Monday 28 October 2013

Clitheroe Castle, Lancashire

Clitheroe is a small and sleepy little town with a small market, couple of churches and most important of all the Clitheroe Castle. I have not seen a smaller castle elsewhere!

The Clitheroe Castle

The building is the oldest structure in Lancashire. The main advantage of the castle, as is true for most castles, is that as it stands on a 35 metre high outcrop it gives the viewer a bird's eye view of not only the town spread on all sides of the castle but also the nearby countryside and hills.

Clitheroe Town Centre

The castle in itself is a small structure.  The Clitheroe Castle also has a museum depicting local history.

Clitheroe Castle & the Hole in its Wall

A hole was created by the government in 1649 so that it is 'neither a charge nor a danger to keep it'.

View of Town & Pendle Hill from the Clitheroe Castle

From the castle I was also able to see the countryside including the Pendle Hill, the name that became famous for the Pendle witches trials as the persons involved came from this area.

Clitheroe Town from Clitheroe Castle

As the town is near the forests of Bowland it becomes a starting point for the tourists to visit the area of outstanding natural beauty.

Memorial of  World War with the town below

The gates, entrance gardens and the statue in the garden have been made in memory of the townsfolk of Clitheroe who gave their lives during the first and the second World War.

Thursday 24 October 2013

A Painting by Nature

A Beautiful Dendritic Pattern Created by Nature

The first impression you may get from the photo above is that an artist has made a beautiful painting showing a tree with branches sans its leaves. You would be surprised that the above painting has been created (or painted) by nature itself. This is a photo that I clicked somewhere in eastern Europe from a height of 36000 feet on a flight from Dubai in United Arab Emirates to Manchester in United Kingdom. This dendritic pattern has been formed by the play of many contributing streams and rivers on the surface of the earth. The area spreads over several kms.

It is when I see such natural beauty that I want to travel more and more!

Sunday 20 October 2013

The Shard of London- Tallest or Ugliest?

London is not an enchanting destination for me as comparatively I would prefer to go to cities like Oxford, Cambridge or Edinburgh as London is in some sense as metropolitan a city as any other in other parts of the world.

The Shard

But still London has some attractive places like the Tower Bridge, St Paul's Cathedral and few others. But to my surprise when I visited London this time I also found an addition to its buildings by the name of Shard which is visible from almost all parts of London.

View of London from the Skyloft

As I am a person who prefers to see a city on foot I visited several parts of the city and I was able to see the Shard from various locations.

The Shard from Tower of London

The Shard is, at 87 floors, undoubtedly the tallest building in Europe. But in my opinion it is also one of the ugliest buildings in London and elsewhere as well.

The Shard from the Millennium Bridge

As the name of the building suggest it does look like a shard of glass. This pyramidal tower near the London Bridge is 306 meters tall.

View from my room - the Shard is on extreme left

One can even go up to the restaurant or the observation deck on the 72nd floor to see the sights of London. The older buildings are much more appealing to the eye compared to the Shard!

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Bala Quila – Alwar’s Way of How Not to Promote Tourism

Bala Quila (fort) is in the Alwar City of Rajasthan which is about 150 kms from Delhi. As the toll road between Bhiwadi and Alwar is good it takes only about three hours to reach there.

Bala Quila, Alwar

From the main road it is about six kms on a steep hill and when I reached the base I found that due to Navratras (an Indian festival) the police were not allowing any cars etc to go up as large numbers of pilgrims were going up on foot on the road as there are couple of locally important temples on this stretch.

Traditional Rajasthani Architecture of the Bala Quila

I was in no mood to walk all this distance and back in hot weather but luckily the persons selling Prasad (offering for the deity) were entrepreneurial enough and were giving bikes on rent. So I took a bike and went up. The hill was green and wooded after rains and therefore very picturesque.

A Gun with wooden wheels at the Bala Quila Fort

The main compound of the fort has been occupied by the wireless department of the police and if you want to go inside this area then you need to go to some stupid official in the city and get permission. This is truly the Rajasthan’s way (and in other instances in other parts of India as well) as to how not to promote tourism.

Back side of the Bala Quila

After all why will someone first go to some shabby office just to take permission and then go to visit this place? Why not just keep an entry fee and allow direct access to tourist. And why the police have to be given possession of an important ancient heritage monument which actually requires specialised maintenance.
The Boundary Walls & Stairs of the Fort

The fort walls have stairs on the inside which are quite steep. Bala Quila was constructed by Hassan Khan Mewati in 1492. It was later captured by the Jats, Mughals and then by Maharao Raja Pratap Singh in 1775 who is considered the founder of Alwar.

Jai Pol - one of the entrance gates to the fort

The fort is nearly 304 meters above the Alwar city and extends five kms from north to south and 1.6 kms from east to west. It has 15 large towers and 51 small ones. There are six entrances to the fort.

An Antelope

As the fort area is densely wooded there is some wild life also in this area. I was lucky that when I was trying to circumnavigate the area (there is no specific path or and I made my own way) I was able to spot an antelope from very close quarters.

View of Alwar from Bala Quila

As the fort is at a height it gives a complete bird’s eye view of the Alwar city and the surrounding areas.

To promote Alwar as a tourist destination Rajasthan has to make some efforts though to remove the glitches that I have mentioned above. 

Sunday 13 October 2013

St. George’s Hall, Liverpool

The magnificent St. George’s Hall is the centrepiece of Liverpool’s buildings which gives the city its ‘forum’.

St. George Hall, Liverpool

The St. George’s Hall is considered to be the best example of neoclassical architecture in Europe. It is located at the centre of the city just across the Lime Street Station. Also close by is the Walker museum.

Court hall inside the St. George's Hall

The building has a splendid concert hall and two courtrooms. The building was designed by Harvey Lonsdale Elmes, an architect from London. It has innovative system of heating and ventilation.

Lions at the entrance on the eastern side of St. George's Hall

It opened in 1855 with three days of concerts by such famous Victorian personalities as the novelist Charles Dickens who gave recitals and readings here.

Statue of Victoria & the Wellington Monument on east side of the St. George Hall

The St. John’s Garden behind the St. George’s Hall was laid out in 1904 and has some exceptional sculptures. Infact all around the St' George's Hall there are several statues and sculptures.

St. George Garden & the St. George Hall

The building is listed as an English Heritage Grade I building and the area is considered to be part of the World Heritage Site. One can actually spend a whole day just to see this and the nearby buildings and museums.

Also Read: The Liverpool Cathedral

Sunday 6 October 2013

Lancaster Castle or Her Majesty's Prison

Lancaster Castle is located on a height in the historically important town of Lancaster over-lording the town.

Lancaster Castle or Her Majesty's Prison

Lancaster castle was built on the site of three consecutive Roman forts. It consists of an extensive group of historic structures including the 12th C Keep, the 14th C Witches Tower, the 15th C Gatehouse and the Female Penitentiary which dates from the early years of 19th C. It is a Grade I listed building with the area to the north of it designated as Scheduled National Monument.

The Witches Dungeon

The Well Tower, also known as the Witches Tower was built in 1325 and has three vaulted stone flagged underground dungeons that housed the Lancashire witches (as per the tradition) prior to their trial in the castle in 1612. The Pendle witches, accused of witchcraft were tried here. In fact Lancaster University has one of its colleges named as Pendle College.

The Gatehouse of the Lancaster Castle

After Henry IV's accession the twin towered Gatehouse were constructed in the 15th C. It has two semi octagonal towers which rise 20 meters high above their sloping plinths.

The 10-sided Shire Hall of Lancaster Castle

The Shire Hall is a splendid 10 sided room giving the public an easy access to the courtroom. From the 18th C the castle was substantially modified to use as a court and prison. Though the courts are still functional the prison was closed in 2011.

Towers & Spires of the Lancaster Castle

The 12th C Keep which is also known as the Lungess Tower is 20 meters high with the outer walls almost 3 meters thick! Compare this with our modern houses which have walls barely a feet in thickness!

View of Lancaster and Ashton Memorial from the Castle

Lancaster Castle is the property of Her Majesty the Queen in right of her Duchy of Lancaster. One gets a view of the town as well as the Ashton Memorial known as the Taj Mahal of the North from the ramparts of the castle.

The castle is opened to the public from 10 AM to 5 PM with guided tours available. There is also a restaurant and souvenir shop. One can take a round outside also on the Castle Park. The entry fee is 8 GBP and the castle is walk-able distance from both the train and the coach/bus station.

Also read: Ashton Memorial - The Taj Mahal of the North