Category: Discover

Da Nang – Vietnam

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Da Nang marks the halfway point between the capital in the north, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City in the south. It’s the fourth largest city in Vietnam. Apart from some shopping highlights and historical sights, the main reason for most travellers staying here is its proximity to the well-known My Khe Beach, Lang Co Beach, Hoi An and My Son.

Lang Co Beach is lined with palm trees, the water of the nearby ocean crystal-clear and enticing, lapping onto white sand. It is a peninsula with a sparkling lagoon on one side, and the beach on the other. The area is fairly under-developed, although recent years have seen many new hotels opening. My Khe Beach is more developed, since it was a popular spot for American soldiers seeking R&R during the Vietnam-US War. Water sport activities here are in abundance, and it can get very crowded over weekends and holidays. Da Nang’s coastline stretches 30 kilometres, renowned for calm, cool waters and also popular for fishing, water-skiing, diving, and yachting.

Explore Taj Mahal Uttar Pradesh

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Taj Mahal is the epitome of grandeur and splendour, you cannot fathom the beauty of this white marbled monument unless you stand in front of it. As you approach Taj Mahal, it gradually becomes known to you that this is no ordinary monument, but a vision come to life! Moved by its beauty and the deep affection of Shah Jahan for Mumtaz, the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore called it “a teardrop on the face of eternity”. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is located on the bank of the Yamuna River and is counted among the most popular heritage monuments in India.

Built between 1631 and 1648 AD, the Taj Mahal stands as the finest example of Indo-Islamic architecture, and is one of the seven wonders of the world. The timeless beauty of the Taj is a reflection of the profound pain and longing which Shah Jahan was overcome by after the death of Mumtaz Mahal. Today, visitors celebrate, reflect and admire the splendour of the Taj. Inside, both Shah Jahan and Mumtaz lie buried in their graves, divided in life, but united in death.

There is nothing ordinary about the Taj. From its minarets which are always bent curiously outwards to its inlay work, calligraphy, gateways, panels and arches, every nook and corner is a manifestation of divine grace that its builder seems to have been blessed with. Every intricate detail that catches your eye is worthy of being described in thousands way for its exquisite beauty. Unsurprisingly, Taj Mahal always occupies the first place in the heritage tourism attractions in Uttar Pradesh.

Architecture

The Taj Mahal is the finest example of Indo-Persian architecture. It incorporates Persian, Indian and Islamic architectural styles. The main gateway of the Taj Mahal, which is the most photographed section of the monument, consists of a door carved from solid silver. It is believed that this door was built to prevent the tomb which is located inside from being visible from anywhere. The tomb, therefore, is only visible when you have arrived at the gateway itself. Look up though and you will find the ceiling decorated with verses from the Holy Quran in wonderful calligraphy.

The tomb itself is built in a rectangular shape and lies at the northern end of the Taj Mahal. While the ceiling is decorated with floral patterns, the floors and other areas of the room are adorned with floral designs. Here, it is interesting to know that the tombs visible to the public and tourists are not the real tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz. The real ones are protected in a crypt.

One feature of the Taj Mahal which makes its presence everywhere are the lily flowers. This suggests the love of the Mughals for gardens. Indeed, some of the best gardens in India were built by the Mughals. The central hall is surrounded by eight rooms which are connected by a common corridor.

No description of the architecture of the Taj Mahal is complete without mentioning its dome. It stands like a crown on a king and plays a big role in lending this monument a feeling of eternity. Bulbous shaped, the outer doom stands at a height of almost 44.4m, while the inner dome stands at a height of almost 24.3m. It is popularly believed that this dome was built by Ismail Afandi from Turkey, a renowned palace dome designer in Turkey. Here too, the combination of Hindu and Islamic styles of architectures is visible in the form of “chhatris” (an umbrella like structure), which is a feature mostly found in temples.

Ho Chi Minh City

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Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is the business and financial hub of Vietnam, with a prominent history going back hundreds of years. The Khmers originally settled the region, with the Vietnamese taking over in the 17th century. The French conquered Saigon, as it was then known, in 1859, and made it the capital of Cochin China in 1862, which resulted in numerous elegant architecture and broad boulevards that are still present to this day. At the peak of the Vietnam War in 1969, the city had 4.5 million inhabitants who were all evacuated when Saigon and the rest of the South fell to North Vietnam in 1975.

The city has recovered in the 30 years since then, with the current population at over 7 million. It was renamed Ho Chi Minh City, after the spiritual leader of Vietnamese Communism, but residents were so reluctant to adopt the new name that authorities kept the official name but the city centre is still called Saigon.

Today, Ho Chi Minh City is a popular tourist destination due to its fascinating culture, classic French architecture, and sleek skyscrapers as well as ornate temples and pagodas. The city is also filled with rooftop bars that overlook Saigon and beyond, while fantastic restaurants offer a combination of French, Chinese, and, of course, local Vietnamese cuisine.