Sunday, August 5, 2018

Petra, the spectacular and extraordinary ancient city, is a must visit

Two km walk to Petra City
Petra - 'a rose-red city half as old as time'. (from John William Burgon's sonnet)

Petra (from Greek word Petros - Stone), known to its inhabitants as Raqmu, is listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the world (decided through 100 million votes in 2007).

Whether on any list or not, it stands out as a stupendous creation of a desert tribe called the Nabateans who lived there over two thousand years ago. It is located in the rocky deserts of southern Jordan. The Nabateans were trading nomads and established Petra as a trade hub.

A two km walk through the Siq, takes you to the city. The Siq is a natural sandstone gorge. You see a number of rock-cut structures as you move ahead like the Dijnn blocks that are the oldest structures in Petra. The Obelix Tomb and the Triclinium is also an interesting building. This memorable walk suddenly brings you to the Treasury or the Al-Khazana, seen first through a gap in the Siq. This is actually a masoleum but there was a belief that bandits kept their loot hidden in the urn at the top of this monument and hence the name treasury or khazana.

This grand place has so many more wonders to see - water harvesting system, the Royal Tombs, the Theatre, The Great Temple, the Monastery.... not a place to be missed.

These beautiful pictures are courtesy Soma.

Rocks of Petra from a distance

The Siq
Dijnn blocks

Obelisk-tomb and the Triclinium

Glimpse of the Treasury through the Siq
Al Khazana-the Treasury

Lower portion of the Treasury
Stone urn in the treasury building

Columns of Great Temple
Figure on rock

Open theatre
Paved-road, Petra

Royal tombs
Water trench for supply of water to city

Petra city, Jordon

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Beautiful historical structures from Gour in West Bengal India

Qadam Rasul Mosque, Gour, Malda
This post is in continuation to my earlier post on Gour a historical city in West Bengal houses some beautiful old monuments.

I am sharing some more beautiful historical structures from Gour.

Qadam Rasul Mosque : This beautiful structure dates back to 1531; the carvings on some of the bricks tells you how remarkable this structure must have looked in its prime. 
Entrance to the Qadam Rasul mosque

Carvings on the bricks
Ballal Bati in Gour is a recently excavated site. It was the palace of Ballal Sen during 1160-1179.

Remains of a wall which surrounded the palace
Water  body near Ballal Bati

Mango trees are in abundance in Malda
Monitor Lizard in Ballal Bati, going into hiding:)

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Gour a historical city in West Bengal houses some beautiful old monuments

Baradwari Mosque Gour
Gour, near Malda town, West Bengal is also referred to as Gauda and Lakhnauti. It's origin can be traced back to the Buddhist Pala Dynasty in Bengal that rose in the 7th century AD and ruled for four centuries.

Gour, however rose to prominence in the 11th century under the Hindu Sena Dynasty. Not much archaeological evidence exits of these times and today what we see in Gour dates back to post 1198 when Gour fell to Bakhtiyar Khilji and that was followed by the foundation of Muslim rule in north-west Bengal. The Muslim Sultan shifted his capital from Gour to Pandua in 1350.

How to reach Malda:
Malda is very well connected from Kolkata. Overnight trains and AC buses are easily available. Shatabdi express is another option from Kolkata to Malda.

Where to stay
There are quite a few hotels and tourist lodges in Malda town. You may check tripadvisor (

Both Gour (16 km south of Malda) and Pandua (15 km north of Malda) are places that you may want to visit if you like ancient architecture. We only did Gour during this trip. Even though quite a few monuments were not in their intact condition, I would say it was still worth the visit. A word of caution, Malda town is extremely congested. So if you are looking for a quiet stay in Malda...that may not be possible:) But the outskirts are beautiful and green…mango trees and water bodies are in abundance.

There are a couple more places in Gour, that we visited, I will post about those in my next post.

Baradwari Mosque  (AD 1526) , built by Sultan Nasrat Shah. It has 12 doors and therefore the name Baradwari.

Baradwari Mosque
Entrance to Baradwari Mosque

Firoz Minar (AD 1486-1489 ): Built by Saifuddin Firoz. The building is 25.60m high and the spiral staircase has 73 steps.

Banyan tree near Firoz Minar

Firoz Minar Gour

Salami Darwaza: (AD 1459-74) built by Barbak Shah. This was the main northern entrance to the fort of Gour.
Salami Darwaza carvings on the walls
Salami Darwaza, Gour

Salami Darwaza

Carvings on the wall, Salami Darwaza, Gour
More on Gour here: Beautiful historical structures from Gour in Malda India 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Off the beaten track, the Mishmi hills in Arunachal are a birdwatcher's paradise

Rufous-backed Sibia
The Mishmi Hills are located in central Arunachal Pradesh in India. Most of the Mishmi hills area falls under the Dibang Valley, which gets its name from Dibang River, one of the tributaries of the Brahmaputra River.

The scenic Mishmi hills, is home to quite a few birds and is now a sought after destination for avid bird watchers. Mishmi Hills birding is done between Roing to Hunli, a stretch of 85 km. Most of this area falls under Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary. A 49 km ascending drive from Roing brings you to the 2655 meters high Mayodia Pass and from here you start descending towards Hunli which is about 36 km from the Pass. Different birds are found at different altitudes - during the first 10 kms or so of this journey, you get to see birds like Blue Rock Thrush, Red-billed Scimitar Babbler, Mountain Imperial pigeon, White Collared Treepie and many others, Around 25 to 30 km, you can sight the beautiful Nuthatch, Rufous-backed Sibia, Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill, Himalayan Cutia, Pygmy Wren Babbler. Further up close to Mayodia Pass the birds that can be sighted are - Dusky Thrush, Rusty-bellied Shortwing, Gould's Shortwing, Dark-rumped Rosefinch, Crimson-browed Finch, Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler.

Mishmi is indeed a paradise for birtdwatcher's, the best season for birds in Mishmi is March to May.

To reach Mishmi, the best way is to fly to Dibrugarh. The Closest airport is Dibrugarh, and it takes around 4 hours to reach Roing from Dibrugarh.

Even though the scenic beauty is breathtaking, Mishmi is not one of the popular destinations with tourists (unless you are a passionate bird watcher!) One of the reasons being, the places to stay are very few and very-very basic. There are just two places, one near Roing and one near Mayodia pass, and both of these places are very basic. Soma Jha, an ardent birdwatcher, was in Mishmi last month, and these bird pictures are courtesy her.
Pygmy Wren Babbler
Slender-billed Scimitar-babbler 

Himalayan cutia
Ludlow's fulvetta

Black-throated Prinia
Golden babbler

Crimson-browed finch
Dark-rumped rosefinch

Beautiful nuthatch
Blue rock thrush

Mountain Imperial pigeon
Dusky Thrush  at Mayodia

Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill 
Red-billed Scimitar babbler

Gould's Shortwing
Rusty-bellied shortwing

Himalayan Wood Owl
Blyth's Tragopan