Saturday, 23 January 2010

Mount Everest

Mount Everest
Everest from Kala Patthar in Nepal
Elevation 8,848 metres (29,029 ft)[1]
Ranked 1st
Prominence 8,848 m (29,029 ft)
Notice special definition for Everest.
Listing Seven Summits
Country high point
Mount Everest
Mount Everest
Location within Nepal on the Nepal–China border
Location Nepal Solukhumbu District, Sagarmatha Zone, Nepal
People's Republic of China Tingri County, Xigazê Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, People's Republic of China[2]
Range Mahalangur Himal, Himalayas
Coordinates 27°59′17″N 86°55′31″E / 27.98806°N 86.92528°E / 27.98806; 86.92528Coordinates: 27°59′17″N 86°55′31″E / 27.98806°N 86.92528°E / 27.98806; 86.92528 [3]
First ascent 29 May 1953
New Zealand Edmund Hillary
Nepal Tenzing Norgay
Easiest route South Col (Nepal)
Mount Everest is located in Earth
Location on Earth
Mount Everest relief map

Mount Everest - also called Qomolangma Peak (Tibetan: ཇོ་མོ་གླང་མ), Mount Sagarmāthā (Nepali: सगरमाथा), Chajamlungma (Limbu), Zhumulangma Peak (Chinese: 珠穆朗玛峰 Zhūmùlǎngmǎ Fēng) or Mount Chomolungma - is the highest mountain on Earth, and the highest point on the Earth's continental crust, as measured by the height above sea level of its summit, 8,848 metres (29,029 ft). The mountain, which is part of the Himalaya range in Asia, is located on the border between Sagarmatha Zone, Nepal, and Tibet, China.

In 1856, the Great Trigonometric Survey of India established the first published height of Everest, then known as Peak XV, at 29,002 ft (8,840 m). In 1865, Everest was given its official English name by the Royal Geographical Society upon recommendation of Andrew Waugh, the British Surveyor General of India at the time. Chomolungma had been in common use by Tibetans for centuries, but Waugh was unable to propose an established local name because Nepal and Tibet were closed to foreigners.

The highest mountain in the world attracts climbers of all levels, from well experienced mountaineers to novice climbers willing to pay substantial sums to professional mountain guides to complete a successful climb. The mountain, while not posing substantial technical climbing difficulty on the standard route (other eight-thousanders such as K2 or Nanga Parbat are much more difficult), still has many inherent dangers such as altitude sickness, weather and wind. By the end of the 2008 climbing season, there had been 4,102 ascents to the summit by about 2,700 individuals.[4] Climbers are a significant source of tourist revenue for Nepal, whose government also requires all prospective climbers to obtain an expensive permit, costing up to US $ 25,000 per person.[5] Everest has claimed 210 lives, including eight who perished during a 1996 storm high on the mountain. Conditions are so difficult in the death zone that most corpses have been left where they fell. Some of them are visible from standard climbing routes.[6]

* 1 Identifying the highest mountain
* 2 Naming
* 3 Measurement
o 3.1 Comparisons
* 4 Climbing routes
o 4.1 Southeast ridge
o 4.2 Northeast ridge
* 5 Ascents
o 5.1 Early expeditions
o 5.2 First successful ascent by Tenzing and Hillary
o 5.3 First ascents without supplemental oxygen
o 5.4 First Winter Ascent
o 5.5 1996 disaster
o 5.6 2005: Helicopter landing
o 5.7 2006: David Sharp controversy
o 5.8 2008: Summer Olympic torch summit
o 5.9 Various records
* 6 Death zone
* 7 Using bottled oxygen
* 8 Thefts and other crimes
* 9 Flora and fauna
* 10 Geology
* 11 See also
* 12 Bibliography
* 13 References
* 14 External links

Identifying the highest mountain

In 1808, the British began the Great Trigonometric Survey of India to determine the location and names of the world's highest mountains. Starting in southern India, the survey teams gradually moved northward using giant 500 kg (1,100 lb) theodolites (each requiring 12 men to carry) to measure heights as accurately as possible. They reached the Himalayan foothills by the 1830s, but Nepal was unwilling to allow the British to enter the country because of suspicions of political aggression and possible annexation. Several requests by the surveyors to enter Nepal were turned down.[7]

The British were forced to continue their observations from Terai, a region south of Nepal which is parallel to the Himalayas. Conditions in Terai were difficult owing to torrential rains and malaria — three survey officers died from malaria while two others had to retire owing to failing health.[7]
Nonetheless, in 1847, the British pressed on and began detailed observations of the Himalayan peaks from observation stations up to 240 km (150 mi) away. Weather restricted work to the last three months of the year. In November 1847, Andrew Waugh, the British Surveyor General of India made a number of observations from Sawajpore station located in the eastern end of the Himalayas. At the time, Kangchenjunga was considered the highest peak in the world, and with interest he noted a peak beyond it, some 230 km (140 mi) away. John Armstrong, one of Waugh's officials, also saw the peak from a location further west and called it peak 'b'. Waugh would later write that the observations indicated that peak 'b' was higher than Kangchenjunga, but given the great distance of the observations, closer observations were required for verification. The following year, Waugh sent a survey official back to Terai to make closer observations of peak 'b', but clouds thwarted all attempts.[7]

In 1849, Waugh dispatched James Nicolson to the area. Nicolson was able to make two observations from Jirol, 190 km (120 mi) away. Nicolson then took the largest theodolite and headed east, obtaining over 30 observations from five different locations, with the closest being 174 km (108 mi) away from the peak.[7]

Nicolson retreated to Patna on the Ganges to perform the necessary calculations based on his observations. His raw data gave an average height of 9,200 m (30,000 ft) for peak 'b', but this did not take into account light refraction which distorts heights. The number clearly indicated, however, that peak 'b' was higher than Kangchenjunga. Unfortunately, Nicolson came down with malaria and was forced to return home, calculations unfinished. Michael Hennessy, one of Waugh's assistants, had begun designating peaks based on Roman Numerals, with Kangchenjunga named Peak IX, while peak 'b' now became known as Peak XV.[7]

In 1852, stationed at the survey's headquarters in Dehradun, Radhanath Sikdar, an Indian mathematician and surveyor from Bengal, was the first to identify Everest as the world's highest peak, using trigonometric calculations based on Nicolson's measurements.[8] An official announcement that Peak XV was the highest was delayed for several years as the calculations were repeatedly verified. Waugh began work on Nicolson's data in 1854, and along with his staff spent almost two years working on the calculations, having to deal with the problems of light refraction, barometric pressure, and temperature over the vast distances of the observations. Finally, in March 1856 he announced his findings in a letter to his deputy in Kolkata. Kangchenjunga was declared to be 28,156 ft (8,582 m), while Peak XV was given the height of 29,002 ft (8,840 m). Waugh concluded that Peak XV was "most probably the highest in the world".[7] In fact, Peak XV (measured in feet) was calculated to be exactly 29,000 ft (8,839.2 m) high, but was publicly declared to be 29,002 ft (8,839.8 m). The arbitrary addition of 2 ft (61 cm) was to avoid the impression that an exact height of 29,000 feet (8,839.2 m) was nothing more than a rounded estimate.[9]

With the height now established, what to name the peak was clearly the next challenge. While the survey was anxious to preserve local names if possible (e.g. Kangchenjunga and Dhaulagiri) Waugh argued that he was unable to find any commonly used local name. Waugh's search for a local name was hampered by Nepal and Tibet being closed to foreigners at the time. Many local names existed, with perhaps the best known in Tibet for several centuries being Chomolungma, which had appeared on a 1733 map published in Paris by the French geographer D'Anville. However, Waugh argued that with the plethora of local names, it would be difficult to favour one specific name over all others. So, he decided that Peak XV should be named after George Everest, his predecessor as Surveyor General of India.[7][10] He wrote:

I was taught by my respected chief and predecessor, Colonel Sir George Everest to assign to every geographical object its true local or native appellation. But here is a mountain, most probably the highest in the world, without any local name that we can discover, whose native appellation, if it has any, will not very likely be ascertained before we are allowed to penetrate into Nepal. In the meantime the privilege as well as the duty devolves on me to assign…a name whereby it may be known among citizens and geographers and become a household word among civilized nations.[11]

George Everest opposed the name suggested by Waugh and told the Royal Geographical Society in 1857 that Everest could not be written in Hindi nor pronounced by "the native of India". Waugh's proposed name prevailed despite the objections, and in 1865, the Royal Geographical Society officially adopted Mount Everest as the name for the highest mountain in the world.[7] Interestingly, the modern pronunciation of Everest /ˈɛvərɨst, ˈɛvrɨst/[12] is in fact different from Sir George's pronunciation of his surname, which was /ˈiːvrɨst/.[13]
Aerial view of Mount Everest from the south

The Tibetan name for Mount Everest is Chomolungma or Qomolangma (ཇོ་མོ་གླིང་མ, which means "Saint Mother"), and the Chinese transliteration is Zhūmùlǎngmǎ Fēng (simplified Chinese: 珠穆朗玛峰; traditional Chinese: 珠穆朗瑪峰), which refers to Earth Mother; the Chinese translation is Shèngmǔ Fēng (simplified Chinese: 圣母峰; traditional Chinese: 聖母峰), which refers to Holy Mother. According to English accounts of the mid-19th century, the local name in Darjeeling for Mount Everest was Deodungha (meaning "holy mountain").[14]

In the late 19th century, many European cartographers incorrectly believed that a native name for the mountain was Gaurisankar.[15] This was a result of confusion of Mount Everest with the actual Gauri Sankar, which, when viewed from Kathmandu, stands almost directly in front of Everest.[citation needed]

In the early 1960s, the Nepalese government gave Mount Everest the official name Sagarmāthā (सगरमाथा).[16] This name had not previously been used; the local inhabitants knew the mountain as Chomolungma. The mountain was not known and named in ethnic Nepal (that is, the Kathmandu valley and surrounding areas).[citation needed] The government set out to find a Nepalese name for the mountain because the Sherpa/Tibetan name Chomolangma was not acceptable, as it would have been against the idea of unification (Nepalization) of the country.[citation needed]

In 2002, the Chinese People's Daily newspaper published an article making a case against the continued use of the English name for the mountain in the Western world, insisting that it should be referred to by its Tibetan name. The newspaper argued that the Chinese (in nature a Tibetan) name preceded the English one, as Mount Qomolangma was marked on a Chinese map more than 280 years ago.[17]
Another aerial view of Mount Everest from the south, with Lhotse in front and Nuptse on the left

In 1856, Andrew Waugh announced Everest (then known as Peak XV) as 29,002 ft high, after several years of calculations based on observations made by the Great Trigonometric Survey.

More recently, the mountain has been found to be 8,848 m (29,029 ft) high, although there is some variation in the measurements. On 9 October 2005, after several months of measurement and calculation, the PRC's State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping officially announced the height of Everest as 8,844.43 m (29,017.16 ft) with accuracy of ±0.21 m (0.69 ft). They claimed it was the most accurate and precise measurement to date.[18] This height is based on the actual highest point of rock and not on the snow and ice covering it. The Chinese team also measured a snow/ice depth of 3.5 m (11 ft),[19] which is in agreement with a net elevation of 8,848 m (29,029 ft). The snow and ice thickness varies over time, making a definitive height of the snow cap impossible to determine.

The elevation of 8,848 m (29,029 ft) was first determined by an Indian survey in 1955, made closer to the mountain, also using theodolites. It was subsequently reaffirmed by a 1975 Chinese measurement.[19] In both cases the snow cap, not the rock head, was measured. In May 1999 an American Everest Expedition, directed by Bradford Washburn, anchored a GPS unit into the highest bedrock. A rock head elevation of 8,850 m (29,035 ft), and a snow/ice elevation 1 m (3 ft) higher, were obtained via this device.[20] Although it has not been officially recognized by Nepal,[21] this figure is widely quoted. Geoid uncertainty casts doubt upon the accuracy claimed by both the 1999 and 2005 surveys.

A detailed photogrammetric map (at a scale of 1:50,000) of the Khumbu region, including the south side of Mount Everest, was made by Erwin Schneider as part of the 1955 International Himalayan Expedition, which also attempted Lhotse. An even more detailed topographic map of the Everest area was made in the late 1980s under the direction of Bradford Washburn, using extensive aerial photography.[22]

It is thought that the plate tectonics of the area are adding to the height and moving the summit northeastwards. Two accounts suggest the rates of change are 4 mm (0.16 in) per year (upwards) and 3 to 6 mm (0.12 to 0.24 in) per year (northeastwards),[20][23] but another account mentions more lateral movement (27 mm/1.1 in),[24] and even shrinkage has been suggested.[25]

Everest is the mountain whose summit attains the greatest distance above sea level. Several other mountains are sometimes claimed as alternative "tallest mountains on Earth". Mauna Kea in Hawaii is tallest when measured from its base;[26] it rises over 10,200 m (6.3 mi) when measured from its base on the mid-ocean floor, but only attains 4,205 m (13,796 ft) above sea level.

By the same measure of base[26] to summit, Mount McKinley, in Alaska, is also taller than Everest. Despite its height above sea level of only 6,193.6 m (20,320 ft), Mount McKinley sits atop a sloping plain with elevations from 300 m (980 ft) to 900 m (3,000 ft), yielding a height above base in the range of 5,300 to 5,900 m (17,000 to 19,000 ft); a commonly quoted figure is 5,600 m (18,400 ft).[27] By comparison, reasonable base elevations for Everest range from 4,200 m (13,800 ft) on the south side to 5,200 m (17,100 ft) on the Tibetan Plateau, yielding a height above base in the range of 3,650 to 4,650 m (12,000 to 15,300 ft).[22]

The summit of Chimborazo in Ecuador is 2,168 m (7,113 ft) farther from the Earth's centre (6,384.4 km (3,967.1 mi)) than that of Everest (6,382.3 km (3,965.8 mi)), because the Earth bulges at the Equator. However, Chimborazo attains a height of only 6,267 m (20,561 ft) above sea level, and by this criterion it is not even the highest peak of the Andes.
Climbing routes
Southern and northern climbing routes as seen from the International Space Station.

Mt. Everest has two main climbing routes, the southeast ridge from Nepal and the northeast ridge from Tibet, as well as many other less frequently climbed routes.[28] Of the two main routes, the southeast ridge is technically easier and is the more frequently-used route. It was the route used by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953 and the first recognized of fifteen routes to the top by 1996.[28] This was, however, a route decision dictated more by politics than by design as the Chinese border was closed to the western world in the 1950s after the People's Republic of China took over Tibet.[29]

View from space showing South Col route and North Col/Ridge route

Most attempts are made during May before the summer monsoon season. As the monsoon season approaches, a change in the jet stream at this time pushes it northward, thereby reducing the average wind speeds high on the mountain.[30][31] While attempts are sometimes made after the monsoons in September and October, when the jet stream is again temporarily pushed northward, the additional snow deposited by the monsoons and the less stable weather patterns (tail end of the monsoon) makes climbing extremely difficult.
Southeast ridge

The ascent via the southeast ridge begins with a trek to Base Camp at 5,380 m (17,700 ft) on the south side of Everest in Nepal. Expeditions usually fly into Lukla (2,860 m) from Kathmandu and pass through Namche Bazaar. Climbers then hike to Base Camp, which usually takes six to eight days, allowing for proper altitude acclimatization in order to prevent altitude sickness.[32] Climbing equipment and supplies are carried by yaks, dzopkyos (yak hybrids) and human porters to Base Camp on the Khumbu Glacier. When Hillary and Tenzing climbed Everest in 1953, they started from Kathmandu Valley, as there were no roads further east at that time.

Climbers will spend a couple of weeks in Base Camp, acclimatizing to the altitude. During that time, Sherpas and some expedition climbers will set up ropes and ladders in the treacherous Khumbu Icefall. Seracs, crevasses and shifting blocks of ice make the icefall one of the most dangerous sections of the route. Many climbers and Sherpas have been killed in this section. To reduce the hazard, climbers will usually begin their ascent well before dawn when the freezing temperatures glue ice blocks in place. Above the icefall is Camp I at 6,065 metres (19,900 ft).

From Camp I, climbers make their way up the Western Cwm to the base of the Lhotse face, where Camp II or Advanced Base Camp (ABC) is established at 6,500 m (21,300 ft). The Western Cwm is a relatively flat, gently rising glacial valley, marked by huge lateral crevasses in the centre which prevent direct access to the upper reaches of the Cwm. Climbers are forced to cross on the far right near the base of Nuptse to a small passageway known as the "Nuptse corner". The Western Cwm is also called the "Valley of Silence" as the topography of the area generally cuts off wind from the climbing route. The high altitude and a clear, windless day can make the Western Cwm unbearably hot for climbers.[33]

From ABC, climbers ascend the Lhotse face on fixed ropes up to Camp III, located on a small ledge at 7,470 m (24,500 ft). From there, it is another 500 metres to Camp IV on the South Col at 7,920 m (26,000 ft). From Camp III to Camp IV, climbers are faced with two additional challenges: The Geneva Spur and The Yellow Band. The Geneva Spur is an anvil shaped rib of black rock named by a 1952 Swiss expedition. Fixed ropes assist climbers in scrambling over this snow covered rock band. The Yellow Band is a section of interlayered marble, phyllite, and semischist which also requires about 100 metres of rope for traversing it.[33]

On the South Col, climbers enter the death zone. Climbers typically only have a maximum of two or three days they can endure at this altitude for making summit bids. Clear weather and low winds are critical factors in deciding whether to make a summit attempt. If weather does not cooperate within these short few days, climbers are forced to descend, many all the way back down to Base Camp.
A view of Everest southeast ridge base camp. The Khumbu Icefall can be seen in the left. In the center are the remains of a helicopter that crashed in 2003.

From Camp IV, climbers will begin their summit push around midnight with hopes of reaching the summit (still another 1,000 metres above) within 10 to 12 hours. Climbers will first reach "The Balcony" at 8,400 m (27,600 ft), a small platform where they can rest and gaze at peaks to the south and east in the early dawn of light. Continuing up the ridge, climbers are then faced with a series of imposing rock steps which usually forces them to the east into waist deep snow, a serious avalanche hazard. At 8,750 m (28,700 ft), a small table-sized dome of ice and snow marks the South Summit.[33]

From the South Summit, climbers follow the knife-edge southeast ridge along what is known as the "Cornice traverse" where snow clings to intermittent rock. This is the most exposed section of the climb as a misstep to the left would send one 2,400 m (8,000 ft) down the southwest face while to the immediate right is the 3,050 m (10,000 ft) Kangshung face. At the end of this traverse is an imposing 12 m (40 ft) rock wall called the "Hillary Step" at 8,760 m (28,740 ft).[33]

Hillary and Tenzing were the first climbers to ascend this step and they did it with primitive ice climbing equipment and with ropes. Nowadays, climbers will ascend this step using fixed ropes previously set up by Sherpas. Once above the step, it is a comparatively easy climb to the top on moderately angled snow slopes - though the exposure on the ridge is extreme especially while traversing very large cornices of snow. With increasing numbers of people climbing the mountain in recent years, the Step has frequently become a bottleneck, with climbers forced to wait significant amounts of time for their turn on the ropes, leading to problems in getting climbers efficiently up and down the mountain. After the Hillary Step, climbers also must traverse a very loose and rocky section that has a very large entanglement of fixed ropes that can be troublesome in bad weather. Climbers will typically spend less than a half-hour on the "top of the world" as they realize the need to descend to Camp IV before darkness sets in, afternoon weather becomes a serious problem, or supplemental oxygen tanks run out.
Northeast ridge
Mount Everest north face from Rongbuk in Tibet

The northeast ridge route begins from the north side of Everest in Tibet. Expeditions trek to the Rongbuk Glacier, setting up Base Camp at 5,180 m (16,990 ft) on a gravel plain just below the glacier. To reach Camp II, climbers ascend the medial moraine of the east Rongbuk Glacier up to the base of Changtse at around 6,100 m (20,000 ft). Camp III (ABC - Advanced Base Camp) is situated below the North Col at 6,500 m (21,300 ft). To reach Camp IV on the north col, climbers ascend the glacier to the foot of the col where fixed ropes are used to reach the North Col at 7,010 m (23,000 ft). From the North Col, climbers ascend the rocky north ridge to set up Camp V at around 7,775 m (25,500 ft). The route crosses the North Face in a diagonal climb to the base of the Yellow Band reaching the site of Camp VI at 8,230 m (27,000 ft). From Camp VI, climbers will make their final summit push. Climbers face a treacherous traverse from the base of the First Step: 27,890 feet - 28,000 feet, to the crux of the climb, the Second Step: 28,140 feet - 28,300 feet. (The Second Step includes a climbing aid called the "Chinese ladder", a metal ladder placed semi-permanently in 1975 by a party of Chinese climbers. It has been almost continuously in place since, and is used by virtually all climbers on the route.) Once above the Second Step the inconsequential Third Step is clambered over: 28,510 feet - 28,870 feet. Once above these steps, the summit pyramid is climbed by means of a snow slope of 50 degrees, to the final summit ridge along which the top is reached.[34]
Main article: Timeline of climbing Mount Everest
Early expeditions
Rongbuk Monastery in Tibet with the north side of Everest in the background.

In 1885, Clinton Thomas Dent, president of the Alpine Club, suggested that climbing Mount Everest was possible in his book Above the Snow Line.[35]

The northern approach to the mountain was discovered by George Mallory on the first expedition in 1921. It was an exploratory expedition not equipped for a serious attempt to climb the mountain. With Mallory leading (and thus becoming the first European to set foot on Everest's flanks) they climbed the North Col 7,007 metres (22,989 ft). From there, Mallory espied a route to the top, but the party was unprepared for the great task of climbing any further and descended.

The British returned for a 1922 expedition. George Finch ("The other George") climbed using oxygen for the first time. He ascended at a remarkable speed — 950 feet (290 m) per hour, and reached an altitude of 8,320 m (27,300 ft), the first time a human climbed higher than 8,000m. This feat was entirely lost on the British climbing establishment — except for its "unsporting" nature. Mallory and Col. Felix Norton made a second unsuccessful attempt. Mallory was faulted for leading a group down from the North Col which got caught in an avalanche. Mallory was pulled down too, but seven native porters were killed.

The next Expedition was in 1924. The initial attempt by Mallory and Bruce, was aborted when weather conditions precluded the establishment of Camp VI. The next attempt was that of Norton and Somervell who climbed without oxygen and in perfect weather, traversing the North Face into the Great Couloir. Norton managed to reach 8,558 metres (28,077 ft), though he ascended only 100 feet (30 m) or so in the last hour. Mallory rustled up oxygen equipment for a last-ditch effort. He chose the young Andrew Irvine as his partner.

On 8 June 1924 George Mallory and Andrew Irvine made an attempt on the summit via the North Col/North Ridge/Northeast Ridge route from which they never returned. On 1 May 1999 the Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition found Mallory's body on the North Face in a snow basin below and to the west of the traditional site of Camp VI. Controversy has raged in the mountaineering community as to whether or not one or both of them reached the summit 29 years before the confirmed ascent (and of course, safe descent) of Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.

In 1933, Lady Houston, a British millionaire ex-showgirl, funded the Houston Everest Flight of 1933, which saw a formation of aircraft led by the Marquess of Clydesdale fly over the summit in an effort to deploy the British Union Flag at the top.[36][37]

Early expeditions — such as Bruce's in the 1920s and Hugh Ruttledge's two unsuccessful attempts in 1933 and 1936 — tried to make an ascent of the mountain from Tibet, via the north face. Access was closed from the north to western expeditions in 1950, after the Chinese asserted control over Tibet. In 1950, Bill Tilman and a small party which included Charles Houston, Oscar Houston and Betsy Cowles undertook an exploratory expedition to Everest through Nepal along the route which has now become the standard approach to Everest from the south.[38]

In the spring of 1952 a Swiss expedition, lead by Edouard Wyss-Dunant was granted permission to attempt a climb from Nepal. The expedition established a route through the Khumbu ice fall and ascended to the South Col at an elevation of 7,986 metres (26,201 ft). Raymond Lambert and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were able to reach a height of about 8,595 metres (28,199 ft) on the southeast ridge, setting a new climbing altitude record. Tenzing's experience was useful when he was hired to be part of the British expedition in 1953.[39]
First successful ascent by Tenzing and Hillary

In 1953, a ninth British expedition, led by John Hunt, returned to Nepal. Hunt selected two climbing pairs to attempt to reach the summit. The first pair (Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans) came within 100 m (300 feet) of the summit on 26 May 1953, but turned back after becoming exhausted. As planned, their work in route finding and breaking trail and their caches of extra oxygen were of great aid to the following pair. Two days later, the expedition made its second and final assault on the summit with its second climbing pair, the New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay from Nepal. They reached the summit at 11:30 a.m. local time on 29 May 1953 via the South Col Route. At the time, both acknowledged it as a team effort by the whole expedition, but Tenzing revealed a few years later that Hillary had put his foot on the summit first.[40] They paused at the summit to take photographs and buried a few sweets and a small cross in the snow before descending.

News of the expedition's success reached London on the morning of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation, June 2. Returning to Kathmandu a few days later, Hunt (a Briton) and Hillary (a subject of Elizabeth, through her role as head of state of New Zealand) discovered that they had been promptly knighted in the Order of the British Empire, a KBE, for the ascent. Tenzing (a subject of the King of Nepal) was granted the George Medal by the UK. Hunt was ultimately made a life peer in Britain, while Hillary became a founding member of the Order of New Zealand.
First ascents without supplemental oxygen

On 8 May 1978, Reinhold Messner (Italy) and Peter Habeler (Austria) made the first ascent without supplemental oxygen, using the southeast ridge route.[28][41] On 20 August 1980, Messner reached the summit of the mountain solo for the first time, without supplementary oxygen or support, on the more difficult Northwest route via the North Col to the North Face and the Great Couloir. He climbed for three days entirely alone from his base camp at 6,500 metres (21,300 ft).[28]
First Winter Ascent

In 1980, a team from Poland led by Andrzej Zawada, Leszek Cichy, and Krzysztof Wielicki became the first to reach the summit during the winter season.
1996 disaster
Main article: 1996 Everest disaster

During the 1996 climbing season, fifteen people died trying to come down from the summit, making it the deadliest single year in Everest history. Eight of them died on 11 May alone. The disaster gained wide publicity and raised questions about the commercialization of Everest.

Journalist Jon Krakauer, on assignment from Outside magazine, was in one of the affected parties, and afterwards published the bestseller Into Thin Air, which related his experience. Anatoli Boukreev, a guide who felt impugned by Krakauer's book, co-authored a rebuttal book called The Climb. The dispute sparked a large debate within the climbing community. In May 2004, Kent Moore, a physicist, and John L. Semple, a surgeon, both researchers from the University of Toronto, told New Scientist magazine that an analysis of weather conditions on 11 May suggested that freak weather caused oxygen levels to plunge approximately 14%.[42][43]

The storm's impact on climbers on the mountain's other side, the North Ridge, where several climbers also died, was detailed in a first hand account by British filmmaker and writer Matt Dickinson in his book The Other Side of Everest.
2005: Helicopter landing

On 14 May 2005, pilot Didier Delsalle of France landed a Eurocopter AS 350 B3 helicopter on the summit of Mount Everest[44] (without any witness) and took off after about four minutes. (His rotors were continually engaged, constituting a "hover landing", and avoiding the risks of relying on the snow to support the aircraft.) He thereby set rotorcraft world records, for highest of both landing (de facto) and take-off (formally).[45]

Delsalle had also performed, two days earlier, a take-off from the South Col; some press reports suggested that the report of the summit landing was a misunderstanding of a South Col one.[46]
2006: David Sharp controversy

Double-amputee climber Mark Inglis revealed in an interview with the press on 23 May 2006,[47] that his climbing party, and many others, had passed a distressed climber, David Sharp, on 15 May, sheltering under a rock overhang 450 metres below the summit, without attempting a rescue. The revelation sparked wide debate on climbing ethics, especially as applied to Everest. The climbers who left him said that the rescue efforts would have been useless and only have caused more deaths. Much of this controversy was captured by the Discovery Channel while filming the television program Everest: Beyond the Limit. A crucial decision affecting the fate of Sharp is shown in the program, where an early returning climber (Max Chaya) is descending and radios to his base camp manager (Russell Brice) that he has found a climber in distress. He is unable to identify Sharp, who had chosen to climb solo without any support and so did not identify himself to other climbers. The base camp manager assumes that Sharp is part of a group that has abandoned him, and informs his climber that there is no chance of him being able to help Sharp. As Sharp's condition deteriorates through the day and other descending climbers pass him, his opportunities for rescue diminish: his legs and feet curl from frostbite, preventing him from walking; the later descending climbers are lower on oxygen and lack the strength to offer aid; time runs out for any Sherpas to return and rescue him. Most importantly, Sharp's decision to forgo all support leaves him with no margin for recovery.

As this debate raged, on 26 May, Australian climber Lincoln Hall was found alive, after being declared dead the day before. He was found by a party of four climbers (Dan Mazur, Andrew Brash, Myles Osborne and Jangbu Sherpa) who, giving up their own summit attempt, stayed with Hall and descended with him and a party of 11 Sherpas sent up to carry him down. Hall later fully recovered. Similar actions have been recorded since, including on 21 May 2007, when Canadian climber Meagan McGrath initiated the successful high-altitude rescue of Nepali Usha Bista.
2008: Summer Olympic torch summit
Main article: 2008 Summer Olympics summit of Mt. Everest

China paved a 130 km (81 mi) dirt road from Tingri County to its Base Camp in order to accommodate growing numbers of climbers on the north side of the mountain. It will become the highest asphalt-paved road in the world. Construction began on 18 June 2007 at a cost of 150 million yuan (US$19.7 million). China also routed the 2008 Olympic Torch Relay over Everest, via the North Col route, on the way to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.[48] A China Telecom cellular tower near the Base Camp provides phone coverage all the way to the summit.[49]
Various records

According to the Nepalese government, the youngest person to climb Mount Everest was Ming Kipa Sherpa, a 15-year-old Sherpa girl,[50] and the youngest non-Nepalese was 17-year-old Malibu resident Johnny Strange in May 2009.[51] Apa Sherpa holds the record for reaching the summit more times than any other person (19 times as of May 2009[update]).

The fastest ascent over the northeast ridge was accomplished in 2007 by Austrian climber Christian Stangl, who needed 16h 42min for the 10 km distance from Camp III to the summit, just barely beating Italian Hans Kammerlander's record of 17 hours, accomplished in 1996. Both men climbed alone and without supplementary oxygen. The fastest oxygen-supported ascent over the southeast ridge was Nepalese Pemba Dorjie Sherpa's 2004 climb, using 8h 10min for the 17 km route. The fastest ascent without supplementary oxygen over the southeast ridge was accomplished by French Marc Batard who needed 22h 30min in 1988.[52]

The first descent on ski was accomplished in 2000 by Davo Karnicar.[53]

The oldest climber to successfully reach Mt. Everest's summit is 76-year-old Min Bahadur Sherchan, who did so 25 May 2008 from the Nepal side. Sherchan beat the previous record set in 2007 by 71 year old Katsusuke Yanagisawa.[54]
Death zone
Main article: Death zone

While conditions classifying an area as a death zone apply to Mount Everest (altitudes higher than 8,000 m/26,246 ft), it is significantly more difficult for a climber to survive at the death zone on Mount Everest.[citation needed] Temperatures can dip to very low levels, resulting in frostbite of any body part exposed to the air. Since temperatures are so low, snow is well-frozen in certain areas and death by slipping and falling can also occur. High winds at these altitudes on Everest are also a potential threat to climbers. The atmospheric pressure at the top of Everest is about a third of sea level pressure, meaning there is about a third as much oxygen available to breathe as at sea level.[55]

In May 2007, the Caudwell Xtreme Everest undertook a medical study of oxygen levels in human blood at extreme altitude. Over 200 volunteers climbed to Everest Base Camp where various medical tests were performed to examine blood oxygen levels. A small team also performed tests on the way to the summit.[56]

Even at base camp the low level of available oxygen had direct effect on blood oxygen saturation levels. At sea level these are usually 98% to 99%, but at base camp this fell to between 85% and 87%. Blood samples taken at the summit indicated very low levels of oxygen present. A side effect of this is a vastly increased breathing rate, from 20-30 breaths per minute to 80-90 breaths, leading to exhaustion just trying to breathe.[citation needed]

Lack of oxygen, exhaustion, extreme cold, and the dangers of the climb all contribute to the death toll. A person who is injured so he can't walk himself is in serious trouble since it is often extremely risky to try to carry someone out, and generally impractical to use a helicopter.

People who die during the climb are typically left behind. About 150 bodies have never been recovered. It is not uncommon to find corpses near the standard climbing routes.[57]
Using bottled oxygen
Northern panoramic view of Everest from Tibetan Plateau

Most expeditions use oxygen masks and tanks above 8,000 m (26,246 ft).[58] Everest can be climbed without supplementary oxygen, but this increases the risk to the climber. Humans do not think clearly with low oxygen, and the combination of extreme weather, low temperatures, and steep slopes often require quick, accurate decisions.

The use of bottled oxygen to ascend Mount Everest has been controversial. George Mallory himself described the use of such oxygen as unsportsmanlike, but he later concluded that it would be impossible to summit without it and consequently used it.[59] When Tenzing and Hillary made the first successful summit in 1953, they used bottled oxygen. For the next twenty-five years, bottled oxygen was considered standard for any successful summit.

Reinhold Messner was the first climber to break the bottled oxygen tradition and in 1978, with Peter Habeler, made the first successful climb without it. Although critics alleged that he sucked mini-bottles of oxygen - a claim that Messner denied - Messner silenced them when he summited the mountain solo, without supplemental oxygen or any porters or climbing partners, on the more difficult northwest route, in 1980.

The aftermath of the 1996 disaster further intensified the debate. Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air (1997) expressed the author's personal criticisms of the use of bottled oxygen. Krakauer wrote that the use of bottled oxygen allowed otherwise unqualified climbers to attempt to summit, leading to dangerous situations and more deaths. The 11 May 1996 disaster was partially caused by the sheer number of climbers (34 on that day) attempting to ascend, causing bottlenecks at the Hillary Step and delaying many climbers, most of whom summited after the usual 2 p.m. turnaround time. He proposed banning bottled oxygen except for emergency cases, arguing that this would both decrease the growing pollution on Everest—many bottles have accumulated on its slopes—and keep marginally qualified climbers off the mountain.

The 1996 disaster also introduced the issue of the guide's role in using bottled oxygen.[60] Guide Anatoli Boukreev's decision not to use bottled oxygen was sharply criticized by Jon Krakauer. Boukreev's supporters (who include G. Weston DeWalt, who co-wrote The Climb) state that using bottled oxygen gives a false sense of security.[61] Krakauer and his supporters point out that, without bottled oxygen, Boukreev was unable to directly help his clients descend.[62] They state that Boukreev said that he was going down with client Martin Adams,[62] but just below the South Summit, Boukreev determines that Adams was doing fine on the descent and so descends at a faster pace, leaving Adams behind. Adams states in The Climb: "For me, it was business as usual, Anatoli's going by, and I had no problems with that."[63]
2004 photo mosaic the Himalayas with Makalu and Mount Everest from the International Space Station, Expedition 8.
Thefts and other crimes

Some climbers have reported life-threatening thefts from supply caches. Vitor Negrete, the first Brazilian to climb Everest without oxygen and part of David Sharp's party, died during his descent, and theft from his high-altitude camp may have contributed.[64]

In addition to theft, the 2008 book High Crimes by Michael Kodas describes unethical guides and Sherpas, prostitution and gambling at the Tibet Base Camp, fraud related to the sale of oxygen bottles, and climbers collecting donations under the pretense of removing trash from the mountain.[65]
Flora and fauna

Euophrys omnisuperstes, a minute black jumping spider, has been found at elevations as high as 6,700 metres (22,000 ft), possibly making it the highest confirmed non-microscopic permanent resident on Earth. It lurks in crevices and may feed on frozen insects that have been blown there by the wind. It should be noted that there is a high likelihood of microscopic life at even higher altitudes.[66] Birds, such as the Bar-headed Goose, have been seen flying at the higher altitudes of the mountain, while others, such as the Chough, have been spotted as high as the South Col (7,920 m)[67] scavenging on food, or even corpses, left by prior climbing expeditions.
The last rays of sunlight on Mount Everest on 5 May 2007

Geologists have subdivided the rocks comprising Mount Everest into three units called "formations".[68][69] Each of these formations are separated from each other by low-angle faults, called “detachments”, along which they have been thrust over each other. From the summit of Mount Everest to its base these rock units are the Qomolangma Formation, the North Col Formation, and the Rongbuk Formation.

From its summit to the top of the Yellow Band, about 8,600 m (28,000 ft) above sea level, the top of Mount Everest consists of the Qomolangma Formation, which has also been designated as either the Everest Formation or Jolmo Lungama Formation. It consists of grayish to dark gray or white, parallel laminated and bedded limestone interlayered with subordinate beds of recrystallized dolomite with argillaceous laminae and siltstone. Gansser first reported finding microscopic fragments of crinoids in these limestones.[70] Later petrographic analysis of samples of this Ordovician limestone from near the summit revealed them to be composed of carbonate pellets and finely fragmented remains of trilobites, crinoids, and ostracods. Other samples were so badly sheared and recrystallized that their original constituents could not be determined. The Qomolangma Formation is broken up by several high-angle faults that terminate at the low angle thrust fault, the Qomolangma Detachment. This detachment separates it from the underlying Yellow Band. The lower five metres of the Qomolangma Formation overlying this detachment are very highly deformed.[68][69]

The bulk of Mount Everest, between 7,000 and 8,600 m (23,000 and 28,200 ft), consists of the North Col Formation, of which the Yellow Band forms its upper part between 8,200 to 8,600 m (26,900 to 28,200 ft). The Yellow Band consists of intercalated beds of diopsite-epidote-bearing marble, which weathers a distinctive yellowish brown, and muscovite-biotite phyllite and semischist. Petrographic analysis of marble collected from about 8,300 m (27,200 ft) found it to consist as much as five percent of the ghosts of recrystallized crinoid ossicles. The upper five metres of the Yellow Band lying adjacent to the Qomolangma Detachment is badly deformed. A 5–40 cm (2–16 in) thick fault breccia separates it from the overlying Qomolangma Formation.[68][69]

The remainder of the North Col Formation, exposed between 7,000 to 8,200 m (23,000 to 26,900 ft) on Mount Everest, consists of interlayered and deformed schist, phyllite, and minor marble. Between 7,600 and 8,200 m (24,900 and 26,900 ft), the North Col Formation consists chiefly of biotite-quartz phyllite and chlorite-biotite phyllite intercalated with minor amounts of biotite-sericite-quartz schist. Between 7,000 and 7,600 m (23,000 and 24,900 ft), the lower part of the North Col Formation consists of biotite-quartz schist intercalated with epidote-quartz schist, biotite-calcite-quartz schist, and thin layers of quartzose marble. These metamorphic rocks appear to the result of the metamorphism of deep sea flysch composed of interbedded, mudstone, shale, clayey sandstone, calcareous sandstone, graywacke, and sandy limestone. The base of the North Col Formation is a regional thrust fault called the "Lhotse detachment".[68][69]

Below 7,000 m (23,000 ft), the Rongbuk Formation underlies the North Col Formation and forms the base of Mount Everest. It consists of sillminite-K-feldspar grade schist and gneiss intruded by numerous sills and dikes of leucogranite ranging in thickness from 1 cm to 1,500 m (0.4 in to 4,900 ft).[69][71]
See also
Search Wikimedia Commons Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Mount Everest

* Everest Base Camp
* Geology of the Himalaya
* Kangshung Face, Mount Everest
* List of deaths on eight-thousanders
* North Col
* South Col
* Rongbuk Glacier
* Rongbuk Monastery
* Sagarmatha National Park


The Taj Mahal (pronounced Hindi Persian is a mausoleum located in Agra, India, built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

The Taj Mahal (also "the Taj") is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Indian, and Islamic architectural styles.[1][2] In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was cited as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage."

While the white domed marble mausoleum is its most familiar component, the Taj Mahal is actually an integrated complex of structures. Building began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, and employed thousands of artisans and craftsmen.[3] The construction of the Taj Mahal was entrusted to a board of architects under imperial supervision including Abd ul-Karim Ma'mur Khan, Makramat Khan, and Ustad Ahmad Lahauri.[4][5] Lahauri is generally considered to be the principal designer.[6]

* 1 Origin and inspiration
* 2 Architecture
o 2.2 The garden
o 2.3 Outlying buildings
* 3 Construction
* 4 History
* 5 Threats
* 6 Tourism
* 7 Myths
* 8 Replicas
* 9 See also
* 10 Notes
* 11 References
* 12 External links

Origin and inspiration
Main article: Origins and architecture of the Taj Mahal

Shah Jahan, who commissioned the Taj Mahal -"Shah jahan on a globe" from the Smithsonian Institution

Artistic depiction of Mumtaz Mahal

In 1631, Shah Jahan, emperor during the Mughal empire's period of greatest prosperity, was griefstricken when his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, died during the birth of their fourteenth child, Gauhara Begum.[7] Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632, one year after her death.[8] The court chronicles of Shah Jahan's grief illustrate the love story traditionally held as an inspiration for Taj Mahal.[9][10] The principal mausoleum was completed in 1648 and the surrounding buildings and garden were finished five years later. Emperor Shah Jahan himself described the Taj in these words:[11]

Should guilty seek asylum here,
Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.
Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,
All his past sins are to be washed away.
The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs;
And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.
In this world this edifice has been made;
To display thereby the creator's glory.

The Taj Mahal incorporates and expands on design traditions of Persian architecture and earlier Mughal architecture. Specific inspiration came from successful Timurid and Mughal buildings including; the Gur-e Amir (the tomb of Timur, progenitor of the Mughal dynasty, in Samarkand),[12] Humayun's Tomb, Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb (sometimes called the Baby Taj), and Shah Jahan's own Jama Masjid in Delhi. While earlier Mughal buildings were primarily constructed of red sandstone, Shah Jahan promoted the use of white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones, and buildings under his patronage reached new levels of refinement.[13]
The tomb

The central focus of the complex is the tomb. This large, white marble structure stands on a square plinth and consists of a symmetrical building with an iwan (an arch-shaped doorway) topped by a large dome and finial. Like most Mughal tombs, the basic elements are Persian in origin.
The Taj Mahal seen from the banks of river Yamuna

The base structure is essentially a large, multi-chambered cube with chamfered corners, forming an unequal octagon that is approximately 55 meters on each of the four long sides. On each of these sides, a massive pishtaq, or vaulted archway, frames the iwan with two similarly shaped, arched balconies stacked on either side. This motif of stacked pishtaqs is replicated on the chamfered corner areas, making the design completely symmetrical on all sides of the building. Four minarets frame the tomb, one at each corner of the plinth facing the chamfered corners. The main chamber houses the false sarcophagi of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan; the actual graves are at a lower level.

The marble dome that surmounts the tomb is the most spectacular feature. Its height of around 35 meters is about the same as the length of the base, and is accentuated as it sits on a cylindrical "drum" which is roughly 7 metres high. Because of its shape, the dome is often called an onion dome or amrud (guava dome). The top is decorated with a lotus design, which also serves to accentuate its height. The shape of the dome is emphasised by four smaller domed chattris (kiosks) placed at its corners, which replicate the onion shape of the main dome. Their columned bases open through the roof of the tomb and provide light to the interior. Tall decorative spires (guldastas) extend from edges of base walls, and provide visual emphasis to the height of the dome. The lotus motif is repeated on both the chattris and guldastas. The dome and chattris are topped by a gilded finial, which mixes traditional Persian and Hindu decorative elements.

The main finial was originally made of gold but was replaced by a copy made of gilded bronze in the early 19th century. This feature provides a clear example of integration of traditional Persian and Hindu decorative elements. The finial is topped by a moon, a typical Islamic motif whose horns point heavenward. Because of its placement on the main spire, the horns of the moon and the finial point combine to create a trident shape, reminiscent of traditional Hindu symbols of Shiva.[3]

The minarets, which are each more than 40 meters tall, display the designer's penchant for symmetry. They were designed as working minarets — a traditional element of mosques, used by the muezzin to call the Islamic faithful to prayer. Each minaret is effectively divided into three equal parts by two working balconies that ring the tower. At the top of the tower is a final balcony surmounted by a chattri that mirrors the design of those on the tomb. The chattris all share the same decorative elements of a lotus design topped by a gilded finial. The minarets were constructed slightly outside of the plinth so that, in the event of collapse, (a typical occurrence with many tall constructions of the period) the material from the towers would tend to fall away from the tomb.

Base, dome, and minaret
Top of finial
Main iwan and side pishtaqs
Simplified diagram of the Taj Mahal floor plan
Exterior decoration
Calligraphy on large pishtaq

The exterior decorations of the Taj Mahal are among the finest to be found in Mughal architecture.[citation needed] As the surface area changes the decorations are refined proportionally. The decorative elements were created by applying paint, stucco, stone inlays, or carvings. In line with the Islamic prohibition against the use of anthropomorphic forms, the decorative elements can be grouped into either calligraphy, abstract forms or vegetative motifs.

Throughout the complex, passages from the Qur'an are used as decorative elements. Recent scholarship suggests that the passages were chosen by Amanat Khan. [14][15] The texts refer to themes of judgment and include:

The calligraphy on the Great Gate reads "O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the Lord at peace with Him, and He at peace with you."[15]

The calligraphy was created by the Persian calligrapher Abd ul-Haq, who came to India from Shiraz, Iran, in 1609. Shah Jahan conferred the title of "Amanat Khan" upon him as a reward for his "dazzling virtuosity".[5] Near the lines from the Qur'an at the base of the interior dome is the inscription, "Written by the insignificant being, Amanat Khan Shirazi."[16] Much of the calligraphy is composed of florid thuluth script, made of jasper or black marble,[5] inlaid in white marble panels. Higher panels are written in slightly larger script to reduce the skewing effect when viewed from below. The calligraphy found on the marble cenotaphs in the tomb is particularly detailed and delicate.

Abstract forms are used throughout, especially in the plinth, minarets, gateway, mosque, jawab and, to a lesser extent, on the surfaces of the tomb. The domes and vaults of the sandstone buildings are worked with tracery of incised painting to create elaborate geometric forms. Herringbone inlays define the space between many of the adjoining elements. White inlays are used in sandstone buildings, and dark or black inlays on the white marbles. Mortared areas of the marble buildings have been stained or painted in a contrasting colour, creating geometric patterns of considerable complexity. Floors and walkways use contrasting tiles or blocks in tessellation patterns.

On the lower walls of the tomb there are white marble dados that have been sculpted with realistic bas relief depictions of flowers and vines. The marble has been polished to emphasise the exquisite detailing of the carvings and the dado frames and archway spandrels have been decorated with pietra dura inlays of highly stylised, almost geometric vines, flowers and fruits. The inlay stones are of yellow marble, jasper and jade, polished and leveled to the surface of the walls.

Plant motifs
Spandrel detail
Incised painting
Reflective tiles normal exposure
Reflective tiles under exposed
Interior decoration
Jali screen surrounding the cenotaphs
Tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal
Cenotaphs, interior of Taj Mahal

The interior chamber of the Taj Mahal steps far beyond traditional decorative elements. Here, the inlay work is not pietra dura but lapidary of precious and semiprecious gemstones. The inner chamber is an octagon with the design allowing for entry from each face, although only the south garden-facing door is used. The interior walls are about 25 metres high and topped by a "false" interior dome decorated with a sun motif. Eight pishtaq arches define the space at ground level and, as with the exterior, each lower pishtaq is crowned by a second pishtaq about midway up the wall. The four central upper arches form balconies or viewing areas, and each balcony's exterior window has an intricate screen or jali cut from marble. In addition to the light from the balcony screens, light enters through roof openings which are covered by chattris at the corners. Each chamber wall has been highly decorated with dado bas relief, intricate lapidary inlay and refined calligraphy panels, reflecting in miniature detail the design elements seen throughout the exterior of the complex. The octagonal marble screen or jali which borders the cenotaphs is made from eight marble panels which have been carved through with intricate pierce work. The remaining surfaces have been inlaid in extremely delicate detail with semiprecious stones forming twining vines, fruits and flowers.

Muslim tradition forbids elaborate decoration of graves and hence Mumtaz and Shah Jahan are laid in a relatively plain crypt beneath the inner chamber with their faces turned right and towards Mecca. Mumtaz Mahal's cenotaph is placed at the precise center of the inner chamber on a rectangular marble base of 1.5 meters by 2.5 meters. Both the base and casket are elaborately inlaid with precious and semiprecious gems. Calligraphic inscriptions on the casket identify and praise Mumtaz. On the lid of the casket is a raised rectangular lozenge meant to suggest a writing tablet. Shah Jahan's cenotaph is beside Mumtaz's to the western side and is the only visible asymmetric element in the entire complex. His cenotaph is bigger than his wife's, but reflects the same elements: a larger casket on slightly taller base, again decorated with astonishing precision with lapidary and calligraphy that identifies him. On the lid of this casket is a traditional sculpture of a small pen box. The pen box and writing tablet were traditional Mughal funerary icons decorating men's and women's caskets respectively. The Ninety Nine Names of God are to be found as calligraphic inscriptions on the sides of the actual tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, in the crypt including "O Noble, O Magnificent, O Majestic, O Unique, O Eternal, O Glorious... ". The tomb of Shah Jahan bears a calligraphic inscription that reads; "He traveled from this world to the banquet-hall of Eternity on the night of the twenty-sixth of the month of Rajab, in the year 1076 Hijri."

Arch of Jali
Delicate pierce work
Inlay detail
Detail of Jali
The garden
Walkways beside reflecting pool

The complex is set around a large 300-meter square charbagh or Mughal garden. The garden uses raised pathways that divide each of the four quarters of the garden into 16 sunken parterres or flowerbeds. A raised marble water tank at the center of the garden, halfway between the tomb and gateway with a reflecting pool on a north-south axis, reflects the image of the mausoleum. The raised marble water tank is called al Hawd al-Kawthar, in reference to the "Tank of Abundance" promised to Muhammad.[17] Elsewhere, the garden is laid out with avenues of trees and fountains.[18] The charbagh garden, a design inspired by Persian gardens, was introduced to India by the first Mughal emperor, Babur. It symbolizes the four flowing rivers of Jannah (Paradise) and reflects the Paradise garden derived from the Persian paridaeza, meaning 'walled garden'. In mystic Islamic texts of Mughal period, Paradise is described as an ideal garden of abundance with four rivers flowing from a central spring or mountain, separating the garden into north, west, south and east.

Most Mughal charbaghs are rectangular with a tomb or pavilion in the center. The Taj Mahal garden is unusual in that the main element, the tomb, is located at the end of the garden. With the discovery of Mahtab Bagh or "Moonlight Garden" on the other side of the Yamuna, the interpretation of the Archaeological Survey of India is that the Yamuna river itself was incorporated into the garden's design and was meant to be seen as one of the rivers of Paradise.[19] The similarity in layout of the garden and its architectural features with the Shalimar Gardens suggest that they may have been designed by the same architect, Ali Mardan.[20] Early accounts of the garden describe its profusion of vegetation, including abundant roses, daffodils, and fruit trees.[21] As the Mughal Empire declined, the tending of the garden also declined, and when the British took over the management of Taj Mahal during the time of the British Empire, they changed the landscaping to resemble that of lawns of London.[22]
Outlying buildings
The Great gate (Darwaza-i rauza)—gateway to the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal complex is bounded on three sides by crenellated red sandstone walls, with the river-facing side left open. Outside the walls are several additional mausoleums, including those of Shah Jahan's other wives, and a larger tomb for Mumtaz's favorite servant. These structures, composed primarily of red sandstone, are typical of the smaller Mughal tombs of the era. The garden-facing inner sides of the wall are fronted by columned arcades, a feature typical of Hindu temples which was later incorporated into Mughal mosques. The wall is interspersed with domed chattris, and small buildings that may have been viewing areas or watch towers like the Music House, which is now used as a museum.
Arches in the Taj Mahal Mosque interior

The main gateway (darwaza) is a monumental structure built primarily of marble which is reminiscent of Mughal architecture of earlier emperors. Its archways mirror the shape of tomb's archways, and its pishtaq arches incorporate the calligraphy that decorates the tomb. It utilizes bas-relief and pietra dura inlaid decorations with floral motifs. The vaulted ceilings and walls have elaborate geometric designs, like those found in the other sandstone buildings of the complex.
Taj Mahal mosque or masjid

At the far end of the complex, there are two grand red sandstone buildings that are open to the sides of the tomb. Their backs parallel the western and eastern walls, and the two buildings are precise mirror images of each other. The western building is a mosque and the other is the jawab (answer), whose primary purpose was architectural balance, although it may have been used as a guesthouse. The distinctions between these two buildings include the lack of mihrab (a niche in a mosque's wall facing Mecca) in the jawab and that the floors of jawab have a geometric design, while the mosque floor was laid with outlines of 569 prayer rugs in black marble. The mosque's basic design of a long hall surmounted by three domes is similar to others built by Shah Jahan, particularly to his Masjid-Jahan Numa, or Jama Masjid, Delhi. The Mughal mosques of this period divide the sanctuary hall into three areas, with a main sanctuary and slightly smaller sanctuaries on either side. At the Taj Mahal, each sanctuary opens onto an enormous vaulting dome. These outlying buildings were completed in 1643.

Ground layout of the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal was built on a parcel of land to the south of the walled city of Agra. Shah Jahan presented Maharajah Jai Singh with a large palace in the center of Agra in exchange for the land.[23] An area of roughly three acres was excavated, filled with dirt to reduce seepage, and leveled at 50 meters above riverbank. In the tomb area, wells were dug and filled with stone and rubble to form the footings of the tomb. Instead of lashed bamboo, workmen constructed a colossal brick scaffold that mirrored the tomb. The scaffold was so enormous that foremen estimated it would take years to dismantle. According to the legend, Shah Jahan decreed that anyone could keep the bricks taken from the scaffold, and thus it was dismantled by peasants overnight. A fifteen kilometer tamped-earth ramp was built to transport marble and materials to the construction site and teams of twenty or thirty oxen pulled the blocks on specially constructed wagons. An elaborate post-and-beam pulley system was used to raise the blocks into desired position. Water was drawn from the river by a series of purs, an animal-powered rope and bucket mechanism, into a large storage tank and raised to a large distribution tank. It was passed into three subsidiary tanks, from which it was piped to the complex.

The plinth and tomb took roughly 12 years to complete. The remaining parts of the complex took an additional 10 years and were completed in order of minarets, mosque and jawab, and gateway. Since the complex was built in stages, discrepancies exist in completion dates due to differing opinions on "completion". For example, the mausoleum itself was essentially complete by 1643, but work continued on the rest of the complex. Estimates of the cost of construction vary due to difficulties in estimating costs across time. The total cost has been estimated to be about 32 million Rupees at that time.[24]

The Taj Mahal was constructed using materials from all over India and Asia and over 1,000 elephants were used to transport building materials. The translucent white marble was brought from Rajasthan, the jasper from Punjab, jade and crystal from China. The turquoise was from Tibet and the Lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, while the sapphire came from Sri Lanka and the carnelian from Arabia. In all, twenty eight types of precious and semi-precious stones were inlaid into the white marble.
Artist's impression of the Taj Mahal, from the Smithsonian Institution

A labour force of twenty thousand workers was recruited across northern India. Sculptors from Bukhara, calligraphers from Syria and Persia, inlayers from southern India, stonecutters from Baluchistan, a specialist in building turrets, another who carved only marble flowers were part of the thirty-seven men who formed the creative unit.

Taj Mahal by Samuel Bourne, 1860.

Soon after the Taj Mahal's completion, Shah Jahan was deposed by his son Aurangzeb and put under house arrest at nearby Agra Fort. Upon Shah Jahan's death, Aurangzeb buried him in the mausoluem next to his wife.[30]

By the late 19th century, parts of the buildings had fallen badly into disrepair. During the time of the Indian rebellion of 1857, the Taj Mahal was defaced by British soldiers and government officials, who chiseled out precious stones and lapis lazuli from its walls. At the end of the 19th century, British viceroy Lord Curzon ordered a massive restoration project, which was completed in 1908.[31][32] He also commissioned the large lamp in the interior chamber, modeled after one in a Cairo mosque. During this time the garden was remodeled with British-style lawns that are still in place today.[22]
Protective wartime scaffolding

In 1942, the government erected a scaffolding in anticipation of an air attack by German Luftwaffe and later by Japanese Air Force. During the India-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971, scaffoldings were again erected to mislead bomber pilots.[33]

More recent threats have come from environmental pollution on the banks of Yamuna River including acid rain[34] due to the Mathura Oil Refinery, [35] which was opposed by Supreme Court of India directives. The pollution has been turning the Taj Mahal yellow. To help control the pollution, the Indian government has set up the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ), a 10,400 square kilometer (4,015 square mile) area around the monument where strict emissions standards are in place.[36] In 1983, the Taj Mahal was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[37]
Then President of Russia Vladimir Putin and wife Lyudmila Putina visiting the Taj Mahal in 2000.

The Taj Mahal attracts from 2 to 4 million visitors annually, with more than 200,000 from overseas. Most tourists visit in the cooler months of October, November and February. Polluting traffic is not allowed near the complex and tourists must either walk from parking lots or catch an electric bus. The Khawasspuras (northern courtyards) are currently being restored for use as a new visitor center.[38][39] The small town to the south of the Taj, known as Taj Ganji or Mumtazabad, originally was constructed with caravanserais, bazaars and markets to serve the needs of visitors and workmen.[40] Lists of recommended travel destinations often feature the Taj Mahal, which also appears in several listings of seven wonders of the modern world, including the recently announced New Seven Wonders of the World, a recent poll[41] with 100 million votes.

The grounds are open from 6 am to 7 pm weekdays, except for Friday when the complex is open for prayers at the mosque between 12 pm and 2 pm. The complex is open for night viewing on the day of the full moon and two days before and after,[42] excluding Fridays and the month of Ramzan. For security reasons[43] only five items—water in transparent bottles, small video cameras, still cameras, mobile phones and small ladies' purses—are allowed inside the Taj Mahal.

Ever since its construction, the building has been the source of an admiration transcending culture and geography, and so personal and emotional responses have consistently eclipsed scholastic appraisals of the monument.[44]
Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, one of the first European visitors to the Taj Mahal

A longstanding myth holds that Shah Jahan planned a mausoleum to be built in black marble across the Yamuna river.[45] The idea originates from fanciful writings of Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, a European traveller who visited Agra in 1665. It was suggested that Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son Aurangzeb before it could be built. Ruins of blackened marble across the river in Moonlight Garden, Mahtab Bagh, seemed to support this legend. However, excavations carried out in the 1990s found that they were discolored white stones that had turned black.[46] A more credible theory for the origins of the black mausoleum was demonstrated in 2006 by archeologists who reconstructed part of the pool in the Moonlight Garden. A dark reflection of the white mausoleum could clearly be seen, befitting Shah Jahan's obsession with symmetry and the positioning of the pool itself.[47]

No evidence exists for claims that describe, often in horrific detail, the deaths, dismemberments and mutilations which Shah Jahan supposedly inflicted on various architects and craftsmen associated with the tomb. Some stories claim that those involved in construction signed contracts committing themselves to have no part in any similar design. Similar claims are made for many famous buildings.[48] No evidence exists for claims that Lord William Bentinck, governor-general of India in the 1830s, supposedly planned to demolish the Taj Mahal and auction off the marble. Bentinck's biographer John Rosselli says that the story arose from Bentinck's fund-raising sale of discarded marble from Agra Fort.[49]

In 2000, India's Supreme Court dismissed P.N. Oak's petition to declare that a Hindu king built the Taj Mahal.[48][50] Oak claimed that origins of the Taj, together with other historic structures in the country currently ascribed to Muslim sultans pre-date Muslim occupation of India and thus, have a Hindu origin.[51] A more poetic story relates that once a year, during the rainy season, a single drop of water falls on the cenotaph, as inspired by Rabindranath Tagore's description of the tomb as "one tear-drop...upon the cheek of time". Another myth suggests that beating the silhouette of the finial will cause water to come forth. To this day, officials find broken bangles surrounding the silhouette.[52]

Among the buildings modeled on the Taj Mahal are the Taj Mahal Bangladesh, the Bibi Ka Maqbara in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, and the Tripoli Shrine Temple in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
See also

Friday, 22 January 2010

Tourist Spot Cox's Bazar

Cox's Bazar (Bengali: কক্স বাজার Kôksho Bajar or Kôks Bazar) is a town, a fishing port and district headquarters in Bangladesh. It is known for its wide sandy beach which, believed to be the world's longest natural sandy sea beach.[2][3][4] It is an unbroken 125 km sandy sea beach with a gentle slope. It is located 150 km south of Chittagong. Cox’s Bazar is also known by the name "Panowa", the literal translation of which means "yellow flower". Its other old name was "Palongkee". The modern Cox's Bazar derives its name from Captain Cox (died 1799), an officer serving in British India. In the 18th century, an officer of British East India Company, Captain Hiram Cox was appointed as the Superintendent of Palongkee outpost after Warren Hastings became the Governor of Bengal. Captain Cox was specially mobilized to deal with a century long conflict between Arakan refugees and local Rakhains. The Captain was a compassionate soul and the plight of the people touched his heart. He embarked upon the mammoth task of rehabilitating refugees in the area, and made significant progress. A premature death took Captain Cox in 1799 before he could finish his work. But the work he had done earned him a place in the hearts of the locals and to commemorate his role in rehabilitation work a market was established and named after him as Cox's Bazaar ("Cox's Market"). Although Cox's Bazar is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Bangladesh, it has yet to become a major international tourist destination, due to lack of publicity.
[hide] Cox's Bazar beach regarded as world's longest natural beach.

* 1 The Town
o 1.1 History
* 2 Geography and climate
o 2.1 Economy and development
o 2.2 Tourist attractions near the town
o 2.3 Risks and Hazards
* 3 The beach
o 3.1 Tourists and accommodation
o 3.2 Places of interest along the beach
o 3.3 Mineral content in beach sand
* 4 Other tourist attractions near Cox's Bazar
* 5 See also
* 6 References
* 7 Related links

[edit] The Town

Located along the Bay of Bengal in South Eastern Bangladesh, Cox's Bazar Town is a small port and health resort. But it is mostly famous for its long natural sandy beach. The municipality covers an area of 6.85 km² with 27 mahallas and 9 wards and has a population of 51,918.[1] Cox's Bazar is connected by road and air with Chittagong.[5]
[edit] History

The greater Chittagong area including Cox's Bazar was under the rule of Arakan Kings from the early 9th century till its conquest by the Mughals in 1666 AD.[6] When the Mughal Prince Shah Shuja was passing through the hilly terrain of the present day Cox’s Bazar on his way to Arakan, he was attracted to the scenic and captivating beauty of the place. He commanded his forces to camp there. His retinue of one thousand palanquins stopped there for some time. A place named Dulahazara, meaning "one thousand palanquins", still exists in the area. After the Mughals, the place came under the control of the Tipras and the Arakanese, followed by the Portuguese and then the British.

The name Cox's Bazar/Bazaar originated from the name of a British East India Company officer, Captain Hiram Cox who was appointed as the Superintendent of Palonki (today's Cox's Bazar) outpost after Warren Hastings became the Governor of Bengal following the British East India Company Act in 1773. Captain Cox was especially mobilized to deal with a century long conflict between Arakan refugees & local Rakhains at Palonki. The Captain made significant progress in rehabilitation of refugees in the area, but had died (in 1799) before he could finish his work. To commemorate his role in rehabilitation work a market / bazaar was established and was named after him as Cox's Bazaar (market of Cox). Cox's Bazar thana was first established in 1854 and a municipality was constituted in 1869.[6]

After the Sepoy Mutiny (Indian Rebellion of 1857) in 1857, the British East India Company was highly criticized & questioned on humanitarian grounds, specially for its Opium trade monopoly over the Indian Sub-Continent. However, after its dissolution on January 1, 1874, all of the company's assets including its Armed Forces were acquired by the British Crown. After this historic take over, Cox's Bazar was declared a district of the Bengal Province under the British Crown.
Cox's Bazar Map from Series U542, U.S. Army Map Service, 1955

After the end of British rule in 1947, Cox's Bazar remained as a part of East Pakistan. Captain Advocate Fazlul Karim, the first Chairman (after independence from the British) of Cox's Bazar Municipality established the Tamarisk Forest along the beach to draw tourist attention in this town and also to protect the beach from tidal waves. He also donated many of his father in law’s and his own lands for establishing a Public Library and a Town Hall for the town. He was inspired to build Cox's Bazar as a tourist spot after seeing beaches of Bombay and Karachi, and one of the pioneers in developing Cox's Bazar as such. He founded a Maternity Hospital, the Stadium and the drainage system by procuring grants from the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation through correspondence. Mr. T. H. Matthews, the principal of the Dacca Engineering College (1949~1954) was his friend who had helped him in doing this. Engineer Chandi Charan Das was the government civil engineer who had worked on all these projects. In 1959 the municipality was turned into a town committee.[6] In 1961 the erstwhile Geological Survey of Pakistan initiated investigation of radioactive minerals like monazite around the cox's bazar sea-beach area and a number of precious heavy minerals were identified the same year.[7]
Cox's Bazar Bus Terminal
Submarine Cable Landing Station

In 1971, Cox's bazar wharf was used as a naval port by the Pakistan Navy's gunboats. This and the nearby airstrip of the Pakistan Air Force were the scene of intense shelling by the Indian Navy during Bangladesh Liberation War. During the war, Pakistani soldiers killed many people in the town including eminent lawyer Jnanendralal Chowdhury. The killing of two freedom fighters named Farhad and Subhash at Badar Mokam area is also recorded in history.[8]

After the independence of Bangladesh Cox's Bazar started to get the administrative attention. In 1972 the town committee of Cox's Bazar was again turned into a municipality. In 1975, The Government of Bangladesh established a pilot plant at Kalatali, Cox's Bazar to assess the commercial viability of the heavy mineral content in the placer deposits of the area with the cooperation of the Australian Government.[7] Later, in 1984 Cox's Bazar subdivision was promoted to a district and 5 years later (in 1989) the Cox's Bazar municipality was elevated to B-grade.[6] In 1994 (jobs) the Marine Fisheries and Technology Station (MFTS) was established at Cox's Bazar. MFTS is a research station of Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (BFRI) headquartered in Mymensingh. The station covers a land area of 4 hactor and is equipped with 5 specialized laboratories, and one indoor and one outdoor cistern complex.[9] In April 2007 Bangladesh got connected to the submarine cable network as a member of the SEA-ME-WE-4 Consortium, as Cox's Bazar was selected as the landing station of the submarine cable.[10]
[edit] Geography and climate
Panorama of Cox's Bazar in the early morning: clouds on a blue sky, still water and forest in the distance.

Cox's Bazar town with an area of 6.85 km², is located at 21°35′0″N 92°01′0″E / 21.583333°N 92.016667°E / 21.583333; 92.016667 and bounded by Bakkhali River on the north and East, Bay of Bengal in the West, and Jhilwanj Union in the south.

The climate of Bangladesh is mostly determined by its location in the tropical monsoon region: high temperature, heavy rainfall, often excessive humidity, and distinct seasonal variations. The reversal of the wind circulation between summer and winter is another important feature of the climate of the country.[11] The climate of Cox's bazar is mostly similar to the rest of the country. It is further characterized by the location in the coastal area. The annual average temperature in Cox's Bazar remains at about a maximum of 34.8 °C and a minimum of 16.1 °C. The average amount of rainfall remains at 4,285 mm.
[hide]Climate in Cox's Bazar
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg high temperature (°F) 80° 83° 87° 90° 91° 87° 86° 86° 87° 87° 85° 80°
Avg low temperature (°F) 57° 61° 68° 75° 78° 77° 81° 77° 77° 75° 67° 60°
Average Precipitation (inches) 0.1" 0.5" 1.5" 4.2" 12.7" 31.1" 35.5" 27.8" 15.3" 7.2" 3.3" 1.0"
Source: WeatherBase.Com; Retrieved on 2008-01-25
[edit] Economy and development

As one of the most beautiful and famous tourist spots in Bangladesh, the major source of economy in Cox's Bazar is tourism. Millions of foreigners and Bangladeshi natives visit this coastal city every year. As a result, a large number of hotels, guest houses and motels have been built in the city and coastal region. Many people are involved in hospitality and customer service orientated businesses. A number of people are also involved in fishing and collecting seafood and sea products for their livelihood. Various kinds of Oyster, Snail, Pearl and their ornaments are very popular with tourists in seaside and city stores. A number of people are also involved in the transportation business for tourists. Cox's Bazar is also one of the few major spots for aquaculture in Bangladesh.[12] Along with Khulna, it is considered a major source of revenue from foreign exchanges. Beside a mix of small-scale agriculture, marine and inland fishing and salt production are other industrial sources from this region that play important roles in the national economy.
[edit] Tourist attractions near the town
Local hotels arrange beachside accessories for the tourists at Cox's Bazar

The beach is the main attraction of the town. Larger hotels provide exclusive beachside area with accessories for the hotel guests. Visitors in other hotels visit the Laboni beach which is the area of the beach closest to the town. Other than the beach there are several places of interest near the town which can easily be visited from town center.

* Aggmeda Khyang: a large Buddhist monastery, and a place revered by around 400,000 Buddhist people of Cox’s Bazar; and the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The main sanctuary is posted on a series of round timber columns. It has a prayer chamber and an assembly hall along with a repository of large and small bronze Buddha images and a number of old manuscripts.
* Ramu: about 10 km from Cox’s Bazar,[13] is a village with a sizeable Buddhist population. The village is famous for its handicrafts and homemade cigars. There are monasteries, khyangs and pagodas containing images of Buddha in gold, bronze and other metals inlaid with precious stones. One of the most interesting of these temples is on the bank of the Baghkhali river. It houses not only interesting relics and Burmes handicrafts but also a large bronze statue of Buddha measuring thirteen feet high and rests on a six feet high pedestal. The wood carving of this khyang is very delicate and refined. The village has a charm of its own. Weavers ply their trade in open workshops and craftsmen make handmade cigars in their pagoda like houses.
* Dulhazra Safari Park: This safari park is an extension of an animal sanctuary located along the Chittagong-Cox's Bazar road about 50 km from Cox's Bazar town. The sanctuary itself protects a large number of wild elephants which are native to the area. In the safari park there are domesticated elephants which are available for a ride. Other animal attractions include lions, Bengal tigers, Crocodiles, Bears, Chitals and lots of different types of birds and monkeys.

[edit] Risks and Hazards

The coastal areas of Cox's Bazar are prone to devastating cyclones and landslides on a yearly basis. The areas near the Cox’s Bazar town are located directly in the high risk area for surge water heights above 1 meter[14] as well as landslides.[15] There was a 70% casualty rate near the town area during the 1991 cyclone.[14] Another hazard of the Cox's Bazar area is the high natural background radiation which has been found to be above global average.[16] There has been reported incidents of human casualty due to actions of wild elephants in the locality.[17] The threat of mosquito borne diseases like Malaria also may be higher in the area.[18] However, all these hazards mainly affect long term residents of the area and visiting tourists should be able to guard against these risks with appropriate precautions. For them these are not at all a considerable problem. emergency health services are available in the Cox's bazar district hospital which is secondary level hospital in Bangladesh. By
[edit] The beach

The main atraction of Cox's Bazar is the long sandy beach that stretches from the mouth of the Bakkhali river going all the way to Teknaf. Although commonly known as Cox's Bazar beach, it stretches far beyond the area designated as Cox's Bazar town.
[edit] Tourists and accommodation

Cox's Bazar, arguably the best tourist spot in Bangladesh, is visited by a large number of tourist from Britain, America, Korea, Japan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and many more countries each year. Though there is no specific record in Bangladesh Porjatan Corporation (BPC) on how many people usually visit Cox's Bazar each year but an AFP report says that during the winter 10,000 available rooms in the beach area hotels usually remain occupied almost seven days a week.[19] Accommodation near the beach varies from an expensive range to a reasonable price. Many private hotels, BPC Motels and two Five Star hotels[1] are located near the beach.
[edit] Places of interest along the beach

Cox’s Bazar, mostly famous for its beautiful sea beach and the sunset, has several other attractions, including:

* Laboni Beach: This is the main beach of Cox's Bazar and is considered the main beach due to the fact that it is closest to the town. Close to the beach, there are hundreds of small shops selling souvenirs and beach accessories to the tourists.
* Himchari: Located about 18 km south of Cox’s Bazar[13] along the sea beach, is a nice place for the picnic and film shooting. This picnic spot is famous for its waterfalls. The road to Himchari runs by the open sea on one side and hills on the other which makes the journey to Himchari very attractive. Its another attraction is the Christmas tree.
* Enani Beach: Located 35 km south of Cox’s Bazar, this white sandy beach is located within Ukhia Thana.[20] This beach is famous for its golden sand and clean shark free water which is ideal for sea bathing. Most tourists prefer to come down here for relaxing because it is free from the crowd of tourists that is usually seen at the Laboni beach.

[edit] Mineral content in beach sand

The sand at Cox's Bazar beach and surrounding areas is rich in heavy-metal mineral content.[21] The heavy minerals of Cox's Bazar beach sands are dominated by hornblende, garnet, epidote, ilmenites (both unaltered and altered) with magnetite, rutile, pyrite and some hydroxides.[22] Cox's Bazar beach alone is believed to have a deposit of 5.119 Mt of minerals @ 0.04% mon, while nearby Enani beach is expected to have another deposit of 0.729 Mt. of minerals @ 0.13% mon.[21] Surrounding islands of Maheshkhali, Kutubdia and Nijhum Deep as well as mainland beach in Teknaf area are also believed to have similar large deposits.[21] The total deposit in these locations is about 20.5 million tons of raw sand, which contains 4.4 million tons of heavy minerals (sp gr > 2.9).[7]
[edit] Other tourist attractions near Cox's Bazar

* Maheshkhali is a small island (268 square kilometres) off the Cox’s Bazar coast. The island offers panoramic scenic beauty and is covered by a range of low hills, about 300 feet (91 m) high, streatches through the center of the island and along its eastern coastline. The coasts of the island on the west and north form a low-lying tract that is fringed by the mangrove forests.[23] Adinath Temple, a temple of Shiva, and a Buddhist pagoda are also located on this island.

* Sonadia Island, a small crescent shaped island of only 9 square kilometers, it is 7-km north-west of Cox's Bazar. The western side of the island is sandy and different kinds of shells are found on the beach. Off the northern part of the island, there are beds of window pane oysters. During winter, fisherman set up temporary camps on the island and dry their catches of sea fish. Sonadia Island supports the last remaining part of mangrove forest in southeast Bangladesh. Sonadia's mangroves are distinct from the well-known sunderbans, due to their development in a coastal lagoon setting rather than in a delta.[24]. Another attraction of this island is the sight of game birds migrating here in great numbers during the winter seasons.[23]

* Teknaf, a place situated by the side of Naf river is the southernmost part of mainland Bangladesh. This also marks the end point of Cox's Bazar beach. Tourists usually come here to have a river cruise along beautiful Naf river, which flows between Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Dead corals at St. Martins Island.

* St. Martin's Island, a small island in the northeast part of the Bay of Bengal, about 9 km south of the tip of the Cox's Bazar-Teknaf peninsula. It is the only coral island in Bangladesh. It is about 8 km west of the northwest coast of Myanmar at the mouth of the Naf River. The local name of the island is "Narical Gingira", also spelled "Narikel Janjina/Jinjera", translated from Bangla, meaning 'Coconut Island'. St. Martin's Island has become a popular tourist spot. Three shipping liners run daily trips to the island. They are Kutubdia, Sea-Truck and Keary-Sindbad. Tourists can book their trip either from Chittagong or from Cox's Bazar. The surrounding coral reef of the island has an extension named Chera Dwip. The island is home to several endagered species of turtles, as well as the corals, some of which are found only on this island.

* Chakaria: One of most large area in Cox's Bazar.

Sundarban - Beautiful Tourist Spot

Sundarbans - The Beautiful Mangrove Forest in Asia
Sundarbans, The largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world, located in the southern part of Bangladesh. It lies on the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta at the point where it merges with the bay of bengal. Its array of trees and wildlife the forest is a showpiece of natural history. It is also a centre of economic activities, such as extraction of timber, fishing and collection of honey. The forest consists of about 200 islands, separated by about 400 interconnected tidal rivers, creeks and canals.

32,400 hectares of the Sundarbans have been declared as three wildlife sanctuaries, and came under the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.

The Bangla word ban means forest, and the name Sundarban was coined either from the forests of Sundari tree ie Sundari-ban, or from the forests of the samudra (sea) ie, Samudra-ban, or from its association with the primitive tribe Chandra-bandhe which was corrupted into Sundarban.

Annual rainfall in the Sundarbans is in the range of 1640-2000 mm, rainfall increases from west to the east. Most rainfall occurs during the monsoon from May to October. Frequent and heavy showers occur from mid-June to mid-September. Often storm accompanied by tidal waves result widespread inundation and cause damage to vegetation and animal life.
Vegetation The vegetation is largely of mangrove type and encompasses a variety of plants including trees, shrubs, grasses, epiphytes, and lianas. Being mostly evergreen, they possess more or less similar physiological and structural adaptations. Most trees have pneumatophores for aerial respiration. The prominent species is Sundari (Heritiera fomes) and Gewa (Excoecaria agallocha). Prain (1903) recorded 334 species under 245 genera. Of these 17 are pteridophytes, 87 monocotyledons and the rest are dicotyledons. The plant species include 35 legumes, 29 grasses, 19 sedges, and 18 euphorbias. Of the 50 true mangrove plant species recorded, the Sundarbans alone contain 35. Almost all mangrove plant species are evergreen, dwarf, shrubby or tall trees, and grow gregariously without leaving any space on the floor.

In the Sundarbans the saltwater forest is situated in the south-western part where Gewa (E. agallocha), Goran (Ceriops decandra), Keora (Sonneratia apetala), Ora (S. caseolaris), Passur (Xylocarpus mekongensis), Dhundul (X. granatum), Bain (Avicennia alba, A. marina, A. officinales), and other rhizophores, and Hantal (Phoenix pelludosa) dominate. The typical mangrove species dominate the central part of the forest. The moderate saltwater forest covers most of the southern parts of Khulna and Bagerhat districts where Sundari is the dominant species.

There is a thick mat of the nipa palm or 'Golpata' (Nipa fruticans) by the side of almost all the canals. The moderately freshwater zone results from the large amount of water, which flows down the Passur, Haringhata and Burisher, maintaining the surface water at a lower level of salinityA Sundarbans stream

The Sundarbans shows some distinct phyto-succession, where the newly formed lands are occupied by some pioneer species viz Leersia hexandra, wild rice (Potresia species), followed by Avicennia, Sonneratia and Aegiceras. The secondary succession occurs due to Ceriops, Excoecaria, Bruguiera, Heritiera, Xylocarpus and Rhizophora. Tiger fern (Achrostichum aureum) mostly covers the ground floor, which is common in saltwater and moderately saltwater zones. Tigers use these bushes to camouflage themselves.
Fauna The Sundarbans hosts a large variety of animals. It is the last stronghold of the THE ROYAL bengal tiger (Panthera tigris). Within the forest habitats there are about 50 species of mammals, about 320 species of inland and migratory birds, about 50 species of reptiles, 8 species of amphibians, and about 400 species of fish.
Besides the spectacular Royal Bengal Tiger, the other notable mammalian fauna are Spotted deer (Cervus axis), Barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak)

Rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta), Jungle cat (Felis chaus), Leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), the Indian porcupine (Hystrix indica), Otter (Lutra perspicillata), and wild boar (Sus scrofa). deer and wild boar constitute the main prey for the tiger. Some species including the Bengal tiger are endangered.

The ecological diversity of the Sundarbans supports a large variety of birds. Among the total number of species recorded, most are resident. Over 50 species are known to be migratory and are mostly represented by the waterfowls. The egrets, storks, herons, bitterns, sandpipers, curlew, and numerous other waders are seen along the muddy banks. There are many species of gulls and terns, especially along the seacoast and the larger waterways. Accipitridae (kites, eagles, vulture, harrier etc) is represented by about 22 species. Nine species of kingfishers are available in the forest. The rich avifaunas of the forest include species of woodpeckers, barbets, owls, bee-eaters, bulbul, shrikes, drongos, starlings, mynas, babblers, thrush, oriole, flycatchers, and many others.

Of about 50 species of reptiles the largest member in the Sundarbans is the Estuarine crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), some of which may attain a length of about seven metres. Although once they were abundant in this mangrove habitat, their total number is now estimated to be around 250. Species of lizards, including the Monitor Lizards Varanus, turtles, and snakes are well-represented. Among the snakes, the King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), Russell's Viper (Vipera russellii), Rock python (Python molurus), Banded Krait (Bungarus fasciatus) and several species of sea snakes are notable.

Nipa Palm, Sundarbans

Only eight species of amphibians have been reported from the Sundarbans. The green frog (Euphlyctis hexadactylus) is mostly observed in Chandpai area of the mangrove forest. The other forest amphibians include the Skipper frog (E. cyanophlyctis), Cricket frog (Limnonectes limnocharis), Tree frog (Polypedates maculatus), and the common toad.

The Sundarbans suports nearly 400 species of fishes in its varied aquatic habitats; these include both the pelagic and demersal fishes. Many species use these habitats as nursery grounds. No aquaculture or fish farming is allowed in the Sundarbans. The Forest Department controls the fish catch from the area.
Sundarbans deer

Courtesy: Saniar Rahman Rahul

Among the invertebrates some molluscs and crustaceans constitute important fisheries resources. About 20 species of shrimps, 8 species of lobsters, 7 species of crabs, several species of gastropods, and 6 species of pelecypods have been reported from the Sundarbans. Among the shrimps Penaeus monodon and Metapenaeus monoceros and the mud crab Scylla serrata are commercially important. Insects are varied, the most important being the honeybee Apis dorsata. Locally known as 'Mouals', the professional bee collectors gather honey for three to four months during the flowering season taking permission from the Forest Department. The forest is very rich in its spider fauna (Araneae). Nearly 300 species under 22 families have been recorded from the mangrove forest habitats.

Economic value, tourism and forest dwellers The most important value of the Sundarbans lies in its protective role. It helps hold coastlines, reclaim coastal lands, and settle the silt carried by the rivers. The estuary is a good breeding centre for many fishes. Several plant-based industries have been developed here. The most important ones are the newsprint and hardboard mills in Khulna. The raw material for the former is gewa and for the latter sundari. Other important plant-based industries are match factories and boat building. The forest is a good source of fuel, tannins, thatching, wooden articles, medicinal plants, and fodder. The forest is also a major source of honey and bee wax. Aegiceras corniculatum, Ceriops decandra, Nipa species, Derris species, and Hibiscus tiliaceous are the major honey plants.

Tridal forest, Sundarbans

Most frequently visited sites in the Sundarbans include Katka, Hiron Point (known commonly as Nilkamal), Dublar Char and Tiger Point (Kachi Khali). Katka attracts tourists for its landscape and wildlife. There is a forest rest house here and an observation tower. Hiron Point also has a rest house and an observation tower. Dublar Char is an island with a beautiful beach. The other attraction of the island is the fishing activities that take place every year between mid-October and mid-February. Fishermen from other places of the country, especially from Chittagong, assemble here during the period to catch fish and dry them on the sunny beach. The honey collectors go into the forests during April-May.

Only a few people live permanently in or around the Sundarbans. They include the bawalis (collectors of golpata), mouals (honey collectors) and woodcutters. Their dwellings are usually at the edge of the forest and the houses are built on platforms supported on 3-5 m high poles of wood or bamboo. Some people, especially the bedyas (gypsy) live on boats. [Mostafa Kamal Pasha and Neaz Ahmad Siddiqui]

Sundarbans forest regeneration Natural regeneration refers to renewal of a tree crop by natural means, as opposed to artificial regeneration by means of planting or sowing as done in mangrove plantation. The mangrove of the Sundarbans is dependent on natural regeneration for its existence. Over the greater part of the forest, seedling recruitment was sufficient for replacement of the harvested trees. The average number of seedlings appearing per year was about 27,750/ha although recruitment densities varied considerably among different parts of the forests. Heritiera fomes, Excoecaria agallocha and other species together constituted about 24, 54 and 22 percent of the recruits (three months old seedlings), respectively.

Salinity of the area apparently influences the regeneration density which decreases with increasing level of salinity. There is year to year variation in recruitment. However, salinity appears to have little influence on these variations. Variation in seedling recruitment among the three salinity zones seems to be significant. Seedling recruitment for H. fomes, E. agallocha, and other species shows highly fluctuating values over the years. Such fluctuation might be due to the existence of periodicity in the seed production of some species.

Sundarban Events

Honey Collection (April- June) After watching the official opening ceremony of the annual Honey collection season in Burigoalini, we follow a group of Honey collectors to the western part of the forest andjoin their search for precious honey - a livelihood that has survived through the centuries. This is a physically demanding tour, but unique and unforgettable - A true adventure in the Land of the Tiger.

Bonbibi Mela (January) People entering the Sundarban Forest to extract forest resources, including fishermen, wood-cutters and honey collectors, pray for a safe return to Bonbibi, the local forest deity. Along the forest edge permanent shrines are built in her honor. The clay figurines are replaced and colorfully decorated once a year; a unique festive occasion with music, theaters and fairs.

Dubla Rash Purnima Mela (Dependant on Lunar Calendar. normally beginning of November) Dubla Island, situated at the mouth of the Holy River Ganges, is inhabited by fishermen during the winter months. They are joined by thousands of Hindu pilgrims for the annual Rash Mela, the festival of the Rash full moon. After joyous celebrations and fair activities the night before, the devotees congregate in long lines at the waters edge in the early morning hours, holding their offerings and awaiting their blessing.

Fishing with Trained Otters This unique traditional fishing technique is only found in Bangladesh. Fishermen from the Narail/Gopalganj area breed and train their otters to increase the catch. Although they mainly work in the rivers north of the forest, they also enter the Sundarban forest.