Sunday, September 14, 2014

Urquhart Castle - A beautiful castle on the shore of Loch Ness in Scotland

Scotland is famous for many castles, spread all over. There were a number of clans spread over the region, and there were a number of battles in the medieval ages for supremacy and power. One of the major castles (besides the major ones such as Stirling Castle and Edinburgh Castle) was Urquhart Castle, located on the shore of Loch Ness. The castle is now in ruins, but the spread is still very beautiful, with the castle and the backdrop of Loch Ness, mountains in the distance and incredible greenery near the castle. The castle is located right next to the highway, making for easy access; and with a proper visitor center, it is a delight to go to.

The plaque highlighting some influential people at Urquhart Castle in Scotland
The plaque highlighting some influential people at Urquhart Castle in Scotland (More photos / Prints)
This is a plaque at the visitor center at Urquhart Castle. The plaque highlights some of the critical people who are important and influential and who have been here - namely, St Columba of Iona, Sir Andrew De Moray, Sir Donald MacDonald, and Sir John Grant (chief of Clan Grant).




Replica of wooden trebuchet at Urquhart Castle, on the path
Replica of wooden trebuchet at Urquhart Castle, on the path (More photos / Prints)
A trebuchet was one of the most powerful siege weapons, used by attacking armies against castles. The trebuchet could throw all kinds of projectiles over castle walls as well as attack castle walls (along with the catapult); one of the more horrific uses was in terms of throwing diseased bodies over the walls with the intention of causing disease among the defenders.

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Monday, September 01, 2014

Photos from Urquhart Castle (along Loch Ness)

Urquhart Castle is a fabulously beautiful castle located on the shore of the Loch Ness, close to Inverness in Scotland. The castle is essentially ruins now, but its location, and the incredible greenery all around the castle is superb. It is located on the A82 and is very accessible. Right next to the castle, one can get boat rides of Loch Ness, and the whole experience is superb. The castle was in prominence from the 13th to the 16th centuries, and was destroyed in 1692 to prevent its use during rebellions.


View of Urquhart Castle and the path leading to it
View of Urquhart Castle and the path leading to it (More photos at this link)
This is the approach to the ruins of the castle from the road and the visitor center. The place is incredibly beautiful and with the great Loch Ness right next to it, it can look pretty romantic.




Tourists on a stone bridge crossing the moat at Urquhart Castle
Tourists on a stone bridge crossing the moat at Urquhart Castle  (See more photos at this link)
This is a small bridge. It is over a moat that no longer exists of course, and it is speculated that the moat was built in the middle ages, but there is really no correct dating of when the moat was made. This bridge has to be crossed by every visitor who comes to see the castle.

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Photos from inside Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the city of Edinburgh, in fact, in the whole of Scotland. It has been there for many centuries, starting from early fortifications with succeeding kings either building on top or replacing the existing structures. The castle sits on a natural defensive fortification, a volcanic plug that rises above the surrounding area and hence provides a natural line of defense (although it does make getting supplies inside in the case of a siege more difficult).
Edinburgh Castle is also famous for another more sinister reason, it is supposed to be haunted (although since most people visit it in the daytime, you won't see people running out of the place scared). These haunted sections are typically supposed to be in the underground dungeons and tunnels connecting to the Royal Mile (there has been no proof though, so consider this with a pinch of salt).

The Portcullis set inside a gateway of Edinburgh Castle
The Portcullis set inside a gateway of Edinburgh Castle (More photos at this link)
The metal Portcullis set as part of the stone doorway near the entrance of Edinburgh Castle. The purpose of this metal device was simple. At the sign of any danger or as part of normal security procedures, the metal structure with thick bars would be lowered to ground level, setting another barrier against enemies who had managed to penetrate inside the Castle to this point. Now of course, it is permanently raised, just being there so that visitors can also note the presence of one of the security structures located inside the castle.






The sign for the Castle Gates inside the Edinburgh Castle
The sign for the Castle Gates inside the Edinburgh Castle (more photos here)
The audio clue (also meant for those who have rented headphones for an audio guide to the castle) telling visitors that these stone walls have been guarding the inside of the castle for over 2000 years, maybe in different versions. But these high and thick walls have been protecting the castle for millenia now, ever since fortifications were setup on this site (located at a much higher level than the surroundings).





Grand staircase inside the Edinburgh Castle
Grand staircase inside the Edinburgh Castle (view more photos at this link)
A grand and sweeping outdoor staircase inside the Edinburgh Castle. The blue sign that you see announces an exhibition inside the Argyle tower, a tower that got its name from politics and death (it was the tower that was apparently housing the 9th Earl of Argyle before he was finally executed in 1685). The castle seems very well maintained, and it is pretty safe to walk all around the castle without worrying that any of these structures (or part of them) will come down.




Tourists emerging from a lower level in the Edinburgh Castle
Tourists emerging from a lower level in the Edinburgh Castle (View more photos here)
The Edinburgh Castle has a number of different buildings inside it, as you would expect, given that the castle had a large number of people living inside it, and was expected to hold out for long periods of time during a siege by enemy forces. In addition to the royal family, there would be the garrison (royal guards and others), and the staff catering to the royal family. Some of them are at different levels, some of them have lower levels (or basements), walking through the entire Castle can be tiring for those not used to walking so long.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2014

More photos in and around the HMY Britannia (berthed at the port of Leith near Edinburgh)

Previous photos about the HMY Britannia (Link 1, Link 2)
It is very rare for normal laypeople to see the kind of conditions in which royalty lives like, and the HMY Britannia provides a way for people to be able to view such conditions. Visitors are able to see several sections of the ship, although there are cordoned off sections of the ship. The ship is visited by a large number of visitors every year, and is part of the various bus schedules that are part of the Edinburgh tourist circuit.

The stately wardroom inside the royal yacht, HMV Britannia
The stately wardroom inside the royal yacht, HMV Britannia (See more photos here)
This is the wardroom inside the ship, meant for the senior officers, the captain and members of the royal family (if they are on board). The table has been preserved with places set, giving a view to visitors of the dining standards and facilities on the royal ship.






Tourists on board the deck of the royal yacht HMY Britannia
Tourists on board the deck of the royal yacht HMY Britannia (View more photos here)
On the deck of the HMY Britannia. There is a specific tour route that visitors follow, you cannot just roam around here and there on the ship. This part involves a small walk on the deck of the ship, from where an open door eventually leads inside the ship.






The royal yacht HMY Britannia berthed at the port of Leith
The royal yacht HMY Britannia berthed at the port of Leith (View more photos here)
This photo shows the berthed side of the ship at the port of Leith near Singapore. There are metal supports that ensure that the ship remains stable and at an even distance from the shore. In addition, there are multiple gangways for getting onto the ship, some of them meant for the tourists, one ceremonial one that is only meant for royalty, and some meant for supplies. 

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