A Travellerspoint blog

Fascinating Finland Lakes

Finland

The Nordic country of Finland is popularly referred as ‘the country of 1000 lakes’. Indeed it is one of the rarest countries in the world where majority of its landscape is adorned with unscathed thick forests and lovely lakes.

Even the term ‘country of 1000 lakes’ falls short to describe Finland’s amazing geography. Actually there are around 2, 00,000 lakes (official records state: 1, 87,888). However there is a region in south-east Finland that aptly justifies this tag – the biggest Lake District in entire Europe.

This thousand lakes region in Finland in fact accommodated much more than 1000 lakes which are dotted by numerous beautiful islands and covered with vast forests. With relatively spare population all over, there are few better locations that offer an ideal travel experience. Another amazing feature of this region is the almost round-the-clock daylight during summer season. When days a so long and nights - almost nil !

Let it be varying seasons like summer or winter, Finland’s lakes’ offer eye-feats and entertainments in plenty. Summer will be a bustle of spectacular natural sceneries, when people can relish in full by means of lake cruises, yachting, fishing and swimming. Whereas in winter, all the rivers, lakes and even forest stand frozen – making a giant playground for outdoor activities like Nordic skiing, skating, hiking ... So nature lovers, solitude seekers and adventurists can choose a season as per their preferences.

Amongst Finland’s around Two Lakhs of lakes (with 20,000+ kilometres of splendid shoreline), the top five, in terms of size and charm, are as follows…

1
Lake Saimaa

The largest and arguably most beautiful of all Finnish lakes, Lake Saimaa is situated in eastern Finland, between the cities – Joensuu and Lappeenranta.
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A priceless jewel of Finland’s natural beauty, this lake is characterised by an extensive water-body dotted by thousands of isles and countless bays. A fishing paradise, Lake Saimaa is home to ‘Saimaa Salmon’ (a land locked variety of the popular Salmon fish).

2
Lake Päijänne

The deepest and second largest lake in Finland, Lake Päijänne extends from city of Lahti to the city of Jyväskylä (Southern Finland). This lake offers diverse sceneries with its landscapes – isles and shores – each varying in geographical shape.
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The southern parts of this mighty lake are home to ‘Päijänne National Park’, an apt location for adventurous hiking trails. Päijänne Lake is a famous fishing site too.

3
Lake Inarijärvi

The only major lake among the ‘top five’ that doesn’t belong to Finland’s celebrated ‘thousand lakes region’, Lake Inarijärvi comes third in the list of big-sized Finnish lakes.
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Perhaps the only one of its kind in terms of pristine nature and wilderness, Lake Inarijärvi accommodates about three thousand isles. This lake area offers one of the very best cruises thro’ unspoilt nature! Another speciality of this lake is its excellent water quality. It is said that there is no need to bring drinking water while travelling in Lake Inarijärvi.

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Lake Pielinen

The fourth largest lake in Finland, Lake Pielinen lays north to the city of Joensuu. Another lake boasting of majestic sceneries, Lake Pielinen is beautified with many little isles and neighboured with pine forests.
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Koli National Park, a well known natural site in Finland, is located on the western shores of this lake. Pielinen’s waters also houses a diverse fish variety including the land locked Salmon.

5
Lake Oulujärvi

Located to the west of the Finnish city of Kajaani, Lake Oulujärvi is the country’s fifth largest lake. Better known by nickname ‘Kainuu Sea’ due to its vast fishing resources, Lake Oulujärvi is rated as a top pike-fishing destination and is a favourite hunt of trollers.
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Apart from its own share of charming shores and sand dunes, what makes Lake Oulujärvi distinct is its Island of Ärjänsaari – an isle with high sand banks.

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In a country like Finland that ranks high amongst the most stable countries in the world… whose capital (Helsinki) is world’s no.2 safest city… outings can be enjoyable in every sense. Almost countless pristine locations lay unexplored in not so large a country!

Posted by elatrips 02:10 Archived in Finland Tagged landscapes lakes scenery tourism Comments (0)

A drive to Munnar...

Hill Station of Munnar

One cannot simply call it ‘Munnar’; because Kerala’s most beautiful and well-known hill station is always spelt with surnames such as, Magnificent, Mesmerizing, Marvelous .... as the visual treats offered by this abode and its neighboring beauties are often beyond words.
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A drive to Munnar itself is a refreshing experience. As it is difficult to describe beauty with so many synonyms the best way is to take a pictorial ride like this...

Road to Munnar winding thro’ the lush high ranges

The first en route treat – Cheeyappara Waterfalls

Further drive brings you to another delightful cascade – Valara Waterfalls
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After riding thro' some exciting hair pin bends in the mountains, as Munnar becomes near you will sight Pallivasal – a pristine location, sight of Kerala’s first Hydro Electric Power Project.
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Between Pallivasal and Munnar there lays one more eye-catching cascade - Attukal Waterfalls

Then comes the prime destination – Munnar (‘munnu aar’ means ‘three streams’ in local language, named so due to confluence of three mountain streams - Muthirappuzha, Chandavurai and Kundaly).

Plantations played a major role in the widespread fame of Munnar. This town houses a unique Museum dedicated to ‘Tea’

Tea Museum - showcases interesting facts, figures and artifacts about the growth and development of tea plantations in Munnar. Here curious ones can learn the techniques about how tea is produced and refined.

As stated earlier, Munnar’s neighboring beauty-spots are quite large in numbers. There are 3 most popular routes from the town which takes to all these spots.

1 Munnar – Rajamalai (Eravikulam National Park)
2 Munnar – Mattupetty – Eco Point – Kundala
3 Munnar – Devikulam – Lockhart gap

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First Route

This route brings to Eravikulam National Park alias Rajamalai

Rajamalai - a National Park with many specialties... Apart from great trekking trails plus flora & fauna, this is also home to several highly endangered species in the world, namely Atlas moth (one among world’s biggest moths), Nilgiri Tahr (rare mountain goat) etc. Moreover, this is the site of Anamudi - the highest peak in South India.

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Second Route

First comes Mattupetty, a quiet village best known for its ‘Cattle Farm’ (the Indo Swiss mega project, only one of its kind in Asia). For security reasons this project is not open for public now.
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Mattupetty has a splendid dam with boating facilities in its reservoir area

After Mattupetty, comes the Echo Point – as the name implies, here you will ‘hear’ the reverberations of your voice!

Next stop is Kundala – another pristine location with an angelic dam site

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Third Route

On this route the first halt is the sensuous little town of Devikulam... abode of lovely lawns and plantations

Then comes the Lockhart Gap where anyone will get rejuvenated with the fresh mountain air, mist-coated hills and enchanting views

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Well, the onlookers certify this as the God’s own hill station without doubt !

Posted by elatrips 02:03 Archived in India Tagged landscapes waterfalls mountains lakes wildlife scenery tourism Comments (0)

Largest-ever Temple……?

Great Temples across the world ...

Around the world, various kinds of worship centers proudly stand as the hallmarks of great religions. Among those, the term ‘Temple’ is commonly referred in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism …. to name a few. In such a vast religious scenario, a search for the largest ever worship center will throw up many an answer(s). Even a simple search, confining to the biggest temples alone, often ends up with quite a few debatable answers.

Even as the answer to ‘the largest temple in the world’ continues to be debatable, let’s have a look at some of the grand temples in various regions.

Ranganathaswamy Temple, Tiruchirapalli, South India

Spread over an area of 156 acres, the Ranganathaswamy Temple easily makes way to the list of largest temples across the world. This massive temple complex houses 21 gopurams (towers), of which the most remarkable one is the 246 feet tall ‘Rajagopuram’ (Royal Tower) – tallest in Asia and one of the tallest of its kind anywhere else.

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Dedicated to Lord Vishnu (Ranganathaswamy is a form of Lord Vishnu in reclining pose), this giant shrine is of high religious significance for Vaishnavites and, is perhaps second only to the Andra’s Tirupati Balaji Temple, in terms of the number of pilgrims received per year.

Considering the size and vastness, Ranganathaswamy Temple complex can rightly be considered as “the largest functioning Hindu temple complex in the world”.

Akshardham Temple, New Delhi, North India

The most modern temple of the lot, completed in the year 2005, the BAPS Akshardham Temple is the “world’s biggest Hindu temple” as per Guinness World Records.

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Covering an area of around 13 hectares (32 acres), the entire temple is built with reputed Rajasthani sandstones and Italian marbles. Akshardham’s central monument is 141 feet high, 316 feet wide and 370 feet long… and is studded with beautiful sculptures of various deities, musicians, dancers, etc. The temple walls are elegantly carved – both inside and outside. Here one can relish the sights of stunningly elegant carvings (trademark of a fast diminishing an aged art form).

Though built in modern times, Akshardham strictly adheres to ancient temple standards – no usage of steel or any other metals and without support from concrete! Experts testify that this temple is constructed in such a way as to last for at least one thousand years.

Angkor Wat, Angkor, Cambodia

A magnificent testimony of the old Khmer Empire (9th to 13th century) in Cambodia, the entire area of the Angkor Wat temple complex is roughly five times more than the Akshardham Temple complex.

Originally built as a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, it later became a Buddhist temple after the decline of Khmer and rise of Buddhism in Far East Asia.

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Eventhough some ruins have taken their toll, the entire structure of this overwhelmingly large temple is nothing short than extraordinary. Among this colossal build, particularly noteworthy is a group of three rectangular galleries that rise to a central tower. Each gallery is higher than the last – inner gallery measures 197 x 197 feet, the next one is 328 x 377 feet, and the outer gallery is 614 x 705 feet! The central tower, above all these, stands 213 feet high from the ground level.

For the title of “the largest non-functioning temple in the world”, there seems no better answer than Angkor Wat.

Karnak Temple complex, Luxor, Egypt

Karnak represents the legacy of ancient Egypt. Though it is difficult to estimate its actual size in the present depleted condition, earlier records state that Karnak was once a very large temple complex where many temples reflected the skills of generations of Egyptian builders.

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The one who still stands majestically among the ruins of Karnak is the ‘Great Hypostyle Hall’ – a hall area of around fifty thousand square feet, where 134 gigantic columns set in 16 rows support a roof (which has now fallen in the test of time).

With few sites that match its ageless grander, Karnak temple complex is the Numero Uno “world’s largest ancient temple complex”.

To put it short, each one of these amazing temples tops in certain aspects…

Angkor Wat outscores other temples as the world’s largest non-functioning temple. Ranganathaswamy Temple complex gets to top as the largest fully-functioning Hindu temple complex in the world. Karnak deserves its due as the world’s largest ancient temple complex. Akshardham Temple is the world’s largest Hindu Temple in Guinness World Records, but this fact is highly disputed, and even some major temples in India (like, Madurai’s ‘Meenakshi Sundareswar Temple’, Thanjavur’s ‘Brihadeeswara Temple’ and Tiruvannamalai’s ‘Arunachaleswarar Temple’) challenge this claim.
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Posted by elatrips 04:43 Archived in Cambodia Tagged temple religion heritage holy self tourism pilgrimage lands hinduism realization spirituality Comments (0)

Bekal – the Fort 'biggie' !

Bekal Fort, North Kerala

Fort – a key name in medieval times… well built, mammoth fortresses played a key role in protecting the princely states form invaders. In fact, the number if strong forts in strategic locations were instrumental for the success of every empire / kingdom in the eventful medieval times across the world.

For heritage seekers who would love to explore these time-tested gigantic structures; there will be a few better examples than the fort of Bekal – located in Kerala’s northernmost district, Kasargod.

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This mammoth of a fortress is Kerala state’s largest as well as the best preserved one!

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Set in a pivotal location on North Malabar’s coastline, Bekal fort was the prime strong point of various kingdoms (such as Kolathiri Kings, Mysore Kings, British East India Company), that held sway over Northern Kerala during the changing phase shifts of time and power.

Literally, the kingdoms who took possession of this fort automatically secured their power in the region.

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Looking out to the Arabian Sea, the Bekal fort area also boasts of a beautiful beach.

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Even as years turn into centuries, this fort biggie stands intact – a personification of timeless classical architecture.

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…………………… A perfect visualization of elegant massiveness

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Posted by elatrips 04:26 Archived in India Tagged beach fort scenery heritage north kerala tourism Comments (0)

A wonderland called Wayanad…

Wayanad, Kerala

The tiny south Indian state of Kerala is blessed with many wonderful locations. But this one will rank very high in the list of Kerala’s beauty-spots. That is Wayanad, a district located in north east Kerala.

Nestled high in the majestic western ghat mountains, Wayanad is one of the handful locations in the world that still manage to retain its pristine nature in spite of the overwhelming modernization.

A land where ancient civilization existed much before the era of Christ, Wayanad is a wonderful combination of dense forests & wildlife, royal high ranges, lush plantations & paddy fields, ageless pilgrim centers,…. together with marks of prehistoric civilization. If Kerala is the God’s own country; then Wayanad is its Green Paradise.

Prominent ones amongst Wayanad’s innumerable lovely locations:

Ambalavayal Heritage Museum

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Arguably the best Heritage Museum in Kerala. This Museum contains artifacts that date back to many centuries!

Banasurasagar

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The habitat of one of the largest earth dams in the country. A nearby Sanctuary and a Park with ever-flowering trees add charm to this spot.

Begur Wildlife Sanctuary

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Home to numerous species of wild animals, plants and trees… particularly popular for viewing elephants, deers, birds and reptiles.

Boys Town

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An establishment of the Wayanad Social Service Society and Jean Park (the Indo-Danish project for promoting herbal gardening). An abode of many invaluable plants.

Brahmagiri

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Lying about 1600 meters above sea level, Brahmagiri constitute a vast area of exquisite wild land. It takes about 11 kilometers of trekking from Thirunelly to reach this spot.

Chembra Peak

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The highest peak in Wayanad – A trekker’s dream location!

Edakkal Caves

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One of the earliest centers of human habitat around the world. The rocky cave-walls are decorated by lots of interesting carvings, which represent human / animal figures, objects of human use, symbols, etc. These carvings speak of a highly civilized people of prehistoric age.

Kuruva Dweep (Island)

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A tiny uninhabited Island of evergreen forest located on the tributaries of River Kabini. Overspread with rare species of birds, orchids and herbs, Kuruva Island is an ideal picnic plot.

Meenmutty Waterfalls

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A waterfall located deep in the reserve forest. A trip to Meenmutty itself is an adventure (it requires a good trekking through some inhospitable grounds)!

Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary

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The largest wildlife reserve in North Kerala… Also known as Wayanad Sanctuary, Muthanga is a place with excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.

Pakshipathalam

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A Bird Sanctuary located around 7 kilometers north-east of Thirunelly Temple, accessible only by trekking! An adventurer’s den.

Pookote Lake

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A natural fresh water lake brimmed with evergreen mountains… here one can enjoy the hypnotizing glamour of an unspoilt environment.

Soochipara Waterfalls

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A brilliant waterfall, so-called due to the high force of its waters (Soochi means ‘needle’ in local).

Thirunelly Temple

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A very ancient and sacred Temple set amidst the reserve forest. Thirunelly Temple is referred as the ‘Thekkan Kasi’ (Banaras of the South) in terms of religious significance. It is believed that bathing in the adjoining River ‘Papanasini’ will cleanse all the sins.

Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuary

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Another Sanctuary in the Wayanad belt with wide varieties of animals and plants.
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With many serene spots still unexplored, this wonderland of Wayanad is yet to be ‘fully discovered’.

Posted by elatrips 03:54 Archived in India Tagged landscapes waterfalls mountains lakes trees animals birds wildlife Comments (0)

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