Friday, July 3, 2015

We visited Cappadocia – 29 - 30 Apr

Nature has played the extraordinary role of an architect in designing the landscape of Cappadocia – rocks, volcanic lava, rain and the passage of time have all joined hands in creating one of the most unusual rock formations in the world – bizarre shapes called fairy Chimneys- a visual delight. Cappadocia includes 4 cities: Nevsehir, Kayseri, Aksaray and Nigde. Cappadocia is Turkey's most visually striking region, especially the "moon scape" where erosion has formed caves, clefts, pinnacles, "fairy chimneys" and sensuous folds in the soft volcanic rock. Cappadocia is one of those rare places that must be experienced at least once in a lifetime for it is indeed a very unusual and out of the ordinary experience.

Fairy chimneys of Goreme

As you step out of the bus, you are instantly mesmerized by these bizarre exhibits of nature, wondering whether it is actually natural or made by some fairytale giants of old. It is just one long photo opportunity.

Figure 1 - Fairy Chimneys rock formation near Göreme, in Cappadocia

Figure 2 - The area was featured in several films due to its topography. The 1983 film “You, the hunter from the future” was filmed in Cappadocia

Figure 3 – Sudhi in the distance

Figure 4 – KM, Sudhi and Jai photo op

Figure 5 - Standing 1,000 meters above sea level, the Cappadocian relief is a high plateau, pierced by volcanic peaks that create a visually stunning landscape —to which the human population has added many flourishes throughout the centuries.

Figure 6 – We got to see camels too!

Figure 7- The different sizes and shapes are mind boggling

Figure 8 - Formed from volcanic material between 9 and 3 million years ago, these rocks were eroded by wind and rain into minaret and pillar forms

Figure 9 – The gang

Figure 10 - Dore and Lalitamma sharing a private moment

Figure 11 - The Turkish Evil Eye Pendant or the Nazar Boncugu, which literally means the "evil eye bead", is actually a stone bead, which is worn to protect oneself from evil looks. The stone is an amalgamation of molten glass, iron, copper, water and salt. This particular combination of minerals and metals is believed to provide a shield from the forces of evil

Goreme Open Air Museum

The Goreme Valley holds the region's best collection of painted cave churches. Medieval orthodox Christian monks (1000-1200 AD) carved the caves from the soft volcanic stone and decorated them with elaborate Byzantine frescoes. Cappadocia's most famous attraction, for good reason, is the Göreme Open Air Museum, a complex of medieval painted cave churches. There are over 10 cave churches in the Göreme Open Air Museum. Along with rectories, dwellings, and a religious school, they form a large monastic complex carved out of a roughly ring-shaped rock formation in the landscape of Cappadocia. This gave us a very different type of experience.

Figure 12 - One of Turkey's UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Göreme Open-Air Museum

Figure 13 - A rock cut temple in Cappadocia

Figure 14 – A distant view

Figure 15 – Most of the churches in Gorreme Open Air Museum belong to the 10th,11th and 12th centuries.

Figure 16 – The city of Goreme The incredible old town is indeed worth a visit.

Figure 17 – Proof of visit

Figure 18 – Striking a pose

Kayamaki Underground City

“A massive underground city, the size of 65 football fields which may have housed up to 20,000 people is slowly emerging from under the soft volcanic rock in the Cappadocia region of Turkey” - screamed the news papers, when it was excavated.

We were in for a surprise of a different kind when we visited an ancient multi-level underground city. Extending to a depth of approximately 60 m, it is large enough to have sheltered approximately 20,000 people together with their livestock and food stores. It is the largest excavated underground city in Turkey and is one of several underground complexes found across Cappadocia.

Figure 19 – It was a very unique experience going inside the cave

Figure 20 – During WW II, some army units were housed in the cave city.

Caravanserai – 30 Apr

Caravanserai is a roadside inn where travelers could rest and recover from the day's journey. Caravanserais supported the flow of commerce, information, and people across the network of trade routes covering Asia, North Africa, and South Eastern Europe, especially along the Silk Route.

Figure 21 – The main entrance of Caravanserai

Figure 22 – The gang outside the Caravanserai

Figure 23 – Long corridors cover the entire area

Mevlana Mosque, Konya

Mevlana also known as the Green Mausoleum or Green Dome, is the original lodge of the Mevlevi Whirling Dervishes, a mystical Sufi Muslim group. It contains the tomb and shrine of the Mevlana, or Rumi, which remains an important place of pilgrimage. The lodge is visible from some distance, its fluted dome of turquoise tiles one of Turkey's most distinctive sights.

Figure 24 – The mosque has been maintained extremely well. The entire place is very clean and tidy. It is a pleasure to walk around the mosque area, full of flower beds, well manicured lawns and shady trees.

Figure 25 - For Muslims, this is a very holy place, and more than 1.5 million people visit it in a year

Figure 26 - The mausoleum was depicted on the reverse of the Turkish 5000 Lira banknotes of 1981-1994.

Figure 27 - Sarcophagus of Mevlâna.

Figure 28 – Wax figures of Whirling Dervishes

Figure 29 – The gang is extremely happy for some unknown reason

Figure 30 – Jai equally happy with a very strong and restorative cup of Turkish coffee.

Figure 31 - Mt. Erciyes (3916 m), the highest mountain in Cappadocia.

Figure 32 – Catching up after a tiring day

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