Nothing is more sinner than not a trip to Grand Canyon after visiting Vegas- the Sin City.
A grueling, boring 6- hour ride from Las Vegas into the Arizona State in the desolated desert wading through rock formations of a peculiar type brings us to the land of one of the natural wonders of the world. A sunny day, yet with chill breeze stroking the face as we got down from the vehicle was a feel- good experience. We were in the South Rim. I have seen many ridges, but what is so unique about this place which creates so much hype? Was it the usual bigger to life blah blahs of the Westerners? I was very keen to see it for myself. From whatever readings and visual materials I gathered during the years, I visualized that the magnum opus of the late ‘60s – the first movie screened in our own Devi Cinemas- Mackenna’s Gold- most part of it shot in the deserts and mountains- would have been shot in Grand canyon. Packed with all expectations I headed out in the path towards it.
My Gosh! Here we are at the end of the trail- a spectacularly dramatic landscape – a panoramic view of the magnificent, ancient old rock strata lying back-to-back.. metamorphic rock layers laid horizontally by Mother Nature miles and miles together. The enormity of the formation overwhelms our senses through its immense size. Peeping below beyond the rim brings jitters -the depth is around a mile down and we see a small glitter cutting across the ravines- the mighty Colorado river. It is the handiwork of these waters that has cut their channels through layered bands of red rocks revealing millions of years of geological history. Despite all warnings not to venture into any adventurism, few visitors perched at the edge of the towering cliffs beyond the railings really annoyed me…they not only risk their lives, but also deprive a tourist to enjoy the serenity of the place without any tension!
The unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms decorate the canyon. It seems the canyon runs for around 500 miles. The nature’s finest work done in overtime- views can never be fully explained in words alone… every few minutes it changes with the movement of the earth. One time it looks like a plain rock, after a while due to formation of shadows, it looks like a projecting structure…. Few minutes later it looks like temple towers, sometimes it looks like an artwork chiseled out by an ace sculptor. It is the creative imagination of the viewer. For me, the whole thing looked mystic. I am convinced that the Extraterrestrials visit that place. I should study more on the subjects of UFOs and aliens in the days to come to. My wife kept on telling that the entire topography is akin to the terrains of Mount Kailash- the abode of Lord Shiva. where it is believed the celestial happenings are a routine! The local Red Indians consider it a holy site and make pilgrimages to various points of the Canyon. Ongoing through the various write-ups and detailed film documentaries made, the process of the formation of the Canyon might have begun as far back as tens of million years… Rocks are much more older than the Jurassic age but the canyon probably did not form until after the dinosaurs were long gone – it’s not an option, but a scientifically proven fact…really a thing above my understanding or imagining capacity. All said and done, these bands of red rock reveals millions of years of geological history. Traversing on the Hiking trails along the rim of the Canyon is an experience by itself. I made up my mind that my next visit to Canyon should be to the West Rim by helicopter and also have a thrill sky walk.
That was not all that the wonderful place offered us- we moved to the interior of the Navajo land – the place of the native Americans. An extensive homework by our children to choose the best places of interest was evident- it was to manifest in the next few minutes. We were in the place called the Lower Antelope Canyon – a place not very much frequented by tourists due to its distance, enormity of cost and its low profile. These are the private properties of the Navajo Indians. Each group of tourists are guided through the property by a native Indian. Various restrictions are formulated to visit the place. All these preludes pump in the adrenaline to look forward to the majestic beauty that was in store for us.
It was noon- the perfect time to visit the place. Our guide Ala, a native, explained to us what the place is all about. We are going underground!! It is the caverns below the surface formed by millions of years of wind and water erosion that we are going to go through. We were forewarned about the possible flash floods. It was a long stroll in the desert and at one place we were directed to go in a single file-we are entering the canyon – we started climbing down steep ladders, sometimes the descend was vertical. I, for one, trip and fall even by a blade of thin grass. You can imagine how bewildered I would have been. At one stage, we were deep inside below hundreds of feet.
The nature’s wonders, down below the earth was astronomical! The magnificently smooth and flowing shaped sandstones naturally carved by the flooding waters for millions of years is anything beyond description. Our guide helped us in taking awesome pictures of the most spectacular views in the bottom of the earth. Lady with a flowing hair-the symbol of the Navajos, the seahorse, intimate facial expressions of a man and a woman were not hallucinations I experienced- it was ‘on the rocks’ – nature has carved it to perfection. The mesmerizing pictures taken by Ala is an ample evidence of the fascinating artwork on the rocks by Mr. God.
It was a 90-minute tour altogether. We kept walking through the ridges, sometimes the width between the boulders were so narrow that we had to squeeze ourselves through. Without us knowing, we were ascending the path and there it was- the daylight.
We ever will remember the spectacular, mysterious, beautiful Antelope Canyon which has stolen our hearts. A timely offer by Ala the cool water to quench the thirst – our tongues were too parched- brought us back to reality.
A ten-minute ride from the Canyon is the Horseshoe Bend, where yet another natural beauty awaits us. A two-mile trekking on the hills from the parking lot brings us to a HUGE crater. There is one other huge rock a mile away. The Colorado river circumvents the rock deep beneath- a jaw-dropping view.
Enroute to Las Vegas, we went to the Hoovers Dam- a gigantic structure built to harness electricity and a reservoir for millions downstream.
Though physically we were exhausted our minds were rejuvenated to the core, chewing the cud of the wonderful feast our eyes and hearts had.
Till I lace up for the next……….