History’s mysteries

Here are listed some of the interesting ones :
Tutankhamun tomb(1) Archaeologist Nicholas Reeves of the University of Arizona said this week that the Egyptian PHAROAH TUTANKHAMUN’S  tomb in the Valley of the Kings may be part of a larger complex that also houses a secret tomb containing the remains of his mother, QUEEN NAFERTITI, and her riches.  He made this announcement after studying high-resolution scans of the walls of the burial chamber, which revealed cracks suggesting the presence of two passages that were blocked and plastered to conceal their existence.
(2) SECRET CITY OF PATITI :  The story of EL DORADO, a city full of gold hidden in the South American rainforests, is one of the world’s most enduring legends.  It refers to the lost Incan city of PATITI, which emerged after a 40-year-war between the Spanish and the Incas of Peru.  The war ended in the 1570s.  The Spanish won, but when they entered the city, the Incans had disappeared with their vast reserves of gold.  The hunt for the treasure is still on.

QIN SHI HUANG tomb


(3) TREASURE TROVE OF KING JOHN “The Bad” :  A treasure trove of King John “The Bad” ———– who is said to have amassed a fortune in jewellery and gold through theft —– is rumoured to have been mislaid in 1216.  While travelling to Norfolk in UK, his soldiers got trapped in marshes and mud flats and died.  The King’s riches also disappeared.

(4) DECIPHERING COPPER SCROLL :  The Copper Scroll is a first century AD treasure inventory found in the caves of Qumran, Israel, in 1952.  Among 64 stashes are 65 bars of gold on the 3rd terrace in the cave of the old Washers House…… 70 talents of silver in wooden vessels in the cistern of a burial chamber in Matia’s courtyard.  The search continues.

oak island money pit(5) THE TOMB OF EMPEROR QIN SHI HUANG :  Emperor Huang (260-210 BC) was entombed in a vast underground city in China, surrounded by thousands of life-sized terracotta warriors that were discovered in 1974.  But, more than 40 years later, only a fraction of the site has been excavated.  Local legends say the tomb is surrounded by poisonous rivers of mercury.  Huge quantities of treasure —– and the Emperor’s body —– may be waiting to be discovered.

(6) OAK ISLAND MONEY PIT :  This 140-acre island in Nova Scotia, Canada, is among the most excavated sites in the world.  The legend dates back to 1795 when 16-year-old Daniel McGinnis noticed a circular mark on the island, as if a pit had been dug and filled in again.  Excited, he got digging, going down to 9.1metre.  But, he didn’t unearth any treasure.  Since than, excavations have reached 72metres ——- with US President Franklin D Roosevelt among many to dig there.
———NEWSICLE

Bizzare laws

Here are a few BIZARRE LAWS from around the world.  It is a crazy world out there, and in this mad world you have to live by the rules.  But there are some laws which are just plain BIZARRE, to put it mildly.  If you are planning your next vacation abroad, you might want to take a look at some of these BIZARRE LAWS.
bizarre-law(1) GREECE ——– Ever thought of having a destination wedding, which will be the talk of the town ?  But get this —– anyone getting married in Greece is required to publish their “wedding notice” in the Greek newspaper or in the Notice board of the City Hall.  If you are planning to get married there, we suggest carry extra bucks just for the newspaper advertisement.
(2) SWITZERLAND ———- Did you know that it is illegal to flush  the toilet after 10p.m. in Switzerland ?  The reason ?  Well, apart from noise pollution, the Swiss have taken the “love thy neighbour” commandment to the next level.  So, if you are planning to gorge on Swiss cheese, make sure it is for lunch.
(3) SPAIN ——– Planning a road trip in Spain ?  Well, ditch those flip-flops and pack in a pair of shoes.  Driving with flip-flops / sandals is illegal.  The traffic law states that a person needs to wear formal shoes while driving —- failing which you can be fined up to 150 euros.
(4) BOLIVIA —— The next time you are off on your Bolivian adventures, we suggest you go solo.  Because if you are a married woman in Bolivia, we’ve got news for you ——– there is a law that states that a married woman will be refused a 2nd glass of wine.
Bizarre laws(5) USA ——– Talk about specifics ——- if you are in Oklahoma and your donkey decides to nap in the bathtub after 7p.m. —— consider yourself a criminal.  We are not making this up.
(6) DENMARK ——- Denmark could sell itself as the perfect destination  for “budget holidays”.  The Danish take their “food servings” very seriously.  As a matter of fact, if you are dissatisfied with the quantity of food served, you can walk away without paying the bill.  It is not something we recommend, but that is the law.
(7) MILAN —– We know the Italians to be loud, boisterous and way too expressive  ——- but they aren’t showing any of this enthusiasm in Milan.  It is illegal in Milan “to frown”.  So, when in Milan, remember to turn that “frown ” upside down.
(8) ENGLAND ——- Imagine you are breathing your last.  Your life is flashing before your eyes.  Just wait for a minute, look around you and make sure you are not in the British Houses of Parliament ——— where, according to law, it is illegal “to die”.  The last thing you want to do on Earth (quite literally) is to die illegally.
———– NDTV Good Times.

Chained library

chained libraryA CHAINED LBRARY is a library where the books are attached to their bookcase by a chain, which is sufficiently long to allow the books to be taken from their shelves and read, but not removed from the library itself.
This would prevent theft of the library’s materials.  The practice was usual for REFERENCE LIBRARIES (that is the vast majority of libraries) from the Middle Ages to approximately the 18th century.  However, since the chaining process was also expensive, it was not used on all books.  Only the more valuable books in a collection were chained.  This included reference books and large books.
It is standard for “chained libraries” to have the chain fitted to the “corner” or “cover” of a book  This is because if the chain were to be placed o the “spine”, the book would suffer greater wear from the stress of moving it on or off the shelf.  Because of the location of the chain attached to the book (via a ringlet), the books are housed with their “spine” facing away from thereader with only the pages’ “fore-edges” visible. (that is, the “wrong” way round to people accustomed to contemporary libraries).  This is so that each book can be removed and opened without needing to be turned around, hence avoiding tangling its chain.  To remove the book from the chain, the librarian would use a key.
The earliest example in England of a library endowed for use outside an institution such as a school or college was the FRANCIS TRIGGE CHAINED LIBRARY in Grantham, Lincolnshire, established in 1598.  The library still exists and can justifiably claim to be the forerunner of later Public Library Systems.  
MARSH’S Library in Dublin, built in 1701, is another non-institutional library which is still housed in its original building.  Here, it was not the books that were chai, but rather, the readers were locked into cages to prevent rare volumes from “wandering”.  There is also an example of a Chained Library in the ROYAL GRAMMAR SCHOOL, Guildford, as well as at HEREFORD CATHEDRAL.  While chaining books was a popular practice throughout Europe, it was not used in all libraries.  The practice of chaining library books became less popular as printing increased and books became less expensive.
Chained libraryRecently , there has been increased interest in re-constructing “chained libraries”.  Worldwide, only 5 Chained Libraries have survived with their original furniture, chains and books.  This includes the library built in the Church of St. WALPURGA located in the small town of ZUTPHEN in the Netherlands.  This library was built in 1564.  The library is now a part of a museum that allows visitors to tour and view the library’s original books, furniture and chains.
Another Chained Library is the MALATESTIANA library in CESENA near Bologna in Italy, dating back to the Italian Renaissance. A lot of work has gone into  rebuilding and preserving these great libraries.  For example, many workers, over a decade and massive monetary donations  were spent to restore the MAPPA MUNDI and Chained Library museum located in Hereford, England.  Built over  900yrs ago, the library fell into disrepair and faced destruction.  The oldest chained book found in the library is the HEREFORD GOSPELS, written in the 8th century, it is one of 229 chained books located in this great library.  The Hereford Library is the largest surviving chained libraries with its chains and books intact.  The library is now open to the public as an attraction and museum.
The Chained Library in WIMBORNE MINSTER is the 2nd largest Chained Library in the UK.  The first donation came Chained librariesfrom Reverend William Stone.  These were theological books, used mainly by the clergy, and therefore were not chained.  When another local donor, Roger Gillingham, gave another 90 books in 1695, he insisted that the books be chained up, and that the Library should be opened, free, for the people of the town, provided they were “shop-keepers or the better class of people”.  There is also a Chained Library still surviving at WELLS CATHEDRAL in England.
Why were these books chained ?  During the Middle Ages and the early years of the Renaissance, books were generally kept in “book chests” known as ARMARIA or ALMERIES.  The chests were kept in a room that was usually locked and would likely have included other valuables belonging to the institution.  This room would not have been considered a library, as we understand the concept today, as it contained books, but did not allow free access to them and certainly wouldn’t have included space for reading the books.
On the contrary, most books would have been found, at any given time, in the hands of various scholars.  Loan systems were in place that allowed scholars to borrow books from the institution for a certain amount of time, often a single school year.  At the end of the year, the books would have to be returned, at which time they would be inspected both for signs of actual use to prove that the scholar hadn’t been  wasting the institution’s valuable resources and for the amount of care that was taken in their preservation.
In addition, there was often a “pledge system” in place that required the scholars to offer goods of equal value as a “guarantee” towards the safe return of the books.  While this may have seemed like an altogether satisfying arrangement, it was generally “ineffective” for 3 reasons.  First of all, books were extremely valuable, so the “pledges” for their safekeeping might have been prohibitively expensive.
Secondly, then as now, the books were susceptible to damage and loss.  Samuel Johnson, for example, was a “librarian’s nightmare”.  He borrowed books and used them as if they were his own —– writing notes in the margins and rarely returning them.  Finally, if a scholar was interested in looking at a book, he might have to wait at least a year to gain access to it.  In fact, if a student was not in favour with right people, he might not be able to gain access to certain books at all.

Aokigahara

Aokigahara forest


AOKIGAHARA is a forest that lies at the northwest base of Mount Fuji in Japan.  It is a 35sq.km forest and it contains a number of rocky, icy caverns, a few of which are popular tourist destinations.  AOKIGAHARA is also known as JUKAI (Sea of Trees) or SUICIDE FOREST.

The forest has an historic association with demons in Japanese mythology and is a popular place for “suicides” (57 in 2010), despite the signs posted in Japanese and English at the head of the main trail.  One of them, at the entrance reads: ” Your life is something precious, that was given to you by your parents.”, while another one states :”Meditate on your parents, siblings and your children once more.  Do not be troubled alone.”

aokigahara-forest-108


The forest floor consists primarily of volcanic rock and is difficult to penetrate with hand tools such as picks and shovels.  The forest, itself, is very dense and one can get lost easily if leaving the official trails.  Because of this, hikers and tourists trekking through AOKIGAHARA, in recent years, have begun to use plastic tapes to mark their paths, so as to avoid getting lost.
Past the designated trails leading to tourist attractions such as the NARUSAWA ICE CAVE, which is concentric-vertical and 201m long and FUGAKU WIND CAVE (also called LAVA CAVE) which is horizontal and 153m long.  These caves are designated as Japan’s natural monuments and even during mid-summers, visitors can see blocks of ice in them.

Aokigahara creepy


The forest is a popular place for “suicides”, reportedly the most popular in Japan.  Statistics vary, but what is documented is that during the period leading up to 1988, about 100 suicides occurred there every year.  In 2003, 105 bodies were found in the forest, exceeding the previous record of 78 in 2002.  In recent years, the local government has stopped publicizing the numbers in an attempt to downplay AOKIGAHARA’S association with suicides.  In 2014, 108 people killed themselves in the forest.  In 2010, it is estimated that more than 200 people had attempted suicide, 54 of whom completed the act..  Suicides are said to increase in March —– that is the end of the ‘fiscal year’ in Japan.


Aokigahara forest Japan


It is baffling why there is such a high rate in the country, but it has something to do with the Japanese “psyche”, and that many Japanese men feel rejected when retrenched.  Some of them had held important positions in their respective companies, including that of CEOs.  Unable to face their families and loved ones, they perhaps, in the manner of Samurai Warriors of the past, felt that suicide is one way to atone for their failures.

It is a “unique” forest in many ways —- there is barely any wildlife in here, thus it is very quiet, making it a popular destination among locals.  However, this quietness hides a more “macabre” side of it, in that it is the No.1 suicide spot for the Japanese.  Its quietness has attracted people to consider it a “haunted place”, and there are plenty of Japanese who would not dare enter the forest.  This resulted in even more myths surrounding AOKIGAHARA.  But,even if you are not attracted to ghost stories, the truth is, the place has a “special feeling” to it.
Lake_Sai_and_Aokigahara_from_Koyodai


The AOKIGAHARA has not always attracted 100s of people wishing to end their lives.  While there is some evidence that suggests that as far as the 19th century, it was a place where the Japanese carried their elders to die of starvation ( a practice called UBASUTE).  The forest became popular after the 1960s when a novel called TOWER OF WAVES by a famed author SEICHO MATSUMOTO was published.  Another book, from 1993 THE COMPLETE MANUAL OF SUICIDE by WATARU TSURUMI added fuel and increased suicide rates.  The author described the AOKIGAHARA as the perfect place to commit suicide and even described which parts of the forest are less circulated so the bodies cannot be found later on.  UBASUTE may have been practised in the forest which is reportedly haunted by the YUREI (angry spirits) of those left to die. AOKIGAHARA FOREST is dense, shutting out all but the natural sounds of the forest itself.

The apocalypse came here early

There is a place where beaches are made not of sand, but of the skeletons of millions of fish.
Luxury yacht clubs are now frequented only by pigeons, vacation homes lie open to the elements and RV camp grounds look more like burial grounds.  Not 60miles from the fresh golf courses and glitzy hotels of Palm Springs in California, lies the shell of


Salton city


a once-blooming resort town.  From a distance, like a “mirage in the desert”, SALTON RIVIERA still appears to be a beautiful place, but close up, it is a foul and feculent place.

The town conceived as a resort paradise, in the 60s and 70s, for boaters, water skiers and vacationers, the SALTON SEASIDE was once called the next PALM SPRINGS, hailed as the AMERICAN RIVIERA and a “miracle in the desert”.  Vacation homes popped up like cactus blossoms, holidaymakers flooded the beaches and yacht clubs served martinis with views of the sunset.
 The Salton Sea is the largest lake in California.  Its existence is also a total accident.  In 1905, flooding caused the Colorado River to spill over the man-made irrigation canals to pour into what was then known as the SALTON SINK ——— 40mls of pure desert.  It took two years to stop the flooding, by which time the largest lake in California had formed.  Half a century later and this desert land had become a holiday paradise.  The town’s population grew to 15,000 people, with 1000s more arriving on weekends.  But the paradise would not last.

Salton city abandones


What happened to this lush oasis, that it stands “eerily silent” as an empty wasteland of foul smells, abandoned homes and acres of dead fish ?  Disaster struck in the 1970s, when masses of fish died and floated to the surface.  What was killing the 1000s of fish was quickly identified as “agricultural runoff” from local farms into the Salton Sea.  The lake didn’t have enough drainage and had no ecosystems to refresh itself.


Salton City postcard


People stopped coming to the Salton Sea.  Vacation homes were abandoned, resort developments stopped in mid construction.  RVs, boats, spas and yacht clubs were all left behind.  Today, where 1000s once lived and played, only a few 100s remain in each of the tiny shore-side communities surrounded by the ruins of vacation homes.  Decades after being abandoned, the effects of water, sun and salt are clear.


Salton_sea_motel


The RV power hook-ups, throughout the camping sites, are like tombstones to the dead camp ground.  What looks to be like an old airstream trailer has been exposed to the environment for up to 40-50years.  As soon as a window broke or a crack opened, the environment entered the trailer and it became food for the environment.  Like the people, dribbling away from the toxic sea, the structural elements slowly disappeared from homes.


Salton Sea Photography


Buildings still have some structural frames in place, but there’s not much left.  Most of the recognizable materials will soon be buried deep beneath the Salton sands.  On any given day, you can wander around Salton City without seeing another soul.


Salton_City


Over the years, plans to revitalize the area and rebuild a town to inhabit up to 40,000 were proposed and even approved by government officials, despite the obvious environmental dangers.  But more years passed and the once-glamorous Riviera still remains as an “eerily silent and doomed wasteland”. ———— Ultimately, Salton City will probably go back to being the desert land it once was  ———– WITH A LOT OF GARBAGE ON IT.

Unusual food phobias

Strange are the ways the human mind works.  Sometimes, one can pet a tiger with ease, while at others, the mere thought of mushrooms on a plate or even eating with chopsticks can send shivers down your spine.  Food phobias can be as scary as fear of flying or heights.  Here’s looking at some of the UNUSUAL FOOD PHOBIAS.
There are a few phobias that could haunt meat eaters in their worst nightmares :
* ALEKTOROPHOBIA is the fear of chicken and, hence, even words like, ‘It tastes like chicken’ could be catastrophic for them.
* CARNOPHOBIA is the fear of meat in general.  These people try and avoid  even the sight of meat stalls.
* ICHTHYOPHOBIA is the fear of fish.  People suffering from this particular phobia cannot even look at aquariums, leave alone cooked fish.
food phobia*OSTRACONOPHOBIA  is the fear of shellfish.  While one would think shellfish allergy is scary, these people say that their fear is far worse.
If you thought meat phobias are scary, take a look at these:
*ALLUMPHOBIA is the fear of garlic.  These people try and stay away even from the smell and sight of garlic in a market or kitchen.
*LACHANOPHOBIA is the fear of vegetables.  While this would seem God-sent for children wanting to stay away from vegetables, it is a scary proposition in reality.
*MYCOPHOBIA is the fear of mushrooms.  These people get repulsed at the thought that mushrooms are fungi and grow on dirt.
And here are some bizarre phobias that relate to cooking and eating in general:
* CIBOPHOBIA is the fear of eating.  Now, think about the prospect of fighting every meal and getting over the fear every single time.  Scary, huh ?
* GEUMOPHOBIA is the fear of taste.  These people aren’t scared of food as such, but the thought of any new flavour scares them.
* PHAGOPHOBIA is the fear of swallowing.  This person would rather wish he had CIBOPHOBIA, considering he would never put the food in his mouth at all.
* MAGEIROCOPHOBIA is the fear of cooking.  Now that’s a convenient excuse for living off home delivery and eating out.
* CONSECOTALEOPHOBIA is the fear of eating with chopsticks.  They fear that the chopsticks could prove fatal to them, in some cases.
And, here there is something really bizarre ——–ARACHIBUTYROPHOBIA is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.  REALLY ?
———-Sunayana.Suresh@timesgroup.com.

Portmeirion

Portmeirion_view_of_central_plaza

PORTMEIRION is Britain’s most bizarre village.  It is the lifelong project of an eccentric architect, and the Welsh village is eclectic, impish irreverent and constantly reinventing itself.
Constructed in the 1920s on the sandy DWYRYD estuary of North Wales, beneath SNOWDONIA’S majestic peaks, the buildings in PORTMEIRION run the “stylistic gamut” :  Jacobean, Gothic, Norwegian and Regency.  They are pink and red, green and ochre.  Each roofline differs from the next.

Mediterranean inspired architecture of Portmeirion Wales


Eclectic, eccentric PORTMEIRION is one of the most recognisable attractions in Wales.  The lifelong project of an architect with a passion for beauty, it would have been easy for the village to be “frozen in time”, a relic of its 1920s heyday.  Instead, it has continued to change and evolve.  If there’s anything constant about PORTMEIRION —– other than its beauty — it is its capacity for reinvention.

portmeirion


In 1968, it was featured in the bizarre British Secret Agent television series : THE PRISONER.  Britain was still going through a self-imposed period of post-war ugliness and it seemed that there was a “grown-up” in the country who believed in beauty.  That “grown-up” a Welshman called Clough Williams-Ellis was born in 1883. He was a successful, but virtually self-taught architect —– and he despaired of the 20th century’s attachment to “functionalism” and “brutalism”.  He wanted to show, as he once wrote, “that buildings, properly situated within a landscape, could actually enhance the scenery”.

Portmeirion-25


In 1925, Williams-Ellis bought a small estate on the edge of Snowdonia and started proving his point by building on pretty, wooded slopes that ran down to the estuary.  There was, already, a gentleman’s residence on the estate which he immediately turned into a hotel.  Williams-Ellis always intended that his village —— which he called PORTMEIRION, a fanciful name coined from MERIONETHSHIRE, one of the 13 historic counties of Wales ——— would be a tourist destination.

PORTMEIRION colonnade-cropped

There were a few other buildings, too, mainly stables and outbuildings, which Williams-Ellis embellished in a colourful manner that owed more to style than necessity.  CLOUGHED UP became a fashionable term for his technique.  He painted shutters and the façade of one cottage, attached a statue of St. Peter to another.  His approach was as irreverent as his style.  He would draw his concept, then let his builders work out how to achieve it.
But most of the village was new —— in the sense that new uses were found for old, salvaged pieces of architecture.  In the years after World War — 1 & 2, modernising architects were demolishing  a lot of Britain’s architectural heritage.  Williams-Ellis acquired buildings or their parts to reuse ——– so much so that he declared PORTMEIRION ” a home for fallen buildings”.  His pseudo TOWN HALL, for example, used a carved Jacobean ceiling that the architect purchased and also recycled an upturned pig-boiler, to create a copper-painted coronet on its spire.

Portmeirion bizzare


PORTMEIRION plays impishly with the perspective, too, UNICORN, a pink Palladian “cottage” has far fewer steps to get from the road outside to the front door : the NEO-CLASSICAL façade, tacked on to the building, makes it look much larger, from far away, than it really is.
Williams-Ellis and his writer wife Amabel hoped that their village would inspire painters.  But artists never arrived ——– perhaps, ironically, because PORTMEIRION was already a “work of art”.  Still, thanks to Amabel’s contacts, with the London literati, many celebrities were soon accepting invitations, including the playwright George Bernard Shaw, novelist H. G. Wells, architect Frank Lloyd Wright and director Noel Coward who famously wrote his play BLITHE SPIRIT here in 1941, having left London to escape the Luftwaffe Bombing).   ——————- When Edward, Prince of Wales ——- perhaps the most eligible man of his generation ——–came to visit in 1943, Williams-Ellis added a private suite to one of the hotel rooms and temporarily increased the village’s entrance fee to 1pound, to keep down day-tripper numbers.  By World War -2, PORTMEIRION had become a “visual and social phenomenon”, so much so that Williams-Ellis bought a hotel in the Shropshire Market Town of Shrewsbury, to act as a half-way house for those motoring up from London.

PORTMEIRION


In the 1960s, there was a sliding-scale of admission charges indicated on the toll-house wall : payment depended on whether you were a resident, annual pass member or day-tripper.  (“residents” referred to overnight guests at the resort as no one, aside from Ellis, owned property).  Not that the prices were always followed.  The cost of a day-pass could suddenly go up in the middle of the day if the village got too crowded, as Ellis wanted his residents to feel relaxed and at home.  For all his quirky instincts as an architect, Williams-Ellis had a clear streak of British pragmatism.  He needed PORTMEIRION to pay for itself or he would not be able to fund his vision.
Today, PORTMEIRION is always busy.  And, while fine dining is still offered in the hotel’s art-decoding room, the village is more egalitarian, the sliding-scale of prices abolished.

Portmeirion_-_Toll_House_1a_St.Peter_und_Widder


It seemed surprising that such a famous anomaly could survive into the 21st century —— never mind become more popular than ever before.  “The village has always muddled along.  Various members of the family have often pursued their own interests, but, somehow, this has worked to the long-term benefit of PORTMEIRION,” says Williams-Ellis’ grandson and PORTMEIRION’S MD, the writer —– Robin.  Susan, Williams-Ellis’ daughter founded PORTMEIRION POTTERY, ceramics based on her original designs, in Stoke-on-Trent in 1960.
Clough Williams-Ellis always wanted PORTMEIRION to be a place for things to happen, where events might take place, to be a setting.  He did not like the idea of PORTMEIRION being, in any way, a “sterile museum of architecture”.