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A trip to World’s Rooftop !

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Tibet with its formidable mountain ranges which makes even motoring almost impossible is aptly titled as the ‘roof of the world’. In such a place where lofty inaccessible mountains and risky permafrost soil consist most of the landscape can anyone imagine a rail route that connects it to the mainland china? That’s the Qinghai-Tibet Railway the miracle project of the people’s republic of china.

What makes the Quinhai-Tibet railway stand out among other railway lines all over the world is, it’s constructed across terrains where none can dream about transportation – about 17,000 feet tall mountains to climb, tens of kilometre-wide valleys, five hundreds of kilometres of unstable permafrost soil, etc! No wonder this is considered as China’s most costly rail-project till date, and arguable the most costliest of its kind in the world.

Starting from china’s capital city Beijing, the highlight of this train journey is the passing through the astounding Kunlun Mountain Range (the ‘Mother of Thousands of Mountains’) that virtually isolate Tibet from the rest of the world.

Most of this region is dubbed as the ‘Forbidden Zone’ or the zone-of-death as its unpredictable weather… where the average temperature is minus zero, fierce sandstorms and high UV radiation, make living impossible! Here the average altitude of rail track is 13,500 feet above sea level, with the highest point at 16,700 feet – the most elevated rail track in the world!

But for the passengers the incredibly high altitude won’t pose any problems as all the train carriages are fully air-conditioned and pressurised, plus, oxygen masks are available in sleeping cabins as well as all the train corridors and washrooms. With lavish facilities including western / continental cuisines, it’s more like an Aeroplane ride for the travellers.

More than three-fourth of the entire Qinghai-Tibet Railway is thru this majestic mountain range that includes the ‘Tanggula Pass’ (about 16,640 feet / 5072 metres above sea level) – the world’s highest rail track, and the ‘Fenghuoshan tunnel’ – world’s highest rail tunnel.

Even the highly unstable permafrost is well taken care of … the Qingshuihe Bridge, that extends over eleven & half kilometers, is the world’s longest bridge built on permafrost.

To protect Tibet’s fragile, sensitive eco-system that accounts for many rare & endangered flora & fauna, the railway track is aptly elevated at many spots… otherwise, it utilizes fencing and tunnels cut under the tracks; so that the natural wildlife continues, practically unperturbed by the moving train.

Most importantly, the train is equipped with garbage compacters and vacuum toilets, so that no garbage is allowed to be left behind… to protect the unspoilt natural environment.

Covering almost two thousand kilometers, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway opens up to the visitors the undiscovered bewitching beauty if Tibet.

When the climax comes – the final destination of the train – “Lhasa”, it is more like ‘exploring the unexplored’ for the passengers !

This praiseworthy railway project has now thrown up new avenues for exploring the pristine Tibet for the foreign tourists and people from mainland China alike. A trip to world’s rooftop in every sense !!!



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Info Courtesy:  E Cheong, New Huaren Federation

Spanish Delights !!!

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The kingdom of Spain, located in extreme south-west of Europe, may not be an eye catcher in the world map in terms of size, but when tourism aspects counts it’s definitely a country that’s too good to be missed.

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In its not so large frame, Spain encompasses variety geographic landscapes. Along the coast of Atlantic and Mediterranean oceans there lies almost countless sun-kissed sandy beaches that draws plentiful visitors in summer. Not to mention the two exotic islands that comes under Spain – Balearic and Canary. Apart its splendid seashores; Spain, being the second-most mountainous country in Europe is an automatic winter tourism hub as its high mountains make perfect ski slopes.

More than those diverse landscapes and wetlands, Spain’s long eventful history that includes many a conquests and landmarks, makes it a place of historical importance too. No wonder this country, alongwith Italy, contains the maximum number of World Heritage Sites – Forty two! Thirteen of the Spanish cities have already been declared by UNESCO as world heritage cities. Spain’s inland consists of innumerable picturesque villages, well away from the beaten tourist tracks, that takes one back to a much earlier era.

Thus be it summer / winter tourism, nature tourism, heritage & cultural tourism, etc. Spain has an all-in-one answer. A magnificent combination that can be rarely seen anywhere.

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Prominent ones amongst Spain’s bountiful attractions…

Madrid

Spain’s ‘capital royal’ for the last five centuries as well as its most touristic city… Madrid is a city of elegant architecture and historical monuments including some outstanding ones like royal castle and city square. Art lovers can truly relish in Madrid’s world famous museums.

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Barcelona

Spain’s second largest city and location of some of the best tourist attractions in the country… A city of Gaudi’s architectural brilliance, Barcelona has been the home of many of the country’s famous artists.

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Bilbao

One of the most beautiful cities in the North Spain, Bilbao is best known for its sacred cathedral (a renowned pilgrim spot), the Guggenheim Museum and last but not the least, its seafood.

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Cordoba

A must see city in the South Spain… particularly famous for its Mezquita Mosque – a treasure trove of the Moorish Andalusian arts.

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Costa del Sol

Abode of some fine beaches… With mild climate throughout the year, Costa del Sol makes an ideal beach resort for people from all wakes of life.

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Granada

The gateway to the world renowned sky resort of Sierra Nevada Mountains… one notable Granada attraction is the charming Alhambra Palace, set at the foothill of Sierra Nevada.

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Salamanca

One of the UNESCO-declared Spanish world heritage cities… A city that retains the unspoilt old world charm.

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Seville

Another Spanish city of astounding architecture… Seville’s major assets are its majestic Cathedral (with the tomb of Christopher Columbus), the Giralda tower and the Alcazar – an awesome medieval Islamic palace. Besides, the city is much known for its cultural festivals like the Easter parades and April fair.

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Valencia

A city that lies in the Spanish Mediterranean coast, Valencia is a prime beach destination that automatically draws people in summer holidays… Also well known for its City of Arts and Sciences which consists of amazing eye-shaped buildings!


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Typical ‘Spanish Specials’…

Paella – Spain’s own unique cuisine… available in may versions, especially as a variety seafood…

Scenes from Seville’s annual ‘April fair’ – one of the most colorful festival fiestas in Spain…

Spain’s masterpiece event – the thrilling ‘Bull Fight’!

The ‘Parade of Resurrection’ that take place throughout Spain during the holy week of Easter… The procession is peculiar for its realistic depiction of biblical characters…

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In Spain, it’s delights ‘n delights all the way…

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