April 28, 2016 Anindya Roy

Van – City of Lake Monsters

They say the journey is more beautiful than the destination. A good traveller knows this over-used proverb BUT always believes in the redemption at the end of the road. We walk this earth for some illusionary redemption that casts a shadow even when we walk this journey called ‘life’.

If we look at the map carefully on the middle-east we see a cluster of countries. Among those, one country occupies an important geo-political stance. A country that has been historically the bridge between East and the West. All the tales of silk, tea, salt, gold, spices and any things that the east stands for passed through this land bridge. A bridge, which in modern times is known as Turkey.

Keep your eye on the map, in the far eastern fringes of this country (Turkey) you might notice a weird and huge lake, a lake with the shape of a running hare. The redemption of my journey was in this lake.

Around the lake lies the counties the whole world would know by this time: Syria, Iraq and Iran.

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How did I go?

The road connectivity in Turkey is very well, with good buses criss-crossing the country. Turkey does not have good railroad connection throughout the country. I started by bus journey to Van, from Cappadocia. In case you start your journey from Istanbul, its best to take a stop at Cappadocia in central Turkey on way to Van.

Cappadocia is an amazing place in its own right and a good place to take a break.

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What is special in Van?

Van is steeped in history. A melting pot of religion, culture, time & dynasties. Add it with a lake as big as sea, with claims of sightings of Lake Monster. The lakeshore daunted with prehistoric relics and ruins of many civilisations: and there you got a perfect place for offbeat traveller.

From medieval times, Van has been a strategic point of conflict between East and West, between Romans and Asians.

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A Lake or a Sea?

The lake is 119 km at its widest part and depth ranging from 171 to 451 m. More astonishingly the surface of the lake lies at 1640m. Looking at the lake you would feel it’s a sea on a high land.

A Weird Chemistry makes a medieval city

The city of Van is famous for manufacturing, especially detergent manufacture. Lake Van is the reason behind this industry. Lake water is strongly alkaline and rich in sodium carbonate and other salts, which are extracted by evaporation and used as detergent.

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What to expect in Van

Expect a windy city,

Amazing local food,

Medieval Van castle of Urartu dynasty 9th to 7th Century BC,

Armenian ruins of around 1000 BC,

Islands on the lake Van can be accessed by ferry.

A cat’s story

A special kind of cat is found here, Van cat, which has noticeable odd-eyes, that is each eyes have different colouration. We saw the cat and trust me, it’s unique.

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