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April - May 2005


Features of Scotland

by Bajrang Bahadur Mathur

The holiday to Scotland last summer was primarily planned to see the famous 'Tattoo' performance of Military Bands at the Edinburgh Castle. However, it gave us in short time a wide variety of experiences which included seeing beautiful countryside and towns; tasting mellowest of malt whiskies; eating the finest seafood and much more.

Scotland is extraordinarily diverse in its landscape with its rocky islands, rugged mountains, breathtaking steep sided glens (valleys) and deep lochs (lakes). More so it has wealth of history and heritage with many attractions, places and activities to visit, see and do. There are some 790 islands out of which 130 are inhabited. Peak of Ben Nevis is the highest (4406 feet) in Great Britain. Picturesque lochs and rivers are scattered throughout the land and are home to the best salmon and trout. It is said that the Highlands and Islands are still one of the great wilderness areas of Europe.

It is interesting to note that in Scotland all lakes are called Lochs, with the one exception of lake Monteith. The largest lake of fresh water is Loch Lomond, while the most renowned is Loch Ness with its mysterious monster.

Historic and Cultural Scotland is on display in most cities, towns and villages famous either for their castle, palace, church or university. Small fishing villages nestle all along the long coastline and form part of the spectacular urban and rural scenery. Some of the important cities and towns are:

Aberdeen is known as the Granite City as most of the important buildings are constructed in granite. The city has a beautiful skyline of graceful towers, turrets and spires of buildings. In modern times the North Sea Oil operations are centred in Aberdeen.

Edinburgh, a cosmopolitan city is the capital of Scotland. The medieval old town contains the magnificent castle, the Royal Mile (a street with buildings of historic importance), the Palace of Holyrood House, Princess Street, Cowgate, site of the University and the Royal Museums. The brand new futuristic Parliament Building at Holyrood is a recent addition to the fabric of the central area. The New Town nearby is equally impressive.

The city is also a home to the annual prestigious Arts Festival held in the month of August. It is a hot spot on the international arts calendar. The festival consists of main and fringe events dedicated to all aspects of performing and visual arts to include film, television, drama, ballet, dance, music, Jazz, blues and art exhibitions. The most popular event is Military Tattoo held in the grounds of Edinburgh Castle. Military Bands put up impressive display of different marching formation to popular music played on brass, drums and bagpipes. Bands from other countries also take part. The show normally ends with a finale accompanied by a grand fire works display.

Glasgow is considered to be a design conscious city. It has its own history to share, as with at least 10 museums and art galleries together with impressive buildings and town squares.

St Andrews is a coastal university town. The university is third oldest in Great Britain after Oxford and Cambridge. It is also famous as being the home of Golf. The streets of St Andrews have a unique blend of the Medieval, Victorian and Edwardian era. The great Cathedral is now an impressive ruin.

Few other places to mention are Inverness, Aviemore, Balmoral, Fort William, Oban, Perth and Pitlochry.

Bajrang Bahadur Mathur is a retired Chartered Architect and Town Planner and lives in London. Since retirement he is doing honorary and voluntary work with a few charitable organisations. He is a keen traveller. All photographs except two which are marked * and sketches are by him.

The full version of this article is available in the print edition.

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