To Turkey, with so much love

Michael Crichton  once said, “If you don't know history, then you don't know anything. You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree. ”

History is important. In earlier times, this statement must have appeared obvious. Ancient cultures devoted so much time and effort in teaching their children family history. It was thought that the past helps a child understand who he is today, where he comes from, what is his place in the world. Modern society, however, has become indifferent to the past. In such times of rapid change, who has the time to appreciate the beauty that lies behind us?

According to me, this is one of the most unfortunate follies of the modern man. A passage though history can turn out to be a revelation if only we take the time to appreciate it. If we take the time to observe, study and value it, history can be a torchbearer for the future. Which is probably why Confucius once said, “Study the past if you would define the future.”

I am a history lover and never miss a single chance to know more about what went by. And what can be a more appropriate destination for an archaeological tour or historical holiday than Turkey. In many ways, Turkey's history is the history of mankind. With ruins of innumerable ancient cultures scattered across this breathtaking country, it is clear Turkey played an integral role in the growth of our human civilization. So for me, out of all the millions of reasons, my reason to visit Turkey would be to witness the historical treasures hidden in every part of this once-upon-a-time seat of the powerful Seljuk and Ottoman Empires!

Yes everything else you might have seen in travel brochures is also true: there is a lot that Turkey offers being listed as one of the top ten destinations in the world. It is located at the cross roads between Europe and Asia. It is a cultural hot-spot, a shopper's delight, sea lover's dream and an ultimate gourmet destination. But what enchants me the most about this magical place is its rich sprawling history. It has experienced the passage of the world’s greatest generals and been home to some of the most wonderful artists. Isn't it obvious then, that I don’t need anything else to make a holiday to Turkey the deepest and fondest desire of my heart!

 Turkey, you have miracles many,
But my heart is taken by your history.

Turkey, you entice me with those ruins,
Your ancient civilizations, your mythical cultures.

Let me give just a fleeting glimpse to show you how turkey is brimming with history:

In March 2010, Archaeologists said that a temple being excavated in southeastern Turkey was 12,000 years old and was likely to be the oldest temple ever uncovered. The site was first identified in 1986 when a farmer tilling his field in Sanliurfa found a statuette in the land.

Settlements dating back to Early Bronze Age, along with remains of a building dating to Hittite era were recovered during excavations in Aslantepe, Malatya. Aslantepe was a city from 5000 BC to 712 BC, until the Assyrian invasion, and was later abandoned for a long time. It then became a Roman village from 500 to 600 AD, and later the Byzantine necropolis. 

Then around December 2010 another news item hit the headlines. The ancient city of Germenicia, which has been underground for 1,500 years, was unearthed thanks to mosaics found during an illegal excavation in 2007 under a house in Southeast Turkey. Preliminary examinations showed that the mosaics were contemporaries of those unearthed in the ancient cities of Zeugma and Yamaçevler. 

In November 2012, a colossal statue of Apollo, the Greek god of the sun, light, music and poetry, emerged from white calcified cliffs in southwestern Turkey. Colossal statues were very popular in antiquity, as evidenced by the lost giant statues of the Colossus of Rhodes and the Colossus of Nero. 

...............There is not end to such stories or news. I found all these on my various internet and library rounds on Turkey. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.....

From the world's first known human settlement round 6500 B.C. at Çatalhöyük, to mighty Ottoman fortresses, Turkey bears the testimony many of the world's major civilizations - truly and remarkably, it is a land that holds much more than what it shows. There is so much hidden magic yet to be unearthed in Turkey and the prospects of having the opportunity to visit such a magical place gives me goose bumps! 

In each of my travels and holidays, historical and archaeological discovery and exploration have always been my top priorities. Every place that I have had the honor and good fortune of visiting in my life, I have found something of historical significance that I have carried back in my memories, photographs and my heart. When I visited the hill town of Ranikhet, known for its apple trees and ice-laden peaks, I went straight to the 9th – 10th century AD ancient Vaidyanath temple near Garud in the district of Almora. Here, I discovered ancient deities and structures dating to 10th century still standing erect! Here are some images from this beautiful temple complex:

The ancient structures 

The oldest building in the complex

The complex dates back to 9th - 10th cent.

Outside view of the temple complex 

On my trip to Madhugiri, in Tumkur district in the Indian state of Karnataka, I found some more historical treasures. Madhu-giri (honey-hill) which is located to the north of the place is Asia's second largest monolith. In each nook and crevice of this magnificent hill and the majestic fort at the top are wonders that you can only witness if you hike up the hill. Here are my memories from my history tour of the place: 

The fort is rich in such carvings

View of the monolith and the fort from the bottom

Badami was another trip that stands out in my memory for the opportunity got to go neck-deep into the past. Badami is a town and headquarters of a taluk by the same name, in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka. It was the regal capital of the Badami Chalukyas from 540 to 757 AD. It is famous for its rock formations strewn all over its face and rock temples. These are some photographs from my Badami experience:

A temple ruin

The rock formations

Sun setting behind the sprawling rocks

My tryst with archaeological tours or historical holidays is not complete without a mention of Hampi, a village in northern Karnataka and located within the ruins of Vijayanagara. Hampi houses the Virupaksha Temple, as well as several other monuments belonging to the old city. The ruins, which are a sight to behold, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some memories: 

A temple entrance

A beautiful ruin site

At this moment I feel like I am an aching lover and Turkey is that elusive thing my heart aches for. My deep love affair with history will only culminate when I visit this Mecca of history in person and in flesh. Just the thought that one day I will be standing at the cusp of the ancient and the new makes my heart beat faster! Just the hope that this amalgamation of the historic and the modern will be mine to touch, feel, see and experience fills me with joy and exhilaration.

Your wonders make me a poet,
In birthing this world, you birthed me, Turkey.

Your ancient treasures make me a lover,
In testifying history you hold my heart, Turkey.

Soon, I will be headed in your direction, Turkey and then I will add the most prized feather to my crown of historical holidays. Because you will give me precious moments that will expand in my heart forever. 

As Virginia Woolf said, mirroring my thoughts“I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realizes an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don't have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.”

This post is an entry in the "Million Stories" Contest sponsored by the Turkish Embassy, India

If you like my post and endorse my feelings, please vote for me at this link :) What is exciting is that a lucky voter gets a free all expenses paid trip to Turkey!!

p.s. All views expressed are my own. Photographs displayed have been taken by me. If there is anything that is inspired from an external link or website, which is only news pieces in this case, I have taken utmost care to link it back to the original source.

Please vote for me at this link.... You may be flying to Turkey next with a simple vote!


Veena said…
Nice Travelogue....
A short intro about Turkey, Madhugiri hills in Tumkur and of course our Historical Hampi was qute interesting...
anitaexplorer said…
Nicely presented Canary.
India had good trade all over the world. Turkey played a prominent role owing to its strategic location.
Even I wanna visit it!
Canary said…
Thanks so much Veena, I'm so glad you liked my post and found it interesting.. yes these places had a lot to offer me and hence I just had to talk about them here...

@Anita: Thanks much! Yes Turkey is one of the most mysterious and exotic places in the world.. must visit for any travel lover!!
Saru Singhal said…
Enjoyed your narration and voted as well. Good luck, Astha :)
Canary said…
Thank you so much Saru! I love your style of writing and if you appreciate, I must have done it right ;)
Pankti Mehta said…
Very informative of luck!
Canary said…
Thanks so much Pankti, I'm so glad you found the information helpful :)
I see we share an admiration for Crichton. Have voted for your post. Hope you fly to Turkey soon :)
Canary said…
We surely do :)
Good luck to you as a voter too.. see you in lovely Turkey!!!
Unable to vote Canary. The link is harmful says my chrome :(
Canary said…
Strange..All other bloggerswere able to... :\
You went to Turkeytourism page right SiS?

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