Thursday, 16 July 2015

Fort Jefferson, Florida United States

The unfinished Fort Jefferson is a massive coastal fortress, actually a largest masonry structure in the United States. The Fort is beautifully composed with more than 16 million bricks. The fort is located on Garden Key in the lower Florida Keys within the Dry Tortugas National Park, about 110 km west of the island of Key West. The massive fort construction started in 1846 and continued for 30 years, but unluckily it was never finished. The development of rifled cannon and armored ships made Fort Jefferson obsolete even while its construction was under way. However, much of the work of fort building during the years before the Civil War was done by enslaved laborers. Therefore, in 1847, one of the bravest attempts every made to escape slavery was made by seven workers at the fort. However, commandeering or disabling as several schooners and boats as they could, they set out from Garden Key in a frantic attempt to sail away to freedom. The good-looking islands still do not exhibit any standing fresh water or even seasonal streams, therefore the name "dry". Owing to the potential difficulties of survival in such conditions, one of these islands was used as the location for filming a military survival film used to train aircraft personnel.

The Fort Jefferson design called for a four-tiered six-sided 1000 heavy-gun fort, with two sides measuring 415 feet, and four sides measuring 564 feet. The walls met at corner bastions, which are large projections designed to let defensive fire along the faces of the walls they joined. Fort Jefferson was designed to be a huge gun platform, impervious to assault, and capable to destroy any enemy ships foolhardy adequate to come within range of its powerful guns. The fort remained in federal hands throughout the Civil War, however hostilities was finished in 1865, the fort's population declined to 1,013, consisting of 486 soldiers or civilians and 527 prisoners. On January 4, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who visited this place by ship, designated the area as Fort Jefferson National Monument, but in 26, Oct 1992 the Dry Tortugas, including Fort Jefferson, was established as a National Park.

Well, if you want to visit this Fort, then can be reached by a daily ferry from Key West, as well as by chartered seaplane and private yacht. As a national park, camping is allowed on the beach. Tourists by ferry usually spend four hours on the island, which is enough time for a guided tour of the fort, lunch on the boat and swim snorkel equipment provided on the reef. The island has a gift shop but no food is available for visitors. Fort Jefferson was built to protect one of the most strategic deep-water anchorages by fortifying this spacious harbor. Due to its imperativeness, it could also serve as a potential staging area, or springboard, for enemy forces. From here they could launch an attack virtually anywhere along the Gulf Coast. Fort Jefferson, the most sophisticated of these, was a brilliant and undeniable symbol that the United States wanted to be left alone. Though never attacked, the fort fulfilled its intended role. It helped to protect the peace and prosperity of a young nation. Abandoned by the Army in 1874, the fort was later used as a coaling station for warships. Though used briefly during both world wars, the fort’s final chapter as “Guardian of the Gulf” had long since closed. Source: Charismatic Planet

Friday, 10 July 2015

Stunning Crescent Like Lake in the Gobi Desert of China

Yueyaquan or Yuèyá Quán is actually a beautiful crescent-shaped lake in an oasis, six kilometers south of the city of Dunhuang in Gansu Province, China, the Crescent Lake is a fresh water spring in the shape of a half moon. It was named “Yueyaquan” in the Qing Dynasty which is easily called crescent lake a natural wonder in the Gobi Desert. Mildred Cable & Francesca French visited the lake during their travels in the region and recorded their impressions in their book The Gobi Desert, "All around us we saw tier on tier of lofty sand-hills, giving the lie to our quest, yet when, with a final desperate effort, we hoisted ourselves over the last ridge and looked down on what lay beyond, we saw the lake below, and its beauty was entrancing. In fact, the lake is resembles a crescent fallen down into this desert, surrounded by sand dunes for thousands of years, though given countless surprise attacks by sandstorms, Crescent lake still gurgles clear, and still remains worthy as the first spring in the desert. This lake was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.  The area is surrounded by beautiful high mountains, but has an arid climate and is extremely hot in the summer and cold in winter. However, rain only occurs in small amounts and quickly evaporates, resulting in the desert landscape. Desertification has become a foremost environmental problem in China which the government has tried to tackle in numerous ways. But this includes the proposed creation of a “green wall” of forests to counter the spread of deserts.

However, in 1960, the lake measurements were made, the average depth of the lake was four to five meters, with a maximum depth of 25 feet (7.5 metres). Therefore, with the passage of time, the, the depth of the lake continually declined. Moreover, in the early 1990s, its area had shrunk to only 1.37 acres with an average depth of 0.9 to 1.3 meter maximum. Hence, the local government give some attention in 2006 and decided to step in and rescue the oasis with the help of the central government started to refill the lake and restore its depth; its depth and size have been growing yearly since then. More recently, reservoirs have been built a short distance away in hopes that water would seep into the ground and help Crescent Lake, also called Crescent Moon Lake and Crescent Spring. The pressure is now to preserve major cultural and historic significance of this lake. The lake and the surrounding deserts are very popular in sightseers, who are offered camel and 4x4 rides. Moreover, the key to retaining the oasis will be in the dropping of water consumption.  In spite of the tourism that the Crescent Lake entices the amount of glacial melt from the distant Qilian Mountains that feeds the Dang River has not changed for several centuries. If the Three Forbids is strictly enforced then maybe the Crescent Lake will be relished by various generations to come.

Jabuka, The Charismatic Island

The island of Jabuka, which means apple in Croatian, is a 97-meters-tall uninhabited volcanic island located in the Adriatic Sea; around 52 kilometers west of the island of Vis. Jabuka, along with Brusnik, are the only two Croatian islands that are entirely of volcanic origin. Together with Palagruza, that is only partly of volcanic origin, the three islands form an area called "Adriatic Volcanic Triangle". Brusnik, Jabuka, as well as some parts of Komiska bay on the island of Vis and some parts of Palagruza originated from an eruption of magma due to the breakup of the Pangea prehistoric continent over 200 million years ago. Jabuka has charismatic properties due to the presence of magnetite, a naturally happening iron oxide, in the rocks that origin the magnetic needles of compasses of passing ships to go awry. The island is both a remarkable and frightening sight during nice weather in summer but in winter, when the winds blow causing large waves, Jabuka turns into a life-threatening adventure.

Though some say that ships actively avoid the island because of its magnetic anomaly, truth is, the island lies far from all sea routes. Therefore, boats can hardly be seen in the vicinity except those who have made the island their destination. But getting to “Jabuka” can be really difficult. Moreover, standing alone in the deep waters, “Jabuka” is exposed to all winds, and since even the fragile winds cause large waves in the open sea, it takes a lot of skilled maneuvering and luck to avoid crashing into this volcanic rock. Furthermore the shoreline is not appropriate for docking, and there’re no bays that could keep your boats safe from the wind. The steep cliffs make it difficult to build shelter and the surrounding waters are 200 meters deep and not appropriate for anchoring. In addition, the rocks are smooth without natural protrusions where the boats could be tied. The sea surrounding Jabuka, though, is tremendous fishing-ground that entices several brave fishermen. A very small number of plant and animal species have also adapted to the rough climate, including two endemic species a plant called knapweed and an animal species of black lizard. Some 50 years ago, the island was home to another endemic type of carnation, but is now extinct. In 1958 the island was declared a geological monument of nature. Moreover, when there were no motorboats, only the valiant, most enduring fishermen dared go to the island in order to make available for their families by catching large fish and trapping valued lobsters.

Mesmerizing Australian Salt Ponds Look like Abstract Paintings

Shimmering Australian ponds pictured in stunning aerial photographs hardly to believe that these spectacular portraits are not watercolor paintings depicting otherworldly patterns. These stunning photographs are actually of crystallizers: shallow ponds in which concentrated brine evaporates leaving a 'crop' of salt crystals. These exclusives crystals were photographed by Simon Butterworth from a light aircraft flying 4,000 to 5,000 feet above the Useless Loop solar salt operation situated in Shark Bay, the westernmost point of mainland Australia.

The height was mainly vital in getting this flattened perspective, which was attained using a long focal length camera. Moreover, time and cloud cover also played a key role with the abstractness of the photographs heightened by a lack of shadow. Because the main reason that these crystals appear blue can in fact be attributed to the reflection of the sky. The tracks left by the salt harvesting machine account for the brushstroke patterns. The series, called “Project Blue Fields”, is part of a bigger project, Aesthetics of the Astonishing, which see the relationships between perception, expectation and reality, and was nominated for a Sony World Photographic Award in the Professional Landscape category.Source: Dailymail

Monday, 6 July 2015

Kumbhalgarh Fort – The Great Wall of India

 The wall that surrounds the ancient fort of “Kumbhalgarh” is one of the best-kept secrets in India, located 84 kilometer north of Udaipur, in the state of Rajasthan, in western India.  The fort which the wall surrounds is built high on a hill and dominates the landscape, being more than 1000 meters above sea level. It is protecting a huge fort that contains over 300 ancient temples, as you may expect this being India. It was hoped, of course, that because of the protection of the wall, violence could be avoided simply because any advancing enemies might not be able to penetrate it. The wall was constructed half a millennium ago in tandem with “Kumbhalgarh Fort” itself, the second most significant citadel after Chittorgarh in the Mewar region. The Kumbhalgarh fort is surrounded by a perimeter wall that is an amazing 36 kilometer long, and varies in width from 15-25 feet. The ancient fort was built during the 15th century by Maharana Kumbha and is one of 32 forts built by the Rajput ruler of the Mewar kingdom. The history claims that 8 horses could ride side by side over it.

Though there’re several massive walls constructed by rulers to defend their kingdoms, building such a large protective boundary around a single fort was unheard of. However, there’s no wonder, the gigantic wall at Kumbhalgarh took almost a century to construct and made the fort impregnable. Although several claim it would be second longest continuous wall after the Great Wall of China. Several legends refer it to called “The Great Wall of India”. Therefore, the unassailable Fort boasts of seven gigantic gates and seven ramparts strengthened by rounded bastions and massive watchtowers. Moreover inside the defensive walls there’re more than 360 Jain and Hindu temples and a wonderful palace at its pinnacle aptly named “Badal Mahal” or the Palace of Cloud? Well, from the palace top, it is likely to see several kilometers into the Aravalli Range and the sand dunes of the popular “Thar Desert” can also be seen from here. According to some famous folklore, Maharana Kumbha used to burn huge lamps that consumed 50 kilograms of ghee and 100 kilograms of cotton to provide light for the farmers who worked during the nights in the valley.

So, tourists should beware of this piece of history, though tempting and well-preserved, is not well-trafficked. Although the remoteness and potential to have miles of ruins all to oneself is attractive to plenty of off-the-beaten-path travelers, but the walls are strong and tall, the hard stones, and though various traps and defensive mechanisms along the wall and fort have been deactivated, that does not mean fortunes cannot happen. Throughout the over five hundred years of its history, the fortress fell in to enemy hands only once and this was only because the drinking water ran out within its walls. Yet notwithstanding its size and its history, the Great Wall of India remains somewhat of a mystery to those outside of India.  Actually, travelers are warned that approximately the lesser travelled areas of the wall should not be climbed. Ancient defense mechanisms and traps, though mostly disabled, are still assumed to exist in some of its more distant positions. Therefore, those wishing to explore the miles of ruins on their own are warned that accidents can happen.