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Posted at: Oct 14, 2018, 1:31 AM; last updated: Oct 14, 2018, 1:31 AM (IST)

In the land of the Vikings

An enchanting landscape, a rich history, distinct marine ecosystem, and pristine beaches make Isle of Man a perfect holiday destination
In the land of the Vikings
Photo by the writer

Rashmi Gopal Rao

A land steeped in centuries of history and culture, Isle of Man is an island that lies between Great Britain and Ireland. Also referred to as Mann, it is a picture of stunning landscapes that includes cliffs, beaches and hills, panoramic vistasand some unique flora and fauna making it the only island nation to have been designated as a Unesco world biosphere region in its entirety.

While Isle of Man is a part of the British Isles, it is a self-governing crown dependency with its own parliament called Tynwald that was established way back in 979, making it the oldest continuing parliament in the world. With a population of close to 85,000, the main settlements of the island nation include its capital Douglas and others like Ramsey, Peel, Laxey and Port Erin.  

The locals of the island known as Manx are a part of the Celtic clan and speak the native language called Manx Gaelic. That said, the modern Manx people have adopted English as the first language and the inhabitants include immigrants from England, Scotland and Ireland. A thriving economy, the main industries of Isle of Man include financial services, manufacturing, agriculture and tourism. Home to unique species like horse mussel, Sabellaria reefs, Risso’s dolphins and stoats, the island has a distinct marine ecosystem.

Diverse sights

One of the best ways to start exploring this land is by visiting the Manx Museum in Douglas. A treasure trove of rare artefacts, the museum is a perfect way to learn about the rich past, culture and heritage of the Vikings and Celtics who were one of the first inhabitants of the island. The collections include ancient pieces of rocks from sea beds, weapons, tools, jewellery and memorabilia in the form of photographs and films. A great way to soak in the myths and mysteries intrinsically associated with Manx culture!

Yet another significant place of interest is the Tynwald hill, which is a long-standing symbol of the island’s independence. A four-tiered structure that is believed to contain the soil of 17 ancient parishes of the region, the hill is a favourite destination with tourists. Apart from this, one can visit the St Luke’s church in Baldwin’s valley, the tower of Refuge in Douglas and Corrin’s towers in Peel.

With about a hundred miles of coastline, Isle of Man boasts of some of the most pristine beaches and awe-inspiring vistas. The beach facing promenade in Douglas is one of the most popular places in the capital. Castletown beach, Peel beach and Chapel beach are other beaches that are worth a visit. Abounding with scenic beauty and wildlife is the southern tip of the island, which is a hotspot for spotting seals and other rare fauna. The Manx coast and countryside boasts of several walking and hiking trails that help discover the hidden natural beauty of the place.  

On a heritage trip

If you are a fan of trains, then Isle of Man’s three heritage railways the Steam Railway, Manx Electric Railway and Snaefell Mountain Railway are a wonderful way to step back in time and enjoy a journey like none other. Dating back to 1899, the 17-mile Manx Electric Railway chugs along some of the most breathtaking places of the British Isles as it starts its journey from Douglas and connects Laxey in the east and Ramsey in the north. While the Steam Railway is the longest narrow-gauge steam line that runs from Douglas to Port Erin, the 1895 Snaefell Mountain railway takes you on a winding yet spectacular path up to the island’s only mountain Snaefell’s summit that is perched at an altitude of 2,036 feet above the sea level.

Apart from all this, the island is synonymous with the annual International Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) that is known to be one of the most thrilling and dangerous racing events of the world.

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