Move Over Beckenscot…Miniatürk is Here..and How!!


Day 3: 12th April 

After the morning chow at Golden Horn (=Same old same old…Meze, yoghurt and eggs with the usual bread with preserves), we decided that on the agenda today was “Miniatürk” 

This place happens to be a little into the Istanbul suburbs (=On the European side of Turkey though) so we had to cab it. We had the reception ask for a cab and drove off along with our armour of woolens and jackets. The Cab driver was a quiet sullen one actually, (=We’re really used to cheery cab guys and pick up persons because we chat a lot with them) and it seemed as he resented driving us till there.

 

Driving through the Istanbul suburbs didn’t present a postcard version of the city. Of course the landscapes and the water along the road made it scenic but the houses were tumbledown and looked a little old.

Houses here are like the ones in the photo..but these houses were a little old, wore signs of occupation for years and had clothes hanging outside..also it was a little congested with a lot of houses packed together.

 

But I don’t mean congestion in the Indian way keeping Mumbai in mind…there were adequate open spaces and trees with beautiful tulips planted. It was a sight to watch but not as beautiful as the buildings are in the Historical Peninsula, the place where we were staying.

Right back to Miniatürk..

 

Miniatürk covers a total area of 60,000 square meters. Its model area is 15,000 sqm, making Miniaturk the world’s largest miniature park in respect to its model area. Miniaturk also boasts 40,000 sqm of open space, 3,500 sqm of covered area, 2,000 sqm of pools and waterways, and a parking lot with a capacity of 500 vehicles.     

 

The park contains 120 models done in 1/25th scale. 57 of the structures are from Istanbul, 51 are from Anatolia, and 12 are from the Ottoman territories that today lie outside of Turkey. Additional space was reserved for potential future models. The infrastructure was built taking into consideration the needs of potential additions. Therefore, Miniaturk will continue growing, modeling, in a sense, planned urbanization.

 

The park hosts icons of many cultures and civilizations. Models vary from the Hagia Sophia to Selimiye, from Rumeli Fortress to Galata Tower, from Safranbolu Houses to the Sumela Monastry, from Qubbat As-Sakhrah to the ruins of Mount Nemrut. In addition, some works that have not survived into the present, such as the Temple of Artemis, the Halicarnassus Mausoleum and Ajyad Castle, were recreated.

 

Special attention was paid to include every civilization that ruled in and around Anatolia and left their marks. Miniaturk traces a 3000-year history from Antiquity to Byzantium, from Seljuks to the Ottoman Empire and into the present day.

 

Aiming to create a fairy tale atmosphere, the Miniaturk project is divided into three main sections. The sections are Anatolia, Istanbul and the former Ottoman territories. The sections are separated from one another by small landscape designs that ensure continuity by guiding visitors throughout their visit.

(=Ok Enough Gyan!!)

 

Miniaturk is a vast expanse of land which has been very well planned. Also it shows a glimpse of Turkey (=Rightlu summed up as Turkey on My Plate), you do get a rush tour of Turkey as a country and its shift through the times.

This is an excellent place to bring children and make them proud of their heritage. Like I said, it’s a MASTERPIECE.

This keeps monuments and history alive even though the actual may not be in a good condition. And there are no two ways about it, this is a place that has GOT TO BE VISITED.

So we got in after taking an entry pass, and saw about 2-3 groups of school students being led by their teachers to this park. I’m sure if i was someone who went to a school in Istanbul, I’d insist on being taken here.

Now the park is divided into 3 areas,

  1. Anatolia
  2. Istanbul
  3. Turkish/Ottoman Monuments outside Türkiye

I’m going to elaborate about these 3 sections separately so that I do it justice.

But what we did find here is the committed efforts of the Management to make sure that these Representatives are kept in proper condition and are regularly cleaned. Also that repairs are made as and when necessary in phases so that one section of the park is always being maintained. (=A pretty good way of making sure the entire park is functional).

There were people scrubbing these Reps with water and a brush. There was even a provision for drainage of water that’s on top of the monument so that water does not accumulate. You just have to appreciate the amount of effort that has been put into making these Representative Models and in taking care of them.

 

Don’t worry about this being boring and just being models on display. Your ticket to Miniatürk has a barcode that will be read by an instrument in front of the model which will give out some information about the Representative Model in either Türkish or English. That is decided by the barcode and the ticket (=You’re supposed to specify that you prefer English at the Gate!! I think other languages are also available like German but i’m not certain)

 

There is also a restaurant on the premises that serves good food (=Unlimited bread here as well!!) We did take a lunch break half way into the Anatolian region and ordered some Pizza, Soup, Pasta and a Curry. One was a Meal Special. And they don’t make their pasta from scratch its a thawed one on your plate for all the anti-frozen brigade. But the food is good and reasonable.

Along with Miniatürk, there is also a Victory Muzesii & Crystal Muzesii (=Muzessi-Museum).

The Victory Museum is dedicated to the Turkish war of Independence. During the First World War, Turkey fought with Germany and also overthrew the Caliphate to be established as a Republic on October 29th, 1923 led by Mustafa Kemal Pasha Atatürk.

The Crystal Museum is a place where a few famous landmarks of Turkey are showcased in crystal using light and special display.

So as you can see, Miniatürk is a fascinating place to visit if you’re cut short of time.

But DO spend your time slowly savouring the Representatives and appreciating the history. Also the Representatives are very realistically done with beautiful carvings replicated. Take your time with your camera and have a snack to keep your power going.

Coming Up: Anatolian Region, Istanbul, Victory Museum, Crystal Museum

Stay Tuned

Oh Wait…I forgot about the suicidal lizard. There are train tracks running through the entire park (=I didn’t see the train though) So at one place in the section for Ottoman Monuments out of Turkey, there was a lizard near the tracks, Maybe he wanted to get on the train, maybe he was suicidal..Point is, his wish remained unfulfilled. .. 😀 😀

Istanbul Suburbs (Rep pic only)

 

 

 

Airport being cleaned

 

Camera Shy

 

Mustafa Kemal Pasha Ataturk

 

Miniaturk

Panorama 1

Trick photography

Expansive

Keeping it clean

Conservation

Guardian of the Mini-Monument

Conservation Workers

Cleaning in Progress

A suicidal lizard

No Luck!!

Miniaturk
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Yerebatin Sarnici or Yerebatin Saray1


Yerebatin Sarnici or Yerebatin Saray1

After exploring ‘Hagia Sophia’ or ‘Aya Sophia’ or ‘St Sophia’ (=Too many names) we came out to the Sultanahmet Square where the two most beautiful monuments of Istanbul, The Blue Mosque (=Sultanahment Camii) and the Aya Sophia face each other.

As we left the Aya Sophia, we looked in awe at the huge mosque ahead of us. Now since my sister and my dad had done some reading, they knew it was the Blue Mosque but I didn’t, so I was amazed while I clicked pictures of the cobbled paths and the many roadside sellers.

 

The small and cute stands there sell 3 things

  1. Corn (=Yuck!! No Way, Indian ones are much better)
  2. Simit (=type of bread with sesame/til on it with or without a cheese filling)
  3. Kestane or Chestnuts roasted
  4. Cinnamon cakes (=Spicy and not so sweet)

 

So we helped ourselves to some Simit with cheese and soaked in the atmosphere.

This time is the best to visit Turkey, just off the winter which is quite harsh in the interiors and just before the heat wave hits across Turkey. The weather is extremely pleasant and enjoyable with temperatures between 8-16 degree C during the day and from5-10 degree C at night.

 

There was a trio that was performing in the Sultanahmet Square as a part of the  Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi (=I’m sorry I don’t know the exact translation Büyük means big and şehir is city)

At that point it really struck me that Istanbul integrates art into its very fibre. There is an appreciation for all forms of art here be it with history, relics and frescos or be it with music, paint and any other form of expression.

I guess we really don’t see much of that in India with not much inclination to appreciation of art barring those who actually practice.

We also saw the tram lines in Istanbul for the first time.

Following which we went to the Cistern.

Let me brief you a little about how the Cisterns and Aqueducts came into being.

An Ottoman Building using an Aqueduct

The Romans constructed numerous aqueducts to serve any large city in their empire, as well as many small towns and industrial sites. The city of Rome had the largest concentration of aqueducts, with water being supplied by eleven aqueducts constructed over a period of about 500 years. They served drinking water and supplied the numerous baths and fountains in the city, as well as finally being emptied into the sewers, where the once-used gray water performed their last function in removing waste matter. (=Long live Wikipedia)

Now the aqueducts were not limited only to Rome. With the spread of the Roman Empire, the aqueducts and Cisterns spread to different states such as Bulgaria,  Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Israel, Macedonia, Tunisia, Lebanon, Spain. Which sows the effect the Roman Empire has had over the world.

Also they made Cisterns which were made to catch rainwater and to store it. Cisterns are distinguished from wells because of the waterproof lining that Cisterns have. There aren’t many Cisterns found today.

This Cistern is very famous for the two heads of Medusa that adorn 2 of the pillars

Fact: The Cistern was built in the 6th Century by the orders of Byzantine Emperor Justinian. It is 9 m high with 12 rows of 28 columns

Fable Speak: There are many stories about Medusa. The most common one says that she had a face so ugly that people who saw her would be repulsed and would turn to stone.

This is why her head appears at 2 columns to ward off evil

The second fable talks about why her hair was turned to stone. It says she was the fairest maiden of the times and once she lay with Poseidon, the king of the seas, Goddess Athena was enraged and so cursed her transforming her beautiful hair to snakes. (=Poor her, jealous goddess)

But there is no accurate record about what really happened to Medusa although she remains an evergreen part of history

Anyway back to the Cistern. The Cistern has been constructed in such a manner that even though it is below the ground, there is fresh air through ventilation shafts constantly.

This too like other museums has an entrance fee (=10 TL or € 6) Most of the people come to see the Medusa’s heads positioned in the 2 pillars.

In one pillar the head of Medusa is facing sideways and in 1 pillar it is upside down. There are many stories as to why these were positioned there and only there and in these positions not looking straight forward. But because there are no accurate records, until a time machine is invented, we can only speculate.

The water even though old was clean. There were places where people had thrown in coins. There is a Roman legend that if you throw a coin i the Trevi’s Fountain,Rome, Italy that you will come back again!! (I should throw many coins there then!!)

Even though this was constructed in the 6th century, it has been preserved very well today with adequate signs for tourists with information. There are also plastic sheets put over the arches that need to be repaired.

Musings: (=How much i think!! My brain should be banned)

I often wonder why we as a country with significant scientific advancement can never manage to set funds aside or use it for the repair, maintenance and restoration of our national wealth. I guess with the decades of ingrained mindset that our sole purpose is to achieve a growth figure at all costs, we’ve let national wealth, arts and culture die a horrendous death, leaving the world deprived of all that India and its rich heritage has to offer.

So after we were finished with the Basilica Cistern, we saw some magnets and postcards (=Everyone sells magnets and postcard) and we went to have Doner Kebaps in the same place we’d seen before.

We had some Doner (=Turkish franky with no oil or sauce), Coffee (=Expresso Leggerimo with Arabica and other South American Varieties). This coffee had a few chocolates and coffee beans coated with chocolate as a side dish. Also we tasted apple chai (=Tea in Turkish is also called as Chai). It was the yummiest and they serve it in such small and cute cups with tiny tea spoons. There is sugar added and cubes also on the side.

After the long afternoon, we had a chilled out session in Room 203 accounting for the expenses (=My job 😛 :P). After which there was the dilemma of deciding the place where we could go out for dinner (=Remember there was lunch at Ozler this is still Day 1). We made a trip to the terrace, (=Our hotel to see if the restaurant was worth going to).

There was a balconey where you could go and sit in the cool evening air and smoke a Narghile (=Pronounced Nar-ghee-Le)

But the menu was very limited. You had to order certain sets like a full meal with an entree, a salad, a meat dish and some dessert. There was no two ways about it. But there prices were quoted in Euros (=Oh No!!) So we decided to skip it and go out exploring. The person who had helped us out in the Convenience store while buying Turkish Delights recommended a restaurant called ‘Balkan’ and gave us directions. We had a little bit of searching to do and it was in a lane that was being repaired (=Hey its not only India where there are dug up roads!!)

Balkan is a Self Service Restaurant meaning- U pick the dish from a limited range, The person serves, You pay per plate for what you order. And it turned out to be our cheapest meal of the whole journey (=:P :P).

So we had 2 chicken gravys, 2 plates of rice, 2 Ayrans, 2 Rice puddings (=Ah yes…yummy!!! All that sweet mixture with caramelized sugar on top!!!! :P) and the food was good.

  • Turns out in Turkey these types of restaurants are ‘Lowest of the Low’ where you have nobody to serve you, you pick and carry. But the place was clean, the food was good and inexpensive and the quantity was better than the other restaurants that waited on you hand and foot.

After our dinner, we made a trip to “Diva Discount Mart” which was our faithful cost saving provider where we picked up some Ayran, Water and Flavoured Milk for the tour ahead.

So thus concludes the 3 part ‘Day 1 in Istanbul’

 

Keep Tuned for further notes!!!

 

Basilica Cistern with its pillars

 

Fishes and Coins

 

Medusa upside down

Exploring Mysore-The Mysore Palace


18th April 2010, Mysore, Karnataka, India
We decided to explore the famous Mysore Palace that day after our lunch with Swaroop. There was some festival going on that day because we saw ladies wearing their best and carrying pots and flowers on their head. That took up traffic for a while. But much to our chagrin, there was a huge line waiting to get into the Mysore Palace, it being a huge attraction for people pouring into Mysore. Papa went and stood in the line while mum tried to get a ticket from the counter and surprisingly, the man at the counter gave her tickets without asking her why she was cutting into the line. I guess people who sell tickets are so used to people cutting in the line that they don’t bother with asking. Also one advantage of the crowd was that many people were getting into the palace without buying tickets which meant that that guards at the entrance weren’t doing their job properly. So we mentioned that to the guards who seemed embarrassed and started checking tickets after we passed. Photography in the Mysore Palace is not allowed so the camera had to be kept in a special locker. But we carried it with us nonetheless and asked the guards special permission to keep it with us promising not to click photos inside. People are not allowed to wear shoes into the Palace. This would make it easier to clean it.
Also there are audio tapes in 20 languages here. We’d seen audio tapes in Palaces abroad like Hampton Court which was the summer residence of King Henry VIII. Its a nice way to make people aware of the history behind all the paintings and what each room is and its significance. It also explained about the times when kings used to stay in the Palace describing the various festivals, marriage and the routine of the king. It also shed light on the ways of living and elaborately spoke on the crest of the dynasty. In this case, the crest/coat of arms of the Wodeyar Dynasty which has ruled Mysore for many years.
A little bit about the Wadiyars and how they came to rule, (from the Official Virtual Tour Website of the Mysore Palace, http://www.mysorepalace.gov.in)

As the story goes, two young men, Vijaya and Krishna of the Yadu dynasty hailing from Dwaraka in Gujarat came to Mysore, after visiting Melkote on their pilgrimage. The two royal princes took shelter at the Kodi Bhyraveswara Temple, which was close to the Doddakere, from where people of then small city of Mysore fetched water for drinking and daily chore. At dawn, they heard some women, while washing closes discussing the distress situation of the young Princess Devajammanni. The death of her father, Chamaraja, the local ruler, had landed her and her mother, the queen, in trouble. Taking advantage of the situation, the neighbouring Chief of Karugahalli, Maranayaka, began demanding the kingdom and the princess in marriage. Taking the help of a Jangama Odeya, a Shaivite religious man, the two chivalrous brothers came to the rescue of the distressed Maharani and the Princess. Mobilising troops, they killed the Karugahalli Chief and his men and saved the Mysore royal family and their kingdom. A happy princess married the elder brother, Vijaya, and he became the first ruler of the Yadu dynasty. He assumed the name Yaduraya. Thus the traditional founding of the Wadiyar dynasty took place in 1399 with Yaduraya. Since then, 24 rulers have succeeded in the dynasty, the last being Jayachamaraja Wadiyar. It is during his period, India won freedom and later monarchy was abolished. With that ended the reign of the Mysore Maharajas.


The audio tape was the best part of the trip because it was so informative. But i would have to add its a rich man’s tool, because one audio tape comes for Rs. 200/- which the common man would not be bothered with.
The Palace was beautifully maintained and the paintings were beautifully kept. The rooms were exquisite and were beautifully detailed in the audio tapes. I mused on the Palaces i’d seen in Rajasthan and this and the difference was there for all to see. There were no spit markings here, no broken glass, no people treating the Palace like a park. The people were fascinated with the Palace and it still had its aura.


The Palaces of the West were in disrepair and the people there needed serious training in how to manage it. Also the history about the Palaces was not documented properly and guides were only out to make money they weren’t people who were genuinely interested in the history of the place. The difference in attitudes was the reason the Mysore Palace looked the way it did. Plus the paintings by Raja Ravi Varma made history come alive.
After going through all the rooms including the King’s conference chamber, the Diwaan-e-Aam(=courtyard where the king could address all the commoners) and through other chambers, we came out. There we had to give up the audio tapes and we could buy photos of the Mysore Palace (=authorised people selling the photos) and books on the Palace. These funds would be used for the upkeep of the palace. The way the Palace was maintained made me happy that somewhere efforts were being taken to preserve our monuments. After getting our shoes, we left for the hotel. We had some sugarcane juice. Outside the Palace, there were many sellers selling stuff like incense sticks(=agqarbatti) and carpets, curios. We got pictures of the West Gate in the setting sun.

After that we visited Swaroop’s place and then visited the Palace to see the illumination.


Nothing and i mean Nothing prepared us for the sight we were to see. The Palace looked so brilliant lit up that we couldn’t imagine looking at it in any other way. Stunning is what i can say. We had no words to express it. We could only stare. There were many people who came to see the palace illuminated. There were a lot of travellers and foreigners who came along with big backpacks. I dont have much to say except you must go and see the Palace once atleast. Pick up your bags and go!!!

Coming Up Next:Goodbye Mysore, Journey to Bangalore
The Illuminated Palace at nightThe Western Gate to the palace in the setting sunthe festive ladiesThe illuminated PalaceWow