As bastions of culture and repositories of art, Petra, Bhangarh, Angkor Wat, Sigiriya and Ayutthaya are as relevant today as they were in their halcyon days of glory. That’s the common leitmotif running through these five ancient cities of the world, each a vestige of immeasurable magnificence and grandeur where legends live on.
With a rather sonorous lilt to it, the very name Petra instantly conjures up images of a lost city swaddled in the sands of time, ready to be unravelled by the intrepid traveller in search of the mysterious and the exotic. Sculpted out of soft limestone rock, this archaeological wonder was built and inhabited by the ancient Nabateans to serve as their capital city from the 4th century BC to 106 AD. Today proclaimed as one of the Wonders of the Ancient World, Petra is Jordan’s pride and joy. A visit to this open air museum is incomplete without a wander down the Siq which is a narrow fissure, dramatically carved through the towering rocks and languorously making its way down a meandering path. A short walk down the Siq brings you to Petra’s most famous building, the Al Khazneh or Treasury. The 40-metre-high rose-red structure is carved from a single block of solid rock. Although it was originally a royal tomb, legend tells us it got its name because there was treasure hidden in the giant urn, which stands on the second level. A little further on, the show reaches a crescendo as you take in the sheer scale and beauty of the dramatic amphitheatre.
Don’t miss: The rewarding end-of-the-day trek to the monastery called the al-Deir at the far end of the city to catch the rays of the setting sun cast a salmon-pink blush over everything in sight.