Flying Over a Country? - Pay Toll

Source: Times Of India:

A Mumbai-New York flight can take anywhere between 14 and 17 hours. The three-hour difference is not to be sniffed at, especially if it means arriving at a respectable 10 pm instead of an ungodly 1.00 am. Most people believe that flying time is determined by the horse power of the aircraft or the squalls en route. But there's a political factor at work here that perhaps even savvy jet-setters aren't aware of: the overflying charge.

Fastidious passengers who obsessively compare inflight services –– does Air France offer more leg room? Is the smoked salmon more succulent on Lufthansa? –– should perhaps learn a little more about the terms of passage. Simply put, the overflying fee is the whopping charge levied by a sovereign nation for allowing foreign aircraft to use its airspace. It's like a toll tax in the sky, ostensibly to cover the cost of providing navigational aid to aircraft, but that's just a handy excuse to make airlines pay. Flying over a country without landing on its soil is one of the basic rights given to the 129 member-states of the International Air Services Transit Agreement. This right is known more poetically as the First Freedom of the Air, and can be a useful diplomatic weapon. Following the December 2001 attack on Parliament, India withdrew overflying rights to Pakistan, which promptly reciprocated the favour, forcing Indian planes to take a more roundabout route to Europe. Rights were later restored on both sides. Tiny Israel is one of the hardest hit with Arab neighbours such as Saudi Arabia refusing to open their airspace to El Al.

As recession-hit airlines turn into Scrooges — charging for check-in luggage, and in the case of a European budget carrier, even toying with the idea of paid toilets –– there's a renewed focus on computing the cost of real estate in the sky. Passengers could soon be faced with two options, say, on a Delhi-London trip: pay more to fly as the crow flies (or close to), or save some cash and arrive an hour later.

Each country has its own unique way of deciding how much to charge. While some levy a fixed fee, others resort to more complex calculations. If a strip of land is sandwiched between two strife-torn countries, an airline has to pay more to use this ‘safe' corridor. Iran, for one, squeezed between Iraq and Afghanistan, charges a bomb — in 2006, it had an average of 350 over-flights a day, which earned it a neat $650,000 to $700,000 daily. The average cost per flight over Iran works out to Rs 92,590.

If it isn't geopolitics, it's the strategic location of a country that gives it leverage. Chile charges planes on the basis of their entry and exit points – since most planes enter its airspace from the north, all northern entry and exit routes are charged almost double of those flying in from and out to the east. Iceland has raised direction-sensitivity to a fine art, with different rates for the latitudes and longitudes that an aircraft flies past. China charges in US dollars: in 2002, the fee was $1 per km. The US levies a toll of about $33.72 per 190 km. India, Indonesia and 30 nations in Europe that are jointly under Eurocontrol have their own formula based on the weight of aircraft and distance travelled.

As for the airlines, flight paths are constantly being redrawn, sometimes on the day itself, based on a number of factors: fuel burned, wind speed/direction, location of fixed navigational aids along the way, avoidance of military air traffic corridors, crowding, the political situation of countries. "For most airlines, the least fuel-burn route is generally the cheapest, which means they don't consider taking diversions to avoid overflying fees," a commander said. "But for long-haul and ultra-long-haul flights, it makes sense to avoid countries like Iran, which charge about four times more."

Even in the case of short flights, it sometimes makes sense to avoid the toll. An airline official gave an example. A Houston to Honolulu flight can either wing past Mexico or take a short detour via San Diego in California. "This detour adds only 13 miles," he said, "so if the winds are favourable, it makes sense to avoid Mexico's overflying charges."

Another example is the Tango Route. The direct route from the UK to the Canary Islands involves flying over France, Spain and Portugal, with £1,578 in overflying charges. The Tango Route, which entails a 100-mile diversion over the Atlantic, has an airspace fee of only £968. The direct route uses about 13.1 tonnes of fuel and takes four hours. Tango uses a little more, 15 tonnes of fuel, and takes marginally longer, about 4 hours and 20 minutes. The £600 of overflying money saved per flight typically outweighs the cost of flying an additional 100 miles.

It is useful to know if you're being taken to your destination by a longer route. The next time you board a long flight, take a few moments to check that backseat flight-path monitor to see the route your aircraft is taking. India-Europe flights have three route options. The first is a northern route that takes you over Afghanistan and the CIS countries, the second is over Pakistan and Iran, the third over Dubai and Turkey. For an India-US flight across the Atlantic, there are six potential routes, one of which is suggested every day by the US authorities, depending on the weather. "This route is provided to pilots a day in advance and gives the best fuel savings,'' said a senior commander.

"Right up to the seventies, flight routes were planned manually and the same route would be followed month after month, changing only when bad weather was forecast," says Capt Hassan Al-Mousawi, vice-president, operations safety and quality, Jet Airways. Then, flight-planning computers were introduced, marking a huge leap forward and cutting out the need for manual calculations. Once the relevant data is keyed in, the computer throws up the cheapest route along with a number of options such as least-time, least-fuel-burn and best-place-for-fuel-uplift route. "If you are running late, you follow the minimum-time-profile and go at a speed higher than normal," said Capt Hassan.

National carrier Air India will have a new flight-path system in place next year whose wisdom, it hopes, will save it $15 million annually. "If a country's overflying charges are too high, the system will guide you to a cheaper one," said a spokesperson for Air India.

Advanced systems have now become a critical factor in cost control. IATA estimates that airlines spend over $25 billion a year on route navigation fees. Airline after airline — from BA, Singapore Airlines and Emirates to Continental and Delta –– have upgraded their systems or are doing so.

"It makes sense to save on overflying fees on long-haul routes as long as other factors fall into place," said Maneesh Jaikrishna, director for South Asia and India, SITA, an IT solutions provider which has 220 airlines using its flight planning software. On a 12-hour flight, a smart flight plan can save up to 800 kg, or one tonne of fuel, he added. There are quite a few airlines that pay much less for fuel than those in India and they can easily afford the extra flying.

The journey, in a sense, has become as important as the destination. Sample this: a European carrier boasts that its flight to Buenos Aires goes over the Canary Islands, "unlike" the competition, which takes a bypass to avoid the notorious fee that this minuscule landmass extracts for passing over its beautiful blue sky. The European carrier's message, of course, is that it is thoughtfully shelling out steep overflying fees so that its passengers can get to their beef steaks and beer that much quicker.

theFundooGeek recommended reading :

» read entire post «

WriteOnIt – Photomontage Creator

What are you willing to do to have yourself on the cover page of a well circulated magazine? Not much, really! Just head to WriteOnIt and voila!

The website lets you create fake pictures, signboards, and even a fake magazine cover with your photo on it! The process is simple: Choose your activity; upload a photo or choose from an existing template; write your caption.

VooHoo! Your custom-made image is ready to be downloaded. Alternatively, you can even post it to your blog, social network, or photo-sharing site.

What are you waiting for? Go head to webSite and become a celebrity!
Have Fun!

So, what’s the Fundoo Geek’s verdict? Here are the smileys »»

SmileyStars: StarStarStar

» read entire post «

Discovery of Water on Moon Prompts ISRO to consider Additional Experiments

Inspired by the tremendous success from its first lunar mission, India's ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) wants to plan a sequel mission with similar experiments. The discovery of water on moon by Chandrayaan-I has prompted ISRO scientists to rethink on the experiments to be carried by its sequel mission scheduled for launch by 2013.

ISRO plans to land two rovers on the lunar surface as part of Chandrayaan-II besides conducting several in-orbit experiments.

"Following findings of Chandrayaan-I, it would have to now look at midcourse correction of its objectives. We have to finetune it. There is some loud thinking on the issue going on," ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair told reporters in Bangalore.

Nair indicated that scientists were exploring possibilities of equipping the lunar rover with some instruments that could dig the moon surface and carry out in-situ experiments.

While almost all experiments on Chandrayaan-II will be by Indian scientists, the lunar rover which will land on the moon will be sourced from Russia, Nair said.

ISRO is also looking at ways to send a smaller indigenous version of the rover to the lunar surface.

"Right now Chandrayaan-II is full," Nair said adding that scientists were looking at how they could accommodate some additional payloads.

theFundooGeek recommended reading :

» read entire post «

Discovery of the Century: Water Found on Moon by Indian Space Mission Chandrayaan

In a landmark discovery, India's maiden moon mission Chandrayaan-I has found evidence of water on the lunar surface, a finding that could trigger a serious hunt for life in outer space.

Dreams of establishing a manned Moon base could become reality within two decades after India’s first lunar mission found evidence of large quantities of water on its surface.

Data from Chandrayaan-1 also suggests that water is still being formed on the Moon. Scientists said the breakthrough — to be announced by NASA at a press conference today — would change the face of lunar exploration.

The confirmation of elevated water molecules in the moon’s polar regions by India’s maiden lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 raises new questions about its origin and effect on the mineralogy of the moon, US scientists say.

“Water ice on the moon has been something of a holy grail for lunar scientists for a very long time,” said Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This surprising finding has come about through the ingenuity, perseverance and international cooperation between NASA and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).”

NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper, or M3, instrument reported the observations. M3 was carried into space on Oct. 22, 2008, aboard the ISRO’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft.

By establishing the presence of water signatures on moon, the country's maiden lunar mission made a "path- breaking" and "real discovery", ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair said at a press conference in Bangalore.

The Moon Impact Probe (MIP) while descending from Chandrayaan-I to moon, picked up strong signals of water particles, he said.

"However, the signatures of waters are not in the form of sea, lake or even as a puddle or not even a drop. You cannot pick it up just like that," he said.

"It is embedded on the surface in the minerals and rocks and we have clear indication that the hydroxil (OH) as water molecules are present on the surface, may be at least for a few millimeters," he said. According to Nair, the "quantity found is much larger than what was expected which is a real finding".

Apart from India's MIP, the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) of NASA on board Chandrayaan-I also confirmed the presence of water.

"The volume of data collected from Chandrayaan-1 is phenomenal. Our computers in ISRO and NASA are filled up with information. It may take six months to three years to analyze it," he said.

M3 was one of two NASA instruments among 11 pieces of equipment from around the world on Chandrayaan-1, which was launched into orbit around the Moon in October last year. ISRO lost control of Chandrayaan-1 last month, and aborted the mission ahead of schedule, but not before M3 and the other instruments had beamed data back to Earth.

Another lunar scientist familiar with the findings said: “This is the most exciting breakthrough in at least a decade. And it will probably change the face of lunar exploration for the next decade.”

Scientists are eagerly awaiting the results of two American unmanned lunar missions, which were both launched in June, that could also prove the existence of water on the Moon.

theFundooGeek recommended reading :

» read entire post «

Chrome Under IE Skin – Google’s New Plug-in

Source: Computerworld:

Google Inc. today released a plug-in that embeds its Chrome browser into rival Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer, a move one analyst said could be an admission by Google that getting users to switch is harder than it anticipated.

Dubbed Google Chrome Frame, the open-source plug-in can be used with Internet Explorer 6, IE7 and IE8, said Google in a blog post introducing the new software.

Google cast Chrome Frame as a way to instantly boost the notoriously slow JavaScript speed of IE, and as an answer to the conundrum facing Web developers when designing sites and online applications that rely on Internet standards IE doesn't support, such as HTML 5.

"One challenge developers face in using these new technologies is that they are not yet supported by Internet Explorer," said two Chrome engineers and a Chrome product manager on Google's Chromium blog. "Developers can't afford to ignore IE -- most people use some version of IE -- so they end up spending lots of time implementing work-arounds or limiting the functionality of their apps," said Google's Amit Joshi, Alex Russell and Mike Smith in the post.

The three were right about IE's popularity: According to the most recent data from metrics firm Net Applications, IE accounted for 67% of all browsers used last month. Mozilla's Firefox, at No. 2, held a 23% share, while Chrome owned just 3% of the market.

Developers can tell IE to flip the switch to Chrome Frame with a single HTML tag on their sites or in their applications' HTML code. Users, however, must install Google Frame manually.

Although Google portrayed Chrome Frame as a boon to developers and users -- "We believe that Google Chrome Frame makes life easier for Web developers as well as users," said Joshi, Russell and Smith -- others speculated today that the move might be a way for Google to sneak into systems now running only IE.

Sheri McLeish, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., saw it differently.

In her eyes, Chrome Frame, while good news for developers and even users, is an admission by Google that it won't be able to tempt many IE users, especially those running it within enterprises, into switching.

"Google is realizing that the potential to get people to move off IE is harder than it thought," McLeish said. "Clearly, Google is gunning for Microsoft in all its business, but this is an unexpected path to take for what seemed like an effort on its part to offer a full alternative to IE."

"It might give Google more exposure within an enterprise setting, where it lacks the kind of administrative tools that Microsoft offers for IE," she said, "but what's the motivation for people to migrate to Chrome when they can get some of its benefits within IE? I think its message to get people to migrate is actually decreased. I'm just not sure where Google is going with this."

Microsoft: Google Chrome Frame Makes IE Less Secure
Microsoft, on the other hand, is warning IE users that it does not recommend installing the plugin. What does the company have against the plugin? It makes Internet Explorer less secure. 'With Internet Explorer 8, we made significant advancements and updates to make the browser safer for our customers,' according to a Microsoft spokesperson. 'Given the security issues with plugins in general and Google Chrome in particular, Google Chrome Frame running as a plugin has doubled the attack area for malware and malicious scripts. This is not a risk we would recommend our friends and families take.'"

"It's not necessarily that plug-ins aren't or can't be secure, but that running a browser within a browser doubles the potential attack surface in a way that we don't see is particularly helpful," said Amy Bazdukas, Microsoft's general manager for IE.

Bazdukas also said that by running Chrome Frame, Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) users were unwittingly discarding all the private browsing protections that Microsoft built into its newest browser.

"Chrome Frame breaks the privacy model of IE," she claimed. "Users are not going to be able to use IE's privacy features, something that's not made apparent to users. They're essentially circumvented."

Bazdukas also maintained that IE8's browser history deletion feature is crippled by Chrome Frame; users who decide to erase the history may think it's working, but it's not.

In a statement earlier today, Microsoft said using Chrome Frame is not "a risk we would recommend our friends and families take." Bazdukas, however, got more specific.

theFundooGeek recommended reading :

» read entire post «

Lyricsfly – A Lyrics Treasure-chest

Have you been in a situation where you had that urge to sing along with your favorite artist, only to realize you don’t really know the words. Well, I have been there many many times. I end up making my own lyrics from whatever few words I may remember of the song. I've always wondered there should be somewhere on the internet a site that would let me download lyrics.

So we got one of our fundoo geek on the job. The result >>!

The site currently boasts an exhaustive database of 605,666 song titles. The ‘popup-free’ site lets you search lyrics, based on artist, song, or album – as well as lyrics. So you can search on the few words that you remember from a song, in case you don't remember the artist or the title of the song. How Cool!!

It even throws up links to related online videos. All of the content here – of course – is uploaded by users, or cached after scouring the Internet using a Web spider.

I for one have always wanted to lay my hands on the lyrics of Mariah Carey's Hero. So, here you go ...

What are you waiting for? Go head to Lyricsfly and sing along!
Have Fun!

So, what’s the Fundoo Geek’s verdict? Here are the smileys »»

SmileyStars: StarStarStarStar

» read entire post «

India Ace into the Davis Cup World Group Finals

Ellis Park Tennis Stadium, Johannesburg:

After a span of 11 years, India today sealed their place in the Davis Cup Tennis World Group Finals. India, who last played in the World Group finals in 1998, needed to win just one reverse singles, in their tie against South Africa, to wrap up the tie in their favor.

The visitors had won both their opening singles for a 2-0 lead Friday but lost the doubles to South Africans Wesley Moodie and Jeff Coetzee Saturday when Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna conceded midway after Mahesh pulled his right groin.

Somdev Devvarman, in a sensational comeback, outlasted South Africa's Rik De Voest, 4-6, 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 6-2, 6-4 in a near five-hour slugfest in the first reverse singles Sunday to seal India's place in the elite World Group for the first time in 11 years. Somdev's win thus gave India an unbeatable 3-1 win over the hosts.

Somdev, who shares the coach with De Voest, stunned his South African practice partner and the vociferous home crowd.

In the second reverse India fielded the 17-year-old junior Australian Open champion, Yuki Bhambri. Yuki (ranked 422) made a sensational debut by defeating Izak Van Der Merwe (ranked 290). Playing in his first ever Davis Cup tie, Bhambri impressively came from behind to claim a 3-6 6-3 6-4 win and give India a 4-1 victory in Johannesburg.

India has a current ranking of 19 in the Davis Cup Nations Ranking.

theFundooGeek recommended reading :

» read entire post «

Season’s Best Wishes To Our Muslim Brethren on Eid ul-Fitr

Eid Mubarak to all our Muslim friends around the globe and other planets!


May this Eid ul-Fitr bring everlasting peace on our planet!

theFundooGeek recommended reading :

» read entire post «

Season’s Best Wishes To Our Jewish Brethren on Rosh HaShanah

A very Happy and Prosperous New Year (שנה טובה Shana Tova Umetukah) to all our Jewish friends around the globe and other planets!


May this Rosh HaShanah bring everlasting peace on our planet!

theFundooGeek recommended reading :

» read entire post «

A Blast from the Past!

Here are some articles from's archive - a true blast from the past! for your reading pleasure.

The posts are randomly picked every time you refresh the home page. So do visit often, read the posts, refresh the page and enjoy some more reading!!


Widget by Blog Godown


» read entire post «

India Wins the Compaq Cup thanks to Tendulkar and Harbhajan

Sachin Tendulkar scored his 44th ODI century (86th international century) today to help India win the Compaq Cup. This will go a long way to shut his critics by showing he still has what it takes to produce winners.

Harbhajan Singh (Turbanator) took 5 wickets at crucial times to make sure Sachin's hard work doesn't go waste.

India won the thriller final against Sri Lanka.

theFundooGeek recommended reading :

» read entire post «

“Should I Buy It?” Flowchart


theFundooGeek recommended reading :

» read entire post «

99-Cent Wedding Bargain Bliss on 09/09/09

Source: Wallet Pop:

Novelty dates and places are always popular for people getting hitched. The date 07/07/07 was especially hot with 7 lucky winners hitting the Wedding Date Jackpot in Las Vegas. This year's magic date 9/9/9 got its fair share of nuptial attention thanks in part to the 99 Cents Only Store. In honor of 09/09/09, the 99 Cents Only Store chain hosted weddings for 9 couples at its Sunset Boulevard branch.

Over 2,999 couples from all over the U.S. were eager to be married at the 99-Cent Only Store at 5270 Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood on 9/9/09. Nine couples were chosen by random draw and now they've said their I-do's and paid their buck!

99-Cent Only Stores teamed up with other sponsors to provide each couple with all the trimmings of a traditional wedding, worth $2,599. Here's what each of the couples got for their 99-cents:

  • The brides received complimentary hair and makeup by Design Visage, a bridal services provider in Southern California.
  • Natural Floral provided fresh flower bouquets and boutonnieres for each of the nine couples.
  • Wedding photography was by highly regarded Los Angeles wedding photographer Jay Lawrence Goldman.
  • Hotel Angeleno, in Brentwood, provided hotel accommodations for one night, as well as a meal in its well-regarded West Restaurant & Lounge.
  • Personal Care Products sponsored dinner at a romantic well-known Santa Monica restaurant.
  • Following the ceremony and reception at the store, the couples and their guests enjoyed a drive around Hollywood in a limousine courtesy of Awesome.
  • 99-Cent Only Stores gifted each of the couples with $99.99 in cash as well as his and her goodie bags.
  • And, finally, one lucky couple has also received two Southwest Airlines round-trip tickets.

Kathy Jacobs, the Discount Store Diva who designed a wedding gown entirely out of items from the 99-Cent Only Stores, also created the decor for the wedding ceremony and reception. Everything at the couples' wedding table, including dinnerware, flatware, glassware, table cloths, centerpieces, candles, vases, gift bags, place cards, disposable cameras and flowers, were from the store. The reception menu included dishes made up of the fresh fruit, produce and other foods that 99-Cent Only Stores sell.

Paging all Wedding guests ... your party is @ aisle 9.

theFundooGeek recommended reading :

» read entire post «

9/11 Anniversary

The tragic events of that faithful day - 9/11/01 have had an effect on scores of humans. Many lives and families were destroyed by thoughtless act of few cowards who misuse and abuse religion. These terrorists, in the name of religion would have all good wiped out from earth.

On this 8th anniversary, our prayers and thoughts go out to all people who have been impacted by any terrorist act anywhere on planet earth! May you all find peace!!

Before 9/11:

We will Always Remember!!!

» read entire post «

Baby Born at 9:09 am on 09/09/09

Source: Press Trust of India:

An Indian-origin couple in Australia has been blessed with a baby girl who was born at 9:09 am local time on 09/09/09.

The new parents, Dhara and Sudish Patel, said the delivery time of their baby, considered auspicious in many parts of the world, particularly China, was a surprise.

"Her due date was September 12," the mother said, according a report in the ABC News.

Dhara said the number nine would become part of her baby's life. "We think it will be her lucky number."

In the United States too, a baby were born at 9:09 am on 09/09/09.

"It's very exciting," said Maria Villagomez, 28, at New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens. The baby, named Isabella, was actually due on Monday.

"Nine, nine, nine" or "Jiu, Jiu" in Chinese means for a long time. Thousands of young Chinese flocked to get married on Wednesday believing that the date will guarantee longevity to their wedding and life.

» read entire post «

India’s Tennis Star Leander Paes on target for doubles celebration At U.S. Open

Source: Reuters India:

Leander Paes rekindled his love affair with the U.S. Open on Wednesday as for the second year running, he made it through to two doubles finals at Flushing Meadows.

There is something about Arthur Ashe Stadium that brings out the 'A Game' in Paes and on day 10 of the hardcourt major, he punched away a volley to secure a 6-4 3-6 7-6 win with his partner Lukas Dlouhy to knock out top seeds Bob and Mike Bryan.

"This crowd is just magic, I hope you show up again," the 36-year-old Paes told the fans after raising his fists in celebration.

He won less than 24 hours after reaching the mixed doubles showpiece with Zimbabwean Cara Black.

Twelve months ago Paes suffered mixed fortunes in the finals when he and Black went on to pick up the trophy but he faltered with Dlouhy in the men's doubles showpiece.

On Wednesday, Indo-Czech pair steamed to a 5-1 lead in the deciding tiebreak only to see the Americans wipe away the advantage.

After watching five match points vanish, Paes made no mistake on the sixth and left the Bryan twins flat-footed as he sent a volley flying through the middle of the court.

"Last year we were in the final and we are still going this great year," said the 26-year-old Dlouhy, who won his first doubles crown with Paes at the French Open in June.

Paes will get his first chance to increase his tally of nine grand slam crowns on Thursday when he and Black take on the Americans Carly Gullickson and Travis Parrott in the mixed finale on Thursday.

In the men's showpiece, he could face his former partner Mahesh Bhupathi if he and Mark Knowles beat Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram in the other semi.

theFundooGeek recommended reading :

» read entire post «

How to Design Your Own Exercise Program Using 7 Key Moves

Source: Lifehacker:

If you follow an exercise program, you know the benefits of sticking to a routine. It is more important to have a regular exercise routine than to exercise in an ad-hoc manner.

Some people have the luxury of a personal trainer to create their exercise routines for them. For the rest of us, web site Dumb Little Man has outlined seven key movements worth considering when designing a fitness program.

According to the post, any good exercise program should incorporate the following seven movements: squats, lunges, bends, twists, pushing, pulling, and walking/running.

The key step is deciding how much and which movements to implement. Dumb Little Man breaks it down into 3 steps :

  1. Know The Basic 7 Movements
  2. Put It Together, and finally
  3. Make It Work For You

The site suggests that maximum you'd get out of this program would be to perform 3 groups of each exercise (sets), with each group containing between 8 and 15 repetitions. To keep it interesting, and also to maximize energy and fat loss, perform one group of each exercise back-to-back with no rest, take a 2 minute break, and then repeat two times.

Read through the full post for more details on how to design your own program.

theFundooGeek recommended reading :

» read entire post «

The Forbidden Palace In China (Amazing Pics)

Source: QQ Unofficial site:

The Forbidden City (Zijincheng) (also known as the Imperial Palace (Gugong) and the Palace Museum) is the largest and best preserved collection of ancient buildings in China. The entrance to the Palace is through Tian'anmen gate. Once you reach Wumen (Meridian Gate) you enter the heart of the Complex and this is the place to buy your tickets.

After passing through Meridian gate, there is a huge Palace courtyard. Hereafter, the complex is divided into two sections: the Inner Court or the living quarters, and the working area also known as the Outer Court. The Palace courtyard contains the "stream of golden water" and five bridges, all decorated with carved torches, traditional symbols of masculinity. The Outer court is guarded by a row of lions protecting the Gate of Supreme Harmony.

The Outer Court starts at the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the greatest and largest of all the halls in the complex. This was the most important building for the emperor and the place where all official business was done. Ceremonies such as the enthronement of the Crown Prince, the Emperor's birthday, imperial marriage ceremonies, and the initiation of military expeditions all took place here. The Emperor would arrive at the Hall of Supreme Harmony amidst ceremonial music, drum-beating and firecrackers. He would then take his place on the throne and listen to a reading of congratulatory messages from his palace courtiers. Civil and military officials would all kneel before him proclaiming, "Long Live Your Majesty." The building itself is decorated with thousands of dragons, the traditional symbol of the Emperor's power.

The Midway Hall of Harmony is a smaller hall where the emperor would prepare for the ceremonies to be held in the Hall of Supreme Harmony. The Midway hall was also used by the Emperor to examine agricultural instruments and discuss techniques. This was an important duty as the responsibility for a poor harvest fell largely on his shoulders.

The Inner Court begins at the Hall of Celestial Purity. The inner court was where the emperor, his concubines and Eunuchs lived. Approximately half of the six thousand people at the Imperial court were Eunuchs. Eunuchs were seen to improve the emperors position and ensured that his children were just that, HIS own! There were similar numbers of Concubines in the Palace. In this way, any aspiring courtiers or women who fancied they may rise up the social ladder a little were taken care of! The Emperor was definitely THE BOSS.

The Gate of Celestial Purity was where the emperor attended to state affairs. The Emperors Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong attended to business here on a daily basis. After these three emperors died, standards fell and by the time the Qing dynasty came to power in 1644, corruption was rife.

During the Ming Dynasty and the early Qing Dynasty, the emperors lived in the Hall of Celestial Purity while the Empresses inhabited the Hall of Earthly Peace. The Hall of Union and Peace was the area where the emperor and empress could live together. In later periods, the Emperor and Empress moved to the Six West Palaces. The Emperor's choice of a son to succeed him is said to be kept in a secret box in the Hall of Celestial purity.

Legend has it that during the Ming Dynasty, two concubines tried to kill the Emperor with a rope. As they were very nervous, they accidentally tied a quick release knot. Another courtier watching brought help and the quick release knot was enough to save the Emperor from death. The women involved in the assassination plot were killed and their bodies dismembered and displayed as a lesson to any other would be troublemakers!

The Hall of Prolonged Happiness is known for the Western style crystal palace contained within the Hall. After the original Hall was destroyed by fire, the Emperor Xuntong began constructing a fireproof palace made from white marble and glass in its place. When the palace was half completed, the Qing Dynasty was overthrown and the project stopped.

South of here is the Yuqing Palace, the Palace for fasting. The Emperors were expected to fast the night before they offered sacrifices to Heaven. As a general rule, the emperors stayed here for the first two days of their fast and then moved to an imperial residence within the confines of the Temple of Heaven. During the fast the emperors abstained from wine, onions, garlic, chives, praying, involvement in petty affairs and making love. It must have been quite a task for them!

Emperor Qianlong built the Hall of Peaceful Longevity and made it into a Palace for the Emperor Dowager. Each year, on New Years day of the lunar calendar, the emperor would entertain ministers in this pavilion. Cups filled with wine would be placed on the water in the lake of the gardens. If the floating cup stopped in front of you, you were asked to drink the wine and make a poem!

The best way to approach a trip to the Forbidden City is to first examine it in detail, either with an audio tape or some reference and then to double back on yourself and just enjoy wandering and imagining what life must have been like there. In order to fully appreciate the majesty of the Forbidden City, try to allow at least half a day for the visit.

You can take bus No.1,4,52,103,111 to get there.

Ticket Price: RMB40 in the off-season (from Nov.1 to Mar.31), while RMB60 in the peak season (from April.1 to Oct.31).

Opening Time: 8:30--16:30 from Oct.16 to April 31. Latest time for ticket purchase: 15:30 8:30--17:00 from April.16 to Oct.15. Latest time for ticket purchase: 16:00

Note: The prime area for sightseeing is the center area of the Imperial Palace, however if time permits, you could also have a walk and visit the west areas.

theFundooGeek recommended reading :

Note: the pictures are the copyright of their respectful owners.

» read entire post «

What are other's reading?

A Blast from the Past!


    Blog Archive


    Aspire to Inspire before you Expire!

    theFundooGeek! is our perspective about everything that we see around us. It has content for finance, sports, life, technology, software, philosophical thoughts etc.