We all know what world heritage sites are and there is no need for me to go into the definition in greater detail. Any site that is considered to have outstanding universal value is deemed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Now, all of us are familiar with the more popular sites, such as Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal, the Notre Dame, Pyramids of Giza, Everglades National Park, and the Stonehenge.
However, there are some lesser known World Heritage sites as well that may not be as popular as the ones mentioned above, but they are just as impressive. Here are three of the lesser known jewels. Enjoy discovering them.
1. Iguazu Falls
On visiting Iguazu falls, on the border of Brazil and Argentina, Eleanor Roosevelt is said to have remarked “Poor Niagara.” Most will agree with her. More than 450,000 cubic feet (12,750 cubic m) of water go over this series of 27 falls every second! That’s right, every single second!
Now made hugely popular by the recent Indiana Jones movie, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the Igazu Falls has a very interesting local legend surrounding it. The area surrounding the falls was actually a river where every year a virgin would be sacrificed to Boi, the local snake God. One year, the virgin to be sacrificed was rescued by her lover.
This infuriated Boi so much that he ripped the river into two. The man was turned into a palm tree and the woman into a rock and they were destined to spend their lives on either side of the falls – always visible but never together. Sad story but great place to visit!
2. Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park
The Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park in Madagascar is best known for well, tsingys. A curious mind is sure to ask, “What are tsingys?” Well, think of them as limestone needles, or rather a forest of limestone needles. These structures are grey in color and they jut out of the ground, sometime growing to a height of hundred meters.
They are formed when rocks are dissolved by groundwater and they provide a habitat to rare birds and lemurs. In addition to the surreal landscape that grabs your attention from the word go, there are various caves to be explored here along with a tomb of the original inhabitants of Madagascar, the Vazimba tribe.
3. Giant’s Causeway
Irish legend has it that two giants once got into a fight and this causeway was built for the purpose of the fight. However, just before the fight, one of the giants chickened out on account of the size of his opponent. While running away, one of his boots fell off and till today there’s a huge rock that bears imprint of a huge foot.
Fascinating! The scientific explanation for the Giant’s Causeway is quite boring. They were formed by volcanic reactions about 50-60 million years ago. The highly fluid molten basalt spread over the area and formed a lava plateau. When the plateau cooled, it contracted and fractured and what remained were about 40,000 hexagonal shaped basalt columns. Yeah, I’d go with the legend any day.