Friday, August 1, 2014

Tahiti, French Polynesia

Tahiti Island Formed due to Volcanic Eruptions

Tahiti is the largest island of the 118 islands in the Windward group of French Polynesia and lies in the South Pacific Ocean. Tahiti is in the Society Islands an archipelago including the islands of Raiatea, Bora Bora, Taha’a, Moorea and Huahine. It has a population of around 127,000 inhabitants, 83 percent of which are of Polynesian ancestry. Tahiti legendary name identifies the island and also the group of islands which make up the French Polynesia. It was earlier known as Otaheite and is the cultural, economic and the political centre of French Polynesia. The island was formed due to the volcanic eruptions and is high as well as mountainous surrounded by coral reefs.Tahiti comprises of two volcanic mountain ranges, Tahiti Nui which is the larger part, is in the shape of a turtle and Tahiti Iti, the peninsula. These two islands are connected with the isthmus of Taravao and black beaches.

Capital City Papeete

The capital city Papeete and the administrative centre are situated on the northwest coast and has the only international airport, the Faa’a International Airport which is located around 5 km from the town centre. Formerly a quiet town it now has a busy harbour with cargo freighters, luxury liners, copra ships and ocean going yachts.

Besides this, there are also sidewalk cafes, shell jewellery and handicrafts, shops filled with French fashions together with a wide variety of restaurants catering Asian, French and Tahitian cuisine.

Faa’s which has the international airport is built on the lagoon and apart from the airlines check-in counters, they also have an information centre, a restaurant, a snack bar and vehicle rental offices together with shops. In the vicinity they also have a special Tahitian style house, artisans selling leis and shell necklaces.

Colony of France - 1880

Tahiti was formerly settled by the Polynesians during 300 and 800 CE comprising of about 70 percent of the island’s population together with others comprising of the Europeans, Chinese and of mixed heritage and the island was considered as a colony of France in 1880.

It was only in 1946, that the Tahitians were legally authorised to be French citizens, where French being the official language, the Tahitian language – Reo Maohi was widely spoken.

Towards 1880, it became a part of the Kingdom of Tahiti till its annexation by France. Tahiti together with her islands is very amazing in the whole of South Pacific.

The locals of Tahiti are a very generous, kind and respectable lot, always ready with their random greeting on the street to strangers and passer-by’s alike. They are very and welcoming type of people and their philosophy is applied to their term `aita pea pea’ which means `not to worry’, which is the Tahitian way of life.

Most of the Tahitian kids are also well versed in rap and hiphop, practicing as well as performing in the streets or in public squares and entertaining everyone in this region.

Tahiti is an ideal destination and as one sees the restored Tahitian temples and century’s old stone fish traps, it portrays an ancient culture where their descendants still reside in magnificent dwellings.

Thursday, July 31, 2014


Cappadocia – A Historical Region 

Cappadocia or Capadocia in Turkish, is a historical region in Central Anatolia in Nevsehir Province in Turkey. The earliest record dates from the late 6th century BC which appears in the trilingual inscription of two early Achaemenid kings Darius I and Xerxes as one the countries of the Old Persian Empire where the Old Persian name was Katpatuka meaning `the land, country of beautiful horses’ and Cappadocia comes from the Luwian or Luvian language which means `Low Country’.

Being a historic area of Central Anatolia, it is surrounded by the towns of Hacibektas, Aksarav, Nigde and Kayseri and known as Cappadocia in ancient time and is still called Kapadokya. It is the most striking region specially the `moonscape’, area surrounding the towns of Goreme, Urgup, Uchisar, Avanos and Mustafapasa where due to erosion, caves, clefts, pinnacles, fairy chimney together with sensuous folds in the soft volcanic rocks have been formed.

It is best known for its unique moon like landscape together with cave churches, underground cities and houses carved in the rocks.

Unusual Rock Formation

This region has valley, canyon, hills with unusual rock formation which have been created as a result of the eroding rains and winds thousands of years ago, of the lava covered plain which are located between the volcanic mountains Ericyes, Melendiz and Hasan together with its dwellings which have been carved out of rock. Cities were dug out into underground, presenting a different world.

The mountain eruptions which lasted until 2 million years ago in geological times seemed to be active volcanoes forming soft layer which was 150 m thick caused by the lavas in the valley surrounded by mountains. Fairy chimneys were the result of the rivers; flood water running way down the hills of valleys together with strong winds which eroded the geological formations consisting of tuff on the plateau forming tuff layers created these shapes.

The Cappadocia Kingdom formed in 332 BC

The Cappadocia Kingdom was formed in 332 BC and during the Roman period it was inhabited by the Christian who carved thousands of cave churches, chapels and monasteries out of the rock. Most of these churches were also decorated with frescoes of medieval saints whose images still gaze from the walls and these ancient churches are an amazing site for visitors.

The underground cities were used as hideouts and shelters in Cappadocia by the early Christian.There are various interesting sites in Cappadocia and the main attractions are the two large open air museums and the underground cities.

 Besides these there are also several small but forgotten rock cut churches and monasteries, spectacular caravanserais, hiking trails, together with dramatic rock formation which are worth exploring. The most comfortable and quickest way to reach Cappadocia is by air where there are two airports, one being Kayseri Erkilet Airport – ASR which is located in Kayseri with a one hour drive to the centre of Cappadocia region.

The other is the Turkish Airline which operates several nonstop flights from Istanbul Ataturk Airport to Kayseri Erkilet Airport with daily flights from Izmir to Kayseri through Istanbul. A transfer or shuttle bus is easily available from Kayseri Airport to Cappadocia.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Gros Morne National Park

Gros Morne National Park
Gros Morne National Park, a world heritage site is located on the west coast of Newfoundland and at 1,805 sq. km it is the second largest national park in Atlantic Canada and surpasses Torngat Mountains National Park, which is 9,700 sq. km.

It takes its name from Newfoundland’s second highest mountain peak which is 2,644 feet, located within the park.Located on the west shore of the Great Northern Peninsula of the island of Newfoundland, the Park is a rare example of the process of continental drift where deep ocean crust together with the rocks of the earth’s mantle lie exposed.

The recent glacial action was the outcome of some spectacular scenery together with coastal lowland, alpine plateau, glacial valley, fjords, cliffs, waterfall as well as several pristine lakes. It consists of a part of the Long Range Mountain towards the Gulf of St. Lawrence which includes coastal lowlands and an alpine plateau. Included in the park in the marine areas it covers the inner portion of St. Paul’s Inlet, with intertidal zones and estuaries.

The shoreline has amazing beaches, steep cliffs together with dune formations which are up to a height of 30 metres. A large proportion of the eastern central park is covered by an upland alpine plateau with perched lakes, bare rocks and valleys while the serpentine hills towards the south west consist of ultra-basic igneous rocks the outcome of high heavy metal content that inhibit most plant life.

 Cutting through the Long Range scarp face, is a number of steep sided glacial valleys which form deep oligotrophic fjords, with vertical cliffs of around 685 meters high. Several waterfalls are fed by snow melt at higher altitudes in the summer.

Coast Inclusive of Shoreline Communities 

The coast is also inclusive of typical shoreline communities, active dunes along with white spruce together with cliffs of prostrate spruce and balsam fir and further island, the coastal plain has a variety of plant communities which include mosaic of sedges in meadows together with American larch scrub.

Balsam fir is found in more protected and mesic areas and black spruce dominates wet, oligotrophic sites. The park is geologically diverse with area of Ordovician sedimentary rocks, Precambrian granite and gneiss, Palaeozoic serpentineultra-basic rocks, gabbros, volcanic as well as Lower Palaeozoic sedimentary rocks.

Exposed oceanic crust, mantle, which is a section of ancient Mohorovicic discontinuity together with other distinctive geological features are also found here. Besides this there is also an unusual complete palaeotological sequence which could have been probably been the world stratotype for the border of the Cambrian Ordovician.Moreover there are also 36 distinct vegetation types and communities along with some vascular species and bryophytes which represent around sixty percent of Newfoundland’s insular flora.

Immense Natural Beauty

Gros Morne National Park of Canada had been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and the park is covered with an area of immense natural beauty with rich variety of scenery, wildlife as well as recreational activities.

Visitors can have a hiking experience through wild uninhabited mountains or even camp by the sea. Besides these, boat tours also bring the visitors under the towering cliff of freshwater fjord that has been carved out by the glaciers.

The waterfalls, marine inlets together with sea stacks and sandy beaches and colourful fishing villages in the vicinity provide an aura of natural and peaceful environment at this remarkable site known as Gros Morne National Park.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Kremlin – Living Example of Russian Culture and History

In the Russian language, the word kreml means citadel where several Russian cities have kremlins of their own. The Kremlin is located on Borovitsky Hill, which rises above the Moscow River in the centre of the city.

During early decades of the Soviet period, Kremlin was an exclusive enclave of the state’s governing elite’s workplace and residence. The site was the official residence of the president of the Russian Federation though access to other areas within the walls was admitted considerably.With almost a dozen churches and palaces, Kremlin is a living example of eight centuries of Russian culture and history together with its power.

The walls which run almost a mile and half, stands as high as 62 feet and 21 feet thick and has 20 towers and gates. The Kremlins or fortresses were built by several medieval Russians for protection from invaders.The original Kremlin in Moscow started in 1156 as a wooden structure towards the north of the Moskva River.

As the power and wealth of Muscovite increased by 1400, Prince Ivan III had the area presently known as Red Square, cleared, which at that time was a shantytown housing poor peasants and criminals and converted the Kremlin into its splendid form bringing in Italian architect to enhance it by building new fortified stone walls and structures like the Cathedral of the Assumption which is also known as the Cathedral of the Dormition.

Red Square – Interior Rich & Iconic

This was built directly east of the Kremlin, Moscow’s historic fortress and the centre of the Russian government, Red Square is now home to some of the most distinctive and important landmarks of the country which dates back to the 15th century and the Muscovite prince Ivan III – Ivan the Great expanded the Kremlin reflecting Moscow’s influence and growing power.

Red Square has the ornate of 16th century, St. Basil’s Cathedral, which are the State Historical Museum and the enormous GUM Department Store together with a modernist mausoleum for the revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin.

Red Square’s interior is rich with painted walls and icons from a different period of the church’s long history though its exterior domed spires and tents each capping one of the nine separate chapel are very iconic.

Kremlin – Private/Red Square - Public

Towards the 20th century the square was famous as a site of large scale military parades as well as other demonstrations which were designed to showcase the strength of Soviet.

Kremlin stands towards west side of the huge bricked Red Square separating the fortified citadel from the city where the square, for centuries was a marketplace, gathering place, festival ground and during the Soviet period, it was used as a parade ground.

Moreover, the tomb of Lenin lies along the Kremlin side of Red Square and since 1924, the former leader’s body which is embalmed has also been on view inside. Kremlin represented the private hidden side of the power of Russia while Red Square which is at the east of Kremlin is the public side of Russia where the square was created shortly after the completion of the Kremlin wall where the two since then have been interlined in popular imagination.

Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef – World’s Largest Coral Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is larger than the Great Wall of China which is visible from outer space and is the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms.

The reef structure is composed and built by billions of tiny organism which are known as coral polyps with over 2,900 single reefs, with 900 islands stretching over 2,300 kilometres across an area of around 344,400 square kilometres.

It is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, in Australia. It supports a wide diversity of life and in 1981 had been selected as a World Heritage Site. Moreover, CNN has also labelled it as one of the seven natural wonders of the world and the Queensland National Trust named it a state icon of Queensland.

A major area of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park which helps in restraining the impact of human use like fishing and tourism besides other environmental pressures on the reef and its ecosystem include runoff, climate change accompanied with coral bleaching together with cyclic population outbreaks of the crown of thorns starfish.

Breeding Space for Humpback/Whales/Dangerous Species

As per the study done by Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, which was published in October 2012, it is believed that the reef had lost more than half of its coral cover since 1985.

The Great Barrier Reef is a breeding space for humpback whales that have migrated from the Antarctic as well as the habitat of a few dangerous species like the Dugong– Sea Cow and the large Green Sea Turtle.

On closer encounter with its impressive coral garden, it portrays many amazing underwater attractions which include the world’s largest collection of coral, which are over 400 different types of coral, coral sponges, rays, dolphins, molluscs, more than 1500 species of tropical fish, over 200 kinds of birds, about 20 kinds of reptiles which include sea turtles together with giant clams which are over 120 years old.

Home to Diversity of Plants/Lower Animals

This amazing colourful aquatic ecosystem is a home to a diversity of plants and lower animal though it is also frequented by the larger species like dugongs, sharks, besides dolphinsand sea turtles and to protect these biological treasures, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was designated in 1975 which is the world’s largest national marine sanctuary.

Due to its natural beauty both above and below the water, this reef has become the most sought after tourist destination in the world. There were around 820 operators together with 1500 vessels and aircrafts that were permitted to operate in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to provide easy access to all visitors for the Great Barrier Reef experience and to learn about its natural delights together with the World Heritage values.

The reef had for long been known and used by the Aboriginal Australian as well as the Torre Strait Islanders and is also an important part of their groups and cultures as well as spirituality. Moreover, the reef is a popular destination for tourist, especially in the Whitsunday Islands, and Cairns regions and tourism is an important economic activity for the people of this region, generating revenue of over $3 billion annually.