Saturday, June 22, 2013

La Paz (Mexico)

We catch a huge ferry from Los Mochis (Mexico) to La Paz at 9 am. Ship gracefully moves in the peaceful water of the enclosed Gulf of California. Water is still, blue and once a while you can see a large fish, as this gulf is shark infested so we see sharks too. Sea gulls are flying along the ship because it stirs up the water in the back and brings small fishes up and bird dive in the water like a missile. Before diving, seagull becomes like a torpedo and dives as deep as 20 feet and always returns with a fish in its beak.
Baja California Desert
Baja California Desert

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bhatinda (Bathinda) Chronicles (Part 2)

In my last post, we were revisiting Bhatinda in the time machine.
After the death of Muhammad Ghori, Bhatinda was now a part of Delhi Sultanate.
Mamluks became a powerful military caste in various Muslim societies. Mamluks held political and military power most notably in Egypt, but also in the Levant, Iraq, and India. In 1206, Muhammad Ghori died. He had no child, so after his death, his sultanate was divided into many parts by his slaves (mamluk generals). Qutub-ud-din-Aybak became the sultan of Delhi, and that was the beginning of the Slave dynasty.
Now Bhatinda was an important Bastion of Slave dynasty that lasted from 1206 to 1290. That was the zenith period for Bhatinda Fort.
Aybak rose to power when a Ghorid superior was assassinated. However, his reign as the Sultan of Delhi was short lived as he died in 1210 and his son Aram Shah rose to the throne, only to be assassinated by Iltutmish in 1211.
The fourth Emperor – Iltutmish, on his death-bed chosen his daughter Raziya as his heiress. Raziya became the next and the first Empress of India and was known as Razia Sultana. Her childhood friend named Malik Altunia was now the governor of Bathinda. Malik Altunia along with other provincial governors started a rebellion against Razia Sultana. After a lost battle Razia Sultana was imprisoned at the Bathinda fort in April, 1240. While in prison Razia Sultan was allowed to go to Haji Rattan mosque to offer prayers on Fridays in a special palki. It is said that Razia tried to flee the fort on her horse. Razia’s brother Bahram Shah took over her throne and Razia and Malik ran to Delhi to battle with Bahram Shah but were defeated and routed. They were returning to regain control of Bhatinda but fell in the hands of Jats and were killed.
Bhatinda Fort
Bhatinda Fort

Monday, June 17, 2013

Bhatinda (Bathinda) Chronicle (Part 1)

Since I am from Bhatinda, it always fascinates me. Massive fort manifests that it must have a rich past. Its history stayed sparsely known till recently after google books library project that brought out the hidden history books from all over the world.
The Google Library Project makes it easier for people to find relevant books – specifically, books they wouldn’t find any other way such as those that are out of print – while carefully respecting authors’ and publishers’ copyrights. The ultimate goal is to work with publishers and libraries to create a comprehensive, searchable, virtual card catalog of all books in all languages that helps users discover new books and publishers discover new readers.
Bhatinda Fort
A very old picture of Bhatinda Fort

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Railroad drawbridges of NJ

Area of New Jersey touching New York city is crisscrossed by rivers that merge with Hudson and make a delta. Area is one of the heaviest populated in the world and is a transit hub for hundreds of sea ports on these rivers. These rivers are navigational with barrage and tug-boat traffic.
So when a road encounters a river, it is passed on a very high bridge and these bridges too are spectacular but more spectacular are the draw bridge that rail lines pass through. Since railroads need a gentle elevation so making high bridges requires miles long ramps on both sides hence practical idea is to build a drawbridge.
What is a drawbridge:
Drawbridge is a movable bridge that is raised or opens up to let the higher ships pass through under them. A segment of Panbam bridge near Rameshwarm (India) is a draw bridge.
Following are some of the spectacular bridges that I come across.
Upper Hack Lift Drawbridge

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Pulaski Skyway, (NJ, USA)

Pulaski Skyway is an iconic bridge to me but may be an ordinary bridge to many others. Once a while I take this bridge to Jersey City to New York City. Each time it is equally thrilling experience to cross it. As Route 1 and 9 pass by Newark Airport once can see several airplanes in an inclining line to approach Newark airport. During this visit once can watch 2-3 airplanes landing on the runway although it is risky to divert your attention. And then this Skyway begins that give your an experience as if you are landing.
This bridge crosses over two rivers and then road goes straight to Holland Tunnel to Downtown Manhattan.
Pulaski Skyway
Pulaski Skyway

Most scenic Lake Tahoe, USA

Lake Tahoe is at 6,225 ft (1,897 m), a large freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada of the United States. It is at the border between California and Nevada, west of Carson City. Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America continent. It is 1,645 ft (501 m) deep, this makes it the second-deepest in the United States. Lake Tahoe is also 26th largest lake by volume of water contained at 150. 68 cubic kilometers.
Lake Tahoe is a major tourist attraction. People visit here for summer outdoor recreation, and tourist attractions. Snow and skiing are a significant part of the area’s attraction.
Lake Tahoe
Sacramento to Lake Tahoe

Delaware and Raritan Canal, New Jersey (USA)

About once a week I visit this canal to have a several miles long walk. This is near my home.
The Delaware and Raritan Canal (D&R Canal) is a canal in central New Jersey. It was built in the 1830s and served to connect the Delaware River to the Raritan River. It was intended as an efficient and reliable means of transportation of freight between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New York City, especially coal from the anthracite coal fields in eastern Pennsylvania.
Delaware and Raritan Canal
Delaware and Raritan Canal next to Millstone River

Ultimate Road Trip – The scenic Overseas Highway to Key West, Florida USA

The Florida Keys are coral islands in southeast United States. They begin at the southeastern tip of the Florida peninsula, about 15 miles (24 km) south of Miami, and extend in a gentle arc south-southwest and then westward to Key West. At the nearest point, the southern tip of Key West is just 90 miles (140 km) from Cuba.
Visit to Florida Keys is a spectacular hundred miles drive and road crosses several islands over the spectacular bridges. Alongside the Overseas Highway, there are hundreds of places where you can pull over to fish or kayak or enjoy a pina colada. Camping in the Keys is a special treat, and there are dozens of magnificent coral reefs where you can snorkel or dive. Fresh-caught seafood is a Keys staple, offered at a broad range of Keys restaurants.
We leave Everglades early in the morning and return to the Florida town of Homestead and catch on the US route 1.

Sunset in the Keys

The Strip at Las Vegas

The Strip is what Las Vegas is known for. No matter where you are on the strip it is sensory overload. The crowds, shows, musicians, Elvis imitations, hotels, and attractions pretty much ensure there isn’t a dull moment. There is always something on the grandest scale going on.
North end you have the Stratosphere, where we stayed and regretted. It is a grand hotel so why regret? Each time we had to walk miles from the parking and then within the corridors to get to our room.

Las Vegas

Everglades, Alligator country of Florida (USA)

The Everglades is a slow moving river in the South half of Florida (USA). It is a large watershed. The system begins near Orlando with the Kissimmee River, which empties into the vast but shallow Lake Okeechobee. Water leaving the lake in the wet season forms a slow-moving river 60 miles (97 km) wide and over 100 miles (160 km) long, flowing southward across a limestone shelf to Florida Bay at the southern end of the state. The Everglades are shaped by water and fire, experiencing frequent flooding in the wet season and drought in the dry season. Writer Marjory Stoneman Douglas popularized the term “River of Grass” to describe the sawgrass marshes, part of a complex system of interdependent ecosystems that include cypress swamps, the estuarine mangrove forests of the Ten Thousand Islands, tropical hardwood hammocks, pine rockland, and the marine environment of Florida Bay.
Everglades is a jigsaw puzzle of free-flowing channels of water, sawgrass prairies marshes, wet prairies (are slightly elevated like sawgrass marshes but with greater plant diversity), hardwood hammock patches, Pinelands, Cypress swamps etc.
At the bay are Mangrove and Coastal prairies.
A funny signboard in Everglades directing hikers to the side

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