Thursday, July 30, 2009

Felucca on the Nile

Feluccas are the traditional sailboats used for sailing along the Nile in Egypt.This is a type of lateen sail boat that carries passengers along the River Nile.It is a wide riverboat with a flat, open deck covered with soft mattresses and has a canopy which provide shade from the sun. The felucca has remained, over the centuries, the primary transportation of the Nile. Egypt is blessed with southerly wind that pushes sailboats upriver, while allowing them to return on its current downstream. A large tiller is used for steering and you can also find a large amount of storage space under the deck.The crew members provide you with Nubian foods and can have Breakfast, lunch and dinner while enjoying the true beauty of Nile.You can also get flavours of Egyptian tea and Nubian cake.These Feluccas are run by locals called Nubians and the ships were also filled with Nubian culture, with all the meals prepared on the ship by the captains.We watch rural Egyptian life while passing down the Nile.Whether you’re looking for something cultural, or just a relaxing time on the water, consider a felucca ride in Egypt. All the historical and cultural destinations are located along the banks of the Nile River and going on a sight-seeing by the felucca is an experience worth cherishing. Tourist can move leisurely across the water while viewing the papyrus, Palmyra, quaint hamlets ,various birds, cattle and fishermen. During evening you can spend time watching the magnificent Egyptian sunsets,and take a good sleep under the stars. The most romantic time is the evening time ,when you can relaxed with your loved ones while enjoying the sunset.This is the perfect short trip if you want to enjoy the best of Egypt`s adventure Tour. Felucca rides can be enjoyed in towns like Cairo,Luxor,Aswan etc where there are easy to find the main riverfront streets.Feluccas are interesting because they sail throughout the waters in the heart of Cairo and the scenery become nice during evening.A felucca sail provide you with a glimpse of people,culture and lifestyles of Egypt which makes Egypt one of the most fascinating country.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009



When a friend came back from her vacation in Kerala, she was much too excited! Not only about the God’s own country Kerala and its beautiful natural surroundings, but the various cultural events she witnessed there. The Snake boat race was one of the many such local events which she had witnessed there. The name snake boat rose my curiosity…

Only later I came to know that the name “Snake Boat Race” comes with the shape of the boats which are used during the race and the actual name is the Nehru Trophy boat race. One of the most famous local events which attracts the people from all over the world to witness it. These boat races are the part of Kerala culture. For any good event, for any religious event a boat race is organized in this area of Kerala.

The Nehru trophy has a different story behind it though. As it was the tradition of the Keralites, they had welcomed the first prime minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, on his visit to Kerala. It was his first visit way back in 1952. Pandit Nehru was so thrilled with the performance of the rowers and the whole excitement that it created, that he declared a rolling trophy for the winner, and since then this event is being held annually with the trophy named after the prime minister.

It is said that long back the ruler of the area developed these boats so that his warriors had an easy time navigating in between the back waters during the wars. The boats did help. Since then every pious event or any celebration was commemorated with a game using these boats which e ventually culminated into races. The locales call it the Vallam kali in native language, meaning the boat game.

The boats are made up of Anjali thadi, a local forest wood. Today every village that participates in the race has its own prized boat and it is taken care of very devoutly. The boats are cleaned and rubbed and scrubbed. Then they are coated with oil and eggs for a smooth sail in the waters. The rowers of the boat are heroes of the village, and if they are the winners then they are worshipped!

These races are normally held in the area of Allapuzhha, in the Punnamada lakes or the back waters of Allapuzhha and are held between the months of July to September. Allapuzhha or Alleppey as it is known, is an hours distance from the commercial capital of Kerala, Kochi and about three hours from the beautiful Kumarakom.

The snake boat race has many records to its credit.

• It is a sport event having the highest number of team members in a single team.
• It is the biggest water vessel used for sports purpose.

The 100-120 feet long canoes is manned by four helmsmen, 25 cheerers /singers and 100-125 oarsmen, who row in unison to the fast rhythm of `vanchipattu'or boatmen's song. The boat moves like a snake through the channels and definitely is an eye catching sight for any tourist.
Every year lots of tourists throng the place to view this exciting event and also see the beauty of the state along with it. This year the boat race happens on 08th of August 2009. There are many packages that one can choose from to witness this event and add on the visit to rest of the Kerala. So for a cultural and festive thrill one should definitely experience this Boat race.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Solar Eclispse: the fascinating celestial event

Solar eclipse brings back the memories of my childhood. I do not remember much though… it must have been in the late 80’s that it was visible and was to be total Solar eclipse. That was the time I got introduced and also attracted to this celestial event which takes place due to the specific positions of the Sun and the Moon. It was always a story for these kind of celestial events told by the grandparents and we believed them often than not.
In the earlier days people used to donate many a things after the eclipse in India. Especially, because the occurrence of eclipse meant that a mythological demon called Rahu would devour the Sun god and hence the star disappeared for some time. Why did the demon let go the sun god after some time is however not known!! Though we were put up in Mumbai, after every small or big Solar or Lunar eclipse , beggars would come out asking for alms and people would donate voluntarily. There was no question of not believing the mythology!
It was only during that first time that dad explained us the actual phenomenon with drawings and it took me by surprise. I desperately wanted to see it… but it was not be visible from Mumbai. Even then there were solar protective sun glasses being sold in the markets and I had insisted we buy it. May be it was a Sunday, or I had missed my school, my sister and I were at home. The television had for the first time in my memory had a whole day programme, with flashes of the eclipse taking place.
It is now known that a Solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between Earth and Sun. If the moon's shadow happens to fall upon Earth's surface at that time, then we see some portion of the Sun's disk covered or 'eclipsed' by the Moon. The partial and the total eclipses depend on the distance between the earth and moon.
The next Total Solar eclipse to be visible from India was about 15 years ago in 1995 and many places in India were to witness that. This time I had to see it and luckily enough, it was to be visible nearby from Delhi. We hunted for the Solar glasses in Delhi but they were not to be found. Delhi seemed to be most apathetic towards the event. At the same time there was exposure boom about the event and its accessories in Mumbai and Kolkata.
We hit the road late in the night to watch the event which was supposed to take place early in the morning. It was the time just after the festival of Diwali, hence the weather was pleasantly chilly. We head straight on to Fatehpur Sikri, near to Agra, as that was the place we decided to view it from. The wait was annoying… but when the event took place… it was the most beautiful site that I could think of!
The time has come once more and I still long to witness that once in a lifetime event. This time too it shall be viewed early in the morning. The nearest place to Delhi for this is Bhopal and the other is Varanasi. However this time the time – span is 3 minutes and due to the rainy season, people are doubtful of its viewing. But many cities in India shall be able to witness this celestial event on 22 July 2009. Baroda, Indore, Gaya, and then going into north east India with Dibrugarh and then in to China, it will be viewed in huge number. China will have the maximum siting time of about 5 minutes and the time will be perfect, during noon.

It should be a great site watching it from the Ganges, and you may also see the hindu rituals that take place after the eclipse is over.
Do not miss this if possible. For the accessories you are sure to found in any of the planetariums in your city. The importance is that this shall be probably the last Total Solar eclipse that you can view and that too falling in the International year of Astronomy and 400th anniversary year of the telescope founded by Galileo.