Sunday, July 17, 2016

Powerful Stone Slab Devi's Temple of Amber fort

Towards the end of sixteenth century, Maharaja Mansingh brought the statue of the goddess Shila Mata from the eastern part of Bengal. In the kingdom of Pratapaditya, Maharaja Mansingh received a defeat at the hands of king Kedar. Humiliated and depressed, the Maharaja worshipped goddess Kali to please her and receive her blessings so as to change his defeat into victory. Kali  appeared in a dream to bless him. The goddess also obtained a promise from the Maharaja that he would establish her shrine in his capital. The idol of goddess was recovered from sea in the form of a Shila (Slab) and it was brought to Amer when cleaned and washed, the present idol appeared. This is why the goddess is named as Shila Mata.

Extremely beautiful is the whole conception of the temple. Adherence to the principles of Vastu has made the temple an ideal work of architecture. The idol of goddess Durga (Shila Mata) commands great respect of people. Tourists of all countries come to see the temples. On Navaratras, special pooja is offered.

The fort and the temple are on a hill covered with verdurous coverage. It is cozily nestled in the lap of mother nature. The surrounding hills of Amer reverberate when special Pooja is offered and drums are beaten. The visitors and tourist find that moment a most memorable life time experience.

Festivals & Fairs in Temple (Main Events):
In the bright half of the month of Ashwin and Chaitra, the first nine days are held sacred for religious Practices and ritualistic performances. The devotees, specially in this holy and auspicious period, offer special prayers. For all the nine day a constant stream of people can be seen and the sea of humanity assembled here evokes great and sublime thoughts of veneration of the mother goddess.

Morning Time:6.00 am to 12.00 pm
Evening Time: 4.00 pm to 8.00 pm

Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary

Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected Wildlife sanctuary in the Western Ghats of Karnataka state in India. It is named after the presiding deity "Lord Someshwara" of the famed Someshwara temple located within the sanctuary. The sanctuary lies in Udupi & Shivamogga districts of Karnataka, below Agumbe. The sanctuary houses Sitanadi nature camp run by Karnataka forest department. Udupi to Agumbe road passes through this wildlife sanctuary. The nearest town is Hebri which is connected by bus service to Udupi, Mangaluru and Bengaluru on a daily basis.

The sanctuary was established in 1974 with an area of 88.40 km2 (34.13 sq mi).It was subsequently expanded to 314.25 km2 (121.33 sq mi) in the year 2011 vide gazette notification. Post expansion the sanctuary spans across Udupi, Kundapur, Karkala, Thirthahalli taluks of Udupi and Shivamogga districts. The sanctuary was expanded by adding Balehalli Reserve Forest, Agumbe State Forest, Someshwar Reserved Forest and Tombatlu Reserved Forest areas, to the existing sanctuary. The expanded sanctuary forms a contiguous stretch of protected area that includes Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary, Sharavathi Wildlife Sanctuary and Kudremukh National Park.

The perennial Sitanadi river flows through the sanctuary.The Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary has tropical wet evergreen forests, west coast semi evergreen forests and southern secondary moist mixed deciduous forests in its ranges.

The sanctuary has fauna like tiger, leopard, dhole (wild dog), jackal, palm civet, jungle cat, Indian wild boar, Indian porcupine, sambar, spotted deer, muntjac (barking deer), mouse deer, gaur (Indian bison), Indian hare, lion tailed macaque, bonnet macaque, common langur, giant flying squirrel, king cobra, etc.

Great Indian hornbill, Malabar grey hornbill, Malabar trogon, Ceylon frogmouth, Malabar pied hornbill and Malabar whistling thrush are some of the birds found in the sanctuary. Otters and mahasheer fish are found in the Sitanadi river.[

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Virupaksha temple

This temple is located on the south bank of the river Tungabadra, just next to where the local bus drops you. This area in general has been an important pilgrimage centre for the worshipers of lord Shiva. Virupaksha temple is equally sort after by the tourists and pilgrims. The annual festivals attract huge crowds of both the types.

The very origin of Hampis history as a sacred place revolves around the myths associated with this temple. It believed that this temple has been functioning uninterruptedly ever since its inception in the 7th century AD.That makes this one of the oldest functioning temples in India.

The original worship place was only a few separate humble shrines (believed to be as old as 7th century) housing the image of the god and the goddesses. Over the centuries the temple gradually expanded into a sprawling complex with many sub shrines, pillared halls, flag posts, lamp posts, towered gateways and even a large temple kitchen. You access the temples main entrance tower through the chariot street in front now popularly called the Hampi Bazaar.

This east facing giant tower (Gopura) leads you the first courtyard of the temple complex. This pastel painted 9 storied tower with a pair of cow horn like projections on top is the most prominent landmark in Hampi. The lower two tiers of the tower is made of decorated stone work.

The progressively diminishing superstructure is made with brick and mortar. All around the exterior of the first tier spots many interesting stucco figures. You may get to some distance from the base of the tower to see all of them. For example, the erotic figures of the amorous couples located at the south side of the tower. Such icons connected with fertility rites are considered auspicious on a philosophical ground. You can view them from the southward going alley (towards the post office) from this entrance to the tower. These stucco figures are located at the bottom row of the stucco figures.

The main temple is east facing and has two large courtyards, one leading to the other. You directly enter into the first courtyard through the tower mentioned above. This courtyard mainly houses a pillared hall called 100-column hall at the far left corner, Kalyanamantapa at the far right corner, administrative offices, the ticket counter, a police outpost and even an old well. A kitchen complex projects out of the compound overlapping the two courts at the south wall. A narrow passage on the wall of the 100 pillared hall gives access to the kitchen. A water channel system connected to the nearby river is built into the floor of the kitchen complex. You can see the remains of its feeding channels outside the southwest corner of the temple corner.

Just next to your left immediately after you have entered, you can see the unusual triple headed Nandi (bull statue). Behind this the wall is painted with a large map of Hampi with the main attractions marked.

Towards your right close to the tower is a police outpost. Foreign tourists are requested to register their details here. This is a simple process of entering your names and other details in the register book kept at this office. You many register it at any time and not a prerequisite to enter the temple.

Further forward (east) towards the second tower you would find the ticket counter and the shoe safekeeping (1 rupee per pair) booth and a souvenir stall with a good collection of books & maps on Hampi. The three storied tower built in 1510 AD is known after its patron, Krishadeva Raya, one of the famous kings of the empire.
From the ticket counter close to this tower you can buy the entry ticket (Rs5), camera ticket (Rs50) and pay the video camera fee (Rs 500)
The tower gives access to the inner court. On entering this you would meet an important inmate the temple, the little naughty elephant. Give a one-rupee coin (the elephant takes it from you with its trunk) and you can get a smooch on head, treated as blessing.

In the middle of the court along the axis facing the main shrine is a lamp post, the Balipitas(sacred platforms), a flag post and a whitewashed pavilion in which two Nandi(bull)status are positioned.
All around this open area are the pillared cloisters leaving gaps at the north, south and east edges for a series of sub shrines. The facing portion of the cloister is lined with a row of decorated pillars. The lion figure carved on the base of each these pillars seems supporting the slender upper portions. Close looks at each of the pillers reveal interesting figures of animals and other life scenes.
Pair of elephant balustrades at the middle of the row gives access to the top of the cloister platform. The western end of the south cloister spots a rectangular opening on the floor. A shrine is located underground. A Nandi is positioned near the opening. Near to it is a huge stone urn with decorations. Towards the end you can see a pair of metal bells and a large leather clad percussion instrument.

The most striking feature of this court is the central pillared hall known as the Ranga Mandapa added to the temple complex in 1510 AD by Krishadeva Raya.
Two mythical lion like creatures forms the balustrade for the entrance to this elevated open pavilion. As you enter the pavilion on your right is an inscribed plaque with Nandi image on top probably explains the royal patronage the temple enjoyed. This hall with 5 aisles and 38 pillars is used for temple rituals including the marriage ceremonies. The highlights include rows of pillars shaped with rampant lion like mythical creatures (Yalis) standing on aquatic creatures (Makara or Crocodiles). Warriors seem riding on these ferocious looking creatures.

The mural panel on the central portion of the hall is one of the few remains of this form of Vijayanagara art. Most of it is based on godly themes except the one at the eastern end.
Here the founder sage of the empire, Vidaranaya, is portrayed moving in a procession.Further west, beyond a small inner hall, is the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Virupaksha. Two 4 armed guardian deities, about 8 feet tall, stand on either side of the entrance to the inner hall. The ceiling of this inner hall is decorated with an open lotus motif

The sanctum contains the idol of lord Virupaksha in the form of a Linga (A phallus image). A corridor surrounds the sanctum.
The two narrow porches on either sides of the inner hall can be used to get in and out of the main shrine.Surrounding this principal shrines are the shrines of Virupakshas consort and other deities.

The most important of the sub shrines are that of Goddess Pampa and Bhuvaneswari, consorts of lord Shiva, towards the north of the main shrine. These shrines are in fact much older than the rest of the grandiose structures in the compound. The short circular pillars and the doorways and the ceiling are richly carved. A bit east along the cloister, you can spot a flight of leading to an underground chamber. This contains the shrine of Pataleswara, a form of lord Shiva. Further east is the shrine of the planetary deities. Images of the nine planetary deities (Nava Grahas) are arranged on an elevated platform.

Photography is not permitted inside the sanctum area.

Behind the main sanctum a flight of steps leads to the rear exit of the temple complex. Just before the exit on the right side you would find a dark chamber with a slit on the wall. The sunray pass through this slit forms an inverted shadow of the main tower on the wall, a kind of pinhole camera effect created with stonework.

Further up the stairs you would come out of the temple campus. Near by is a shrine dedicated to the founder sage Vidyaranya. Here also you can see the pin hole inverted shadows in a small shrine chamber. Usually someone operating the show would demonstrate it for you expecting couple of rupees tip.

Most of this locality is the residential area of the temple priests. If you trace narrow path along the outer wall towards south, you will reach a small but interesting pond with pillared halls all around it. The shrines here are not under worship and the area somewhat deserted. You can see a number of crisscrossing aqueduct system mentioned earlier. Thick banana plantations and shrubs surround the location.
Back to the main temple, the giant north tower, called Kangiri Gopura, near the main sanctum leads to the temples sacred pond, the Manmantha Tank and a series of shrines.
Altogether you need at least 1 hours to see this temple complex. If you feel so hire a guide who would bump on you as you approach the main entrance tower (pay Rs50).

You can witness the daily temple rituals and ceremonies in the mornings and evenings. Temple opens before the sunrise and closes in the night. Usually the sanctum is closed in the noon. So entry into the campus may not be possible at that point of time.

Humayun Tomb

Humayun died in 1556, and his widow Hamida Banu Begam, also known as Haji Begam, commenced the construction of his tomb in 1569, fourteen years after his death. It is the first distinct example of proper Mughal style, which was inspired by Persian architecture. It is well known that Humayun picked up the principles of Persian architecture during his exile, and he himself is likely to have planned the tomb, although there is no record to that effect. The tomb was constructed at a cost of 15 lakh rupees (1.5 million).

Mirak Mirza Ghiyath, a Persian, was the architect employed by Haji Begam for this tomb.

The tomb proper stands in the centre of a square garden, divided into four main parterres by causeways (charbagh), in the centre of which ran shallow water-channels. The high rubble built enclosure is entered through two lofty double-storeyed gateways on the west and south. A baradari (pavilion) occupies the centre of the eastern wall and a hammam (bath chamber) in the centre of northern wall.

The square red sandstone double-storeyed structure of the mausoleum with chamfered corners rises from a 7-m. high square terrace, raised over a series of cells, which are accessible through, arches on each side. The grave proper in the centre of this cell-complex is reached by a passage on the south. The octagonal central chamber contains the cenotaph, and the diagonal sides lead to corner-chambers which house the graves of other members of the royal family. Externally each side of the tomb, its elevations decorated by marble borders and panels, is dominated by three arched alcoves, the central one being the highest. Over the roof pillared kiosks are disposed around the high emphatic double dome in the centre. The central octagonal chamber contains the cenotaph, encompassed by octagonal chambers at the diagonals and arched lobbies on the sides. Their openings are closed with perforated screens. Each side is dominated by three arches, the central one being the highest. This plan is repeated on the second storey too. The roof surmounted by a double dome (42.5m) of marble has pillared kiosks (chhatris) placed around it.

The mausoleum is a synthesis of Persian architecture and Indian traditions-the former exemplified by the arched alcoves, corridors and the high double dome, and the latter by the kiosks, which give it a pyramidal outline from distance. Although Sikandar Lodi's tomb was the first garden-tomb to be built in India, it is Humayun's tomb which set up a new vogue, the crowning achievement of which is the Taj at Agra. There is also a somewhat common human impetus behind these two edifices-one erected by a devoted wife for her husband and the other by an equally or more devoted husband for his wife.

Several rulers of the Mughal dynasty lie buried here. Bahadur Shah Zafar had taken refuge in this tomb with three princes during the first war of Independence (AD 1857).

On the southwestern side of the tomb is located barber's tomb (Nai-ka-Gumbad) which stands on a raised platform, reached by seven steps from the south. The building is square on plan and consists of a single compartment covered with a double-dome.

Open from sunrise to sunset

Entrance Fee:
Citizens of India and visitors of SAARC (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives and Afghanistan) and BIMSTEC Countries (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar) - Rs. 10 per head.

Others: US $ 5 or Indian Rs. 250/- per head

(children up to 15 years free)

Tomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah

Tomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah is a Mughal mausoleum in the city of Agra in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Often described as a "jewel box", sometimes called the "Baby Tāj", the tomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah is often regarded as a draft of the Tāj Mahal.

Along with the main building, the structure consists of numerous outbuildings and gardens. The tomb, built between 1622 and 1628 represents a transition between the first phase of monumental Mughal architecture – primarily built from red sandstone with marble decorations, as in Humayun's Tomb in Delhi and Akbar's tomb in Sikandra – to its second phase, based on white marble and pietra dura inlay, most elegantly realized in the Tāj Mahal.

The mausoleum was commissioned by Nūr Jahān, the wife of Jahangir, for her father Mirzā Ghiyās Beg, originally a Persian Amir in exile,who had been given the title of I'timād-ud-Daulah (pillar of the state). Mirzā Ghiyās Beg was also the grandfather of Mumtāz Mahāl (originally named Arjūmand Bāno, daughter of Asaf Khān), the wife of the emperor Shāh Jahān, responsible for the construction of the Tāj Mahal. Nur Jehan was also responsible for the construction of the Tomb of Jehangir at Lahore.

Itmad-ud-daula has a special place in the chronicles of both history as well as architecture. This is precisely because Itmad ud Daula is the very first tomb in India that is entirely made out of Marble. This is actually a mausoleum that overlooks the River Yamuna and is a tomb of Mir Ghiyas Beg, a minister in the court of Shah Jahan.

The story of Itmad-ud-daula is an inspirational rag to riches saga. The tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah is as interesting as the life of the person for whom it was built. Mirza Ghiyas-ud-din or Ghiyas Beg (later known as Itimad-ud-Daulah) was a poor merchant and lived in Persia (modern-day Iran). His wife gave birth to a daughter whom he wanted to abandon for he has no money to feed her but the persistent wails of the infant changed his heart. The baby girl brought a stroke of good luck to her parents, for Ghiyas Beg found a caravan that straightaway took him to the court of the great Mughal Emperor, Akbar. . After Akbar's death in 1605, his son Jahangir became the Mughal emperor, who made Ghiyas Beg his chief minister or Wazir. Ghiyas Beg was also honored with the title of Itimad-ud-Daulah or the pillar of the state.

Jahangir fell in love with his widowed daughter who processes unspeakable beauty. She was later christened Noor Jahan and went down in the history as one of the most beautiful and artistically gifted women in the world. Jahangir conferred the title of Itmad-ud-daula or 'Pillar of the Empire' to his father-in-law. Noor Jahan ordered the tomb after the death of her father in 1622.

Itmad-ud-daula is a pure white and elaborately carved tomb that conforms to the Islamic style of architecture. The Indo-Islamic architecture becomes prominent because of the fusion that this tomb displays. While the use of arched entrances and octagonal shaped towers signify the Persian influence, the absence of a dome and the presence of a closed kiosk on top of this building and the use of canopies talks about the possible Indian influence. From out side, when you take a bird eye view, Itmad-ud-daula looks like a jewel box set in a garden. This tranquil, small, garden located on the banks of the Yamuna was to inspire the construction of the Taj Mahal in the later years.

Special Attributes
The first tomb to be built in white marble instead of red sandstone. It marks the departure from the red sandstone buildings of Mughal architecture.
Location~ in the old city area of Agra
Ideal time to visit~ anytime round the year
How to reach~ Hire a cab or auto from the hotel.

Entrance Fee: Foreigners: Rs 110/-
                           Indians: INR Rs 10/-
                          Children below 15 years of age are allowed free entry.
                          Open on all Days

Marble Caves of Patagonia, Chile

This spectacular Marble Cathedral, an intricate system of water-filled caverns, is set in the General Carrera lake in Chile's Patagonia - the second largest freshwater lake in South America.

But to reach this remote place, located in the far southern tip of the country, visitors must fly from the capital Santiago, 800 miles to the next nearest large city, Coyhaique, and then drive on challenging dirt roads 200 miles south to the lake.

To get to the caves, one must embark on a long and difficult journey starting from a flight to the Chilean capital of Santiago. Visitors must then travel an 800 miles on major highways to the next big city Coyhaique, followed by a 200-mile drive on rough dirt roads towards the lake. Finally, a boat is needed to access the caves. But though the journey is long and challenging, many agree the enchanting beauty of the caves is definitely worth the effort.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Lake Maracaibo's Catatumbo Lightning

Venezuela's Catatumbo River, located in northwestern Venezuela in the state of Zulia, has set the Guinness Book of World Records for highest number of lightning per square kilometer per year.

Where is Catatumbo?

Storm Chaser, George Kourounis travels to Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela where a phenomenon known as the Catatumbo Everlasting Lightning storm occurs. On most nights of the year, thunderstorms form over the same part of the lake ,with dazzling displays of lightning. Filmed as part of the "Angry Planet" TV series.

The Catatumbo Lightning is an atmospheric phenomenon in Venezuela. It occurs only over the mouth of the Catatumbo River where it empties into Lake Maracaibo. The frequent, powerful flashes of lightning over this relatively small area are said to be the world's largest single generator of tropospheric ozone. Nonetheless, that fact has not been demonstrated.

It originates from a mass of storm clouds at a height of more than 1 km, and occurs during 140 to 260 nights a year, 10 hours per day and up to 280 times per hour. It occurs over and around Lake Maracaibo, typically over the bog area formed where the Catatumbo River flows into the lake.

The Catatumbo Lightning changes its frequency along the year, and it is different from year to year. For example, it ceased from January to March 2010, apparently due to drought, temporarily raising fears that it might have been extinguished permanently.

Lesedi La Rona 3rd Biggest diamond to be found

Lesedi La Rona, formerly known as Karowe AK6, is the third-largest diamond ever found, and the second-largest of gem quality. Only the non-gem black Sergio and the gem-quality Cullinan are larger. It was found in the Karowe mine in Botswana on 16 November 2015.It was found on 16 November 2015, in the South Lobe of the Karowe mine about 200 m (660 ft) below the surface, and the find was announced on 18 November A day after the discovery, two more diamonds weighing 813 and 374 carats (162.6 and 74.8 g) were found in the mine.Since the AK6 pipe was opened 18 months earlier, it has yielded over 1,000,000 carats (200 kg) of diamonds.

The exact value of the stone cannot be determined until it is decided how it will be cut and more details about its colour are known. Former diamond-mining geologist Phil Swinfen estimates, based on other similar sales, that the stone could be sold for $40–60 million.The process of selling and cutting the diamond "will likely take years to complete".In May 2016, Sotheby's in London announced that the Lesedi La Rona diamond would be offered in a stand-alone auction on 29 June 2016.It was expected to sell for around $70 million. After closer examination, the diamond was presented at the auction as weighing 1,109 carats.

At a public auction at Sotheby's on 29 June 2016, the highest bid for the diamond was $61 million. However, this bid fell short of the undisclosed reserve price and the stone was not sold.The bidding opened at $50 million and the sell lasted for less than 15 minutes. According to David Bennett of Sotheby's, is was the first time the company held an exclusive auction for one single object. It was preceded by the sale of three smaller rough diamonds. The stones were also from Lucara and the proceeds, $140,000,were donated to charity. The bid was even lower than the $63.3 million that was paid for a 813 carat rough diamond in May 2016.The stone had been found the day after the Lesedi La Rona in the same section of the mine. After the failed sale, the Lucara stock fell on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The diamond will probably be sold privately.In June 2016, Lesedi La Rona was insured for $120 million.

Unlimited Burger for Life

Your heard me unlimited burger for Life ,but there is catch to it well its a small condition that Australian  burger chain Mr.Burger wants.Change your last name to Burger.To add more to its also comes with condition that first 10 person to change the name would get Lifetime free burgers.

  • Melbourne chain Mr Burger is offering a free burger a day for a lifetime 
  • Winners have to legally change their last name to Burger 
  • Burger enthusiasts have until the end of July to fill out the paperwork 
  • The confirmation must be emailed to Mr Burger, which will waive $104 fee
  • People with the last name Burger already are not eligible

Trunyan Bali's Open cementary

The village of Trunyan is squeezed tightly between the lake and the outer crater rim of Batur, an almighty volcano in Kintamani. This is a Bali Aga village, inhabited by descendants of the original Balinese, the people who predate the arrival of the Hindu Majapahit kingdom in the 16th century. It is famous for the Pura Pancering Jagat temple, but unfortunately visitors are not allowed inside. There are also a couple of traditional Bali Aga-style dwellings, and a large banyan tree, which is said to be more than 1,100 years old. At Kuban sub-village close to Trunyan is a mysterious cemetery that is separated by the lake and accessible only by boat - there is no path along the steep walls of the crater rim.

The village of Trunyan itself is situated at the edge of Batur Lake. This location is inaccessible except by boat, and it takes around half an hour across the calm waters. Getting to Lake Batur takes around two hours drive to the northeast of Denpasar along the main road to Buleleng and through Bangli Regency.

Trunyan Cemetery, accessible only by boat across Lake Batur, contains 11 bamboo cages built in the shape of triangular prisms. When a member of the village dies, their body—wrapped in white cloth with the head exposed — is placed in one of these cages. When the cages are full, the body that has been there the longest is removed to make room for the next inhabitant. The remains of the long-time resident are placed on a pile along with any other corpses that have been evicted by newcomers until all the flesh, fat, and muscle has decomposed.

When the bones are all that remain of a deceased villager, the skull is added to the growing row beneath a large Taru Menyan tree. This tree is not just decorative—the pleasant, incense-like fragrance wafting from its leaves helps neutralize the odor of the decomposing corpses.Unlike the Balinese people, the people of Trunyan do not cremate or bury their dead, but just lay them out in bamboo cages to decompose, although strangely there is no stench. A macabre collection of skulls and bones lies on the stone platform and the surrounding areas.

The dead bodies don't produce bad smells because of the perfumed scents from a huge Taru Menyan tree growing nearby. Taru means 'tree' and Menyan means 'nice smell'. The name of Terunyan was also derived from these two words.

The women from Trunyan are prohibited from going to the cemetery when a dead body is carried there. This follows the deeply rooted belief that if a woman comes to the cemetery while a corpse is being carried there, there will be a disaster in the village, for example a landslide or a volcanic eruption. Such events have been frequent in the village's history, but whether women had anything to do with it is a matter of opinion.

You can visit both the village of Trunyan and the Kuban cemetery by chartered boat from Kedisan. Sadly, nowadays the boat trips are now blatant tourist traps, as touts and guides strongly urge you to donate your cash to the temple project or leave a donation for the dead. These touts ruin an otherwise fascinating experience.

Trasmoz: Witch Village Of Spain

The world of modern science people still believe in witchcrafts as I was browsering across the Viral pages came across the weird town in heart fo Spain Trazmos, Aragon, Spain.They say its cursed and its believed that the population of village has come all the way from 10000 to 65 ,no wonder sooner it might become as isolated village.But time only has the ask for this question.So lets see what we can find out about this village in Spain.

To seek out out extra about this weird story of witchcraft, superstition, revenge, envy and energy, I headed to the village of Trasmoz, nested within the foothills of the snow-covered Moncayo mountain vary in Aragon. Trasmoz has centuries of witchcraft historical past, and I’d organized to fulfill Lola Ruiz Diaz, a neighborhood modern-day witch, to study the reality. As I waited for her within the freezing-cold corridor of the half-ruined 12th-century Trasmoz Fort, perched on a hilltop above the village.

Ruiz defined that presently Trasmoz was a thriving group and highly effective fiefdom, stuffed with iron and silver mines and huge wooden and water reserves. It was additionally lay territory, which meant it didn’t belong to the encircling Catholic dominion of the Church, and by royal decree didn’t need to pay dues or taxes to the close by monastery of Veruela – a undeniable fact that angered the Church. So when rumours of Trasmoz as a haven for witchcraft began to unfold past the village boundaries, the abbot of Veruela seized his alternative to punish the inhabitants, requesting that the archbishop of Tarazona, the most important close by city, excommunicate your entire village. This meant that they weren’t allowed to go to confession or take the holy sacraments on the Catholic church.

The rich group of Trasmoz, a mixture of Jews, Christians and Arabs, didn’t repent – which might have been the one option to take away the excommunication. The disputes with Veruela continued for a few years, lastly coming to a head when the monastery began diverting water from the village as a substitute of paying for it. In response, Pedro Manuel Ximenez de Urrea, the Lord of Trasmoz, took up arms in opposition to the monastery. However earlier than an outright battle might erupt, the matter was taken up by King Ferdinand II, who determined that Trasmoz’s actions had been justified.

The Church by no means forgave the defeat, and – with the express permission of Pope Julius II – solid a curse over the village in 1511 by chanting psalm 108 of the E book of Psalms – essentially the most highly effective software the Church possesses to pronounce a curse. They alleged that Pedro Manuel and the folks of Trasmoz had been blinded by witchcraft, and for the reason that curse was sanctioned by the Pope, solely a Pope has the ability to elevate it. None have accomplished so to this present day.

The years that adopted weren’t simple for Trasmoz. The fortress burned to the bottom in 1520 and remained in ruins for hundreds of years. After the Jews have been expelled from Spain within the 15th Century, Trasmoz fell into decline, from about 10,000 inhabitants to a inhabitants of simply 62, solely half of which stay right here completely. The village at the moment has no outlets, no faculty and just one bar. Many homes are in disrepair and the streets are largely empty.

Again within the citadel, Ruiz led me down the steep steps of the tower, which has been restored to accommodate a tiny witchcraft museum and a set of black magic paraphernalia akin to brooms, black crucifixes and cauldrons. Crossing the courtyard, we got here to a platform dominated by a wrought-iron sculpture of a lady. “That is La Tia Casca, the final witch to be killed in Trasmoz, in 1860,” Ruiz mentioned. “A lethal epidemic had damaged out and neither remedy nor rationalization was discovered. In order that they blamed La Tia Casca, as she was regarded as unusual and secretive. They rounded her up and threw her right into a deep effectively, on prime of which we are literally standing.”

La Tia Casca could have been the final witch to be killed in Trasmoz, however the custom of witchcraft appears to be alive and nicely within the Spanish village. Each June, through the Feria de Brujeria competition, a market sells lotions and potions constituted of the therapeutic and hallucinogenic herbs and vegetation that develop within the surrounding Moncayo mountains. Actors re-enact historic scenes, such because the rounding up and torture of presumed witches.