Thursday 31 July 2014

Phraya Nakhon Cave in the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park in Thailand

To reach the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park in Thailand to go to the Phraya Nakhon Cave we went to the Bang Pu village in the Pranburi area near Hua Hin. Khao Sam Roi Yot means mountains with 300 peaks. 

One has to go through the muddy waters to take the boat

There we took a boat and therefore on both sides had to wade in muddy water as it was the time of low tide.

The trekking path to the cave

The trek to the cave is not a long one and by gradient also I would rate it as a easy trek though for the first timers the climb was too steep and were taking rests every few steps.

The view of the Gulf of Thailand from the trek to the cave

One gets a beautiful view of the Gulf of Thailand and surrounding areas from half way atop this trek to the cave. As the Gulf of Thailand is a sheltered gulf therefore its waters are calmer and bluer compared to several other beaches.

The path leading to the two caves

The caves are formed by the water’s erosive action over a long period of time. The rock in the area is mainly limestone as a result of which the cave has beautiful stalactites, stalagmites and columns and being a geographer it gave me much pleasure to watch them. 

Formation of stalactites, stalagmites & columns

The cave is a very popular tourist attraction contributing to the local economy. But despite the fact that I saw several tourist the place was absolutely green and beautiful with no litter at all. 

The natural bridge formation at the cave

The cave consists of two caverns with sunlight filtering in due to the collapsed roofs. One of them also has formed a natural bridge – from underneath it looks like a flyover.

The Pavilion

The second cavern has a beautiful Pavilion. King Rama V got this Tetrahedron Pavilion built in Bangkok and it was carried from there and reassembled at this location.

The Pavilion at the second cavern

The Pavilion is also the symbol of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province of Thailand. Three Thai kings have visited this place over time.

A Dusky Langur on the way

The area is also a birder’s paradise with over a thousand species of birds inhabiting the area. I also saw Dusky Langurs which are of a different species than the ones found in India.

A bird in the area

It was a wonderful and memorable experience and I would highly recommend this to all nature enthusiasts.

Sunday 20 July 2014

Is it is mosque or a temple or a gurudwara?

When I initially looked at this structure in Farrukhnagar from a back lane I thought it must be a mosque and that also at least from the pre-partition days.

A Mosque like structure, Farrukhnagar

So I decided to have a look at it. When I entered the lane from the front of this building I was astonished to see the gate at its compound proclaiming it to be Sita Ram Mandir (temple). Though the gate of the premises was open but the entry to the main structure was closed. So I made some efforts to track down the caretaker of the place which turned out to be the Pujari (Hindu priest) of the said temple. He first refused to open it as he said it opens only in the morning and evening but after some persuasion agreed to open it. While entering I just rang the huge bell hanging at the entrance which offended the priest who kind of scolded me for doing so. When I asked the reason he said that afternoon is the time when the gods are sleeping and by ringing the bell I am disturbing them! I wondered if the gods sleep at particular time and people know of it then they would commit all kinds of offenses (in the eye of the god) during that period to get away from persecution from god!

Gate proclaiming it to be Sita Ram temple

Anyhow, when I went inside I was further astonished to see that the place of worship was not only for the Hindus but for the Sikhs as well as in one corner there was a Guru Granth Sahib (Holy book of the Sikhs). So it was a place of worship for two communities. There are though very few Sikhs living in Farrukhnagar.

Temple priest and the temple 

What I can make out is that it must have been a mosque before the partition and after that the dominant Muslim community left Farrukhnagar and people converted it to a temple cum Gurudwara. Of course we all know that the Indian partition was a bloodied affair with lot of persons from both (or rather three) communities being (forcefully) converted to another religion on both sides of the border and I am assuming the same happened in the case of buildings also on both sides of the border.

Sikh Holy Book inside the temple, Farrukhnagar

Also read:
Ali Gosh Khan Baoli in Farrukhnagar
Sheesh Mahal, Farrukhnagar
Sethani Ki Chattri
The Gates of Farrukhnagar - Dilli Dawaza & Jhajjar Darwaza

Sunday 13 July 2014

The Gates of Farrukhnagar - Dilli Dawaza & Jhajjar Darwaza

Farrukhnagar is a small sleepy little town close to the millennium city of Gurgaon. The famous Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary is part of the Farrukhnagar block.

Jhajjar Gate, Farrukhnagar

It is a Mughal era town which lost its importance to its neighbour Gurgaon after independence. The town has several heritage buildings like the Sethani Ki Chattri (cenotaph), Sheesh Mahal built in 1711, Ali Ghosh Khan ki Baoli (stepwell) built in the 1730’s .

Dilli Darwaza, Farrukhnagar with vegetable market in the front

In fact the town still has several old houses and havelis, though some of them in utter state of disrepair now. About the other monuments I have already written in my previous posts.

Crumbling structure of the Delhi Gate, Farrukhnagar

There are few darwaza’s (gates) which were built for either celebrating a particular victory in a war or others that were protective in nature. The Jhajjar Gate is right above the Ali Ghosh Khan ki Baoli. As the name suggest this gate is to welcome/stop visitors from the Jhajjar side (a small town in Haryana). In fact both the gate as well as the stepwell needs to be protected from the vehicular movement that passes right over them. Some restoration work has taken places for both these sites by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)

Shops right inside the Delhi Gate, Farrukhnagar

The Delhi Gate (Dilli Darwaza) used to be the gateway to Farrukhnagar and is a huge structure but unfortunately it is in utter neglect and some of the side walls and roof is falling down. The huge wooden spiked gates may crumble down any time. Shopkeepers have encroached upon the place inside the gate and I could see several small shops operational here.

The crumbling spiked door of the Delhi Gate, Farrukhnagar

On the Delhi side of the gate is a vegetable market presenting a colourful look to the place with vendors selling local produce while on the other side of the gate the shops sell agricultural implements and other stuff. One has to pass through this gate to reach the Sheesh Mahal and the Sitaram temple.

With Farrukhnagar being so close to Delhi, Haryana Tourism department should develop the heritage sites so that it can attract a lot of tourists and can also generate revenue (only if these are well managed!).

Also read:
Ali Gosh Khan Baoli in Farrukhnagar
Sheesh Mahal, Farrukhnagar
Sethani Ki Chattri

Sunday 6 July 2014

Manchester - An Amalgamation of Old & New

As the FIFA World Cup is currently going on in Brazil the football (or soccer as it is called in some parts of the world) fans have of course heard of Manchester as a Mecca of football with two clubs - the Manchester United and the Manchester City – producing some world class footballers. David Silva and Vincent Kompany play for the Manchester City whereas Wyne Rooney and Robin van Persie play for the Manchester United.

The Old & the New, Manchester

But this post is more about the Manchester City as a town and not as a club. The city came into prominence during the industrial revolution mainly due to the textile manufacturing. Therefore one sees lot of old buildings with beautiful architecture.

Old Church with new Arndale building

The buildings specifically notable are the Manchester Town Hall and several old hotels like the Midland Hotel etc. But now when one visits Manchester one sees very old buildings with the ultra modern and new glass buildings side by side.

Selfridges and Harvey Nichols buttressing an old structure in the middle

The city also has several museums and art galleries. It is also a leading educational hub with three universities – including the University of Manchester and the Manchester Metropolitan University – providing lot of options to the students.

An old building dwarfed by the City Tower building

Though I am not too fond of shopping but to others Manchester could be a heaven for shopping with lots of malls and big names like Selfridges keeping all the top brands under one roof.

Manchester Street Market

But competing with these are also the Manchester weekly street markets selling all kinds of wares!

Another old building surrounded on all sides with modern structures

Manchester is also known for a bustling night life with several pubs and clubs. Sometimes it does lead to a law and order problem late in the night.

Manchester Metrolink

One can commute to all these places either on foot or by an excellent bus service. The trams are also a good way to see the city quickly. The Manchester metrolink is the largest tram system in UK spanning a route of 77 kms.

Wellington Statue with a modern building in the background 

The city is far from London but has the Manchester International Airport that serves most of the cities of North England like Manchester, Lancaster and other Lancashire towns and cities.