Bollywood likes to go places. US, Japan, Paris, Switzerland (most favourite and popularised by Yash Raj) and more exotic places like Fiji, Croatia, Egypt, Romania, Morocco, Iceland, Greece and Turkey (No, Bollywood movies WERE NOT the inspiration for us going to Greece & Turkey). Although one place in our itinerary that was inspired by Bollywood was Pamukkale, the cotton castle.
So let me get this correct or my wife will kill me — A song from Ajab Prem ki Gazab Kahani featuring Ranbir & Katrina was shot here. And since wifey is a big fan of Ranbir, we had to go.
So we tweaked our itinerary and landed up in Denizli via Izmir. Denizli looked like a nice little small town that was built around a major highway (or atleast it looked like!). There was a small city centre next to the train station and the bus terminal, Otogar (from where we took the midnight bus to Goreme) and a big university having 45000 students! You can catch buses to Izmir, Antalya, Konya, Cappadocia (Nevsehir/Goreme and Kayseri) and Istanbul.
Denizli is the town closest to Pamukkale. Of course we could’ve stayed in Pamukkale itself but it’s a very small town and we anyways had to come to Denizli for our bus to Goreme so we figured let’s make Denizli our hub.
In the morning after we arrived from Izmir, we caught a small bus called dolmuş (pronounced “dole-moosh”) to the bus terminal. These small buses run along the main road through small lanes and bylanes and pick up passengers. We got ours from just behind our hotel. There was no sign of a bus stop so we were initially confused. A few of the hotel staff who had come out for a smoke told us we were standing at the right place and we should wave to any minibus coming our way. Shortly enough we got one.
On the Otogar, we went to the lower level and searched for gate 76 where we could get any minibus (albeit bigger than the dolmuş) to Pamukkale. There was a bus already standing ready to leave.
The bus reached Örenyeri Kuzey Giriş (Archeological Site North Entrance) in about 30 minutes. This is where the ruins of Necropolis (the ruin of the cemetary of Hierapolis). Crossing the Necropolis we finally arrived at the shuttle bus stop. This bus takes you all the way to the top to the travertines. There is a walking path too but wifey was way too excited to see the hot springs and wanted to get there as soon as possible. I did manage to sneak in some pics on the way 🙂
The shuttle bus dropped us to the ruins of the Hierapolies. We tried to figure out the fastest way to the travertines. Although we could see what seemed like snow far off, there was no straight road leading to it. Then wife pointed out to a sign post.
As we followed it and started coming closer and closer, we could see just bare land covered with white calcium deposit. No water! We were shocked. I remember reading in some post about how the increasing number of tourists and the weather have decreased the flow of the hot springs.
I just prayed that it was not true. Wifey was getting worried. But then all off a sudden, beyond the sudden rush of Japanese tourist, there was it. The white terrace, filled with flowing streams of waters and people.
There were a lot of security guards at the entrance asking people to remove their footwear. I wondered if we would slip while walking barefoot on those wet shiny surfaces. But the ground seemed to have a lot of rugged texture and was not slippery at all.
The water was heavenly, not cool not too warm. I didn’t get any short or other spare clothes because I thought Turkey being a muslim country, going topless even for a man would not be appropriate. But we were in for a surprise. Most of the ladies had swimwear on with all men in shorts. Oh how I cursed for not being able to enjoy laying in those pools with the mud smeared all over the body. You can walk all the way down to the town from here. But we decided to go halfway and come back up.
After spending some time in the pools and then in the nearby café, we decided to head back and were waiting for the shuttle bus. Just then a man came out of nowhere and asked if we would want to do paragliding. Wifey & me had a small chat and shooed him away. But the thought lingered. It was already midday and wifey was not feeling very well because of the sun. So she prodded me to go ahead to jump from a cliff. So I did!
And it was THE MOST AMAZING experience, second only to the hot air balloon ride in Goreme. I haggled a lot for the flight. But the video and photos the pilot took worked out to be expensive. Maybe that is their way of making money. If you decide to go for it then haggle and finalize the price of both the flight and the memories!
The paragliding staff took me back to the shuttle bus station near the travertines where wifey was waiting. We took a bus, got back to the hotel and crashed.