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Wonders of Jordan

4 Mar

Tourists at Petra approach Al Khazneh (the Treasury), whose function in Nabataean times is still unknown. Spurred by Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel, tourism to Petra is up tenfold since 1991, boosting the economy but raising concerns about preservation.

Amman at Dusk
Lights at dusk reveal the expanse of Jordan’s capital city of Amman. The city’s present-day sprawl – sunbaked white homes, modern high-rises, chic hotels, and commercial districts situated on a hilly landscape – exists side-by-side with historical sites dating to periods of Byzantine, Roman, and early Islamic rule.

Al Deir
Reclining on a rooftop carved two millennia ago, a Bedouin surveys the realm of the Nabataeans, beckoning from the sands of southern Jordan. Forgotten for centuries, Petra still echoes with mysteries of the past; this immense building, Al Deir (the Monastery), was probably a Nabataean shrine.

Church Mosaics
Petra’s heyday ended when the Romans rerouted trade in the second century A.D., sending the city into a long decline. In a fifth-century Byzantine church, archaeologists found detailed mosaics.

Olives of Ajlun
During the harvest season, farmers in the town of Ajlun – about 46 miles (75 kilometers) north of Amman – ready olives for pressing at oil extraction plants. Olives are among Jordan’s chief agricultural products, along with citrus, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

Turkish Coffee
Turkish coffee, served from an ibrik, is a popular refreshment in Jordan. The long-handled pot – traditionally made from brass or copper – is also used to brew the beverage. 

Dead Sea
Visitors to the Dead Sea float in its famously buoyant waters, among the saltiest on Earth. Located on the border of Israel and Jordan, the inland sea is an increasingly popular destination for tourists seeking the touted curative properties of its salts and minerals.

Jebel Musa
A church and monastery dating to the fourth century A.D. stand at the summit of Jebel Musa, or Mount Nebo, near Madaba in western Jordan. Accounts in Jewish and Christian tradition place the tomb of the biblical prophet Moses at the site, from where he is said to have viewed the Promised Land. Today the mountain and surrounding holy sites draw pilgrims and tourists from around the world.

Jerash Ruins
Sheep graze near the ruins of a colonnaded Roman street in Jerash, 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of Amman. Part of the Greco-Roman Decapolis League under Pompey the Great during its golden age, the ancient city’s remarkably well preserved ruins include public plazas, temples, and theaters.

Red Sea Reef
Resting on a plate of stony coral, a giant carpet sea anemone coexists with bright clownfish in the Red Sea, which meets the southwest tip of Jordan at Aqaba. Isolated from the open ocean, the sea harbors a wealth of endemic marine creatures: One-fifth of the species are found nowhere else.

Wadi Rum
Wind-combed dunes meet parched mud flats in Wadi Rum, a stark desertscape in southwestern Jordan. Revered for its dramatic sandstone and granite rock faces cut into a breathtaking span of sunbaked desert, Wadi Rum was made famous by Lawrence of Arabia, who based his operations there during the Arab Revolt. 

Melbourne in HDR

9 Nov
 Yarras Edge & Marina at Docklands.
High Dynamic Range or HDR photography is the digital age equivalent of Adams’s zone system.

Street photography is one of the forms of photojournalism, it is puredocumentary of a city, its people, the times and fashions, expressionsand movements. Street photo art is like a great wine that gets betterwith age.

Cafe under Southbank Footbridge.

Lorimer Street freeway interchange from 50 Lorimer Street, Yarras Edge.

Degraves Street Melbourne.

St Paul's Cathedral Melbourne.

Flower stall outside Melbourne Town Hall.

Flinders Street Station, inside under the clocks.

View of Skyline from outside The Boat Sheds.

Regent Theatre.

Melbourne in HDR.

The Yarra River from Princess Bridge.

Stunning Nature Photos Of Austria

10 Oct

Incredible India

15 Sep

A Baptist Church in Alichen, Nagaland.


Nohkalikai Falls at Cherapunji, Meghalaya.


View from Ooty, Tamil Nadu.


Raigad Fort, Maharashtra.


Tea Gardens at Munnar, Kerala.


Kanchenjunga (8586m) viewed from Sandakphu, Sikkim.


Temple Tank, Bhoga Nandeeshwara temple, Karnataka.


Nubra Valley, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir.


The blue range of mountains that run along the western coast of India.This shot was taken in mid May from Palivasal Tea Estate in Munnar, Kerala.


Kargil District, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir.


Kaveri river running through Hogenakkal, Tamil Nadu.


Lake Pichola , Udaipur , Rajasthan.


Chittorgarh Fort, Rajasthan.


Kumbalgarh Fort, Rajasthan.


Thirumalai Nayak Palace, inner courtyard, Madurai,Tamil Nadu.


The port city of Vishakhapatnam (Vizag for short), Andhra Pradesh.


Lake Palace, Udaipur, Rajasthan.


Eravikulam National Park, Kerala.


Valley of Flowers National Park, Uttaranchal.


A boathouse on the placid backwaters of Kumarakom, Kerala.


A Cathedral in Thiruvalla, Kerala incorporating the features of a traditional Hindu Temple, a Mosque and a Church.


Munnar, Kerala.


Gaganachukki Falls, Mandya, Karnataka.


Vellore fort, Tamil Nadu.


Taj Mahal, Agra.

10 Places You Never Wanted To Live

13 Sep
 10 Places You Never Wanted To Live
The world is a giant jigsaw puzzle, spotted with both exquisitely beautiful and potentially dangerous places. While you may dream of spending a lifetime in some of the true paradises-on-earth, you should be equally wary of stepping up in some real hell spots for your own safety. But not everyone is fortunate enough to get a cozy and safe home and there are places on earth where people are actually living on the edge of peril.
Here are top 10 such nightmarish places on earth where you would never want to live:
Dharavi in Mumbai, India

The slums of Mumbai

10 Places You Never Wanted To Live
Roughly half the residents of Bombay live in crowded slums such as these.
Photo from bwillen
Sprawling over 175 hectares between Mahim and Sion, Dharavi has emerged as the largest slum of Asia inhabiting a population exceeding 600,000. Dharavi has its rival in Orangi Town in Karachi, Pakistan that has a notorious filth and expanse. Dharavi presents a brighter picture as a cheap pocket in the midst of expensive Mumbai where you could stay for as low as 4 US dollars rent per month.
10 Places You Never Wanted To Live

Dharavi, the most biggest slum of the world / Photo from sandrinecohen22

Dharavi is an abode for various small-scale industries like pottery, embroidered garments, leather and plastic goods. Unbelievably the total net income of the residents of Dharavi amounts to almost 650 million US dollars. But Dharavi is no paradise – its inadequate water supply and toilet facilities get worse during the monsoon floods and the unhygienic environment of Dharavi poses serious threats to public health issues.
Rocinha – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
10 Places You Never Wanted To Live
10 Places You Never Wanted To Live

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil / Photo from Leonardo Martins

Photo from razorbern

The largest favela (basically meaning shanty town) in Rio De Janeiro. / Photo from -bos[s]-’Situated between the São Conrado and Gávea districts of Rio de Janeiro, Rocinha meaning small ranch in Portuguese is the largest slum or “favela” in South America. Posed on a hillside within one kilometer of the beach, Rocinha originated as a shanty to transform quickly into a modern slum neighborhood. You will find it better off than many shanties because of its brick buildings, sanitation, plumbing and other urban facilities.
10 Places You Never Wanted To Live

Favela, Rio de Janeiro / Photo from dreamindly

What makes Rocinha a potentially dangerous place to live is the prevalence of a violent drug trade. This leads to endless tussles and encounters between the drug peddlers and the police, giving rise to a dangerous ambiance. The population of 100,000 has a poor economic state and high mortality rates. What is more, Rocinha being built on steep mountain slope is susceptible to landslides, rock falls and floods.
Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya

10 Places You Never Wanted To Live

1,000,000 residents live on a mountain of Garbage. / Photo from Chicago Wedding Photographer, Wes Craft

Kibera, meaning ‘forest’ in Nubian is the home for a million people, which earned notoriety for being the biggest slum in the whole of Africa. Most of the population here are tenants with no rights living in mud-walled shacks owned by landlords who have vacated Kibera. Most of the population is African Muslims, who huddle up eight per shack, often sleeping on the floors.
10 Places You Never Wanted To Live

Photo from alongtheway

Just 20% of Kibera has electricity and no regular supply of clean water. The dam water that people use is the root to cholera and typhoid, aggravated by poor sewage condition. There is widespread menace of AIDS and the total absence of government medical facilities. What worsens the general livelihood of Kibera is the availability of a cheap alcoholic drink called ‘Changaa’.
Faced with rampant unemployment, most of the slum-dwellers resort to Changaa early in life and grow into criminals, drunkards and rapists. The problem is aggravated by the availability of cheap drugs and tendencies of glue sniffing. The result is the rising rate of unwanted pregnancy among girls of all ages who invariably turn to abortion. Some charities and churches are working towards the betterment of the condition.
Linfen, China

10 Places You Never Wanted To Live

Pollution / Photo from sheilaz413

Located right at the center of Shanxi Province of China’s coal region, Linfen is one of the most polluted cities in the world. The air is thick with dust and smoke to a degree that hampers visibility. The three million people who live in Linfen take regular doses of arsenic rich water, further polluted with fossil fuels and poisonous gases through the air they breathe. You can actually catch a lasting stink when you step in Linfen with overflowing sewage everywhere.
10 Places You Never Wanted To Live

Young coal worker in Linfen (Shanxi, China) / Photo from andi808

The river flowing by Linfen has its water thickened with oil. No wonder! The inhabitants using this water have high occurrences of cancer. When you look at the trees around the Linfen factories, they present a sad withered picture. It is the last place on earth that you would think of sending someone, even your worst enemy.
10 Places You Never Wanted To Live
Kabwe, Zambia

Photograph by Blacksmith Institute / Photo from nationalgeographic.com

The lead and cadmium accumulations in this former British colony have skyrocketed since their discovery in 1902 when Zambia was valued for a rich lead mine. Although the mines have closed and no smelters are operational now, Kabwe residents have faced the threat of lead poisoning through decades. Blood tests in the children have revealed lead concentrations exceeding 5-10 times the normal limit that could turn fatal any day. Only recently, the World Bank has allotted funds for tackling the problem.
10 Places You Never Wanted To Live

Photo from livescience.com

Chernobyl, Ukraine

10 Places You Never Wanted To Live

10 Places You Never Wanted To Live

Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant / Photo from Ken and Nyetta
Talking of life-threatening pollution and poisoning, nothing could beat the nuclear reactor accident record set by Chernobyl that has left about 5.5 million people facing the threat of thyroid cancer. The fallout that occurred in April 26, 1986 has led to the leakage of nuclear radiation 100 times more pronounced in volume and effect than that of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki explosions. It is a horror that thousands of Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian children living close to the damaged plant still cannot escape the radiation impact.
10 Places You Never Wanted To Live

This used to be the public gym, back in 1986. / Photo from philippe simpson

Dzerzhinsk, Russia

10 Places You Never Wanted To Live

Dzerzhinsk / Photo from Oleg aka Xraboy

Situated beside the Oka River in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast of Russia, Dzerzhinsk is named after the Russian leader Feliks Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky. Right From its inception, Dzerzhinsk has remained a chemical industry hub and has been producing chemical weapons for Russia. It has been labeled one of the worst polluted cities of the world with a staggering death rate.
10 Places You Never Wanted To Live

Skyline of Dzerzhinsk / Photo from Spendruleziya

In Dzerzhinsk, the average life of men is just 42 years and women 47 years. Environmentalists attribute such high mortality rate to the ceaseless production of organic chemicals like toxic dioxins, hydrogen cyanide, lead and sulfur mustard. The phenol and dioxin contents in the Dzerzhinsk waters surpasses the normal limit by seventeen million times.
Cubatão – São Paulo, Brazil

10 Places You Never Wanted To Live

Cubatão / Photo from Alceu Bap
The city of Cubatão extending over 142 square kilometers is more appropriately known as the ‘Valley of Death’ for its precarious living conditions. It has a high air pollution level that has led to the destruction of forests over the surrounding hills and birth of children with congenital organ defects.
10 Places You Never Wanted To Live

sticker mundo / Photo from caio antunes

The life threatening pollution took a new dimension in 1984 when an event of oil spill burnt down the town, killing almost 200 people. Only recently extensive steps worth $1.2 billion are being taken to improve the damages caused by organic pollutants. Despite such measures, it is quite impossible to clean the soil and underground water from the spreading tentacles of pollution thus making Cubatão unfit for staying.
Bassac Apartments, Cambodia

10 Places You Never Wanted To Live
One of the architectural jewels of Cambodia, the innovative apartment complex designed in the early 1960s by Lu Ban Hap / Photo from Rich Garella
10 Places You Never Wanted To Live

Photo from jinja_cambodia

The 300-metre-long Basaac Apartments were built due to the town planning director Lu Ban Hap’s initiative to put up a low-cost social housing project in the 1960s. However, this government-financed housing project has been the home to 2,500 refugees since 1979, when its legal tenants vacated the property because of the onset of decay. The structure made of concrete and brick has now given way to dangerous gaps in between the reinforced concrete walls marked by the ingrowths of parasitic plants. The building can collapse any time burying alive its 2500 residents.
Mogadishu, Somalia

10 Places You Never Wanted To Live

A rusty and bullet-ridden Coca Cola sign gives a telling welcome for visitors to the volatile city of Mogadishu. / Photo from khairi_us
10 Places You Never Wanted To Live

Pictures from an armed convoy trip in Mogadishu / Photo from ctsnow

Mogadishu, an advanced former port has been witnessing the 17-year tussle between rival military camps since the fall of the government in 1991. It turned into the most chaotic and anarchic city of the world, marked by civil unrest and insurgencies. Such disturbances caused its original inhabitants to flee, leaving Mogadishu to be controlled by military factions. Only recently, a new federal government has taken up the reins of control and is trying to re-establish law and order.
10 Places You Never Wanted To Live

Photo from Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone

Springtime, Holland

11 Sep
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Batu Caves of Malaysia

10 Sep
 
Realistic sculpturing is indeed something special a divine art perfected by geniuses like Michelangelo, Rodin, But when it comes to who is the ultimate sculptor, the greatest sculptor of all time, it leads to endless debates. Whatever be the conclusion, after seeing naturally sculptured spots such as the Batu Caves in Malaysia, almost all will arrive at a single answer: the greatest sculptor of all time is no one else but the nature’!


A place that has to be seen to be believed, Batu Caves is located around 13 km from Malaysia’s capital city Kuala Lumpur. For majority, in Malaysia and abroad, Batu Caves is a place of worship Sri Subramaniyar Swamy Devasthanam’, one of the very famous Hindu temples that are located outside the hub of Hinduism, India. But this place is more than just a temple abode a location that blends the air of holiness with the thrill of natural beauty and adventurous excitement. Perhaps there will be no other location in the world where one can find holy temples consecrated in an array of perfect naturally carved caves.


Dating back to 400 million years, Batu Caves are actually limestone caves formed within three sandwiched hillocks the name comes from the Malay word for rock and/or from the neighboring Batu River. Centuries ago this location was the transit place for indigenous Malay tribes for their hunting trips. Later the then-Chinese settlers made use of these caves to make fertilizer from bat-droppings for their agricultural needs. But this spot remained hidden’ to the outside world until discovered’ by British explorers in the late 19th century.

At that time the Tamil communities from India were prominent settlers in Malaysia. A noted Tamil merchant, Thambusamy Pillai, after experiencing a holistic touch at this place, decided to build a temple in the caves. It is also believed that the Vel’-shaped main cave entrance (Vel’ a divine spear the chief weapon of Lord Subramaniya) inspired Thambusamy Pillai to consecrate a temple for Lord Subramaniya, also known as Muruga / Karthikeya, the most revered deity of Tamil communities worldwide.

At present Batu Caves is regarded as the Mecca of Hindus outside India’ particularly famous for the annual festival Thaipooyam’, a much revered occasion in the Malaysian capital. But this God-made wonder is much more than a pilgrim’s spot a canvas of natural sculptural beauty.

A must see spot for Kuala Lumpur visitors, what greets you first on arrival is a 140 feet tall gigantic gold-painted statue of Hindu God Subramaniya, the tallest statue of Subramaniya in the world!


Of the main caves here, the first, right near the basement is Valluvar Kottam’ (Art Gallery Cave Museum Cave) where you can see many fascinating mural paintings and statues of Hindu Gods; not to mention that of a five-legged-bull’. In this cave Lord Subramaniya’s story, from birth to marriage and subsequent slaying of demon, is pictorially narrated thru murals.


Another cave located near the hill-wall leading to Subramaniya temple-stairs is the Ramayana Cave’, guarded by a big statue of Hanuman (the monkey god, a staunch devotee of Lord Rama).


Apart from the temple of Lord Rama and Hanuman here, what catches attention are the beautiful murals on the cave walls that illustrate the story of Hindu epic Ramayana’.

Then starts the long climb of 272 steps towards the biggest cave of the lot . which contains the Lord Subramaniya shrine. When you reach half way; the entrance to the dark cave’ can be seen a marvel of natural architectural brilliance! As the name implies, it is a long gloomy tunnel-like cave infested by bats.


Inside the dark cave, the ageless limestone formations that pops out from the floors, cave-walls and ceilings elegantly decorate the whole structure. These peculiar formations are really hard to believe whether manually sculptured or not!

But they only add up the fact that nature is the ultimate artist. This cave also houses some wild species that are too rare to be seen. (As it is too pristine, special permission is needed to visit Dark caves).


Finally comes the largest cave the Temple Cave or Cathedral Cave. After watching the naturally carved walls that are towered by a very high dome-like ceiling, which is also naturally lighted up by sunrays entering thru holes atop, you will be sure that Cathedral Cave’ is the apt name for this as there can be hardly seen such a naturally built Cathedral elsewhere !


What makes a major difference here from a manmade Cathedral may be the rush of macaque monkeys, a brigade of their own.

Inside this naturally-created cathedral that steal a match between the best manually built ones, anyone will stand gazing the unparalleled artistry of the supreme self for long, before proceeding to the main temple.


Besides the major shrine of Lord Subramaniya, few other shrines can also be seen here wonderfully complimenting the Dravidian temple architectural style something that can’t be seen outside South India.


In fact, other than the state of Tamil Nadu (South India) the mother land of Tamils, this is the pilgrim place where the Thaipooyam’ festival (which signifies the triumphant of good over evil, as well as an auspicious chapter in the life of Lord Subramaniya) is celebrated in full grandeur. The festival is one of the largest gatherings of its kind, participated by the Hindu communities from Southeast Asian countries.

This natural wonder provides magnificent panoramic views of Kuala Lumpur neighborhood as well.


Last but not the least, is the Reptile Cave’ the newest opened cave in Batu. Here you can see varieties of snakes, with the reticulated python being a major one thrill for the daring’.


Rope climbing is another means for enjoying this nature’s precious creation. It is estimated that Batu caves offers more than hundred fifty climbing routes! Thus not only the devotees, but adventurists too can relish this spot to the fullest.