Approach Guides http://www.approachguides.com Approach Guides | Travel Apps & Ebooks Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:47:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9 Best Parks to See Tigers in India http://www.approachguides.com/blog/best-parks-see-tigers-india/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=best-parks-see-tigers-india http://www.approachguides.com/blog/best-parks-see-tigers-india/#comments Sun, 13 Apr 2014 23:46:31 +0000 http://www.approachguides.com/?p=2281 When in India, seeing a tiger in the wild should be a priority on any traveler’s itinerary. And India’s centrally-located Madhya Pradesh province holds two of the best places to see them. After viewing the stunning Islamic architecture of Delhi and Agra or visiting the amazing

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tiger

When in India, seeing a tiger in the wild should be a priority on any traveler’s itinerary. And India’s centrally-located Madhya Pradesh province holds two of the best places to see them. After viewing the stunning Islamic architecture of Delhi and Agra or visiting the amazing Buddhist and Hindu caves of Ellora, Ajanta, and Elephanta, take a quick flight to Kanha National Park or Bandhavgarh National Park (outside of Khajuraho).

Why Kanha or Bandhavgarh?

There are only two wildlife parks in India that offer you the opportunity to ride into inaccessible (by car) areas of the park on mahout-driven elephants to view tigers up-close during the day (this is called a “tiger show”): Bandhavgarh and Kanha. In addition, both parks have a large tiger population, making them the two premier spots in India for sightings.

Information on Bengal Tigers

  • The tiger is the largest of all thirty-seven species of wild cats. Along with the lion, the leopard, the snow leopard and the jaguar, the tiger is classified in the genus “Panthera”, which comprises the group of big cats that are capable of roaring, due to a modification of the hyboid bone.
  • India is home to over half the world’s tiger population (this estimate was given to us by researchers at Kanha). As of March 2011, the current tiger population is estimated at 1,571-1,875 (the subspecies specifically being the “Bengal Tiger”), with the greatest concentration thereafter being in Southeast Asia (there are no tigers in Africa).
  • Tigers are the only big cats with stripes. The stripe patterns on each tiger, designed for camouflage, differ on each side of its body.
  • Males weigh 400-500 lbs and females 220-350 lbs.
  • Tigers are successful in 1 out of every 10-20 attempts to stalk and kill prey. Tigers kill their prey with either a bite on the back of the neck that serves to sever the spinal column or a bite on the throat that serves to suffocate its prey. An adult tigress needs to kill a fair-sized prey (200 lbs) 40-50 times per year, or every 7-8 days.
  • Tigers possess two sensory enhancements, neither of which is unique to this species: the tepetum lucidum, a reflective patch in the retina which improves vision in low light conditions; and the vemeronasal organ (VNO), sometimes called Jacobseon’s organ, which is located in the roof of the mouth. The use of the VNO is most obvious in the grimace known as flehmen, in which the animal wrinkles its nose and extends its tongue; the VNO is designed to evaluate the sexual receptivity of females.
  • Tigers have evolved as basically solitary animals (as compared to lions that exists largely in group formations). Both males and females are territorial and have specifically staked out areas in which each animal pursues prey.
  • Females nurse cubs for 20-24 months; gestation period of 105 days; average litter of 2-3 cubs, with high mortality rate (34% in first year, 17% in second), the most common reason for death being infanticide, the killing of the cubs by a new male looking to mate with the mother tiger.
  • Poaching is still a real problem, particularly because elements of the tiger are still in demand for traditional Chinese medicine.

Hotel. Kipling Camp. 07649/277218. www.kiplingcamp.com. Although it is far from luxury and a bit expensive, this is the quintessential (and first) camp in the area, to the best of our knowledge. It is located right outside of the entrance to Kanha. The camp appears to suffer a little from a staff turnover issue, however, it is more than adequate. You are here to see tigers and they maximize your experience on this front, running a morning and afternoon game drive led by experienced naturalists.

 

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Taj Mahal: Origins in Humayun’s Tomb | Delhi and Agra (India) http://www.approachguides.com/blog/taj-mahal-humayun-tomb-delhi-agra-india/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=taj-mahal-humayun-tomb-delhi-agra-india http://www.approachguides.com/blog/taj-mahal-humayun-tomb-delhi-agra-india/#comments Sun, 23 Mar 2014 17:06:00 +0000 http://www.approachguides.com/?p=2194 Approach Guides’ founder David Raezer explores the how the design similarities between the first tomb built by the Mughal dynasty in India, Humayun’s Tomb, and their masterpiece, the Taj Mahal. It is produced as part of our Insights Series in conjunction our guidebook on the subject “Highlights of India: Delhi & Agra.”

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Approach Guides’ founder David Raezer explores the how the design similarities between the first tomb built by the Mughal dynasty in India, Humayun’s Tomb, and their masterpiece, the Taj Mahal. It is produced as part of our Insights Series in conjunction our guidebook on the subject “Highlights of India: Delhi & Agra.”

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The Faces of Angkor http://www.approachguides.com/blog/faces-angkor/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=faces-angkor http://www.approachguides.com/blog/faces-angkor/#comments Fri, 17 Jan 2014 13:18:16 +0000 http://www.approachguides.com/?p=2082 The stone-carved faces are one of Angkor’s most iconic images. Explore what makes them unique in this Insights series video by Approach Guides’ founder David Raezer. It is produced in conjunction our guidebook on the subject “The Temples of Angkor

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The stone-carved faces are one of Angkor’s most iconic images. Explore what makes them unique in this Insights series video by Approach Guides’ founder David Raezer. It is produced in conjunction our guidebook on the subject “The Temples of Angkor

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Morocco Architecture: What to See in Morocco’s Imperial Cities http://www.approachguides.com/blog/morocco-architecture-see-moroccos-imperial-cities/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=morocco-architecture-see-moroccos-imperial-cities http://www.approachguides.com/blog/morocco-architecture-see-moroccos-imperial-cities/#comments Mon, 06 Jan 2014 19:19:29 +0000 http://www.approachguides.com/?p=2076 Travelers to Morocco will encounter three types of structures: mosques, madrasas and city gates. In this Approach Guides Insight series video, founder Jennifer Raezer explains each building type and highlights what makes Morocco’s Islamic art and architecture distinctive.

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Travelers to Morocco will encounter three types of structures: mosques, madrasas and city gates. In this Approach Guides Insight series video, founder Jennifer Raezer explains each building type and highlights what makes Morocco’s Islamic art and architecture distinctive.

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Call To Prayer in Fez, Morocco http://www.approachguides.com/blog/morocco-fez-adhan/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=morocco-fez-adhan http://www.approachguides.com/blog/morocco-fez-adhan/#comments Wed, 06 Nov 2013 20:27:19 +0000 http://www.approachguides.com/?p=1900 In this episode of Approach Guides’ On Location series, we take you to Morocco’s Fez to hear the call to prayer echoing through the ancient medina, pointing out the city’s two 9th century founding mosques — Kairaouine and Andalous — along the way. The Call to Prayer Explained To get a translation of the call [...]

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In this episode of Approach Guides’ On Location series, we take you to Morocco’s Fez to hear the call to prayer echoing through the ancient medina, pointing out the city’s two 9th century founding mosques — Kairaouine and Andalous — along the way.

The Call to Prayer Explained

To get a translation of the call to prayer, see our related post.

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Architecture tour of Puglia, Italy http://www.approachguides.com/blog/architecture-tour-puglia-italy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=architecture-tour-puglia-italy http://www.approachguides.com/blog/architecture-tour-puglia-italy/#comments Mon, 04 Nov 2013 14:24:48 +0000 http://www.approachguides.com/?p=1886 Puglia has a wealth of architectural gems along with great food, wine, and beautiful beaches. It is one of our favorite areas of Italy and one of the places we return to again and again. Given Puglia’s position as a stop along the route to the Holy Land for pilgrimages and crusaders, the region has [...]

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Puglia has a wealth of architectural gems along with great food, wine, and beautiful beaches. It is one of our favorite areas of Italy and one of the places we return to again and again.

Given Puglia’s position as a stop along the route to the Holy Land for pilgrimages and crusaders, the region has a series of Romanesque churches built under the auspices of the Normans who  controlled the area from 1031 to 1194. In addition, the city of Lecce contains some of the most beautiful Baroque facades in Southern Italy.

Architecture tour of Puglia (view map)

Architecture tour of Puglia, Italy (map)

Top cities to visit to discover the architecture of Puglia

Romanesque churches

To see the best Romanesque architecture that Puglia has to offer, we recommend visiting Manfredonia, Troia, Trani, Molfetta, Ruvo di Puglia, Bitonto, and Bari. Each city contains one or more churches that offer a unique perspective on the Norman style in Puglia (get our guide to explore Puglia churches during your trip). The churches are interesting from the perspective that they combine elements pulled from both Western and Eastern (Byzantine and Islamic) architectural traditions.

Romanesque church of Bitonto (Puglia, Italy)

Romanesque church of Bitonto (Puglia, Italy)

Baroque architecture

Shifting from the austerity of Puglia’s romanesque churches, we highly recommend a visit to Lecce to experience its fanciful Baroque architecture. Full of movement, the architecture here demands your attention and pulls you into the action.

Detail of a Baroque facade in Lecce, Puglia

Detail of a Baroque facade in Lecce, Puglia (photo courtesy of Paolo da Reggio

Where to stay and eat

Around Andria

There are many B&Bs and agritourismi in the area, which serve as a great base to visit the area. One of our favorites is Lama di Luna, a charming agritourismo located near Andria (the home of buratta, a fresh cheese made of mozzarella and cream). They also serve a delicious dinner with wine for 30 EUR per person.

Agritourismo: Lama di Luna
http://www.lamadiluna.com/
Loc. Montegrosso, 70031 Andria, Bari

Lecce

In Lecce we recommend a quaint apartment/B&B that overlooks the rooftops of the city. A tip: the loft offers the best views and is sunnier and more private. Also, for dining, don’t miss Cucina Casereccia, a delightful restaurant where the chef cooks from an open kitchen that opens right into the dining area. Everything is delicious, but the the starters and pasta are incredible.

B&B: Roof Barocco Suite
http://www.roofbaroccosuite.it/
Piazzetta Arte della Stampa n.13, 73100 Lecce

Restaurant: Cucina Casereccia (aka Le Zie)
http://www.lezietrattoria.com/
Via Costadura, 19, Lecce
Closed Sunday evening and Monday

Don’t miss: Puglia’s local specialties

Guide and eBook to the Regional Foods of Italy
Each region of Italy has its unique specialties and distinct culinary tradition, and the Puglia is no different. Puglia’s regional dishes are extremely varied and include seafood, meat, and vegetables. Top dishes include capocollo a highly-regarded dried ham from Martina Franca, ciceri e tria, chickpeas and tagliatelle (delicious!), and cime di rapa (broccoli rabe).
Guide and eBook to Italian Wines
The area is also a top area for good wines, especially Puglia’s red wines. Look for wines based on the aglianico and nero di troia (aka uva di troia) grapes. The wines have significant fruit and depth of flavor with aromas of candied fruit and violets. The regions full-bodied roses are also worth seeking out.

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Video: Cast Iron Architecture in SoHo and TriBeCa http://www.approachguides.com/blog/cast-iron-architecture-soho-tribeca/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cast-iron-architecture-soho-tribeca http://www.approachguides.com/blog/cast-iron-architecture-soho-tribeca/#comments Thu, 03 Oct 2013 17:38:12 +0000 http://www.approachguides.com/?p=1848 Explore the cast iron masterpieces of New York’s SoHo and Tribeca with Approach Guides founder, Jennifer Raezer. The increased strength of the cast iron medium yielded an entirely new architectural aesthetic in these late 19th century store and loft buildings.

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Explore the cast iron masterpieces of New York’s SoHo and Tribeca with Approach Guides founder, Jennifer Raezer. The increased strength of the cast iron medium yielded an entirely new architectural aesthetic in these late 19th century store and loft buildings.

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Wooden Chariot Builders in Puri, India http://www.approachguides.com/blog/wooden-chariot-builders-puri-india/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=wooden-chariot-builders-puri-india http://www.approachguides.com/blog/wooden-chariot-builders-puri-india/#comments Fri, 27 Sep 2013 16:38:34 +0000 http://www.approachguides.com/?p=1834 In this episode of Approach Guides’ On Location series, watch builders construct a Hindu wooden chariot in Puri, India (Orissa).

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In this episode of Approach Guides’ On Location series, watch builders construct a Hindu wooden chariot in Puri, India (Orissa).

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Eastern Influences on St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy http://www.approachguides.com/blog/eastern-influences-basilica-di-san-marco-st-marks-in-venice-italy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=eastern-influences-basilica-di-san-marco-st-marks-in-venice-italy http://www.approachguides.com/blog/eastern-influences-basilica-di-san-marco-st-marks-in-venice-italy/#comments Thu, 25 Jul 2013 12:39:45 +0000 http://www.approachguides.com/?p=1418 In this episode of Approach Guides’ Insights series, Jennifer Raezer, Approach Guides founder, explores the eastern influences that shaped the art and architecture of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy. Jennifer highlights the church’s domes, floorplan, and mosaics, which were influenced by Venice’s interaction with the Byzantine (Constantinople/Istanbul) and Fatimid (Cairo) empires.

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In this episode of Approach Guides’ Insights series, Jennifer Raezer, Approach Guides founder, explores the eastern influences that shaped the art and architecture of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy. Jennifer highlights the church’s domes, floorplan, and mosaics, which were influenced by Venice’s interaction with the Byzantine (Constantinople/Istanbul) and Fatimid (Cairo) empires.

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Guide to the Islamic Call to Prayer (Adhan) http://www.approachguides.com/blog/guide-to-the-islamic-call-to-prayer-adhan/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=guide-to-the-islamic-call-to-prayer-adhan http://www.approachguides.com/blog/guide-to-the-islamic-call-to-prayer-adhan/#comments Tue, 02 Jul 2013 22:59:27 +0000 http://www.approachguides.com/?p=1303 One of the most distinctive elements associated with traveling around the Middle East and countries with large Islamic populations is hearing the call to prayer (adhan) five times each day. Although in some places, like Dubai, the call to prayer is subtle, in other locations, such as Islamic Cairo [...]

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Mosque-Cairo-Ibn-Tulun

The twisting minaret of the 9th century Ibn Tulun mosque (Cairo, Egypt)

One of the most distinctive elements associated with traveling around the Middle East and countries with large Islamic populations is hearing the call to prayer (adhan) five times each day. Although in some places, like Dubai, the call to prayer is subtle, in other locations, such as Islamic Cairo or Turkey, the call to prayer is a central part of daily life and can be loudly heard throughout the city streets.

Download and Listen to the Call to Prayer

Listen to the adhan from Masjid Al-Aqsa, Jersusalem

English Translation of the Call to Prayer

God is the greatest (Allahu akbar); intoned four times.
I testify that there is no God but Allah (Ashhadu anna la ila ill Allah); intoned twice.
I testify that Mohammed is God’s Prophet (Ashhadu anna Muhammadan rasul Allah); intoned twice.
Come to prayer (Hayya alas salah); intoned twice.
Come to security/salvation (Hayya alal falah); intoned twice.
God is the greatest (Allahu akbar); intoned twice.
There is no God but Allah (La ilah ill Allah); intoned once.

Another line is sometimes added to the first prayer of the morning (pre-sunrise):
Prayer is better than sleep (Assalatu khayrum minan naum); intoned twice.

Muslim Prayer Times

Muslims pray five times each day (pre-dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset and evening) in the direction of Mecca. Travelers can use Al-Islam or an iPhone app that gives daily prayer times and quibla direction (facing Mecca) for destinations throughout the world.

Fridays at the Mosque

Friday is the day on which all Muslims, especially males, should go to the mosque at 12:00 (noon) for congregational prayer. Given this requirement, many shops outside of tourist areas will close as the owners make their way to the local Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque).  The mosque will certainly be closed to non-Muslims during this time.

Some Advice for Travelers Visiting Mosques

  • Typically, mosques are closed to tourists during prayer times; we recommend visiting just before the worship begins so that you can hear the call to prayer as it reverberates throughout the interior spaces of the mosque.
  • Always walk behind worshipers that are praying, so they do not pray “to” you, but rather towards Mecca.
  • Wear conservative clothes (sleeves, pants/skirts below the knees) and remove your your shoes before entering the mosque. Often you will find a local willing to “guard” your shoes for a small fee.
  • Women travelers: We recommend that women follow the locals’ lead and wear a long shirt/shirtdress that covers their backside. Also, women may be required to wear a headscarf upon entering a mosque; you can bring your own or borrow one from the mosque.

Historical Function of the Minaret

Historically, the minarets were used by the mosque’s muezzins as tall platforms from which to call Muslims to prayer and to announce the central tenant of the Islamic faith to non-believers. Today, however, a muezzin (or imam) typically recites the call to prayer into a microphone in the main prayer hall where it is then pumped through loudspeakers installed on the minarets.

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