Archive for the ‘train travelling’ Category
One of the best destinations across the world is the ultimate masterpiece Taj Mahal situated on the bank of Yamuna River in Agra, the city of love. The Mughal emperor Shah Jahan got this monument constructed as promised in the loving memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal after her demise. Mixed with phenomenal beauty, the immense love which was the reason behind its construction, Taj symbolizes eternal love. This white marble richly crafted monument is a tribute to beauty celebrating unconditional love of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan to his Persian wife Mumtaz Mahal.
Taj Mahal India : It is a “symbol of eternal love”, narrating love saga of how deeply a man loved his wife, that even after she died, her memory would never fade away. It shines like a pure diamond leaving its viewers awestruck. It’s the synonym of immense beauty which can never be expressed truly. It has mesmerizing vision with visceral charisma depicting pain of a dying soul forming the world’s best love story.
Taj Mahal History : It took 22 years to build this exotic monument with the cost of around 32 crores involving almost 20,000 workers. It has great architect style, with fusion of Persian, Islamic and Indian architectural style. 99 names of Allah (muslims’ god) are being calligraphed on the sides of tomb of Mumtaz Mahal. The whole complex is being decorated with the passages from Quran (holy book of Muslims) by Amanat khan depicting themes of judgment and truth.
Taj in center with four minarets with the height of 138 ft at each corner stands out as the dazzling one. The entire monument is constructed by white marble that gives eternal beauty and reflects magnificent touch. The entire construction is man- made and represents the best of material from all over the India and Asia such as the white marble from Rajasthan, jasper from Punjab, turquoise from Tibet, jade and crystal from china, lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, sapphire from srilanka, and the carnelian from Arabia.
The tomb is the main attraction of Tajmahal, where cenotaph of Mumtaz mahal is placed at the centre of interior chamber. Mahal is decorated with Islamic style char bagh garden which concludes ashoka tree and others small flowers. Darwaza-i-rauza made up of black stone, adorned with Arabic calligraphy and elaborated geometric designs, is one of the main attractions. On western side of Tajmahal, stands splendid monument of red sandstone, mosque complementing to the beauty of Taj. With Mecca facing, it’s being used for prayer purpose. The elaborated architectural creativity, amusing sculptural works narrates the certainly best tale of never-ending love. The monument of eternal love is a symbol which depicts valuable architectural skills and elegance of royal Mughal Emperor.
The superb decoration, precious gemstones and the transparency of the white marble make it a scenic location. The main gateway is situated at the end of the long watercourse. Disheveled flowers, red lotus, and leaves adore the sloping side of the niche formed by semi-precious marble. And the white tear drop with a red trident at the entry of Taj Mahal makes it appear more dazzling.
Taj reflects different hues with respect to sunlight from yellow in the mornings to sparkling white in the day and a light pink in the twilight dust. The sight of the Taj in full moon light is completely breathtaking. The captivating sight of Taj Mahal is an expedition of delight, cheerfulness and budding love.
As per English poet, Sir Edwin Arnold, Taj Mahal is “Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passion of an emperor’s love wrought in living stones.” Taj Mahal of India has mesmerized many people with its captivating beauty and its beauty can be enclosed in the words of Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore as, “a teardrop on the cheek of eternity”.
You get to Moon Hill (Yueliang Shan) from Fenglou village, Gaotian township, near Guilin. It is a huge slice of rock with a round hole in its center, and you mount 800 steps on a marble paved mountain path to reach it. At various angles it resembles from the new moon to a full moon. The rock measures 380 m (height) by 410 m (length) by 220 m (width).
Legend has it that there is a Guanghan Palace on the moon inhabited by the beauty Chang’e, the Jade Rabbit, and Wu Gang the woodcutter. People in olden days thought they saw these immortals when they came upon spots on the moon’s surface. Visitors to Moon Hill call to each other’s attention that there are nature formed rock images of Chang’e, the Jade Rabbit and Wu Gang the woodcutter.
With 14 rock-climbing routes on the northwest side, Moon Hill offers sufficient challenge to both amateur and professional climbers.
The region around Moon Hill is endowed with beautiful sight. Many mountain rocks are in particular shapes which bring visitors infinite reverie. Local people call this picturesque scenic sight ‘Ten-li Gallery’. The beautiful land attracted the former US President Carter to have a visit. Having heard the interesting scenery along the ‘Ten-li Gallery’, he hired a bicycle to roam the land instead of taking a car.
The area is included in an official plan for tourism development. In 1995, the local government built a bicycle path for visitors to freely enjoy the natural scenery along the path. The major scenic sights along the path are given vivid names according to their shapes, such as the Flaming Mountain, Heavenly Horse Galloping in the Sky, Golden Cat Comes Out of the Hole, the Emperor Qin Shihuang Goes to the Front and the Beauty Makes Up.
Bordered on the Yangtze River in the north and overlooked the Mt. Huangshan in the south, Mt. Jiuhua covers an area of 100 square kilometers southwest of Qingyang County, Anhui Province , not far from the picturesque Mt.Huangshan. Mt. Jiuhua boasts 99 peaks and 18 scenic spots in its area. With its marvelous landscape and pleasant climate, Mt. Jiuhua is considered one of the best summer resorts in China. In addition to its popularity as a tourist destination, it is a holy site where Buddhists assemble– it has been established as one of the four sacred Buddhist shrines, along with Mt.Wutai in Shanxi, Mt.Emei in Sichuan, and Mt.Putuoshan in Zhejiang.
According to historical records, Buddhism was first introduced to Mt. Jiuhua in the year 401. In 719, a Korean monk named Jin Qiaojue arrived and practiced Buddhism here for 75 years. Upon his Nirvana in 794, Jin Qiaojue was respected as the Earth Buddha by the locals, hence Mt. Jiuhua has become the place where religious rituals were held to worship the God of Earth.
Mt. Jiuhua has always been a place that attracts men of letters throughout the ages. The story goes that Libai(701-762), the famous poet of Tang Dynasty, once came to visit the mountain. The verse slipped out when he was intoxicated with the scene of lotus blooms-like peaks of Mt. Jiuhua, ‘From the azure skies above descends a jade-like flow, and nine fascinating lotuses rise out of the hills below’. Later, poet Liu Yuxi (772-784) in Tang Dynasty, litterateur Wang Anshi (1021-1086) in North Song Dynasty and many other scholars, politicians and monks also made the journey to the mountain, and thus Mt. Jiuhua got its fame. Just as a Chinese saying goes ‘A mountain is famous not for its height but for its holiness’.
Visitors to the temples on Mt. Jiuhua are always impressed with the exquisite architecture and grand structure. Now there are no more than 90 temples in existence in Mt. Jiuhua, most of them restored in Ming and Qing Dynasties. Among the most well known are the Incarnation Hall, Huacheng Temple, Zhiyuan Temple, Longevity Hall, Zhantanlin Temple, Ganlu Temple and Tiantai Zhending Temple.
Huacheng Temple is the oldest and holiest temple on the mountain. It is located in the center of Jiuhua Street. Though it first appears simple and solemn, the structure and decoration of the building are truly artistic. The engravings on lintels, brackets and roofs reinforce the brightness and liveliness of the building. The picture, ‘Nine Dragons Playing with Pearls’ on a panel in the Main Shrine Hall is a consummate piece of ancient Chinese art.
Precious sutras and other cultural relics in the temples are displayed in the Historical Relics Museum of the Jiuhua Mountain. The most valuable are the Buddhist canonical literature left from the Tang Dynasty, the Tripitaka left from the Ming Dynasty, and Emperor Kang Xi and Emperor Qian Long’s handwritings left from the Qing Dynasty.
It is also worth mentioning the Corporeal Body Hall houses the skeleton of Monk Wu Xia that has been well preserved for more than 350 years. Wu Xia once wrote sutras with a mixture of gold powder and his own blood in a cave of Mt. Jiuhua during Ming Dynasty. After hard practice of sutras for a hundred year in Mt. Jiuhua, Wu Xia passed away at the age of 126– his body found in the cave three years after his death. Monks on the mountain believed Wu Xia was the reincarnation of Rinpoche. From then on, Buddhist believers have been keen to visit the mountain to pay homage to the monk.
Surrounded by mountains on three sides, Yiwu City is located in the central Zhejiang Province, covering an area of 1,105 square kilometers (about 426 square miles). In the year 222 BC, the Emperor Ying Zheng of the Qin Dynasty (221BC-206 BC) set up a county here. At present, there is a county-level government of Zhejiang Province, governing 8 towns and 5 subdistricts. Compared with the other big cites of China, Yiwu is small, but it has the largest commodity market in China. This, along with Yiwu’s mild climate has made it a tourism highlight in recent years.
Beautiful Xiuhu Lake and cliffy Songpu Hill attracted a series of historic poets and scholars who were compelled to express their appreciation of the city’s beauty. Yiwu is also the hometown of a number of historic people from ancient times. For example, Luo Binwang – one of the great patriotic poets in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Zong Ze – the patriotic general of Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), Zhu Danxi – one of the four famous doctors of the Jin and Yuan dynasties as well as Chen Wangdao, Feng Xuefeng and Wu Han, all of whom have made their contributions to the modern China. During your trip to this city, you will have chances to visit their hometowns which lie around Yiwu City.
Yiwu is renowned as a shopping paradise for small commodities. The flourishing markets which take up a large area of the city should not be missed. Yiwu provides a different kind of tour experience, for it is a composite of shopping and tour. The Yiwu International Trade City which makes up the China’s Commodities Trade City with Huangyuan Market and Binwang Market presents you with the city’s unique vigor. This is an excellent place to purchase souvenirs for you and your relatives and friends.
If you would like to explore the city on your own, convenient buses will take you to any corner of the city. On the way, it is easy for you to find some delicious local foods. You can have a good dinner either at the reasonable and friendly roadside booths or at one of the quality restaurants. In addition, foods from other regions of China and western food are available here.
Catering to the city’s prosperous economy and accelerating its urbanization, the city has developed a number of public facilities, including star-rated hotels, convenient transportation and amusement places. You can access the city from Xiaoshan Airport which is connected to Yiwu by frequent shuttle buses. Yiwu welcomes visitors from all over the world.
The Yingxian Wooden Pagoda, also named Sakyamuni Pagoda of Fogong Temple, is located in the Fogong Temple, Yingxian County, Shanxi Province. It is regarded as one of the “Three Pagodas in the World”, together with the Eiffel Tower in France and the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.
Built in 1056, this wooden pagoda has a history of over 1000 years. It is built on a four-meter-high groundwork with a total height of 67.31 meters, and a diameter of 30.27 meters at its bottom. It is 31.41-meter higher than the White Pagoda in the Beihai Park, Beijing, and 3.21-meter higher than the Dayan Pagoda (the Big Wild Goose Pagoda) in Xi’an. With a unique octagon structure in each tier, the pagoda has a specially designed iron lightning top that is refined and coordinated with the whole structure. Wind-bells are decorated under the eaves of every tier, tinkling and jingling whenever there is breeze.
The pagoda is the oldest and highest wooden structure construction in China and around the world. It is recorded that it has survived seven earthquakes in the history, especially a great earthquake happened in the Yuan Dynasty (1328 A.D.) that lasted for seven days. The pagoda stood firmly and remained intact after all that, testifying its rational use of components, fine construction and sound quality.
The tower adopts the structure of secluded chambers in design, presenting a distinctive national characteristic inherited from the Han and Tang Dynasties while leveraging the traditional architectural techniques to the fullest extent. It’s scientific and precise in design and consummate in structure, reaching the highest level of the architectural art in ancient China. In recent years, a batch of precious cultural relics were found in the pagoda, including written and carved Buddhist scriptures and thin silk Buddha figure paintings in the Liao Dynasty, which are significant for our further study on Liao’s politics, economy, culture and religion.
When Zhu Yuanzhang, the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), captured Huizhou, a hermit named Zhu Sheng admonished him that he should ‘built high walls, store abundant food supplies and take time to be an Emperor,’ so that he could fortify the city and unify the other states. After the establishment of the Ming dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang followed his advice and began to enlarge the wall built initially during the old Tang dynasty (618 -907), creating the modern Xian City Wall. It’s the most complete city wall that has survived in China, as well being one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world.
After the extension, the wall now stands 12 meters (40 feet) tall, 12-14 meters (40-46 feet) wide at the top and 15-18 meters (50-60 feet) thick at the bottom. It covers 13.7 kilometers (8.5 miles) in length with a deep moat surrounding it. Every 120 meters, there is a rampart which extends out from the main wall. All together, there are 98 ramparts on the wall, which were built to defend against the enemy climbing up the wall. Each rampart has a sentry building, in which the soldiers could protect the entire wall without exposing themselves to the enemy. Besides, the distance between every two ramparts is just within the range of an arrow shot from either side, so that they could shoot the enemy, who wanted to attack the city, from the side. On the outer side of the city wall, there are 5948 crenellations, namely battlements. The soldiers can outlook and shoot at the enemy. On the inner side, parapets were built to protect the soldiers from falling off.
Since the ancient weapons did not have the power to break through a wall and the only way for an enemy to enter the city was by attacking the gate of the city wall. This is why complicated gate structures were built within the wall. In Xian, the city wall includes four gates and they are respectively named as Changle (meaning eternal joy) in the east, Anding (harmony peace) in the west, Yongning (eternal peace) in the south and Anyuan (forever harmony) in the north. The south gate, Yongning, is the most beautifully decorated one. It is very near to the Bell Tower, center of the city. Important greeting ceremonies organized by the Provincial Government are usually held in the south gate square.
Each city gate has three gate towers: Zhenglou, Jianlou and Zhalou. The most outside is Zhalou, which stands away from the City Wall and is opposite to Zhenglou. It was used to raise and lower the suspension bridge. Jianlou with small windows in the front and flanks was used as a defensive outpost. Zhenglou, in the inner, is the main entrance to the city. The wall connects Jianlou and Zhenglou Towers. The area between them within the wall was called ‘Wong Cheng’, in which the soldiers stationed. From Wong Cheng, there are sloped horse passages leading to the top of the city wall.
Initially, the wall was built with layers of dirt, with the base layer including also lime and glutinous rice extract. Throughout the time Xian City Wall has been restored three times. In 1568, Zhang Zhi (the government officer of that period) was in charge to rebuild the wall with bricks. In 1781, another officer, Bi Yuan, refitted the city wall and the gate towers. More recently (since 1983) the Shaanxi Provincial Government restored the city wall again. A circular park has been built along the high wall and the deep moat. The thriving trees and flowers decorate the classical Chinese architecture of the wall, adding additional beauty to the city of Xian.
Lushan has an abundance of flora. There are about 1,720 varieties, including plants of temperate zone, torrid zone, semitropics, East Asia, North America and China. Lushan belongs to subtropical area where the climate is moderate with ample rainfall. The average temperature in July is only 22.6C (about 72.7F). The Lushan Arboretum was built in 1934, and it is an important base for preserving flora of the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. It is a good summer resort.
Lushan is also an educational base and religious center of ancient China and is home to the country’s oldest academy. The Bailudong Academy was founded in 940 and is one of China’s four most prestigious academies. (The others are Suiyang Academy, Shigu Academy and Yuelu Academy). It was in Bailudong Academy that an educational system was proposed by the outstanding educator Zhu Xi (1130-1200) of the Southern Song Dynasty. This formed the guide line for education in ancient China. Lushan has also attracted more than 1,500 eminent writers such as Li Bai (701-762), Bai Juyi ( 772-846), Su Shi (1037-1101), Kang Youwei (1858-1927), Guo Moruo(1892-1978), to name but a few, and has preserved more than 4,000 of their poems and essays..
Five different religions have been observed in Lushan over the past 1,600 years. The monk Hui Yuan (334-416) of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420) established Donglin Temple in Lushan, which is the Pure-land Sect of Buddhism. In the 5th century, Lu Xiujing, a Taoist of the Southern Dynasties (420-589) initiated Nantianshi Sect of Taoism. During the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, Islam and Christianity became established here. In the early part of the 20th century, churches of 20 more counties were constructed in the area which still has temples and churches of the five religions (sects).
The all-embracing spirit of Lushan means that it has various styles of architecture ranging from Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals to Byzantine structures, Japanese buildings, Islamic mosques and villas of 25 countries, all of which make Lushan a large-scale World Village.
Day 1 – Arrive Shanghai
On arrival into Shanghai and after completing any necessary Customs and Immigration formalities you will be met by your friendly China Holidays guide who will transfer you to Holiday Inn / Novotel Shanghai or similar where you will spend two nights.
Day 2 – Shanghai
After breakfast you will depart for a full day tour of Shanghai. Your day will include a visit to the Yu Gardens, the Old Chinatown and of course the Bund. Then over to Pudong to visit the Jin Mao Tower, one of the world’s tallest buildings, from where you will get a remarkable view of the city. In the evening you will have the opportunity to enjoy a cruise on the Huangpu River where after dark you will experience the ‘neon’ contrast of the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ Shanghai. (B/L/D)
Day 3 – Shanghai / Xi’an
This morning your guide will meet you and transfer you to the airport for your flight to Xi’an. On arrival your local China Holidays guide will be waiting for you and will transfer you to Mercure / Holiday Inn Xi’an or similar where you will stay two nights. (B/L)
Day 4 – Xi’an
Today you will depart for the Terracotta Warriors Museum, one of China’s top historical sites. Here you will see the magnificent Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang which has been painstakingly restored by archaeologists. Then you will get the opportunity to have a go at making some Chinese dumplings followed by lunch. On returning to your hotel there will be some free time. In the evening you will get the opportunity to sample a Chinese dumpling banquet and a performance of a Tang Dynasty Cultural Show. (B/L/D)
Day 5 – Depart Xi’an
After breakfast at your hotel you will visit the Big Goose Pagoda, the ancient City Wall, the Great Mosque and the Muslim snack street. After lunch you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight. (B)
The great Taj Mahal has no words to express since it is an incredible monument built by a king for his queen, a husband for his wife. His love makes the monument stand tall among all the other monuments even after 350 years and more. People all over the world take a tour to Agra, India to visit the Taj Mahal thinking about the beauty in its story.
After knowing the story we come why the Taj Mahal is the best in the whole world. It cannot be re-constructed. Even the story behind the Taj Mahal has been unique and can be seen only in movies. The question still remains,” Is there a Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal in today’s life and age who would love each other so much?”
The answer can be yes as well. However, let’s know the complete story of the Taj for the same.
The story begins: Prince Khurram was betrothed to Arjumand Bano Begum when she was 14 years old and he was 15 years old. They had to wait 5 years for the marriage as per the dates given by the court astrologers.
Shah Jahan got married with Mumtaz Mahal after 5 years in 1612 A.D.
Mumtaz Mahal was his support in all the matters of administration, family and in all the other aspects which the emperor needed. She followed him at every military campaign and was an evergreen companion for him. Though she was frequently pregnant she always supported him in all his life’s battles and finally in 1628 A.D. Shah Jahan became the emperor of Agra. The great victory for Shah Jahan was due to his great talent and the love and support of his wife. Thus, it is truly said that ‘behind every successful man there is a woman.’
Shah Jahan being of the Mughal family had other wives as well, however, he had deep affection and love towards Mumtaz Mahal, the most beautiful and supporting wife. After 2 years of his reign as the emperor of Agra, Mumtaz Mahal became sick when she was following him at Burhanpur for a military campaign. More than her health she thought it necessary to support her husband. Even when she belonged to the Mughal family she was supporting her husband in all his battles to encourage him all the time.
While giving birth to her 14th child she fell seriously ill. Even after giving her the best treatment she couldn’t survive. At her deathbed she asked her beloved husband a few promises to be fulfilled after her death. One of those promises was the construction of this beautiful monument, the Taj Mahal. The meaning is “The Crown Palace” or it can be in the name of Mumtaz Mahal as well. Shah Jahan had named it earlier as Roza-E-Mumtaz Mahal meaning ‘the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal’.
The story continues: The story doesn’t end here. The faithfulness of Shah Jahan for his wife is the main reason and the answer behind this great beauty. He loved his wife so much that after her death he became sick due to grief. He isolated himself for around 2 years and grew old soon. It is said that he used to weep when he visited his wife’s tomb. For months after her death he was still in the grief and with a broken heart. He had white hair and beard and started falling sick frequently.
The construction of the Taj Mahal took years to complete and Shah Jahan was patient for 22 years until it was completed. He had given the best for this monument because he wanted to give the best to his wife’s memory. He chose marble instead of a normal stone and went for the riches of his kingdom while building this monument. This is not just enough. He didn’t marry again after her death as he had promised Mumtaz Mahal that he would take care of their 14 children and won’t neglect them.
All the beauty of Shah Jahan’s love for his wife is seen in the Taj Mahal. The moon makes the Taj more beautiful and the river Yamuna tells about its story to everyone who comes to her banks. Isn’t it amazing that the love of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal still speaks and is alive in the white marbled beauty. The true story never ends even when Shah Jahan was buried next to his wife after his death. The story continues even at this age.
The story never ends: People tell each other about the amazing love story; we discuss it when we think about Shah Jahan’s love for his wife. When people see it they come to see the love of Shah Jahan for his beloved wife. ‘A tear drop in the face of time’, the Taj Mahal, is still standing tall to tell everyone about the love of the king and the queen. The question still remains in our mind. Was Shah Jahan the only one or there is still such Shah Jahan who would love his wife so deeply and immensely and forever? Was Mumtaz Mahal the only one or there is still such Mumtaz Mahal who would support her husband in all the aspects and love him?
Do we have Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal in today’s age? Finally the answer is that the love of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal has always succeeded, it is still alive even at this age.
You might be avoiding the cramped rush hour train ride but I am pretty sure that without any hesitation you will jump on a train where you own about half of the cart with your own flat-screen television, surround sound, artworks hanging on the wall, and lush tapestries.
Believe it or not there are train rides which can give you that experience. You can even go for two bathrooms if you are not happy with just one. Outside your sleeper car you can enjoy classical music or a relaxing massage offered by the spa.
Although we are experiencing struggling from an economic downturn, luxury trains are still able to find their place in the travel industry and are still plying the routes of the most developed railways. We listed some of the most luxurious sleeper cars.
Danube Express (Hungary)
The Danube Express defines what a luxury sleeper car should be. It is among the most lavish in Europe boasting of 83 square foot compartments that give you brass fittings to heated rails for your towels. You will also get dimming lights and a rare feature – windows that can easily be opened. Passengers also get a full size wardrobes and a lot of mirrors.
The refurbished train cars were used before by dignitaries and they traverse major routes leading to different European capitals. One famous stop will be the most famous castles in Transylvania, Draculas.
You can ride in luxury for about $3,777 per person for a 4-day, 3-night journey.
Pride of Africa (South Africa)
The owner of Pride of Africa, Rohan Vos, will greet you as you step onto the train. Every passenger appreciates the attention and the personal touch that guides the Pride of Africa to its different routes through the Kalahari Desert, Victoria Falls, and through the wildlife reserves.
The Royal Suites, a 172 square feet of space in the sleeper car, come with lounge areas and can go as far as Victorian bathtubs in your own bathroom.
You will love how the refrigerators are filled with goodies you love but you can always buzz for an attendant to bring you your favorite cocktail.
A two night trip taking you through the Cape Town-Pretoria route will cost you around $2,973 per person on a double occupancy.
Royal Canadian Pacific (Canada)
The Royal Canadian Pacific may not have the biggest sleeper cars nor do they have the most luxurious treatments but the staterooms have hosted the likes of Queen Elizabeth II, King George VI, and Winston Churchill. Now who doesnt want to ride the RCP? The ambience is set up by fine wood for walls and maple carvings for highlights. They also use brass radiators and some Turkish drapes.
The luxury train stops so you can get some good sleep in your one of a kind compartment. You will be waking up to a great view of the snow draped Canadian Rockies.
A five night, six-day journey through the Rockies will take out $7,853 from your bank account.