Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Taj Mahal

Located at the city of Agra in the State of Uttar Pradesh, the Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful masterpieces of architecture in the world. Agra, situated about 200 km south of New Delhi, was the Capital of the Mughals (Moguls), the Muslim Emperors who ruled Northern India between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Mughals were the descendents of two of the most skilled warriors in history: the Turks and the Mongols. The Mughal dynasty reached its highest strength and fame during the reign of their early Emperors, Akbar, Jehangir, and Shah Jehan.

It was Shah Jehan who ordered the building of the Taj, in honor of his wife, Arjumand Banu who later became known as Mumtaz Mahal, the Distinguished of the Palace. Mumtaz and Shah Jehan were married in 1612 and, over the next 18 years, had 14 children together. The Empress used to accompany her husband in his military campaigns, and it was in 1630, in Burhanpur, that she gave birth to her last child, for she died in childbirth. So great was the Emperor love to his wife that he ordered the building of the most beautiful mausoleum on Earth for her.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Great Barrier Reef

Spanning more than 2000 km along the northeastern coast of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is home to thousands of species of plants and animals. The Reef which runs parallel to the Queensland coast has been designated by the Australian Government as a Marine Park.

Few can imagine the biological diversity of the reef. One probably has to realize first that the 2000 km long reef runs predominantly in the North-South direction, therefore spanning a wide range of climates. Rain forests and mountains are predominant in the northern islands, while the southern islands are composed mainly of Coral Cay.

Apart from its environmental value, the area offers visitors a variety of activities including scuba diving, snorkeling, water sports, and bird watching.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Symptoms of dengue fever

Dengue fever usually starts suddenly with a high fever, rash, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, and muscle and joint pain. The severity of the joint pain has given dengue the name break bone fever. Nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite are common. A rash usually appears 3 to 4 days after the start of the fever. The illness can last up to 10 days, but complete recovery can take as long as a month. Older children and adults are usually sicker than young children.

Most dengue infections result in relatively mild illness, but some can progress to dengue hemorrhagic fever. With dengue hemorrhagic fever, the blood vessels start to leak and cause bleeding from the nose, mouth, and gums. Bruising can be a sign of bleeding inside the body. Without prompt treatment, the blood vessels can collapse, causing shock. Dengue hemorrhagic fever is fatal in about 5 percent of cases, mostly among children and young adults.

The time between the bite of a mosquito carrying dengue virus and the start of symptoms averages 4 to 6 days, with a range of 3 to 14 days. An infected person cannot spread the infection to other persons but can be a source of dengue virus for mosquitoes for about 6 days.

Great Pyramid of Giza

It is located at the city of Giza, a necropolis of ancient Memphis, and today part of Greater Cairo, Egypt.

Contrary to the common belief, only the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), not all three Great Pyramids, is on top of the list of Wonders. The monument was built by the Egyptian pharaoh Khufu of the Fourth Dynasty around the year 2560 BC to serve as a tomb when he dies. The tradition of pyramid building started in Ancient Egypt as a sophistication of the idea of a mastaba or "platform" covering the royal tomb. Later, several stacked mastabas were used. Early pyramids, such as the Step Pyramid of King Zoser (Djoser) at Saqqara by the famous Egyptian architect, Imhotep, illustrate this connection.

The great pyramid is believed to have been built over a 20 year period. The site was first prepared, and blocks of stone were transported and placed. An outer casing (which disappeared over the years) was then used to smooth the surface. Although it is not known how the blocks were put in place, several theories have been proposed. One theory involves the construction of a straight or spiral ramp that was raised as the construction proceeded. This ramp, coated with mud and water, eased the displacement of the blocks which were pushed (or pulled) into place. A second theory suggests that the blocks were placed using long levers with a short angled foot.

Throughout their history, the pyramids of Giza have stimulated human imagination. They were referred to as "The Granaries of Joseph" and "The Mountains of Pharaoh". When Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798, his pride was expressed through his famous quote: "Soldats! Du haut de ces Pyramides, 40 si├Ęcles nous contemplent". (Soldiers! From the top of these Pyramids, 40 centuries are looking at us)

Today, the Great Pyramid is enclosed, together with the other pyramids and the Sphinx, in the touristic region of the Giza Plateau. Also in the area is the museum housing the mysterious Sun Boat, only discovered in 1954 near the south side of the pyramid. The boat is believed to have been used to carry the body of Khufu in his last journey on earth before being buried inside the pyramid. It may also serve him as a means of transportation in his afterlife journey according to Ancient Egyptian beliefs.