Yup! This is exactly one of those To Do/Must Visit lists that encourage you to visit some obscure places before you die, as if the world is coming to an end tomorrow and you’d have missed something if don’t rush out there now.
Well, the truth is the world didn’t end on December 12th, 2012 and neither is it expected to anytime soon. However, be sure to put these 5 destinations on your travel bucket list. This list is different from the usual because these places have not been chosen because of the usual touristy attractions but because, in some way or the other, they changed the way we live in today. And, what better excuse to travel than to learn about the world we presently inhabit. A live history lesson is far more interesting than a classroom one, isn’t it?
So, here’s presenting 5 Must Visit Destinations –
- Nagasaki and Hiroshima
What’s the first world event that comes to your mind, that changed the course of history?That’s right. World War II. Further more, the events that changed the course and outcome of the war and the lives of generations to follow were the twin bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
We all know that USA dropped nuclear weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 (in retaliation to Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor), during the final stage of World War II. The two bombings, which killed at least 129,000 people, remain the only use of nuclear weapons for warfare in history.
Soon after the bombing in August 1945, Hiroshima was further reduced to rubble due to a devastating typhoon that took more than 3000 lives apart from causing further massive destruction and havoc.
Visit these cities not to see the aftermath of the nuclear bombings, but to see evidence of life, hope and regrowth. Today these cities, dotted with architectural marvels that symbolise the residents’ strength and spirit, are a centre of international trade and economic growth apart from being an epitome of peace and social development.
The oleander is the official flower of the city of Hiroshima because it was the first to bloom again after the explosion of the atomic bomb in 1945.
The economic and trade centre of India is often wracked by frequent terrorist bombings in an attempt to cripple the economy of India. Nevertheless, this city springs back and rises like a phoenix every time.
Two such bombings that brought the city to a stand-still were the attacks in 1993 and again in 2008. Each of the attacks was a first in many ways and had a ripple effect that is visible even today.
The 1993 serial bombings was a series of 13 bomb explosions and the first such coordinated attack in the world. Life in Mumbai has never been the same again. There are ample films and books that chronicle the events leading to the day and one such hard-hitting film-Black Friday reportedly will leave you ‘stunned and speechless’.
Years later, on a fateful Wednesday in November 2008, another coordinated terrorist attack brought the city to a standstill again. Terrorists had struck the most sensitive and populated areas of the city and hit the most sensitive nerve of the country – the tourism industry. They had managed to enter high-security zones and iconic landmarks like Chhatrapati Sivaji Terminus, Taj Mahal Hotel and tourist-frequented restaurants like Leopold Cafe among others and opened relentless fire. The ensuing fight had lasted several days and ended when India responded when a coordinated response of its own. NSG commandos, Army personnel, Marine Guards were pressed into action and four days later the city was reclaimed and handed back to its citizens to pick up the pieces again. Stories of bravery on part of the army personnel, hotel staff and the city’s residents are narrated with a swell of the chest and a tear in the eye even today.
The General Manager of the Taj Mahal Hotel lost his wife and kids (who were in residence in the GM Suite at the top floor of the hotel, at the time) in the terrorist attack, even as he himself was at the ground floor, helping victims and guests, and getting them to safety.
Today, Mumbai is still frequently hit by terrorist attacks but the city springs back every time. It is a thriving hub of international trade and economic growth.
Visit it for the world-famous street food at Juhu Chowpatty or to pay respects at the Haji Ali Dargah. Visit it for the amazing buys that only street shopping can offer you or to watch a live Bollywood shoot.
Either way, Mumbai lives upto its tagline of ‘City of Dreams’ and its charm is irresistible and will have you coming back again and again.
With mention of World War II, how can one forget the Nazis and the impact they had on the war and its events thereafter. Under Hitler’s regime, Nazi Party (formally known as National Socialist German Workers’ Party) controlled all aspects of life and ruled Germany as a fascist state. Soon this rule extended to German controlled Denmark and Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and even France. The British were able to repel them and after an initial defeat, the Soviet Union also overthrew the German power at the Battle of Berlin. Even before the city actually fell to Soviets, defeat was evident and Hitler committed suicide.
Today’s Germany is the second most preferred country for migration and occupies a prime place of pride in the European Union because of its booming and productive economy with a high standard of living.
Visit Germany for a lesson in history by taking a Nazi tour or to see the present day Germany and experience the various architectural, cultural, environmental, and gastronomical delights that it offers.
- New York
When talking of terrorist attacks, how can one forget the dastardly and devastating attacks on World Trade Centre in September 2011 that had ripple effects across the world and not just in one way.
This one needs no description as each one of us probably remembers the exact moment where we were and what we were doing when we first heard the news of what we now call ‘9/11 – World Trade Centre Attacks’.
The world isn’t the same again, although with the daring military US operation that killed the mastermind behind the terrorist outfit, we do feel safer and more confident of our ability to strike back at those who threaten our existence.
The War on Terrorism has moved from not just every nation’s military and intelligence armies fighting terrorists but each individual being more careful and alert while boarding trains, in cinema theatres and even public transport.
These attacks and subsequent ones have not just made us more resolute but also more aware and unified as one world fighting against a common enemy.
- Vatican City, Rome
The smallest country in the world, Vatican City, is also commonly known as the ‘seat of Pope’ . It is common knowledge that the Vatican City, being the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church is the most sacred places for Christians but did you know that it does not come under the political jurisdiction of Italy. Its political administration and governance is under the head of the Roman Catholic Church, namely the Pope.
The Vatican is a fully independent operational govenment adminstration. The only government function it lacks is taxation. Its only source of revenue is from tourism and related functions – sale of postage stamps, souveniers and mementos, entrance fees to musuems, and sale of publications.
The most prominent building of the Vatican City – St. Peter’s Basilica, is the burial site of St. Peter, and is the largest religious building in the world. St. Peter’s Basilica along with the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums house priceless works of outstanding art, by geniuses like Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo, Bernini and Maderno Della Porta, making these monuments iconic and world-renowned landmarks of architecture, culture and religion.
Michelangelo’s paintings on the scenes from Genesis on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and The Last Judgment on its altar wall are considered to be his greatest and most influential frescoes in the history of Western art.
The Vatican City is worth a visit if only to experience Christianity is all its full glory. Further, its status as a Unesco World Heritage site makes it a must visit destination.
Which of these destinations have you already visited? Is there any other place you can think of that changed the course of history and the way we live today?
Do share your thoughts and favourite destinations in the comments below.