Tag Archives: wildlife

Rajasthan: Land of Kings – Lonely Planet Travel Video

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Rajasthan: Land of Kings – Lonely Planet Travel Video

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Rājasthān is the largest state of the Republic of India in terms of area. It encompasses most of the area of the large, inhospitable Great Indian Desert (Thar Desert), which has an edge paralleling the Sutlej-Indus river valley along its border with Pakistan. The region borders Pakistan to the west, Gujarat to the southwest, Madhya Pradesh to the southeast, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to the northeast and Punjab to the north. Rajasthan covers an area of 132,150 sq mi or 342,269 km².

The state capital is Jaipur. Geographical features include the Thar Desert along north-western Rajasthan and the termination of the Ghaggar River near the archaeological ruins at Kalibanga, which are the oldest in the subcontinent discovered so far.

Rajasthan is one of the most popular travel destinations in India. Rajasthan is well known for historical monuments; Rajasthan Tourism is benchmarked for the warm hospitality and internationally awarded hotels & resorts. The major Tourist Destinations like Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Udaipur are well interconnected with all the major domestic and international cities.

One of the world’s oldest mountain ranges, the Aravalli Range, cradles the only hill station of Rajasthan, Mount Abu, and its world-famous Dilwara Temples, a sacred pilgrimage for Jains. Eastern Rajasthan has two national tiger reserves, Ranthambore and Sariska, as well as Keoladeo National Park near Bharatpur, once famous for its bird life.

Rajasthan was formed on 30 March 1949, when all erstwhile princely states ruled by Rajputs, known as Rajputana, merged into the Dominion of India. The only difference between erstwhile Rajputana and Rajasthan is that certain portions of what had been British India, in the former province of Ajmer-Merwara, were included. Portions lying geographically outside of Rajputana such as the Sumel-Tappa area were given to Madhya Pradesh.

Statistics

  • Population: 56.47 million (2001 Census, estimated at more than 58 million now)
  • Cities and Towns: 222
  • Major cities: Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Kota, Ajmer, Bikaner, Churu, Bharatpur, Bhilwara, Alwar, Sri Ganganagar ,Pali,Makrana, Bundi,chittorgarh, Didwana, Sujangarh, Nagaur, Sikar, Balotra
  • Roads: 61,520 km. ( 2,846 km National Highway)
  • National highways crossing Rajasthan: Delhi-Ahmedabad, Agra-Bikaner, Jaipur-Bhopal and Bhatinda-Kandla
  • Climate: Generally dry with monsoon during July-August
  • Districts: 33
  • Languages: English and Hindi commonly used, as well as indigenous Rajasthani languages
  • Literacy: 61.03%

Districts

Rajasthan is divided into 33 districts and seven divisions:

  • Ajmer Division: Ajmer, Bhilwara, Nagaur, Tonk.
  • Bharatpur Division: Bharatpur, Dholpur, Karauli, Sawai Madhopur.
  • Bikaner Division: Bikaner, Churu, Ganganagar, Hanumangarh.
  • Jaipur Division: Jaipur, Alwar, Jhunjhunu, Sikar, Dausa.
  • Jodhpur Division: Barmer, Jaisalmer, Jalore, Jodhpur District, Pali, Sirohi.
  • Kota Division: Baran, Bundi, Jhalawar, Kota.
  • Udaipur Division: Banswara District, Chittorgarh District, Pratapgarh District, Dungarpur District, Udaipur, Rajsamand

Transport

Rajasthan is connected by many national highways. Most renowned being NH 8, which is India’s first 4-8 lane highway. Rajasthan also has a good inter city surface transport system both in terms of railways and bus network. All important and tourist cities are connected by air, rail and road.

By Air: There are three main airports at Rajasthan- Jaipur airport, Udaipur airport and Jodhpur airport. These airports connect Rajasthan with the major cities of India such as Delhi and Mumbai.

By Rail: Rajasthan is well connected with the main cities of India by rail. Jaipur, Ajmer, Udaipur and Jodhpur are the main railway stations in Rajasthan.

By Road: Rajasthan is well connected to the main cities of the country by State and National Highways.

Wildlife

Rajasthan is also famous for National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. There are four national park and wildlife sanctuaries named the Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary, Ranthambore National Park, Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary and Desert National Park.

Ranthambore National Park and Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary both are known worldwide for their tiger population and considered by both wild lovers and photographers as the best places in India to spot tigers. Besides, it houses several small wildlife sanctuaries and eco-tourism parks . Prominent among them are Mount Abu Sanctuary, Bhensrod Garh Sanctuary, Darrah Sanctuary, Jaisamand Sanctuary, Kumbhalgarh Sanctuary, and Jawahar Sagar sanctuary etc.

Demographics

Rajasthan has a mainly Rajasthani population. Hindus account for 88.8% of the population. Muslims make up 8.5%, Sikhs 1.4% and Jains 1.2% of the population.[5] The state of Rajasthan is also populated by Sindhis, who came to Rajasthan from Sindh province (now in Pakistan) during the India-Pakistan separation in 1947.

The mother tongue of the majority of people in Rajasthan is Rajasthani. Rajasthani and Hindi are the most widely used languages in Rajasthan. After independence, Rajasthani was used as a medium of instruction, along with Hindi and English, in some schools. Some other languages used in Rajasthan are Gujarati, Sindhi and Punjabi.


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Sipadan Island, Sabah, Malaysia : New 7 Wonders of Nature

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Sipadan Island, Sabah, Malaysia : New 7 Wonders of Nature

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Sipadan is the only oceanic island in Malaysia, rising 600 metres (2,000 ft) from the seabed. It is located in the Celebes Sea east of the major town of Tawau and off the coast of East Malaysia on the Island of Borneo. It was formed by living corals growing on top of an extinct volcanic cone that took thousands of years to develop. Sipadan is located at the heart of the Indo-Pacific basin, the centre of one of the richest marine habitats in the world. More than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this ecosystem.

Normally rare diving scenes are frequently seen in the waters around Sipadan: schools of green and hawksbill turtles nesting and mating, schools of barracuda and big-eye trevally in tornado-like formations, pelagic species such as manta rays, eagle rays, scalloped hammerhead sharks and whale sharks.

A mysterious turtle tomb lies underneath the column of the island, formed by an underwater limestone cave with a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers that contain many skeletal remains of turtles that have become lost and drown before finding the surface.

Diving at Sipadan

In year 2004, the Government of Malaysia ordered all on-site dive and resort operators of Sipadan to move their structures out of the island by 31 December 2004. This move is mainly to conserve a balanced ecosystem for Sipadan and its surrounding.

Diving will continue to be allowed in Sipadan for divers who are ferried in and out by dive and resort operators from the mainland and surrounding islands. However, tourists and keen divers should be warned that the number of permits available for Sipadan each day is limited to 120 spread between 12 resorts. A visit to Sipadan is not only not guaranteed for guests at the resort, regardless of the length of stay, but it is highly unlikely for those who stay less than a week or who want to snorkel rather than dive. Please keep this in mind to avoid disappointment.

If you are lucky enough to get to dive at Sipadan, you’ll experience world class diving, and maybe the most known diving spot is the Barracuda Point, where during the morning dive you’ll often encounter a very large school of Barracuda or Big Eye Trevallies. This is only one of many rare experiences you’ll have diving the reef off Sipadan island. There will be a lot of Green Turtle, Hawkbill Turtle and Whitetip reef shark and even the rare encounter of Hammerhead sharks.

History

In the past, the island was at the centre of a territorial dispute between Malaysia and Indonesia. The matter was brought for adjudication before the International Court of Justice and, at the end of 2002, the Court awarded the island along with the island of Ligitan to Malaysia, on the basis of the “effective occupation” displayed by the latter’s predecessor (Malaysia’s former colonial power, the United Kingdom) and the absence of any other superior title. The Philippines had applied to intervene in the proceedings on the basis of its claim to Northern Borneo, but its request was turned down by the Court early in 2001.

On April 23, 2000, 21 people were kidnapped by the Filipino terrorist group Abu Sayyaf. The armed terrorists arrived by boat and forced 10 tourists and 11 resort workers at gun point to board the vessels and brought the victims to Mindanao. All victims were eventually released.

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Phuket, Thailand – Paradise Island

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Phuket, Thailand – Paradise Island

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Phuket is one of the southern provinces (changwat) of Thailand. Neighbouring provinces are (from north clockwise) Phang Nga and Krabi, but as Phuket is an island there are no land boundaries.

Phuket is Thailand’s largest island, approximately the size of Singapore. The island is connected to mainland Thailand by a bridge. It is situated off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. The region has an area of approximately 570sq. km. and is made up of 1 large and 39 small islands. Phuket formerly derived its wealth from tin and rubber. The island was on one of the major trading routes between India and China, and was frequently mentioned in foreign trader’s ship logs. The region now derives much of its income from tourism.

Name

The name Phuket (of which the ph sound is an aspirated p) is apparently derived from the word bukit (Jawi: بوكيت) in Malay which means hill, as this is what the island appears like from a distance. The region was formerly referred to as “Thalang,” derived from the old Malay “Telong” (Jawi: تلوڠ) which means “Cape.” The northern district of the province, which was the location of the old capital, still uses this name.

Demographics

As with most of Thailand, the majority of the population is Buddhist, but there is a significant number of Muslims (30%) in Phuket, mainly descendants of the island’s original sea-dwelling people. Among the Muslims, many are of Malay descent. People of Chinese ancestry make up an even larger populace, many of whom having descended from tin miners who migrated to Phuket during the 19th century. Peranakans, known as “Phuket Babas” in the local tongue, constitute a fair share of members Chinese community, particularly among those who have family ties with the Peranakans of Penang and Malacca.

Transportation

The Phuket International Airport is located in the north of the island. There are many scheduled flights and chartered flights from domestics and other countries in Asia, Australia, Europe and North America landing in Phuket.

There is no rail-line to Phuket, but the trains do run to nearby Surat Thani. Songthaews (passenger pick-up vehicles) are a common mode of transport on Phuket. Phuket’s songthaews are larger than those found in other areas of Thailand. They travel between the town and beaches. There are also conventional bus services and motorbike taxis. The latter are found in large numbers in the main town and at Patong Beach. The traditional Tuk-tuks have been replaced by small vans, mostly red or some are yellow. Songthaews are the cheapest mode of transportation for travel from town to town.

Attractions

  • Hat Patong (หาดป่าตอง) 15 kilometres from town, Patong is Phuket’s most developed beach which offers numerous leisure, sporting, shopping and recreational options along its 3-kilometre long crescent bay. Windsurfing, snorkelling, sailing, swimming and sunbathing number among the many popular daytime activities. Patong is equally well known for its vibrant nightlife, among which seafood restaurants feature prominently.
  • Laem Phromthep (แหลมพรหมเทพ) Phromthep Cape is a headland forming the extreme south end of Phuket. “Phrom” is Thai for the Hindu term, “Brahma,” signifying purity, and “Thep” means ‘God.’ Local villagers used to refer to the cape as “Laem Chao”, or the God’s Cape, and it was an easily recognizable landmark for the early seafarers traveling up the Malay Peninsula from the sub-continent.
  • Hat Karon (หาดกะรน) The second largest of Phuket’s tourist beaches, some 20 kilometres from town. Large resort complexes line the road behind of the shoreline, but the long, broad beach itself has no development. The sand is very white, and squeaks audibly when walked upon. There are plenty of restaurants and tourist stores right across the street from the beach. The southern point has a fine coral reef stretching toward Kata and Bu Island. There is also its sister beach Karon Noi.
  • View Point (จุดชมวิว) This is located mid-point between Nai Han and Kata beaches. The scenic Kata Noi, Kata and Karon beaches, and Ko Pu Island can be viewed from this point.
  • Wat Chalong (วัดฉลองหรือวัดไชยธาราราม) This is where stands the cast statue of Luang Pho Cham, who helped the people of Phuket put down the Angyee, or Chinese Coolie Rebellion, in 1876 during the reign of Rama V. There are also statues of Luang Pho Chuang, and Luang Pho Cham, abbots of the temple during later times.
  • Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Conservation Development and Extension Centre (สถานีพัฒนาและส่งเสริมการอนุรักษ์สัตว์ป่าเขาพระแทว) Its duty is to promote, distribute and wildlife within Khao Phra Thaeo wildlife park. The park is full of virgin forest and also actively conserves a number of wild animals; they would otherwise be extinct in Phuket. It is a center for study of the environment and the forest vegetation is spectacular. Giant trees supported by huge buttresses are thick with creepers and climbers of every description.

Events and Festivals

  • Thao Thep Krasattri and Thao Si Sunthon Fair (งานท้าวเทพกระษัตรี – ท้าวศรีสุนทร) is held on March 13 every year to commemorate the two great heroines who rallied the Thalang people to repel Burmese invaders.
  • Vegetarian Festival (เทศกาลกินเจ(กินผัก-เจี๊ยะฉ่าย)) is held on the first day of the 9th lunar month (end Sept or early October). Phuket islanders of Chinese ancestry commit themselves to a 9-day vegetarian diet, a form of purification believed to help make the forthcoming year “trouble-free”. The festival is marked by several ascetic displays, including fire-walking and ascending sharp-bladed ladders.
  • Phuket King’s Cup Regatta (งานแข่งเรือใบชิงถ้วยพระราชทาน) is held in December. The Kata Beach Resort hosts international yachtsmen, largely from neighbouring countries who compete in the Kata Beach area for royal trophies.
  • Laguna Phuket Triathlon (ลากูน่าภูเก็ตไตรกีฬา) is held in each December. The triathlon (a 1,800 – metre swim, a 5.5 -kilometre bike race and a 12-kilometre run and a 6 –kilometre fun run) attracts many athletes from all over the world.
  • Phuket Travel Fair (เทศกาลเปิดฤดูการท่องเที่ยวจังหวัดภูเก็ต), starting from November 1, is usually called the Patong Carnival, from the place where celebrations occur. Colourful parades, sports events, and a beauty competition for foreign tourists are major activities.
  • Chao Le (Sea Gypsy) Boat Floating Festival (งานประเพณีลอยเรือชาวเล) falls during the middle of the sixth and eleventh lunar months yearly. The sea gypsy villages at Rawai and Sapam hold their ceremonies on the 13th; Ko Si-re celebrates on the 14th; and Laem La (east of the bridge on Phuket’s northern tip) on the 15th. Ceremonies, which centre around the setting adrift of small boats similar to the Thai festival of Loi Krathong, are held at night and their purpose is to drive away evil and bring good luck.

Cuisine

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  • Fried or Boiled Noodle Dishes (หมี่ผัดหรือหมี่น้ำแบบต่าง ๆ), usually with pork or chicken, are available at many noodle shops in the town such as Mi Ton Pho, Mi Sapam, Mi Ao Ke, Mi Hun Pa Chang, and etc.
  • Khanom Jeen (ขนมจีน), a version of noodles taken at breakfast, usually served with a spicy curry sauce and fresh vegetables.
  • Nam Phrik Kung Siap (น้ำพริกกุ้งเสียบ) is a mixture of dried chili and smoked shrimps taken with various fresh vegetables.
  • Cashew nuts and pineapples are rarely grown in Phuket but are available all year round. The nuts are available dried, fried or coated.
  • Pad Kanaa Moo Grob is a dish with sauteed leafy green (similar to kale) and crispy pork.
  • Kao Man Gai is a simple dish of chicken and rice (usually infused with padanus leaves) that is sold at many small stands.

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