Ice Hotel – Sweden

How would you like to visit an art exhibition made out of ice in the Swedish village of Jukkasjarvi?Well don’t be surprised as today i am going to give you an insight how it would be the experience of staying in an ice hotel in a small Swedish the banks of the frozen Torne River.It is the world’s first ice hotel.

Some Japanese artists visited in 1989 and created some ice sculptures.

Originally ice sculptures were made by very famous artists and when they were tired at night,they slept on the reindeer skin rugs in the rooms where they worked.But in 1989 an idea struck,why not make an ice hotel where tourists can visit the art exhibition and also stay by night.The hotel first opened in 1990 ,but every year it is rebuilt from December to April .

so artists from around the world were asked to submit their designs and the best ones were invite to built the hotel, but the interesting part is that the hotel has to be built every year as it melts, The river Torne gets frozen so the snow and ice which is called slice is used to make the hotel.the artists create their best piece of work and it has now become a very popular tourist destination.
interesting facts

There is bar and the glasses are made of ice and wine is served in it also there is chapel made of ice where couples can marry and have destination weddings.The beds and chairs are made of ice blocks brought from the nearby Torne river.Every single room is unique.

Himeji castle- Japan’s largest castle

Very little is known about the land of the rising sun; Japan. I was fascinated by the fact that Himeji castle is the first Japanese World Heritage Site. It is a masterpiece of Japanese wooden construction located in Himeji city. The castle is often referred to as Hakuro-jo or the “white heron castle”. Built during the 17th century, the brilliant white exterior represents a white heron taking flight. The principal materials to built the palace is just stones and wood.

photo of himeji castle behind white cherry blossoms
Photo by Nien Tran Dinh on

Himeji castle lies towards the Western approach to the former capital city of Kyoto.The first fortifications were built during 1400s, but the castle that we see today is over 400 years and completed by Ikeda Terumasa in 1609. It is made up of nearly 80 buildings. Loopholes or Sama in the shape of circles,triangles and squares,rectangles are located throughout the castle.There are about 1000 loopholes in the palace even today. Another interesting defence system are the stone drop windows that enables to throw stones or boiling oil on the head of the attackers.Also there is a confusing maze of paths to mislead enemies.

Tourists can enter the castle through Otemon Gate.The topmost floor has a small shrine.
The roof of the castle is covered with flat round tiles. God Osakabe,the guardian deity of Himeji castle, is enshrined on the top floor. The castle is the most popular spot during cherry blossom season in the early April. The castle complex also has the Koko-en Garden,a beautiful Japanese garden that was especially created to commemorate Himeji city’s 100th anniversary.

Koko-en garden.

The Forbidden City-Royalty-China

The forbidden city in Beijing, China is a must for all the tourists who visit Beijing. It is one of the most well-preserved ,palace in China,throwing light to the royal heritage and the glory ,supremacy and eternity of the Chinese culture.

The Forbidden city was the home to 24 Chinese  Emperors, and occupied 720,000 sq m , nearly 3 times larger Than the Louvre in France. It has more than 90 palace quarters and courtyards, 980 buildings and nearly 8,728 rooms. It is the world’s largest collection of well-preserved ancient wooden structures that has survived the history of China.

The pavilions are painted in red, but some in green.The roofs are made of yellow glazed tiles,yellow being the colour of the emperor.Yellow and red were the two most important colours of the Chinese emperor.The Forbidden city is mostly decorated with animals with demonic faces like pell-mell a dragon, a turtle,lion, lioness etc.Some of these statues are in bronze and others are in marble.The storks and bronze turtles are symbols of immortality,so they were associated with the emperor.

The most interesting place in the Palace is the gate of Heavenly Purity. It was the sleeping quarters of the Emperors inside the Forbidden City. It was built-in 1420 and again rebuilt in 1798, being the largest palace and the most superior structure.

The imperial garden is the smallest out of the eight areas of the palace. It is located outside the Gate of Tranquillity. It was a private retreat for the royal family. There are around twenty structures, built-in various styles, and beautiful flower beds. There are also a plethora of objects in the surrounding areas like the bronze incense burners.

There is the Hall of peace,which is the major building in the garden, occupying the central part of the perimeter. The Hall is called Qin’andian. A 400 year old pine tree, known as Consort Pine, grows in front of the hall, symbolising the harmony between the Emperor and the Empress.

A visit to the Basilica of Bom Jesus

As a child when I had studied about the spread of Christianity and I had studied about St. Xaviers body being displayed in the church in Goa , I was curious to visit the church.
The Basilica of Bom Jesus is located in Goa and it is a UNESCO world heritage site.It holds the mortal remains of St.Francis Xavier. Now you must be wondering what is Bom Jesus,well it literally means good Jesus. The church has the best example of Baroque architecture in India being one of the oldest church in Goa,it attracts thousands of Tourists daily.
The main Altar of the church holds a large statue of St.Ignatius of Loyola protecting the tiny figure of the infant Jesus. He was the founder of the society of Jesus. A gilded emblem of the Jesuits is encircled in radiant rays. Over the emblem is the Holy Trinity of Father, son and Spirit. To the right is placed the body of the Saint Xavier himself. The body was moved into the church in 1622 and installed in the mausoleum. The body of the saint is kept in a glass-sided coffin.The mausoleum is put in the Silver casket with the body of the Saint,which was a gift from the Grand Duke of Tuscany.

The construction of the basilica of Bom Jesus began in 1594 and completed in 1605. The mausoleum, designed by a Florentine sculptor Giovanni Battista Fogginni. The church is also adorned with paintings of scenes from the life of the Saint After every ten years the Holy relics of the Saint are displayed during the Saints death anniversary on 3rd December. A 9 day novena precedes the Feast of St.Francis Xavier.
The last time the body of the Saint was displayed in 2014 and now the religious crowd have to wait till 2024. Though the church is 408 years old, it is well maintained and open to public on all days.This is the only church in Goa that is not plastered.

Rani Ki Vav

The Rani Ki Vav in Gujarat
Queens step well

The Rani ki vav, situated in Gujarat, is a very intricately constructed step well, situated in the town of Patan, also known as the Queen’s step well,contains nearly 400 niches and many pillared multi-storey pavilions. It is located on the banks of the River Saraswati. It is not only a water resource but also an example of unique craftsmanship. It used to serve as a water resource for Patan ‘s Royal family .It was built in memory of the 11th century King Bhimdev, by his loving widowed Queen Udaymati around 1050 A.D ,and was added to the list of UNESCO sites in 2014. It has elaborate carvings and pillars .The stepwell is designed like an inverted temple with seven levels of stairs that are carved with mythological figures.The step well is around 30 km deep.There are nearly 800 sculptures carved on the inner walls of the step well.These sculptures include images of Lord Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma, Ganesha ,Goddess Laxmi and other Apsaras and yoginis.
It is believed that the water had medicinal importance because of the presence of certain plants that could cure viral Fever and other ailments. In those days people used to flock to the well to get the water and people used to travel from nearby villages.
The site today is well preserved and maintained with lush green grassy areas for visitors .It is a very common to see people making a one day trip from the city of Ahmadabad just 127 km away from the city to see the well and marvel at its craftsmanship. A visit to Patan is incomplete without a visit to Rani Ki Vav. State Transport buses run from Ahmadabad to Patan. Travel by air and train is also a very convenient way to travel to this historic place.

Venice-Floating city of Dreams

Ever wondered how it is to stay in a city of Canals!Well Venice is one such city and its a UNESCO Site.A visit to this city of flattering and suspect beauty is incomplete without a ride through the Canals in a Gondola. Republic of Venice was a state in Europe that originated from the lagoon communities in the area of Venice ,which is now northeastern Italy .

Venice is built on more than a 117 small islands in the lagoon of Adriatic Sea.Do you know it has no roads ,only canals.?There are around 350 Gondolas ferrying in around 177 Canals.These canals are separated by beautiful canals and linked by bridges,well known as city of bridges,with 417 bridges out of those 72 are private.Bridges in Venice did not have steps till the 16th century as many people moved on horseback in those days. Rialto Bridge is the oldest bridge of the city and one of the four bridges going across the Grand Canal.The city has narrow streets and the narrowest street in Venice is called Calletta or Ramo Verisco. The city is not car oriented as most of the movement around takes place through the Gondolas,so it is a gondola oriented city.One interesting fact about the Gondola is that it is made of eight different woods. A gondola weighs around 600 kilos and is 11 metres long,sounds interesting to me.
Venice celebrates the unique festival called the Carnival of Venice,the Carnival ends with Lent,a christian celebration of forty days before Easter.

The city also boasts of Doge”s Palace,built in Venetian Gothic style,one of the major landmark in the city,which is now open as a museum since 1923.Another enchanting place is Piazza San Marco also known as St.Mark’s square ,which is very popular with the tourists,built around 1100 A.D.Tourists throng the place to click memorable pictures.St.Mark’s Basilica is one of the oldest Cathedral built in 1092 A.D.

Public transport can be availed by water buses and private water Taxis.The best time to travel to Venice is from April to June and mid September to October.