Karakurram Kurram Karram

Just like Lijjat Papad’s tagline of yore, the Karakorams seem pretty mazzedar with each passing day.

Forbidden fruit has always held a mesmeric appeal of its own and the mighty Baltoro glacier in PoK is high up on my bucket list much to my husband’s chagrin! ๐Ÿ˜

Studded with some of the world’s highest landforms, the Baltoro is a veritable treasure trove of mystifying beauty. Check it out:

The proudest peak that you can see in these pictures, jutting at a whopping 8611 metres above sea-level, belongs to the humongous K2. Just to put that into perspective, 10 Burj Khalifas piled one ย on top of the other still wouldn’t make the cut!๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

K2 is an exact replica of how we drew mountains in drawing class. A-shaped with unbelievably steep sides. What K2 might lack in height compared to its much-celebrated cousin Everest, it more than makes up in technical difficulty. The second highest mountain in the world is ruthless, to put it mildly. For every 4 that summit it, 1 is sure to be history during descent. Not for nothing is it nicknamed the ‘Savage Mountain’ meant only for the serious climber and not the hordes of amateurs who scramble up the relatively easier Everest for their two minutes of fame on her peak.

Joining the fearsome league of its neighbour, the Nanga Parbat in the Karakoram, as well as Annapurna massif in Nepal, as the world’s deadliest mountains, K2 is pretty inhospitable in every season but is particularly unforgiving in winters, so much so that nobody has dared to brave her wrath when the rest of the Karakoram is literally submerged in snow.

K2 can even be conquered from her northern face, which lies in China, but for some reason, I don’t find the view as scenic or hypnotic as the frozen Baltoro on the southern side.

I’d give anything…Yes ANYTHING…to wade through chest-high snow on the Baltoro and look up up up up up this mighty, endless wall of white.

Traversing the Baltoro itself is a challenge for the most seasoned mountaineer and those who can even make it to K2’s base camp, let alone other advanced camps and the cherry on the icing [the summit itself!], I doff my hat to them!

So, what’s the next best thing? I’ve begun following a brave mountaineer by the name of Fredrik Strรคng on Facebook!๐Ÿ˜‚ I see K2 in all her glory through his eyes. Check out these otherworldly clicks of his:

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This guy cheated death almost a decade ago on the worst day in the history of mountaineering casualty when the white witch saw red! His largeheartedness, to not push for summit, but instead, descend the slopes to attend to the man he saw plummet to the base of the mountain, must have earned him enough good karma to not join the long list of 11 fatalities, who got screwed by a deadly avalanche in the upper reaches of the mountain.

I could write reams and reams on this permanent fixture of my dreams…see K2’s even bringing out the poetess in me!๐Ÿ˜‚

 

 

 

 

A Ghouly Baoli

Hello lovely peeps! Been a long time since I last visited my own blog ๐Ÿ˜›

Horror movies are all that’s on television these days, so I think the world (wide web) is gonna see a lot more of me ๐Ÿ˜€

Speaking of spookfests, What Lies Beneath was the first that I was unwittingly dragged to whilst in my first year of college. Since then, I’ve developed an acute case of hydrophobia. I’m shit scared of all water bodies, including the bucket in my bathroom! ๐Ÿ˜†

So I’m well aware that writing this piece might bring on a cardiac arrest but hey! You’ve got to conquer your fears, so here I am, feeling slightly reassured after reciting a quick rosary, all set to impart some gyaan on the Agrasen ki Baoli.

UgrasenBaoli

Built by Maharaja Agrasen in the Mahabharata era, this stone step-well is perhaps New Delhi’s best kept secret. It runs as deep as the surrounding buildings stand tall. As you descend deeper into the rock-hewn structure, the hairs on the back of your neck are sure to stand. The noisy capital just beyond its walls seems like it’s moved light years away. There’s only an unsettling gloom, fleeting shadows, shrieking bats and fluttering winged creatures that greet your heightened senses. Not to forget the thudding of your own heart and the echo of footsteps. Maybe yours, maybe not! Brrrrr!!!

Image Credit: hauntedindia.blogspot.in

Image Credit: hauntedindia.blogspot.in

If rumors are to be believed, up until a few years ago, filthy black waters would churn uneasily in the subterranean tank. These mystic waters seemed to ‘call out to’ troubled and depressed souls, who’d leap to their death without a moment’s hesitation. All this in a bid that the waters would rise with each suicide, and possibly engulf the entire city! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

Here’s a true eyewitness account of an unlucky soul:

2014-05-06 23_49_22-Top 10 India's Most Haunted Places - List Dose

This place screams paranormal! Despite it being a ticketless attraction, and that too in the vicinity of the hugely-famous Jantar Mantar, the Baoli receives very few footfalls. Log shaayad sochte honge kahin is eerie jagah mein chhu mantar na ho jaaye! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜†

Quick Facts

What: Agrasen ki Baoli (step-well), a supposedly-haunted historical attraction smack in the middle of the Indian capital.

Where: On Hailey Road, Connaught Place, close to the Jantar Mantar.

For Whom: Prefer not to answer this one ๐Ÿ˜‰

MaLIEsian AirLIEs

Note: This article is not intended to hurt anyone’s sentiments. My prayers go out to the victims of Flight MH370 and their grieving families. The purpose of this write-up is to mock the people who have bungled up this search operation so bad with their lies, their incredulous theories, and all the withholding of vital information and backtracking on statements, turning it into the biggest farce of the 21st century. I’m talking to you, secretive Malaysian investigation in-charges. To you trashy two-bit tabloid writers, and to self-appointed Nancy Drews and Hardy Boys crowding the www, who are deriving a major kick by sensationalizing this tragedy. Stop floating ridiculous and preposterous ideas. Your speculations don’t amount to proof. Enough is enough! Give us the whole truth or nothing at all!

Just where IS Malaysian Airlines’ Flight 370???

From malevolent aliens abducting the big bird ๐Ÿ˜ฏ to a wannabe-Bermuda triangle in the South China Sea walloping the aircraft ๐Ÿ™„ , from J.J. Abrams masterminding the disappearance to promote a forthcoming installment of LOST ๐Ÿ˜€ to the tragedy not occuring at all, it being a figment of someone’s fertile imagination, ๐Ÿ˜ฎ , the theories have gotten more outlandish with every ticking minute.

The world, especially the World Wide Web, has taken to playing Eenie Meenie Myna Moe in a big way. Each day, the needle of suspicion points to either of the following:

A. An otherwise gay (pun intended!)captain who suddenly felt not-so-gay and turned suicidal.

B. The roving-eyed co-pilot who enjoyed a good fag and maybe a shag? in the cockpit

C. Mario Balotelli’s estranged brothers from Iran ๐Ÿ˜† , and

D. Mangosteen boxes jostling for space in the hold and waging war against the lithium-ion cargo, thereby triggering World War III in the hatch below! ๐Ÿ˜€

IMHO, the Malaysian authorities are pulling off a mean Jim Carey. Dumb and dumber…you get it? ๐Ÿ˜‰ They seem more clueless than Alicia Silverstone in the movie by the same name ๐Ÿ˜† First, they said nothing hazardous was on the flight. Then, they contradict themselves by admitting to highly inflammable lithium-ion batteries being a part of the cargo.
China-provided satellite imagery of debris in the waters was rubbished by them as ‘ a mistake’. Now, it’s one of the few leads they have that they consider worthy of exploring.
Multiple eyewitnesses on Kuda Huvadhoo, an obscure island in The Maldives, claimed to have spotted a low-flying jumbo jet with red-and-blue stripes on the tail akin to Malaysian Airlines’ logo. But the islanders were immediately shushed and their tip discounted.
The Telegraph recently published the transcript of the last 54 minutes of communication with the missing flight but the Malaysians have dismissed it as being ‘a false report.’
Guys, there’s something called checking and crosschecking your facts before you address the world. You can’t just shoot blindly in the dark, hoping to crack this case with the wildest of speculations and the most embarrassing of refutations.
No wonder empty water bottles are being hurled at their thick skulls when they take to the podium to make bigger asses of themselves!

In all this hullabaloo, we still aren’t anywhere close to what really transpired. And the relatives of the passengers on the ill-fated flight continue to drown in a sea of sorrow and confusion.

So, what’s MH370’s real story? Now, reports have surfaced of it going ‘Down Under.’ Literally! Given that Australia is busy scouring choppy waters upto 7000 m deep in the Southern Ocean and its treacherously-sloping floor with a fine-tooth comb!

Australia has only recently taken on the reins of the marine investigation and PM Tony Abbott’s forthrightness so early on in the search efforts is indeed refreshing for a change. Rather courageous to propose that the flotsam possibly belongs to the missing plane, his comments provide a great fillip to the hitherto-disoriented investigation. It’s been a couple of days since he issued that sound byte and he hasn’t resorted to reneging on what he says like the Malays. That the Chinese and the French have reiterated that they too have sighted what the Aussies have, in more or less the same area, lends tremendous credence to the Australian premier’s beliefs.

For the first time in all these weeks have I noticed people concurring and cooperating in this global search operation. That the US, the UK and China are giving the search in the turbulent Southern waters their all, pumping every resource they have and braving every odd ( Read Cyclone Gillian) in one of the remotest and inhospitable places on earth, makes me hopeful the world is about to achieve closure soon. Amen to that!

Mind-blowing sand art tribute by artist Sudarsan Pattnaik on Puri Beach, Orissa. Image Courtesy: www.made by Malaysians.tumble.com

Mind-blowing sand-art tribute by artist Sudarsan Pattnaik on Puri Beach, Orissa. Image Courtesy: http://www.madebymalaysians.tumblr.com

Gulaabjal

Literally!

With its bubble-gum-pink waters, I mistook Lake Hillier for Barbie’s own private swimming pool! ๐Ÿ˜€

Doesn't it look like Barbie in her trademark color with her golden tresses flowing behind her looking pensively at the sea? :wink:

Doesn’t it look like Barbie in her trademark color with her golden tresses flowing behind her looking pensively at the sea? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Situated on Middle Island in Western Australia, the lake is quite a vision to behold. A riot of colors really! A nice sandy perimeter closely followed by a lush forest cover serenade this natural wonder on all sides. The sapphire-blue of the Southern Ocean not so far away is testament enough that nature loves changing her colors! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Check it out:

11cool-Hillier-Lake-Aus

1-amazing-Hillier-Lake-Aus

The water, incredibly salty to taste, reportedly retains its hue for days on end when collected in a container! The pink’s probably the result of a chemical reaction between sea salt deposits and sodium bicarbonate or what is commonly known as baking soda. Others have suggested that it is probably a dye created by the organisms Dunaliella Salina and Halobacteria. Yet another hypothesis attributes the phenomenon to red halophilic bacteria in the salt crusts.

There go my grand plans to go DOWN UNDER and unearth a giant underwater field of strawberries! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜†

1-Hillier-Lake-Aus

QUICK FACTS:

What: Australia’s naturally Pink Lake. Rectangular in shape, the dimensions of Lake Hillier are 600 metres x 250 metres.

Where: On Middle Island, the largest of the islands on the Recherche Archipelago in Western Australia.

For Whom: The Bransons and the Mallyas of this world! ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜† You need to hop aboard your own private bird to marvel at this one! Alternatively, you could hum Aerosmith’s chartbuster ‘Pink’ and see where that might land you! ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜†

Si-king the Sea King!

If you’re one of those who has always dreamt of a gorgeous beach wedding in the exotic Italian Riviera, it’s time you revamped the dream a wee bit. Imagine how terribly exciting it’d be, not to mention unique, if you and your partner dove to the depths of the sea with a minister in tow to take your vows ๐Ÿ˜ฏ All in the presence of an irrefutable witness. The Messiah towering over you, no less!!!

Flabbergasted? ๐Ÿ˜ฏ ๐Ÿ˜ฏ ๐Ÿ˜ฏ You’d better be! Submerged in the azure waters of the Ligurian Sea is a life-sized sculpture of The Christ, some two and a half metres tall, with its hands pointed heavenwards as if issuing a blessing. Commissioned by the Costa family, the statue was erected on 22 August 1954 in the exact same spot that Dario Gonzatti, the first Italian to use SCUBA Gear, lost his life in an unfortunate diving accident 7 years earlier.

Christ of the Abyss, as ace sculptor Guido Galletti’s labor of love is famously known as, is quite the tribute of love . Its bronze reportedly has been sourced from the metal of ships that met a fate comparable to the Titanic, and by melting the bells and medals of seafarers, Olympians who shone in water sport events and soldiers who were slain in combats at sea.

With His affinity for the Seas, (Jesus still holds the record for being the only one to walk on choppy waters, He befriended men of the sea during His lifetime and astonishingly converted water into wine), it comes as little surprise that The Christ completed a Golden Jubilee underwater! The figure had to be hauled up in 2003 for extensive restoration. An anchor had uprooted one of its hands while marine flora and fauna had nearly crucified Him yet again!

But He’s back to the place He calls home, all shiny and inviting! Summer’s a good time to visit. The annual Festa del Cristo degli Abissi is observed in the last week of July with a torchlit Mass celebrated on the beach followed by an underwater procession to place floral arrangements as a thanksgiving offering at the feet of the Protector. You could also hop aboard a gondola and peek into the waters for a glimpse of the adoration. How surreal is that?!?

The next time you order a sinful pizza and your affable Italian waiter nods animatedly with a Si, remember there’s more to the word than meets the eye…and ears!!! ๐Ÿ˜€ You will most definitely need to head to the Si…erm Sea ๐Ÿ˜€ and invoke all the divine blessings possible to stave off the undesirable effect of those killer calories!!! ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜†

QUICK FACTS:

What: An 8-and-a-half-foot-tall bronze likeness of Christ

Where: Erected at the 18 metre water mark in the Ligurian Sea off the bay of San Fruttuoso. Between Camogli and Portofino on the Italian Riviera

When: The latter half of July when the statue is commemorated in a grand underwater ceremony.

For Whom: Do you really want me to answer this one? ๐Ÿ™„

Image Courtesy: turnbacktogod.com

Image Courtesy: turnbacktogod.com

Image Courtesy: turnbacktogod.com

Image Courtesy: turnbacktogod.com

Image Courtesy: liguriaslow.it

Image Courtesy: liguriaslow.it

Image Courtesy: liguriaslow.it

Image Courtesy: liguriaslow.it

Image Courtesy: turnbacktogod.com

Image Courtesy: turnbacktogod.com

Miss U-RIVER-se!

If there ever was a beauty pageant amongst rivers, Cano Cristales, Miss Columbia would emerge as the sure-shot winner! ๐Ÿ˜‰

For most part of the year, she’s as unremarkable as any other river could be. But for a short span, between September to November, it’s as if the rainbow dropped down from the skies and melted in the Cano Cristales!

It’s a riot of colors- ย the turquoise waters slithering over moss-green boulders andย the ochre of the fine sand from the riverbed clashing with the scarlet of the Macarenia clavigera, underwater algae unique to the region.ย No wonder the ‘River of Five Colors‘, as the Cano Cristales is commonly called, holds the distinction of being theย ‘most beautiful and colorful river in the world‘!

Check out the magic nature wields with her painting brush:

Image Credit: iClickfun.com

Image Credit: iClickfun.com

Image Credit: portalvacaciones.com

Image Credit: portalvacaciones.com

Image Credit: Wildkick.com

Image Credit: Wildkick.com

Image Credit: DanteBw

Image Credit: DanteBw

Image Credit: Planetoddity.com

Image Credit: Planetoddity.com

Certainly looks like a piece of paradise that fell from the heavens, doesn’t it?

I stumbled across an interesting piece of trivia that lends itself perfectly well to the wondrous phenomenon that the Cano Cristales is! Have a read and see if you concur with these guys:

2013-07-09 17_12_24-the cristal pipe

Meet Macarenia Clavigera, the amazing algae, which in clumps, renders the river its bloody hue.

Image Credit: Peter Fitzgerald

Image Credit: Peter Fitzgerald

Image Credit: portalvacaciones.com

Image Credit: portalvacaciones.com

Image Credit: DanteBw

Image Credit: DanteBw

The bummer is that this handiwork of the Gods is almost in No Man’s Land. ๐Ÿ˜ฆย As part of the landscape of the breathtakingย Serrania de la Macarena National Park, trekking through unmarked forest trails leading to the miracle is a given.ย It’s an arduous journey, but one that your camera will profusely thank you for!

QUICK FACTS:

What: Cano Cristales river, aย succession of rapids and waterfalls. It originates from the plateau south of the Serranรญa de la Macarena and empties into the Guayabero River. It is 100 kms in length and 20 kms. wide.

Where: In the Columbian green lung Serrania de la Macarena, located in the province of Meta. Accessible via the nearest town ‘La Macarena’ that is serviced by an airport.

When: ย Recommended from late June to early December. At its striking best between September to November.

For Whom:ย Anyone who needs a humbling down by nature!

Namak Chamak

Image Credit: Flickr User Tomas Rawski

Image Credit: Flickr User Tomas Rawski

No, no. That guy walking in the clouds ain’t Jesus ๐Ÿ˜€ Nor is he Keanu Reeves! ๐Ÿ˜†

What you’re looking at is the world’s largest reflective salt desert, stretching across an area of 12,000 sq. kms! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

Any traveler worth his salt (pun intended) ๐Ÿ˜† must give Salar De Uyuni in Bolivia a shot once in his lifetime. Juxtaposed against the fiery crimson of the Andes, this vision in white is a sight to behold!

Image Credit: Flickr User kk+

Image Credit: Flickr User kk+

The ground beneath your feet is pure salt, hard-packed and completely flat with an intricate honeycomb pattern to it. It almost appears parched under the scorching sun.

The miracle occurs when this high-altitude region receives a shower. The entire terrain transforms into a shiny mirror and reflects the heavens! Literally!!!

Image Credit: Flickr User Santiago S.V.

Image Credit: Flickr User Santiago S.V.

The origins of this mammoth salt flat can be traced back to the prehistoric ages. Lake Minchin, an extremely salty lake, stood in its place some forty thousand years ago. A host of climatic changes conspired to create the Uyuni. There being no decent drainage outlet owing to a mountainous perimeter, the waters of the lake slowly began evaporating leaving behind copious amounts of salt- as much as 10 billion tons!!!

With no apparent paucity of the mineral, there are some very exciting creations in store for you at the Uyuni. What if I tell you there’s an entire restaurant replete with furniture crafted from salt blocks!?! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ Check it out:

Image Credit: Flickr User Gorski

Image Credit: Flickr User Gorski

Image Credit: Flickr User Wallygrom

Image Credit: Flickr User Wallygrom

Let’s just hope they don’t have only one item on their menu. SALT!!! ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜†

Not many sights in the world can boast of surroundings just as spectacular! Flanking the salt pan on the north is the imposing Volcan Tunupa, an active volcano that erupts into gorgeous hues!

Image Credit: http://tunari.tripod.com/landscapes.html

Volcan Tunupa

Skimming the fringes of the white-washed landscape might prove to be a rewarding exercise. You’ll spot the oh-so-adorable Lama if nothing else!

Image Credit: Flickr User Jessie Reeder

Image Credit: Flickr User Jessie Reeder

The south of the Uyuni is a photographer’s dream come true! Candy-pink flamingos flirting with the sapphire blue waters of sylvan lakes and the scarlet of the Andes overpowering the canvas!

Image Credit: Flickr User lepetitnicolas

Image Credit: Flickr User lepetitnicolas

I think I’ve given you enough reasons to go visit what the Times UK has pronounced ‘One of the Wonders of the World.’ Just don’t try to pull a fast one on me by pretending to be the Messiah and that you can walk on water! ๐Ÿ˜‰

QUICK FACTS:

What: Salar De Uyuni, the world’s largest and highest salt flat. It lies 3700m above sea-level and covers an expanse of 12,000 sq. kms.

Where: In the southern altiplano of Bolivia.

For whom: For anyone who desires a taste of heaven!