Monday, May 26, 2014

Most visited paid monument in the world!

Did you know #4?

On March 31, 2014 - the Eiffel Tower, located in Paris, France, turned 125 years old. 

It is the most visited paid monument in the world - over 250 million visitors and more.....

Ruins of St. Augustine Church, Old Goa - Part II

Here is an account of the downfall of this magnificent church.....
The hoarding at the complex

The church had a sprawling vault (roof) which collapsed between 1842 and 1846. A ban was imposed by the Portuguese government against the Augustines. Thereafter the church and the convent were deserted. 
Beautiful ceramic work near the altar

A closer look
The chance discovery of the burial assumes a greater significance in the light of the fact that during the last quarter of 1998, a Georgian team visited Goa in order to search for and locate the mortal remains of the Georgian Queen,St. Catevan. The Queen, who died a martyr in 1624, was buried in Goa, presumably in the St. Augustine Church complex.
Ketevan the Martyr (1560 – September 13, 1624) was a queen of Kakheti, a kingdom in eastern Georgia. She was killed for refusing to give up the Christain faith and convert to Islam.

The account of Ketevan's martyrdom related by the Augustinians missioners were listed by her son, Teimuraz, in his poem The Book and Passion of Queen Ketevan. (Reference: wikipedia)
The noble queen and martyr
A team of experts from Hyderabad based, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) along with the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) and Estonian BioCentre have confirmed that a relic excavated from this Goan church was that of Queen Ketevan of Georgia.
Some more ceramic inlay
Altar of St. Nicholas
The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) has undertaken excavation as well restoration work of this monument which has being going on for some years now. However, a lot more needs to be done and with more enthusiasm to restore the past glory of this magnificent church.
The monument with historical significance - as listed by ASI
In his blog,, Jose FP Lourenco, presented an old picture of this church and quoted as follows "I've saved the best photograph for last. I found this in my late uncle's chest while cleaning the musty old attic. It's from a 'Souvenir da Velha Cidade de Goa' by the venerable photographers Souza & Paul. The back cover of this photograph collection reads 'Unico Representante na India Portuguesa das makinas fotograficas Rolleiflex e Rolleicord'!
The outer bygone days...
He readily gave me permission to use this rare photograph in my blog post. Thanks for preserving such a masterpiece and for allowing me to reproduce this photo on my blog, Jose!

Ruins of St. Augustine Church, Old Goa – Four centuries and more!

Part I
Though, I have lived in Goa for many years, I had not visited one of the spectacular monuments of Goa – the St. Augustine tower and Church complex. It is a part of the Churches of Old Goa, which are listed as UNESCO World heritage site.

This church in ruins, now, this may be the reason it has less popularity, compared to the world famous church of Old Goa, which is situated at a short distance from these ruins.
Testimony to the glorious past
Here are 10 facts about St. Augustine tower and church:
Standing strong and tall!
1) The impressive 46 meter high bell tower facing east, has withstood the ravages of time and weather, it was a part of the fa├žade of the magnificent church, St Augustine Church.

2) Situated on Monte Santo (Holy hill) at Velha, Goa, it has been standing tall for 412 years!
Similar to Stonehenge?
3) The bell from this church was first placed in the Fort Aguada Light House, where it remained from 1841 to 1871 AD. Finally it was permanently placed in the church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception at Panaji in 1871 AD and it is still in working condition.
The left side of the complex
4) The tower and the church were completed 1602 by the 12 Augustinian friars who arrived in Goa in 1587.
The right side wing of the complex
5) The church had eight richly adorned chapels and four altars, and a convent. 
Chapel of Our Lady of Good Success

6) The convent had a dining hall, guest house and Infirmary ( for first aid) which were very spacious. It also had vast dormitories and numerous cells and other structures which are now in ruins.

7) St. Augustine Church was
Chapel of St. Joseph
probably the oldest churches built in Goa!
It was built of laterite and was a four storied structure.

8) The name of the designer of this magnificent piece of construction is not known, but he is thought to have been Italian.

9) When it was completed in the 16th century, the grand Church was recognized as one of the three great Augustinian churches in the Iberian world, the other two being the Basilica of the Escorial in Spain, St. Vincente de Fora in Lisbon.
Beautiful inscription denoting the bygone era, don's miss the year...1620...
10) The church attached to the Augustinian convent was dedicated to Our Lady of Grace. This is what the Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Graca originally looked like (courtesy Baroque India by Jose Pereira)
In all its glory!
Part II continued.....

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Network facts!

Did you know #3?

Finland was the world's first country to make broadband a legal right for every citizen.

In Estonia, Finland and Spain, access to the internet is a legal right for citizens.

Doug Engelbart invented computer networks, time sharing, graphical user interfaces and the mouse - all while driving to work one day in 1951!

 “The journey not the arrival matters.” – T. S. Eliot

Sand castle in Goa!

Renowned master sand sculptor, Simon Smith has sculpted a 20-foot sand castle – the tallest sand castle ever made in India at Calangute beach. It will be open to public viewing until May 2014.
The upper section of the castle being completed.

Goa Tourism has tied up with the Sand Cult (a sand sculpting company owned by Jerry Jose) and internationally known sand sculptor, Simon Smith from UK, for this castle project.

The master at work!
The foundation - castle in making.
Near the castle grounds...
When we visited Calangute beach in December 2013, the upper part of the castle was ready and the base part had yet to be completed. In April 2014, the entire castle along with the cartoon character, Shrek had been sculpted with 70 tonnes of sand and water!
Creative pursuits!
Adding final touches (Image courtesy -
 “Nothing is built on stone; all is built on sand, but we must build as if the sand were stone.” 
- Jorge Luis Borges

Plastic Bag Bans Around The World

Here is a beautiful info-graphic depicting the many disadvantages of plastic bags.

Bag Bans Worldwide

Join in, and be a part of the Eco friendly Revolution !

Twenty-Five Reasons to Go Reusable!

Following my earlier post about the advantages of cloth bags, here are 25 reasons (listed beautifully by to convince yourself to switch to reusable bags.

1 A plastic shopping bag can take anywhere from 15 to 1000 years to decompose. In a compressed landfill, deprived of atmosphere to help them biodegrade, paper bags don't fare much better. 
 2 Plastic bags don't biodegrade, but are at risk for photo degradation, light exposure dissolving them into toxic polymer particles. Most often, when this happens, it happens in the ocean. 
 3 The cost to recycle plastic bags so outweighs their value that most recycling facilities will not take them, leading more and more to just be thrown out with the rest of the trash.  
4 According to the Wall Street Journal, only 1% of plastic bags are recycled world-wide; the rest are left to live on indefinitely in landfills.
5 The United States alone uses approximately 100 billion new plastic bags per year - the average person goes through between 350 and 500.
6 Thanks to their light weight, plastic bags are the debris most likely to fly away from landfills, settling instead in trees, storm drains, beaches, and the ocean.
7 Public agencies in California alone spend over $300 million on coastal litter clean-up per year.
8 Plastic bags make up over 10% of washed-up debris polluting the US coastline.
9 According to the British Antarctic Survey, discarded plastic bags have been found as far north as the Arctic Circle and as far south as The Falkland Islands.
10 An estimated one million birds and 100,000 turtles and other sea animals die of starvation each year after ingesting discarded plastic bags which block their digestive tracks.
11 Made from petroleum products and natural gas, plastic bags utilize nonrenewable resources, ultimately helping to drive up fuel prices.
12 It takes 12 million barrels of oil to produce the amount of plastic bags the US uses per year.
13 Think paper bags are better? The United States cuts down 14 million trees per year simply to supply the demand for paper shopping bags.
14 It requires 13% more energy to produce one single paper bag than to produce two plastic bags.
15 Made with chemicals processed at high temperatures, paper bag production releases many toxins into the atmosphere at much the same rate as plastic production.
16 Paper bags weigh nearly ten times their counterparts in plastic, requiring more fuel to ship them out to stores.
17 Despite their high recyclability factor, research shows that only 20% of paper bags end up recycled while the rest share a fate with their plastic brethren.
18 In landfills, paper bags produce over twice as much atmospheric waste as plastic, making them questionable at best as the superior choice for the environment.
19 Ireland, the first European country to impose a tax on them, has decreased plastic shopping bag consumption by 90% since 2002, reducing overall plastic bag usage by 1.08 billion.
20 In the past five years, over a dozen countries have banned or put a tax on disposable bags.
21 Reusable bags come in all sorts of smart and stylish shapes and prints, making your shopping trips a little less routine and a little more fun.
22 Some grocery stores even offer discounts for customers who bring their own bags - now that's incentive!
23 In New York City, one less grocery bag per person would reduce waste by 5 million pounds and save $250,000 in disposal costs.
24 The average reusable bag has the lifespan of over seven hundred disposable plastic bags.
25 Over a lifetime, use of reusable bags by just one person would save over 22,000 plastic bags. Isn't that even better incentive?
Now, have you switched to reusable bags?

Bags of love – for the planet!

What’s new about canvas and cloth bags? Apart from the fact that I adore them, these are currently in vogue for many reasons. I remember many years back, when I was a kid, using cloth bags was considered out of fashion and I used to refrain from using these bags.

However, I also remember during my childhood days (on my way back from school) seeing some Banjara women making colorful cloth bags with embroidered flowers and ruffles. I used to always admire those beautiful handcrafted bags…..Wish I could get one of such a creation!

My love for fabric bags continues…. I simply love the fact that these are environment friendly, reusable and a worthy investment for a small price. I am sure some of my relatives and friends have been amused to receive a cloth bag as a gift from me. Well, these are indeed green gifts!
A cloth bag which I picked up at the local grocery store - Seijo Ishii (there are a chain of such grocery stores across Japan) in Nagoya, Japan.

What are the main advantages of using a cloth bag?

-         - Environmental Friendliness
Propylene plastic bags are made from fossil fuels. The process used to create plastic releases contaminant byproducts into the atmosphere. And the main disadvantage is that plastics do not biodegrade for a very long time – around hundreds of years!
Cotton, hemp or jute are made of renewable natural fibers.  Thus cloth bags are biodegradable.

 -  Strength: Cloth bags are more durable than plastic and paper bags. Thus they can be used over a long period of time.

  - Style: These come in a lot of designs and sizes to match your budget and your personal style. Unlike the plastic bags, most of which are transparent, these come in a lot of colors and hues. Make your style statement!
Thus cloth bags are Viable, Fashionable, Recyclable and Economical! 
You agree!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

World Migratory Bird Day – May 11

Birds hold a special significance in this world.

Various migratory birds connect all corners of the world in different environments as they migrate from one place to another. During the course of their long journeys, they need places to rest, feed and breed.

Sadly, such places are becoming less and less available , and many of these birds are now threatened as their habitats are being destroyed. World Migratory Bird Day is an annual event to raise awareness about this problem.

It falls on the second weekend of May and this year it will be celebrated on May 11th and 12th. During these two days, people around the world will take action and organize public events to highlight the need for the protection of migratory birds and their habitats.

We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.

- Anais Nin

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Day of Remembrance of Victims of World War II – May 8

On November 22nd 2004, the UN declared May 8-9 as a “Time of remembrance and reconciliation for those who lost their lives during the Second World War.”

These dates were chosen because May 8th is the anniversary of the date when the World War II allies accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Germany, which marked the end of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.

May peace prevail!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Visa Wise !

Did you know #2?

I learnt today that Kenya and Jordan offer visa on arrival to Indians! Thanks to the reditt user, udit99, who created a simple website: Visamapper. It lets the viewers see on a color coded world map, which countries require visa to visit and which do not! Isnt that cool?

The color code is as follows: dark green indicates visa on arrival, maroon means visa required prior to arrival,  light green says visa is not required prior to arrival, white indicates online application required and red means visa restricted/forbidden.

For a quick check, visit the the site at:

Saturday, May 3, 2014

World Press Freedom Day – May 3

Every day is a special day for someone, somewhere.....

Freedom of speech and expression is one of our basic rights, and freedom of the press is especially important to protect these rights.

World Press Freedom day is celebrated on May 3rd every year. The purpose of this day is to reaffirm the fundamental principles that ensure freedom of the press, to assess the state of press freedom throughout the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence, and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

UNESCO marks World Press Freedom Day by conferring the UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize on a deserving individual, or institution.

Source: Manorama

Friday, May 2, 2014

Swami Vivekananda Airport, Raipur

I was impressed by the various beautiful tribal art displayed at the Swami Vivekananda airport (formerly known as Mana airport) And the fact that it was easy to navigate around this terminal.
Spacious and beautiful interiors

Beautiful metal sculptures

Colorful artwork

Metal army?

Iron man?

This is the only airport located in the state of Chhattisgarh and was inaugurated on November 7, 2012.
Entrance facade
Lush greenery

It was awarded the National Tourism Award in 2013 for the best airport in the non metro category.  Surrounded by lush greenery, the terminal covers an area of 18,500 m2 (4.6 acres)

Wide tree lined roads

Peak summer time - mercury rising !

History behind words….

‘Did you know’ series

My endeavor to share unique facts about the various places on this wonderful planet  continues…
And would like to share such queer oddities about the people, culture, traditions and places etc in this world on the main page of this blog, every week (am hoping to adhere to this schedule…..)

Here comes the first in the series.

Did you know #1?
Indian textiles have been long renowned for their fine quality and exquisite craftsmanship.
Amongst these are mainly cotton and silk fabrics. Some of the famous cotton fabrics whose names signify the history associated with them is:

Muslin: The finely woven textiles which the European traders first encountered was the fine cotton cloth from India carried by Arab merchants in Mosul (in present-day Iraq) So they began referring to all finely woven textiles as muslin.

Calico: When the Portuguese first came to India in search of spices they landed in Calicut on the Kerala coast in south-west India. The cotton textiles which they took back to Europe, along with the spices came to be called “calico’ (derived from Calicut) and subsequently calico became the general name of all cotton textiles.

Chintz: It is derived from the Hindi word, chhint, a cloth with small and colorful flowery designs. From the 1680s, there started a craze for printed Indian cotton textiles in England and Europe mainly for their exquisite floral designs, fine texture and relative economical price.

Bandanna (Any brightly colored and printed scarf for the neck or head): The term is derived from the word, bandhna (in Hindi is means- tying) and referred to a variety of brightly colored cloth produced through a method of tying and dying.

Source: NCERT textbook, Standard VII

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharlal Nehru