SSR Botanical Garden, Pamplemousses: Interesting Facts & Pictures

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Little did I know about this garden. SSR botanical garden is not just an ordinary garden. It has tales of motives of colonials hidden behind its silent trees and soil.

Basin, SSR Botanical Garden

SSR botanical garden is situated in the Pamplemousses, near Port Louis, Mauritius, and the oldest botanical garden in the Southern Hemisphere. SSR botanical garden is one of the most famous tourists’ attractions in Mauritius attracting thousands of tourists almost every month. Visiting this garden is one of the most interesting activities for first-timers in Mauritius.

SSR botanical Garden History:

During the French colonization period, this botanical park used to be private garden of the French colonials on this island country of Mauritius. Later when Mauritius became an independent country, it was renamed after its first prime minister Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam. That’s how the name SSR botanical garden came into existence.

SSR botanical Garden

There are a lot of things to see around in the garden.

SSR Botanical Garden Entrance Fee

For Mauritian Citizen:

  • No fee for age under 5 years
  • 25 MUR for between 5 to 59
  • 60 and above & Disables – No fee

For Non-Mauritian Citizen

  • No fee for age under 5 years
  • 200 MUR for between 5 to 59
  • 60 and above & Disables – No fee

SSR Botanical Garden timings

  • Monday to Sunday (including public holidays): 08.30 hrs to 17.30 hrs

After buying the ticket, you will get a free map guide which is marked with the different landmarks of the botanical garden. You can use that map guide to visit the garden. It takes around 2-3 hours to visit the entire garden. However, I would like to suggest you hire a guide at the entrance. There are a lot of interesting facts that you can get to know from the guide. Here are some of the famous places inside the botanical garden.

Early Sugar Mills:

If you already have some idea about Mauritius then you must also be aware that many slaves were brought to this island even from as far as India. The main purpose was sugarcane plantation on this island. When sugar cane plantation grew up, SSR botanical garden was used as the nursery for testing out the new variety of the sugarcanes from different places such as Australia and New Zealand.

Old Sugar Mills

You can still see an early sugar mill the garden. There is also description written there which explains how sugar used to be extracted from the sugarcanes. Besides, the garden has also been used as a nursery to test the potential crops which could be produced on the island.

During the colonization, this garden was the first place where other crops would be tested before spreading them all over the island. This garden has also witnessed the different motives of its rulers and occupants. To make profits and cut down the expenses on slaves, Cassava was also tested in this garden first.

Cassava used to be Africa and South America’s staple food. Because wheat or maize could not be grown on the island, Cassava was also used to make bread for the colonial rulers. With the invention of the gunpowder, a plant named Bois noir was tested here before spreading it acrosss the island. It is said that the charcoal made from the bark of the plant could be used in making gunpowder.

Giant water lilies (Victoria Amazonica)

Giant waterLillyy pond is one of the most famous features of the SSR botanical garden. Also known as the Victoria Amazonica, Giant lilies are native to the Amazon River. One of the most peculiar things about these flowers is that they are white on the first day, Then they are open and turn pink the second night.

Giant Lily Pond Mauritius

After its discovery in the beginning of the 19th century, Giant water lilies became a subject of rivalry between the Victorian gardeners. The positive side of this competition was that giant water lilies were exported to all the other colonial locations and that’s how it also in the SSR garden of Mauritius.

Giant lily leaves in initial stage

Fauna at SSR botanical garden:

Fauna was later introduced to the botanical garden along with the tortoises and deers.

tortoise at SSR botanical garden

There are parks dedicated where you can go and see them. When Mauritius became independent, It’s first prime minister invited many well-known people who planted a tree in this garden. Besides the famous people, a lot of different varieties of plants from different parts of the world were introduced in this garden which can still be seen around.

Tropical Coconuts

Lotus in early stage

Lotus in early stage

a bird plant

mysterious flower of SSR Botanical Garden, Mauritius

mysterious flower of SSR Botanical Garden, Mauritius

white lotus

white lotus

Venice to Vienna Traveling Experience

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Travelling from Venice to Vienna would be my one of the best travelling experience in Europe in terms of relishing the landscapes of Europe. I took this journey in two parts.

  • Venice to Villach by bus.
  • Villach to Vienna by train.

Villach is the first town at the border of Italy and Austria. I travelled from Venice to Villach by a bus and the rest of the journey was completed by a train.

Venice to Villach experience:

I would say that the journey from Venice to Villach was mostly through the plains of the Europe towards the northern Italy except the last part when we entered the Alps terrain and valleys. The journey shows you one of the most beautiful landscapes of Italy which include villages, grasslands, farming fields etc.

But I did not know that there was more to come when I would leave the bus and board the train to Vienna from Villach.

Villach to Vienna by Train:

I enjoyed this journey more than the first part of the journey for two reasons:

  • The train was running slower than the bus because most of the journey parts were spent in ascending and descending the alps range. So, on a slower train, there was more to see.
  • Second, on this journey, the train crosses one of the most beautiful terrains of the Alps.

Throughout the journey, the train follows the river Mur, as far as I think. Then I explored the Google Maps because I was so intrigued by the train journey. And I found this fact.

Then I further explored the Google Terrain maps and I found out that It would have been a lot easier for the railway engineers to lay the railway tracks along the river Mur. That is show because of the river if you see on the Google Maps, run through the alps terrain and on an almost flat terrain crisscrossing through the mighty mountains.

And, it would surely be easier for the engineers to lay the track along the river on the plains than digging a tunnel through the mountain. This reminds me of my train journey from Berlin to Prague which also runs along the river Elbe.

Train Along the WortherSee:

One of the most remarkable things that I saw along this journey was the train running along the Worthersee. A few minutes just after the train leaves the town of Villach, it starts crawling along the Worthersee.

This whole journey along the Worthersee lake lasts for around 30 Kms. And it is so soothing to the eyes. There were a few huts along the lake. Also, the life seemed so easy.

Some of the most remarkable things that I saw on this Journey are shown in the pictures below:

 

 

Bastei Bridge Hiking, Saxon Switzerland National Park, Germany

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The best way to get closer to Nature is to walk through it, live it, and spend some time in it. I don’t know why this place has got “Switzerland” in its name but I must say that hiking in the Saxon Switzerland National Park is not lesser than seeing Switzerland itself.

Saxon Switzerland National Park is situated at the border of Germany and Czech Republic. You can say that Saxon Switzerland National Park is adjacent to its extension in the Czech Republic known by the name Bohemian Switzerland National Park.

I am not much of a history expert but if I guess the term Saxon and Bohemian are there because this part of the national park is in Saxony region of Germany. And, Bohemian is there because of Bohemian rulers in Czech republic if I am not wrong.

How to reach Bastei Bridge from Berlin?

If you want to reach the Saxon Switzerland National Park from Berlin, you can take a regional express train also known as EC (the trains red in color) to Kurort Rathen railway station. These trains are available from Berlin main railway station also known as Berlin Hauptbahnhof.

It takes around three hours to reach Kurort Rathen railway station. Alternatively, you can also come to Dresden, the capital city of the free state of Saxony and take a local train from there. Once you reach the Kurort Rathen railway station, get down there and catch a ferry across the river Elbe and get down on the other side of the river and start hiking towards the Bastei Bridge peak. It is a very small hike. The total distance that you walk is around 1.5 Km which takes around one hour to reach the peak or the Bastei Bridge view point.

More about Bastei Bridge and Saxon Switzerland National Park:

Saxon Switzerland National Park has a rocky terrain and canyon landscape. This area is famous for the sandstone. Though not much above the sea level but still it offers a very beautiful view of the area around like the river Elbe (especially the curve of the river Elbe), rocky terrain and fissures, a remote hamlet, large farms, chains of hills, very dense and green forest on the hiking way.

The hiking starts after you cross the river Elbe. If you happen to travel from Berlin to Prague by train, it is river Elbe along which the train runs most of the times. The view is really spectacular most of the times. There are some small shops where we bought French fries before starting our hike. Once you leave the village, the hike goes along a small canal and after some time once you step into the forest, you can see fern groves all around and even the old lying logs.

trying to go for a hike on a clear day so that you can see distance. If possible, stay there until the sunset. Though the timing is set for the hiking so make sure if you can stay there until the sunset. During the sunset, the setting sun rays reflect the Bastei bridge sandstone and they also flash over the top of the trees which make it even more beautiful.

Moreover, the oak and maple trees make it overall very much more beautiful. Bastei Bridge is famous because of it is a bridge constructed over two cliffs and it used to be a part of the castle at the top. This bridge is still intact and forms a nice viewpoint because both sides of the valley can be seen from the bridge.

Viewpoints around Bastei Bridge:

There are a lot of viewpoints set up at the different peaks. you can hike to 2-3 viewpoints easily in a day if you love hiking. Here are a list of the viewpoint and peak in the Saxon Switzerland National Park around Bastei Bridge.

  • Bastei Bridge
  • Castle Ruins, Neurathen
  • Ferdinandstein and,
  • Felsenbühne Rathen

Vatican City: Strange Facts & Visiting Tips

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Vatican City seemed as cryptic as walking into a mysterious zone where every inch of the foothold holds some stories. When I was a child I came to knew that Vatican city was the world’s smallest country. Just imagine how had that be like to imagine visiting the smallest country in the world?

Enter into Rome and the most of the tourists just want to go to the Vatican city. I was a no exception. Also, I had no expectation of seeing some barrier or kind of wired fencing around the Vatican city. As I grew up, I had already come to that Vatican city is a kind of place where the Pope lives and it is more like a sacred country.

When you reach nearer to the Vatican City, you see a large fort wall. And that’s the wall which separates a country from a city. Astonishing, is not it? Do not undermine the strength of the Vatican city in terms of the administration and facilities. It has every basic entity which a country needs to be run properly.

Also read: St. Thomas basilica church, Santhome

On another note, if I had to compare Vatican City, I would compare it with the Gosaba island in the Sundarbans but that would be far-related and weird. Moreover, Gosaba island is secluded even though it has a whole municipality of its own.

Some strange facts about Vatican City:

  • Vatican city has its own barracks but that’s for the Swiss Guards which were hired by Pope Julius-three as the mercenary force.
  • Vatican City has a Television Center. Wonder, from where the live telecast and the message of the Pope come from.
  • Vatican city also has other facilities like a super store, Drug store, post office, railway station, Greenhouses, English Gardens, Library, Colleges, Radio station, Italian Garden, Guest house, Audience hall etc.
  • St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peters Square occupy more than one-tenth of the total area of the Vatican City Alone.
  • St. Peter’s Basilica is believed to be sitting atop a city of the dead. The story goes like this: There was a great fire in Rome in A.D. 64. During that time, the emperor of the Rome was Emperor Nero. Trying not to take the blame on himself, instead, he blamed Christians of the fire. So, to take the revenge, he also burnt them alive in the same fire. St. Peter, after whom the basilica and the square have been named was also one among the victims. St. Peter was one of the most profound disciples of Jesus Christ. Later, when the Christianity was declared as the official religion of Rome, a basilica was made atop the same blaze.
  • Vatican City even before being declared as a sacred area was already being treated as a sacred area.
  • During the second world war, even though the Italy was an integral member of the war, Vatican City expressed a neutrality in the war. The neutrality was waged to such an extent that even if Rome be bombarded, Vatican City, lying almost in the center of the Rome, should not be touched.
  • Unlike citizenship of other states, which is based mostly on the place of birth, citizenship of Vatican City is granted on the grounds of appointment to work in a certain capacity in the service of the Holy See. It usually ceases upon cessation of the appointment. Citizenship is extended also to the spouse, parents, and descendants of a citizen provided they are living with the person who is a citizen.

Other tips to visiting the Vatican City:

  • Vatican City will mostly be crowded on a clear day. So, I am not extrapolating when I say, beware of the pick- pockets.
  • As I mentioned in the beginning that every inch of the sacred land holds some mystery, plus, as a tourist, you would also be allowed not to visit some of the secluded and parked areas, so it is always better to hire a guide.
  • St. Peter’s Basilica is a must. Do not forget to go inside the church as well as on the dome top of the church.
    From the top, you get to see the most of the remaining part of the Vatican city. The view of the St. Peter’s square will just be mesmerizing
  • Also, visit inside the church. It is decorated with a lot of paintings including some of the most famous paintings.

Some of the pictures from the Vatican City:

Roman Forum Photo Blog

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