Serene, Picturesque, Fabulous!! Milford Sound - New Zealand

My Husband planned a tour to New Zealand south island in April last year as a special gift for our 10th wedding anniversary. It was so excited because we had never gone there before. Had 3 hours fly to Christchurch from Sydney and a got a rental car for 5 days. First day,we drove from Christchurch to Queenstown and visited Tasman Glacier and many spectacular places in beautiful New Zealand. It was getting dark when we arrived in our Queenstown hotel.

Way to Milford Sound

Next day morning we started our remarkable 291 km drive to Milford Sound. Without stopping, the journey to Milford Sound from Queenstown is 4 hours. The road from Queenstown to Milford Sound is closed occasionally due to rock fall, heavy snow or bad weather. But we were lucky enough to go on that breathtaking route though it was a little rain. There are so many beautiful sites to see along the way though and it is the greatest scenic drive I have ever experienced, and hard to put the beauty into words. It seemed like there were waterfalls everywhere I looked. You will never see anything as beautiful as this drive. The kids loved it.

We had our morning coffee break in Te Anau after enjoying halfway our journey. Just before the Milford Road begins its descent through the Cleddau Valley into Milford Sound, it passes through the Homer Tunnel opened in 1954 a 1270m long tunnel through solid rocky mountain. Construction of the tunnel started in 1935 and opened in 1953. This is the only access road to Milford Sound. This tunnel links Milford Sound to Te Anau and Queenstown. It is one way that was controlled by traffic lights as you wait for your turn to enter and it is indicated how long you have to wait.

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We got lucky and only waited for 5/6 minutes. We enjoyed everything about going to Milford Sound including the wonderful tunnel drive,sharp bends and surrounding eye catching scenery. There are plenty of marked stops along the route to see and enjoy. Driving yourself gives you more freedom to explore.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Milford Sound is located in the Fiordland National Park and surroundings are lush green and cool wet. It is acclaimed to be the most popular tourist destination in the world, and the one of the wettest places in the world raining around 200 days of the year. Unofficially the 8th Wonder of the World and one of the world's most beautiful places a UNESCO World Heritage place. Believe me, It is a masterpiece!

My husband booked Southern Discovery cruise tour with meal before start our journey and we reached there on time. A crew member explained about Milford Sound weather, environment, natural beauty and many more things clearly. Our curious son listened it carefully and asked more questions time to time until finish our 2 hour journey around the sound.

Amazing Experience

Milford sounds is a must see if you visit New Zealand. We took the cruise on a rainy day, which increased the number and volume of the waterfalls and creates a network of falls that are quite amazing to see. It is just so amazing to see all the waterfalls coming down the mountains.This is one of my favorite places I've ever been. The views are unbelievably spectacular with steep cliffs,lush green mountains with white snow on top and wildlife. There are so many marvelous waterfalls all over the place that will take your breath away surprising to see the fjord end up meeting the Tasman sea. We got up close to some of the larger ones.We saw dolphins and sea lions. It is often called one of the most beautiful places on Earth, it’s a sight that shouldn’t be missed.Milford Sound was carved out by an erosion of glaciers during the ice ages.

No matter what the weather Milford sound is a joy to the senses, an amazing natural wonder. There is no road toll on the Milford Road, you can drive straight into the National Park at no charge. The Milford Road offers a spectacular journey into the heart of Fiordland National Park. This is a fabulous place to come and see true beauty of nature. A trip to Milford Sound is unforgettable experience which you won't want to miss. In my opinion, one comes to New Zealand to see the breathtaking scenery. A truly amazing experience with the most stunning picture perfect views. However, I'd like to return again on a sunny day.

Next Time Tips

After enjoying that wonderful nature gift we returned back to Queenstown. It was getting dark and cold there when we came to the hotel. So tired. Going to Milford sound from Queenstown in one day is feel very rushed. I would like to recommend you to better stay in Te Anau or Milford Sound over night and get the early bird cruise journey. I think the most popular and probably the cheapest way to see Milford Sound is via a cruise. It may be relax and rest of the day you can visit more places along the beautiful Milford Road. If you travel in New Zealand South Island, Don't forget to visit Tasman Glacier as well.

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Glorious Citadel Eighth Wonder Of the World , Sigiriya Lion Rock - Sri Lanka

In December holiday we  went to Sri Lanka and my 9 years old son wanted to go to Sigiriya.He is so curious about it and wanted to climb to the top by himself.A day trip was organized from Kandy. The driving distance between Kandy to Sigiriya is 90 km. From Dambulla town,there are 9 km to this marvelous masterpiece. It takes approximately 1 1/2 hrs.This granite remarkable peak is the most prominent place in the jungles of the Matale District from all sides.

We spent 3 to 4 hours to explore Sigiriya Rock. It’s best to visit in the early morning or late afternoon, when the crowds are less and the temperature is cooler,late afternoon also brings out the rock’s exceptional sunset coloration.

UNESCO World Heritage

Sigiriya is one of the most spectacular wonders of the world. In 1982 UNESCO named Sigiriya is as a World Heritage Site and declared as 8th Wonder of the world. Built in 15th century by iconic king in Sri Lankan history King Kashyapa ruled in 18 years.  There's nothing like this anywhere in the world. It is 660 feet tall and has a flat top.There are incredible ancient ruins at the top.

Story of creation Sigiriya Fortress

There is a story about King Kashyapa and Sigiriya fortress in Sri lankan history. There was a iconic king ruled in ancient capital Anuradhapura in Sri Lankan called king Datusena who constructed many reservoirs,canals and huge Buddha statues. He has two sons Mugalan and Kashyapa from two queens. Mugalan was the legal inheritor of the throne after his father because he was born from the head queen. Kashyapa's mother was a companion queen. But Prince Kashyapa got help from chief of defence and murdered his father,king Datusena and illegally took the throne in 477 AD. 

In this time prince Mugalan escaped to India and asked help from the neighbor country. Fearing of attack by his brother, King Kasyapa decided to move the capital from Anuradhapura to Sigiriya in the central parts of Sri Lanka. He constructed a royal palace on the summit of Sigiriya rock to make sure it will not be invaded by prince Mugalan. During his rule of 18 years (477 - 495 AD) Sigiriya Kingdom was created because he was afraid of his half brother.

Though he was hiding on top of the rock, Prince Mugalan came with strong troop of Indian army and battled against Kashyapa. During the battle, Kashyapa committed suicide by beheading himself using his sward before Mugalan kills him. Mugalan destroyed the palace of his brother and Sigiriya became a Buddhist monastery. After that Mugalan became the king of Sri Lanka and capital was moved from Sigiriya to Anudarhapura again.

Amazing urban city planning

From the entrance, a wide, straight path along towards the rock, following the line of an imaginary east–west axis around which the whole site is laid out.This entire side of the rock is protected by a pair of broad moats.But the Outer Moat is now largely dried out. Crossing the Inner Moat, enclosed within two-tiered walls, we entered the Water Gardens.Sigiriya is highly recognized it's fountain technology that make mystery to the world still today. Even centuries later these water fountains still operating in rainy seasons.We were lucky to see that beautiful water fountains in our eyes.

Water fountains still working

Long queue to the frescoes
View from the spiral staircase.

Amazing Frescoes
Shortly after reaching the base of the rock, two  metal spiral staircases lead to and from a sheltered cave in the sheer rock face that holds Sri Lanka’s most famous frescoes. Sigiriya is famous for its fresco paintings.It is prohibited to take photographs because flashlights may be not good to the paintings.  On the entire western of the rock,about 14000m surface was full of the paintings early days.

Spiral staircase to the Frescoes

Sigiriya Frescoes
       Mirror Wall
Climbing to the mirror wall
After the fresco,we walked the pathway runs along the face of the rock, bounded on one side by the 40 m long Mirror Wall.The mirror wall in Sigiriya is another notable thing that travelers must watch out for while visiting. Originally, this wall which was made out of brick and covered with highly polished white plaster made from lime, egg white, beeswax and wild honey so that the King could see himself whilst he walked alongside it. Now there are several graffiti and poems which covers the wall's surface, and dates back to the 8th century.

 Lion Rock climbing from the lion paws

Lion Rock Climbing
Continuing up the rock, a flight of limestone steps climbs steeply up to the Lion Platform, a large spur projecting from the north side of the rock, just below the summit.There is also a sculpture of a lion’s legs and paws which flanks the entrance of the Sigiriya Hill, however, the head of this lion remains missing as it collapsed a long time ago.The staircase begins from the lions paw,leads all the way to Sigiriya royal palace at the top.When Sigiriya Rock hits its peak in climbing, there was a long queue to get to the top. This is because everyone is following the same set of stairs, up and down.
Royal Palace at the Top
After the path up, the summit seems huge. This was the site of Kashyapa’s palace, and almost the entire area was originally covered with buildings and water ponds.We can identify the buildings at the tops in several stories and it is believed these may have number of floors and swimming pools.The Royal Palace itself is now just a plain, square brick platform at the very highest point of the rock.Below here a series of four further terraces, perhaps originally gardens, tumble down to the lower edge of the summit above Sigiriya Tank.

At the top of the rock.Having number of floors and pools

Amazing view from the top of the rock

Sigiriya fortress is a place worth exploring and one of Sri Lanka’s top attractions. There are about 1,200 staircases which reach up to the top of the summit. We all were so happy after climbing down the rock.Specially my son enjoyed this journey well, seeing ancient ruins and climbing top to the rock by him self. Next,we are going to Ella by train from Kandy.

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