It was during a walk back to my hotel near Hyde Park on a gloomy London evening, that a sudden and intense urge started creeping inside me. An urge to explore the real England; England that is just not limited to the hustle and bustle of its iconic capital, London. An urge to witness the hidden gems that fully define the real essence of England; the lush countryside, spell bounding architecture and the celebration of its rich history and culture.
Bath was the first name that came to my mind. Whatever I had read about the city, gave me a strong sense of belief that I was moving in the right direction on my quest to be up close with the real beauty and grandeur that England has to offer.
So there I was at the Victoria station early next morning to catch the first bus. The journey to the south west of the country took close to 3 hrs, but the beautiful vistas of the counties of Surrey, Berkshire and Wiltshire en route let it pass in a whisker.
The city is located in the county of Somerset, a hilly region considered by many as probably the most beautiful in England. The first glimpse of the city said it all. There was a sheer elegance written all over the place. The neo classical buildings were radiating royalty and blended harmoniously with the green and hilly landscape, thus creating a city personifying charm and elegance.
Bath’s history dates back to the Roman times, and can be segmented into two eras – Roman and Georgian. The city was founded by the Romans in the 1st century AD as a spa town. They used the natural hot springs of the area as a thermal spa, and built ‘baths’ along it for their leisure purpose. The city got a re-birth in the 18th century, when, under the reigns of King George first, second and third, it turned into an elegant spa town. Many majestic building such as the Royal Crescent and Circus were built and streets and squares were laid, making Bath the wonder that it is today.
By the time I made an entry into the city centre, I was already mesmerized by the ethereal beauty of the town. I sat there, on a vacant bench, quietly, just soaking in the aura. Everything seemed like a poetry in motion. I could have sat there for hours. But that would have meant risking not coming face to face with the structures that define the city itself.
A step inside the Roman bath complex, and I felt of having been transported 2000 years aback. The abrupt change in the architecture made me wonder whether I was still in England or it was Rome . I made an entry into the Great Bath, which is the heart of the complex, situated alongside a temple dedicated to the Roman goddess of healing , Minerva.. Since the complex is constructed above Bath’s three natural hot springs, the water constantly remains above 45 degrees. Sitting alongside the pool, the historical side of me was imagining what this place would have looked like 2000 years back. Just a thought of someone sitting right at this very spot getting ready to take a plunge gave me goose bumps!!!!
I would highly recommend going on the terrace in order to have a bird’s eye view of the bath. It’s also a great place to marvel at another of Bath’s famous landmark; the Bath Abbey. It has the distinction of being the last great medieval church constructed in England.
Like any other major tourist hub, Bath has a hop on-hop off system to enable people cover all of its major attractions. But hey..Wouldn’t it be a dampener of sorts?? The city is not that large and is surely best experienced on foot..I followed the same policy and walked through the cobbled streets to explore the city’s best known corners.
Just loved the sight of the famous Pulteney bridge. Surely one of the most beautiful stone bridges in the world. I came to know that it is one of the three bridges in the world having shops on both of its sides!!
My trip to Bath would have been certainly incomplete had I not come face to face with its two must see attractions: The Royal Crescent and The Circus. One of the crowning jewels of Bath’s legendary Georgian architecture, the Circus is a group of three semi circular segments consisting 33 houses. It has been home to lots of famous people over the years, with Nicolas Cage also having have lived there recently. Standing in the middle of the Circus and marveling at its beauty was an experience in itself!!!
As I walked west along Brock street, I stood before the awe inspiring Royal Crescent, a grand semi circular structure of majestic townhouses overlooking the Royal Victoria Park. Built in the late 18th century, it is now run as a luxury hotel.
Having spent some quality time in Bath made me realize just why it has been declared a UNESCO world heritage city..It is suave yet contemporary, sophisticated yet traditional. It has been, and would always remain a crowning jewel among England’s architectural masterpieces.
No wonder, people have been flocking towards it since the last 2000 years..
“House No 4 on your left is the place where Jane Austen resided in the early 1800’s”, told the driver!!!!!!! My head turned left, my eyes captured the moment, and my grin was enough to make one understand the everlasting effect the city of Bath had on me……………..