August 28, 2008 at 4:18 pm | Posted in 7 WONDERS OF THE WORLD, America, Chichén Itzá, Christ Redeemer, entertainment, Great Wall of China, History, India, Information, Machu Picchu, Petra, Rio de Janeiro, Roman Colosseum, seven new wonders, Taj Mahal, The Pyramid, tourism, Travel, USA, World | 9 Comments
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The Pyramid at Chichén Itzá (before 800 A.D.) Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

The Pyramid at Chichén Itzá

The Pyramid at Chichén Itzá


Chichén Itzá, the most famous Mayan temple city, served as the political and economic center of the Mayan civilization. Its various structures – the pyramid of Kukulkan, the Temple of Chac Mool, the Hall of the Thousand Pillars, and the Playing Field of the Prisoners – can still be seen today and are demonstrative of an extraordinary commitment to architectural space and composition. The pyramid itself was the last, and arguably the greatest, of all Mayan temples.
Christ Redeemer (1931) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Christ Redeemer- Rio de Janeiro

Christ Redeemer- Rio de Janeiro

This statue of Jesus stands some 38 meters tall, atop the Corcovado mountain overlooking Rio de Janeiro. Designed by Brazilian Heitor da Silva Costa and created by French sculptor Paul Landowski, it is one of the world’s best-known monuments. The statue took five years to construct and was inaugurated on October 12, 1931. It has become a symbol of the city and of the warmth of the Brazilian people, who receive visitors with open arms.


 The Roman Colosseum (70 – 82 A.D.) Rome, Italy The Roman Colosseum



This great amphitheater in the centre of Rome was built to give favors to successful legionnaires and to celebrate the glory of the Roman Empire. Its design concept still stands to this very day, and virtually every modern sports stadium some 2,000 years later still bears the irresistible imprint of the Colosseum’s original design. Today, through films and history books, we are even more aware of the cruel fights and games that took place in this arena, all for the joy of the spectators.

The Taj Mahal (1630 A.D.) Agra, India

The Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal

This immense mausoleum was built on the orders of Shah Jahan, the fifth Muslim Mogul emperor, to honor the memory of his beloved late wife. Built out of white marble and standing in formally laid-out walled gardens, the Taj Mahal is regarded as the most perfect jewel of Muslim art in India. The emperor was consequently jailed and, it is said, could then only see the Taj Mahal out of his small cell window. 

The Great Wall of China (220 B.C and 1368 – 1644 A.D.) China

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China was built to link existing fortifications into a united defense system and better keep invading Mongol tribes out of China. It is the largest man-made monument ever to have been built and it is disputed that it is the only one visible from space. Many thousands of people must have given their lives to build this colossal construction. 


Petra (9 B.c. – 40A.D) Jordan

The Petra

The Petra

On the edge of the Arabian Desert, Petra was the glittering capital of the Nabataean empire of King Aretas IV (9 B.C. to 40 A.D.). Masters of water technology, the Nabataeans provided their city with great tunnel constructions and water chambers. A theater, modelled on Greek-Roman prototypes, had space for an audience of 4,000. Today, the Palace Tombs of Petra, with the 42-meter-high Hellenistic temple facade on the El-Deir Monastery, are impressive examples of Middle Eastern culture.

Machu Picchu (1460-1470), Peru
Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

In the 15th century, the Incan Emperor Pachacútec built a city in the clouds on the mountain known as Machu Picchu (“old mountain”). This extraordinary settlement lies halfway up the Andes Plateau, deep in the Amazon jungle and above the Urubamba River. It was probably abandoned by the Incas because of a smallpox outbreak and, after the Spanish defeated the Incan Empire, the city remained ‘lost’ for over three centuries. It was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911.

– Shantan Nethikar

Volcanoes in Our Times

August 27, 2008 at 12:30 pm | Posted in America, Cave of Swallows, dubai, entertainment, History, Information, New Zealand, tourism, Travel, USA, World | 3 Comments
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Tavurvur, Papua New Guinea
Eruption: 2006
This active volcano, seen here in a photograph taken from the International Space Station, sits in Alaska’s central Aleutian Islands.
Chaiten, Chile
Chaiten, Chile

Eruption : 2008
After 9,000 years of inactivity, this Chilean caldera exploded in May, 2008, forcing the evacuation of Chaitén Town and the surrounding regions. Tavurvur, Papua New GuineaTavurvur, Papua New Guinea Eruption : 2006Evacuated Matapit Islanders watch Tavurvur spew ash and rocks over the city of Rabaul, which has endured repeated eruptions over the last 70 years. In 1994, the provincial government was forced to relocate to a new capital as a result of the blasts.Mt. Cleveland, USA.


Valley of Flowers

August 27, 2008 at 12:06 pm | Posted in America, Cave of Swallows, Dam Dropping, dubai, entertainment, History, hotels, Information, New Zealand, tourism, Travel, World | Leave a comment
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Location : On the upper expansions of Bhyundar Ganga in the state of Uttranchal in the northern part of India.
Time to Visit : From mid July to mid of August. The valley can be visited only during the day and overnight stay is prohibited.
Weather : Salubrious and Pleasant.
Known For : The Rich Biological Resource.

The Valley Of Flowers

Valley Of flowers
Valley Of flowers

Discovered by Frank S. Smith, an English mountaineer explorer and Botanist, while on an expedition to Mt. Kamet, the Valley of Flowers is a Nature’s Gift to Man. The Valley of Flowers in the north Indian state of Uttranchal is a booming bouquet of beautiful, lively and multihued flowers. The Valley of Flowers National Park, spanning over an area of 87.5 sq km has the largest potpourri of wild flower species. Known to the inhabitants as the Bhyundar valley, the Valley of Flowers is hidden from the scrutinizing eyes of the civilization. The valley was declared a National Park in year 1982.

The Valley of Flowers is also associate with the legendary story, which says that this the area from where Hanumanji of Ramayana collected ‘Sanjeevani’ herb to revive Lakshman. The Valley of Flowers National Park starts from Ghangharia but the main valley starts after crossing the gorge and the stream originating from Nar Parvat, 3 km from Ghangharia. In front of the Valley stands the snow capped peak of Ratban Parvat and at the background is the Kunt Khal. Towards the left is Nar Parvat, which bisects the Badrinath valley from this valley, and to the right is thick Birch forest on the hill sides. Below the forest is the meadow. River Pushpavati flows through the valley and there are many waterfalls enhancing the beauty of the valley. The splendour and the dazzling beauty of the valley beckons tourists from all the corners of the world.

Eco-Tourism in Valley of Flowers – Uttaranchal
Valley of Flowers’ Wildlife Resource

Almost 300 species of wild flowers bloom here in natural way. The bloom starts immediately after the melting of snow but the peak blooming period is from mid July to mid of August. The abundant natural resource of the valley captivates a large number of nature lovers, environmentalists and tourists every year.

The wild flowers like the Himalayan blue poppy, daisy, dianthus, calendula, white and yellow anemones bloom & swing with life during the monsoons. Some other species are Anemone, Geranium, Marsh marigold, Prinula, Potentilla, Geum, Asters, Lilium, Ranunculus, Corydalis, Inula, Braham kamal, Campanula, Pedicularis, Arisaema, Morina, Impatiens, Bistorta, Ligularia, Anaphalis, Saxifrages, Sibbaldia, Thermopsis, Trollius, Codonopsis, Dactylorhiza, Cypripedium, Strawberry, Epilobium, Rhododendrons and numerous others. Most of the flowers have medicinal values too. The abundance of Asmanda fern in this valley is a rare sight than in other Himalayan valleys. The valley remains in bloom for three months while the floral arrangement keeps on changing every few days. By September the hue of the Valley starts changing and autumn bids farewell to flowers and the entire vegetation remains resting continuously for next five months when the valley is snow wrapped.
Apart from the flowers some species of Butterfly, Musk deer, Blue sheep (Bharal), Himalayan bear, Himalayan mouse hare and some Himalayan birds & Snow leopard are also found in this area. To conserve the nature’s beneficient gift and to maintain the natural balance of the valley.
Reaching the Valley of Flowers
Air :
The nearest airport is Jolly Grant, Dehradun, 319 km.
Rail : The nearest railhead is at Rishikesh, 302 km.
Road : Off the Rishikesh-Badrinath road, 17 km from Govindghat. (25 km from Badrinath). From Govindghat the distance has to be trekked. Bus services are available to Govindghat. Porters are available at Govindghat and Ghangharia.

World’s Oldest Living Tree – 9550 years old – Discovered In Sweden

August 26, 2008 at 6:58 am | Posted in entertainment, History, hotels, Information, New Zealand, tourism, Travel, World | 4 Comments
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The world’s oldest recorded tree is a 9,550 year old spruce in the Dalarna province of Sweden. The spruce tree has shown to be a tenacious survivor that has endured by growing between erect trees and smaller bushes in pace with the dramatic climate changes over time.

Worlds Oldest Tree

Worlds Oldest Tree

This 9,550 year old spruce has been discovered in Dalarna, Sweden. A favourable climate has produced an upright trunk since the beginning of the 1940s.

For many years the spruce tree has been regarded as a relative newcomer in the Swedish mountain region. “Our results have shown the complete opposite, that the spruce is one of the oldest known trees in the mountain range,” says Leif Kullman, Professor of Physical Geography at Umeå University.

A fascinating discovery was made under the crown of a spruce in Fulu Mountain in Dalarna. Scientists found four “generations” of spruce remains in the form of cones and wood produced from the highest grounds.

The discovery showed trees of 375, 5,660, 9,000 and 9,550 years old and everything displayed clear signs that they have the same genetic makeup as the trees above them. Since spruce trees can multiply with root penetrating braches, they can produce exact copies, or clones.

The tree now growing above the finding place and the wood pieces dating 9,550 years have the same genetic material. The actual has been tested by carbon-14 dating at a laboratory in Miami, Florida, USA.

Previously, pine trees in North America have been cited as the oldest at 4,000 to 5,000 years old.

In the Swedish mountains, from Lapland in the North to Dalarna in the South, scientists have found a cluster of around 20 spruces that are over 8,000 years old.

Although summers have been colder over the past 10,000 years, these trees have survived harsh weather conditions due to their ability to push out another trunk as the other one died. “The average increase in temperature during the summers over the past hundred years has risen one degree in the mountain areas,” explains Leif Kullman.

Therefore, we can now see that these spruces have begun to straighten themselves out. There is also evidence that spruces are the species that can best give us insight about climate change.

The ability of spruces to survive harsh conditions also presents other questions for researchers.

Have the spruces actually migrated here during the Ice Age as seeds from the east 1,000 kilometres over the inland ice that that then covered Scandinavia? Do they really originate from the east, as taught in schools? “My research indicates that spruces have spent winters in places west or southwest of Norway where the climate was not as harsh in order to later quickly spread northerly along the ice-free coastal strip,” says Leif Kullman.

“In some way they have also successfully found their way to the Swedish mountains.”

The study has been carried out in cooperation with the County Administrative Boards in Jämtland and Dalarna.

– Shantan Nethikar

Inhaling 9/11

August 22, 2008 at 10:41 am | Posted in 9/11, 9/11 blast, 9/11 september, America, entertainment, History, Information, New Zealand, tourism, Travel, USA, World | 1 Comment
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[Image: The South Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11; photographer unknown].

On the flight over to Chicago last week I read an intense and frightening article in Discover about the wide range of post-9/11 illnesses that have begun to develop in New York City.
As most people no doubt know, tens upons tens – if not hundreds – of thousands of people literally inhaled the World Trade Center towers in the collapse and aftermath of 9/11.
It was the malign aerosolization of late modernist architecture, producing “the most dangerous atmospheric conditions ever to occur on American soil.”
The “sky was glittering with glass” that day:

    A toxic cloud composed of industrial waste and human remains crept out from the aching, smoldering pit at Ground Zero and wound its way into the adjoining streets. Its vapors circled around and up buildings, pumped in and out of nostrils, mouths, and lungs, and stung the eyes of every woman, child, man, bird, and beast within a wide range. It spread itself on building walls and inside boiler rooms and left its trail on parked cars, handrails, and public benches. That day, New York City was blinded by a perpetually sickening haze. It poisoned the minds of politicians who acted with hubris and paranoia. It obscured the vision of responders and residents, many of whom acted with heroism and reckless bravado, never thinking that their actions might be endangering themselves, their families, their cities, and their very future. The cloud billowed southward, over the river, enveloping everything in the dust and debris of blown-apart lives.

Breathing this “toxic cloud” has led to people coughing up “brown and pinkish-bloody” clots of tissue; it has led to organ failure; and the article even introduces us to a man who, five years later, “started bleeding everywhere – out of my ears, mouth, penis, and anus, and none of the doctors could figure out why.”
Indeed, the “number of seriously ill New Yorkers could climb to 300,000 in the near future,” and these serious illnesses run the gamut from “internal chemical burns” and “chronic respiratory and gastrointestinal conditions,” many of which will be fatal, to “rare blood cancers” and asthma attacks.

[Image: “Within a few hours’ time, a person exposed to the fumes could ingest toxins that would otherwise take a year to accumulate in a typical environment”; photographer unknown].
None of which seems surprising when you read about what actually went up in the air that day:

    The Twin Towers contained tens of thousands of computer terminals, each housing about four pounds of lead, and an untold number of fluorescent bulbs that contained mercury. Released metal particles from the smoldering pit of the World Trade Center were so fine that they could easily slip past a paper face mask and reach deep into lung tissue, where they are poorly soluble in lung fluid. Metals and glass can remain trapped there for long periods of time and make their way into the heart.

It’s also important to note, for my voting American readers, that the leadership of Rudy Giuliani does not fare very well in this article.

After much more detail about both the “plume” itself and about the various environmental failures that occurred up and down the political chain of command, the article ends magnificently: “While the courts try to determine who is responsible for the environmental debacle following 9/11, countless New Yorkers continue to live and work near Lower Manhattan with the assumption that it is safe. The dust is now out of sight, out of mind, and possibly in their lungs, hearts, and bloodstreams.”
So this is what happens when you pulverize and burn modern architecture: plumes of cadmium, thallium, benzene, silver, zinc, osmium, carbon monoxide, sulfuric acid, nickel, and lead drift outward into the city, snowing invisibly into local waterways, settling on windowsills and dusting the floors of homes, shops, and offices, salting food on plates at outdoor cafes, entering bloodstreams and sticking to clothes. Fiberglass and fire retardants, arsenic and rubber – asbestos, soot, and paper – all enter the atmosphere and form undetectable weather systems too vaporous and ghostlike to track.
Which leads me to wonder about what sort of post-bombardment aerial conditions existed in cities like Dresden or Hiroshima, after they were destroyed in World War II, when architecture was not made from such things – when there were not home computers and circuitboards to burn and when homes weren’t full of flame retardant fabrics and PVC.

Were different and earlier forms of pulverized architecture somehow safer to breathe?
In fact, if I can be excused a brief moment of contextually inappropriate speculation, would it be possible to impregnate buildings with good things – with good chemicals: with vitamins and medicines and even seeds – so that future 9/11s release beneficial plumes and so that the inhalation of architectural smoke is no longer catastrophic?
Or would that just encourage terrorist attacks, arson, and urban warfare?
In any case, the article in Discover is well worth a half-hour or so of your time – especially if you lived or worked in lower Manhattan or Brooklyn during the weeks after 9/11.

– Shantan Nethikar

Thrills of a Sling shot ride!

August 22, 2008 at 10:06 am | Posted in Base Jumping, Dam Dropping, entertainment, History, Information, New Zealand, The Kawarau Bridge Bungee, tourism, Travel, World, Zorbing | Leave a comment
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This ride, called the Slingshot, is similar to bungee jumping, but the gondola where riders sit is flung into the air, rather than being dropped off a bridge attached to a giant rubber band.

Slingshots, Image credit

There are two polls that stand up 145 feet into the air and the person is hurled using steel cables and springs. The gondola has lights on it, so at night onlookers can see the thing shooting into the air.

The Slingshot propels riders between two poles. Here the cables suspend Roy Ross and Matt Ward.

The ride is a family affair, Colby Barendregt and his family own tow Slingshots and travel around the country about nine months of the year. Setting the ride at fairs.

Roy Ross and Matt Ward are launched on the Hot Shot Slingshot ride at the Silver Dollar Fair

Its like being launched 220 to 240 feet into the air at up to 6 G’s! In the age of space travel this is the closest thing to a rocket ship that most people will ever get.

Quench your thirst for thrill in New Zealand!

August 22, 2008 at 10:01 am | Posted in Base Jumping, Cave of Swallows, Dam Dropping, entertainment, FlyByWire, History, hotels, Information, New Zealand, The Kawarau Bridge Bungee, tourism, Travel, World, Zorbing | Leave a comment
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New Zealand is just the right place for those who have thirst for thrills and adventure. The activities out here are wide ranging, from some of the world’s best skiing, heli-skiing and snowboarding, to adventure activities such as bungee jumping, flybywire, dam dropping and zorbing.

The Kawarau Bridge Bungee:

Some people call it crazy, but enough find it exciting. The Kawarau Bridge Bungee is the first commercial bungee site in the world. Located a few miles outside Queenstown, it is set in a picturesque valley overlooking the Kawarau River. It’s the only bungee where you can choose to bob above the water, touch it or be fully immersed. No trip to Queenstown in New Zealand would be complete without at least considering a bungee jump!


With a top recorded speed of over 170 kph, FlyByWire is said to be the fastest adventure flight in the world. FlyByWire is a self-drive flying machine which is built of premium grade aircraft material using state-of-the-art design and manufacturing techniques and is powered by a 60 hp aircraft engine. You experience a force of three G’s to weightlessness within a three second interval as it accelerates you.


Image Credit

The machine is suspended from an overhead cable system, which allows it to fly in circles within a spectacular steep-sided canyon. The flight lasts 6 minutes.

Dam Dropping:

Dam Dropping is a form of river surfing, commonly know as river sledging. Through some of New Zealand’s most picturesque river scenery, down the Waingongoro River, under the shadow of Mount Taranaki in New Plymouth, it’s an experience of a lifetime.


Ever wondered what it would feel like to get inside your washing machine on a spin cycle? Try Zorbing! New Zealand offers the opportunity to have a go at zorbing which is a unique, exciting, downhill, adventure experience. It can be enjoyed by people of all ages who don’t mind being strapped inside an enormous clear plastic, air-cushioned ball.


Image Credit

As all the violent bouncing is absorbed by the bigger outer transparent ball, you are quite secure inside the inner capsule. As the ball rolls down a long grass-covered slope, you spin around in a virtual anti-gravity form of weightlessness like an intoxicated space traveler. Liquid-zorbing is a more recent development of this zany downhill roller coaster ride. Two or three buckets of water are added to the mix and you remain unattached to the inner ball like a loose cannon tumbling out of control. Grab the chance to zorb, wet or dry!

– Shantan Nethikar

Bungy Jumping at Bloukrans Bridge: Not for faint hearted…

August 22, 2008 at 9:52 am | Posted in entertainment, History, hotels, Information, tourism, World | 4 Comments
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I’m sure you won’t believe me if I say that some people love to jump from the bridge you see in the picture above. Now you’ll wonder why anybody would want to jump off a perfectly good bridge but lots of people do and they pay good money for that. It’s the Bloukrans River Bridge that is the highest single span arch bridge in the world and has etched its mark in the Guinness Books of World Records for being the world’s highest commercial bungy jumping venue. At a staggering 216m this is the ultimate bungee experience!

Base jumping in the world’s deepest cave shaft

August 22, 2008 at 9:50 am | Posted in Base Jumping, Cave of Swallows, entertainment, History, Information, tourism, Travel, World | 3 Comments
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How about base jumping into the world’s deepest cave shaft? Yes you’ve guessed it right I’m talking about the Cave of Swallows, a cave that is so deep that it can engulf the Empire State Building. Located in a rain-forest in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, the cave is a 400m vertical shaft and the dream destination of adrenaline junkies. It takes approximately 12 seconds to base jump from the top of the cave but believe me it’s not a sport for the faint hearted. Check out the craziest videos below.

The Hanging Coffins of Sagada: A place where death is an adventure!

August 22, 2008 at 9:47 am | Posted in entertainment, History, Information, tourism, World | 3 Comments
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It’s natural people expect their soul to ‘rest in peace’ at least in their death. But whether that truly happens or not is another question. If you happen to visit the Cliffs of Sagada in Phillipines you will be surprised to see to what extent people go to ensure that their souls rest in peace.

You will find hundreds of coffins hanging down the cliffs or jutting out of a rock and these have been around since 2,000 years when you scan the higher areas of the cliff. People carved their own coffins before death and the corpses were smoked to preserve it throughout the 5-day pre-burial feast.

Why did they do this? People probably believed that higher your body is laid the close they are to ‘heaven’ and mountains were held in high esteem those days. Another reason might be to protect the bodies that could have destroyed because of natural disasters like earthquakes and floods.

If you just have a look at the surrounding area, you will wonder how they managed to get bring the corpse through such an unpopulated area and manage to settle these coffins that high even when they grieved the loss of their loved one. They probably used ropes to lower the coffins down the cliff or used timber scaffolding to raise the coffin high up.

Have a look at this video of the cliffs and you’ll know that death is really an adventure!

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