Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Batu Caves

Lord Murgan tallest statue at the entrance of the caves. 42m high statue is made of concrete, steels and painted with gold
Batu Caves is the main attraction of Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. It would seem that it's one of the Hindu shrines situated outside India. The site is dedicated to lord Murugan, the god of war and victory in Hindu religion.

Batu Caves is a limestone hill that an Indian trader called K. Thamboosamy Pillai promoted it as a shrine in 1890. The spear-shaped entrance inspired the trader to dedicate a shrine to Murugan. As a god of war and victory, Murugan is holding a holy spear known as Vel. The wood steps were added in 1920.

A museum and an art gallery are open for visitors. They are full of statues and paintings related to Hindu beliefs.

Photos taken around Batu Caves 
Entrance of Hanuman Temple, on the left of Batu Caves main entrance

15m tall state of Hanuman, noble and sacred monkey in Hind belief

With the sponsorship of  Qatar airways

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Discover El-Kef

El-Kef is a town located in northwestern Tunisia, approximately 170km west of Tunis and some 35km from the Tunisian-Algerian border. It's situated at an elevation of 780 m on the slope of a hill.
El-Kef occupies the site of an old city founded in the fourth century BC, and became a Roman colony in the second century AD. However, this region has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and was mentioned in ancient historical accounts of the first Punic War (264-247BC) by writers including Pliny and Diodorus. They recount the Carthaginian army's request for support from the locals of El-Kef during the war, but were unable to pay their mercenaries after losing to Rome. The mercenaries eventually rose up against the Carthaginians, but were suppressed by the army led by Amilcar, the chief of the Carthaginian army and the father of the legendary Hannibal.

Kef Basilica

Sicca, the old name of El-Kef, was punished by Julius Caesar following the civil war in Rome (46BC), during which Sicca supported Pompey, the opponent of Caesar. Following his triumph, Caesar annexed the town, and it became a part of a province known as Africa Proconsularis. The town was subsequently renamed Sicca Veneria.
At the end of the seventh century, Arabs called the town Chakbanaria and in the seventeenth century it became El-Kef: the Rock.
The Deys, the monarchy of the Husseinite Beys, were in conflict with the regency of Alger and the French occupation, and El-Kef played an important role due to its position between the Tunisian hinterland and the Algerian border.
Despite its rich attractions, El-Kef is little-frequented by tourists and, like other towns and cities in the interior, has been somewhat neglected by the national government in recent decades. The main attraction of El-Kef is its medina. The old city is very rich in monuments from several eras.
The kasbah of El-Kef, the city's castle, has been witness to several conflicts that occurred between the Regency of Tunis and the Regency of Alger in the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries. The kasbah was built by Ottoman rulers in the seventeenth century and has been renovated more than once. The stones date back to Roman times and it is possible to observe Latin inscriptions in the blocks. Excavations have discovered a number of Turkish clay pipes made in Izmir.
The current design of the kasbah dates to the beginning of the nineteenth century and the current gate was built during the French occupation (1881-1956). The kasbah was used as a base for the French army during World War II.
The Sidi Boumakhlouf Zaouiya is a shrine built in the seventeenth century. It houses the tomb of Sidi Abdullah Boumakhlouf, the patron saint of the city. An octagonal minaret with glazed ceramic panels rises above the shrine's three domes, each of which have different dimensions.
El-Kef is also a symbol of the religious tolerance that has helped shape Tunisian society. The city's architecture bears witness to Jewish and Christian communities which lived in the city until recently.
The Dar Kouss church was built in the fifth century. At 30 meters in length and 14 meters in width, it is one of the biggest churches, built in the early-Christian era. The church was used by French settlers in the first half of the 20th century, although it is no longer in use as a place of worship.
The synagogue of El-Kef is known as the Ghriba "the mysterious." Although the actual age of the building is not known, the current design dates back to the seventeenth century. The Jewish community came to Tunisia in several waves from the Arab conquest in the seventh century until the arrival of the Moorish in the seventeenth century. As the community dwindled in the second half of the 20th century, the synagogue fell into ruin until it was fully restored in 1994. Nowadays one room of the building is open and contains photos and several items that belong to the Jewish community, including a torah parchment.
El-Kef is easily reached from Tunis by the A3 highway. It's surrounding countryside is rich in monuments and archaeological sites. A good time to visit is in summer during the festival of music and theatre that is organized in the kasbah.
Ghriba Synagogue

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Museum Of Sousse At Historic Kasabah

Kasabah of Sousse

Sousse, the pearl of the Tunisian coast, has provided guests with a gateway to the past with the opening of the Archeological Museum of Sousse, located in its historic Kasbah, on the west fringe of the Medina.

Sousse is one of the oldest cities in Tunisia, and was a central point for the world’s largest ancient civilizations, starting with the Phoenicians who founded it as a base for their sea trade. They named the area “Hadramuete” in the ninth century BC.

Sousse museum plan

When Carthage, the Phoenician urban center encompassing Hadramuete, was destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC, the city was annexed to Rome, becoming Rome’s first African colony.For more than five centuries under the Roman empire, Hadramuete was a merchant metropolis due to the wealth the port brought the country. The wealthy Roman citizens built luxurious villas paved with mosaics, and the villages were dotted with public buildings,such as baths, basilicas and temples.

With the Arab conquest in the 7th century, the area currently known as Sousse became a military port. The city was marked by ribats and fortresses to protect the coast from Byzantine assaults.

Sousse and its surrounding area are home to literal layers of culture. Underneath the Arab institutions lies the ruins of both the Punic and Roman eras. The Arabs kept some cultural edifices from the previous inhabitants. The new Arab leaders used the Roman’s huge stone blocks and columns to build the Arab cities of Sousse and Kairouan.
Oceanus was widely worshiped in Roman Hadramuete

The museum, covering 2000 meters, offers the opportunity to see the development of each civilization.  The building itself is a historical monument that evokes the Arab-Byzantine style of the eighth and ninth century.

The museum is divided into thirteen departments, with an outside terrace offering a panoramic view of Sousse. Statues, mosaics and funeral objects exhumed from Sousse and other sites along the Tunisian coast, are exhibited.

Inside Museum

The mosaics are a central component of the musem, as Sousse is famous in the Mediteranean for its collection of art. Their importance to Sousse is reinforced every summer with the festival of Aoussou. This is one of the oldest traidtions of the Tunisian Sahel, the Tunsian desert area, which draws its origins from the Oceanus, one of the most popular gods from the Roman era. This god was worshiped in the first and second centuries, and was the most commonly represented deity in mosaics in the public baths and basins.

The mosaics depicted gods, goddesses and heroes from Greek and Roman mythology, many of which are available for exhibition at the museum.

The Punic and early Christian eras are also represented in the museum. The Punic department exhibits funeral items, with terracotta vases and funeral objects. Christian artificats are plentiful.

A beautiful baptistery, found accidentally  in the Bkalta quarry 40 km south of Sousse It is decorated with mosaics, depicting birds and chrism, or holy oil used in early churches. Other funeral mosaics and tombstones were discovered in the undergrounds catacombs, one km from the Sousse bus station of Souk Lahad.

This museum allows guests to witness the ancient civilizations that have shaped the Tunisian identity and have enriched Tunisia’s development into one shaped by a variety of cultures.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Remember The Timeless King Of France: Saint Louis

 Saint Louis in America, Canada..... and Tunisia 

On the peak of Byrsa, a hill in Carthage, a coastal suburb of Tunis, a cathedral is located among the Roman ruins scattered throughout the ancient city.
Now the structure - today known as the Acropolium - is no longer used as a place of worship, but as a venue for concerts. The cathedral now features a variety of Tunisian and international musical performances.
This building evokes memories of one of the most pivotal conflicts between Muslims and Christians - the Crusades.

The Cathedral 1890
In 1270, King of France Louis IX, or Saint Louis, left his kingdom and landed in Carthage - an event now referred to by historians as the beginning of the Eighth Crusade. However, the king was so sick and weak that he could barely hold his shield and sword. Three weeks later he died, and a small chapel was built. Today the site is still frequented by French and international tourists.
Saint Louis Statue Carthage Museum

In 1830, the ruling Bey of the Tunisian Monarchy Al-Hussein II ibn Mahmud, authorized the consul of France to erect a cathedral dedicated to the king few meters from the chapel marking his burial site. The French consul sent a letter to Tunisia's former monarch stating the following:
Praise to god, to whom all things return!
We cede in perpetuity to His Majesty the King of France a location in Malaga, sufficient to raise a religious monument in honor of King Louis IX at the place where the prince died.
We commit ourselves to respect and to make respected this monument consecrated by the king of France to the memory of one of his most illustrious ancestors. Greetings from the servant of God, Hussein Pasha Bey. May the Most High be propitious! Amen.
The 17th of Safar of the year 1246. Done at Bardo the 8th of August 1830. For the Consul-General Mathieu de Lesseps.
After several examinations, officials charged with determining the location of the cathedral's construction concluded that it would be built on the ruins of the Roman Carthage in Byrsa.
The layout of the structure is typical of a French 19th century Byzantine-Moorish cathedral. The construction style - resembling a Latin cross - spread throughout France in the 19th century. The building is 65 meters long by 30 meters wide, with a facade framed by two square towers. The center of the cathedral's cross-section lies beneath a large cupola surrounded by eight steeples, and a smaller cupola is located above the apse.
The church contains a nave and two aisles separated by arches passing above. The ceiling is adorned with beams featuring sculpted, painted, and gilt arabesques. The stained glass is also embellished with arabesques
Inside the Cathedral
. The cathedral also hosts a great bell, weighing six tons, in addition to a four-bell carillon.
Today, the cathedral is open for visitors. The entrance fee is four Tunisian dinars, and is paid separately from those tickets offering package deals of the other sites in Carthage.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Escape the Heat: A Road Trip Along the Coast from Tunis to Madhia

Maybe you are fascinated with the richness of Tunisian culture or maybe just want to enjoy the sea breeze, relax on the beach and eat some good seafood. Why not take a road trip to escape the heat of Tunis and drive along the coast east of Tunisia from Tunis to Mahdia. It is a lot more cooler along the coastal seaboard. One of the best ways to undertake the trip is by a leisurely car drive and ideally it would be good to do the trip over a couple of days.

Tunis To Hammamet
Leave Tunis early in the morning and drive to Cap Bon, the coolest region in the north east of Tunisia. The drive should take about an hour. Cap Bon is situated on the peninsula that looks like a curved finger protruding into the sea. There are lots of attractions to discover along the way, starting with the thermal springs of Korbus and continuing on to Hammamet through Haouaria, Kerkouane and Kelibia.
Before you get to Korbus, the drive along the coastal road to Soliman is one of the most spectacular in all of Tunisia, offering breathtaking views across the bay of Tunis, back to the hills of Sidi Bou Said and Gammarth as well as the northern beaches of the capital.
The small village of Korbus is wedged between the hills and the sea. The hot water springs here are rich in minerals, making it a favored destination for Tunisians looking for relief from rheumatism. Many who visit insist that it helps cure rheumatic problems
Continuing north from Korbus, the road cuts inland, passing through gentle hills and farmland. At the northern tip of Cap Bon, Haouaria is a good place to stop for lunch. Restaurants specializing in fish are affordable and many offer amazing views of Zembra island as well as sea breezes. La Daurade is one of the most highly recommended restaurants at the water’s edge. In the restaurant staff and fisherman can demonstrate the traditional way of fishing under water.

Continuing to Kelibia, you may stop at the archeological site of Kerkouane. This UNESCO world heritage site is considered to be one of the best examples Punic culture. Unlike other cities such as Carthage, the ruins of Kerkouane have been left untouched since its destruction in 255 BC. The excavated foundations of houses and public baths can be seen and the city’s urban layout of streets, squares and temples is still clearly visible. The museum contains items discovered on the site that provide evidence of the daily life of its inhabitants.

The town of Kelibia, boasts the biggest fortress in Tunisia. The fort is at the top of a hill that resembles a shield. It is open for visitors and the fee is 5 dinars.
Haouaria, a good spot for lunch with an amazing sea view

Mansoura, two kilometers from Kelibia, has the reputation for being one of the best beaches in Cap Bon, with white sand and clean water. Those who like to swim in the surf might even encounter a wave or two.
All required facilities are available in Kelibia, and it offers a good place to stay overnight. Bungalows and hotels are available but reservations in summer should be made at least two days in advance.
If you need to push on, an hour down the road is Nabeul, a busy, diverse city that is also the administrative capital of Cap Bon. Nabeul is a good place to stop for a mint tea in the medina. It’s also well known as a center for pottery, although prices in the main tourist drag tend to be higher than in many parts of Tunis.
A little further down the road is the touristic resort of Hammamet which offers a multitude of accommodation opportunities and resorts. With lots of restaurants and night clubs scattered along the coast, this is a place where tourists and well-to-do Tunisians come to party, especially on the weekends. Carthage Land, a big theme park in Yasmine Hammamet, is open until 2am. Tickets for rides are on sale.
Hammamet to Sousse
Traveling from Hammamet to Sousse, means that you are moving from the largest touristic resort in Tunisia to the second largest. To improve the Tunisian economy, governments in the 1960s and 1970s decided to expand mass tourism and encouraged the building of new resorts. The port of Kantaoui is one example. Built in 1970s Kantaoui is a town built for tourism, around a large marina.
Although it lacks much of the charm of more established cities in the region, Kantaoui remains popular. The port is very active during summer, nights are exciting with sea breezes and the smell of the jasmine flowers sold by street vendors in traditional dress. Some restaurants have big screens in the public squares, especially during big sporting events such as the football World Cup and Euro Cup.
Nightclubs and discos are scattered throughout the resort, including Samara, Bora Bora and others. In summer Bora Bora usually broadcasts a live internet stream from nightclubs in Ibiza. At night, the mix of locals and tourists gives Kantaoui an impressively international feel.
South of Kantaoui, a vast row of resort complexes stretches along the sandy beach. At the other end lies Tunisia’s third largest city, Sousse. The first settlement here was established here by the Phoenicians in the 9th century BC. The Punic and Roman civilizations may have come and gone, but modern-day Sousse still boasts a remarkable architectural heritage, based around the 7th century medina.
This coastal medina, with its narrow, winding streets, raised walls, mosques  and a fortress with a high tower ribat is also on the UNESCO world heritage register. At night all of these historical monuments are illuminated.
A new archeological museum has just opened in the kasbah on the western fringe of the medina. It offers visitors the chance to learn more about the evolution of the city and features some spectacular Roman and paleo-christian artifacts. The entrance fee for the museum is 5 dinars. It is open from 9am to 7pm in summer.
Sousse to Mahdia
From Sousse, take the A1 highway to El-Jem. In the morning the temperature is cool and the visit of its amphitheater is exciting. It’s the best preserved in the Mediterranean and the third largest after the Flavian Colosseum of Rome and the amphitheater of Capua in Italy. Nearby there is an excellent museum featuring Roman sculptures and mosaics as well as the reconstruction of a Roman villa.
40km away is Mahdia, the first Shiite capital in Islamic history and a walled port for Turkish pirates. The old medina is built on a 1.4km long isthmus and was believed to have been built to escape the Sunni hostility toward the Shiite rulers. The port was also used as a base for pirates who used to attack Spanish vessels. The main entry to the old town is a huge gate known as Bab Zouila. The port is situated on the edge of the isthmus. Its cemetery is among the unique coastal cemeteries in Tunisia. The coffee shops and restaurants inside the gates of the Medina are quite affordable.
A coffee shop in Mahdia

Mahdia is 200km from Tunis. On the way back to Tunis stop and visit Monastir, the hometown of Habib Bourguiba, the first Tunisian president. The house of his parents has been turned into a museum and his mausoleum is open for visitors. It is a domed building with two minarets raised at the main entrance. Also, the Ribat with its high tower has a beautiful view of  the town of Monastir and the sea beyond.
For scuba diving fans, you can contact the center of diving in the marina of Monastir. It’s an opportunity to discover the seabed of the Tunisian coasts. A sea cruise is also available to the beautiful islet of Kuriat.
For more information, Tunsia map and guide books, you may contact the  tourism office in Tunis downtown, it’s near the watch of Habib Bourguiba street or Tunis Barcelone train station.
The number for the Tourism Office downtown is (+216) 71341077

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Tunisia Wild Beaches

While most people spend their summer in the sweltering heat of the city or jammed into popular beach resorts, a clever few have discovered one of Tunisia’s best-kept secrets: it’s wild, uncrowded beaches. Some are isolated and hard to get to, even with a car. Others are tucked away on the doorstep of large cities and it takes a local to explain how to get to them.
Cap Negro
Tunisian summers can become unbearably hot, with daytime temperatures over 40 not uncommon. To make things worse, crowds in big cities – especially those who come with their cars – add to the intensity of the summer heat. Simply put, summer days in the city can be stinking hot and not that much fun. That’s why pretty much anyone who is able will head to the coast, where the sea breeze and cool waters make the summer bearable.

Since the 1960s, a large percentage of Tunisian people have settled in many of the coastal cities. In fact, the top four most populated cities – Tunis, Sfax, Sousse and Nabeul – are all coastal cities.  The economic boom in the 1970s led to the building of many large hotels along the coastline and to the development of big industries in these populated cities. The new industries have negatively affected water and air quality along much of the coastline.
Despite this, only 18% of 1200km of Tunisian coastline has been developed. While the focus of development has been on eastern coastal cities, the northwestern regions have been largely overlooked. This means that although these regions remain relatively undeveloped, they boast some of the most pristine beaches for visitors who want to get off the beaten track. Luckily, many of these beaches are also easy to get to by car.
Northwest Beaches
Today, car owners can easily escape the heat of Tunis. A trip to the virgin lands of the north west is a wonderful way to get away. The A3 highway and main roads connect these near-virgin lands to Tunis.
From Bizerte to the Tunisian-Algerian border, an amazing belt of green landscape can be visited. The strip starts at Cap Serrat and reaches all the way to Cap Roux, a few kilometers from the Tunisian-Algerian border. A cork oak forest lines the coastline and hidden coves wait to be discovered. If you are the adventurous type, camping out on the beach is always an option, but be sure to not sleep in the forests, as they are very delicate. Also, the homemade bread that vendors sell on the side of the road is delicious and highly recommended.

Southeast Beaches If you want to explore the gorgeous southeastern coastline, there are many beautiful beaches that might tickle your fancy.
The village of Metouia – some 10 km north of Gabes – contains a peaceful maritime oasis that is only a short car ride away. The beach in the village is a particular gem because it is one of the only in Tunisia to be backed by a maritime oasis. The village came into existence because of its proximity to a spring of water and still remains untouched by touristic development. The village population is barely 9000, but it increases to about 45,000 every summer after the return of the Tunisians who pass most of their year in Europe. With so many people in summer, this can hardly be described as undiscovered, however out of season visitors should be able to find their own private piece of sand.
Ras-Ermal Peninsula in the south east of Tunisia is the most frequented wild beach in the Tunisian south. It’s located on the island of Djerba. Visitors may contact the organizers in the marina of Houmet Essouk to organize a trip to the beach. It’s known for the flamingos that come to nest there every year. The peninsula is marshy with salt-wort vegetation. Usually the boats that take the travelers dock near a large beach. If you are lucky, you might see some dolphins on the way. Usually, visitors spend around two hours discovering the island. An entertaining program is arranged that includes a traditional fish lunch and  local music.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tunisia: Cap Bon - Discovering Country's Ageless Seaside Heritage

Protruding like a curved finger into the sea, Cap Bon is one of the most idyllic regions in all of Tunisia.
The backbone of Cap Bon is the mountain of Sidi Abderrahmen, which marks the terminus of the Atlas Mountain range.
Nabeul Museum


Dar Sebastian

Kelibia Fort


Haouaria Caves

One of Tunisia's most fertile regions, Cap Bon receives more than 1000mm of precipitation annually. This part of Tunisia is famous for its citrus and tomato cultivation, more than 20% of which are exported to Europe and Asia.
Driving on the A1 highway, before reaching Hammamet, vineyards and wine factories can be seen. Grombalia and Bou Argoub are the main centers of Tunisian wine production.
Hammamet - its name means baths or springs - is one of the biggest touristic resorts in Tunisia. Surrounded by numerous springs - such as Sidi Jedidi Hammam, Hammam Laghzez, and many others - it was once a small fishing village.
However, in 1920 Georges Sebastian, a Romanian millionaire, built a magnificent villa - Dar Sebastian - above the beach, and made Hammamet a destination favored by artists and writers. It eventually became the rival of Sidi Bou Saidas an attraction to artists and the wealthy between the 1920â-'s and 1940â-'s. Following the wave of artists, numerous politicians came to Hammamet during World War II. Churchill is said to have wrote a substantial portion of his memoirs in this coastal city.
Today, Dar Sebastian is a cultural center used to host festivals and artistic exhibitions. The entrance fee is five dinars - or $3.50.
Continuing along the same road, leading to downtown Hammamet, a citadel can be seen. The fortress was constructed by the Arabs in the ninth century and subsequently renovated in the fifteenth century. Under Ottoman rule, it was renovated yet again to accommodate cannonsto defend the settlement. In 1881, the French began using the structure as a barracks.
The fort is also open to visitors for a fee of 5TDN and an additional 1TND for a camera ticket.
Nabeul, 17 km northeast from Hammamet, is the capital of Cap Bon and home to the most famous pottery factories in Tunisia. Downtown workshops are open for visitors, and workers often display their expertise in shaping the clay into vases. The weekly market opens on Friday, and many travel agencies organize half day tours to Nabeul or whole-day excursions around a number of locations in Cap Bon.
In spite of its small size, the archaeological museum of Nabeul is rich in antiquity, collected from the ruins of Neapolis - the site upon which the modern city of Nabeul was founded. The collection consists of mosaics depicting themes based on Greek and Roman mythology and statues exhumed from among the ruins.
Driving through Korba and Menzel Temim, Kelibia can be reached - one of the most beautiful sand beaches not only in Tunisia but in the southern basin of the Mediterranean Sea. This village - once known by the Greeks and Romans as Aspis and Clupea respectively (meaning shield in both languages) - derives its name from an impressive promontory shaped like a shield.
The fort of Kelibia, a massive building protected by thick walls, is the biggest in Tunisia, and built on a 150m high bluff overlooking the sea. Although most of the building dates back to the sixteenth century, some older Roman sections can still be seen. The entrance fee to the site is 5TND, and an extra 1TND for a camera ticket.
Cap Bon is also home to one of the most unique Punic sites on the Mediterranean sea - Kerkouane - which has been designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Kerkouane, was initially a Berber settlement influenced by the Punic and Mediterranean culture thanks to the trade networks established in the sixth century BC. However, the city was destroyed in the third century BC, and was never inhabited again.
Since its discovery in 1950â-'s, the evidence of Punic culture has become more and more clear. The site layout features luxurious houses, temples, and public squares. Kerkouane is an arbitrary name given by the archaeologists due to the absence of an inscription bearing the original name of the city. On the right of the site's main entrance a small museum houses pottery, jewelry, and other items that evoke the daily life of the town's former inhabitants. Managed by the Ministry of Culture, the entrance fee is 5TND, and an additional 1TND camera ticket.
Stopping for lunch in Haouaria is highly recommended for any traveler exploring Cap Bon. Many reasonably priced restaurants, typically specializing in fish, are situated along the edge of the hillsides. The village is famous for its caves, used as quarries for material to construct Roman Carthage. Blocks of stone were cut from the hill and shipped by vessels to the port of Carthage. Since 2006, the quarry has been closed to visitors, reducing the presence of tourists in the town.
Lunch in Haouaria also gives visitors the opportunity to admire the beauty of Tunisia's virgin shores. The island of Zembra - a national reserve for rare species of birds and aquatic fauna - can be viewed from land.
On the way back to Tunis, wind turbines can be seen before reaching a small tuna fishing village called Sidi Daoud. Here, a traditional method of tuna fishing is practiced known as the Matanza - or the slaughter. A net is place about 4km out to sea to catch the tuna as they migrate along their spawning route in May. Chambers formed by the net are used to catch the fish. When the chamber is filled, the tuna are forced to jump out of the water where they are met by knife wielding fisherman who have anticipated their arrival.
Driving to back Tunis, a beautiful thermal spring can be found, a favorite destination for Tunisians. The mineral springs are thought to be beneficial in the treatment of rheumatism.
Finally, the Moorish village of Soliman serves as suitable final destination for any Cap Bon tour. Founded in the seventeenth century, the town is famous for its two minarets, which can be seen from the main road. The octagonal minaret dates back to the site's former Ottoman community, which used to follow the Hanafite rite. The square minaret is used by the locals, who follow the Maleki rite.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Discover People's War

Nepal is bordered by India and China. Geographically, the country is very rich. It has the highest mountain on earth, The Everest Mountain. Besides the highest mountain, the country has more than 200 peaks over 6000 m above sea level. The soil is very fertile but unexploited.

The Federal Democratic of Nepal knew a 10 year conflict known as People's War. It was a conflict between the government and the Communist party (The Maoist). The latter wanted to establish a democratic state by overthrowing the monarchy that ruled for more than 240 years.

The conflict lasted ten years (1996-2006) ended with Comprehensive Peace Accord signature. In 2008 monarchism was abolished and a constitutional assembly was elected. The communist party won the majority of the seats. 

There are more than 7000 Nepalis residing in Qatar working in different fields. They have different opinions toward the conflict.

Next days, I will interview some Nepali residing in Qatar to know more about this conflict.

Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah; The last king of Nepal

Thursday, March 28, 2013


The hometown of the first Tunisian president, Habib Bourguiba, was going to be the capital of Tunisia in the 1970 and 1980′s. Bourguiba built a summer presidential palace here that was completely abandoned after his overthrow in 1987. Nowadays Monastir is a destination point for foreign visitors thanks to its airport built in the 1980s. In the summer time aircraft belonging to big tour operators can be seen landing and taking off.
Monastir Ribat, view of the watchtower
Monastir is derived from the Latin term Monasterium, monastery in modern day English.  The Mausoleum of Sidi Ghdemsi and other ruins are visible from Monastir’s marina.  Arab invaders built a monastery-fortress referred to as a Ribat on top of the ruins of christian monastery. The Arab ribat is known as the Ibn Jaad ribat.

The main attraction of Monastir is the ribat built at the end of the eighth century when the governor of Ifriqiya (the name of Tunisia during the middle ages) was named by the Abbasid (a monarchy that ruled a large part of the Islamic world) from Baghdad. It was a part of numerous fortresses that line the North African coast from Alexandria to Tangier. They used to communicate with one another using fire signals lit from their respective towers. The ribat was inhabited by Muslim warrior monks and served as a refuge for the town population during the Byzantine assaults. When the Mediterranean Sea fell under the control of the Arab Navy, the role of the Ribat  was limited to religious and educational purposes, but starting in the sixteenth century the ribat regained its military use when the rulers modified the structure with canons, some of which are still present today.
Jewellery from Ribat Museum

The prayer hall in the first floor of the Ribat houses the museum of Islamic Arts “Ali Bourguiba Museum” and exhibits collections of Egyptian and Tunisian religious manuscripts as well as funeral stelaes from Monastir with Kufic inscriptions and ancient jewelry.
Cost of a visit is: 5 TND for an entrance ticket and 1 TND for a camera ticket.
Some 40 meters from the ribat, a large monument, the Bourguiba Mausoleum was built in 1963 in the western corner of the official cemetery of Monastir. It’s topped with a gilded dome surrounded by two green domes. Two minarets were raised at the entrance both 25 meters long. The mausoleum houses the tomb of the first Tunisian president in the central room with marble graves and his family members are buried in the adjoining rooms. On display in a small museum close by, are many of the belongings of Tunisia’s founding President. Visiting the mausoleum is free of charge for Tunisians and foreigners.
The main entrance of Bourguiba Mausoleum

Bourguiba died in April 2000, two days later he was buried in his hometown and many presidents attended his funeral including the then French President Jaques Chirac and the then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafet.
For  ten years popular celebrations of Bourguiba’s death were banned by the Ben Ali regime. As a result of last year’s uprising Monastirians were able to commemorate the anniversary of his death for the first time. Statues of Bourguiba are scattered throughout the city.
Statue of Bourguiba as a child in downtown Monastir

Unfortunately, the old town of Monastir was demolished in the 1960′s when Bourguiba decided to modernize the country.  Subsequently the Medina lost its old authenticity and charm.
Just off the coast lies one of the most beautiful islands in all of Tunisia, Kuriat. In the summer local travel agencies organize small cruises to the island. Kuriat is quite rocky and covered by sand. It plays an important role in the conservation of the ecosystem. It’s an important stop for migrant birds, such as the slender billed gull. In addition it’s a good area for several breeds of sea turtles to nest, among others being the loggerhead sea turtle. To visit the island you can contact a local travel agency or the reception of any hotel.
The hotels of Monastir are quite large and luxurious but far from the town and attractions. Supermarkets and coffee shops are rare. Locals think that tourists don’t contribute to the economic growth of the town because a large amount of the visitors stay exclusively in the hotels especially after the introduction of the “all inclusive” hotel.
After the catastrophic season of 2011, estimates for this season are optimistic, said Mr Hichem Nouira , a native of Monastir and hotel manager. He also said that the new government decided to make the old Presidential Palace a museum for Bourguiba to contribute to the development of tourism in Monastir.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Funs And Memories At Happy Land Dah Dah

Are you searching for a place in Tunis where you can have fun with your kids? Or do you want to have fun like you were a kid again?
Happy Land DahDah gives you the opportunity to spend a lovely time with the whole family. Since its opening in 1995, many families have visited the fun park to spend an afternoon or evening relaxing and enjoying the rides. School holidays and Eid Alfitr (the day that marks the end of Ramadan) mark the highest number of visitors.
The Entrance of DahDah
Tunisia Live recently went to the fun park to enjoy the rides and talk to locals and visitors about why they liked going there.
Anis, a local resident, said that he has liked Dah Dah “since the park’s opening.”
“I often used to come and spend hours with my friends. Now I’m 35-years-old and I come with my wife and my son,” he said.
For Mr. and Mrs. Ben Arbia, a Tunisian couple living in Paris and on holidays in Tunis, visiting Dah Dah brought back happy memories. “We still remember the first time we met here, fourteen years ago when we were in high school,” said Mr Ben Arbia. “Now we live in France but when we visit Tunisia we come to the park and relive the best moments of our lives.”
Although entry to the park is free, tickets must be purchased to enjoy the many games and rides scattered throughout the park. The price of one ticket is one dinar while a booklet of twelve tickets is ten dinars. Each game and ride costs from one to three tickets.
Roller Coaster Dah Dah
Among the most magnificent rides is the Ferris Wheel- worth three tickets. It gives you the opportunity to see the whole city of Tunis including the airport, the mountains, the hills and its huge lake with the islet of Chickly in the middle.
Other rides allow you to live amazing adventures like the dream boat and the roller coaster. They cost between two and three tickets.
Kids have also are able to enjoy the experience. To the left of the entrance is a space dedicated to children. Bouncing games, trampolines and mini bumper car games are available. Some of these games are located in a covered hall, while others are outside.
Restaurants and shops are also available. You can find them in the entrance of the park, and the price of food and drinks is reasonable. For example a café direct – a coffee with milk – costs no more than two dinars. Billiards and bowling are also nearby.
Happy Land Dah Dah is situated in the main street of Berges Du Lac and can be reached by taxi that costs around six dinars (from Tunis downtown) or by bus number 28 that drops you off in front of the entrance.
The park is open from 2pm until 10pm and until midnight on Saturdays and during summer.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ahmed Jaouadi: Rome Never Dies; From Thysdrus To El jem

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Ahmed Jaouadi: The Rise Of Islamic Art in Tunisia (Part1)

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Abu El-qassim Echabbi

Sculpture of Abu El-qassim Echabi park
 Ras El-ain Tozeur
Abu El-qassim Echabbi (1905 1934), a native of Tozeur, was the son of a judge who sent him at the age of 12 to study at the Zitouna mosque in Tunis. He subsequently studied law, but was more interested in poetry, which he read widely. Goethe, Lamartine and Gibran Khalil Gibran were particular influences.

By the age of 18 his own poetry was being published and in 1929 he delivered a famous and influential lecture in Tunis on the "the poetic imagination of the Arabs". Rejecting the stifling weight of the past as represented by classical Arabs poetry, he made a plea for the poet's "freedom to imagine". His own work, while retaining the essentials of classical form and language, expresses a distinctly romantic sensibility. He spent his summer in Ain Drahem, north west of Tunisia, where he wrote his poems. His poem the Will of Life has been taught across the Arab World.
He died at 25 of a cardiac attack. (By Rough Guides Tunisia)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rome And Its Provinces

Rome and its provinces; Eljem museum Tunisia, House of Africa
In the 2nd century, Rome had made the Mediterranean as its own lake. Africa (actual Tunisia), Anatolia, Spain and Gaul(France) are the biggest Roman provinces. Every province used to supply Rome with gold; wheat, silk and metals.
One century later, Caracalla had granted the Roman citizenship to all free inhabitants of the Roman empire. This law is known as the Antonin Constitution. The purpose was to simplify the tax structure and the administration.

The mosaic above shows the unity of Rome. Minerva, the goddess of war in the middle symbolise Rome surrounded by its provinces. Africa, Anatolia, Egypt, Spain and Gaul. Africa wearing an elephant ear, Spain with olive tree branch, Diana represents Sicily and Isis represents Egypt. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

For Fans of Birds (Bird Watching in Tunisia)

As warm weather returns to Tunisia, so do the birds: by the hundreds of thousands. Tunisia, along with Gibraltar and the Levant, is one of the major migration routes for birds flying from Europe to Africa in the fall and back in the spring.
Perhaps the most exciting time and place to see such migration is right now at the end of the Cap Bon peninsula, in northeast Tunisia. It is the last jumping-off point for birds before flying to Europe by crossing the Mediterranean. During April and May, visitors are treated to the rare sight of migrant eagles who cross through the peninsula over the verdant hills of Haouaria and Ras ed-Drak. Besides the eagles, birdwatchers can recognize the Spotless Starling and Moussier Redstart.
Haouaria Cap Bon Tunisia

A summer festival dedicated to the Sparrowhawk in Haouaria has been organized since 1967. The main show is hunting displays by the hawks, who are caught in March and trained for the performances.
All told, there are around 400 species in Tunisia, including sedentary birds that are native to the country and migratory birds that pass through.
This unique diversity of bird life brings bird lovers from the UK, the USA, and Canada in winter, spring, and autumn. Habib Ghazouani, the head ranger at Ichkeul National Park, a major site for such bird watching, estimated that between 50,000 and 60,000 visitors representing 20 nationalities visit the park every year.
Sparrowhaw (Alsef) of Haouaria

The park, which affords visitors the sight of Purple Gallinule, Coots, and even Pink Flamingos, provides telescopes for curious naturalists. An eco-museum has been created to show the diversity of the site in fauna and flora. The park was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
An other exciting place for bird-watching in Tunis is the island of Chikly in the Lake of Tunis. This island can be seen from the TGM commuter rail or the road that links Tunis to La Goulette. It hosts a Spanish fort built in the 16th century, and provides an opportunity to see some species that come for wintering or nesting like the Black-Necked Grebe and the Eurasian Spoonbill.
Ornithology as a part of eco-tourism contributes in the development of the Tunisian interior regions as many of the country’s parks, lakes, and hills are located in the interior. An average one-person trip to one of the national wonders of Tunisia’s interior costs around 120€ per day. This kind of tourism also doesn’t require large, luxurious hotels with big swimming pools; visitors can connect with local culture by arranging for a local family to host them.
Eurasian Spoonbill

Tarek Nefzi, one of the few guides in Tunisia specializing in eco-tourism and environmental education, said that the main reason this kind of tourism is not as popular as it could be is the absence of good advertising. He also reported that the proper education at the Tunisian schools of tourism is not available.