Monthly Archives: December 2013

‘From Lisbon with lots of love’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

Look what I got for you for the New Year from Lisbon?  Some natural beauty and freshness…

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But a little confession is in order. These are not the photos of lovely fruits and vegetables that I took in Lisbon. I found some posters of fruits and vegetables outside a Super Market in Lisbon. I liked those and took the photographs. So these are the photos of posters!

Happy New Year!

Note: Lisbon or Lisboa is  the capital and the largest city of Portugal with a population of 547,631 within its administrative limits. Lisbon is the western most large city located in Europe, as well as its western most capital city and the only one along the Atlantic coast.

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Photos, text and copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

My other websites: www.gravematters.in; www.fiftyplustravels.com;

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‘Lesser known Beng Mealea Hindu Temple, Cambodia’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

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 Beng Mealea or Bung Mealea  in Khmer language  means “lotus pond”. It is a temple in the Angkor Wat style located 40 km east of the main group of temples at Angkor, Cambodia, on the ancient royal highway to Preah Khan Kompong Svay. It is 63 kms by good road from Siam Reap. Beng Mealea is only 7 km far from the Angkorian sandstone quarries of Phnom Kulen, as the crow flies.

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I was totally taken aback on finding a sprawling jungle spread over a kilometer. The temple itself is almost taken over by vegetation and not many tourists go there. On entering the premises, one gets an adventurous feel as one has to climb up and down big boulders- which were once part of the temple structure. This temple is in the Angkor Wat temple style and it is felt that it was a sort of prototype for the Angkor Wat temple built by the same king. It is believed to have been built during the reign of king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century.

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It  was built as a Hindu temple, but there are some carvings depicting buddhist motifs. Its primary material is sandstone  and it is largely unrestored, with trees and thick bushes around its towers and courtyards and many of its stones lying in great heaps.

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It  ranks among the Khmer Empire’s larger temples: the gallery which forms the outer enclosure of the temple is 181 m by 152 m.It was the center of a town, surrounded by a moat 1025 m by 875 m large and 45 m wide.

Beng Mealea is oriented toward the east, but has entrance ways from the other three main directions also. The basic layout is of three enclosing galleries around a central sanctuary, which presently lies collapsed. The enclosures are tied with “cruciform cloisters”, like Angkor Wat. Structures known as libraries lie to the right and left of the avenue that leads in from the east. There is extensive carving of scenes from Hindu mythology, including the Churning of the Sea for nectar and Lord Vishnu being borne by the god Garuda. Causeways have long balustrades formed by bodies of the seven-headed Naga (serpent).

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Though there are some lintel and doorway carvings, there are no bas-reliefs and there are not very many carvings.

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Trees growing from the galleries and the broken towers remind one of the Ta Prohm temple.

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I found Angkor Wat to be tourisity where as in this temple one gets the amazing feeling of exploring an old temple which is lying almost in the same condition as it was when found amongst the jungles.

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(Text with inputs from the internet)

Photos, text and copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

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‘Indian restaurants in Siem Reap, Cambodia’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

Recently I made a short trip to Siem Reap in Cambodia. This was my first visit to the Far East after 1978. I remembered that during the last visit to Thailand and Phillipines, I had found it difficult to get used to the food as every item seemed to be smelling of sea-food. Since Siem Reap is not on the normal itineraries of the Indian tourists, I was quite apprehensive about getting a full meal during the trip. Happily I was proved wrong. Indian food, which I personally consider to be the best in the world, has managed to reach this interior part of Cambodia. On the second day of my stay I went to an Indian restaurant called quite simply ‘The Indian’. I met the owner Mr.Sajeesh. He told me that he comes from Trichur in Kerala and has been running his restaurant since the last 9 years. This restaurant proudly claims, “Own (sic!) by Indian, Run by Indian, Chef from from India’.

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I also had food at the ‘Taste of India’ where the ‘thali’ served was identical in menu and taste to the one that I had earlier had at the Currywala. Indian chutneys at ‘the Taste of India’

siem-reap-small-camera-005-420-55The food at ‘The Indian’ (above) was good. I may add that the ‘naan’ that I had there was perhaps the best that I have ever had.

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This ‘thali’ at ‘Currywala was also good, though the ‘naan’ was very thin and the curd a bit sour.

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Here is a list of the Indian restaurants in Siem Reap. Please take note that it is not a comprehensive list and the restaurants have been arranged alphabetically.

 Ababa Curry House: Road to Angkor Night Market, Steung Thmey Village, Sangkat Svay Dangkum, Siem Reap City, Siem Reap. Email: (ababacam@yahoo.com)

 Chusska Indian Vegetarian Restaurant:  St. 7, next to Pub (St.), Old Market Area, Siem Reap City, Siem Reap

 Curry Walla Indian Cuisine: No. B05, Sivatha (St.), Sangkat Svay Dangkum, Siem Reap.

 Dakshin’s Restaurant: No. 99, Sangkat Svay Dangkum, Siem Reap.

India Gate Restaurant: No. 342, St. 9, Old Market, Sangkat Svay Dangkum, Siem Reap.

Kerala Indian Restaurant: Near Phsar Chas, Pub Street, Siem Reap

Little India Restaurant: No. 363, Group 6, Mondul 1 Village, Sangkat Svay Dangkum, opposite Blue Pumpkin, Siem Reap. (Email: mahendra7124@yahoo.com)

 Maharajah Restaurant: Sivatha (St.), front of Terrasse Des Elephants, Old Market Area, Siem Reap. (Email: maharajahcuisine@yahoo.com)

New Delhi Indian Foods Restaurant: No. 070, in front of Siem Reap Hospital, Mondul 1 Village, Sangkat Svay Dangkum, Siem Reap

 Taj Mahal Restaurant: No. 11, Mondul 1 Village, Sangkat Svay Dangkum, Siem Reap. (Email: tajmahalcuisine@yahoo.com)

Taste of India Restaurant: No. 109, Sivatha (St.), Mondul 1 Village, Sangkat Svay Dangkum, Siem Reap

 The Indian Restaurant: E161 Bar (St.), Old Market, Siem Reap. (Email: tcsajeesh@yahoo.com)

I saw the advertisement of another, rather unusual sounding Indian restaurant: Slumdog Curry: Ochheuteal Beach, Preah Sihanouk, Cambodia. But I did not have the heart to try out the ‘slumdog curries’!

 And no town can have Indian restaurants and not have a ‘Taj Mahal Restaurant’. Pnom Penh has not one but two Shere Punjab restaurants –  Shere Punjab-I and Shere Punjab-II! Oyay Balle…Balle.. ji!

(Full bill amounts were paid for the food taken by me at the three hotels mentioned above)

Photos, text and copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

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‘Mayo Memorial Hall, Allahabad, India’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

While moving around on a cycle rickshaw in Allahabad last month, I could see an old tower from quite some distance. I was told that this was the Amitabh Bacchan Sports Complex. My curiosity having been aroused, I was soon in the premises of this Complex. It was an old heritage building with green lawns. A number of young people were moving around with air rifles. I was told that an All India shooting competition for was taking place and there were competitors from all parts of India taking part in it. It was a pleasant festive atmosphere. And now tto the old building.

However  Located near the Thornhill and Mayne Memorial in Allahabad, Mayo Memorial Hall is a big hall, with a 180-ft high tower. Imagine the height as Qutab Minar is 237 feet high. The hall was designed by R. Roskell Bayne. It was built in 1879 in the memory of the assasinated Viceroy Mayo. It was meant for use for holding public meetings, balls and receptions.

The interior of this Memorial Hall is decorated with designs by Professor Gamble, of the South Kensington Museum, London.

Though impressive, yet some of the columns seem to be a repition of the designs used in the Thornhill-Mayne Memorial. ‘The tower of the Mayo Memorial Hall, his second building in Allahabad, was built a year later and is modelled directly on the spire of the Thornhill and Mayne Memorial; the building is a far less successful example of Indian neo-Gothic style and looks as if it was designed in haste.’*

 

Take a look:

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A comparison of this picture of mayo Memorial with the following picture of Thornhill-Mayne Memorial shows that the architect had perhaps run out of ideas!

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This photo is from the Thornhill-Mayne Memorial

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This was made in 1879 in the Mayo memorial.

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I took this photograph of a sidewalk in Lisbon two months back. Notice the affinity of these two photographs.

 *Source of the quotation: ‘Building for the Raj: Richard Roskell Bayne”- journals.uvic.ca/index.php/racar/article/download/190/189

(Text with inputs from the internet)

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Photos, text and copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

‘A visit to Santa Claus village in Finland’ by K.J.S.Chatrath


Santa’s sledge full of presents

 I had a great visit to Santa Claus’ village in the recent past. But before narrating about the visit, let me first introduce Santa Claus to those who have not yet met him. It is said that the word Santa Claus has come from the Dutch language in which it means Saint Nicholas- Santa is the Dutch word for Saint and Claus for Nicholas. In Germany, he is called Weihnachtsmann, in England Father Christmas, and in France as Pere Noel. The story of Santa Claus is very simple.

On the night before Christmas, he visits the homes of all of the good boys and girls and leaves them presents under the tree and fills their stockings with candy and small toys. He had paid so may visits to me and brought presents for me when I was a child that I decided to return the visit and go to his village. The first step was to find his address. I found out that Santa’s secret getaway is in the East of Lapland, on the Korvatunturi Fell, on the border between Finland and Russia where he was first spotted in the 1920’s. A Globe showing the Arctic Circle

 Subsequently, in  the 1950’s Santa would often enjoy visiting the Arctic Circle near the town of Rovaniemi, in Finland, not only on Christmas but all throughout the year, to visit both children and child-like. He founded his own village there by 1985. This Village now mainly consists of three parts – the Office of the Santa, his Main post office and shops selling souvenirs. There is also a reindeer park nearby.  Santa Claus comes to the village office every day of the year to listen to children’s wishes and to talk to people from all over the world. One has to pay a small fee to get the privilege of having a photo clicked with Santa. Since I was on a tight budget, I decided to forego this opportunity. Santa Claus Village

 I read that during the Christmas time it is snow all around and very cold in his village. I decided to go during the summer months when the weather is pleasant. It was the month of June and this is the time when the midnight sun dazzles in the sky. Of course one has to go further north to experience that but the summer  days at Santa’s village are very long and nights short.

 With this information, I took the Finnair flight to Helsinki and from there an over night train to Roveniemi. The international airport of Rovaniemi, Santa Claus’ official airport, is situated only 2 km from Santa Claus’ Village. But since I had reached Roneniemi by train, I took a bus which took no time to cover the distance of 8 kms. Arctic Circle Line

Suddenly I found brightly coloured log houses with conical towers and an impressive gate. So I had reached the village of Santa Claus. This is where the highway crosses the Arctic Circle line. The Arctic Circle is the imaginary line on the surface of the Earth, which marks the northern latitude north of which the sun does not rise on the winter solstice or set on the summer solstice. Board of Santa Claus Main Post Office

Santa Claus’s main post office has a wide range of Christmas products. Merry elves sell stamps, postcards, writing pens, letters from Santa Claus and various kinds of Christmas souvenirs. Cards, letters and parcels sent from Santa Claus’ Main Post Office are franked with a genuine Arctic Circle special postmark. One can also leave one’s Christmas mail with the elves even during summer. They will send it on just when one wants – for Christmas, a birthday or any important date that one may choose. Inside Santa Claus Main Post Office

every day of the year and be served by merry elves in the post office in seven languages! Each year, Santa’s Workshop Village and the Main Post Office are visited by a staggering half a million people. Since the population of Finland is only 5.3 million, one can safely presume that these are mostly foreign tourists. When one sees this number in the background of visitors to Taj Mahal in India, then it’s magnitude becomes clearer. Taj gets about 2.5 million tourists a year out of which about half a million are foreign tourists. In other words, Santa Claus Village and the Taj Mahal get almost the same number of foreign tourists every year. Letters for Santa

There are also many shops and restaurants including a Swarovski shop inside the village selling a variety of items related to Santa Claus and the Lapland region. Those looking for fast food may note that there is no MacDonalds in this village.

You may be knowing that  Santa’s raindeer’s name is Rudolph but may I end this article with a puzzling question for the readers- what is the name of Santa Claus’ wife?

Merry Christmas!

(Text, photographs & copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath)

Some practical information: 

 Finland Embassy of Finland in India
E-3, Nyaya Marg
Delhi, Delhi 110021

website: www.finland.org.in

 Santa Claus Village website: http://www.santaclausvillage.info/eng/arctic_circle.htm

Finnish Railways website: http://www.vr.fi/eng/ (This website is in English, very simple yet exhaustive and extremely user friendly)

Airfare: Delhi-Helsinki-Delhi airfare is approx. Rs.49,000/- onwards (indicative)

Photos, text and copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

‘Street dance in Sevilla, Spain’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

I visited Sevilla in Spain for two days. While walking to one of the UNESCO heritage sites there, I saw a little crowd on the street. Two pretty young ladies were giving an energetic dance performance for the passers by. I stopped and took some pictures. At the end of the performance I, like most of the spectators, clapped  and put a little money in the basket which the dancers had put in front of them. Take a look:

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And now something about Sevilla, the city. The Spanish city of Seville is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Andalusia and the province of Seville. Seville has a population of about 703,000 as of 2011, making it the fourth-largest city in Spain. Its Old Town, the third largest in Europe with an area of 4 square kilometres, contains three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Alcázar palace complex, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies. The Seville harbour, located about 80 kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean, is the only river port in Spain. It is situated at a distance of about 534 kms from the Spansih capital Madrid.

After the discovery of the route to Americas, Seville became one of the economic centres of the Spanish Empire as its port monopolised the trans-oceanic trade. In 1519, Ferdinand Magellan departed from Seville for the first circumnavigation of the Earth.

Airfare: A Delhi-Sevilla return ticket in economy class costs approximately Rs.61,000/- onwards (only indicative).

Best time to visit: October to April are the pleasant months for travel. It starts warming up from May  with temperatures touching 37 degrees in July and August.

(Text with inputs from the internet.)

Photos, text and copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

‘Fried vegetables in Siem Reap, Cambodia’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

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I was travelling in Siem Reap Cambodia and stopped for lunch at a restaurant on the highway. Predictably, it was not an easy thing for a travelling vegetarian to find something substantial to eat. I had to settle for fried vegetables and rice. When the order was served I loved the sheer colourfulness of the vegetarian dish. I decided to take a quick snap of the dish.

I clicked. And it happened. My hand trembled just at the right moment.

And this is the picture that I got – hazy but a bit arty…   …

Photo, text and copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

‘Museum Quartier, Vienna’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

Austria’s capital Vienna, is a really impressive imperial city. Museum Quartier is Vienna’s exciting art complex near the Imperial Palace. It offers not only renowned museums such as the Leopold Museum http://leopoldmuseum.org.en, with its numerous works by Schiele, the Museum of Contemporary Art (http://www.wien.info/en/)and the Kunsthalle Wien, which is a non-collecting art centre which organizes and hosts temporary exhibitions of contemporary art (http://www.kunsthallewien.at/?lang=en) but a lively array of restaurants, cafés and bars make this museum district even more attractive.The Museumsquartier is a 60,000 m² large area in the 7th district of the city of Vienna, Austria; it is the eighth largest cultural area in the world.              

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A simple board catches the eye as one reaches the area. It says ‘STOP NOISE’ and ‘STOP GARBAGE’ and then goes on to give a polite message in English and in German.  It says tongue in cheek that “Give the MQ residents a break! Please consider the people who live here. Avoid noise in the evening aand at night” and then goes on to request “Garbage isn’t part of the program at MQ! Please put waste in the appropriate containers.”

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 Architecture Center

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The MQ Point: The MQ Point is more than a museum shop. It stocks attractive design and unconventional gifts including mugs, bags, buttons and T-shirts with fun messages. www.mqpoint.at

     Address: Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna, Austria.

Air Travel: A to and fro ticket from Delhi to Vienna costs Rs.45,000 upwards. The journey time is 8 hours for the direct flight and longer for the flights with a stop over.

(Text with inputs from the internet.)

Photos, text and copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

‘Siem Reap, Cambodia’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

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I made a short trip to Siem Reap in Cambodia to see the old Hindu and Buddhist temple. It was mind blowing. I would be sharing photo articles and information on Siem Reap, Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, etc. on this website shortly.

Above see a photo taken near Siem Reap during some lighter moments.

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Photos, text and copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in