Ustad-Ahmad Lahori was the main architect of the Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal is considered to be the greatest architectural achievement in the whole range of Indo-Islamic architecture. Its recognised architectonic beauty has a rhythmic combination of solids and voids, concave and convex and light shadow; such as arches and domes further increases the aesthetic aspect. The colour combination of lush green scape reddish pathway and blue sky over it show cases the monument in ever changing tints and moods. The relief work in marble and inlay with precious and semi precious stones make it a monument apart.

The uniqueness of Taj Mahal lies in some truly remarkable innovations carried out by the horticulture planners and architects of Shah Jahan. One such genius planning is the placing of tomb at one end of the quadripartite garden rather than in the exact centre, which added rich depth and perspective to the distant view of the monument. It is also, one of the best examples of raised tomb variety. The tomb is further raised on a square platform with the four sides of the octagonal base of the minarets extended beyond the square at the corners. The top of the platform is reached through a lateral flight of steps provided in the centre of the southern side. The ground plan of the Taj Mahal is in perfect balance of composition, the octagonal tomb chamber in the centre, encompassed by the portal halls and the four corner rooms. The plan is repeated on the upper floor. The exterior of the tomb is square in plan, with chamfered corners. The large double storied domed chamber, which houses the cenotaphs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan, is a perfect octagon in plan. The exquisite octagonal marble lattice screen encircling both cenotaphs is a piece of superb workmanship. It is highly polished and richly decorated with inlay work. The borders of the frames are inlaid with precious stones representing flowers executed with wonderful perfection. The hues and the shades of the stones used to make the leaves and the flowers appear almost real. The cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal is in perfect centre of the tomb chamber, placed on a rectangular platform decorated with inlaid flower plant motifs. The cenotaph of Shah Jahan is greater than Mumtaz Mahal and installed more than thirty years later by the side of the latter on its west. The upper cenotaphs are only illusory and the real graves are in the lower tomb chamber (crypt), a practice adopted in the imperial Mughal tombs.

The four free-standing minarets at the corners of the platform added a hitherto unknown dimension to the Mughal architecture. The four minarets provide not only a kind of spatial reference to the monument but also give a three dimensional effect to the edifice.

The most impressive in the Taj Mahal complex next to the tomb, is the main gate which stands majestically in the centre of the southern wall of the forecourt. The gate is flanked on the north front by double arcade galleries. The garden in front of the galleries is subdivided into four quarters by two main walk-ways and each quarters in turn subdivided by the narrower cross-axial walkways, on the Timurid-Persian scheme of the walled in garden. The enclosure walls on the east and west have a pavilion at the centre.

The Taj Mahal is a perfect symmetrical planned building, with an emphasis of bilateral symmetry along a central axis on which the main features are placed. The building material used is brick-in-lime mortar veneered with red sandstone and marble and inlay work of precious/semi precious stones. The mosque and the guest house in the Taj Mahal complex are built of red sandstone in contrast to the marble tomb in the centre. Both the buildings have a large platform over the terrace at their front. Both the mosque and the guest house are the identical structures. They have an oblong massive prayer hall consist of three vaulted bays arranged in a row with central dominant portal. The frame of the portal arches and the spandrels are veneered in white marble. The spandrels are filled with flowery arabesques of stone intarsia and the arches bordered with rope molding.

Taj Mahal represents the finest architectural and artistic achievement through perfect harmony and excellent craftsmanship in a whole range of Indo-Islamic sepulchral architecture. It is a masterpiece of architectural style in conception, treatment and execution and has unique aesthetic qualities in balance, symmetry and harmonious blending of various elements.

Integrity is maintained in the intactness of tomb, mosque, guest house, main gate and the whole Taj Mahal complex. The physical fabric is in good condition and structural stability, nature of foundation, verticality of the minarets and other constructional aspects of Taj Mahal have been studied and continue to be monitored. To control the impact of deterioration due for atmospheric pollutants, an air control monitoring station is installed to constantly monitor air quality and control decay factors as they arise. To ensure the protection of the setting, the adequate management and enforcement of regulations in the extended buffer zone is needed. In addition, future development for tourist facilities will need to ensure that the functional and visual integrity of the property is maintained, particularly in the relationship with the Agra Fort.

Exploring Dubai – City of Gold

Dubai is a cosmopolitan oasis, a futuristic cityscape that towers over the Arabian Desert. This is a city of superlatives, home to the world’s largest dancing fountain; tallest building (Burj Khalifa); only 7-star hotel (the Burj al-Arab); largest artificial islands (the Palm Islands); and largest natural flower garden (the Miracle Garden). Rent a dune buggy for a desert adventure, bargain at the open-air market, or cheer on your favorite humped hoofer at the Camel Race Track.

Forget the seven-star property, the world’s tallest tower, manmade islands, underwater hotels and buildings that spin like a Weeble with an inner-ear infection, what the city of Dubai really knows how to create is headlines. This little fishing-village-that-could has built an entire tourist industry out of piquing people’s curiosity. Its unstoppable, finely tuned PR machine has managed to overcome every downside (how often do you hear that Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq are right next door?) to make the city a must-see location. And that’s despite the fact that the region is full of sunny locales that have a lot more to offer — Jordan, with its millennia-old civilization, the Red and Dead seas, incredible desert landscapes and the glories of Petra — but generate a lot less interest.

That being said, Dubai has its virtues, so if you find yourself with 24 hours in the city, you’ll have no shortage of things to do.

This is a city of the super rich and the super poor. You are unlikely to see a place where the divide between the “have nots” and the “have yachts” is so apparent. The local-born Emiratis, who make up about 12% of the population, are typically extremely wealthy, but the town was built on the backs of a huge working-class population predominantly from the Indian subcontinent and from less prosperous areas of the Gulf. Sitting between the two groups is a burgeoning band of expats, mostly from the West, who are profiting to varying degrees from the city’s modern day Gold Rush.

The thing about shopping in Dubai is that the actual shopping is average, but the experience is intriguing. If you’ve shopped in New York or Paris, Dubai’s malls will be a disappointment. Most of the shops are familiar and no cheaper (though you may find the odd bargain on electronics) than in other places in the world. But store trawling is only the tip of the Dubai shopping experience. Malls in this city are realizations of unrestrained fantasy, offering surreal attractions to lure you (and your credit card) in.

Dubai is known for really cheap gold — but you’ll have to haggle for it. Whether or not you’re ready to buy, a stroll through the dazzling Gold Souk is a must. The stores also offer platinum, diamonds and occasionally silver, and the government keeps tight control over the quality of all the merchandise, so rest assured that your purchases will be genuine. (The same cannot be said, however, of the street vendors outside hawking “genuine fake” watches and “Guuci” handbags.) If something in the window catches your fancy, be sure to barter — persistent protest capped with a walkaway will get merchants to drop their asking price by as much as half.

The most audacious of all of Dubai’s megaprojects is the collection of reclaimed islands just offshore. First came the palm-tree shaped Palm Jumeirah, which the city bills as the eighth wonder of the world. And there are two more islands, Jebel Ali and Deira, in varying stages of development. In an outlandish stroke, Jebel Ali will feature a breakwater that spells out a line of poetry by Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (“It takes a man of vision to write on water”). Last, but certainly not least, is The World, an archipelago of islands that forms a world map in miniature; the islands are for sale, so if you can afford it, you can buy a “country” for yourself.

A visit to the desert isn’t as peaceful as you’d think. The desolate Sahara this is not. The easiest way to get at the dunes outside the city is on a four-wheel-drive safari. The tours are incredibly popular, but your enjoyment will depend on your tolerance for a) being thrown around the sand in a Jeep, b) touristy BBQs in the desert replete with a belly dancer and henna painting services and c) lots of other tourists. If you can handle all three, then Blue Banana has a number of expeditions on offer. The same outfit also has hot-air balloon flights over the sand at sunrise — a statelier desert experience. If you just want to see some sand without vertigo or nausea, then head out to the plush desert escape Bab Al Shams. Here you can sit on the rooftop and enjoy a cocktail as the sun dips below the dunes.

Article Courtesy: Expedia, Time