Friday, December 26, 2008

Modern World History
Or as we call it in my school district, WHII. This is a super site for the Renaissance to the present with an amazing number of links. If you are setting up your course or trying to create it so the kids can do everything online (webquests for example), this would be the place to see.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Great Online Textbook
Okay, so I found another online textbook (see entry below). This one is fantastic as it has both Prehistory - 1500 and 1500 to the present. Each course is broken down into the normal textbook categories. There are also great links which vary depending on the time period. The only glaring omission is lots of pictures, but if you wanted to save on a real textbook or need one for students to work on at home, then this resource might be the answer.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Digital World History Textbook
This is the only world history textbook I can find online. It is broken up into easy to follow subheading, has timelines and most importantly has a search engine.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Good Place For Students to Start
This site has great timelines (seen above) for 500 year periods, and then people broken up into time periods, then another group for people, events and finally period maps. The best part is that when you decide the era you want, you can then click on the the names, events, etc. and you get more in depth on the side. No it's not enough for a research paper, but enough to get your students on their way.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Super AP World Site
Wow! If you like to have your students do outlines, keep this site to yourself! There is a great chapter outline for every chapter of the Stearns book. There are also unit outlines, key words (by chapter), regional thematic outlines, unit essay questions

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Redraw the World Map Demographically
This is rather interesting. You can select a demographic and it will reshape the world map. The one above, for example, shows where the world's religions based on membership and then gives a pie chart showing the size of each relative to the others.

The Hajj
With the Hajj now going on, the video above is a great (and brief at 3:45) video from National Geographic on the pilgrimage. Here is also an interesting site from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Finally this is the scene from Malcolm X (the movie) which has amazing shots of the Hajj. At the time, it was the first western movie ever allowed to shoot footage during the pilgrimage.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Lots of Great Goodies!
You want something related to geography, then it is here including: a list of every country, their flags, the time anywhere in the world, how far between two points, information on longitude, latitude, bodies of water, map clip art, outline maps, populations of every country and even a detailed map of every nation in the world.

Monday, December 1, 2008


A How To Primer for Google Earth
If you haven't used Google Earth with your students or need to know how to do it or want lesson plans or examples of what you can do. Check out this site.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Southern Cross Flight

The ‘Southern Cross’, the first flight across the Pacific (Eightieth Anniversary),


First trans-Pacific flight celebrates its 8oth anniversary in August 2008.

The Southern Cross inside the Kingsford Smith Memorial, a climate-controlled sealed glass building

The Southern Cross inside the Kingsford Smith Memorial, a climate-controlled sealed glass building

Our commercial flight operation is eighty years old.

Smith and Ulm were youngsters from the Imperial Air Force of Australia with un-satiable desire for flying over un-chartered territories; and taking risks was for them a way of life. This mission was not just risk taking; it was history in the making. At present when the age commercial aircraft operations is counted this land-mark flight is taken as the starting point and our commercial flights are eighty years old; as this Southern Cross flight occurred on 1928; crossing the mighty Pacific for the first time in an aircraft; covering a distance of 11588 km!

First lap from Oakland to Hawaii (3ist May 1928)

On 31st May 1928 they (the four member crew who took part in ‘Southern Cross’ Trans Pacific Flight) took off from Oakland in California and landed in Hawaii after 27hours. This event would have gone un-noticed had it been not the part of a great flight that turned out to be a marking in aviation history. As experienced pilots they knew the risks involved in such a long flight in a single engine aircraft. The team had a purpose too; to study the feasibility of connecting Australia with US by commercial aircrafts.

397px-southern_cross_book_1928.jpg

First edition cover of descriptive book of the flight

Second lap; a mission impossible (3rd June 1928)

These young pilots (Charles Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm) were from the Imperial Air Force of Australia and crazy for establishing records in flying. This particular mission – a really risky one-they took entirely to satisfy their own thirst for flying through un- chartered territories. The second lap was the most challenging part of the journey flying 7388 miles above the unending vastness of the mighty Pacific; from Hawaii to Suva in Fiji – a journey no one has undertaken so far. Considering the standards of aircraft design and crude technologies prevalent in the flying equipments (the electronic revolution was not born at that time); it was a mission impossible.

The vessel

The Kingsford Smith Memorial, housing the Southern Cross

The Kingsford Smith Memorial, housing the Southern Cross

The vessel that was to take them across the Pacific was a Fokker F VII b-3 monoplane with three engines; which they named ‘The Southern Cross’. It was 14.56 meters in length with a wingspan of 21.71 meters. The aircraft was powered by Wright Whirlwind motors that were 304 horse-powers each and could attain a speed of 208 kph (cruising speed 178 kph). The Fokker F VII b-3 could carry a load around 5300 kilo grams and attain height of about 4400 meters. No doubt it was the ‘most efficient’ aircraft of that time. The Fokker VII b-3 even commanded a market share that exceeded 50% of the whole aircrafts sold at that time.

The crew,

Cowards die many times;

Valiant never taste it but once!

Pilot; Charles Kingsford Smith (popularly called ‘Smithy’) was pilot of the Australian Imperial Air Force. He was born in Brisbane Australia in 1897); who along with Ulm were engaged by the Inter-State Flying Services to see whether Flights between Australia and America could be engaged commercially.

Co pilot; Charles Ulm (1898) was also an Australian (who later met with an air-crash while trying to create a record in flights between America and Australia and disappeared).

Two people also joined them; one Mr. James Warner as a Radio operator and Mr. Harry Lyon as Navigator; both of them were Americans.

The making of an airport

The second lap of the flight was intended to land on Albert Park in Suva the capital of Fiji; at that time there was no airport worth its name a tremendous problem as the field to be used for landing of the aircraft was dotted with banyan trees which stood blocking the landing. Cutting these trees was easier said than done; as sanction for the same was hard to come by as no official was prepared to take that risk.

Robert Farquar and Sir Eyre Hudson

Robert Farquar a radio operator of Suva; who had been communicating with Southern Cross could not ignore the request of the cruising team. His running for sanction for cutting of trees from pillar to post rendered no results and finally he approached Governor Sir Eyre Hudson; the Highest authority of the island. Hudson could understand the significance of the mission he issued immediate sanction for the cutting of the trees and leveling the park. The telephone lines that stood nearby also were transferred to safer location for the landing of the plane that carried along with a piece of history.

The grace of God!

The improvised airport (rather a converted Albert Park) turned out to be center of the whole island and almost all people assembled there to see the most wonderful thing on earth the flying machine! When the aircraft landed in Suva there was thrill as well as some suspense; the aircraft that had no brake ran almost off the ramp and almost collided with the embankment on its eastern side; but nothing untoward happened; by the grace of god!

In Suva

Next day in a welcome ceremony arranged by the island authorities; school children of Suva presented an American Flag made of wild flowers to the crew members. The plane had to fly 30 km to Nasilai Beach near Nakelo to take fuel which was brought in a steamer (HMCS Pioneer). On June 8th they left Nasilai on way to Brisbane but did not forget to fly over Suva in an attempt to bid farewell to its people who gave them a warm welcome and love!

At Brisbane

The Southern Cross at a RAAF base near Canberra in 1943.

The Southern Cross at a RAAF base near Canberra in 1943.

A 15,000 strong crowd was there to welcome the crew and their famous aircraft which they called the ‘Southern Cross’ (Smith affectionately called it ‘Old Bus’). They reached Brisbane nine days after they have left Oakland and flew to Sydney where there was a heroes’ welcome awaiting for them. Smith had taken many more adventures with his flying talent and he was honored with the Harmon National Award for Australia for his achievements. Smith later got killed along with his co pilot in 1935; while trying to create a flight record. As his true partner in most of the adventures Ulm followed the suit and got killed in a crash. Anyway in the 80thanniversary of that great event let their souls rest in peace and eternal happiness.

Home is the hunter; home from the hills;

And the sailor home from the seas.


The Southern Cross Flight

The ‘Southern Cross’, the first flight across the Pacific (Eightieth Anniversary),


First trans-Pacific flight celebrates its 8oth anniversary in August 2008.

The Southern Cross inside the Kingsford Smith Memorial, a climate-controlled sealed glass building

The Southern Cross inside the Kingsford Smith Memorial, a climate-controlled sealed glass building

Our commercial flight operation is eighty years old.

Smith and Ulm were youngsters from the Imperial Air Force of Australia with un-satiable desire for flying over un-chartered territories; and taking risks was for them a way of life. This mission was not just risk taking; it was history in the making. At present when the age commercial aircraft operations is counted this land-mark flight is taken as the starting point and our commercial flights are eighty years old; as this Southern Cross flight occurred on 1928; crossing the mighty Pacific for the first time in an aircraft; covering a distance of 11588 km!

First lap from Oakland to Hawaii (3ist May 1928)

On 31st May 1928 they (the four member crew who took part in ‘Southern Cross’ Trans Pacific Flight) took off from Oakland in California and landed in Hawaii after 27hours. This event would have gone un-noticed had it been not the part of a great flight that turned out to be a marking in aviation history. As experienced pilots they knew the risks involved in such a long flight in a single engine aircraft. The team had a purpose too; to study the feasibility of connecting Australia with US by commercial aircrafts.

397px-southern_cross_book_1928.jpg

First edition cover of descriptive book of the flight

Second lap; a mission impossible (3rd June 1928)

These young pilots (Charles Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm) were from the Imperial Air Force of Australia and crazy for establishing records in flying. This particular mission – a really risky one-they took entirely to satisfy their own thirst for flying through un- chartered territories. The second lap was the most challenging part of the journey flying 7388 miles above the unending vastness of the mighty Pacific; from Hawaii to Suva in Fiji – a journey no one has undertaken so far. Considering the standards of aircraft design and crude technologies prevalent in the flying equipments (the electronic revolution was not born at that time); it was a mission impossible.

The vessel

The Kingsford Smith Memorial, housing the Southern Cross

The Kingsford Smith Memorial, housing the Southern Cross

The vessel that was to take them across the Pacific was a Fokker F VII b-3 monoplane with three engines; which they named ‘The Southern Cross’. It was 14.56 meters in length with a wingspan of 21.71 meters. The aircraft was powered by Wright Whirlwind motors that were 304 horse-powers each and could attain a speed of 208 kph (cruising speed 178 kph). The Fokker F VII b-3 could carry a load around 5300 kilo grams and attain height of about 4400 meters. No doubt it was the ‘most efficient’ aircraft of that time. The Fokker VII b-3 even commanded a market share that exceeded 50% of the whole aircrafts sold at that time.

The crew,

Cowards die many times;

Valiant never taste it but once!

Pilot; Charles Kingsford Smith (popularly called ‘Smithy’) was pilot of the Australian Imperial Air Force. He was born in Brisbane Australia in 1897); who along with Ulm were engaged by the Inter-State Flying Services to see whether Flights between Australia and America could be engaged commercially.

Co pilot; Charles Ulm (1898) was also an Australian (who later met with an air-crash while trying to create a record in flights between America and Australia and disappeared).

Two people also joined them; one Mr. James Warner as a Radio operator and Mr. Harry Lyon as Navigator; both of them were Americans.

The making of an airport

The second lap of the flight was intended to land on Albert Park in Suva the capital of Fiji; at that time there was no airport worth its name a tremendous problem as the field to be used for landing of the aircraft was dotted with banyan trees which stood blocking the landing. Cutting these trees was easier said than done; as sanction for the same was hard to come by as no official was prepared to take that risk.

Robert Farquar and Sir Eyre Hudson

Robert Farquar a radio operator of Suva; who had been communicating with Southern Cross could not ignore the request of the cruising team. His running for sanction for cutting of trees from pillar to post rendered no results and finally he approached Governor Sir Eyre Hudson; the Highest authority of the island. Hudson could understand the significance of the mission he issued immediate sanction for the cutting of the trees and leveling the park. The telephone lines that stood nearby also were transferred to safer location for the landing of the plane that carried along with a piece of history.

The grace of God!

The improvised airport (rather a converted Albert Park) turned out to be center of the whole island and almost all people assembled there to see the most wonderful thing on earth the flying machine! When the aircraft landed in Suva there was thrill as well as some suspense; the aircraft that had no brake ran almost off the ramp and almost collided with the embankment on its eastern side; but nothing untoward happened; by the grace of god!

In Suva

Next day in a welcome ceremony arranged by the island authorities; school children of Suva presented an American Flag made of wild flowers to the crew members. The plane had to fly 30 km to Nasilai Beach near Nakelo to take fuel which was brought in a steamer (HMCS Pioneer). On June 8th they left Nasilai on way to Brisbane but did not forget to fly over Suva in an attempt to bid farewell to its people who gave them a warm welcome and love!

At Brisbane

The Southern Cross at a RAAF base near Canberra in 1943.

The Southern Cross at a RAAF base near Canberra in 1943.

A 15,000 strong crowd was there to welcome the crew and their famous aircraft which they called the ‘Southern Cross’ (Smith affectionately called it ‘Old Bus’). They reached Brisbane nine days after they have left Oakland and flew to Sydney where there was a heroes’ welcome awaiting for them. Smith had taken many more adventures with his flying talent and he was honored with the Harmon National Award for Australia for his achievements. Smith later got killed along with his co pilot in 1935; while trying to create a flight record. As his true partner in most of the adventures Ulm followed the suit and got killed in a crash. Anyway in the 80thanniversary of that great event let their souls rest in peace and eternal happiness.

Home is the hunter; home from the hills;

And the sailor home from the seas.


Friday, November 28, 2008

And another one!
Here is another site for World History notes. There are tabs for each subject and once you click on them you will get to a pdf file. If you want to make changes on the notes, go to "edit ... select all" and then "edit ... paste" and then copy it into a word document.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The History of Religion
How has the geography of religion evolved over the centuries, and where has it sparked wars? Our map gives us a brief history of the world's most well-known religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism. Selected periods of inter-religious bloodshed are also highlighted. Want to see 5,000 years of religion in 90 seconds? Ready, Set, Go! Click here. There is also another map that has "The March of Democracy."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bridging World History
This has an amazing number of maps and videos. You can see the list above right or by go to the site here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Martin Waldseemueller's Map
Waldseemuellar was the first (that we know about) who gave credit to Amerigo Vecpucci by putting the name "America" on his map in 1507. Here is a rather informative article that discusses it. Also click on the map above to get to a much larger image that you could show your students.
Movie on Islamic Spain
You can see this movie as a whole or in parts by going here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Webpage Making for Teachers and Students
I have received a number of inquiries into how to make teacher and student blogs. You can see that I use blogspot.com, but there is a newer site, wordpress.com which has one additional advantage in that is allows you to upload documents for your students. Blogspot, though, has a bunch more add-ons. Both have tutorials in how to set them up. However here is one that I wrote which tells you how to set up a webpage and how to set up an aggregator. An aggregator lets a person list a bunch of websites and tells you when they have been updated. This way there is no need to type in a url. This is handy if you want your kids to turn in assignments. The blog feature allows you to make comments and you can set it so that only e-mail addresses you want can see the site so that students can have their work protected. I had my regular world history students do this writing assignment and it worked rather nicely. Now another idea is to have one page and have your students add entries as is done here. If you want to see an example of wordpress and how it is used for class assignments, go here. If you want to go further with all this, read this book.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Flow of History
This site has a flow chart which you can download or blow up for use on an overhead for each part of world history.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Graphic Organizers
Here are a few good sites to use if you want ideas for graphic organizers and blank sheets.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

CNN's MILLENNIUM
Each episode from this site is approximately 45 minutes in length (one-hour with
commercials) and addresses five events or people from a century. For each century, the filmmakers have selected a technology to serve as a metaphor and to tie the events and themes of the episode together. They also include curriculum connections, essential questions, historical perspectives, history and geography themes. The episodes are linked to a CNN web site http://cgi.turnerlearning.com/cnn/millennium/index.html and appear as
follows:
Episode 1: 1000-1100 CE - Century of the Sword
Episode 2 : 1100-1200 CE - Century of the Axe
Episode 3: 1200-1300 CE - Century of the Stirrup
Episode 4: 1300-1400 CE - Century of the Scythe
Episode 5: 1400-1500 CE - Century of the Sail
Episode 6: 1500-1600 CE - Century of the Compass
Episode 7: 1600-1700 CE - Century of the Telescope
Episode 8: 1700-1800 CE - Century of the Furnace
Episode 9: 1800-1900 CE - Century of the Machine
Episode 10: 1900-2000 CE - Century of the Globe
Each of the five segments of the episode is approximately 7-9 minutes in length. Some stories are distinctly cultural, some focus on movements of peoples and ideas, some illuminate the lives and legacies of important individuals, places, and events, and some concentrate on historical themes. All segments augment and subtly develop the technological advances that distinguish the century depicted in each video episode.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Need a Map?
This site has every map you'd ever want and you can download them for copying for students and or save them on your own website.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Online Supplements for Anyone
Whether you have this Peter Stearns' book or not (and he designed the course and helped write the first tests, so it's not a bad idea to have it or use it as a supplement), this is a fantastic site available to anyone. There are terrific summaries of each chapter, practice questions, links to other websites, flashcards, essay prompts and more.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Brief History of the World
This source breaks up world history into its distinctive units and gives you (or your students) the essential points. It would be a good supplement for test review or a cumulative one at the end of the year.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Powerpoint Palooza
This site is amazing and it is completely made by a NY teacher. She has a complete set of powerpoints for AP European History as well as World Geography. There are also links to great sites, class ideas and more.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Annenberg Videos
Wow. Talk about great videos. Annenberg has used some of its considerable funds to come up with such videos titles as "The Spread of Religions," "Connections Across Lands" (which looks at the Silk Road), "Early Empires" (Mongols), "Colonial Indentities" and more. There are other world history related topics here which you can click on to get more videos. Once you get to the video page you will have to sign up for a free password. (picture from learner.org)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Palestine/Israel & India/Pakistan
This site's pictures are a bit cheesy, but don't let that deter you, there is an amazing number of lesson plans such as the two above (which we in VA need to teach for our state exam). The site also has US history.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Golden Temple of Dambulla Srilanka

Dambulla Cave Temple (Golden Temple of Dambulla) Sri Lanka


Temples of Bagan, Myanmar (Burma)

bagan temples

Bagan Temples and Pagodas

A city of ten million temples

Bagan is located in the Mandalay area on eastern bank of Ayeyarwady River at about 160 km from Rangoon (Yangon) Burma. Though small in size it is really big in its cultural heritage with countless temples most of them in various stages of decay and many still in ship shape and performing. Perhaps the only place that can be compared to Bagan in this regard is Angkor Vat of Cambodia in the sheer size and architectural magnificence. Angkor Vat temples are covered in thick forests and are only partly visible only from a height; whereas the ruins of Bagan are far greater in number and lie exposed in the tropical sun and are easily accessible.

Bagan; its rise and fall

As Burmese rulers used to shift their capital as per the wish of the ruling regime; Bagan got two chances to be the seat of power during 9th and 12th centuries; it is during these terms all these structures were built. A D 1287 came in the shape of the legendary Mongol conqueror Kublai khan who ripped those beautiful structures apart and did as much damages as he could before his retreat! As the town got deserted robbers took away whatever were left by the Mongols.

A man-made disaster!

bagan temple

Temples in Bagan

In 1975 when a massive earth quake hit the town and did much damage to the structures the ruling military junta of Burma (Myanmar) reacted by rebuilding some of them with modern materials like concrete and beautified them with enamel paint! A request from the UNESCO to list them as World Heritage Sites -so that they could be resurrected with the experts in the field- was blatantly ignored by the ruling regime. Thus Burma had to suffer one man-made disaster that followed a natural disaster.

At present

At present all the remnants of the structures of the ‘ten million temples’ lie scattered in 16 sq miles of land, looted, desecrated and getting damaged in sun and rain. About a thousand temples remain in good condition and some of them are functioning visited by devotees of which 10 temples that are immensely popular and remarkable in their make and hence covered in this article.

Sulamani Temple

bagan temple myanmar

The Payathonzu Temple is built in the Mon style

It is also known as the ‘Crowning Jewell Temple’ (in Sanskrit sula means trident and mani means jewel) and was built by King Narapathi Sithu in 1181, in style its construction is akin to the Thatbyinnu temple and has influenced the style of Dhammayangvi temple. This temple got damaged in the 1975 earth quake and was repaired. Sulamani Temple is also known for the beautiful frescoes and idols that decorate its interior.

Dhammayangvi Temple

The Dhammayangvi Temple is the largest structure of all the surviving temples of Bagan. It was built by the Bagan King Narathu who ruled a brief spell between AD 1167 and 1170. Its style of construction resembles to that of Ananda Temple of the same area. This temple was built by King Narathu (1167 – 1170).

Ananda Temple

pagan buddha

A Bagan Buddha, 12th century

This temple is 51 meters in height and was built exactly like the Nandamula Cave Temple in the Himalayan ranges India. The only difference is that the Ananda Temple is a bit smaller than the cave temple. It originally built during 1091 AD under king Kyanzittha but the gilding works that adorn the temple was done recently in 1990. As per Buddhism there are four Buddhas (prophets who have received divine revelations); the Gautama Buddha is the last of them There are four gigantic statues of the four Buddhas each looking to each direction (Kakusandha facing north, Konagamana facing east, Kassapa facing south and Gautama facing west).

Manuha Temple

Built in AD 1067 by Manuha; a Mon king of the Thaton country who was captured and held captive by Anawrahta. The most notable thing with this temple is that statues occupy whole area of the temple giving no space to the priests and devotees. Three huge Buddha statues in sitting posture and one gigantic Buddha in reclining posture; all idols virtually filling the entire space of the halls are the specialties of this temple.

Shwesandaw Temple

myanmar local

Its was built by king Anawrahta in 1057 AD, it is considered as most sacred among the numerous temples of Bagan by the Buddhists as the holy hair of Buddha has been enshrined in its stupas. This temple also has been called Ganesha Temple as during the ancient times four idols of Ganesha (the Hindu god with the head of elephant; considered very auspicious) were placed in its four conrers.

Mahabodhi Temple

As its name suggests it is a replica of the Bodhi Temple of Bodhgaya India. It was built by King Nataungamya between 1210 and 1234. (it was at Bodhgaya Gautama Buddha got enlightenment while meditating under a banyan tree; Bodhgaya is about 105 km away from Patna the capital of Bihar a state of India. There is still an old temple built by Emperor Ashoka with an equally old banyan tree. This premise is considered sacred by Buddhists and the seeds of this tree had been taken and planted in ancient Buddhist’s centers like Burma and Sri Lanka (Mahabodhi tree at Buddhist temple at Anuradha pura). This temple is decorated with numerous Buddha idols placed in niches.

Shwezigon Temple

ananda temple bagan

Gate tower of Ananda Temple

Its work was begun by King Anawrahta who made Bagan his capital but it had to be completed by King Kyanzittha in 1089. The Shwezigon Temple is religiously the most important temple among all the structures in Burma as some bones and hairs of Buddha is kept in this place. During Nadaw a Burmese month (Nov – Dec) devotees from all parts of Burma visit this temple

Gawdapalin Temple

The Gawdapalin Temple has a dome topped with a golden crown reaching sixty meters in height stupa. This beautiful temple that stands with grandeur on the bank of Ayeyarwady River was built by king Narapatisithu in late 12th century; it was badly damaged in the earth-quake which rocked the Mandalay region in 1975; it was rebuilt and at present it remains as one of the well kept temples in this region.

Mahamuni Paya

It is a crowd puller temple of the entire Mandalay region with a four meter tall idol cast in bronze that is covered with golden leaves; devotees bring golden leaves and decorate the idol for the fulfillment of their wish. It is said thus the weight of the idol has been doubled for the time due to this gold leaf adoration! The idol was originally situated in a temple in a village by name Rakhaing (located in the present Bangladesh). King Bodawpaya of Mandalay seized the image and brought it home to be placed in this temple. Women are not allowed to tough the sanctum sanctorum.

Bupaya Pagoda

There is dispute regarding the time of its construction one school of thought is that it was built in AD 200 by King Pyusawhti; as style of construction seems more advanced it is believed that it must have been built in around AD 1000. The large inverted bell shaped dome with golden coating is a really beautiful thing to watch. This small pagoda which was almost completely destroyed in the 1975 earth-quake was rebuilt to the present shape.

Disastrous aesthetics

that byin nyu bagan

Thatbyinnyu Temple

There are thousands of temple in the Mandalay region of Burma; a large number of them are irrecoverably damaged and many in critical condition. Rebuilding of the temples as a World Heritage Site by experts in the field is an urgent requirement. The present government is not willing to entrust the work to the UNESCO authorities making the work impossible. It is hoped that good sense would prevail upon them one day and those once marvelous structures will rise from their deathbed to fascinate the world!



Golden Temple of Dambulla Srilanka

Dambulla Cave Temple (Golden Temple of Dambulla) Sri Lanka


Temples of Bagan, Myanmar (Burma)

bagan temples

Bagan Temples and Pagodas

A city of ten million temples

Bagan is located in the Mandalay area on eastern bank of Ayeyarwady River at about 160 km from Rangoon (Yangon) Burma. Though small in size it is really big in its cultural heritage with countless temples most of them in various stages of decay and many still in ship shape and performing. Perhaps the only place that can be compared to Bagan in this regard is Angkor Vat of Cambodia in the sheer size and architectural magnificence. Angkor Vat temples are covered in thick forests and are only partly visible only from a height; whereas the ruins of Bagan are far greater in number and lie exposed in the tropical sun and are easily accessible.

Bagan; its rise and fall

As Burmese rulers used to shift their capital as per the wish of the ruling regime; Bagan got two chances to be the seat of power during 9th and 12th centuries; it is during these terms all these structures were built. A D 1287 came in the shape of the legendary Mongol conqueror Kublai khan who ripped those beautiful structures apart and did as much damages as he could before his retreat! As the town got deserted robbers took away whatever were left by the Mongols.

A man-made disaster!

bagan temple

Temples in Bagan

In 1975 when a massive earth quake hit the town and did much damage to the structures the ruling military junta of Burma (Myanmar) reacted by rebuilding some of them with modern materials like concrete and beautified them with enamel paint! A request from the UNESCO to list them as World Heritage Sites -so that they could be resurrected with the experts in the field- was blatantly ignored by the ruling regime. Thus Burma had to suffer one man-made disaster that followed a natural disaster.

At present

At present all the remnants of the structures of the ‘ten million temples’ lie scattered in 16 sq miles of land, looted, desecrated and getting damaged in sun and rain. About a thousand temples remain in good condition and some of them are functioning visited by devotees of which 10 temples that are immensely popular and remarkable in their make and hence covered in this article.

Sulamani Temple

bagan temple myanmar

The Payathonzu Temple is built in the Mon style

It is also known as the ‘Crowning Jewell Temple’ (in Sanskrit sula means trident and mani means jewel) and was built by King Narapathi Sithu in 1181, in style its construction is akin to the Thatbyinnu temple and has influenced the style of Dhammayangvi temple. This temple got damaged in the 1975 earth quake and was repaired. Sulamani Temple is also known for the beautiful frescoes and idols that decorate its interior.

Dhammayangvi Temple

The Dhammayangvi Temple is the largest structure of all the surviving temples of Bagan. It was built by the Bagan King Narathu who ruled a brief spell between AD 1167 and 1170. Its style of construction resembles to that of Ananda Temple of the same area. This temple was built by King Narathu (1167 – 1170).

Ananda Temple

pagan buddha

A Bagan Buddha, 12th century

This temple is 51 meters in height and was built exactly like the Nandamula Cave Temple in the Himalayan ranges India. The only difference is that the Ananda Temple is a bit smaller than the cave temple. It originally built during 1091 AD under king Kyanzittha but the gilding works that adorn the temple was done recently in 1990. As per Buddhism there are four Buddhas (prophets who have received divine revelations); the Gautama Buddha is the last of them There are four gigantic statues of the four Buddhas each looking to each direction (Kakusandha facing north, Konagamana facing east, Kassapa facing south and Gautama facing west).

Manuha Temple

Built in AD 1067 by Manuha; a Mon king of the Thaton country who was captured and held captive by Anawrahta. The most notable thing with this temple is that statues occupy whole area of the temple giving no space to the priests and devotees. Three huge Buddha statues in sitting posture and one gigantic Buddha in reclining posture; all idols virtually filling the entire space of the halls are the specialties of this temple.

Shwesandaw Temple

myanmar local

Its was built by king Anawrahta in 1057 AD, it is considered as most sacred among the numerous temples of Bagan by the Buddhists as the holy hair of Buddha has been enshrined in its stupas. This temple also has been called Ganesha Temple as during the ancient times four idols of Ganesha (the Hindu god with the head of elephant; considered very auspicious) were placed in its four conrers.

Mahabodhi Temple

As its name suggests it is a replica of the Bodhi Temple of Bodhgaya India. It was built by King Nataungamya between 1210 and 1234. (it was at Bodhgaya Gautama Buddha got enlightenment while meditating under a banyan tree; Bodhgaya is about 105 km away from Patna the capital of Bihar a state of India. There is still an old temple built by Emperor Ashoka with an equally old banyan tree. This premise is considered sacred by Buddhists and the seeds of this tree had been taken and planted in ancient Buddhist’s centers like Burma and Sri Lanka (Mahabodhi tree at Buddhist temple at Anuradha pura). This temple is decorated with numerous Buddha idols placed in niches.

Shwezigon Temple

ananda temple bagan

Gate tower of Ananda Temple

Its work was begun by King Anawrahta who made Bagan his capital but it had to be completed by King Kyanzittha in 1089. The Shwezigon Temple is religiously the most important temple among all the structures in Burma as some bones and hairs of Buddha is kept in this place. During Nadaw a Burmese month (Nov – Dec) devotees from all parts of Burma visit this temple

Gawdapalin Temple

The Gawdapalin Temple has a dome topped with a golden crown reaching sixty meters in height stupa. This beautiful temple that stands with grandeur on the bank of Ayeyarwady River was built by king Narapatisithu in late 12th century; it was badly damaged in the earth-quake which rocked the Mandalay region in 1975; it was rebuilt and at present it remains as one of the well kept temples in this region.

Mahamuni Paya

It is a crowd puller temple of the entire Mandalay region with a four meter tall idol cast in bronze that is covered with golden leaves; devotees bring golden leaves and decorate the idol for the fulfillment of their wish. It is said thus the weight of the idol has been doubled for the time due to this gold leaf adoration! The idol was originally situated in a temple in a village by name Rakhaing (located in the present Bangladesh). King Bodawpaya of Mandalay seized the image and brought it home to be placed in this temple. Women are not allowed to tough the sanctum sanctorum.

Bupaya Pagoda

There is dispute regarding the time of its construction one school of thought is that it was built in AD 200 by King Pyusawhti; as style of construction seems more advanced it is believed that it must have been built in around AD 1000. The large inverted bell shaped dome with golden coating is a really beautiful thing to watch. This small pagoda which was almost completely destroyed in the 1975 earth-quake was rebuilt to the present shape.

Disastrous aesthetics

that byin nyu bagan

Thatbyinnyu Temple

There are thousands of temple in the Mandalay region of Burma; a large number of them are irrecoverably damaged and many in critical condition. Rebuilding of the temples as a World Heritage Site by experts in the field is an urgent requirement. The present government is not willing to entrust the work to the UNESCO authorities making the work impossible. It is hoped that good sense would prevail upon them one day and those once marvelous structures will rise from their deathbed to fascinate the world!



Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Beginner's Guide to World Travel

A Beginner's Guide to World Travel


A Beginner's Guide to World Travel
Whether we like it not

Traveling; whether we like it or not is an unavoidable part in daily life, there are people who spent their whole life time savings on a fortnight’s trip and return satisfied. Human being in its initial stages were vagabonds who lived on hunting and gathering food wherever it was available; whatever be the distance traveled.

Stone- age; lot a happy lot!

Those stone- age fellows were a happy lot; who had nothing to worry about troublesome things called a home or a farm. That vagabond still lingers in your genes and compels you to go places leaving the comforts of home; friends and native place.

Care your purse!

Traveling is expensive and often an invitation for real trouble; the issue is to lessen the expenses and avoid troubles as far as possible. It is said that while you travel you keep your open purse inverted; it is so money consuming; how that can be plugged? Let us see.

Why travel?

Man is no frog in a deep well; traveling; whatever be the risks involved is a thrilling and fruitful exercise; human life is a short-lived phenomenon; one day of travel in an unknown land is enough to get a thousand day’s pleasure in living in one’s home. Children should be taken along as it is kids who gain more from a travel the most. Men (especially kids) are wired to see and enjoy unknown places, culture, costume, and life-style; even reading hundred books don’t get that much first hand knowledge of seeing and hearing direct.

Early planning

No passport? Go and get it first.

Collect all information available about the destination (traveling too many places in one go is sheer waste as your pleasure get spread too thin); web sites, travelogues, books and maps are inexpensive sources to get a preliminary information.

Choosing the time and season of the place of visit are important things as your long awaited trip may get drenched in rain or may caught trapped in extreme conditions without even a drop of water to drink.

Choose the travel agency after consulting your friends regarding their quality of service, rates of accommodations and reach. Compare their rates with other agencies and bargain for discounts.

Pervious reservations in lodges and travel agencies save a lot of money as well as assure seats at discounted rates.

A small booklet on the local languages will be of immense use; the author remembers a Japanese visitor knocking doors to use toilet as he was in urgency.

If reservations in rooms, transportation are assured early start getting sanction for leave from your boss and avail any leave travel funding if available.

Chick list

It can be a whole family affair to prepare a check list for what is to be taken for the trip; luggage should comply with the regulations of the airlines. Reach in a consensus regarding materials that can be avoided.

A shoulder bag that can contain the following,

1, Passport and statutory papers for the visit,

2, Receipts and brochures received from the travel agencies as well as their franchisees or branches closer to your destination,

3, Local currency as well as some dollars (most merchants prefer dollars to local tenders) in small denominations save money while making payments,

4, A telephones index diary with all the names of your friends and relatives especially those who have visited the destination before or familiar with that place, An even better idea is to find yourselves a couch.

5, Credit cards (duly charged) that is valid at the place of visit,

6, Medicines which are to be routinely taken and that may be of use in contingency like first aid kits, a torch, needle and thread, shaving set, toiletries etc,

7, Good travel guide book would be immense use; can be had from the travel agency at no cost. An index of hotels and other accomodation is a must have.

8, Political and Route maps. you could download any street map from Google Maps.


Medium sized bags,

On family trips each kid can be entrusted with a medium sized bag loaded mostly with his own things; weight to match kid’s age.

Big bag,

A bigger bag (wheeled one is better) with bed linen, bath towel, night gowns, spare foot-wears, dress, books, kids’ food, water, fruits, pocket knife, mosquito repellents, woolen jackets (for cold places) etc. Store some snacks and cookies will prove helpful where there may be places without clean hotels.

While traveling,

Reaching the place of visit,

Select full body covering dress in tropical areas as hot sun and pests can do much damages to white skin. Tourists often fall prey to touts at the tourist spots, get information from the hotel itself regarding spots and call a vehicle from their list a good driver is a better guide. Be lavish while giving him some tip if service is good. Register complaint if there is any meanness on his part.

While walking watch the touts who hang around and suddenly approach you with helps or requests; just neglect them and walk off, if any help needed ask to any friendly person for directions;

Home sweet home!

The real pleasure of the trip lies in the safe return to the home and in relaxing after a bath, one may be a bit poorer but a lot wiser.

Home is the hunter home from the hills;

And the sailor home from the seas!


Happy Travelling.

A Beginner's Guide to World Travel

A Beginner's Guide to World Travel


A Beginner's Guide to World Travel
Whether we like it not

Traveling; whether we like it or not is an unavoidable part in daily life, there are people who spent their whole life time savings on a fortnight’s trip and return satisfied. Human being in its initial stages were vagabonds who lived on hunting and gathering food wherever it was available; whatever be the distance traveled.

Stone- age; lot a happy lot!

Those stone- age fellows were a happy lot; who had nothing to worry about troublesome things called a home or a farm. That vagabond still lingers in your genes and compels you to go places leaving the comforts of home; friends and native place.

Care your purse!

Traveling is expensive and often an invitation for real trouble; the issue is to lessen the expenses and avoid troubles as far as possible. It is said that while you travel you keep your open purse inverted; it is so money consuming; how that can be plugged? Let us see.

Why travel?

Man is no frog in a deep well; traveling; whatever be the risks involved is a thrilling and fruitful exercise; human life is a short-lived phenomenon; one day of travel in an unknown land is enough to get a thousand day’s pleasure in living in one’s home. Children should be taken along as it is kids who gain more from a travel the most. Men (especially kids) are wired to see and enjoy unknown places, culture, costume, and life-style; even reading hundred books don’t get that much first hand knowledge of seeing and hearing direct.

Early planning

No passport? Go and get it first.

Collect all information available about the destination (traveling too many places in one go is sheer waste as your pleasure get spread too thin); web sites, travelogues, books and maps are inexpensive sources to get a preliminary information.

Choosing the time and season of the place of visit are important things as your long awaited trip may get drenched in rain or may caught trapped in extreme conditions without even a drop of water to drink.

Choose the travel agency after consulting your friends regarding their quality of service, rates of accommodations and reach. Compare their rates with other agencies and bargain for discounts.

Pervious reservations in lodges and travel agencies save a lot of money as well as assure seats at discounted rates.

A small booklet on the local languages will be of immense use; the author remembers a Japanese visitor knocking doors to use toilet as he was in urgency.

If reservations in rooms, transportation are assured early start getting sanction for leave from your boss and avail any leave travel funding if available.

Chick list

It can be a whole family affair to prepare a check list for what is to be taken for the trip; luggage should comply with the regulations of the airlines. Reach in a consensus regarding materials that can be avoided.

A shoulder bag that can contain the following,

1, Passport and statutory papers for the visit,

2, Receipts and brochures received from the travel agencies as well as their franchisees or branches closer to your destination,

3, Local currency as well as some dollars (most merchants prefer dollars to local tenders) in small denominations save money while making payments,

4, A telephones index diary with all the names of your friends and relatives especially those who have visited the destination before or familiar with that place, An even better idea is to find yourselves a couch.

5, Credit cards (duly charged) that is valid at the place of visit,

6, Medicines which are to be routinely taken and that may be of use in contingency like first aid kits, a torch, needle and thread, shaving set, toiletries etc,

7, Good travel guide book would be immense use; can be had from the travel agency at no cost. An index of hotels and other accomodation is a must have.

8, Political and Route maps. you could download any street map from Google Maps.


Medium sized bags,

On family trips each kid can be entrusted with a medium sized bag loaded mostly with his own things; weight to match kid’s age.

Big bag,

A bigger bag (wheeled one is better) with bed linen, bath towel, night gowns, spare foot-wears, dress, books, kids’ food, water, fruits, pocket knife, mosquito repellents, woolen jackets (for cold places) etc. Store some snacks and cookies will prove helpful where there may be places without clean hotels.

While traveling,

Reaching the place of visit,

Select full body covering dress in tropical areas as hot sun and pests can do much damages to white skin. Tourists often fall prey to touts at the tourist spots, get information from the hotel itself regarding spots and call a vehicle from their list a good driver is a better guide. Be lavish while giving him some tip if service is good. Register complaint if there is any meanness on his part.

While walking watch the touts who hang around and suddenly approach you with helps or requests; just neglect them and walk off, if any help needed ask to any friendly person for directions;

Home sweet home!

The real pleasure of the trip lies in the safe return to the home and in relaxing after a bath, one may be a bit poorer but a lot wiser.

Home is the hunter home from the hills;

And the sailor home from the seas!


Happy Travelling.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lake Tonle Sap Cambodia

Lake Tonle Sap Cambodia (Boeung Tonle Sap), Great Lake of Cambodia


Lake Tonle Sap Cambodia (Boeung Tonle Sap), Great Lake of Cambodia

tonle sap cambodia

Water dwelling on the lake of Tonle Sap near Siem Reap

The largest fresh water lake of Southeast Asia

Lakes especially the large ones have the power to influence the life style of the people who live around it by giving them food, water and transportation. But few lakes have influenced the life of almost three million people to such a great magnitude like Lake Tonle Sap located right at the heart of Cambodia. Lake Issyk Kul of Kyrgyzstan is a similar one but only a distant second!

How was it formed?

tonle sap lake combodia map

Map of Tonle Sap Lake and its floodplain

Scientists have an answer to any question asked; one version may vary with other ‘school of thought’ is another thing! They (the geologists) say that once- that is millions of years back- a tectonic plate bearing the Indian sub-continent (on which the present day nations like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc are located) moved towards the Asian plate and clashed giving birth to a tremendous stress in which meadows became mountains and plains deep depressions; like what happens when two cars collide! The Himalayan Ranges that bears Mount Everestthe highest peak in the world is the creation of that great upheaval. When Himalaya went up; the Cambodian portion declined water rushed in to fill it; that is the great Tonle Sap Lake the boon of Cambodia!

The real great lake!

lake tonle sap map

Lake Tonle Sap Location in Cambodia

Geography teaches us that the Great Lakes are located in the North American Continent but a Cambodian will ‘shout’ to differ; for him it is the ‘Boeung Tonle Sap’ that is great. Not because that the word Tonle Sap means great lake (large fresh water river) in Khmer language but Lake Tonle Sap is much more than a big lake; it is the bread donor to 3 million Cambodians, 75% of inland fish that nation gets is from Tonle Sap, sixty percent of the protein intake Cambodians get is from nowhere else but Tonle Sap the fish-rich and great lake.

Cambodia

Cambodia is a medium sized nation in Southeast Asia (area 181035 sq km) with a population of about 15 million. Its culture is mainly based on Khmer civilization that has its roots in ancient Hindu, Buddha, Thai, Javanese, Chinese cultures. Its architecture, arts, dance, music, magnificent temples like that of Angkor Watetc all are proofs for its association with old Hindu culture. The staple diet of Cambodians is rice and the lacustrine area nourished by the rich sediments of the lake in fact forms the rice-bowl of Cambodia which has only 13% of agriculture land of the total area (63% of area comprises of forests).

Tonle Sap River a two-way valve

Lake Tonle Sap is a combined system including a strange river (River Tonle Sap) that acts as a two way valve between River Mekong and Tonle Sap Lake. This river meets River Mekong at Chaktomuk opposite to Phnom pen. In summer ice on the mountains melts and River Mekong gets flooded; that time River Tonle Sap take the nutrient rich flood water to the lake. Same time during monsoon time when the Mekong is weak River Tonle Sap does the reverse flow taking water from the lake to Mekong River; about 50% of Mekong’s water during summer is sourced from Lake Tonle Sap. This water is not plain water it is rich in freshly hatched fish from the Tonle Sap flood plain; for nutrients received fish returned.

A river, lake, flood-plain, forest; combine

laketonlesap

lake of Tonle Sapimage courtesy: amberandmozzie.blogster.com

During summer this lake shrinks to just 2,700 sq km in area; at that time water from Mekong carried by River Tonle Sap is its only source; where as during monsoon it gets filled to the brim making it swell to the tune of 16,000 sq km! At this time all the surrounding areas including forests get inundated and they turn in to a rich hatchery for all sorts of fresh water fish making it the most productive inland natural fish-breeding area in the world. About 100 varieties of birds, two hundred varieties of fish along with amphibians multiply during this time. When Mekong is weak all this fish and beings are released along with water.

Hot-spot

The Tonle Sap Lake of Cambodia is the largest fresh water body of Southeast Asia in area but it is comparatively shallow with a depth of one meter during summer but during monsoon its water level reaches to 9 meters and discharges huge quantity of water that is flooded with freshly bred fish in to the Tonle Sap River and then to River Mekong. This river-lake-flood-plain system combined with seasonally flooding forests is the last refuge of a unique eco system that is home to thousands of rare plants, birds, fish and amphibians of which many are in the endangered list; hence this biosphere has been listed by the UNESCO as ‘ecological hotspot’ since 1997.

Chong Khneas; the village that floats

lake tonle sap

Young boy from Tonlé Sap Combodia

The lake is about 15 km from the town Seam Reap; one can take a ferry from Phnom Penh and travel through the scenic lake and can visit the strange village Chong Khneas that floats on the lake waters! Houses, shops, schools, gas stations, flower and fruit gardens all float on the serene lake water (they even raise farms on these floating structures). When lake’s water level rises the village also rises along with; when lake recedes the vice versa! No flooding of homes or farmlands because all float.

There are more villages that look like floating like Chong Khneas but they use stilted structures that seem to float during monsoon but the stilts get exposed during summer when lake water recedes.

Chong Khneas attracts many tourists because of this particular feature; perhaps the present status of this lake itself is due to this floating village. Tourism has brought in jobs and money to the villagers and facilities to cater to the needs of tourists also has changed the shape and texture of the village.

Its people

tonle sap people

Young Girl from Tonlé Sap Combodia

The residents of Chong Khneas and other floating villages are mostly Vietnamese and Cham People. The Cham People are considered to have descended from Malay and Polynesian stocks; they own a history as the part of the 7th to 15th century Champa Kingdom existed in the present Vietnam. The language they speak is called Cham. It is needless to say their main occupation is fishing but bamboo basket making and catering to the needs of the numerous tourists who visit their village also is a source of income. Large fish traps floating houses, schools, farms, and gas stations dot the entire village and present a view to the visitor to remember.

Kampong Phluk and Kampong Khleang

Surrounding the lake are numerous villages as the lake’s water level varies these villages live in stilted houses (houses that are built on large poles up to 10 meters in height. Kampong Phluk is a cluster of three villages surrounded by mangrove forests; it has a population of around 3000 people and can be accessed from Siem Reap. Kampong Khleang is another such village that is flooded with stilted houses. When the lake dry up these people come down and live in temporary cottages built on the ground and return to the stilt when lake gets flooded. The main occupation is fishing and shrimp farming; these villages are not frequently visited by tourists as Chong Khneas.

Preservation of ecology

The Cambodian government and numerous agencies are keen to protect the unique eco-system that prevails around the lake. There is one bird sanctuary in Prek Toal located in the core area of the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve; it is Asia’s largest breeding area for large water-birds that are globally threatened. Spot billed pelican, painted stork, greater adjuncts, grey headed fish eagle all are found in abundance in this 31282 hectare wide reserve.

Inexpensive destination

lake tonle sap combodia

An old man rows a boat on the Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia

This reserve can be visited from Seam Reap town through boat. Moat Khla Biosphere Reserve area another one is located between Boeung Tonle Chma (another smaller lake located in the middle of the eastern shore of the lake) and Tonle Sap.

Stung Sen Biosphere Reserve is located in the southwestern part of the lake. Birds are in abundance during summer but the hitch is as lake water has receded boating becomes difficult but there are packages for tourists that include combined boating and trekking tours under guidance for nominal fees.

Cambodia is an economically backward country and hotels and other amenities are relative very cheap. A two hour boat ride from Siem Reap covering destinations including the floating village costs less than 10 dollars!

 
Copyright @ 2008-2010 History Articles | History Article | Powered by Blogger Theme by Donkrax