奇陶尔加尔堡，印度 Chittorgarh Fort, India (© Anand Purohit/Getty Images)
Chittorgarh Fort Rajasthan India
At 8 miles in circumference, the Chittorgarh Fort is one of the largest forts in India, a nation with scores of ancient and medieval fortresses. For starters there are seven massive gates from which to enter. Inside you'll find four palaces and 19 temples. At one time there were almost 100 bodies of water, most of them ponds fed by natural catchment and rainfall, although now there are only 20. Chittorgarh ('garh' means 'fort,' so it's also known as Chittor Fort) is so old, no one is sure exactly when it was built, although reports of its earliest capture go back to the 8th century. It is one of a cluster of six large forts in the northwestern state of Rajasthan referred to as the Hill Forts of Rajasthan, all of them collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We're featuring this important and ancient complex on India's 75th Independence Day, one of India's three national holidays.
On August 15, 1947, India officially broke free of Great Britain and became a sovereign and democratic nation with the speedy passage of the Indian Independence Act. The paperwork might have been fast, but the struggle for independence from British rule lasted 90 years and cost many Indian lives. The British controlled the Indian subcontinent for nearly 200 years, after winning the decisive Battle of Plassey in 1757. The victory allowed the English East India Company to eventually exercise control over most of the rest of the Indian subcontinent, Burma, and Afghanistan. East India remained the supreme authority in India for a century until 1857 when a massive rebellion by civilians and Indian soldiers against the company was suppressed, resulting in direct British rule, referred to as the British raj.
The ensuing decades saw the formation of the Indian National Congress, the rise of Indian nationalism, various armed rebellions, and many acts of civil disobedience led by Mahatma Gandhi and others, before independence was finally achieved. While India as we know it is still a very young nation, the Chittor Fort reminds us the land and people that created modern India have endured and thrived for millennia.
Blue paradise on the Costa Brava
On Spain's Costa Brava, about 45 miles north of Barcelona, lies a perfectly preserved medieval town just beyond the enceinte (stone wall) you see curving up the hillside. La Vila Vella (The Old Town) blends with the more modern, larger city of Tossa de Mar. Here, the 21st century melds beautifully with the 14th.
Modern hotels are just out of the camera's viewfinder. Visitors can spend their days sunbathing on the beach, diving in the sea or strolling La Vila Vella's narrow, winding streets past centuries-old architecture. Just beyond the defensive walls is the deep blue sea. It was this view that inspired French painter Marc Chagall to nickname Tossa de Mar 'blue paradise.' In fact, Tossa de Mar has long been a haven for artists. Actress Ava Gardner loved the town so much while making two movies there in the '50s that the town has erected a statue in her memory.