Category Archives: Turkey

Memories of Istanbul

I wake suddenly at night to look at the alarms I have set on my two phones. One is set to India time, the other to local time.

The local time shows 4:45AM.

I do some quick math on the India time and deduce that it should be 5:45AM, given the time zone difference.

I am still not fully awake, and the dichotomy takes its time sinking in. I indulge a fuzzy idea that perhaps I am living two moments separated by an hour at the same time – can I live in my past as well as present? I realize that there must be a simpler explanation, and vigorously shake my head to welcome sanity in.

One perceived moment of dual existence does not seem startling here. In Turkey, hyphenated dualism exists everywhere – neolithic and recent republic history, Greek and Roman legends, glorious pasts of Christianity and Islam, even the geographic reality of being in Asia as well as Europe.

The simplest explanation is that the daylight savings has kicked in. I call the reception to confirm – yes, it is indeed so.

‘Wake up,’ I tell Sudha. ‘The day has just begun.

A view of the spice market. Click to see slideshow

  Continue reading Memories of Istanbul


The Temple of Artemis & the city of Ephesus

Ephesus, at its peak, was the capital of Asia Minor and the second largest city after Rome. Ephesus takes its name from Ephesia, an Amazonian queen reputed to have built the city around 2000BC.

The city was perfect for a Hindi film punar-janam story. It flourished in many epochs, only to die out slowly till reborn in a new century. After its origin in 2000BC, it was again resurrected around 1000BC by a Greek general. Legend has it that he was looking for land to establish a city, and was told by an oracle to look for three new things. He saw fire, fish and a boar while visiting the site of Ephesus, and decided to rebuild the city. To test the surroundings, he had his lieutenants cut up three animals – healthy internals meant that there was fresh water and food nearby. Continue reading The Temple of Artemis & the city of Ephesus

The Ruins of Aphrodisias

Aphrodisias, city built around the temple for Aphrodite, Greek goddess of beauty.

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Hierapolis and the cotton castle at Pamukkale

Hierapolis is an ancient Greek city dated around 400BC, renowned as a medical centre of yore. It was built near Pamukkale, natural thermal springs that were proclaimed to have health benefits.

As per legend, the more prominent health city was Pergamum, which had a huge medical facility that declared – No one can die here. In case they found any patient who had bleak chances of survival, they would send them off to Hierapolis so that death would not enter Peragum’s health facilities. One such unfortunate patient was trudging his way to Hierapolis and saw a snake drinking from a vessel. Tired of life, he decided to partake the contents and hasten his death, only to find that he recovered quickly as the snake’s venom had acted as an antidote for his ailment. Since then, snakes were seen as symbols of medicine. Continue reading Hierapolis and the cotton castle at Pamukkale

Turkish night! at Cappadocia

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Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia

Cappadocia is one of the most visited tourism centers in Turkey, and understandably so. Cappadocia’s landscape owes its origin to eruptions from two volcanic mounts, the last one being about 8000 years ago. Over years, the outflow cooled to produce interesting rock patterns – perfect for watching from the skies.

Cappadocia also has one of the world’s best hot air ballooning sites. Even before we reached Turkey, Sudha and I had planned to try it out. We booked our flight on a balloon just before leaving Istanbul after our tour operator assured us that it would be phenomenal. Continue reading Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia

Anatolian museum and Ataturk memorial – Ankara

One of the best preserved neolithic civilizations is Çatalhöyük, dated between 7500BC and 5700BC in southern Anatolia, the ancient name for much of the area that is Turkey today. It was a planned society with streets, intersections and houses. However, the houses were rank peculiar – none of them had any doors or windows. The only way to enter was to clamber into a hole on the roof and climb down a ladder. It seems strange that people learnt to put up walls and not make doors in, especially after migrating from caves which have natural entrances. Maybe that’s where the phrase – I’ll drop by – originated.

Fertitlity Goddess

The museum of Anatolian civilizations has interesting finds from this and more.

The primary deity at Çatalhöyük was a form of Mother Goddess. Excavations show a figurine of a plump woman with full breasts and stomach seated on a chair that has the heads of two beasts carved out as hand rests, now on display at the Anatolia museum at Ankara. The figurine seems to indicate that she was a fertility goddess, which is not surprising considering how many societies had
deities for fertility, including Hinduism. This was a time the early artists arose – the museum has some cave murals that show deer being hunted; the color of the murals still fresh more than 8000 years later. Continue reading Anatolian museum and Ataturk memorial – Ankara