Friday, July 1, 2011

Eiffel Tower - The high and mighty

The high and mighty
Monday, June 20, 2011 AT 04:38 PM (IST)
Tags: Spice,   maglets,   travel,   Paris,   Eiffel Tower,   Camil Parkhe
Camil Parkhe shares the moment when the gigantic Eiffel Tower overwhelmed him

I was taking a photograph of my daughter Aditi at a picturesque site near the Seine river when someone drew her attention elsewhere. Annoyed, I looked in that direction and the sight left me gasping. We were watching the familiar, tall structure of Eiffel Tower, situated perhaps just one-and-half kilometres away. It was the first day of our Europe tour. We had just checked into our hotel rooms and moved out for Paris darshan when unexpectedly we found ourselves staring at one of the seven wonders of the world! Anupam Beri, a Puneite friend now working in Paris and our guide for our first day in Paris, smiled as he watched our astonishment.

We wound up our photo session and marched towards the landmark. The appearance of the Eiffel Tower from various angles kept unfolding its uniqueness. As we approached closer to the base of the tower, we were awed as we looked at this marvel, a masterpiece in civil engineering created by Gustave Eiffel. Four enormous, strong foundation concrete bases of the tower carry the mighty 7,300 tonnes of load of this 120-year-old structure. Standing at its base, it felt as if we were the Lilliputs and the tower was a Gulliver. The enormity of the structure overwhelmed us like never before. One  has to bend backwards and backwards to appreciate this tall Iron Lady or ‘La Dame de Fer’ as the tower is referred to.

There were some thousands of tourists scattered in all the directions of the Eiffel Tower. Some of them arrived in buses and cars, others, like us, walked into the precinct. Some reached in horse-drawn carriages. No matter how they arrived, their excitement touched the brim. We could hear all sorts of languages from across the world. There were ice-cream vans that allured young and old alike. Amid all of that, few musicians were playing violin, perhaps to entertain the people who waited at the long queues to board the lifts that carry people to the top of the tower. We, however, skipped the queue and decided to enjoy the charm of the grand old structure from the garden that surrounded the tower, and soak in the happiness that the ambience exuded.

I was told that at night, the view of the tower and that of Paris from the top is just amazing, something that was substantiated later on. Indeed, like a jewel in the crown, the tower shone bright and from our hotel rooms we watched the structure with amazed awe.

- The Eiffel Tower is located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. The tower is the tallest building in the city 
- The tower is named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel.
- The tower was built as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair.
- The tower stands 324 metres (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-storey building.
- There are three levels for the visitors who can purchase tickets to ascend the tower by lift or stairs. The first and the third levels accommodate restaurants.
- The pig iron structure of the Eiffel Tower weighs 7,300 tonnes while the entire structure, including non-metal components, is approximately 10,000 tonnes.
- The tower is maintained with 50 to 60 tonnes of paint every seven years to protect it from rust. It is currently painted a shade of bronze.

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