Considering the length of China’s existence, there is no doubt time has left its legacy here with many exceptional iconic sites. On Goway’s Splendours of China group tour, Beijing offers three major attractions. Let’s start with Tiananmen Square in the heart of the city. It is the largest public square in the world and as you stand at one side or perhaps in the middle, you will see the Monument to the People’s Heroes, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, and the Mausoleum of Mao Tse Tung. At one end is the entrance to another iconic site, the Forbidden City. Once you step through the gate of this site, you are immediately transported out of today’s world and back to the time when the Emperors ruled China. Nothing in the Forbidden City has really been changed from that period. It was the home of Emperors and their households for almost 500 years. The National Palace Museum here is the world’s most visited museum. Strolling through the extensive grounds will be something never to be forgotten. The third iconic site in Beijing is the Temple of Heaven. This stunningly beautiful temple complex was the site of worship for the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Today they are held in esteem for their design and colours. We all know about the Great Wall of China but seeing is believing as to how amazing it is. It is one of my favourite sites in China which I have no problem revisiting time and time again. It was originally 8850 kilometres/5500 miles in length as it spread across the country, but many sections of the wall have deteriorated. However, the sections just 80 kilometres/50 miles north of Beijing are in a good state of preservation. It’s awe-inspiring to see the way it stretches out over the mountains into eternity as it were.
Xian used to be China’s capital centuries ago. Hence the archaeological wonders found here. The Terra Cotta Warriors which were unbelievably only unearthed in the 1970s are actually 2000 years old. These several thousand life-size soldiers were built to symbolically protect the First Emperor of Unified China after he died. Every single one is different in design. Go marvel. Not far away is this Emperor’s tomb which originally held his body and his treasured possessions. Most of the latter are now on display in the excellent local museum.
Heading next to Tibet, the Potala Palace in Lhasa, the ex-residence of the Dalai Lamas, stands on top of a hill towering over the city. You will be hard pressed to find a more dazzling and imposing edifice anywhere. It is the highest palace in the world and consists of an amazing 13 storeys and 1000 rooms.
One extraordinary man-made site is the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River. It is so big that it displaced 1.3 million people when it was built in 1994. It took 14 years to complete and is the world’s largest hydro electric power plant. Just to give an indication as to its size, it is 180 metres/593 feet high and 2300 metres/7660 feet wide.
Another ancient civilization is the destination featured on Goway’s Splendours of India group tour. Just as the Emperors of China left their legacy, so did the Mughal Emperors of India. This is in evidence when you look at the best-known site in the country, the magnificent Taj Mahal. This awesome white marble structure built in the 1600s is not a palace nor a temple but a memorial authorized by the Emperor Shah Jahan, to house the tomb of his favourite wife who died in childbirth. His own tomb rests beside hers. You will experience a magical calm as you stand in the middle of the exquisite gardens and marvel at this iconic structure.
There are two magnificent and outstanding fortresses in India. The first is the Amber Fort in Jaipur, which sits on top of a large hill. This 16th Century fort is made of white and red sandstone and from the top of the hill, the panoramic views of the surrounding countryside are breathtaking. The second fort is the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur. Built in the 15th century, it is one of the largest forts in India. Situated high above the city, it consists of several palaces and courtyards within its high walls. The museum in the fort is one of the most extensive in Rajasthan, displaying costumes, paintings, and decorated period rooms.
Mumbai offers up two man-made iconic sites. The Gateway of India was built in 1924 and is a very special landmark in the city. It overlooks Mumbai Harbour and is a meeting point for many locals. The structure is such that you can look through it and view the Indian Ocean in the distance. Everyone is aware of Mahatma Gandhi, the hero of the untouchables. For a period of time, he lived in Mumbai and his home, the Mani Bhavan is now a small museum dedicated to the great man. Through exhibits of photographs, furniture, documents, and letters, the museum makes for a fascinating opportunity to obtain an insight into this, to coin a word, iconic person.
The Cradle of the Incas and Samba, Tango and Waterfalls, or a combination of the two called Signature South America to Brazil, Argentina, and Peru, are Goway’s South American group tours. In Brazil, one of the most amazing sights, if not the most amazing sight I have ever experienced, is the dramatic statue of Christ the Redeemer, towering high above the ocean below on top of the mountain called Corcovado. It is as if Christ, with his arms outstretched, is blessing the whole world from his lofty perch. Now there are two ways of appreciating Corcovado. One is to look up from the city below and marvel at this stunning site. The other is to head up to the top of Corcovado to be taken aback by the size of the statue which is 30 metres/98 feet tall, not including its 8 metre/26 foot pedestal (the outstretched arms alone are 28 metres/92 feet in length). Just to gaze at the most incredible view of Rio and its gorgeous beaches is reason enough to come here. Corcovado is reached via an electrically-powered train. The train trip itself is beautifully scenic while travelling through the forests and granite rocks of the mountain.
Strangely though, Corcovado is not the only viewing point for panoramic views of Rio de Janeiro. Huddled against the ocean is Sugar Loaf Mountain, named thus because it resembles in shape, a sugar loaf. This viewing point is 396 metres/1300 feet above Guanabara Bay and its harbour. It is situated on a promontory and is reached by a combination of two cable car journeys with glass windows. The views from Sugar Loaf are different from Corcovado but no less exciting.
Both Argentina and Brazil own my next iconic site, the Iguassu Falls. Just to put in perspective the size and scope of these falls, I would like to quote Eleanor Roosevelt who, on seeing them, said simply, “Poor Niagara!” Iguassu is larger than even Victoria Falls in Southern Africa. This group tour takes you to both sides of the falls in Argentina and Brazil. There are special walkways to allow visitors to be as close as possible to this powerful natural wonder. A walk to the breathtaking “Devil’s Throat” brings you to one of the best viewing places to realize the power and strength of the falls. You can have an optional helicopter ride over the entire falls for what is a truly awe-inspiring experience and an optional adventurous motorboat ride up to the base of the falls.
Finally, arriving in Peru, there is one iconic site which is not to be missed under any circumstances and that is Machu Picchu. Why? First, because of its location and the surrounding breathtaking panoramic views. Second, because you discover what the ancient, active Inca capital city looked like, and third, because it’s not all that easily accessible – making it more desirable. It is a complex of palaces and plazas, temples and homes, and may have been built as a ceremonial site, a military stronghold, or a retreat for ruling elite.
So there you have it – An exceptional selection of iconic sites all available on Goway’s Holidays of a Lifetime. Isn’t our world truly wonderful?
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