Monday, January 11, 2010

Illustrated ;A Sweep through history and Time -.Asia Minor/Anatolia/Turkey





TAAC Newsletter, 97 December
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A sweep through history and time - 15 days in Turkey by K. Gajendra Singh

Mr. Gajendra Singh is a former  ambassador of India To Turkey who settled in Ankara after retirement. He represents major Indian papers.
   In his article Mr. Singh takes the reader through a tour of Turkey while narrating the history of localities. It is a must reading for people interested in history, ancient ruins and peoples.
  Download this article from our  WWW location and give it to people who are interested more about what Turkey can offer: Hittite, Urartian, Byzantine, Roman, Greek, Seljuk, Ottoman Islamic to Christian, Cleopatra with Anthony...

Full article is available on the web.
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         TURKPULSE  ............................AUGUST 26th,  2000

   ( Also published by Turkish Daily News,Ankara , without daily program in 1997)





Amb (Retd) K. Gajendra Singh

                                                             (Guest Writer)


A cascade of slim minarets piercing the Istanbul skyline comes to mind, when most people think of Turkey or the memories of the terrible Turks from the days of Janissaries and Crusades, when in 1453 the Byzantine capital Constantinople became the Ottoman Istanbul, with the 6th century magnificent St. Sophia Church converted into a mosque (but the Ottoman architects could never get away from its conceptual construct). Apart from the famed Topkapi and the Dolmabahce Palaces with their unmatched treasures and other Ottoman monuments, Istanbul has monuments and ruins from its millennium and half long Roman and Byzantine past (Turkey has more Greek monuments than Greece and more Roman sites than Italy). But this sweep does not encompass Istanbul nor all historic Christian places, ie Chalcedon, Nicomedea, Nicea or all the churches of revelation; for, Asia Minor as Turkey was then known was also a cradle of Christianity.  Nor Testament's Mount Ararat and Noah's Ark with ruins of beautiful Armenian Churches and Urartian monuments in the region of Kars and Van. Nor the fabled Pontus Trabzon nor Sumela monastry on  the Black Sea coast of the Golden Fleece, whence emerged Xenophon and his ten thousand after an arduous journey through Kurdish speaking lands. Nor Divrigi, with its masterpieces of pre-Ottoman architecture. Or Amazon Queen founded Sinop, the birthplace of cynic Diogenes who told off Alexander the Great for shutting out his sunlight. Nor even Bursa and Edirne, the first two capitals of the Ottoman Sultans.


Starting from the Republic's historic capital Ankara, we pass by the Phyrigian Gordion (of its knot and oracle), the capital city of King Midas of the golden touch; birthplace and tomb of Nassreddin Hoja (Shiekh Chilli); Sardis in West Turkey, the Lydian capital and Persian Acheamenean Empire's outpost in Ionia (from which came the word Yunan ), of rich as King Croesus and the golden fleece; Troy of Helen, Achillies, Paris and Priam and across the Dardenelles Galipoli; where thousands of Indian soldiers lie buried from WW1; Assos, facing the island of Lesbos, where Aristotle taught; Bergama of physician Galen, a rival city to Ephesus, Antioch and Alexandria, the first two being in Turkey. Also Izmir, the old Smyrna, Homer's birth place (where Aristotle Onasis also lived) and the richest architectural site Ephesus, the Carian city of St Paul's church, Virgin Mary is believed to be buried nearby (Scylax, from whose navigation of Indus for Darius, the West knew first of India, was from Caryanda, also a Carian city); Priene, the spectacular Ionian city, whose oracle along with neighbouring Didim's was as well known as Delphi's.

We then move to Miletus of 6th century BC, of the first thinkers. Thales, Anneximender, Anneximenes, spiritual forefathers of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, where the Greek and Western philosophy germinated, also of Hecataeus, who in touch with Persians wrote about India, and then come to Bodrum, the ancient Halicarnassus, birth place of Herodotus, father of  history, with a Crusader castle and the first funeral monument called Mausoleum in memory of King Mausolus. Not far is Aphrodisias, excavated only in the 1980s  with temples of Aphrodite and Hierapolis and its cotton castles. We pass by old Lycian cities, Knidos, Telmessus,  Pinara, Letoonia of goddess Leto, Artemis; Xanthus, where women committed Jauhar (set themselves on fire) against the Persians in 5th century BC, Patara of its famous oracle, also the birthplace of St Nicholas (Santa Claus), whose Church is not far away at Demre. Then soon in Pamphylia comes Yanartas, with remains of fire snorting Chimera killed by Belerophon flying on a winged horse Pegasus (Mobil's logo). Then to Phaselis with Roman and Byzantine harbours; Antalya founded by Attalus II, ruled in turn by Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders, Seljuk and Ottoman Turks as were so many places in Turkey, with a fluted minaret, like a section of Delhi's Qutub Minar; Perge, with ruins of temples of Zeus, Artemis; Aspendos, and its theatre ,where  today's concerts hold 20,000 persons; Side with temples of Athena, Appollo; Alanya's castle and its golden beach - Mark Antony got the sand from Egypt to charm Cleopatra.


Then after a beautiful drive come up to the plateau plains of Konya (old Christian Iconium of first Lady Saint Theckla), of whirling Dervishes of Jalaluddin Rumi, the capital of the Seljuks, with their masterpieces; Catal Huyuk of proto-earth mother goddess, 8000 years old, one of the earliest towns. Then down past Alharan monastry, along river Goksu, where Holy Roman Emperor drowned ending the 3rd Crusade. Go further down to Cilicia; Silifke and ethereal Kizkalesi with its legends; Olba, of temple of Tyche, goddess of Fortune, mausoleum of Priape, god of fertility and illegitimate son of Zeus and Aphrodite. Nearby is the site of Heaven and Hell with its Chapel of Virgin Mary and the cave of scaly fire breathing monster Python; Viranshir (Soli), birth place of Chrisipus, founder of the earliest Stoic school in 3rd century BC.


After passing by the modern port of Mersin, come to Tarsus, birth place of St Paul, where Cleopatra seduced Mark Antony. Up north in the mountains are Cilician gates, from where Alexander ( & other conquerors going east or west) passed through to the Cukurova plains, littered with Crusader castles; Issus, where Alexander defeated Darius III in 333 BC. After crossing the Syrian gates and passing by Ottoman mosques and medresses, come to Antakya (ancient Antioch) on river Orantes founded by Sileucus Nikator (who knew well Chandra Gupta Maurya), with its most magnificent collection of mosaics. Here followers of Jesus were called Christians for the first time, St Peter and St Paul first preached here. It changed hands between Persians, Arabs, Byzantines and others. Down south Cleopatra married Mark Antony and there is a village where Moses came to meet prophet Hizir.


After Gaziantep, comes later day 8th BC capital of Hittites, Carchemis, conquered by Assyrian King Saragon II and then Urfa, where prophet Abraham stayed before going on to Cannan (buried in Hebron), it is also ancient Edessa, founded by Alexander's Macedonians, where the first large Christain community grew, seat of Crusader Kingdom of Baldwin I.Here Greek works were translated into Syriac and Aramaic and later into Arabic and thus preserved, veritably a city of mosques and churches. To the south is Harran with its beehive looking houses, the play ground of prophets Jacob and others, where Roman Emperor Crassus was defeated by the Parthians. This is upper Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilisations, where the prevedic Sanskrit speaking and Aryan gods worshipping Indo-Aryans ruled their Mitanni Kingdom from 1500 to 1200 BC.


Go up north via Nemrut Dagi, of King Commagene, who brought together eastern Persian and western Roman gods, with larger than life size statues of Apollo, Tyche, Zeus, Hercules and Mithradates on a mountain top, also a temple of goddess Cybel. Leaving Salahaddin's Diyarbakir after a long drive past carpet making center Bunyan and Kayseri (old Ceasara Mazaca) come to the famous Cappadoccia with its moon-like landscape, fairy chimneys and 3000 rock churches with six-level underground cities, where Christians hid from Roman persecution. Then after visiting Sivas, take a detour via Zile, where Julius Ceaser uttered 'Veni, vidi, vichi'  and on to the old Pontus Kingdom Amasya, on river Yesilirmak reminding of Srinagar, birth place of geographer Strabo and an important Hellenic, Byzantine and Ottoman center. Then to Bogazkoy, with its magnificent capital and impregnable Citadel, the center of Indo-European Hittite civilisation from 1900 BC to 1100 BC, who ruled right up to Babylon, Palestine and the Aegean Sea. Cuneiform tablets found here (and Tel Amarna in Egypt) throw light on the Mitanni Kingdom and preserved treaties refering to gods Varuna, Indra, Mitra etc and a Mitanni treatise on horse training using Sanskrit phrases (can be seen in Istanbul Archeological Museum). The supposed Mitanni capital Wassukkani between Mardin and Diyarbakir is yet to be discovered.




DAY-1            ANKARA ( Capital since 1923) - Polatli - Turko Greek War memorial.  GORDIUM - Alexander the Great cuts the Gordian knot in 333 BC. PHRYGIAN kingdom capital, Tomb of KING MIDAS (around 800 BC), the tomb and an adjoining Museum can be visited. Also the city of Gordium, being excavated. Village of NASRETTIN HOCA Sivrihisar (old 19th century Armenian church) PESSINOS (20 km off Sivrihisar) centre of Roman GALATIA, temple of CYBELE- MIDAS CITY (Yazil Kaya) Aslantash. AFYONHISAR. Afyon Castle - wooden SELJUK mosque. Lunch at Ikbal Restaurant. SARDIS - inhabited for 5000 years - capital of LYDIAN EMPIRE. Prostitution allowed to earn dowry. Later major Roman city - Temple of many-breasted ARTEMIS (200 BC). Last of the KING CROESUS (rich as Croesus), first minted coins of gold and silver - legend of the GOLDEN FLEECE. One of the Seven churches, Akhisar, the old THYATRA - another Lydian city. Go to  BALIKESIR. Rest.


DAY 2                        GRANICUS (GONEN river); ALEXANDER Kills Darius III's two Persian commanders - Canakkale on straits of Dardanelles - across Gallipoli of WW1. Troy of Trojan horse and war, ILLIAD, HELEN, AGAMEMNON, CLYTEMNESTEA, PARIS, ODYSSUS, Troy VII was city of  PRIAM. There are at least 7 layers of cities on Troy controlling the entry to DARDANELLES and MARMARA sea and BLACK SEA COAST. BABAKALE - Westernmost point of Asia Minor, Bahramkale (ASSOS) - Temple of ATHENA - Socrates taught here - can see across to the Greek island of LESBOS - AYVALIK - a Greek town (till 1923) - Bergama (PERGAMUN) – old HELLENISTIC city - rival to EPHESUS, ANTIOCH and ALEXANDRIA (in Egypt) in ancient times.


DAY 3                        Visit to Pergamun Ruins (originals in Berlin Museum). Parchment invented after Egyptians cut off - AESCLEPIOS - God of Medicine. Birth place of Galen- physician and medical authority of ancient times - temple of Egyptian deities - BEYAZIT I (1398-99) monuments. Visit to Acroplis Sanctuary of DEMETER, Temple of ZEUS and ATHENA Polias Nikeperous - in DORIC style. Temple of TROJAN, theatre for 10,000. Candarli - with 13th century GENOESE fortres. Aliaga - AOELIAN city. Foca - 'PHOCAENS were pioneer navigators so said HERODOTUS. Manisa - old MAGNESIA - Izmir - old SMYRNA Ionians settled in 9th century BC. Others ie Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Seljuks, Crusaders, Ottomans and Tamurlane also came. Homer's birth place. He wrote Illiad and Odyssy here. Also city of Aristotle Onasis and French PM Ballandur – Kusadasi - Rest.


DAY 4                       EPHESUS - Founded by Amazons - country of Carians. Temple of ARTEMIS (564-546 BC) - ALEXANDER visited in 334 BC Library of CELSUS - Church of EPHESUS built by ST. PAUL in AD 53 - Church of VIRGIN MARY - built in 2nd century AD - first church for Virgin Mary. Temple of SERAPIS - Temple of Hadrian, SELJUK Mosque - BASILICA OF ST. JOHN - ISA BEY MOSQUE. PRIENE - spectacular IONIAN city - 4th century BC. First Hellenistic city, temple of DIONYIAS Temple of Athena. Miletus of THALES, ANAXIMENDER, ANAXIMENES, Didyma -TEMPLE OF APPOLO - Head of MEDUSA. Alexander declared son of Zeus by local oracle. Lake Bafa - across HERAKLEA and Latmos


DAY 5                       Bodrum - ancient HALICARNASSUS - birthplace of historian Herodotus - father of history, according to West. In ancient times part of DORIAN Confederacy. Crusader castle of ST. PETER (Petronium - from which comes Bodrum). Castle of Knights of ST JOHN - a major landmark. Also the first MAUSOLEUM (funeral monument) - one of the SEVEN WONDERS of the world - in memory of King MAUSOLUS, built by his widow. Now a popular Bohemian resort  MILAS, temple of ZEUS. APRODISIAS - named after Goddess APHRODITE - excavated in 1980s so most things are intact. Huge theatre, stadium for 30 000. Beautiful statues in the Museum. Pamukkale (cotton castle), shimmering white cascades formed by limestone laden hot springs which have formed stalactites potholes and cotton made architecture. Nearby HIERAPOLIS - ruins over miles, founded by Eumenes II of Pergamun. This was destroyed in first century, but rebuilt in 2nd/3rd centuries and we see the ruins from there. Sleep at Pamukkale.


DAY 6                       Mugla-Marmaris - Beautiful harbour and resting point for yachts.

DATCA - Knidos. Temple of APHRODITE by PRAXITELES (390 -30 BC). Dalyan - famous beach for giant LOGGERHEAD TURTLES. Pass by Fethiye big resort town - KAYA( known as Kormylassos) - an eerie ghost town of Greeks who left for Greece in 1920s (1.5 million left for Greece and half million Turks came) Oludeniz (Dead Sea). Sleep Fethiye.


DAY 7                       Visit TELMESSUS an old LYCIAN city (6th century BC) old name of Fethiye - rock tombs - now a beautfiul city in a calm protected bay.

PINARA - an ancient city existing since Trojan war (1200 BC) church, theatre, tombs in mountain heights. LETOON -Temples of Goddess LETO, ARTEMIS

and APPOLO. Mosaics of Lye, the sun, bow and arrow, only LYCIAN mosaics.

LETO, mistress of Zeus, whose wife HERA hounded her to exile. Gave births to ARTEMIS and APPOLO. XANTHUS- Ampi-theatre, HARPIS Tomb. PILLAR TOMBS - Lycian sarcaphagus covered by 250 lines of Lycian Greak poem. Earliest 'Johar' - when Persians attacked Xantus in 540 BC, Lycians set ablaze their wives and children then fought to the last man. Lycians repeated it in 42 BC, when Brutus arrived to raise money. PATARA - Birth place of SAINT NICHOLAS (SANTA CLAUS) Ruins of harbour, Granary of HADRIAN. Was famous for ORACLE of APPOLO, as famous as of DELPHI. Resort town of Kas. KALE (Myra) - here ST. NICHOLAS, the original Santa Claus was Bishop in 4th century AD. Myra has St. NICHOLAS 's Church, an Amptitheatre, most impressive rock tombs in whole of LYCIA. Sleep at Kale.


DAY 8                       OLYMPUS: located in a gorge between two mountains, once a pirate hide-out. Piracy stamped out by Roman General Pompey 2000 years ago. Needs excavation. Ahmet tried to drive over the sand-got struck - had to bring a tractor to take out the car. Go on dust track to go to CHIRALI and walk up 40 minutes to YANARTAS, where tiny flames appear from rocks, which children try to stamp out. According to legend, these are the remains of CHIMERA, a snorting monster, with lion's head, goat's body and serpent's tail- killed by LYCIAN HERO BELEEROPHON, who flew over the mountains on his winged horse PEGASUS (Mobil Oils symbol). PHASELIS - an ancient Greek city at the top of peninsula - founded by RHODIANS in 690 BC or even earlier. Two  harbours - ROMAN and BYZANTINE. Main avenue, theatre, baths, market temple etc. lovely warm water in end March, when one can see snow packed Olympus nearby. ANTALYA - a modern city with 5-star hotels and lovely beaches nearby. Founded by ATTALUS II, King of PERGUMUN (159-136 BC) ruled by ROMANS, BYZANTINES, SELJUK, TURKS, CRUSADERS and OTTOMANS since 1391. Italians occupied it (in 1919-21). Known for FLUTED MINARET ( built 1230 by Seljuk Alaeddin Kekubat). Many medresses, tombs and mosques. Ruins of TERMESSUS - a city Alexander could not conquer. During Roman and Byzantine days, a city of 150,000 - a city of PISIDIANS. Tomb of ALCETAS, Alexander's General defeated and killed here in 319 BC. Ruins of Temples of ZEUS, ARTEMIS etc. PERGE. -ASPENDOS - most well preserved Ampitheatre, seating 20,000 people, where concerts are held nowadays. Resort town of SIDE - very popular with Germans. Founded in 13th - l4th century BC. LYDIANS and PERSIANS occupied it. Conquered by ALEXANDER in 334 BC - Ruled by Selucid Ptolemies. Has Ampitheatres, temples of ATHENA and APOLLO. MEN (moon Goddess) - Visit ALANYA castle and Dalmatas Cave- Sleep Alanya.


DAY 9                       Drive back. See ALARHAN ( Seljuks built it in l3th century). Drive

towards Konya through beautiful scenery. BEYSEHIR lake city has very old

wooden mosques. SILLE - ruins of CHURCH OF ST. MICHAEL and spring dated 1732. KONYA - capital of Seljuk Empire between 1071 and 1308. Known as ICONIUM, ST. PAUL visited it many times. Visit ALAEDIN MOSQUE, KARATAY MEDRESE and Tekke of MAULANA JALALEDDIN RUMI, famous mystic, born in Afghanistan settled here (died 1273) whose WHIRLING DERVISHES have headquarters here. CATAL HOYUK - a stone-age town going back to 8000 years - STATUES OF MOTHER GODDESS AND FERTILITY - KARAMAN - ALAHAN - monastery of TARASIUS. MUT - here on river Goksu, Holy Roman Emperor BARBAROSSA drowned in 1190, while bathing, thus ended the THIRD CRUSADE. SILIFKE - old name SELUCIA and CALYCADMUM -one of 9 cities founded by Selucus Nicator in 3rd century BC. AYATEKLA, burial place of St. THECLA, Virgin and martyr, St. Paul's first woman convert. Sleep east of Silifke. Looking from your hotel at KIZKALESI. Ethereal when illuminated.


DAY 10          Visit OLBA ( 30 km north of Silifke) conglomeration of HELLENISTIC. ROMAN, BYZANTINE remains. Temple of TYCHE, goddess of Fortune - Mausoleum of PARIAPE- God of Fertility - Priape, illegitimate son of Zeus and Aphrodite. Zeus's zealous wife Hera deformed the child giving him a Phallus equal to his height. NARLIKUYU mosaic of THREE GRACES, daughters of Zeus - HEAVEN AND HELL. Go down 452 stairs to chapel dedicated to VIRGIN MARY. In the end come to PYTHON'S Cave, home of scaly, frightening, fire breathing monster. Also this gloomy pit is known as HELL. Viransehir (POMPEIOPOLIS) earliest place for Stoics. Also known as Soli, birth place of Chrysipus, founder of Stoic school of philosophy in 3rd century BC. He wrote 750 books on Stoicism. MERSIN, a big port. TARSUS birth place of St. PAUL - history going back to 14th century BC. Visit St. PAUL ARCH. CLEOPATRA's GATE, Cave of Seven Sleepers. Here CLEOPATRA seduced MARK ANTONY. Just north of Tarsus is mountain pass CILICIAN GATES, Xerxes and his 100,000 men and Alexander the Great passed through it. ADANA in the middle of CILICIAN PLAINS, called CHUKUROVA. Great Cotton Textile and Industrial Centre. Visit Roman Bridge built by HADRIAN. Ulu Cami (1507) by ruler of Ramzanoglu Turks - 90 miles South East of Adana - port of Ayas, visited by MARCO POLO. East of Adana are many Crusader Castles, like Toprakkale, Gulek Castle etc. DORTYOL (ISSOS). Here Alexander defeated Persian Armies under Darius III in 333 BC. Darius fled leaving behind his harem. It opened the whole of Asia for Alexander. PAYAS - OTTOMAN mosque, Madress complex of Sokullu Mehmet by Mimar Sinan. Also 13th century CRUSADER CASTLE. A few more on the way - Syrian Gates or Balen pass. Bagras castle (Byzantine) - Antakya (Antiochus) on river Orantes.


DAY 11          Antakya (by Selecus Nikatar in 300 BC). Roman province in 81 BC. A great city of antiquity. Mosaic museum. Perhaps the best in the world.

Jesus' followers first came to be known as 'Christians' here. St Paul's first

Ministry. Grotto where St Peter first preached. His church. Occupied by

Byzantines, Persians and Arabs and Crusaders. Shrine of DAPHNE, 20 km

towards Samandag. Here CLEOPATRA was married toMARK ANTONY. Monuments to God APOLLO Samandag - Mountain of St. Simeon. Also visit the port Seleucia Pieria. Kept in order by flushing of water brought through a canal hewed out of rock. TUNNEL OF VESPIAN. And tombs of Roman notables in the hills. Also HIDIRBEY village, with Prophet HIZIR'S TREE. Moses met Hizir in this place. Time now to go to Gaziantep via Hassa and Islahiye. Ataturk added GHAZI TO ANTEP, when this town fought valiantly against the French Troops in WWI. Stay for night.


DAY 12          Visit CARCHEMISH - modern day Barak. HITTITE CAPITAL till eight century BC - conquered by ASSYRIAN  KING  SARGON II (722-705 BC) Battle ground between Pharaoh Neco against NEBUCHADNEZZAR, CHALDIAN KING OF BABYLON. Two thousand years later Khedive Ismail of Egypt gave Ottomans a crushing defeat. Pass by Nizip - Birecik - old Apamea. MARK ANTONY made a disasterous campaign against PARTHIANS in 36BC. URFA - the old EDESSA. Here PROPHET ABRAHAM stayed before he left for CANAAN. Mosque complex around Abraham cave, pool which saved ABRAHAM when thrown into it (a fire) by King NIMROD. Edessa is full of history. Eastern capital of NICATOR kingdom. GREEK WORKS TRANSLATED INTO SYRIAC/ARAMAIC - later into Arabic.Thus knowledge

saved. Crusader City under BALDWIN I. Mongols destroyed Edessa in 13th Century. One can visit the Citadel, old churches and mosques. First biggest community of Christians after Antioch. HARRAN South of Urfa - Old Northern Mesopotania. Famous for Beehive houses. FIRST MOSQUE IN ASIA MINOR. The play ground of Prophets - Jacob and others. Temple of Sin-Moon God (first university in ancient times). Here REBECCA drew water for JACOB, Roman Emperor CRASSUS defeated by PARTHIANS. With waters from Ataturk Dam, will become a breadbasket        again.


DAY13           Start early. Pass by to see Ataturk Dam, biggest hydro-electric

project in Turkey. Go to Eski Kahta. NEMRUT DAGI (MOUNT NEMRUT),

COMMAGENE's ruler Antiochus I's final resting palace. A tiny independent

state between ROME and PARTHIA But marvellous life size statues of KINGS and GODS - WESTERN AND EASTERN, APOLLO, TYCHE (Fortune) ZEUS and HERCULES. GOD MITHIRA of light and darkness - caves for worship of CYBELE. A Roman bridge built by Emperor SEPTIMUS SEVERUS and in use an old SELJUK bridge. Come back to Adyaman and drive to Kahraman Maras, famous for ice cream, and to stay.


DAY 14          Another early start - drive by BUNYAN - old carpet centre -KAYSERI - ancient CEASAREA MAZACA. Go around CAPPADOCIA - Urgup - Derinkuyu - AVANOS. Part of Hellenic kingdoms and Roman Empire. Amazing landscape. Nearby Erciyes, (1300 ft. high mountain - ARGAUS), 3rd highest in Turkey, converted the surrounding landscape with the torrent of lava, in one of the great upheavels on earth. Later, nature's jewellers rain, snow, floods, winds and heat created deep valleys, fissures, cones and columns and high chimneys. Veritably a lunar landscape. Several of earliest church fathers lived in this area. There are 3000 ROCK CHURCHES caved out of THESE COLUMNS and FAIRYTALE SCULPTURES. Ihlara, deep valley has churches on the sides. Then there are underground cities (8 storeys) hewn inside the rock for Christians to escape Romans, later Arab invaders. Drive to SIVAS and sleep there.


DAY 15          Start early again. Visit the Mosques and drive to TOKAT and a

detour of ZILE (where Julius Ceaser on defeating son of MITHIRADATES in 4

hours said: "Veni Vedi Vici". An old Seljuk mosque. Drive along Yesilirmak

river. Lovely scenery. Lunch at AMASYA - birth place of Geographer STRABO - A scenic ancient town on Yesilirmak - reminds of Srinagar houses on Jhelum. Rock tombs of PONTUS KINGS. Important HELLENESTIC, BYZANTINE and OTTOMAN centre. Vast old Mederese, Turbe of Danishmand period. Complex of Beyazit II mosque and Mederse, etc. Leave via Chorum to ALACAHOYUK, YAZILKAYA and BOGAZKALE. Central area of Hittite civilisation from 1900 BC to 1100 BC. In 1930 was discovered at Alacahoyuk, SUN DISK now symbol of ANKARA. The Sphinx Gate. Yazilkaya (written on rock) from 1275 BC to 1220 BC, Shrine of Hittite emperors. Succession of dieties wearing. long conical caps march out. Hittites had 1000s gods. Many Gods have Hurrian and Hatti names. From Bogazkoy (Hattusa), Hittites'  capital, they ruled a vast empire, south up to CYPRUS & AEGEAN. A majestic city. Visit KING'S GATE and LION'S GATE. Yerkapi 200 feet long tunnel under the wall. Well protected CITADEL. GREAT temple. More than 3000 cuneiform tablets found. One tablet on Treaty of Peace quoted pre-Vedic Indian Gods like Varuna, Indira , Mitra, Natasya etc. Another has a treatise on horse-training by a MITTANI, closer to pre Vedic SANSKRIT. MITTANIS, an Indo Aryan aristocracy ruled  in South East of Turkey and North Syrian region. Return to Ankara - really tired but exhilarated. What a lot to see and comprehend in just 15 days.


What more can one see and learn in 15 days; for, Turkey was cradle and center for over 40 civilisations and intermingling of culture from Europe, Africa, Central Asia & the Middle East , some of them being, Hittite, Mitanni, Assyrian, Upper Mespotamian, Phyrigian, Urartian, Armenian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, and Ottoman etc, with 3000 ancient cities  and over 50,000 ancient monuments, graves, caves, mounts etc even in a fast action packed itinerary. The author has visited all places mentioned (many more than once), though not at a stretch. Often at equally hectic pace. To go around Turkey again was a major attraction for the second posting as Ambassador during 1992-96, (the first was in 1969-73). But there are still many places to visit; Van, Ani of the Armenian Churches, Kars of mystic Gurdjieff, Divrigi of pre-Ottoman masterpieces and Dogubeyazit, with its 'fossil' Ark and  a climb up to Mount Ararat (although videotaped and photographed from air).                                            

K.Gajendra Singh –Former Indian Ambassador to Turkey (1992-96) year 1996 ,Ankara




1 Inside Harem of Topkapi -Istanbul

   Bosphorous and bridge connecting Europe and Asia

   Covered bazar-, Istanbul


2 Priene, the spectacular Ionian city of Greeks

   Whirling Dervishes of Jalaluddin Rumi of Konya (old Christian Iconium)


3 Antakya (Antioch) Grotto where St Peter held the first mass  

   Trojan horse at Troy of Helen, Achillies, Paris and Priam


4 Mardin, an ancient city on hill – , beyond the plains of Euphrates and Tigris

  Salahaddin's Diyarbakir, Kurds stong hold – street scene with Armenian and other chuches

  Hassn Kief of Salahaddin's dynasty –on river Tigris , now submerged by a dam

  Hittite ( from1900 -1100 BC) Bogazkale impregnable Citadel on windy highlands ( my hair !!)


5 Amasya founded by an Amazon Queen , birth place of geographer Strabo

  Ephesus  library -the richest architectural site, the Carian city of St Paul's church

  King Midas ( of golden touch ) City


6 Urfa, ancient Edessa where prophet Abraham stayed before going on to Cannan

   Sinop founded by an Amazon Queen ,the birthplace of cynic Diogenes

   Sumela monastry on  the Black Sea coas, where Xenophon emerged with 10,000.


7 Sardis of King Croesus, the Lydian capital and Persian Acheamenean Empire's outpost

   Kizkalsi on Cilicia with romantic legend

   Theatre down the hill -Bergama of physician Galen


9 Theatre at Hierapolis near Pamukkale

   Miletus of 6th century BC, of the first Greek thinkers. Thales, Anneximender, Anneximenes


10 Nemrut Dagi, of King Commagene, Self among Persian and western Roman gods


Note!  some of the prints may not be very good becuase of poor film and development !!