xkecken Mexico

The cenote is the name for a lake that form underground when the water table breaks through fragile limestone. Where you can swim. Xkeken Cenote has been on my travel “wish list” since National Geographic published this photo last year.  There are literally hundreds of cenotes, or sinkholes filled with groundwater located in Mexico, but Xkeken Cenote is the one of the most famous. Located in Mexico’s Yucatan region, it was a point of spiritual connection for the Mayans, who believed that this natural well led to the underworld. Today, it’s one of Yucatan’s most popular tourist spots, drawing thousands of visitors each year.

The natural wonders of the state of Yucatán are innumerable and some of the most important and unusual are the cenotes, or sinkholes. In the Yucatán there are over 3000 cenotes, with only 1400 actually studied and registered.

The Mayas called them dzonot, which the conquering Spaniards translated as cenote. Geraldo Díaz Alpuche was a military commander in the 16th century who was greatly impressed with these underground caverns and pools, and he tried to explain the meaning of the word cenote in the Spanish language as meaning "deep thing". The Motul dictionary, a dictionary of Mayan hieroglyphics, defines dzonot as "abysmal and deep". 

Cenotes are magical, enigmatic and unique in the world and were once the only resource for fresh, sweet water in the local Yucatecan jungle. They were the sacred places of the Mayas for that reason, but also because they represented the entrance to the underworld.

The Yucatán Peninsula is a porous limestone shelf with no visible rivers; all the fresh water rivers are underground. Being porous, caverns and caves formed where the fresh water collects – hence the cenotes or water sinkholes. The water that gathers in these subterranean cenotes is a crystal clear turquoise color with a very pleasant temperature of 78° F (25.5º C). 

The stalactites and stalagmites that form inside the cenotes are true natural works of art. In many, holes in the ceiling allow the sunlight to filter into the cenotes, giving the scene a magical feeling. The cenotes of Yucatán are a natural treasure that should be seen by all, keeping in mind that they should be protected so that man does not destroy in a few days what nature took millions of years to create.

Other places to see
If one would really like to relax, there are more than 3000 Cenotes in the location with about 1000 accessible. Valladolid has the Convent of San Bernardino on offer for tourists. The town is a popular base for visiting nearby major Mayan ruins such as Chichen Itza and Ek'Balam. The Zaci Cenote is another great place to visit with a restaurant on the property.

Directions, Duration and Accomodationa

The Site is located about 5kms from Valladolid. A lot of people also come from Cancun or Merida. Also the Cenotes are only about 20minutes from Chicen-Itza.  The Xkeken itself is worth half a day but should be included along with Chichen-Itza and Ek'Balam. Accomodation is widely available since visitors throng these places year round.


Tawang Monastery, India

The Tawang Monastery was founded near the small town of the same name in the northwestern part of Arunachal Pradesh, India by Merak Lama Lodre Gyatso in 1680-1681in accordance with the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama. The monastery belongs to the Gelugpa school and has a religious association with Drepung Monastery in Lhasa, which continued during the period of British rule. It is very close to the Tibetan border, located in the valley of the Tawang-chu which flows down from Tibet.

Located at an elevation of about 3,300 metres (10,000 feet) in the district capital, Tawang town. It has a capacity of about 700 monks and presently is home to more than 450 Lamas. It is said to be one of the biggest Buddhist monasteries in the world outside of Lhasa, Tibet.

It also houses the three-storied Parkhang library: a collection of 400-year-old Kangyur scriptures in addition to many other invaluable manuscripts. Other large collections include the Sutras, Tangym, Sungbhum, old books and other manuscripts, both handwritten and printed, many of them in gold. Dances and ceremonial celebrations are held in the courtyard, the most important of which is held on the night of Buddha Poornima.

 It was renovated in 1997 by the 14th Dalai Lama - with renovation meaning that the traditionally built structure was torn down and then rebuilt with concrete. The name Tawang means 'Chosen Horse'.  As the legend goes, the site of the monastery was chosen by the horse of Merag Lama who had been unable to decide on a site to establish the monastery. One day he was praying in cave, seeking divine guidance. When he came out after the prayers, he found his horse missing. On searching, the horse was located standing quietly on a hilltop. Considering this as a sign of divine blessing, he decided to construct the monastery at the very spot. The monastery was built with the help of volunteers from the neighboring villages. It is also known by another Tibetan name, Galden Namgey Lhatse, which means 'celestial paradise in a clear night'.

Since the illegal force of the Chinese to destroy the country and culture of Tibet, Tawang stands as a strong force. Chinese troops briefly occupied it during the 1962 Sino-Indian War, destroying portions of the monastery.

Tawang Monastery is the second oldest in the world (after that in Lhasa, Tibet). It houses a 29 feet tall Buddha made of gold. The rich collection of ancient Buddhist art & sculpture here is priceless. Tawang also boasts of 100 lakes around the monstery.

Other places to see

1. Urgelling Monastery, 5 km from the town of Tawang where the 6th Dalai Lama was born.

2. A modern day shrine dedicated to the brave Indian soldiers, defending against the violent and invasive army of China, has been erected 21 kilometers ahead of the Tawang Town. Named after rifleman Jaswant Singh, who along with two other soldiers held their post for 72 hours and successfully stalled the Chinese progress, the Jaswantgarh Army Memorial is a symbol of bravery and sacrifice.

3. The Gumpas of  Bomdila and Dirang can be viewed on the way.

4. Nameri National Park and Kaziranga National park.

5.  Tipi Orchidarium, home to the larget variety of orchids.

Directions, Accomodation and Duration

The most convenient but pricey option is the Pawan Hans helicopter service from Tezpur, Assam. The 80 minute ride will cost Rs. 3000 ($80 approx) single way. However, most people opt for the 13 hour bus journey beginning from Bomdila which will take you through scenic mountainous roads and the awe-inspiring Sela pass situated at a height of 14000 feet. One can also consider the shared taxis from Tezpur at Rs. 350 ($9) per head.  Tezpur is the closest place, which offers an airport

One can find a lot of options for lodging in the budget category such as the Tourist Lodge and Htel Gourichan. For a more confortable stay, one can choose the pricey Tawang Inn. Most hotels in the area are good value for money and are conveniently located.




Ivanhoe Lake- Silver Lake Reservoir

US is best know to use plastic for various uses. In December 2007, the DWP announced that the Silver Lake and Elysian reservoirs had both become contaminated with unusually high levels of the cancer-causing chemical bromate, and were immediately isolated.The reservoirs were both drained over several weeks in March 2008, and refilled in May 2008. Two months later, 400,000 black hollow plastic "shade balls" were dumped in the body of water, in the hopes to reduce the likelihood of the sunlight-fueled bromate. Los Angeles water officials discovered that several open reservoirs had elevated levels of bromate. Bromate, a carcinogen, forms when sunlight combines with bromide and chlorine. Ah ha, an innovative solution! This June, the Ivanhoe Reservoir was covered with millions of 4 inch, black, high-density polyethylene vapor control balls.

Amused citizens were staring at the lake as the black balls rolled rapidly down the hill and quickly transformed the blue lake into a completely black canvas.  In order to protect this important potable water supply the water needed to be shaded absolutely “because when sunlight mixes with the bromide and chlorine in Ivanhoe’s water, the carcinogen bromate forms, said Pankaj Parekh, DWP’s director for water quality compliance” 

It took around half an hour to unload the black balls “from 190 giant bags into the 10-acre, 58-million gallon water resevoir that serves 600, 000 people in downtown and South L.A.”

The only alternative in order to clean out the lake would be to drain the entire wet land in order to fully clean the bottom of the lake to remove all traces and bromate particles. Until this longer and more complicated alternative is put into action, the black balls are a temporary solution for the next couple of years.  The black balls are non-toxic and UVA resistant insofar they won’t melt, degrade or release chemical substances when exposed to sunlight.  Each little black ball is shipped directly from Allentown, Pennsylvania. “The amount of balls needed is so large that ‘Orange Products’, has dedicated itself to solely producing the required balls for Invanhoe Reservoir”. Each unit costs 34 cents for a total bill of around $ 2 million.

The reservoirs are owned and maintained by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP), and currently they provide water to 600,000 homes in downtown and South Los Angeles. At capacity, it holds 795 million gallons of water. The Silver Lake Reservoir's water resources will be replaced by an underground reservoir in Griffith Park, slated for completion in January 2015.
The reservoir is surrounded by several recreational areas, including a dog park. nursery school and basketball court on the south side of the lake. There is also a jogging track, which stretches 2.2 miles around the reservoir.

Places to see

Silver Lake Reservoir - A hearty food place by the lake.

House Tours- Silver Lake has some of the most intricately designed hourses and a tour is carried out every few months. The LA conservancy will help with reservations.

The famous flight of stairs in Laurel and Hardy's film 'The Music Box' are located between lower Descanso Drive and Vendome Street, as it winds up and around the hill.

One can also visit Hollywood which lies to the East of Silver Lake.

Duration/ Accomodation/ Directions

The total time required to visit Silver Lake area is about 3-4 hours. Accomodation is best found in LA city area where hotels and motels are abundant. Regular Buses are available to the Silver Lake area.
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_Lake_Reservoir


Gläserne Manufaktur - Transperant factory,Germany

Transparent Factory is the English name of an automobile production plant owned by German carmaker Volkswagen, designed by architect Gunter Henn, and opened in 2002. The original German name is Gläserne Manufaktur (factory made of glass, literally vitreous manufactory).

 Both the German and English names are a word play on the double meaning of transparent and glassy, referring to both optical transperancy and transperancy of production process.


Underwater Sculputures - By Jason De Caires Taylor

How do you take sculptures and make them worthy enough for the world to travel specifically to see them? 'Drown them' was the idea Jason De Caires Taylor came up with. Jason de Caires Taylor’s underwater sculptures create a unique, absorbing and expansive visual seascape. Highlighting natural ecological processes Taylor’s interventions explore the intricate relationships that exist between art and environment. His works become artificial reefs, attracting marine life, while offering the viewer privileged temporal encounters, as the shifting sand of the ocean floor, and the works change from moment to moment.

From 'Jason De Caires Taylors' perpective

The experience of being underwater is vastly different from that of being on land. There are physical and optical considerations that must be taken into account. Objects appear twenty five percent larger underwater, and as a consequence they also appear closer. Colours alter as light is absorbed and reflected at different rates, with the depth of the water affecting this further. The light source in water is from the surface, this produces kaleidoscopic effects governed by water movement, currents and turbulence. Water is a malleable medium in which to travel enabling the viewer to become active in their engagement with the work. The large number of angles and perspectives from which the sculptures can be viewed increase dramatically the unique experience of encountering the works.

The ocean is imbued with mystery. Underwater and devoid of white walls the viewer is unrestrained in their interaction with the work. Buoyancy and weightlessness enable a detached physical experience, encouraging encounters that are perceptual and personal. As time passes and the works change, they reshape and redefine the underwater landscape in unpredictable ways.

The most famous artwork
Vicissitudes is the most famous art work by Jason. Vicissitudes depicts a circle of figures, all linked through holding hands. These are life-size casts taken from a group of children of diverse ethnic background. The sculpture proposes growth, chance, and natural transformation. It shows how time and environment impact on and shape the physical body. Children by nature are adaptive to their surroundings. Their use within the work highlights the importance of creating a sustainable and well-managed environment, a space for future generations.

The un-still life
Un-Still Life mirrors the classical composition of traditional still life tableaux. On a table is an arrangement of cement objects, a vase, bowl and fruit. In contrast to established ideas of stasis the work is perpetually changing, remaining a work in progress as layers build on its surface.

The Lost Correspondent
The Lost Correspondent depicts a man sitting at a desk with a typewriter. The desk is covered with a collection of newspaper articles and cuttings that date back to the 1970s. Many of these have political significance, a number detail Grenada’s alignment with Cuba in the period immediately prior to the revolution. The work informs the rapid changes in communication between generations. Taking the form of a traditional correspondent, the lone figure becomes little more than a relic, a fossil in a lost world. 

The Grace Reef
Grace Reef is a series of sixteen figures each cast from the body of a Grenadian woman. . The work reflects the continuing evolution of the island and its people, revealing itself in dramatic and dynamic ways. The direction and strengths of currents mean that entire sections of the work become covered, hidden and lost. At other times figures emerge and are fully visible.

About Jason De Caires Taylor
 With his artwork being promoted in more than 1000 publications, Jason deCaires Taylor is a man of many identities whose work resonates with the influences of his eclectic life.  His international reputation was established in May 2006, when he created the world's first underwater sculpture park in Grenada, West Indies, leading to both private and public commissions. Taylor is currently founder and Artistic Director of the Museo Subacuático del Arte (MUSA) in Cancun, Mexico.

PS: Underwater sculptures are living reef systems, touching the structures in any form damages the delicate coral life and is therefore is strictly prohibited. The sculptures can be viewed by Scuba diving (Also available at night), Snorkelling, Glass bottom boat, Parasailing, and free diving.

- MUSA Museo Subacuático de Arte,  Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc, Mexico
- Canterbury, Kent, UK 
- Grenada
- Chepstow, UK
-  T.A. Marryshow Community College
- Un-Still Life II, Crete, Greece.

Duration Accomodation and Directions
A site can be visited and viewed in a time span of 3-4 hours approximately.
Most places are easy to reach from major road intersections, railway stations and airports.
Accomodation is available at all places as he sculptures are based in major cities.

Other places to See
The sculptures are installed at various locations and hence it is not possible to compile a list of things to see around.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More