PIPLANTRI is a village located in RAJSAMAND District in Rajasthan State.

The villagers of Piplantri plant 111 trees every time a girl child is born, and the community ensures these trees survive, attaining fruition as the girls grow up.  Over the years, people have managed to plant over a quarter million trees on the village’s grazing commons, including neem, sheesham, mango and amla among others.


To ensure financial security, after the birth of a girl child, the villagers contribute 21,000 rupees collectively and take 10,000 rupees from the parents and put the amount in a FD, which can be broken when she is 20 years old.  To make sure the child receives proper education, the villagers make the parents sign an affidavit which also restricts them from marrying her off before she attains the legal age for marriage.



Shyam Sundar Palwal, the former Sarpanch (village head) started this initiative in memory of his daughter (Kiran) who died a few years ago.  The initiative begun in 2006 has turned Piplantri Village into an oasis.  The planting of the trees have raised the water level.  IT has also helped the village economy.  To keep termites away from the trees, many of which bear fruit, the village has planted more than 2.5million Aloe Vera plants around them.  Gradually, the villagers realised that Aloe Vera could be processed and marketed in a variety of ways.  So, the community now produces and markets Aloe Vera products like juice and gel, pickle and other items.  So, for the last several years, Piplantri is quietly practising its own home-grown eco-feminism and achieving spectacular results.  On an average 60 girls are born every year in Piplantri.


People also plant 11 trees whenever a family member dies.  The Village Panchayat, which has a studio-recorded anthem and a website of its own, has completed banned alcohol, open grazing of animals and cutting of trees.  Villagers claim that there has been no police case since the last seven or eight years.

Piplantri is well-known for its marble mining industry.  In this Gram Panchayat, the famous R. K. Marbles is located whose name is recorded in the Guinness Book of World Record for maximum production of marbles.


The village was awarded by the Rajasthan Government and included in Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Adarsh Gram Yojna and it is the only village from Rajsamand to get selected for it.

—————- Mahim Pratap Singh for The Hindu. 


Zutphen streets

ZUTPHEN is a town in the province of GELDERLAND in the Netherlands  It lies some 30km northeast of ARNHEM on the eastern bank of the IJSSEL. at the point where it is joined by the BERKEL.

The name ZUTPHEN , 1st mentioned in the 11th century, appears to mean ZUID –VEEN or in English SOUTH –FEN. Zutphen is also twinned with the English town of Shrewsbury, in the Midlands County of SHROPSHIRE.

Zutphen artistic

It is an historic city, and has existed since Roman times, and received its city rights in 1190, making it one of the oldest “medieval cities” in the Netherlands.  The city was voted as having the best city-centre of the Netherlands in the category of small cities in 2006.  It has an untouched historic city-centre that gives you the feeling of travelling 100s of years back in time.  It is also a “car-free” city.


ZUTPHEN is located in a river valley at the River IJSSEL, a side branch of the Rhine known as NEDERRIJN.  The city lies at the border of the hilly forested VELUWE region and the more flat and agriculture ACHTERHOEK.  The language spoken is Dutch and nearly everyone speaks English and German is widely understood.

Zutphen tower

Inside the city everything is within walking distance.  The railway station is located 200m away from the edge of the old city-centre.  Walking from one side of the city-centre to the other side takes about 20 -30 minutes.  In order to see the city, it is best to cycle. ——— The Dutch Tourist Promotion slogan, TORENSTAD, means TOWER – CITY, which refers to the large number of towers.  The largest is the WALBURGKERK located at the square where the city originated.  It is one of the largest Churches in the country.  Guided tours are available organised by the VVV located opposite the railway station.  These tours will also allow you to visit the visit the medieval “chained library” ————-LIBRIJE ——- here books have been kept secure since the 1600s by chaining them to the desks.


ZUTPHEN is also known as an “alternative city”.  There are multiple “alternative grocery stores”, which offer a variety of “organic food”.  The most important ones are the GIMSEL, located in the LANGEHOFSTRAAT, half away between the WIJNHUISTOREN and the new city hall on the western side of the street, and the COEHOOM, located in the NIEUWSTAD quarter, between the Catholic St. John’s Church (SINT JANSKERK) and the Synagogue.


About 300AD, a Germanic settlement was the 1st permanent town on a complex of low river dunes.  Whereas many such settlements were abandoned in the early Middle Ages, ZUTPHEN on the strategic confluence of IJSSEL & BERKEL stayed, and became a local centre of governance under a Count.  The Normans raided and ravaged it in 882.  Afterwards, a circular fortress was built to protect the “budding” town against Viking attacks.

Chocoladefestival Zutphen

In the 11th century ZUTPHEN was a Royal residence for a number of years :  a PFALZ was built, together with a large CHAPTER CHURCH, the predecessor of the present ST. WALBURGIS.  The Counts of ZUTPHEN acquired a lot of power until the line of Counts became extinct in the 12th century The settlement received town rights between 1191 & 1196.  This allowed it to self-govern and have a judicial court.  Thus, ZUTPHEN became the “mother-town” of several other towns.  It also became part of the HANSEATIC LEAGUE, a group of towns with great wealth and this league was the economic centre in that part of Europe.

De kolensteeg in Zutphen op een zonnige dag.

The largest and oldest Church is ST. WALBURGIS, which originally dates back to the 11th century.  The present Gothic building contains monuments of the former Counts of Zutphen, a 14th century candelabrum, an elaborate copper font (1527) and a monument to the VAN HEECKEREN family (1700).  The Chapter House of the LIBRIJE contains a pre-Reformation library which includes some valuable manuscripts and INCUNABULA.  It is considered one of the only 5 surviving Chained Libraries in Europe. (the other 4 being in England and Italy).


Trees are yogis

Lord Krishna states in the Bhagwad Gita, “I am Peepal among trees”.  Trees are Mahayogis.  As an evolved human spreads divine aura, joy and peace, so do trees.  The moment it sprouts from earth, it spreads its arms (branches) towards the sky to receive all energies, head held high to get connected to universal life force for growth, yet rooted on earth.  It flows with natural forces, making itself stronger, taller and beautiful.

Radha Krishna

Trees always give just like the rest of Nature, teaching and reminding us that giving is the Law of Nature.  If we imbibe this, it will make the atmosphere pleasant and congenial for growth.  Tree is a Guru and reflection of the Supreme Provider..  It is the provider of bounties which are required for our healthy and natural survival.  That is why a tree reflects what it is to be alive, without thrusting and enforcing anything or being a doer.  It is alive till the last moment, and even when it perishes, every part of the tree is of great value.  There is no human habitat which does not have something made out of a tree or its produce.  Trees impart manure to earth  and its roots provide shelter to insects which live underground and nourish the soil.

No matter how much a human plucks its leaves and scratches its bark, the tree never retaliates.  It continues to be patient and does its karma.  Trees are a source of livelihood to so many.  Magnificent is the life of trees that spreads life force to all, giving shade to the tired souls and fruits to everyone, irrespective of caste, creed …….. and provide a restful abode to birds.  Trees are a great source of inspiration to writers, poets, philosophers and visionaries.  Wisdom dawns on those who do intense sadhna and dhyana under densely leafed old trees.  Buddha attained enlightenment under the natural canopy of the Bodhi tree.

big tree

Trees are the most beautiful poetic expression of Supreme Intelligence.  Trees are the embodiment of sensitivity also.  What you feel when you touch it or nurture it, reflects in its blossoming or flourishing the significance of feel.

Those who plant trees in faraway places bring salvation to ancestors and future generations, according to the Shiva Purana.  The one who plants Tulsi by igniting Vishnu, gets fruits of performing 100 yajnas, states the Padma Purana.
There is a shloka in Subhasittam : The tree provides shade while standing in the sun, bearing fruits for the benefit of others, like real virtuous SAT PURUSHA.”  Expect nothing from others like a true yogi and derive energy from the Eternal Source.  The Tree’s mission is welfare and nourishment for all, providing shelter and nutrients to even those who pelt stones at it, giving truly a great message of unconditional love by being most silent and graceful spokesperson of nature.  
Let us all realise and get enlightened by the purest wisdom of the Tree that plays the Divine Music of harmony and peace, in perfect sync with nature and like the tree, let us spread love an light all around.
—————— Meena Om.



Iriomote island trip

IRIOMOTEJIMA is a remote island located approximately 31km (40mins. by regular ferry) from ISHIGAKIJIMA, and is the 2nd largest island in OKINAWA Prefecture, after the main island of Okinawa.

About 90% of the island is covered with sub-tropical, highly primeval forests that exude an atmosphere of unspoiled wilderness.  Endemic species of animals, including the IRIOMOTE WILDCAT and Crested Serpent Eagle inhabit this island.


Visitors are invited to participate in one of many eco-tours that are organized here, in order to savour the natural environment of IRIOMOTEJIMA.  Traffic accidents are one of the main factors behind the threat posed to the survival of the IRIOMOTE WILDCAT and other examples of valuable wildlife on the island.  Please observe posted speed limits and drive carefully I consideration of the welfare of wild animals on IRIOMOTEJIMA.

Iriomote Jima

The URAUCHI RIVER : The region in which the headwaters of the URAUCHI River, the largest river in Okinawa Prefecture, is located remains one of the finest, unspoiled, sub-tropical, broad-leaved evergreen forests in Japan, and the views to be obtained here are some of the best IRIOMOTEJIMA — ISHIGAKI National Park has to offer.  The forest zone largely consists of CASTANOPSIS SIEBOLDII trees.  QUERCUS MIYAGII KOIDZ trees grow along low-lying river valley areas, while FICUS BENGUTENSIS & MACHILUS JAPONICA trees inhabit river valley areas further upstream.


As this region is one in which wild animals and plants endemic to the YAEYAMA ISLANDS live and breed, it is also very valuable in an academic sense.  Persons wishing to pass through the headwaters region to traverse IRIOMOTEJIMA will need to submit a notification of forest entry in advance to the forestry office and to the police.  In recent years, there have been a number of cases involving mishaps attributed to rashly formulated and executed mountaineering plans. There is a mangrove forest by the mouth of the river that can be explored from a pleasure boat or a canoe.  Trek for one hour to reach MARIYUDU FALLS, the only waterfall in Okinawa Prefecture to be selected one of the 100 finest waterfalls in Japan.

Iriomote Island

Walk for a further 5mins. to come to KANPIRE FALLS, a sacred site on the island.  This course will allow you to survey the fauna and flora inhabiting the various environments extending from the mangrove forest to the mountain streams upriver with ease.

Nakama river

NAKAMA RIVER :  In the upstream section of the NAKAMA River, the source of which can be traced back to Mount GOZA-DAKE, visitors can see a sub-tropical, broad-leaved evergreen forest, as well as groves of UBUNDORU YAEYAMA palm trees,, which have been collectively designated a protected natural monument by the National Government.  Japan’s largest mangrove forest consisting primarily of lack mangroves and Yaeyama mangroves, extends along the riverbank from the mouth to the middle reaches of the river and can be explored by boat or canoe..  Travel up to a disembarkation point upstream to see Japan’s largest DRYAND tree, said to be 4 centuries old.  Of particular interest is the fact the “plate-like buttress roots” have been produced to support the trunk of this tree.  The NAKAMAGAWA Observatory has been built along a “walking trail” to afford a fantastic panoramic view of the meandering flow of the NAKAMA River and the mangrove forest that grows here.

Urauchi river

PINAISARA FALLS is situated along the upper reaches of the HINAI River, and is the largest waterfall in the Okinawa Prefecture.  The growing popularity of canoeing and trekking in recent years has led to concerns over the impact that such activities will have on the natural environment.  Visitors are encouraged to conduct themselves appropriately in this area, such as being accompanied by a tour guide.

From skyscraper to plyscraper


If the 20th century was the century of the Skyscraper, then the 21st century is shaping up as the century of the PLYSCRAPER —– a tower block made entirely from wood.
A PLYSCRAPER is a skyscraper made out of engineered-lumber such as cross-laminated-timber (CLT), which is composed of dried lumber which is stacked in a 90degree “L” shape, and fully glued over.  It makes for a strong, flexible green building.  By the end of 2015, an estimated 40-48% of new non-residential constructions, by value, will be green.  The Obama Administration, in co-operation with lumber industry groups, is currently offering a  $2million prize for the most innovative PLYSCRAPER design.  With green buildings on the rise and stimulating the economy, the timing of this contest should come as no surprise.

plyscraper in vogue

Despite the historical reputation of wood for great  city fires —— London in 1666, the Great Chicago fire of 1871 and San Francisco in 1960 ——- WOOD is making a comeback as “construction material” and how.  Vancouver-based architects MGA recently completed a 97ft wooden building.  Next year, in Vienna, construction will begin on a 275ft PLYSCRAPER, and Stockholm may build a 34-storey wooden apartment by 2023.  Others in the pipeline are from Canada to Australia to Europe.  Vancouver-based architect Michael Green, says the momentum is gaining as new engineered-woods allow for greater strength and heights in buildings.  Moreover, faster construction times and a softer environmental impact, could the building material of the past be the future of construction ? But, he said, news of taller wooden structures is sprouting up all the time.  “There seems to be a new announcement every 2 or 3 weeks.  We’ve got one in Vancouver for 18 storeys, and in Vienna there’s one for more than 20 storeys.  We’ve done research in high earthquake zones, that show 30 storeys is FEASIBLE.  We certainly think we can go up to 40 and higher.”


Michael Green said that new developments in engineered-woods —— small wood components that are glued together to make large panels for a building —— are  a “game-changer” for construction.  Mass timber panels, in particular, cross-laminated-timber (CLT) are becoming established as a quicker, greener and, eventually, cheaper alternative to concrete and steel.  One great bonus of the material is the “speed of construction” —— panels can be made to measure, in the factory, with openings, windows and doors. While the main advantage of working in wood are manifold —— it is flexible, robust and easily worked, Green says that wood may be the only material to address the growing problems of urbanization.  Wood has not been looked as “urban material”, so we looked at how it could be the contributor to urban environments.  There are a whole host of advantages.  Steel and Concrete have huge “carbon footprints”.  Concrete accounts for about 6-8% of man’s greenhouse gas emissions, whereas Wood “sequesters” carbon dioxide and gives us a vehicle to create “carbon-neutral buildings.

The energy used to harvest Wood is much less than the enormous amount required to produce Concrete and Steel.  Green says, “There is no other building material that is grown by the Sun.  We’ve calculated that the North American forests grow enough wood for a 20-storey PLYSCRAPER every 8-10mins.  Ultimately, building in wood, creates an economic incentive to plant more forests.  The climate story is really happening at both ends of the argument ——– by using more wood we encourage countries, around the world, to plant more trees.  About 20% of man’s carbon footprint comes from “de-forestation” and this creates an important incentive for “re-forestation”.

plyscraper (1)

In terms of “carbon footprints”, a 20-storey PLYSCRAPER put against its counterpart in Concrete and Steel, is equivalent to taking 900 cars off the road for a year.  But the established nature of concrete and steel means that CLT will not replace urban building materials overnight.  Concerns over fire and inherent problems with its acoustic qualities (apartments need additional acoustic measures to keep noise from travelling) have meant that the construction establishment has been slow to come to the party.  In Vienna, for example, the Austrian Fire Services are working with architects to test their plans. —– “The main factor is that everyone wants to build higher and higher buildings  An 84-metre-high building, in Europe,  is not usual and there are a lot of necessities that have to be realized,” fire service spokesman Christian Wegner told The Guardian newspaper, “a few of us were upset because it was crazy to present an idea like this that has not been discussed with everyone yet.  They have to carry special tests on the correct combination of concrete and wood.  We also want to develop a more “fail-safe” sprinkler system.  I expect they will pass the tests, but if they develop the buildings, as they say they will, it will be a serious project.”

Green counters that CLT is as fire-resistant as other new-builds made by traditional means and likens its ability to burn to trying to set a redwood on fire with a lit match, with any charring creating an “insulation layer” that protects the wood underneath.  Even so, the  industry remains largely sceptical of a process that —- while having obvious advantages in terms of speed —- is still on par with steel and concrete constructions in terms of cost.  Green said, “It will become cheaper, but it’s too new to be significantly less expensive, and the difficulty lies in competing with a “well-honed” and “century-old” system of designing buildings and budgeting for concrete and steel.  The culture of building and the culture of developing buildings is very “conservative”, Green said, “The hardest part of my job, is not the engineering and the design or the innovation, it’s really about changing the public’s perception of what is possible.”
Ultimately, buildings of the future are likely to be a mixture of wooden components and concrete and steel, thus combining the “stability of concrete” with the “flexibility and speed of wood.”  Leading timber specialist at ARUP, Andrew Lawrence, said that, “Clients are missing a trick with wood.  Dollar-for-dollar as a pure construction material, wood can still struggle to be cheaper than concrete.  What you need to do, if you want an economic solution, is to think about all the aspects from the outset.  You will save on the program, because it’s all dry and is quick to erect and potentially, if you are making an office building, you can leave a lot of the wood “exposed” saving on the cost and time of installing finishes.  Moreover   , clients will gain a building that looks good too.  Studies show that people are happier inside wooden structures.”
PLYSCRAPERS could be the future of flat-pack-cities around the world.  In Christchurch —- The Merritt Building welcomed its 1st multi-storeyed timber structure this year, there are plans for Vancouver, and, the talk is China could follow.  Just as the world’s 1st Skyscraper, built by William Le Baron Jenney in Chicago in 1884 (called a spindly steel skeleton) solved the issue of the dense, stunted buildings in the 19th century, architects and engineers are seeking new ways of building faster and taller without having a drastic impact on the environment.  And, that has seen them revisit the most basic building material of them all : WOOD.
Super firm SOM —– the architects behind the One World Trade Centre and the Burj Khalifa —- are considering using wood for high-rise constructions.  Wooden Skyscrapers, or should we say PLYSCRAPERS  are “smoking hot.”  —COULD YOU, WOOD YOU ????????

A clean house the vintage way

According to research, just 49% people give their homes a yearly spring cleaning blitz, and over 60% admit to caring less about it than their parents did. Keeping  clean house nowadays may entail using products that are packed full of harsh chemicals  So, why not get back to basics ?
The National Trust and Good Energy has plenty of “vintage cleaning tips” that will leave your home sparkling at a fraction of the cost., without harming your health or the environment.
naturaL CLEANING PRODUCTS(1) REVAMP YOUR CUTLERY :  To return your knives and fork to their former glory, peel a couple of large onions and plunge a knife or fork in to the onion, 3-4 times.  Any tarnish should disappear by doing this.
(2)  DITCH AIR FRESHENER :  For a zesty and 100% natural way to get your rooms smelling fresh, make your own home fragrance.  Get an empty spray bottle and add one part lemon juice to two parts water and spritz generously around the house.  Not only do lemons smell refreshing, they also have anti-bacterial properties that make them great for banishing germs.  Try dotting a few bunches of fresh or dried lavender around the place too —– they smell lovely and also keeps moths at bay.
(3)  POLISH YOUR WOODWORK :  Ditch the pongy tins of polish and opt for lemon juice and olive oil instead.  Mix one part lemon juice with two parts olive oil, and buff your wood to perfection.  It might seem a bit like you’re cleaning with salad dressing at first, but once you see how shiny your floors and tables are, you’ll be a convert.
lemon natural cleaner(4) SORT OUT THOSE SINKS :  For sinks and bathtubs so shiny that you can see your reflection in them, rub half a grapefruit over the surfaces before sprinkling generously with salt.  Leave for 10 minutes and then scrub off with a sponge and hot water.
(5) GET POTS & PANS SPICK & SPAN :  If your pots or utensils have stubborn stains that won’t come off, take a tip from the original domestic goddess, Mrs. Beeton.  Mix a cup f warm water with a tablespoon of baking soda, then use a stale crust of bread dipped in the solution to scrub the stains away.  Rinse with warm water and your pots will be like new.
(6) FRESHEN UP RUGS :  There are several traditional ways to spring-clean your rugs, but the most effective way is also the easiest —– simply sprinkle your rugs or carpets liberally with bicarbonate of soda and leave for 15 minutes.  Then, sweep or hoover up the powder and watch the dirt and fustiness vanish.
Using natural products to clean the house is more economical.

Living root bridges

Living root bridge Meghalaya

Living Root Bridges are to be found in Cherrapunji, Laitkynsew and Nongriat in the present-day of Meghalaya State of North East India.

living root bridge Meghalaya

Root Bridges are made by an ingenious technique.  The tiny hair-thin hanging roots of a Banyan fig tree are intertwined with boughs and twigs and allowed to grow naturally.  After a few years, the intertwined roots and branches become strong enough for people to use it as a bridge across the stream.  The pliable tree roots are trained to grow through betel tree trunks which are placed across the gap, until the figs’ roots take root on the other side.  Sticks, stones and other inclusions are placed with the growing bridge.  This process can take up to 15yrs to complete.  There are specimens spanning over 100ft.  The useful lifespan, once complete, is thought to be 500-600yrs.  They are “naturally self-renewing” and “self-strengthening” as the component roots grow thicker.

living root bridge tree india Meghalaya 10

The local Khasi people do not know when or how the tradition of “living root bridges” started.  The earliest written record about them is by Lieutenant H. Yule in 1844.  The “living root bridge” at Laitkynsew is 53ft long.  Locally known as JINGKIENG DEINGJRI which means “bridge of the rubber tree”, this bridge is remarkable in that it is more than 100yrs old.  The chief advantage of a “living root bridge” is that it does not get washed away by the strong currents of the rains, but remains permanent and, in fact, grows stronger year by year.

Living root bridge

You can enjoy beautiful travel delights in Meghalaya as it is a unique destination.  Visually a kaleidoscope of energy and vibrancy, Meghalaya brings forth to you the “incredible root bridges”, which are not only “natural structures” but absolutely “lovely living structures”  These ‘root bridges” are one of the best examples of “living architecture” here.  They were initially constructed by people from the nearby villages around the lovely Cherrapunji region which is a “dream place”.


These “root bridges” lie at the foot of the Meghalaya Plateau.  The Khasi people have actually trained the branches and the roots of trees to result in “living bridges” across the rivers.  These bridges, today, seem to belong to God and are very close to Mother Nature.  Once these bridges become totally functional, their life span is 500-600yrs.  This period is much longer than that of a conventional bridge.

WAHTHYLLONG living root bridge

The surface of the bridge has bits of wood and rocks added to the mix, so that it is easier to cross.  There is also another reason why wood is added.  The wood decomposes and it gives nutrients to the roots of the tree growing around it.  The area gets about 15mts of rain each year.  So, a normal wooden bridge would completely rot.  But the “growing bridges” are alive and they are still growing, so they gain strength over a period of time.  The “hanging bridges”, made out of roots, is a very special feature of tours to Meghalaya.

living root bridge India

All Khasi villages are connected by a network of stone pathways known as the “King’s Way”.  Throughout this network 100s of “living root bridges” form the bridleways over the myriad of water channels that criss-cross the area.  The bridge at WAHTHYLLONG, is the most beautiful of all the bridges, in the East Khasi Hills and it was featured in Human Planet.

living room bridge_Meghalaya

In the dry season, women come to this place to wash their clothes and a trip here, at sunrise, is an “unforgettable experience”.  This is certainly a “magical place”, augmented by the beautiful nature of the Khasi people.  The view from above reveals the majesty of this masterpiece.  It is “organic engineering at its best”.  The development and upkeep of these bridges is a community affair.  Lesser known than their cousins (living root bridges), but equally fascinating are the Khasi’s “living root ladders”.

double living root bridge

Nongriat is a village containing the somewhat more famous “double-decker” root bridge and it has remained a relatively unaffected by the boom in indigenous travelling, mainly because there is still no road there..  So, getting to Nongriat is more complicated.  Look for the Sohra Sumo and take the first one available for Rp50.  (SOHRA is the Khasi name for Cherrapunji).  from there you need to hire a small taxi to get you to TYRNA, which is the village where the road ends.  It will cost you about Rp200 and it takes about one and a half hours.  From Tyrna, you have to start walking, then descend the 2,004 steps down to NONG THYMMAI and then on to Nongriat over 2 “suspension bridges” and a couple of “root bridges” (about one and a half hours).  The guest house in Nongriat is just on the other side of the “double-decker” bridge and costs about Rp400 a night.  In the rainy season, this is quite a walk and you may be advised to pay a local to carry your largest bag.  The going rate is Rp100 per trip.  Thes “living root bridges” are sustainable and environmentally-friendly architecture.

living root bridge_India



The town of Pripyat is in northern Ukraine, near the border with Belarus.  It is situated on the bank of the Pripyat which flows into Dnieper.  The town itself is young, yet the territory it was built on is very old., known as Polesie (literally : forest land).  This endless terrain of woodlands and marshes stretches across the south-east of Belarus and Northern Ukraine.


Some scholars believe that it was in Polesie that the eastern Slavs appeared as the distinctive, ethnic and cultural group.  More than a 1000 years ago, this territory was a part of Kievan Russia, the early medieval forerunner of the modern states of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.  The adjoining areas are rich in archaeological and historical sites, ranging from the Stone Age to the later Middle Ages.


The nearby town of Chernoboyle , whose name was first given to the power plant, and later, became a synonym of the greatest ecological catastrophe humankind has ever seen, possesses the history of many centuries.  From the Middle Ages, it had a strong Jewish population, whose religious leaders are still venerated by the Jews.

pripyat rooftop

Pripyat was officially called ATOMOGRAD (the town of the atomic scientists and workers), the 9th settlement of its kind in the USSR.  The town was far from being a mere industrial settlement.  The existing railway station of Yanov was close to the city.  The newly-built river port immediately extended the river Pripyat fairway that amounted to 591km in 1976.  The convenient highway network made it suitable for the passenger bus operation between the adjacent villages and towns.  For instance, the time-table fro May 21, 1982 lists 52 departures and arrivals of the 14 daily services.


By November 1985, the town of Pripyat had 47,500 citizens of 25 ethnic groups.  The annual increase in population was more than 1,500.  Half of them were babies born to the citizens, the rest being the settlers who moved to Pripyat from various parts of the Soviet Union.  It was natural that the people aimed to settle in Pripyat.  Designed as the exemplary socialist town, it had all the commodities and attractions a Soviet city could dream of.
It was frequently visited by the excursions and official delegations of similar new-built settlements and cities, who studied Pripyat’s experience and styled themselves after her.  The streets and avenues received the traditional Soviet names.  Apart from the high street, which was to bear the name of Lenin, one would find People’s Friendship Street and Stalingrad Heroes’ Street.  There were the Embankment Street and the Prospects of Builders and Enthusiasts.  One of the main streets was named after Lesya Ukrainka, the 19th century Ukranian poet.  Las, but not the least, the nuclear theme was not forgotten.  The city had Kurchatov Street for Igor Kurchatov who was the founding Father of the Soviet Nuclear Program.


Pripyat is a “mono-centric” town.  The administrative buildings such as the Gorsovet (Town’s Council) and Gorkom (Town’s Committee of the Communist Party) are situated in the centre of the city along with the cultural and recreational facilities, namely Prometheus Cinema, Energetic Cultural Centre, which housed the Theatre, the Library, dancing and meeting halls and various hobby clubs.  The department stores and supermarkets were built next to them.


The city planning of Pripyat followed the “Triangle Principle”, which is based on an apt combination of the living towers and the standard blocks of flats.  It saves much land, which, in its own turn, may be turned into the green areas and gardens.  Free spaces between the structures make the urban area less visually dense.  The Soviet architects aimed to make life more comfortable with the use of extensive spaces between the blocks and equiangular thoroughfare planning.
Soviet Leader, Leonid Breznev paid considerable interest to the city planning and used to give personal advice to the architects.  Therefore the “Equiangular Principle” of the street layout was employed as a standard rule of the Soviet City Planning.  Pripyat and 10 other new cities, which were styled after her, were made “traffic-jam-safe”.  Indeed towns like Volgodonsk and Togliatti are never jammed during the rush hours even today.

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Sailing stones

Sailing stone
SAILING STONES, SLIDING ROCKS & MOVING ROCKS, all refer to a GEOLOGICAL PHENOMENA, where rocks, known to be weighing 700lbs. move and inscribe  long tracks, along a smooth valley floor, UNAIDED BY GRAVITY, and human and animal intervention.
The rocks move only every 2 or 3yrs. and most tracks develop over 3 or 4yrs.  Rocks, with rough bottoms leave straight, striated tracks, while those with smooth bottoms, tend to wander.  Rocks, sometimes, turn over, exposing another edge to the ground and leaving a different track —— in the rock’s wake.
Trails differ in, both, direction and length.  Rocks that start next to each other, may travel parallel, for a time, before one abruptly changes direction —– to the left, right or even back to the direction from which it came.  Trail length also varies. —- 2 similar-sized and shaped rocks may travel uniformly, then one could move ahead or stop in its tracks.
Tracks of SAILING ROCKS have been observed or studied in various locations and, most notably, in the DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, California, where the number and length of tracks are notable.  These tracks have been studied since 1900s, yet the origins of STONE MOVEMENT have not been confirmed.  However, as of August, 2014, time-lapse video footage of ROCKS MOVING, has been published, showing the rocks moving at low-wind speeds within the flow of thin, melting sheets of ice or WINDOW-PANES of ICE, and thus identified the cause of the sailing stones to be ICE SHOVE, which pushes rocks up to 5mts per minute.
According to Huffington Post, researchers from John Hopkins university, have now determined that the rocks move only under a specific set of conditions.  First water must flood the area at a level just deep enough for the bases of the rocks to be surrounded by a thin WINDOW-PANE of ICE.  If these PANES are big enough, even a light wind is enough to move the ICE-RINGED ROCKS.  Once, in motion, the rocks move in fits and starts, sometimes making abrupt changes in direction as the wind shifts.