Category Archives: Inaccessible places-travel

Cocoban, the ‘Village on a Cliff’, Yemen

When we heard about a village that is on a cliff in Yemen, we were fascinated. We were very lucky to be taken on a visit there,as permission is required ( rarely given!!!). The view on the way from the capital of Yemen, Sana’a to Cocoban is uniquely breathtaking, as it is through a Wadi and rocky mountains. The road itself is very well maintained, in the middle of the journey there is a heavily guarded check post that turns people back. We were allowed to pass through to a winding road above the plains that led to a rocky/ stone door that guards the village. When we reached the top of the cliff, a village appeared miraculously. There was silence all around, though we were told there were people in all the mud, brick and stone houses that lines our path. It was a beautiful village with a clearing in the center. Hawkers materialized out of thin air,  to sell their wares, composed of ear rings made of semi precious stones and brass-ware. There was a rope way which was not in use. It gave us a spectacular view of the sheer drop to the ground below. From the ground, it was impossible to imagine that such a place existed,as the homes and buildings are carved into the cliff itself. We spent time exploring the village and returned before sundown, as we had been warned not to stay beyond dusk…..DSC_0539 DSC_0507 DSC_0514 DSC_0512 DSC_0517 DSC_0550 DSC_0548 DSC_0557 DSC_0545 DSC_0542 DSC_0535 DSC_0531 DSC_0526 DSC_0523 DSC_0522 DSC_0519 DSC_0502 DSC_0500 DSC_0491 DSC_0494 DSC_0493 DSC_0496 DSC_0481 DSC_0478 DSC_0466 DSC_0460 DSC_0457 DSC_0434

 

Inaccessible?? you bet!!! Beyond beautiful??? Oh yes!!! 


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Ancient Vyasa cave in Mana, India

Veda Vyasa is an avatar of Lord Vishnu according to Hindu mythology. He is the one who separated the ancient Hindu scripture into the Vedas. He is the author of the Mahabharata. The cave where he recounted the story of the Mahabharata is located in Mana village in India and is over 5,000 years old. No photography is allowed inside, but it is quiet inside and time seems to stand still. Some people say they hear his voice……DSC05685 DSC05686 DSC05687


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The Simplest washroom

The North-Eastern part of India has, like most places, the richest and the poorest…in terms of material wealth. In the remote areas, it was a pleasant sight to witness the recently constructed, government-aided, free and clean washrooms. We were offered an inside look into a thatched home…..it was clean, and had a bathing area, a kitchen, tiny bedrooms, with wooden partitions and wooden beds. The huts are generally made at an elevated level on the hilly slopes. The washroom has stored water, and a window which faced into the forest over the hill. The floor was made of bamboo sticks, with gaps in between, to allow the water to drain on the slope below!!!

Luckily, there is no shortage of land in the hilly areas where running water is not present in some homes…..


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Auli- world’s highest man made lake

Auli, located at an altitude of 2500-3050 metres above sea level, is a popular skiing destination. it boasts of the world’s highest man made lake, which is used to make snow and fire it from ski guns along the ski slopes. The lake is bordered by beautiful flowers, and the location offers a panoramic view of mountains all around, including the Nanda Devi peak.

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It is a location that inspires real meditation…..the feeling of connecting to the universe….


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Miracle of Kedarnath Temple, Himalayas

The Kedarnath Temple is a temple at about 12,000 feet in the Himalayas in India. In 2013, there were massive floods and large scale destruction surrounding the temple. Miraculously, a large boulder positioned itself behind the temple and diverted the flow of turbulent water, stones and debris on either side of the temple, saving it from destruction. Every structure was destroyed for miles around the temple. The boulder stands testimony to this event,as it has not been moved. The temple has a triangular Shivling in the inner part of the temple. There is a statue of Nandi carved from stone outside the temple. Any wish by a pilgrim who visits the temple is said to be granted by Lord Shiva. The temple can be reached by a trek of about 39 kms from Gaurikund, or a 7 minute helicopter ride.

it started to snow while we were there… A frenzied collective prayer from all present resulted in instant sunshine.. If you are a believer, it was a miracle…

The helicopter ride ….

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The temple ….image

The boulder that saved the temple…

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More of the temple and ride back ..

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In the picture above, the path of destruction on either side of the temple is visible…

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Path to heaven !!

In the last village on the Indo-Tibet/ China border, is a village called Mana. At the place this village ends, one can see a rocky path going towards the mountains in the distance. It appears to have been fashioned within the mountains. It is called the path to heaven. According to Hindu Mythology, the Pandavas went on this route to reach heaven!! Walking on this path takes one on a difficult trek upwards for 8 kilometers. At this point, one seems to have reached the clouds, there is nothing but mist all around. I guess one has to wait to die to go beyond this point which is at an extremely high altitude. A beautiful and serene path, that allows one to reflect on life and connect with one’s soul…..

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Dar-al-Hajar, Rock House of Imam, Yemen

On a huge boulder, sits a home, five stories high !!! Surely an architectural masterpiece. It has been turned into a museum after the assassination of the  Imam, who had built it in the 1930s. He was Yahya Muhammad Hamiddin (1869-1948) , who became Imam of the Zaydis (an Islamic sect)  in 1904, then Imam of Yemen in 1918 until his assassination in 1948. The palace was built  as his summer residence. It has an ideal location, as it overlooks a Wadi or green valley of sorts. The ventilation is superb, each room has windows or vents for the breeze to flow through, The thick stone walls protect it from the heat.  It has the typical captivating Yemeni architecture of pressed red earth lined with white gypsum. There are storage areas, sitting rooms for guests, bedrooms, kitchens, and a special room in which the Imam would stay with the wife selected for that day.DSC_0325

The car park at the base of the palace :

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Beautiful flowers greet you before you enter…..

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The climb to the stairs which lead to the Palace : scenic….

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Yes….the ultimate treasure…a source of water :

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Water……

 

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Beneath the rock..one can not see the top of the palace from here…a strategic advantage

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Getting in….

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Guards were stationed here, as well as at the top of the palace…

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Stained glass windows….intricate carving…

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The terrace….

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The sitting room..

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The kitchen…

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Thick walls…

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Within the rock…

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The stained glass windows filter the sun’s rays, making them magical and colourful. There is greenery at the base of the palace, and the earth is moist and fertile. There is the view of the Wadi from it, which adds to the majestic beauty of the palace. It is an out-of-the-world home, a sight which makes you gasp when you first lay eyes upon it. If you do get a chance to go there, you must grab the opportunity…..


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Queen of Sheba lived in Sana’a

The old walled city of Sana’a in Yemen is full of treasures…and rightly so, since the Queen of Sheba lived here long ago. One of ancient beautiful civilizations began here 2,500 years ago. Yemen has the unique, quaint, red and white traditional multistory homes which are not seen in any other part of the world. I call these the gingerbread homes. This is a valley at an altitude of 2,200 meters. One is transported through the thick gate of the old city to an unhurried world, full of charm and wonder. The gate seems like a portal into a wonderland, where men carry swords strapped to their waists but smile benignly at everyone, where the fragrance of exotic spices and the local arts and crafts make one stop and stare and reach for one’s purse. DSC_0041

The buildings are well ventilated, and geometrically delightful!!!

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The path to heaven is through crowded streets !!

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An Indian actor is on the billboard,

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The main ‘new’ city is left behind.

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The journeys is enjoyable.

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The first glimpse of merchandise..

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Yes, the portal to wonderland is here…

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The crowds are polite and do not touch or grope or stare at women.

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I felt safe and a little excited to step into this world.

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It is a valley at 2,200 meters above sea level.

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Of course, we got a dagger..

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The typical Yemeni man carries a small sword strapped to his abdomen.

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I want this, and that…and ooooh that for sure…..

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In a foreign land, somebody has to handle the multiple phones…

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I wanted them all..

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This is my glazed-by-beautiful-stuff-look..

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Finally, we saw women in black robes. There were many women/ girls from all over the world in shorts and tiny tops, and none of the men stared or glared at them. The harmony of all races and attires and cultures was a treat to observe, I can close my eyes and smell the aroma of the spices and the sweets and the famous Yemeni honey.


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Helirafting-Whataroa River, NZ

White water rafting takes on a whole new thrill when it becomes helirafting- taken by helicopter for rafting. The Whataroa River is near the Franz Josef Glacier, the largest glacier in the South Island of New Zealand. The river flows from the Alps, through a picturesque, fairy land landscape between mountains and rugged terrain, to merge into the Tasman Sea. The river is ideal for canoeing, kayaking, white water rafting. There is the imminent danger of falling headfirst into the water and getting one’s skull crashed by the Grade 5 rapids and the stones and boulders which lurk above and beneath the surface of the river. After we had been transported by helicopter, I asked “Can I go back, please?”

I was told, “Sure, just hike for three days through the forest.”

Thus began the journey of our family on that day. After the basic drill, we were told it would take 7 hours for us to complete the journey!

Now I wish it had been longer. Bitten by sand flies, bruised shins, 3 broken finger nails and sunburn….and we were longing for more! The most amazing experience ever. At the start, we were given suits and shoes and life jackets and helmets.IMG_5917 - Copy IMG_6011 IMG_6010 IMG_6007 IMG_6005 IMG_6006 IMG_5921 - Copy IMG_5922 - Copy IMG_5923 - Copy IMG_5927 - Copy IMG_5928 - Copy IMG_5929 - Copy IMG_5930 - Copy IMG_5931 - Copy IMG_5944 - Copy IMG_5948 - Copy IMG_5953 - Copy IMG_5954 - Copy IMG_5988 IMG_5989 IMG_5990 IMG_5991 IMG_5992 IMG_5993 IMG_5995 IMG_5996 IMG_5998 IMG_5999 IMG_6000 IMG_6001 IMG_6003

Thank God…there was a break for the traditional lunch, served from a bucket, with a rafting paddle!!!!

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Breathtaking scenery…

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Spellbound…..time stops here

The family that rafts together…either dies together or laughs together 🙂

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The pros bringing the rafts over Grade 5 rapids…by jumping on to it….

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Kayaking too !

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A perfect day…the aches, sprains, bruises were medals of honour …..

 


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Hot springs-Tapovan

Hot sulphur springs are found in a place near Joshimath in India, in the Himalayas. These hot water natural springs are located 15 kms from Jpshimath. By the side of the road is board which indicates the location of the springs. An even bigger indication is the cloud of steam and the smell of Sulphur in that area, along with discoloured ( or should I say beautifully, brightly coloured?) yellow stones in the path of the stream. There are rooms available for bathing in the water. One can climb a few steps to see the bubbling, sizzling hot tiny pools of water….

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