Thursday, 21 December 2017

18 Of The Most Surreal Landscapes On Earth

Antelope Canyon is the most photographed canyon in the American Southwest. It was formed by flash-flooding and erosion, which gave the rock its smooth, wave-like texture.

Bryce Canyon in southwestern Utah is home to brightly colored geological structures called hoodoos, formed by frost, weathering, and erosion.

Fly Geyser is less famous tourist attraction that was accidentally created in 1916 during a well drilling, Water heated by geothermal energy creating the multi-colored mount.

Huacachina is a literal oasis in the Peruvian desert. It's a resort town built around a small, natural lake in the Southwestern Ica Region.

In southwest Spain lie two salty and very pink lakes called Las Salinas de Torrevieja. The color is caused by algae that releases a red pigment under certain conditions.

Lake Natron in Tanzania is famous for its deep red hue, part of the East African Rift Valley, and gets its color from the algae that live on salt in water from nearby volcanoes.

Las Salinas Grandes is a massive salt desert in Argentina. The 2,300-square-mile field is filled with pools of water created by mining companies that harvest salt there.

Lencois Maranhenses Sand Dunes of Brazil look like average sand dunes, and valleys are filled with water since the low-lying lands often flood during the wet season.

Namibia's Dead Vlei, or dead marsh, is surrounded by the highest sand dunes in the world and dotted with dead trees more than 900 years old.

Naturally formed staircase Badab-e Surt, 2 mineral hot springs deposited carbonate minerals on the mountain, leaving behind pools of water and naturally-formed steps.

Petra, in Jordan, was the capital city of the Nabateans, a pagan civilization. The famed city was built from the surrounding red sandstone.

Salar de Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia are covered in a thin layer of water, creating surreal reflections of the sky.

The Cappadocia Valley in Turkey is home to thousand-year-old cave dwellings. Many of the ancient underground homes are still occupied.

The Crystal Caves of Naica, in Mexico, were discovered in 2000. The immense crystals are believed to have grown for about 500,000 years due to the chamber's unique conditions.

The Danakil Depression in Ethiopia Danakil Desert is one of the hottest inhabited places on planet, with temperatures ranging from 95 degrees Fahrenheit to as high as 145 degrees.

The rice terraces of Yunnan, China, are carved into the hillside. Different types of vegetation lend the landscape its alternating hues.

The white gypsum sand dunes at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico look like snow, and cover 275 square miles of desert.

Tsingy de Bernaraha National Park in Madagascar is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The forest of limestone needles was made when underground water eroded the existing limestone.

Friday, 8 December 2017

The Tent City of Mina, Saudi Arabia

Mina is a small city, also known as “Tent City” is a neighborhood of Makkah in western Saudi Arabia. Mina is located about 5KM to the east of Holy city of Makkah, covers an area of 20KM. Mina stands on the road from Makkah city center to the Hill of Arafat, best known for the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Mina is a place, where pilgrims throw stones, remembering the occasion that the Prophet Hazrat Ibrahim (A.S) stoned the Shatan (Devil) that came between him and command Allah Talah had set him. The Hajj is the ritual Islamic pilgrimage to Makkah, and Mina tent city is used for five days each year by Hajj pilgrims, and empty for the rest of the time.

More than 120,000 air conditioned tents provide temporary shelter to over 3 million pilgrims during Hajj days. The Mina valley where Jamarat Bridge is located, pilgrims perform stoning to Shatan (Devil) between sunrise and sunset on the last day of Hajj. These tents cover every open space, as maximum as a naked eye can see, neatly arranged row after row. The tents measure 8 x 8 meters and are constructed of fiberglass coated with Teflon in order to ensure high resistance to fire.

In the ancient times, pilgrims brought their own tents which they would erect in the flat plains of Mina. In 1990s, the Saudi government installed permanent cotton tents relieving pilgrims of the burden of having to carry their own camping equipment. However, a massive fire that swept through the tent city killing nearly 400 pilgrims in 1997, then the current permanent fire-proof city was built.  Once the Hajj is over, the tents would be dismantled, everything packed and taken back. During the Syrian Civil War, the international community pressured Saudi Arabia to use its unoccupied tent city to house war refugees.

The tents are segregated into a number of camps, as each of which possess its own exterior wall, and is linked to other camps by pathways. The camp provides the facility of a kitchen, bathrooms, and ablution facilities. For the pilgrims ease, every tent is color-coded by country and numbered, and all the haji’s are supposed to have badges with their color and number on it, in case they get lost. In past few years, Saudi government investing huge amout of money to improve the infrastructural projects to ease the daunting and physically demanding rituals of the annual pilgrimage. A comprehensive fire safety network containing of heat-sensitive water sprinkler are linked to an alarm system was implemented to avoid the repeat of 1997 tragedy.