World’s 50 Most Dangerous Countries Revealed For Travelers

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘BORED PANDA’ WEBSITE)

 

World’s Most Dangerous Countries Revealed, And It May Change Your Travel Plans

Just like last year, International SOS and Control Risks have released a map that shows just how tourist-friendly all countries are, and it’s worth looking at if you’re planning a trip for 2018 to a place you’ve never been before. After all, we all like coming back from a holiday with all of our limbs and other valuables.

Collecting data from the World Health Organization and other institutions, the interactive ‘Travel Risk Map’ reveals just how risky countries are regarding road safety, security and medical matters. According to The Ipsos Mori Business Resilience Trends Watch 2018, 63% of people think travel-related risks have increased during the past year. In the paper, security threats and natural disasters were cited as main reasons for changed travel plans.

Scroll down to check out how countries rank up against each other and let us know what you think about it in the comment section below!

More info: travelriskmap.com (h/t)

This is how much travelers will be risking their health in 2018 across the globe

And this is how the world looks from a security threat point of view

Finally, road safety

Puerto Rico, Trapped Between Colonialism and Hurricanes

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Puerto Rico, Trapped Between Colonialism and Hurricanes

Puerto Rican Graffiti. Photo by Flickr user Juan Cristóbal Zulueta. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.

Puerto Rican Graffiti. Photo by Flickr user Juan Cristóbal Zulueta. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.

You came to Puerto Rico for the golden sand and sun—gold, you will recall, was also the basis of our first colonizers’ initial attraction. For the endless piña coladas and rum-spiked mysteries. For the colonial charm and quaint, humble lifestyle. Poverty looks so alluring in the Caribbean, what with the bright colors, crystal-clear waters and the backdrop of lush greens—besides, it’s only for a week. Your friends say it’s the hottest Spring Break spot; the newspapers say it’s a debt-ridden disaster; your parents say it’s dangerous and that the water is undrinkable; and the brochures say it’s a (tax) haven, an absolute paradise. So here you are, in your bathing suit and sarong, mojito in hand, ready to focus on your one task for the week: getting a tan.

But it turns out that the sun isn’t nailed onto the sky, and it doesn’t run on one-million 100-watt light bulbs that never fail. The tides rise and the swells are ferocious. Coconuts, palm trees and branches are potential projectiles. And a hurricane is heading straight for your worry-free fantasy.

So you try to catch a flight out of this paradise-turned-inferno, because a hurricane was not on your must-see itinerary. Instead, JetBlue takes you to a hurricane shelter in San Juan, a hot and humid coliseum, where your beach chair is replaced by a cot; your piña colada by a Walgreens water bottle; your dream, by our reality.

The power was out in my house as I imagined the scenario above, which had taken place the day before, right before Irma’s arrival. After Irma’s passing the next morning there were more than a million households without power. The Electric Power Authority (AEE) was predicting the outages would last two to four months, and almost 80,000 households had lost water service as well. Over 6,200 people were in shelters on the northeastern side of the island, and Puerto Rico’s agricultural industry had suffered $30.4 million in losses. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Governor Ricardo Rosselló were still evaluating infrastructural and residential damages. And now a powerful new storm was heading our way: María.

Puerto Rico is no stranger to crisis. Before Irma’s rampage through the archipelago, Puerto Rico was already in the midst of one of the most devastating financial and socio-political crises in its recent history, with an unaudited $74 billion debt under its belt, $49 billion in pension obligations, and several decades’ worth of illegal bond issuances and trading related to its status as an overly-advertised tax haven. Neoliberal policies such as draconian budget cuts and extreme austerity measures had already rendered life in Puerto Rico quite precarious. And the whole thing was being overseen and managed simultaneously by Governor Rosselló, an unelected and antidemocratic Fiscal Control Board, and judge Laura Taylor Swain, all of whom were going back and forth on the country’s fiscal management and debt restructuring processes.

But even as Hurricane Irma headed straight towards it, for many outside of the country, Puerto Rico is a mere blip on CNN’s news ticker, an enchanting US-owned island on a tourist brochure, that exotic place where the music video for “Despacito” was filmed (and made all the better by Justin Bieber), a pebble sinking between an ocean and a sea that have seen too much.

But Irma’s passing and aftermath have once again brought to light Puerto Rico’s primordial conundrum: colonialism.

Puerto Rico has been a US colony (the US prefers the euphemistic designations of “commonwealth”, “unincorporated territory” and “free associated state”) for 199 years, a relationship that has led to the country’s being trapped in a steep downward spiral. The current fiscal and socio-political crisis is only one of the side effects of this relationship.

Hurricane Irma’s passing underscored the damage done by the neoliberal austerity measures imposed by the Fiscal Control Board and the crimes committed by corporations taking advantage of Puerto Rico’s colonial status. For starters, as a result of the massive closure of public schools, only 329 schools across the island were available as hurricane shelters compared with the 372 available during Hurricane Bertha’s passing in 2014.

Puerto Rico’s infrastructure also finds itself in an advanced state of deterioration, including roads, bridges, the University of Puerto Rico and public service buildings all of whom were critically endangered during Irma’s passing. A good part of the country’s “essential infrastructure” is on the coast, making it vulnerable to flooding, high tides and storm surges, especially during hurricanes of Irma’s or Maria’s intensity.

It is notable that much of that infrastructure was built to benefit the tourist industry and mercantile trade with the US, and the US alone. Money invested in infrastructure tends to go towards revitalizing these “essentials”, not to repairing the potholed roads in our communities, remediating asbestos-filled buildings or replacing crumbling light poles at the mercy of hurricane winds. All of this is further proof of our colonial market dependency and the essentially colonial nature of the tourist industry, which caters particularly to PR’s relationship with the US.

Even the disaster declaration signed by the US President authorizing FEMA assistance for Puerto Rico second-rate, allowing only for search and rescue, public health and safety, and debris removal. It didn’t include rebuilding or even restoration of power, and with the current fiscal crisis and the Fiscal Control Board’s silence since Irma’s passing, rebuilding and restructuring will be a tough feat for Puerto Rico given the lack of available resources.

Center for Investigative Journalism in Puerto Rico’s Carla Minet said:

The budget cuts, in an already weak economy, will probably make the storm’s social impact worse.

Minet added that a pre-Irma forecast by the Center for a New Economy’s policy director, Sergio M. Marxuach, predicts that the recently approved the Fiscal Plan would result in another lost decade, continued population loss due to migration and lower birth rates, lower employment, less access to public education, pension cuts, worsening health outcomes, higher mortality and lower life expectancy, and, ultimately, higher rates of poverty and inequality. “Now add in the cataclysm of a monster hurricane that the plan never accounted for,” said Minet.

The Fiscal Control Board is likely to use Irma as an excuse to aggressively push the many policies it has in line, such as the privatization of PR’s Electric Power Authority (AEE). Nor would it be surprising if Gov. Rosselló and the Fiscal Control Board used the occasion to dismantle and privatize the University of Puerto Rico, the only public higher education institution in the country, as well as a number of other public institutions that are defenseless against the colonial rule of the Fiscal Control Board and its blatant neoliberal attacks.

Now, barely two weeks after Irma’s passing, we’ve just been hit by another category 5 hurricane, María. This just as some household have just got back their electricity supply, and while others are still living in the dark; while the ground is still strewn with fallen trees and light posts waiting to take on second lives as projectiles; while many, both locals and refugees from neighboring Caribbean islands, are still recovering from the loss of their homes, their entire reality; and while crisis and colonialism continue to hold hands, as they do every day.

And so, you’re sitting in your cot with your straw hat on, hundreds of locals scrambling around you with what’s left of their lives stuffed into a bag or a suitcase, wondering why JetBlue dropped you off here and high-tailed it; why the shelter is so understaffed; why the power went even though it hasn’t yet started raining and not a gusts of wind has blown; why CNN wasn’t covering Irma’s passing over Puerto Rico. “I’m here, send over an Embassy representative for me!” you yell in your mind as you stare at the screen of your almost-dead smartphone. Why, you wonder, has life had been so unfair to you, ruining your longed-for vacation in the Island of enchantment.

Then your thoughts are interrupted as you spot a window and you walk gloomily towards it and look through pigeon-christened glass, and watch as the storm clouds gather and gusts of wind batter a US flag—oh, and a Puerto Rican one too.

7 climbers fall to their deaths in the Alps

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

7 climbers fall to their deaths in the Alps

A view of the Zillertal Valley in the Austrian Alps, near an area where five climbers were killed.

Story highlights

  • Five climbers were killed after falling onto a glacier in the Austrian Alps
  • Two others were killed in Italy climbing in a group roped together

Rome (CNN) Seven climbers fell to their deaths in two separate incidents in the Alps on Sunday, officials said.

Five of the climbers died in the Austrian Alps, Zell am See provincial government chief Martin Reichholf told CNN. Two others were killed as they climbed in a group roped together in the Italian Alps, according to an emergency center there.
Reichholf said there were indications that the climbers were German citizens, adding that details were still emerging.
The climbers in Austria fell around 300 meters (1,000 feet) onto a glacier near the town of Krimml, according to Dr. Egbert Ritter, a trauma surgeon at the AUVA hospital in Salzburg.
Adamello Glacier
Krimml
Map data ©2017 GeoBasis-DE/BKG (©2009), Google, Inst. Geogr. Nacional
A sixth climber — a 60-year-old man — is in intensive care at the hospital, but his injuries are not life-threatening, Ritter said. Six helicopters were at the scene of the accident, he told CNN.
The climbers fell at around 10 a.m. (4 a.m. ET) about 1.5 kilometers south of a mountain cabin called the Zittauer Hutte at an altitude of around 3,000 meters, he said.

Group roped together

In Italy, a man and woman who appear to be in their mid-30s were killed as they climbed the Adamello glacier in the the Trentino Alto Adige region, according to the emergency rescue center in the town of Trento.
They were part of a group of nine Italians from the city of Brescia. The climbers were connected by three ropesThey fell when those on the lowest rope slipped on the glacier, dragging down others higher up the slope, according to the rescue center.
A further two climbers were seriously injured, including a 14-year-old boy who is being treated in Trento hospital.
Three helicopters were used to rescue the group, officials said.

U.S. State Department Warns Citizens Against Going To Mexico Tourist Locations Because Of Violence

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LOS ANGLES TIMES)

 

The U.S. State Department has warned its citizens about traveling to Cancun and Los Cabos, two of Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations, after a surge in violence in those regions.

A travel advisory issued Tuesday upgraded the warnings for two states, Quintana Roo and Baja California Sur, saying turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime and shootings in which innocent bystanders have been killed.

For years, both regions were largely insulated from the drug war violence that has engulfed other parts of Mexico, but this year they have each seen a major uptick in killings.

There have been deadly gun battles in downtown Cancun, and in January, five people were killed at a nightclub in nearby Playa del Carmen. In Los Cabos, a municipality on the Pacific Coast that includes the cities of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, three people were shot to death this month at the entrance to a popular beach.

The travel warning could deliver a major blow to Mexico’s $20-billion-a-year tourism industry, which represents about 7% of the country’s gross domestic product..

“This is a very bad news for Mexico,” said Rafael Fernandez de Castro, director for the Center for U.S.-Mexican studies at UC San Diego, who said recent growth in Mexico’s tourism industry has been a rare bright spot in an economy that quaked after President Trump’s threats to tear up free trade agreements and build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

But the rapid increase in development, especially in Los Cabos, may have helped contribute to the violence, Fernandez de Castro said, as migrants from around the country came to build new hotel rooms and resorts.

“The growth of Los Cabos has been way too accelerated in the last two years,” he said. “It’s creating a little bit of social chaos.”

The State Department’s decision to warn residents about travel to the resort cities “is a reality check for the booming towns and economy of Mexico,” he said.

Mexican officials have gone to lengths to portray the country’s beach resorts as family friendly and safe. Violent incidents “are extremely rare among the millions of international tourists who visit Riviera Maya each year, and the entire tourism industry works to ensure the safety and satisfaction of all visitors,” reads a statement on the website of the Assn. of Riviera Maya Hotels.

.

But 10 years into the country’s military-led drug war, violence is surging across the nation. This year, Mexico is on track to record more homicides than in any year in the last two decades.

Rising demand for heroin in the U.S. and power struggles among the country’s top drug cartels, authorities say, have led to an increase in killings in 27 of Mexico’s 32 states.

In Quintana Roo, the state where Cancun is located, 169 killings were reported from January to July, more than twice as many as during the same period last year.

In Baja California Sur, home to Los Cabos and Cabo San Lucas, 232 slayings have been reported this year, nearly four times as many as during the same period last year.

Although tourism from the U.S. dropped off about five years ago during another period of high violence in Mexico, it has substantially recovered, with the number of American visitors increasing 12% from 2015 to 2016, according to the World Tourism Organization. Mexico recently surpassed Turkey to become the eighth most popular travel destination in the world, drawing 35 million international visitors last year.

Tourism officials in the Riviera Maya, the 140-mile-long stretch of Caribbean coastline that includes Cancun as well as Playa del Carmen and Tulum, have already been on the defensive this year after reports that a young woman died after drinking tainted alcohol at a resort.

The State Department also issued a warning in response to those reports, cautioning vacationers to drink alcohol in moderation and seek medical help if they begin to feel ill.

At least 17 killed in Burkina Faso restaurant terror attack

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

At least 17 killed in Burkina Faso restaurant terror attack

Story highlights

  • Unknown number of assailants attacked restaurant Sunday night local time
  • Government spokesman called the raid a “terrorist attack”

(CNN) At least 17 people were killed and eight others wounded after a number of assailants attacked a restaurant in Burkina Faso around 9 p.m. local time Sunday (5 p.m. ET), according to state-run media RTB.

The attack took place in Ouagadougou, the capital of the West African nation. It’s not known how many attackers were involved.
Attackers barricaded themselves in the Istanbul restaurant on Avenue Kwame Nkrumah in the center of the city, RTB reports, citing authorities.
Burkina Faso Communications Minister Remis Dandjinou called the raid a “terrorist attack,” according to Reuters, and said the victims were from a number of countries. Efforts are underway to identify the bodies so the authorities can inform their families.
State media RTB reported that two “terrorists” had been killed.
After the attack, a security perimeter was established by the Defense and Security forces and all roads leading up to the Ouagadougou International Airport were closed.
The Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the incident.

Ongoing issue

Militants have targeted civilians in Burkina Faso previously, most notably in 2016 when attackers raided a luxury hotel in Ouagadougou, shooting some and taking others hostage in a siege that lasted hours and ended with 29 people dead.
An al Qaeda-linked terrorist group, Al-Mourabitoun, claimed responsibility for that assault, which had similarities to one at the Radisson Blu Hotel in neighboring Mali in November the previous year.
That attack left 22 people dead.

Road Trip to Hampi – The City of Ruins

(THIS ARTICLE IS FROM THE BLOG OF ‘NOMADONROAD’, PLEASE CHECK OUT HIS EXCELLENT BLOG SITE)

 

Road Trip to Hampi – The City of Ruins

Road Trip to Hampi – The City of Ruins

Traveling is a Drug one must admit. When one gets addicted, it kind of gets difficult to get rid of it. You will find excuses, inspirations and so on, to travel more, regardless to the destinations being close or far, I am sure all the travelers can relate to what I am talking about here.

So, it happened  one evening when me along with my friends – Bobby & Ajay  were watching this documentary called “Mysteries of Asia: Lost Temples of India” where they discuss about this particular place called “Hampi – The Ghost City” – which in the Southern part of India – Northern Karnataka, living in the same state we hadn’t been there. I know most of the time we tend to ignore the places we are close by or we grew up, rather we tend to take it for granted.

Hampi is within the ruins of Vijayanagara once a bustling city – Capital of the Vijayanagara Empire, Hampi got its name from the River Pampa which is now called as Tungabhadra – on the banks of which the city was built. The site was chosen because it had natural defenses, in the form of rocky hills on three sides and the river on the fourth. It was a thriving, bustling city till the second half of the 16th century, when it was laid siege to and ultimately overrun by the Sultan of Bijapur. As legend has it, the city’s temples were ravaged by the invaders and its sandalwood palaces burnt down in an attempt to wipe it clean from popular memory. And so Hampi was forgotten – its stone survivors overwhelmed by jungle growth; until British archaeologists stumbled upon it several many decades later. And here were are, Like all others who thong to this place to get a glimpse of our very own history,,,, As the Portuguese traveler Domingo Paes mentioned in 1522 AD, “This is the land of riches”…You will have to witness it to believe it !!!

I felt a little bad for not have explored this beautiful place however it’s never too late. Mostly I love travelling alone as I mentioned in my first post however as they say “More the merrier”. I was happier when my childhood friends, who also equally love travelling and exploring the unexplored agreed to join me. Hence, we decided overnight to travel and explore what this place had to offer. All we knew is this place wasn’t going to disappoint us for sure. I, Bobby and Ajay re-assembled at my place with our bags packed and left to Hampi at around 11:45 PM, this was in the month of September 2014, most ideal period of the Year to Visit Hampi J . Since it was an immediate travel plan we had not booked any accommodation, we thought we will figure out by the time we reach Hampi – by the time Bobby said that he googled and most recommendations was to stay at Hosapete town which is 12kms away from Hampi. We all concluded that we find accommodation at Hosapete

I always love trips like this when you don’t have plan so much. Travelling with your best buddies are always an advantage, you can stop the car any time you want, take pictures, eat and talk nonstop about any topic under the sun. Our journey took place and we loved every bit about it, excited to see the place for the first time we were just like those kids going to a fair.. 😂😂

Ajay, Bobby, Dev (Me)

Ajay, Bobby, Dev (Me)

By the time we crossed Bangalore it was around 1:00 AM in the Morning, we thought of giving a theme to this travel and called ourselves as “Wolf Pack” and themed it as “wolf pack – Trip to Enthralling Hampi”. Ajay had taken the Driver Seat, me – the navigator and Bobby as soon he got inside the car – he started sleeping 😂. Ajay is one person who can’t keep quiet and is perfect companion if you are driving at night – ideally he can speak about anything – name the topic, he would have something to talk about – we started talking about politics, work etc.

This being an unplanned trip of ours we dint do any homework about the places to explore. We decided to go old School without using much of a technology. The only place we kept in our mind was Hospete which we followed the route by asking the road side shopkeepers, daba’s and the passerby, keeping only one place in mind

I really didn’t keep a track of time nor the distance. I saw the road sign, I could see that we were only 80 KM away from Hosapete and the time was around 6:30 am, we reached Hosapete around 7:30 am and started searching for accommodation, we saw these two Hotels – “Shanbhag Towers” and other being “Hotel Priyadarshini” (mostly due to our Budget), we settled in for Priyadarshini because it had a nice Bar & Restaurant attached to it.

Even though we arrived quite early, the hotel staff were quite accommodative and helped with reservation. As soon we got our room, we took a quick nap, freshened up and headed for the Breakfast. Breakfast was quite good and started conversing with the Hotel staff related to Places to visit etc, one recommendation provided was to take Local Guide while at Hampi if you need to know the place, history etc., because Hampi being quite vast, we might miss certain important places.

After having quite a heavy breakfast – we set out to Hampi, as we got close to Hampi we started seeing the ruins, for some reason I started having chills while we passed through the ruins and the structures.

We finally arrived at Hampi – near Virupaksha Temple. Virupaksha Temple is part of Group of Monuments at Hampi, the presiding diety is Lord Shiva – one of the Hindu God. This temple was built by the Queen “Lokhamadevi” – wife of Vikramaditya II in order to commemorate the King’s victory over Pallava of Kanchipuram. We parked the car and the first thing we wanted to do was hire a Local Guide.

As we were passing by the Virupaksha Temple, we got to see some of the erotic carvings on the Temple Tower, in most case these carvings can only be seen on the outside walls but none on the inside walls. In its popular saying, they say that these carvings were meant for educational purpose in those days as temple’s were visited by large part of the population and these carving on temple pillars & walls formed a ideal place to spread awareness

 

Finally we found a Guide and started inquiring about the guide fee – it looks like the guide fee is standard/fixed – 1500 Rupees per day, we hired him and thus started our tour of Hampi. We started with Virupaksha Temple and the structures nearby, the guide was very knowledgeable was able to answer any queries which we put forth and was good with Camera as well. Oh I forgot to introduce him, our Guide’s name: Mr. Gurumurthy – if any is visiting Hampi and would like to have a Local Guide – in order to know history, places etc of Hampi, you can contact Gurumurthy on + 91 94815 66709.

In and around Virupaksha temple we can see structures which are of the Jain period, Hemkut Jain temples, Ratnantraykut, Parsvanath Charan and Ganigatti jain temple, most of Idols are missing – ideally there are nothing inisde the structures. The entire hill surrounding the Virupaksha Temple is called as Hemakuta Hill. This place is one of best to see the sunrise and sunset and is a treat for photographers, another best place to see the sunset and sunrise is the Matanga Hill.

By this time we were feeling little tired, but I would once again like to say that Hampi is a treat for Photographers, so much to see and so much to capture – we might not know as where to start and where to end. we started inquiring about various things about the place and our guide Gurumurthy was always ready to answer with a smile.

We had now started to get down from the Hemakuta Hill, Next Place of significance was “Kadalekalu Ganesha” – it is one Largest Statue of Ganesha ( Hindu God, Son of Lord Shiva)  in Southern India carved in Granite, the name “Kadalekalu” means Bengal_gram/Chicpea – since the belly of Ganesha is in resemblence of Bengal Gram, one more thing to notice if you go behind the Idol you can see an Hand holding/supporting the Idol from the back – Popular belief or artistic represtation could be that it is Ganesha’s Mother Parvathi holding him from the back. It is also believed that some people try to cut open the tummy as they thought there was some treasure in that, you can still see the cut stone in front of the temple!. Now we started heading towards Gopura – Krishna Temple, on the way we met some localites – took some pictures, visited naturally formed Caves.

Krishna Temple – This temple was built during the reign of Krishnadevaraya after his successful campaign against Gajapatis of Orissa, the temple is in the abandoned state – This was abandoned after the fall of Vijaynagara empire. Krishna temple bazaar has been excavated through the last decade, and restoration work is still in progress

Krishna Temple Bazaar

Krishna Temple Bazaar

After completing Krishna Temple, we started towards the Lotus Mahal, Lotus Mahal – as the name suggests, its in the shape of the Lotus, according to our Guide – Lotus Mahal used to be a place where royal ladies used come and mingle, it used to also serve as meeting point for King and his ministers. There are several monuments nearby

Lotus Mahal

Lotus Mahal

On the way to Lotus Mahal, you can notice this building – according to the guide, this is the place where the finance team of the King used to reside – more to do with storage of coins etc.

Some more from the group Monuments of Hampi…

Finally we are here at the Massive Elephant stable and we can see that these are least destroyed structures in Hampi. This stable was used to park Royal Elephants. There are 11 domed tall chambers, the center one is decorated and huge.

The structure below Recently discovered …Radically different from the rest of tank constructions in Hampi, the Stepped Tank is made of made of finely finished black schist stone blocks. It seems the tank was made elsewhere and later brought and assembled at its current location. Practically every stone is earmarked for this purpose and some bears even ‘sketches’ by its architects. The purpose of this tank is not very sure, mostly it was used during the religious ceremonies by the royals.

We took rest for a while at the tank and started discussing with our guide Gurumurthy – various other aspects about other Structures near by – Every structure in Hampi has a story associated with it and we felt enlightened knowing the history through the ruins and it took us back in time.

This is the place where the king used to behead people whom he found to be cheating in Revenue Funds….Every year there used to be a Cabinet Meeting and if anyone found guilty was punished publicly….On a lighter note, this technique should be used for all Rapists 🙂…lol

 

The one below quite a gigantic tank or maybe bathing place – I can even term it as swimming pool  for visitors who used to visit the empire in those days – its really quite Massive.

 

We covered most of the major structures in and around the Lotus Mahal – now started heading towards the Vittala Temple, Vittala Temple ( Dedicated to Hindu God Vishnu ) is one of the ancient, well know monument in Hampi and it is quite close to the banks of Tungabhadra River – then Pampa River, the main attraction is the Chariot and the musical pillars. This monument was built during the reign of King Devaraya II. Here are some of the captures on the way to Vittala Temple.

Market No 3 - In front of Vittala Temple

Market No 3 – In front of Vittala Temple

 

On the way to the Vitalla Temple Complex, I would recommend that you visit Achyutaraya temple complex, this seems to be more less visited compared to Virupaksha and Vitalla Temple complex.

 

 

 

Here we arrive at the most awaited Vittala Temple Complex – as mentioned quite from far, the chariot is quite visible and forms the major attraction – it is considered one of the stunning architecture and only there of them are found in India – One in Orissa (Konark Temple), Second in Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu) and this being the third one. The “Chariot” never moved , unlike those wooden temple cars used in the temple festival ceremonies. What probably moved was its four wheels around its axle, all made of granite. There was a dome like superstructure over the chariot. That too is missing now. However you can see them on the first ever photographs of Hampi taken in 1856 by Alexander Greenlaw

The Musical Pillars: Large Mantapa is famous for its musical pillars which it houses and also called as Saregama pillars indicating the Musical notes emitted by them, you can hear the musical notes when the pillars are tapped gently.

 

This 5-meter or so tall ‘balance’ is located near the Vittala temple. Also called as Tula Bhara or Tula Purushadana, the king used to weigh himself with gold, gems, silver and precious stones, and distributed to the priests. It’s believed that this had been done during the special ceremony seasons like solar or lunar eclipses. You can spot three loops on top of the balance, into which the balance actually hung. Also in one of the pillars you can spot the king’s image carved along with his concerts. 

By this time I think we had more or less covered major sites of Hampi –  In order to cover the places we did even skip our lunch – we managed with snacks and fruits which were being sold on the streets. Ideally you cannot cover complete Hampi in a day, it is practically impossible as our Guide Mr Gurumurthy says that we might need a life time to know it completely but still you get to miss since new discoveries are continuously been done in the region, We felt we need to visit again to cover the places which we would have missed. Time was now close to Sunset, we went near by Thungabadra River to watch the Sunset.

Old Bridge...Thungabadra River...Some people say this is where the Enemy army got an entry inside HAMPI..

Old Bridge…Thungabadra River…Some people say this is where the Enemy army got an entry inside HAMPI..

Whenever we venture out on a trip, we three would have one photograph which majorly forms our Cover Pic, our Guide Mr. Gurumurthy shot this photograph for us and it came out really well.

There were three more monuments which we had skipped earlier since our Guide  recommended that we can visit them while on the way back to Hemakuta Hill (Near Virupaksha Temple – that is where we had parked our vehicle), We started towards the Hemakuta Hill, since the sun was setting in, we thought calling it off for the day once we see these structures:

  • The Lakshmi Narasimha Statue: This is the largest statue in Hampi. Narasimha is sitting on the coil of a giant seven-headed snake called Sesha. The heads of the snake acts as the hood above his head. The god sits in a cross-legged Yoga position with a belt supporting the knees…The original statue contained the image of goddess Lakshmi, consort of the god, sitting on his lap. But this statue has been damaged seriously during the raid leading to the fall of Vijayanagara.

 

  • Badavilinga Temple, Hampi : This is the largest monolithic Linga in Hampi. Located next to the Narasimha statue the Linga is housed inside a chamber with an opening in the front.A close look on this icon can reveal three eyes (depicting the three eyes of Siva) carved on it. Legend has it that this was commissioned by a peasant woman and hence the name (Badva means poor in local tongue).

 

The last monument to visit was Sasivekalu Ganesha (Mustard seed Ganesha) which is at the foothill of  Hemakuta Hill, Guide recommended that we see this before sun completely sets and will call off for the day.

Sasivekalu Ganesha

Sasivekalu Ganesha

Sasivekalu Ganesha

This concluded our day at Hampi, We thanked our guide Mr. Gurumurthy for wealth of information shared and we were craving for more. We thought we spend some more time on top of  Hemakuta Hill watching the sunset and take some good pictures, we had another 2 days left – we started planning for next 2 days

Enchanting Hampi

I got some power now…..Let me save u

I had now started thinking that we have such amazing places which were close to Bangalore where we grew up and we had never made a point to come and see it, nonetheless we were enjoying every bit the place had to offer, from history to art – art to scenic beauty. The sunset of all things stole my heart away, it was so beautiful, I got engrossed in it.

Meanwhile Plan for the next two days was done – we decided that we head towards our hotel, take some rest, freshen up and re-assemble for Dinner at the attached Bar and Restaurant. Plan was that, early morning we head towards PattadakalAihole and Badami. Our next 2 days tour which we had intended to travel is on a seperate post, please click_here

 

Here are Information which might be helpful for anyone visiting Hampi:

Right Time to visit Hampi:

October to Feb – Main reason being weather is cooler during this period, avoid going during summer, most of the temple complexes remain open from 6:30 am until 6:30 pm.

How to get to Hampi:

By Airplane: The nearest airport is Hubli which is around 140KMS from Hampi, fly to Hubli and then take a taxi or Bus, The Bus are normally operated by Karnataka State transport and would take around 4 -5 hours to reach from Hubli to Hampi. Please check Plane & Bus Timings accordingly ( refer http://www.ksrtc.in, redbus.in)

By Train: The train stops at Hosapet/Hospet junction, this place very close to the place where we had our accommodation. Train runs serveral times a week from Bangalore, Hyderabad and Goa. You can book you train tickets from IRCTC website https://www.irctc.co.in, currently other websites such as makemytrip.com, yatra.com do take train reservations.

By Bus: As mentioned earlier – Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation operates daily buses to Hospet from Bangalore, Mysore and Gokarna. From hospet you can reach hampi on a local bus.

By Car: Its around 350Kms from Bangalore, Drive till Chitradurga on NH-4, take a right turn on NH-13 towards Sholapur till Hospet, and then drive another 13km to reach Hampi (direction towards Hampi is well marked).

Moving in and around Hampi: I would strongly recommend that you Hire a Moped, Motorcycle or even a bicycle while at Hampi so that moving around becomes very easy unless you enjoy walking. Bicycle might cost around 150/day and Moped could be more or less around 250 – 300 per day

Contact of Guides:

  • Gurumurthy – +91 94815 66709.
  • Rama – +91 94491 19485

Stay: For a First time visitor, I would recommend staying at Hospet due to accessibility to railway Station, better Hotels, medical stores, clinics etc. as mentioned earlier Hampi is also not very far from Hospet. You get a wide range of hotels at Hospet from Budget to expensive ones. Use any of the booking sites such as www.Booking.com,  www.trivago.in etc.

You can find a cheaper guest houses across the river – “Virupapur Gaddi” it is also called as Hippie Island – I will cover this in a seperate post, we had been to this place quite recently. A lot cheaper guest houses are available here – I would not recommend staying here if you are on a short visit, you can avoid it since there is no road access from the archaeological site Hampi, only way to reach this place from Hampi is via the River, if the water levels are higher it might be too risky, there is road access via an alternate route which is 40Kms away – unless you intend to stay longer in Hampi for more than a week and explore all places nearby and would need a cheaper accommodation, you can look at this option, otherwise I would recommend staying at Hosapet/Hospet.

40 Wonders of the World You ( I ) Didn’t Know Existed

(I CAME ACROSS THIS ARTICLE ON STUMBLE UPON. THERE ARE 40 BEAUTIFUL PLACES I HAD NEVER HEARD OF NOR SEEN PICTURES OF, TRULY BEAUTIFUL)

 

40 Wonders of the World You Didn’t Know Existed

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40 Wonders of the World-Title

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Beauty and wonder come in many forms in our world, from the natural or man-made to the intact or ruined.  Often, it’s not how something came about, or whether or not it’s still in mint condition, that determines if it’s worth marveling at.  How we react to these things determine this, and this list comprises some of the most beautiful, awe-inspiring features of our world guaranteed to illicit reactions of wonder.  From the remnants of lost civilizations – some of them quite mysterious – to charming towns and breathtaking elements of the natural world, this list features them all.As mentioned, this list includes many ruins, but it also includes many natural places that are just as susceptible to time induced disappearance.  Waves wear away islands and remarkable rock formations; earthquakes and volcanic eruptions crumble and bury; and of course pollution threatens all.  Nothing in our world is truly finite – everything must have its end.  Perhaps that’s what’s so inspiring and beautiful about the wonders of the world, that even as they’re receding into memory and legend through the steady march of time, they still show us what man and nature are capable of.  While this list may certainly be informative and enjoyable, it’s also a wakeup call to those who still want to get out in the world and see these things for themselves.  This is something that is definitely recommendable sooner rather than later, as you may wait too long to search them out only to find that they’re already gone.

1. Semuc Champey, Guatemala

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This natural limestone cascade drops gently down the mountainside to create a series of falls and clear turquoise pools.

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2. Viñales Valley, Cuba

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This amazing valley and its surrounding limestone monuments seem like a picture out of Southeast Asia rather than the island of Cuba.

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3. Mount Roraima, Venezuela

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Venezuela’s highest tabletop mountain, with its pyramid-like steps and cascading waterfalls, is so high that it’s perpetually ringed by masses of swirling clouds.

4. Palais Ideal du Facteur Cheval, France

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Created by a local mailman over the course of several decades, this folly almost looks like something straight out of Tomb Raider.

5. Chapelle St-Michel d’Aiguilhe, France

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Towering high over the surrounding town of Le-Puy-en-Velay, this stunning chapel dates back over 2,000 years.

6. Ruins of Leptis Magna, Libya

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These sprawling ruins, with their colonnades, triumphal arches, and amphitheater, display some of the most delicate and intricately carved motifs left to us from the Romans.

7. The Archeological Site of Meroë, Sudan

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Once the capital of the Kingdom of Kush, Meroe is home to a series of fabulous tombs and mausoleums and has produced stunning artifacts from antiquity.

8. Cuicul (Djémila), Algeria

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This ancient Roman town is unique due to its mountainous locale and boasts several temples, public and private buildings, as well as an impressive amphitheater.

9. Lauca World Biosphere Reserve

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A truly stunning landscape, this reserve encompasses broad ranges of plateau, all at nearly 10,000 feet above sea level. The area is dotted with various archeological sites and is home to wide range of animal species.

10. Maelifell, Iceland

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This beautifully – not to mention unusually – formed volcano is entirely swathed in bright green moss and ringed by serpentine glacial rivers and streams.

11. Transfiguration Church, Kizhi, Russia

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This extraordinary display of mass onion domes and arches, all done in wood, is an early 18th century marvel not to be matched anywhere else.

12. Portmeirion, Wales

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This charming seaside town, built along the hillside of a peninsula in Wales, is unique for its design scheme, as it’s more reflective of an Italian town than a coastal Welsh village.

13. Standing Stone of Callanish

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Every bit as mysterious and magical as more well-known Stonehenge in England, these Scottish Neolithic stones are composed of a circle of stones as well as lines of stones that radiate from it.

14. Anjar, Lebanon

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These 8th century ruins are incorporated into the small town of the same name and was originally constructed by builders and artists from Turkey and Egypt at the behest of local rulers.

15. Baalbek, Lebanon

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Known in its original days as Heliopolis, both under the rule of Alexander the Great and later the Romans, these ruins date back over 2,000 years, with overall settlement here going back as far as 9,000 years.

16. Schwerin Palace, Schwerin, Germany

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Built by the Grand Dukes of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, this palace is reminiscent of French chateaux and puts any Disney castle to shame.

17. Gorges de l’Ardèche

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This spectacular gorge has as its main showpiece the remarkable Pont D’Arc, a 200ft high arch and remnant of an ancient cavern system that once existed thousands of years ago.

18. Mogao Caves, China

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Consisting of hundreds of temples, the caves and their respective complexes also display countless colorful frescoes and meticulously carved statues.

19. Wulingyuan, China

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This extraordinary range of mountains contain thousands of pillars of sandstone that tower hundreds of feet over the valleys and gorges below.

20. Potala Palace, Tibet

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Built in 1645, this palace was long the home of the Dalai Lamas of Tibet until the Tibetan Uprising.

21. Dobsina Ice Cave, Slovakia

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This stunning ice cave has a central chamber that is 40ft high and a floor composed of an over 80 foot thick slab of ice. The stalagmites and stalactites are more like spires of crystal than rock formations due to their layers of ice.

22. Lake Ohrid, Albania and Macedonia

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Europe’s oldest lake, Lake Ohrid straddles the borders of two Balkan countries and boasts water so clear that you can see dozens of feet below the surface.

23. Ordesa Canyon, Spain

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Part of the Ordesa Y Monte Perdido National Park, Ordesa Canyon is located deep within the Pyrenees and is home to such majestic creatures as the Golden Eagle.

24. Prambanan, Indonesia

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Built in the mid-9th century, this Hindu temple complex was abandoned about a century later and fell into the realm of myth until the early 19th century.

25. Ayutthaya, Thailand

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This great city was built in the mid-14th century and was the center of the royal court as well as the name of the kingdom that it headed until the 18th century.

26. Sighișoara

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This charming little town doubles as a mountain citadel. Brightly painted and beautifully constructed buildings compose this architectural ensemble, but it’s also known as the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, aka Dracula. Maybe after visiting you’ll be inspired to contact an exterior painting contractor like Greenwich house painters to have your own home transformed with similar bright colors!

27. Pamukkale, Turkey

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What looks like ice and snow is actually a layer of calcium carbonate left behind by water from the area’s hot springs. The cliffs and terraces are continually forming and reforming as water continues to pour over them.

28. Cathedral Gorge, Australia

Cathedral Gorge Purnululu
Located within the quirkily named Bungle Bungles sandstone formations, this gorge has created a unique natural amphitheater in which voices carry from one side to the other with ease.

29. Kangaroo Island, Australia

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This unique island combines amazing rock formations, pristine beaches, and rolling forests and grasslands to create a biologically diverse habitat for various plants and animals – including kangaroos of course.

30. Palau Archipelago, Micronesia

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Boasting some of the clearest water and beautiful reefs in the world, this compact little grouping of islands makes for one attractive diving locale.

31. Milford Sound, New Zealand

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This New Zealand fjord was created around 20,000 years ago by glaciers. Their retreating forms created a rich array of sculpted peaks and valleys, along with waterways and waterfalls.

32. Red Seabeach, Panjin, China

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This vast marshland is home to the Suada grass which gives this wetland habitat – the largest in the world – its name.

33. Meteora, Greece

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Meteora is a complex of monasteries built upon various sandstone pillars, with the buildings dating between the 11th and 16th centuries.

34. Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Iceland

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Falling over 200ft to the pool below, this waterfall provides a rather unique interior view due the path that leads behind the fall.

35. Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

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This tropical archipelago along the Atlantic Ocean is comprised of 21 different islands as well as islets that are home to several endemic species.

36. Forest of Knives, Madagascar

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With its jagged rock formations dating to the Jurassic Period, this area of Madagascar has created the perfect barrier between humans and the plants and animals that call this space home. It’s so removed from human involvement that some species are still being discovered here.

37. Mount Bromo, Indonesia

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This active volcano resides in the midst of a plain known as the Sea of Sand and stands well over 7,000 feet tall.

38. Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

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This extraordinary complex was built around 1,500 years ago and has as its main feature a nearly 700ft tall rock column with the ruins of a palace atop it. The entrance to this feature, also called the rock fortress, is composed of the ruins of a massive stone lion.

39. Tower of Hercules, Spain

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Built by the Romans sometime in the 2nd century, the lighthouse rises to 187ft and is the second highest in Spain.

40. The Amber Room, Catherine Palace, Russia

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This exquisite room in the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoe Selo, former home to the Russian Imperial family, is composed of intricate mosaics of Baltic amber. The current room is a rebuilt form, as the original amber panels were stolen by the Nazis in WWII, never to be seen again.

Top 10 Unknown Abandoned Places in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF KHBUZZ.COM FROM JAPAN)

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Top 10 Unknown Abandoned Places in the World

The world is known for its various mysteries. There is no doubt that everyone wants to know about amazing places on earth. If you want to know about most abandoned locations on earth planet, you are on right page. Here, you will know about top 10 unknown abandoned places in the world. So, let’s have a detailed look at the top 10 abandoned or mysterious places on the earth.

1. PripyatAbandoned Places

It is considered among the most popular abandoned locations on this earth planet. This Ukrainian town is known for having a nuclear power plant. Due to issues in nuclear power plant, the residents of the city were ordered to leave the city in 1986. About 50000 people left the city and made it as the most abandoned location on the earth.

2. Machu PicchuKhbuzz

However, Machu Picchu is among the top world heritage sites in the world, but it is also considered among the top abandoned areas in the world. This world heritage site is situated in Peru country. It is also known for the oldest and most mysterious Incan civilization.

3. Gunkanjima IslandAbandoned Places

This mysterious Island is also called Battleship Island. However, it is a single square kilometer of the island, but there was a time when around six thousand people used to live here. The island is situated at the coast of famous Nagasaki in Japan. During the 1900s, the island was used as the most productive coal mine. But now, it has become an abandoned place in Japan.

4. KolmanskopSouthern Namibia

Kolmanskop is located at Namib Desert infamous Southern Namibia. It is also famous as a ghost town. This town was abandoned due to a sandstorm. There was a time when this location was considered as the best diamond mining area. But due to the decline in the diamond mining, the area was abandoned.

5. CentraliaAbandoned Places

It is another coal-mining city situated in Pennsylvania in the USA. This great town was abandoned due to a horrible fire hit. Now, it is considered among the top abandoned places on the earth planet.

6. HumberstoneChile

Humberstone is a mining town situated in Chile country. This city was founded in the year of 1862. It was considered as the most productive source of nitrate. But the problem arises when a highly affordable substitute to natural nitrate was discovered. So, the business started declining rapidly. The town is completely abandoned.

7. CracoThe Mountaintop Ghost Town

Craco is a small village. It includes a castle, church, and yes a university. This small village is located on the top of a famous hill. This village is situated at Matera region in Italy. This small inhabitant’s area was abandoned due to crack.

8. The Salton RivieraAbandoned Places

The Salton Riviera was once considered as the most beautiful area in California. It was because of an artificial lake that made this area an amazing place to live in. but nature took its hard hand in this city. The natural beauty of the city started declining due to unknown changes in nature. Now, it is an abandoned location in the USA.

9. Wonderland Amusement ParkBeijing

This amusement park is situated outside of famous China city called Beijing. The construction of this amusement park was started in the year of 1998, but now it is considered among the top abandoned locations in China.

10. Ordos CityChina

The government of China developed a modern city hoping that people would come to live there. But unfortunately, no one took interest in living in this city. Now, it is an abandoned place.

Real Heroes ARE NOT The Frauds/ Cowards We Call Politicians, Like The Coward Trump

(I GOT THIS ARTICLE OFF OF A FACEBOOK POST)

You’re a 19 year old kid.
You are critically wounded and dying in the jungle somewhere in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam .
It’s November 11, 1967.
LZ (landin…g zone) X-ray.
Your unit is outnumbered 8-1 and the enemy fire is so intense from 100 yards away, that your CO (commanding officer) has ordered the MedEvac helicopters to stop coming in.
You’re lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns and you know you’re not getting out.
Your family is half way around the world, 12,000 miles away, and you’ll never see them again.
As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day.
Then – over the machine gun noise – you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter.
You look up to see a Huey coming in. But.. It doesn’t seem real because no MedEvac markings are on it.
Captain Ed Freeman is coming in for you.
He’s not MedEvac so it’s not his job, but he heard the radio call and decided he’s flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire anyway.
Even after the MedEvacs were ordered not to come. He’s coming anyway.
And he drops it in and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load 3 of you at a time on board.
Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire to the doctors and nurses and safety.
And, he kept coming back!! 13 more times!!
Until all the wounded were out. No one knew until the mission was over that the Captain had been hit 4 times in the legs and left arm.
He took 29 of you and your buddies out that day. Some would not have made it without the Captain and his Huey.
Medal of Honor Recipient, Captain Ed Freeman, United States Air Force, died last Wednesday at the age of 70, in Boise, Idaho.
May God Bless and Rest His Soul.
I bet you didn’t hear about this hero’s passing, but we’ve sure seen a whole bunch about the thug Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin,
The gov. shut down, “what difference does it make!!!?”)
and the bickering of congress over Health & OBAMA CARE!
BUT NOTHING ABOUT THE PASSING OF
Medal of Honor Winner Captain Ed Freeman.
Shame on the media !!!
Now… YOU pass this along.
Honor this real Hero.
Please

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Only you can see this unless you share it

The guidebooks and selfie-sticks arrive as Rouhani’s Iran declares itself open to all

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER)

The guidebooks and selfie-sticks arrive as Rouhani’s Iran declares itself open to all

With visitor numbers rising and hotel chains circling, Iran is reinventing itself – but the change is too fast for some
The Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan.
The Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan. Photograph: James Strachan/Getty/Robert Harding World Imagery

Standing in the blue-tiled shadows of one of Iran’s greatest mosques, armed with a dish of sesame caramel snacks, Mohammed Reza Zamani is a cleric on a mission to repair the country’s image in the west, one tourist at a time.

“Free Friendly Talks” a billboard announces in English, at the entrance to a historic religious seminary-turned-museum, in the central city of Isfahan, a former imperial capital so beautiful that even today Iranians describe the city as “half the world”.

Tourism brings both money and a more positive international image for Iran, says Zamani, 36, a theology student, who is keen to ensure that visitors who might once have been alarmed by his clerical turban and robes feel welcome in his city.

“I think the moment they set foot in Iran [foreigners] find it totally different from what they expect, and their minds are changed by the people when visitors talk to us,” he said, as he took a short break between explaining marriage and circumcision traditions to a group of Italians and discussing millenarian religious beliefs with a man from the Netherlands.

Iran’s reformist president, Hassan Rouhani, staked his government and reputation on opening Iran to the world, sealing a nuclear deal that ended sanctions and courting foreign investment in its wake.

Rouhani was re-elected for a second term in a landslide victory last weekend, a sweeping endorsement of his policy from the Iranian people. And for many Iranians the growing flood of foreigners armed with guidebooks and selfie sticks is one of the most visible signs of change and re-engagement.

“Isfahan lives by tourists,” said Masood Mohamedian, a former lorry driver who this year gambled all his savings on opening a small cafe serving traditional snacks just off the main square. “I am 100% happy with Rouhani as president.”

Tourism to Iran might seem like a hard sell. The initial problem is the country’s reputation, tied up inextricably for many in the west with dramatic television images of the US embassy hostage crisis from 1979-81, and the fatwa issued in 1989 against Salman Rushdie for his book The Satanic Verses. More recently, the crackdown that followed disputed 2009 elections, and arrests of figures such as Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, have done little to soften that image. And the country’s conservative religious and social rules, which visitors must observe along with citizens, might deter some westerners.

There is little public nightlife, no alcohol, men and women cannot kiss or embrace in public, and women in particular must observe a relatively strict dress code, wearing a headscarf and covering their arms and legs. But tens of thousands of people have decided that Iran’s attractions far outweigh those constraints. And Iran has tried to encourage them by easing restrictions on travel.

Europeans from countries including France, Italy and Germany, who account for the majority of western tourists, can now get visas on arrival in Tehran, and at the main sites they mingle with sightseers from China, Japan and elsewhere.

“When the sanctions were lifted, I decided to come as soon as possible,” said Simonetta Marfoglia, an Italian tourist who was halfway through a two-week trip. “I had read a lot of Iranian poetry, and I am very interested in the history of the region. I am really very happy to be visiting: the people are wonderful, there is great hospitality, and it’s very friendly.”

Mohammed Reza Zamani (standing, centre right) with an Italian group in Isfahan.
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Mohammed Reza Zamani (standing, centre right) with an Italian group in Isfahan. Photograph: Emma Graham-Harrison for the Observer

The country boasts an extraordinarily rich cultural heritage, from the ruins of ancient Persepolis to Isfahan and other historic cities, such as Kashan, Tabriz and Shiraz.

Food-lovers can feast on dishes from a sophisticated cuisine that is winning increasing recognition in the west, with dishes such as fesenjan, a rich, tart and sweet chicken stew thick with walnuts and pomegranate molasses.

There are also bazaars packed with carpets and handicrafts for shoppers, a thriving contemporary arts scene and spectacular natural beauty ranging from beaches to stark deserts and snow-capped mountains. .

Together these factors have fuelled a dramatic rise in western tourists to Iran, although the majority of its two million visitors are still religious pilgrims visiting its major shrines.

Isfahan, the jewel in Iran’s heritage crown and more a destination for tourists than pilgrims, counted just over 5,000 visitors a month in 2013, when Rouhani came to power. By spring 2017 that number had risen to 85,000 in a single month, the newspaper Isfahan Today reported.

The surge in visitors has been so dramatic that some nights in high season every single hotel room in the city is taken, according to the receptionist at the newly built Zenderood Hotel.

Foreign hotel chains are eyeing the market enthusiastically, particularly since some of the biggest American players are still in effect barred. US sanctions have stayed in place after the nuclear-linked bans were lifted, leaving the field clear for European and other groups. Dubai-based Rotana Hotels is the latest firm to unveil plans for a new hotel in Isfahan, following the likes of the French chain Accor.

Spanish heritage hotel company Paradores is also looking at opportunities in the country, whose famous hotels include a former caravanserai that housed traders bringing lucrative goods to market in the 16th century.

The biggest challenge to Iran’s goal of increasing tourist numbers tenfold within the decade may be the pace of change they represent, in a country where Rouhani’s conservative rival still managed to garner 16 million votes in the election.

“I am unhappy about their cultural impact, because of their customs,” grumbled Mohammed Paknahad, a shopkeeper in Isfahan’s bazaar, who said tourists rarely bought his handicrafts. “Some of the women don’t cover their bodies properly.”

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