Driving away from John O’Groats at the end of my recent long cycle ride (www.lejoblog.wordpress.com), we were following signs to Perth for a while. That was Perth, Scotland – not Perth, Australia as in this photo. Mind you, you could be easily mistaken – Shakespeare sign, turreted castle at the end of the street, Elizabethan era styled buildings, Olde English writing on the signs. For all the world it looks like it could be the UK, but the mid-twenties temperatures after nightfall on the 26th of December are a dead cert giveaway that this has to be elsewhere!
OK, the post is slightly contrived, but I had to have some link to getting back to posting on this site!
Having been called out to go to work on Christmas Day, my spirits were not so merry by the time I got to Perth, in Western Australia, that evening. This photo of the Swan Bell Tower was taken during a very nice sunset and has produced a most acceptable image, but acquiring it did little to lighten my mood that day.
A common means of transport around the islands of the Philippine archipelago is the Banca (or Banka if you prefer). These craft can vary in size from being suitable for just one or two, to large commercial vessels carrying over two-hundred. Regardless of their size they all seem to offer cheap, if not a little noisy and uncomfortable, transport. What is certain however, is that around the coastlines, you are going to be presented with a journey of very pretty views.
Having enjoyed the experience of 72 hours in a historic Indian city, we touched base briefly in Hong Kong in order to change over clothes and collect another daughter, then it was back to the airport for a flight to The Philippines. When we eventually settled at our destination, this was the view that greeted us from the balcony of our rented apartment. The quayside is that at Puerto Galera, on the island of Mindoro, and it sits at the head of a bay that is supposedly included in the ‘Club of the most beautiful bays in the World’ – it is certainly a most picturesque location
This is one of the main Gateways to the inner sanctum of Golconda Fort in Hyderabad. Originally a mud fort built on a granite hilltop, the citadel was expanded by the Qutb Shahi dynasty from the early 1500’s until it comprised an outer wall, some 7-10kms in length (depending on which account you read), surrounding two further defensive rings. Many of the gateways through these walls were built in the manner of the one in the photograph; the approaches to the gateways were convoluted and backed by high walls so that any potential invader could not get a good run up to batter the gates. Furthermore, the gates were studded with giant, sharp spikes to protect against the ‘tanks’ of their day – the elephants! Finally, the ramparts above the gateway approaches were designed to allow arrows, rocks and hot oil to be poured down upon any attacker who had even got thus far. With an independant water supply and huge grain storage buildings, it is no surprise that the fort held out for 9 months against a siege by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1687. Eventually, one legend has it that Sarandaz Khan, a military official in the Qutb Shahi army treacherously opened a gate during a night attack, allowing Aurangzeb’s army to enter and capture the citadel. Today, the gates are possibly rather easier to enter – all you need to do is pay a few rupees and then run through the siege and blockade run by the army of local tourist guides offering their services along the path between the ticket booth and the gate in the photo – Hmmm…perhaps Aurangzeb had it easy in comparison!
Many myths, stories and legends surround Golconda – perhaps not surprising when you learn that for many years this was the World’s only known source of diamonds and that many of history’s largest and most valuable jems were either found or traded here. Regardless of the truth or otherwise of many of the stories attached to the place, it is a fascinating place to visit – even without a guide.
The Charminar in Hyderabad was built in 1591 under the direction of Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the fifth ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty. The structure was built to commemorate the city’s deliverance from a plague and was sited at the centre of his recently moved capital with approaches to it from the four cardinal directions. This view is from one of the upper levels of the Charminar and is looking south. To the right of the road is the Makkah Masjid, also built by the 5th Qutb Shahi Sultan. The whole area is a buzz of bazaars, jewellery shops and street food stalls – aided and abeted by the equally loud buzz from the hundreds of tuk-tuks patrolling the area, as you can also see in the photo
Since my last blog post back in the middle of the month, I have been fortunate enough to do some fantastic travelling with my family and there will eventually be photos to come of that 9-day period. However, as with most good things in life, there is always a price to pay for the good times and my bill will amount to working over Xmas. So, here are 2 photos that summed up my Christmas Day yesterday: