The Glittering Interior of Shah e Cheragh

Shah-e-Cheragh is a funerary monument and mosque located in the city of Shiraz, in Iran, where lies the tomb of Amir Ahmad and his brother Mir Muhammad, sons of the seventh Imam and brothers of Imam Reza. Amir Ahmad and Mir Muhammad were hunted down and killed by the caliphate on this site in AD 835 during the Abbasid persecution of the Shi'ite sect. The brothers' tombs, originally only simple mausoleums, became celebrated pilgrimage destinations in the 14th century when the pious and art-loving Queen Tashi Khatun erected a mosque and theological school by the tombs. After carrying out essential repairs, the queen ordered the tomb to be covered with millions of pieces of colored glass that glitter in the light and magnify its brilliance a thousand times. Shah-e-Cheragh is one of the most beautiful mosques and an important pilgrimage center of the city of Shiraz.



The wide mosque is flanked by two minarets and dominated by a dome is located in the west wing. The high eaves are supported by thick octagonal columns connected by a wall of green marble, carved entirely of wood. The entrance is guarded by a heavy door, plated with gold and enamel with a glass panel at its center. The pilgrims kiss and fondle the door as you enter.

Inside, the enormous dome above the shrine is inlaid with hundreds of thousands of pieces of finely crafted tiles, and the interior walls are covered with myriad pieces of dazzling glass intermixed with multi-colored tiles – green, yellow, red and blue, interspersed with glasses of paler shades sometimes. High and large windows down to the ground are largely made up of mosaics of stained glass which are reflected in the mosaics of mirrors. Embedded in the walls everywhere are verses from the Quran written on silk paper and framed. The green marble floor is covered with thick red Iranian carpets and magnificent crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling above.



In the center, under the dome, lies the tomb of Syed Mir Ahmad. The marble tombstone, topped with a wide, low lacquer box inlaid structure is surrounded by a finely engraved silver with glass openings showing the inside. Verses from the Quran are written in gold letters on a blue background, and flowers are inlaid or carved into the metal. In another corner lies the tomb of Mir Muhammad that looks the same but much smaller than the tomb of his elder brother.

The brothers’ tombs were built in the 12th century by the chief minister to the monarch Atabeg Abū Sa'id Zangi, who also built the tomb chamber, the dome, as well as a colonnaded porch. The mosque remained this way for roughly 200 years before further work was initiated by Queen Tash Khātūn during the years 1344-1349 AD. She carried out essential repairs, constructed an edifice, a hall of audience, a fine college, and a tomb for herself on the south side. She also presented a unique Qur'an of thirty volumes, written in golden Sols characters with gold decoration, which is now preserved in the Pars Museum.





























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Soak in Sake, Wine, Green Tea or Coffee

Bathing in water is such old school. At Yunessun Spa Resort in Hakone, Japan, you can soak yourself in a variety of unorthodox liquids such as green tea, coffee, wine and sake, all in the name of health and well being. Each of the different pools has different health benefits, so they say. For instance, a sake bath has the potential to remove freckles and age spots, while green tea picked from the mountains of Tanzawa and Hakone, can boost skin health and the immune system. Bathing in wine is considered rejuvenating for the body, and it has been said that the Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, frequently did it. Yunessun has a few more traditional spas as well, including a couple of themed baths such as one resembling an ancient Roman bath.



A 3.6 m wine bottle lies by the side of an outdoor pool filled with red wine. Red wine contains resveratol, an antioxidant that protects the skin from environmental damage, so fresh red wine is poured into the pool daily. While soaking in wine, bathers also enjoy a drink or two.

Although wine spas are available all over the world, Yunessun Spa Resort is probably the largest one, and the only resort to offer a variety of ingredients to choose from. Also available at Yunessun is chocolate bath and salt water bath so thick with salt that bathers can float on them, just like the Dead Sea.

Like Yunessun’s unorthodox offerings, other spas around the world too offer strange beauty treatments, like the Crude Oil Spas in Azerbaijan, snail massage spas in South America, South Korea and parts of Russia, and a Israeli spa that offers massage from snakes.











A 2m-tall teapot sits above a small outdoor pool filled with tea grown in Japan’s Tanzawa and Hakone mountains. Green tea contains antioxidants called catechins that protect cells and keep skin looking younger. The tea spa is kept hot at around 42 degree Centigrade.






Coffee is brewed with water from natural hot springs in Hakone, and fresh batches are poured in periodically throughout the day. The caffeine in the coffee works to reduce the appearance of skin puffiness and cellulite.



An oversized cask drips fresh sake into a pool, where bathers can benefit from the famous Japanese rice wine's kojic acids, which work to decrease the appearance of age and sun spots.



The God's Aegean Sea, their biggest pool composed of three islands with relaxing spa waters and a variety of water massaging devices.



Two resort employees demonstrate the buoyancy of guests in the Dead Sea spa





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The Dunes of Maspalomas, Gran Canaria

The Dunes of Maspalomas is a spectacular 4 square km field of sand located in the tourist town of Maspalomas in the south of the island of Gran Canaria of Canary Islands. The sand originated from coral reefs crushed into fine golden grains of limestone by the grinding action of glaciers over thousands of years ago. The ocean currents dragged them to the shore and from there the wind accumulated them into dunes. The sand is blown inland from the beach and accumulates around the shrubs, known as balancon, that dots the landscape. Once the accumulated sand grows larger than its protective shrub, it begins to move across the dune field and so creating the stunning, undulating landscape. Even today, the dunes are moving at the rate of 2 to 5 meters from east to west. This area was declared a Natural Reserve in 1987.



Just a little further on from the Maspalomas Palm Tree plantation (Palmeral) there is another protected natural space - La Charca, a pond which lies between the sea and the sand, providing a resting spot for birds migrating from Europe to Africa. The huge expanse of sand dunes start beyond this ‘pond’, changing their shape continually, chiseled out by the wind coming off the ocean.

There is a 68 m tall lighthouse, named El Faro de Maspalomas, at the southern point from where the 12 km long beach and dunes lead to the resort Playa del Inglés, a popular destination for the gay community and nudists.



















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Shigir Idol - Oldest Wooden Statue in the World

Twice as old as the Egyptian Pyramids, samples of the Shigir Idol are sent to Germany for testing. This ancient example of human creativity was recovered in January 1890 near Kirovgrad but there remains uncertainty over its age, believed to be around 9,500 years old. Made of 159 year old larch, it is covered with Mesolithic era symbols, which are not yet decoded. Some 2.8 metres in height, it appears to have seven faces.


Made of 159 year old larch, it is covered with Mesolithic era symbols which are not yet decoded.

This ancient example of human creativity was recovered in January 1890 near Kirovgrad but there remains uncertainty over its age, believed to be around 9,500 years old. Made of 159 year old larch, it is covered with Mesolithic era symbols, which are not yet decoded. Some 2.8 metres in height, it appears to have seven faces.

It was protected down the millennia by a four metre layer of peat bog on the site of an open air gold mine.

Now held in Yekaterinburg History Museum, lack of funding has until now prevented the proper testing for age of this Urals treasure.




The ornaments, which cover the Idol, are the encrypted information of the knowledge which people passed on.

Now, German scientists secured a grant which they hope will provide the Idol's age to within half a century.

'There is no such ancient sculpture in the whole of Europe. Studying this Idol is a dream come true', said Professor Thomas Terberger, of the Department of Cultural Heritage of Lower Saxony.

Uwe Hoysner, from Berlin Archaeological Institute said: 'The Idol is carved from larch, which, as we see by the annual rings, was at least 159 years old.

'The samples we selected contain important information about the isotopes that correspond to the time when the tree grew.'

Mikhail Zhilin, professor of the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said: 'This is a unique sculpture, like nowhere else in the world.

'The Shigir Idol is both very lively, and very complex.

'The ornaments, which cover the Idol, are the encrypted information of the knowledge which people passed on'.




Studying this Idol is a dream come true.

The samples used for testing were cut in 1997. The was extracted in several parts from the peat bog.

Professor Dmitry. I. Lobanov combined the main fragments to reconstitute the sculpture 2.80m high but in 1914 the Siberian archaeologist Vladimir Tolmachev proposed a variant of this reconstruction by integrating previously unused fragments.

Some of these fragments were later lost, so only Tolmachev's drawings of them remain.

However, these suggest the original height of the statue was 5.3 metres.

Some 1.93 metres of the statue did not survive the 20th century's revolutions and wars and it is only visible on his drawings.

But even the size is it now makes it the highest wooden statue in the world.










Drawings of archeologist Vladimir Tolmachev with 'faces' marked red; Vladimir Tolmachev by the bog where the Idol was found, two earliest reconstructions of the idol - the walking and the standing upright, and a building of Urals history museum in 1910. 

One question debated by Russian scientists is how the Idol - as high as a two-storey house - was kept in a vertical position?

Museum staff believe it was never dug into the ground to help it stand upright, and that it was unlikely it was ever perched against a tree, because it would have covered more than half of its ornaments. Museum staff suggest that the Idol was an ancient 'navigator', a map. Straight lines, wave lines and arrows indicated ways of getting to the destination and the number of days for a journey, with waves meaning water path, straight lines meaning ravines, and arrows meaning hills.





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Top 10 Plant Based Foods That Boost Your Immunity

The plant world contains a natural army of foods that are ready to fight — infections, that is! Getting a steady supply of the following foods helps you build up immunity so that, when that cold comes for you, you may be able to block it entirely — or, at the very least, not let it affect you as much.

In addition to eating these ten foods regularly, you can use them to make home remedies at the first sign of a cold or flu!



1. Garlic

The most pungent of the plant kingdom inhabitants, garlic contains the immune-stimulating compound allicin, which promotes the activity of white blood cells to destroy cold and flu viruses. It also stimulates other immune cells, which fight viral, fungal, and bacterial infections. Garlic kills with near 100 percent effectiveness the human rhinovirus, which causes colds, common flu, and respiratory viruses.

Because allicin is released when you cut, chop, chew, or crush raw cloves, allow freshly chopped garlic to stand for 10 minutes and then cook it, sprinkle it over foods, drop it into soup, or swallow bits of garlic with some water like a pill. You can also drop a clove of garlic into some honey and swallow it immediately for a quick dose that tastes good!



2. Onions

Onions, like garlic, contain allicin. They also contain quercetin, a nutrient that breaks up mucus in your head and chest while boosting your immune system. Additionally, the pungency of onions increases your blood circulation and makes you sweat, which is helpful during cold weather to help prevent infections. Consuming raw onion within a few hours of the first symptoms of a cold or flu produces a strong immune effect.

Chopping onions into your favorite soup or cooked recipe is a great way to enjoy them. Also, it may sound a little weird, but putting half an onion in your bedroom while you sleep can help absorb some of the circulating bacteria and potentially lessen the symptoms of your cold.



3. Ginger

Spicy, pungent, and delicious, ginger reduces fevers, soothes sore throats, and encourages coughing to remove mucus from the chest. Anti-inflammatory chemicals like shagaol and gingerol give ginger that spicy kick that stimulates blood circulation and opens your sinuses. Improved circulation means more oxygen is getting to your tissues to help remove toxins and viruses.

Research has indicated that ginger can help prevent and treat the flu. Ginger is also extremely helpful for stomachaches, nausea, and headaches.

If you’re feeling a little sickly, a homemade ginger tea is one of the best things you can drink. Slice some fresh ginger root, place it into a pot with water, and bring to a boil. Then drop in a bit of lemon juice or cayenne, which makes the tea that much more effective at nourishing and purifying your system.



4. Cayenne

The cayenne family of hot peppers (cayenne, habanero, Scotch bonnet, and bird peppers, to name a few) contains capsicum — a rich source of vitamin C and bioflavonoids, which aid your immune system in fighting colds and flus. It does this by increasing the production of white blood cells, which cleanse your cells and tissues of toxins.

Cayenne pepper is also full of beta carotene and antioxidants that support your immune system and help build healthy mucus membrane tissue that defends against viruses and bacteria. Spicy cayenne peppers raise your body’s temperature to make you sweat, increasing the activity of your immune system.

The fresher the pepper, the more effective it is. However, fresher also means spicier, so choose accordingly.

When you’re sick, add organic cayenne powder to some warm water with lemon juice for an intense immune boost.



5. Squash

Squash is a good source of vitamin C and carotene. The six carotenoids (out of the 600 found in nature) found most commonly in human tissue — and supplied by squash and other gourds — decrease the risk of various cancers, protect the eyes and skin from the effects of ultraviolet light, and defend against heart disease.

One of them, alpha-carotene, helps slow down the aging process. Butternut squash is the strongest source of these nutrients, but you can also try acorn, Hubbard, delicata, calabaza, and spaghetti squash.



6. Kale

Like other leafy greens, kale offers up a good dose of vitamin E. This immunity-boosting antioxidant is known for increasing the production of B cells, those white blood cells that kill unwanted bacteria. Whether you eat kale raw in a salad, steam it, or lightly sauté it, you’ll reap all of its wonderful benefits.



7. Citrus Fruits

Adding a bit of citrus to your diet goes a long way toward fending off your next cold or flu. Packed with vitamin C, oranges and grapefruits help increase your body’s resistance to nasty invaders.

The best way to enjoy citrus fruits is to eat them whole. Otherwise, you can make fresh juice yourself (stay away from the premade stuff in cartons or in the freezer section at your supermarket).



8. Green Tea

Green tea is a potent source of antioxidants called polyphenols — especially catechins. Some studies have found that catechins can destroy the influenza and common cold viruses.

Sipping a hot cup of green tea when you’re feeling under the weather can really help you come alive again. Try adding some honey or lemon to kick it up a bit.



9. Miso Soup

Miso soup is the plant-based version of chicken-noodle soup. It has wonderful healing properties that are amazing at boosting immunity. As a living food, miso is loaded with enzymes and healthy bacteria that help fight infection and keep your cells thriving.

All you need is one teaspoon of miso paste stirred into a mug or bowl of warm water, and you’re set. Sip this down, especially at the first sign of a cold or when you’re just feeling “off” with a stomachache, headache, or something like that. This is sure to hit the spot and make you feel good all over.



10. Mushrooms

For centuries, people around the world have turned to mushrooms for a healthy immune system. Contemporary researchers now know why. Studies show that mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive. This is a good thing when you have an infection.

Shiitake, maitake, chaga, and reishi mushrooms appear to pack the biggest immunity punch. Experts recommend eating a quarter ounce to an ounce a few times a day for maximum immune benefits.





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