Sunday

The Mysterious Stonehenge



What a beauty: Stonehenge
What beauty could lie in a pile of rocks standing in the middle of a huge green land- scape", my friend asked, as we looked at the images of Stonehenge on my lap- top, while deciding about our next exploration trip. To be honest, none of my friends were really kicked about taking an hour long train from central London and then take another half hour bus journey - not to mention the pounds we would be spending during the trip - to visit a place which was nothing more that just a 'collection of huge rocks, standing in the middle of nowhere'.

For me, well, it was the temptation of visiting a world heritage site and ticking off 'that' place from my 'places to see before I die' list. Adding to that was a series that I have recently started watching, (I know I'm digressing but, ah well, I do that anyways).So the name of the series is the Ancient Aliens and it comes on History (H2) channel. Now I won't get into the details of how the series associates almost every big happening in the universe with the arrival of Aliens, but it is imperative here to share that in one of the episodes, they termed Stonehenge as the site built by Aliens, while hinting that the place could be a sort of airbase to launch UFO's. (Now isn't this info good enough to make me digress from the topic and get you excited about visiting the place at least once? I thought so too...) So, that's what got me hooked and I finally managed to convince my friends too, to make that journey that would give us a peek into a 5,000 year old history.

So, we took a train from central London to Salisbury and then a bus tour from Salisbury to Stonehenge. The perks of taking that bus tour was that it also allowed us a free entry into a 3,000
year old town called Old Sarum (more about that town later).Though we had to pay £20 (Rs 2,000 approx) per person, the tour operator convinced us on taking the tour, else we would be standing in an hour long queue, just to get our tickets to visit Stonehenge (which apparently was true as we found out upon reaching the place).



Me and my one and only
Stonehenge was built during the Stone Age in 3,000 BC (5,000 years ago) that is approximately 3,000 years before Jesus Christ was born! (Christ was born in 4BC) Considered as one of the world's most well-known sites, it is ironic or rather unfortunate that it is also the one we know least about. Why it was built? How it was built and exactly when it was built? These are the questions that nobody has the answers for.

The driveway from Salisbury to Stonehenge is beautiful, full of vast green lands and open spaces.As soon as we stepped out from the bus, I could feel a childlike enthusiasm as I saw those enormous rocks standing at a distance. I mean we had seen the pictures online, but this, this was something else. Armed with our tour tickets, we gained entry almost immediately, and were handed audio tour guides to help ourselves around the monument. The moment we came face to face with the monument, I was awe-struck.
Awe-struck by its beauty, the mystery and the almost mythical aura surrounding those huge blue rocks. They are not just 'some stones standing in a ground', they form an interesting horse shoe pattern, with some rocks being placed on top of each other. Their alignment with the sun and the stars makes it all that more fascinating, as is explained in the audio guide. Standing in front of those stones, I tried to imagine how on earth people thousands of years ago had the equipment's, the knowledge, and the strength to create this place. Getting these enormous stones so far and to make them stand in a circular pattern seems impossible without today’s construction tools.

As you go around the place, you will find yourself questioning again and again - What was the purpose of Stonehenge? Not considering the 'Alien' theory, the audio guide gives the closest explanation of Stonehenge being the place of worship or the temple of Sun God. The alignment of stones with the rising and setting of the Sun being one example. However, there are various stories and myths related to the site. Some point towards Stonehenge being an astrological calendar used by farmers, while others believe that this was a place of healing (since the blue stones have been associated with the powers of healing).Also the mounds close to the site, which are said to be the burial site for royalty, gives the place a spiritual meaning.

Ideally, I would have liked to walk through the stones, stand in the middle, touch them,feel the warmth of the blue stones and try to imagine how everything was put together. Unfortunately, there is a fence that surrounds Stonehenge keeping the visitors a safe distance, in the interest of protecting the stones from damage. All you can do is walk around a rope, several dozen yards away from the stones with hordes of other tourists. Not quite the experience I wanted, but what the heck, I still got to witness the marvel of a monument and feel proud thinking what our ancestors were capable of doing without using any modern technology.

If you ever get a chance to visit Stonehenge, lap it up. If for nothing else, the next time you'll see a picture of it in a book, in television or online, you are sure to find yourself smiling and saying "I've been there."