Sunday 26 October 2014

Albert Dock and Pier Head, Liverpool

Liverpool used to be seafaring giant once upon a time and Albert Dock was an important dock in the Merseyside in the North West England.

The view of the Old and the New Liverpool from Albert Dock

Liverpool was a gateway to the world and Transatlantic slave trade happened from here (even there is a museum to that effect). At the Albert Dock there is a maritime museum called the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

An old ship at Albert Dock

The Pier Head is a good place to go for long walks. There is a ferry service also going to the Isle of Man which I could not take as I reached the pier after the last one was about to leave so that is on my agenda for the next time. 

Pumphouse at the Albert Dock

Also on this stretch one sees old buildings as Liverpool is almost an 800 year old city mixed with ultra modern ones with lots of museums and also The Beatles Story (Liverpool being the birthplace of the Beatles). 

An anchor in front of the Merseyside Maritime Museum

From the Merseyside I could even see The Liverpool Cathedral as it is located on higher land and it is a huge structure.

A fire-escape on a warehouse 

Walking along the Merseyside next to the Albert Dock as well as the Pier Head is a soothing experience and there are plenty of options for rest and refreshments.

The Lusitania propeller, 1909

The propeller in the above photo is one of the four propellers from the Liverpool based passenger liner RMS Lusitania built in 1907. The ship was torpedoed by a German submarine on 7th May 1915 killing 1201 people off the coast of Southern Ireland. At that time it was the fastest vehicle reaching the shores of America in 4.5 days. This propeller was fitted in 1909 to increase her speed.

Love-locks on the Merseyside

I also saw next to the Merseyside on the chains next to the waterfront people putting padlocks on the chain. These are also called the lovelocks which people come and put for their sweethearts everlasting love. I have seen this also on the Great Wall of China and several other places.

A statue next to Merseyside

And there are number of statues depicting life of people.

Also read:
The Liverpool Cathedral
St. George’s Hall, Liverpool

Monday 20 October 2014

Wat Pho or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok, Thailand

The Reclining Buddha is a famous pattern across the world of the Buddha during his last days of illness before attaining Nirvana. He is seen resting on a cushion with the right hand supporting his head.

The entry gate to Wat Pho complex

The Wat Pho or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha (official name for me is an unpronounceable Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhlaram Ratchaworamahawihan) temple complex is next to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in the Grand Palace complex in the capital city of Bangkok in Thailand. The entry ticket of 100 Baht gives you entry not only to the Reclining Buddha but to the whole Wat Pho complex along with a bottle of mineral water.

The Reclining Buddha

Though the Wat Pho complex has about a thousand statues of Buddha but this Reclining Buddha is the Thailand’s largest! The Buddha is 15 metere high and 43 metre long coated in gold.

The Reclining Buddha in Wat Pho

It is difficult to click the Buddha as it is housed in a building so a front shot or one in which the entire Buddha can be captured is difficult unlike the one in Burma which is in the open (and probably the world’s longest at 300 meters).

108 symbols of Buddha on the foot Reclining Buddha

The three metre high and 4.5 metre long foot is inlaid with mother of pearl 108 auspicious symbols of Buddha.

108 Bowls around the Reclining Buddha to drop coins

Likewise there are 108 bronze bowls indicating the 108 characters of Buddha in which the devotes drop coins to bring in good fortune. One can purchase a bowls of coins outside the complex to drop them in these bowls. Shoes are not allowed to be worn inside the complex but the interesting thing is that outside the complex you can take cloth bags in which you keep your shoes and carry them inside the temple (see the bags being carried by people in the above photo). This is the first time I saw this practice as in all other Buddhist and Hindu temples they would ask you to keep the shoes outside only.

The golden curls of the Buddha

The back side of the Buddha statue is also interesting where one can clearly see rectangular pillows on which Buddha’s curly haired head is resting.

But do not just walk out after seeing the Reclining Buddha as the other halls and monastery inside the Wat Pho complex is equally stunning. It also has the Thailand’s earliest Massage Schools

Also read:
Tourism in Thailand: Lessons for India
Phra Nakhon Khiri Palace
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Thailand
Would you like to have a separate waiting room to yourself?
Phraya Nakhon Cave in the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park in Thailand
The Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha, Bangkok
Skywatch Friday - View of A Halo from the Royal Palace, Bangkok

Wednesday 15 October 2014

The Missing 'Josh' in the Assembly Elections in Haryana

Today is the voting day for the State Assembly elections in the state of Haryana and Maharashtra. I went and did vote to decide the next lot of the Members of the Legislative Assembly. 

Deserted voting Room

I was surprised that the whole process for me was over in five minutes. Personally it was a pleasant surprise but for the democracy not so. Pleasant for me as the process was over very quickly without any hassles and not required to stand in the queue to wait for my turn. But it is not good for the democracy as there were very few persons who have come for the voting in these assembly elections.

A CNN IBM TV 18 team interviewing some of the voters

This is in sharp contrast to the elections for the parliament held in April this year when I could see lot many persons form all strata’s of society coming to vote even early in the morning. This is despite the fact that most of the educational institutions as well as government and private offices (barring a few) are closed and even Delhi government has also announced that staff residing in Haryana can take a day off for voting.

No voter to canvass?

Is the reason lack of enthusiasm in the local state politics? Or is it that voters are very skeptical of all the candidates in the assembly elections? I also did notice that the door-to-door campaigning was completely missing during these elections. Not a single candidate or its representative came to my area for seeking votes. If the campaigning is not there how the electorate decides who is a better candidate over the other?

The counting of votes for both the states is to be held on 19th of this month. The result would be available by that afternoon as the voting in India is done on the electronic voting machines (EVM’s).

If you have a vote in either of these two states then there is still time left to go and vote as the voting can be done till 6 PM.

Also read
I used my finger. Did you?

Sunday 12 October 2014

Places to visit in McLeodganj: Bhagsunag Waterfall

McLeodganj can be made a base for starting small treks of a few hours to a day’s trek to long high altitude treks or mountaineering expeditions.

The Bhagsunag waterfall from a distance

I first went to McLeodganj in 1987 when I did my first high altitude trek in this region and since then it has become one of my favorite destinations in the Himalayas due to various factors – some among them being close to Delhi, excellent Tibetan food at extremely low prices, accommodation available at extremely low prices with plenty of options to choose from and of course various grade treks that can be started from here.

Pool at Bhagsunag temple

One of the short treks (of a few hours) one can do is the trek to Bhagsunag waterfalls. One can either walk all the way from McLeodganj to this place or else can also take an auto/taxi till Bhagunag temple area, which has now become a town into itself. From McLeodganj to Bhagsunag would be approximately three km. Bhagusunag has a very old temple and also a pool of water where devotees come and take a dip.

The Bhasunag Waterfall

From there till the waterfall would be another 700 metres of comparatively steeper climb. Earlier it used to be a Kutccha (unpaved) path but now there is a cemented path going till the main falls. On the way there are two-three tea shops serving tea, cold drinks, biscuits, Maggi etc. The waterfall presents itself in various ways depending upon the season. During summers and Monsoon period the amount of water falling is massive compared to winter or the autumn period.

A smaller and more serene waterfall above the Bhagsunag waterfall

Most people go only to the main waterfall area so sometimes there is quite a crowd till the waterfalls. What is interesting is if you decide to go up beyond the main waterfall as hardly anyone goes above this point.

Another small waterfall near Shiva Cafe

The climb beyond this is steep thereby discouraging most people. But the views from there are breathtaking and there are other waterfalls which, though smaller, are beautiful and you can have them to yourselves for any amount of time.

The Scream of Nature

Also there is the Shiva Café near the above waterfall which can serve god tea and other refreshments. There is rock painting near this waterfall asking people to plant trees.

View of the Tibetan prayer flags, trek and Bhagusnag in the distance

McLeodganj is also the headquarters of the Tibetan Government in Exile. One can reach McLeodganj from Delhi in twelve hours or so by car. There are several ordinary, semi deluxe, deluxe and AC buses also plying on this route.

Also read:
McLeodganj, Dharamshala, Himachal
Why I love to go to McLeodganj
Skywatch Friday - Sunset at McLeodganj, Himachal

Friday 3 October 2014

Skywatch Friday: Hauz Khas Lake, Delhi

Sometimes you are plain lucky to get amazing skies sitting right in the middle of some big crowded city.

Sky ablaze at sunset at Hauz Khas Lake, Delhi

This is the shot I got sitting on the restaurant of a 4th floor building in the Hauz Khas in Delhi when the weather one moment was hot with clear sky and then it turned cloudy and rained and after that cleared up again to give this majestic sky at dusk.

This post is part of Skywatch Friday.

Also read:
The Changing Moods of Hauz Khas Lake