Friday, September 20, 2013

Turkey - Pamukkale to Konya (2004)

Date of visit: 21st November 2004

Pamukkale is linked to Hierapolis @ known as “Holy City", which was once an ancient city located on hot springs, adjacent to modern Pamukkale in Turkey and currently comprise an archaeological museum designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pamukkale is a tourist attraction. It is recognized as a World Heritage Site together with Hierapolis. Hierapolis-Pamukkale was made a World Heritage Site in 1988. After spending a night at a nearby resort having fun in a thermal pool, we arrived as early as 8am in Travertine area where there's hardly any crowds.

Geo-technically, the underground volcanic activity which causes the hot springs also forced carbon dioxide into a cave, which was called the Plutonium which carries a meaning “place of the god, Pluto”. It made Pamukkale as Turkey's foremost mineral-bath spa because of its natural beauty. The hot calcium-laden waters spring from the earth cascade over a cliff. As they cool they form a dramatic travertines of hard, brilliantly white calcium that form pools. Pamukkale is also known as "Cotton Fortress" was once a spa since the Romans built the spa city of Hierapolis around it’s sacred warm-water spring. The Sacred Pool is still there, littered with marble columns from the Roman Temple of Apollo. Swimming there is fee. Pamukkale used to be a favorite stop on every backpacker's trip to Turkey. Adventurous travelers would stay in Pamukkale Town's small pensions and hotels, bask in the warm mineral water of the travertine pools, linger over long dinners with drinks in the evening, exchange tales of the road and generally have a wonderful time in this laid-back atmosphere.

Tourism is and has been a major industry in this area. People have bathed in its pools for thousands of years. As recently as the mid-20th century, hotels were built over the ruins of Hierapolis, causing considerable damage. An approach road was built from the valley over the terraces, and motor bikes were allowed to go up and down the slopes. When the area was declared a World Heritage Site, the hotels were demolished and the road removed and replaced with artificial pools. Wearing shoes in the water is prohibited to protect the deposits.

Part of the Hierapolis ruins adjacent to the hot spring

As soon as we finished touring the site and everybody admitted that there's no possible way to spent more time in the hot spring due to cold autumn weather, we left to Konya where we rested for the 5th night in Turkey. On the way, we stopped to see the 13th century Seljukian masterpiece of Sultanhan Caravanserai. I guessed we were lucky as the the snows started falling down. Our group shouted with joys as soon as we saw snows on the roadside. The bus driver was kind enough to stop the bus and let us enjoyed the moment.

The tour guide also admitted that we were the lucky group as the winter came earlier in 2004. When we stopped for lunch at nearby Rest & Service area along the highway, we had more photos. It was almost 6 hours journey on about 400km road. For information, Konya is a death bed of my most favourite poet who happened to be a jurist and a theologian, the renown Jalaluddin Rumi. Should I knew about him years ago, I would not have miss an opportunity to visit his mauseloum.

We stopped at the 13th century Seljuk Sultanhan Caravanserai in a rather cold breezing weather. This time, we were not envying those people who had 4 seasons weather as it was really really cold. I was thankful for the expensive leather jacket that I bought in Kusadasi and a long jane with few layers of long sleeve shirts that I wore that day. Though it's snowing quite heavily, we were not bothered exploring and taking photos as a record of our new experience.

Sultan Han is a large Seljuk Caravanserai located in the town of Sultanhanı, Aksaray Province, Turkey. It is one of the 3 monumental caravanserais in the neighbourhood of Aksaray and is located about 40 km west of Aksaray on the road to Konya. This fortified structure was built in 1229 (dated by inscription), during the reign of the Seljuk sultan Kayqubad I, by the Syrian architect Muhammed Bin Havlan El Dimaski (Damascus) along the trade route from Konya to Aksaray, leading to Persia (the Uzun Yolu). After it was partially destroyed by a fire, it was restored and extended in 1278 by the governor Seraceddin Ahmed Kerimeddin bin El Hasan during the reign of the sultan Kaykhusraw III. This monumental caravanserai then became the largest in Turkey. It is one of the best examples of Anatolian Seljuk architecture.

When we arrived in Konya town, we had an adult night activities; most of us had arranged separately with the bus driver to have a Turkish bath. The next morning, Zuri and myself signed up for Hot Air Balloon ride but the trip was cancelled due to a bad weather.

To be continued....
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