15

J – Jumeirah | #AtoZChallenge

J – Jumeirah | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Jumeirah is one word that you will come across the most, after Sheikh Zayed, when in Dubai. Many believe that the word means ‘beautiful’ and some believe it means ‘Gift of God’, though it doesn’t have an official definition. But one look at the Jumeirah district in Dubai and you will believe in both the meanings.

Jumeirah is a residential coastal area of Dubai, which mainly comprises of western expats and local Emirati population. It offers both kinds of dwellings; the extremely expensive ones and some moderate ones for the middle class. The area is particularly famous for its serene sandy beaches, amazing cafes and restaurants, expensive shopping options and beautiful modern walks.

History

We have archaeological shreds of evidence that suggest there was inhabitation in the area around 10 BC during the Abbasid era. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was a small village where people were mostly fishermen, pearl divers and traders. During the 1960s it started getting populated with western expats and the present day Jumairah beach was then known as Chicago beach.

Some of the main attractions of Jumeirah are:

Jumeirah Beach

Named after the district, Jumeirah Beach is a white sand beach that is located on the coast of the Persian Gulf. The beach and its surroundings are home to expensive hotel chains and resorts, housings and shopping malls and complexes. The most famous being Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Beach Hotel. It is mostly crowded by the expats.

Jumeirah Public Beach

While the Jumeirah beach might have restricted use, moving ahead to the north of Jumeirah Beach Hotel, you will the Jumeirah Public Beach, which is always open for the general public. It is also known as sunset beach and it is the perfect place to take capture the perfect sunset with Burj Al Arab in the backdrop.

I remember during my stay in Dubai, I would spend the entire night there as it is open for night swimming as well, and return after having breakfast in the nearby 24 hours McDonald’s.

Burj Al Arab

It is the second most iconic structure in Dubai after Burj Khalifa. No picture of Dubai is complete without Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab. It is considered the world’s most luxurious hotel and often described as ‘the world’s only seven-star hotel’ but is actually a five-star hotel, the highest official ranking. The hotel has a dedicated helipad as well whether the famous Nadal-Federer match took place on its inauguration. It is the fifth tallest hotel in the world and a single night stay starts from AED 6000 and can cost up to AED 50000. Yeah go ahead and sell one of your kidneys!

One can pay a visit to the opulent lobby but if you want to go past the lobby and you aren’t staying at the hotel then you need a confirmed reservation at their SkyView Bar, which might not be that cheap. The cocktails start at AED 370 only.

Madinat Jumeirah

Madinat Jumeirah is famous for its superlative resort, its traditional Arab resembling souks and palm-fringed waterways. It resembles an old Arab Village with the interiors reminding you of that era. The resort is the largest in Dubai. Even if you aren’t shopping you will particularly enjoy walking in the maze-like streets of the souk – with various retail outlets and over 50 restaurants and bars. It is just next to the Jumeirah beach hotel, Burj Al Arab and Wild Wadi Water Park.

Jumeirah Mosque

The desert colored Fatimid styled Mosque is one of the most famous and beautiful mosques in Dubai. It is rare in the sense that it is open for non-Muslim as well – under the ‘Open Door Open Minds’ program of the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU). You can understand the Emirati culture in a one-hour guided tour of the mosque. Don’t forget to try that free pastry at the end of the tour.

Etihad Museum

Eithad is the Arabic word for ‘Union’. The Etihad museum, opened in 2017, takes you through the journey of formation of the UAE. It is connected to the iconic Union House, where the treaty for the formation of the federation was signed, through a white travertine plaza. The building is a contemporary elegant design that showcases the heritage of the UAE through Documentary films, photographs, artifacts, timelines and interactive displays.

City Walk

It is the modern concept of a shopping mall, where an array of shopping outlets are placed on both sides of a walk including restaurants, bar and adventure zones. It is an outdoor complex with tree line esplanade and a central fountain. There is a 10-screen cinema complex along with family fun options like Hub Zero and Green Planet.

Green Planet:

Dubai is done with creating islands, tallest building, a ski dome in the middle of the desert – they are now playing with affluence. To add to this list they have now created a tropical rain forest, a bio-dome, that houses more than 3000 species of flora and fauna. It is like taking a walk in the Amazon with the world’s largest artificial tree cover.

Hub Zero

It is an indoor theme park, which is a gamers’ paradise. It has interactive gaming zones with climbing zones, rides and virtual reality. This place beautiful highlights what the future of VR is going to be in gaming. There are about 18 attractions, including a head-spinning VR experience, 3D dark rides, and 4D cinema.

La Mer

La Mer is another destination similar to the City Walk, where the walk is replaced by an exquisite beachfront. Opened in 2018, it’s free to sunbathe or roam the complex and an inflatable playground for Kids.

Eateries and Cafes

Jumeirah is the home for a range of finest dining places. You can find Dubai’s only Buffalo Wild Wings outlet here. Some of the other amazing options include; Bahri Bar, Logma, BuQtair, Lima Dubai, Moshi, Al Fanar and Lime Tree Café.

Jumeirah is the perfect place to live in Dubai with its seamless mix of modernity with heritage. Whether it’s the Jumeirah Archaeological site or Wild Wadi waterpark or the modern La Mer or the City Walk – everything will leave you entranced every time you visit.

For all those who live in Dubai,

For all those who walked at the City Walk,

For all those who sunbathed at the Jumeirah Beach,

And

For all those who love the Jumeirah…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 10th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with the letter ‘K’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

18

H – HATTA | #AtoZChallenge

H – Hatta | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Hatta is an inland exclave of Dubai, high in the Hajar Mountains. It is an ideal weekend getaway for nature lovers, mountain bikers and adventure freaks. It is about 130 km from Dubai and about a 90 min drive away. It is an awesome blend of cultural heritage with meditating mountains along with picturesque hiking trails – outdoor adventure heaven.

History

Previously known as Hajarain, till 1906, Hatta became a part of Dubai during the reign of Hasher Bin Maktoum after the Omani Sultan Turki bin Said transferred the territory, finding him unable to defend it against the Na’im of Buraimi, who had settled neighboring Masfout (today a part of the emirate of Ajman).

It was the summer habitation of the earlier Dubai based families because of its cooler climate away from heat and humidity. Its economy is based on tourism and water resources.

Things to do in Hatta

Hatta Heritage Village: Restored in 2001, it showcases many artifacts, things of dwellings and furnishings depicting lives of the era gone by. It is Dubai’s oldest village – take a walk through the ancient watchtowers, forts and mosques. A library is also there where you can read about the history of Emirates and their cultural heritage and past.

Mountain Biking: An initiative backed by the Dubai Municipality, the Hatta Mountain Bike Trail Centre, offers multiple trail options catering to beginners as well as advanced bikers. It has a total fleet of 60 bikes for hire and a 52-km trail with 4 challenging levels. No better way to enjoy the cooler climate and meandering trails of the mountains than biking. Hop on to one!

Hiking through Hatta: If are not a fan of mountain biking, don’t worry. You can still enjoy the wadis treks of Hatta. Surrounded by the Hajar Mountains, take a hike through the troughs and ravines and you might actually come across a pool. There is a famous spot behind the Hatta Dam where you can capture some wildlife and amazing landscapes.

 

By Alexandermcnabb – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72771700

Kayaking in Hatta Dam: The dam is about a 15 min drive from Hatta Wadi Hub. Hatta Kayak operates the kayaking in the Hatta Lake where you can rent pedal boats and kayaks. Immerse in the surreal beauty of the Hatta while gliding for a 50 min experience. You can also opt for a pedal boat option for a peaceful calmer experience.

Dip in Hatta Rock Pools: If you aren’t still satisfied you can take a dip in the green Hatta Rock Pools. It’s a buzzing spot for many swimmers enjoying the emerald water in the valleys of Hatta.

A dose of Adventure: For all the adventure junkies the Hatta Wadi Hub is the place to be. Though not all the attractions are operational, still there is plenty on offer. The range of activities includes mountain biking to downhill carting, a human slingshot, axe throwing, archery, adventure rope courses, zip lines, and a lot more. One can also go for a mountain safari in an SUV.

Drop in at Hatta Drop-in: If you still have an appetite for more, drop in at Hatta Drop-in, a close by location to Hatta Wadi Hub. It is the first water jump park in Aisa with crazy slides. If you are in zorbing don’t miss the transparent orbs here.

Glamping is the way to go: The perfect to absorb in nature is by living in it and what better way than glamping. Hatta gives you a great opportunity to let go of the regular stay in hotels instead try out the trailer hotel, Hatta Sedr Trailers. It is located on the banks of Hatta Dam and is the region’s first ‘Trailer Hotel’. Damani Lodges and Hatta Caravan Park are the other two options to enjoy nature with luxury. The Hatta Park Hotel is a resort for the past 35 years with views of the Hajar Mountains.

Picnic at Hatta Hill Park: Hatta Hill Park is a wonderful picnic location. You can take your kids there to the Children’s playing field. Nothing beats feasting on a delicious barbeque with the mountains and Hatta Village in the background.

Getting there:

Cheap public transport is available in the form of buses from both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The best way is to drive noting that you will need to take the long way around Oman to avoid the border crossing which is currently closed. The best route from Dubai is from E102 (Sharjah-Kalba Road) via E611 (Emirates Road).

Note and Tips:

While driving to Hatta, a certain section passes through Oman. Though there aren’t any security and visa checks, your car and accidental insurance might not be valid there.

Keep warmer clothing, Hatta is cooler than Dubai and the nights get chillier.

Take proper kit and protection gear for adventure sports and mountain biking.

Take precautions while swimming in the Hatta pools as the water fluctuates.

Keep passports and documents handy, just in case you are questioned at borders.

A trip to Hatta is the perfect calming and soothing experience you need away from all the maddening hustle and bustle of Dubai. Go and have loads of fun!

For all those who enjoy adventure sports,

For all those who are into hiking,

For all those who love nature,

And

For all those who love Hatta…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 8th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with the letter ‘I’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

14

E – Emirates of UAE | #AtoZChallenge

E – Emirates of UAE | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

In 1971, when the British Empire could not further rule the ‘Trucial States’ as per the treaty relations established, they decided to liberate them. On December 2, 1971, six of the sheikhdoms of the Trucial states came together and formed a federation based on a constitution drafted in record time known as ‘United Arab Emirates’. On February 10, 1972, the seventh sheikhdom, Ras Al Khaimah, also became a member of the federation.

Currently, the seven Emirates constitute the nation of UAE – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah, and Ras Al Khaimah.

History

Archaeological pieces of evidence prove that this region was inhabited since ages. The artifacts reveal the presence of the pre-historic man and transmigration, which dates to as early as 125000 years ago. The region is considered uninhabited during the Glacial Maximum period, 68000 to 8000 BCE. But the artifacts of the ‘Ubaid cultures and Arabian Bifacial’ confirm human habitation since 6000 B.C.

Trade was always the backbone of the region because of its strategic location – whether it was the ancient times of Harappan Culture and Sumerian Empire or during the 19th and 20th century when the Pearling and fishing industry was at its peak or the current era of imports and exports.

Since the discovery of oil in the region the Emirates have enjoyed a prominent position in the world. During the 80s and 90s, it was Sharjah that was of prime importance, the 2000s belongs to Dubai as a top place of tourism and business. Now slowly, Abu Dhabi is taking over as the most important Emirate because of its Financial might.

Emirate of Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE and the second most populous city of UAE. It occupies about 87% of the total area of the UAE and is a major hub of political and industrial activities. Abu Dhabi’s rapid development and urbanization, have resulted in it controlling about two-thirds of the roughly $400-billion United Arab Emirates economy.

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan became ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966 and was the core-founding member of the federation along with the then Ruler of Dubai.

The nation’s second largest peak and a well-known tourist spot Jabal Hafeet is declared as a ‘heritage site’ by UNESCO, because of its archaeological importance.

It is about a 90 min drive from Dubai and is home to the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – a must visit, it’s their equivalent of Taj Mahal. If you are an adrenaline junkie then Ferrari World is the place to be – it has multiple exhilarating rides along with the fastest roller-coaster in the world. One can also visit the Yas Mall, Yas Waterworld, and Yas Marina Circuit.

Emirate of Dubai

Dubai is the cosmopolitan hub of UAE and the most populous of all the emirates. Home to the tallest building in the world, it is the business hub of UAE. The Al-Fahidi Fort in Dubai, currently the Dubai Museum was created in 1787 to defend the Dubai Creek from getting invaded. Will be covering more of Dubai in detail over the course of the theme.

Emirate of Sharjah

Inside of Grand Mosque

Sharjah is the third largest and populous city of UAE. It was once the wealthiest of all the emirates. It is traditionally conservative compared to the above two and is currently the cultural capital of the UAE. It is a twin city of Dubai – just like Delhi-Noida or Howrah-Kolkata.

Sharjah is a city of museums and mosques. Some of the famous ones are – Sharjah Arts Museum, Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, Sharjah Science Museum, Sharjah Archaeology Museum, National History Museum, Sharjah Heritage Area and Al Noor Mosque. Maritime Museum in Sharjah is home to ‘The Pearl’, which is widely believed to be one of the oldest pearls in the world with an estimated age of seven thousand years.

Emirate of Ajman

It the smallest of the Emirates in terms of area and is adjacent to the city of Sharjah, which forms part of the Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman metropolitan area. It has rich coastal history and Islamic heritage and was once the region’s biggest Boat Building Centre.

Top places to visit in Ajman: National Museum, Dhow Yard, Ajman beaches, Etisalat Tower, Al Jarah Cultural Center, Mowaihat, Al Zorah, Ajman Marina and Masfout.

Emirate of Umm Al Quwain

It is the least populated of all the emirates. It was once a popular place for trade and agriculture. Umm Al Quwain fort, currently a museum, guarded the old town from both the sea and the creek. It is a perfect weekend getaway from Dubai because of its close proximity.

There is a series of islands along the shore of Umm Al Quwain, which is surrounded by mangroves and migratory birds. Al-Dour, which is now an important archaeological site, is considered as one of the largest pre-Islamic site located on the coast of the Persian Gulf. Dreamland Aqua Park and Emirates Motorplex are more modern and commercial hangout places.

Emirate of Fujairah

The only Emirate, which has a complete coastline on the Gulf of Oman. The new Sheikh Khalifa Highway connects Dubai and Fujairah and is only two hours drive away. It is the best place for a relaxing weekend getaway. It is famous for its luxurious resorts facing the Gulf of Oman with the mountains in the backdrop. It is the perfect place to catch mountains and beaches in a single place.

It is home to the oldest mosque in UAE, Al Badiyah mosque built in 1446. Other places of importance include: Fujairah fort, Al Bithanh Fort, Fujairah Museum, Al Hayl Castle, Awhlah Fort and Ain al-Madhab Hot Springs.

Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah

The last of the emirate to join UAE, it is about an hour’s drive away from Dubai. It was the earlier capital of Sharjah and was formerly known as Julfar and was founded by Armenians. Sheba’s Palace is a restored archaeological site along with the largest Umm an-Nar tombs, which are considered as the largest in the entire Arabian Peninsula.

Jebel Jais in Ras Al Khaimah, at 1,934 m is the highest point in UAE. Dhayah Fort, Shimal and Jazirat-al-Hamra are of historical importance. Other places include: RAK National Museum, Khatt springs, Hajjar mountains, Iceland Water Park and RAK Pearl Museum.

The Emirates are the perfect amalgamation of cultural heritage and history along with a modern developing future. Thankfully the Sheikhs decided to come together and form this country of so much archaeological importance otherwise this too might have been lost to the unrest in the region.

For all those who have been to UAE,

For all those who knew about the seven emirates,

For all those who love ancient history

And

For all those who love the Emirates…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 5th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

E – Emirates of UAE

Read the Previous post here:

A – Arrival in Dubai

B – Burj Khalifa

C – CREEK – The Heart of Dubai

D – Desert Safari

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with letter ‘F’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

27

C – CREEK – The Heart of Dubai

Creek – The Heart of Dubai #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Human history has been marked with pieces of evidence that suggest that early civilizations and settlements flourished usually around a natural water body. The great Nile River was the backbone of the Egyptian civilization and Indus valley civilization made River Indus its lifeline.

In this case – Dubai Creek is the ‘Heart of Dubai’. Also known as ‘Khor Dubai’ it is currently a saltwater creek, an inlet from the Persian Gulf, which has been modified continuously during the course of the past century.

History

In the early 19th century a section of the Bani Yas tribe first settled around the creek and established the ‘Al Maktoum’ dynasty. In that era, the creek divided the city into two major regions Bur Dubai and Deira. Long before oil was discovered in the region, the pearling industry along with fishing formed the major part of the economy, because of its warm and shallow water, which is conducive for a variety of marine life.

Due to shallowness only small wooden boats – dhows could navigate in the region and that lead to the development of the modern creek in 1955, which involved dredging shallow areas, the building of breakwaters, and developing its beach to become a quay suitable for loading and unloading of cargo. It has been undergoing constant modernization since then.

Being an entry point to this part of the world and a major hub of trade and commerce in that era – it still holds on to that old rustic charm of Arabian origin. Dubai Creek has stark contrast during the day and night. The day seems to highlight the ancient glory while the night reflects the transformation. It is the perfect representation of what real Dubai is – a simple Bedouin way of life.

Fun things to do at the Creek:

On both sides of the Creek, there are heritage buildings, narrow-lane markets, and important museums. The Dubai Museum is the old clay fort of the then ruler which is now transformed into a museum – gives a picturesque account of what hardships life threw at them in the beginning. It was built in 1787 and it is believed to be the oldest existing building in Dubai.

When mom agreed to pose for me 🙂

If you are an admirer of historical locations than you can also visit the Al Bastakiya District and Heritage Village along with the Dubai Museum.

The old-style markets of Bur Dubai and Deira are perfect for shopping perfumes, gold jewelry, spices, and leather goods. Experience the aroma of spices and perfumes in the sea breeze while enjoying the sunset in the evening.

Take an Abra, a small wooden boat and cross from one side of the creek to another side paying only AED 1. (Yeah you read it right).

For Indians, during festivals like Diwali, one can enjoy the fireworks at the Creek. There is also a small temple and a gurudwara on the Bur Dubai side. If you are a ‘Chat’ lover then don’t miss ‘Puranmal sweets’ in Meena Bazaar in Bur Dubai.

The Dhow Cruise

One can also go for a more immersive experience of a Dhow Cruise – traditional wooden large boats that have been used in the Middle East for centuries. They will take you on a tour of the creek, which would last about 2 hours at a nominal cost starting from AED 79. You’ll pass the Clock Tower, the Al Maktoum Bridge, the Deira Twin Towers, the Grand Mosque Souq, and many other landmarks. Enjoy the traditional Tanura shows and horse shows on board while having an international buffet on your Dubai Creek Dhow Cruise.

Al Seef Dubai

Part of the transformation is silver lined by ‘Al Seef Dubai’. It is a perfect marriage of Dubai’s cultural heart and its contemporary opulence. It is making a mark in the heritage district by covering 1.8 km of Creek’s shoreline. It has two segments – one highlighting the heritage area and the other one with the architecture of modern design. Expensive restaurants, renowned brands, topline retail outlets, lounges, and modern wooden decks make up a major part of Al Seef. It is a perfect tribute celebrating the legacy and inheritance and the vision for the future.

How to Reach

It has awesome connectivity to every part of Dubai using every mode of transport possible. It is a five-minute walk from the Al-Fahidi and Burjuman metro stations. A taxi is only a ‘hawk’ away and Abras plying to-and-fro from Bur Dubai and Deira.

The Dubai Creek is a mystical place where you witness the pastoral past while standing in a dream-like future truly making it the ‘Heart of Dubai’.

For all those who have been to the creek,

For all those who love the Abras,

For all those who enjoy the dhow cruises,

And

For all those who are in love with the Creek…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the Third post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

C – CREEK – The Heart of Dubai

Read the Previous post here:

A – Arrival in Dubai

B – Burj Khalifa

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with letter ‘C’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

10

B – Burj Khalifa

B – Burj Khalifa #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

The moment you land in the ‘Vegas of the Middle East’ you are surely going to be left spellbound by the spectacle known as ‘Burj Khalifa’. Dubai is known as the ‘City of gold’ for many reasons and one of them is their opulence. There isn’t a superior example of this extravagance in the entire world than the ‘Tallest building in the world – Burj Khalifa.’

About the building:

It is 829.8 m high with more than 160 stories. Built at a whopping $1.5bn its construction started in January 2004 and was officially opened in January 2010. Adrian Smith, of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, whose firm designed the Willis Tower and One World Trade Center, designed Burj Khalifa. The design of the building, if viewed from the top, resembles a ‘Hymenocallis or Spider Lily’ flower – a regional desert flower.

The observatory deck of the building is located at a height of 1483 feet or 452.1 meters. Burj Khalifa boasts 2957 parking spaces, 304 hotels, and 900 apartments.

The story around its naming:

There is a very interesting story around the naming of Burj Khalifa. It was either going to be named ‘Al Burj’ or ‘Burj Dubai’ when the construction started. In 2004 when the construction began the real estate market was at its boom but unfortunately for Dubai, the markets crashed followed by a global slowdown during 2008-09. Dubai fast vent into severe debts. It was their sister emirate of Abu Dhabi that extended their support and pledged to bail Dubai out of this. As a mark of respect (as they say), it was named after the head of UAE and the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan and hence the name ‘Burj Khalifa.’

How to reach:

The main building is in an area known as Dubai Downtown, which is built around the Burj, keeping it at its center. For one to reach the base of the building they need to go to the Dubai Mall and then follow directions to reach the building. If you just want to catch a glimpse of the building then the place where the fountain is there in Dubai Mall, that is the best place to view its might and it is free too.

You can also have a panoramic view of the city from their observatory deck, which is on the 124th floor. You need to pay a price to go up there. It is around 140 AED if you book online in advance, otherwise, you can always walk up to the counters and pay a nominal price of around 400 AED to get the highest view in the world.

If you want to spend some more you can choose the ‘At the Top – Burj Khalifa Sky’ package where you can enjoy the hospitalities of the Sky lounge at level 148.

If you can make the arrangements and if and only if you manage to get inside the Dubai Mall, there is no better way to celebrate your New Year’s Eve than witnessing the fireworks at Burj Khalifa.

World Records:

  • Tallest building in the world.
  • Tallest free-standing structure in the world.
  • Highest number of stories in the world.
  • Highest occupied floor in the world.
  • Highest outdoor observation deck in the world.
  • Elevator with the longest travel distance in the world.
  • Tallest service elevator in the world.

Some astounding facts:

It’s three times as tall as the Eiffel Tower and nearly twice as tall as the Empire State Building.

The tip of the tower is visible from as far as 80 km that means wherever you are in Dubai – the Khalifa is never out of your sight.

It is heavy…really heavy – the weight of the concrete is equivalent to 100,000 elephants.

The Burj Khalifa elevator speed is 10 meters per second and it hardly takes a minute to reach the observatory deck on the 124th floor.

At the peak of construction, 12,000 workers worked on the building per day.

If you thought that this is splurging at its best, wait till the tower in Saudi Arabia is completed. It is tipped to surpass Burj Khalifa and claim the number one spot in the tallest building of the world.

If you are still not shocked with that, Emaar properties have already announced and even showcased the prototype that they will come with an even taller tower. They are just waiting for Saudi to complete its tower and declare its final height.

Whatever the critics might say, it is a modern marvel of the world and placed Dubai right at the top of the world. It is definitely a worthy experience irrespective of what it costs. Don’t miss it.

For all those who love tall buildings,

For all those who enjoy the luxury,

For all those who like the wonders of the world,

And

For all those who love Burj Khalifa…

It’s not a goodbye

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the second post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

B – Burj Khalifa

Read the Previous post here:

A – Arrival in Dubai

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with letter ‘C’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

46

A – Arriving in Dubai

A – Arriving in Dubai #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

The first thing I got to hear when I told my relatives that I would be going to Dubai for a year was, “Ohh! You are going to Saudia or Saudi.”

Let me begin with this. It is a general misconception in our part of the world that Dubai is in Saudi Arabia or going to any gulf country is like going to Saudi. The people are a little apprehensive about traveling to the Gulf given the strict nature of their customs and rules.

Well, Dubai is the extreme opposite of that and to be clear it is not a country either. It is an Emirate and a part of the United Arab Emirates. Dubai is most cosmopolitan in nature in the Middle East – about 85-88% of the population is expats. I may be going overboard but Dubai is like the Vegas of the Gulf.

Dubai International Airport

Dubai international airport is the busiest airport in the world for international travel for the past two consecutive years. There are currently three Terminals operational with Terminal 3 being exclusive to the Emirates Airlines. It is also the largest airport terminal in the world. There is an even bigger airport coming up soon known as the Al Maktoum International Airport. You can also choose to fly to Abu Dhabi and Sharjah depending on the flight you select. Each of them is only about 90 mins drive from Dubai.

There is a lot you can do even if you are traveling with a transit visa and only have a few hours to spend at the Dubai International Airport. The airport has a Zen garden, innumerous retail shops, and amazing lounges with spas. There is even a ‘snoozecube’ in terminal 1, where you can take a nap in their soundproof cabins. The airport has a five-star hotel and one can check in without exiting the premises.

Things to keep in mind before arriving in Dubai:

Climate: Apart from its towering skyscrapers Dubai is often associated with hot temperature. Best time to visit is October to March – during summers it can get really hot but it is one of those cities where it is mandatory to keep every place air-conditioned. Even the bus stops on the roads are glass covered and air-conditioned. So if you aren’t an extreme outdoor person – the summers won’t harm you that much.

Medicines: I personally didn’t find much information on this online but telling you from my experience. If you are carrying any medicine please keep a prescription for all the medicines. Not all the medicines are allowed and considered safe which might otherwise be in your country. If you are caught during checking it can cause a lot of trouble.

Respect their culture and views: Dubai being officially an Islamic city has its share of customs and cultures. All I can advice is, please be respectful of that. It is the least conservative of all the places in Gulf. If you traveling during Ramadan, be polite in your habits. Most of the restaurants are either closed or covered during daylight hours. Avoid PDA in public places and don’t take snaps of locals without their permission.

Clothes: Pack according to the weather. It will hardly rain in Dubai but during the winters it can get chilly and windy in the nights. You can swim in bikinis and walk in shorts but do cover up one you are in places where it is clearly mentioned. Dress modestly.

Avoid flouting rules: If a city has to maintain its superlative standards it has to be governed by strict rules. There are strict traffic rules, especially for the expats. You can be severely fined for jaywalking.

Safety: With stern policies and law, comes greater safety. It is among one of the safest places. Even if there is unrest in that part of the world UAE is considered one of the safest countries.

Alcohol and Food: Contrary to the assumption, Dubai is not a dry city. Having said that you need to procure a license if you want to purchase liquor and take home. Though there is no restriction on pubs and bars. The city offers a wide variety of places to dine and drink, offering every possible cuisine in the world, depending on your class and taste.

Travel: The city has a pretty efficient public transport system with metros, taxis, and buses. The metros and buses can be boarded with the same card but taxis are the best way to move around the city. You will find one at any hour of the day. It might seem expensive compared to the other options but it is one of the cheapest if compared globally.

Weekend: Important thing to keep in mind when you are planning your trip to Dubai that the weekend is Friday and Saturday. Sunday to Thursday is their weekdays.

Mecca of Shopping: Dubai is the home to many of the biggest shopping festivals. Do try to visit during any one of them and you surely won’t be disappointed. From January to February it hosts its biggest festival – DSF – Dubai Shopping Festival.

Visa, Flights and Stay: Get your visas done in Advances. For an Indian, a regular visit visa for 30 days would be done in 4-5 business days. Be careful about the visa – if you overstay in any manner then there are hefty penalties. Please book the flights in advance if you are traveling during the festival season or around the New Year. Similarly for the Hotels; if you traveling around the New Year’s Eve you will literally have a lot of difficulty in finding a place to stay. Hence plan in advance.

Though Dubai is home to many of the biggest and largest things in the world, the biggest delusion is one need to be super rich to visit Dubai – it isn’t like that. Everyone can find things depending on your budget.

To be honest, if you aren’t disturbing, troubling or interfering with anyone – Dubai is a fantastic cool fun place to be in. It totally depends on what kind of traveler you are and what all you want to visit and focus on. The best part is Dubai will definitely have something of interest for every kind of traveler.

For all those participating in AtoZ,

For all those who love shopping,

For all those who love travel,

And

For all those who love Dubai…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the first post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

A – Arriving in Dubai

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with letter ‘B’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme – ‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

36

The Land of Thunderbolt – Darjeeling

After spending a complete weekend in Kolkata, I still wasn’t satisfied and wanted to explore more of the region. Since childhood, I have been hearing stories of friends visiting the hills of ‘Darjeeling’ during the summer vacations. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to explore it since I was already in West Bengal.

I enquired for the tickets and was fortunate enough to procure a confirmed ticket in Shatabdi that runs from Howrah railway station to New Jalpaiguri railway station. To reach Darjeeling via train one needs to travel to the twin cities of Siliguri and Jalpaiguri. New Jalpaiguri is like the gateway to the North Eastern states and is the railway station where the maximum amount of trains passes. I reached around 10:30 pm.

Things to note when you are exploring that part of the country. Their day starts early around 4 am and invariably ends by 8:30 pm.

Climbing the Tenzing Rock

HISTORY

Darjeeling has a turbulent history. It would require a separate post if we completely want to indulge in the history of Darjeeling. All I can see, keeping it brief, that for long Darjeeling was a part of the Sikkim Kingdom. It also became a part of Nepal as well as Bhutan for short periods during the British Era before finally becoming a part of the current state of West Bengal. It has seen its share of violence and war as well which keeps simmering every now and then for various reasons.

ABOUT THE CITY

Darjeeling is known as the ‘Land of Thunderbolt’. It gets its name from the Tibetan words ‘Dorje’, which is the thunderbolt scepter of the Hindu deity Indra, and ling, which means ‘a place’ or ‘land’.

The nearest airport is Bagdogra airport, which is about 15 km from Siliguri. From there one can take a shared taxi to Darjeeling directly or can come down till Darjeeling More, Siliguri and board the same.

Engine of the Heritage Toy Train

To reach Darjeeling one can take the scenic and iconic Unesco world heritage Darjeeling Toy Train, but please make sure that you have got the tickets in advance because of the limited availability. It is also the most expensive option to reach Darjeeling unless you are hiring a private taxi only for yourself.

The best option is to take a shared taxi usually a Tata Sumo from the ‘Darjeeling more’. It will cost you only Rs. 150 (updated May 2018) and will take about three hours to Darjeeling.

It was late in the night by the time I de-boarded the train. I decided to spend the night in Siliguri and then leave for Darjeeling the next morning.

Note: Finding public transport in the night in New Jalpaiguri is pretty difficult. It is best advisable to ask the hotel to arrange a pickup. I wasn’t that lucky, hence I took a shared e-rick, which will charge as much as they want.

The Peace Pagoda

The next morning after breakfast I left for Darjeeling by taking a shared taxi. Just like Kolkata, Darjeeling too greeted me with rain. From the drop off point, I walked in the rain for about 1 km before I finally got a decent option to stay at a reasonable price. It was only 10 mins walking distance from Mall Road as well as the city center.

It was past lunchtime and I inquired at the hotel reception what all places I can cover now. The receptionist informed me that all the shared taxi options had left for the day and it was best that I would either take a personal cab or rent a bike. Given the hilly terrain and the rain, I went with a personal cab.

TOP ATTRACTIONS

The driver was a young boy in his teens and was very friendly. He said if I cover the places without wasting much time he could take me to 3-4 places before the sunset.

I started with the Darjeeling Zoo.

Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park

An impatient Bear at the zoo

The Darjeeling Zoo is a unique zoo. It is also known as Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park named after the daughter of Sarojini Naidu. The zoo is known internationally for its breeding and conservation programs and also includes an off-display breeding center for snow leopards and red pandas.

Must-See: Siberian Tiger, Red pandas, Himalayan bears, clouded leopards, and Tibetan wolves.

Opening hours: 8:30 am to 4 pm

Entry fee: INR 20 for domestic and INR 50 for others

Inside the same complex walking further down, there is the famous HMI.

Himalayan Mountaineering Institute

Himalayan Mountaineering Institute is recognized as one of the best mountaineering institutes in the world and one of the oldest in the country established in 1954. Anyone who is interested in learning the craft of mountain climbing this is the best place to be in. It has and had some world-renowned faculties like the great Tenzing Norway. There is also a mountaineering museum inside it which is of primary attraction.

Entry Fee: INR 40 for adults, INR 10 for camera

Timings: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM & 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM, Closed on Tuesdays.

Happy Valley Tea Estate

At Tea Estate

It would be criminal of anyone if they visit Darjeeling and don’t pay a visit to the Happy Valley Tea Estate. It is the second oldest tea estate in over 80 tea estates in Darjeeling. My driver agreed to take good snaps of me on the promise of me purchasing some fresh Darjeeling tea from his sister’s shop. Being a tea lover I couldn’t resist trying a couple of flavors right there.

There is no better feeling than the aroma of tea in the hills, the chilly wind, Kanchenjunga peak in the background and mesmerizing sight as far as one can see.

Timings: March – November: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Entry Fee: No Entry Fee

Guided Tour: INR 100 per person

It was getting dark and we headed in the opposite direction of the city to visit the Buddhist Temple and Peace Pagoda.

View from Summit at Peace Pagoda

Peace Pagoda and Buddhist Temple

No amount of words can describe the amazing soothing and scenic experience of the Peace Pagoda. The pagoda stands as the symbol of spirituality and peace. Peace Pagoda reflects four avatars of Lord Buddha depicted through four statues of Buddha in gold polish and is located adjacent to Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Temple.

Don’t miss the panoramic view of Darjeeling, the valley, the mountains and Kanchenjunga in the backdrop from the summit.

Opening hours: 4:30 am to 7 pm

Entry fee: Free

The driver dropped me near mall road where I headed for dinner. I went to bed early, as I had to wake up around 4 am to leave for the tiger hill. The hotel at a nominal charge for around Rs 200 can easily arrange the shared taxi.

Tiger Hill

Kanchenjunga from Tiger hill – Image ref – Pixabay

The moment I woke up, my heart sank after noticing the weather. It was already drizzling with dark clouds covering the sky.

Tiger Hill is most famous for its splendid sights of sunrise from where you can see the peaks of Kanchenjunga illuminate before the sun is seen at lower elevations. On a clear day, the entire Himalayan range can be seen. At sunrise, the peaks of Kanchenjunga are illuminated before the sun is seen anywhere else in the city. Do remember to try the super fresh Darjeeling tea, which the hawkers would be selling there at a meager price of Rs 10 each.

Batasia Loop

Center of Batasia Loop

On the way back to the city the driver will take you to Batasia Loop and Ghoom Monastery.

The Batasia Loop is a lush green toy train pathway that is meant to minimize the elevation of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Right at the center of the garden, a War Memorial was created in honor of the Gorkha soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the many wars post-Indian Independence.

Timings: 5:00 AM to 8:00 PM

Entry Fee: INR 15

 

Ghoom Monastery

Inside of Ghoom Monastery

The Yiga Choeling or old Ghoom Monastery is the oldest Tibetan Buddhist Monastery of Darjeeling. Established in 1850 by Lama Sherab Gyatso, this shrine is part of the Yellow Hat sect known as Gelupka who worship the ‘Coming Buddha’ or ‘Maitreya Buddha’. In front of the Maitreya Buddha statue hang two huge oil lamps which keep burning throughout the year.

Do not forget to taste the awesome breakfast, momo, and thukpa just outside the monastery.

Timings: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM Entry Fee: No Entry Fee,

Still camera: INR 10,

Video shot: INR 50

After spending a decent amount of time in the monastery and a wonderful breakfast we headed back to the city.

The sun was out now and I wanted to use the half-day I still had at hand. I decided to visit one of the best picturesque locations in Darjeeling – the Rock Garden.

Rock Garden

At the Rock Garden

The Rock Garden or the Barbotey Garden as its commonly known is located a little far from the city around ~10 km away. It is a man-made rocky garden enriched with flora, waterfalls, and bridges. The pleasing view from the hills provides you with just the thing you were looking for when you planned your trip to Darjeeling. The tea gardens all over the hills, beautiful flower gardens and beautiful waterfalls make the place a heavenly location.

Timings: All days of the week: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM Entry Fee: INR 10 per person for Indians, INR 50 per person for foreign tourists

FOOD and STAY

A bowl of Thenthuk Soup

Darjeeling being a popular hill station there is no shortage of places to stay. There are options available which cater to every class of tourists and travelers.

The Deveka’s Restaurant: Must try their momos and Thukpa. Awesome Tibetian food options.

Kunga Restaurant: It is very close to Deveka’s. The best way to reach both places is to locate the Hotel Lunar board which is visible from a distance. Both the restaurants are just located beneath the board on Gandhi Road. Thenthuk and Bhagthuk soups are a must try. You will fall in love with them.

For all those who love tea,

For all those who love hill stations,

For all those who love toy trains,

And

For all those who love the Land of Thunderbolt…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul.

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