Crystals and glasses are fascinating. They sometimes let us look straight through them to what is on the other side, and sometimes, they show us our own reflection. They offer clarity, sheen and iridescence. Sometimes, they just add colours to the world. Anything crystalline or glassy has always had the capability to mesmerise humankind. It is in fairy tales that we hear of beautiful crystal palaces, glass shoes, and so much more, thus proving that it is an object of desire. But, what if you were to find some real glassy places? Read about the most enthralling glassy or crystalline places and sites in the world, and be mesmerized.
10. Mirror Lakes
The Mirror Lakes are lakes of still and clean water which offer a beautiful, near-perfect reflection of the surrounding hills, trees, birds, clouds in the sky, etc. and offer an amazing sight. But, where are these heavenly lakes situated? They are not as uncommon as one would think. Lakes by the very name are found in many places, like in California, Tuftonboro in New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Wallowa and Clackamas Counties in Oregon, Utah, Wisconsin and Winter Haven in Florida. In New Zealand, there is a set of Lakes called the Mirror Lakes, while, in Argentina, the Espejo Lake’s names translates to Mirror Lake. These lakes are located in areas with low wind and less human disturbances. These are other fresh-water lakes, away from all disturbances, which provide such serene mirror effects, like the Manasarovar in Tibet. Lake Huron, North America.
9. Gloss Hills, Oklahoma
The Gloss Hills in northwestern Oklahoma are also known as the Glass Mountains, and consist of mesas and buttes, who gain their shape from the light coloured top layers of gypsum on top of the lower layers. The gypsum often takes the form of crystals of selenite. These selenite pieces are found in abundance in these mesas, catching sunlight and causing a shiny effect, as though pieces of broken glass are poking out of the little hills. In fact, this is how it got its name from the early settlers. Similar Glass Mountains are found in several other regions around the world, such as California, Oregon, Utah, etc., speckled with mineral crystals.
8. Five-Flower Lake, China
The Wuhua Lake or Five Flower Lake in Sichuan, China, is the pride of the Juzhaigou Valley in China. The water is rich with calcium carbonate content, as well as hydrophytes, which together presents a multi-coloured effect in the water. The lake bed is crisscrossed by ancient fallen tree trunks, forming patterns in different vivid shades of green, which are visible from above the surface of the water through the intense hues of azure blue, blackish green, light yellow, etc. The lake is lined with colourful plants and flowers. Fed by underground streams of the Long Lake, it has the most intense colour ranges, giving this seasonal lake’s water an almost gem-like quality in the peak seasons.
7. Cave of the Crystals, Mexico
There are several caves around the world whose names suggest that they are crystalline, but, the Cave of the Crystals or the Giant Crystal Cave in Naica, Mexico, is filled with glassy and pellucid selenite crystal formations. Much of the cave is still unexplored, since it is difficult to endure the heat inside the cave for more than ten minutes. There beams of crystals jutting out from the floor and the perfectly-faceted blocks on the floor. However, the beautiful, shiny crystals have stopped forming because of the fall of the temperature in the caves. Besides, the existing crystals are deteriorating in air, and it might so happen that their only existence will be in their visual documentations by the Naica Project.
6. Lake Huron, North America
Lake Huron is one of the five Great Lakes of North America and is a freshwater lake, lying on the border between Canada and North America. When the continental glaciers retreated near the end of the last ice age, the melting ice led to the eventual formation of this lake. Thousands of ships have sunk into the Huron, as well as the other four lakes, since the 17th century. In the shallow water of the Huron, some of the ship wrecks can still be seen. From above the water surface, it is possible to see, quite distinctly, the wrecks that are stranded below the surface of the clear, glassy water of the lake.
5. Ice Caves
The ice caves can be found in the frigidly cold areas of the world, such as Iceland, Alaska, and Austria. These ice caves are lined with significant amounts of perennial ice, with part of the cave being under 0°C. The ice in the caves take different shapes and form natural sculptures. In the right temperature, light and conditions, these caves take the most mesmerizing forms, with the shiny ice reflecting and refracting light, filling the caves in mysterious azure hues, and creating an amazing monochromatic chiaroscuro. It is as though the traveller is passing through an exotic arcade made of glass. The largest of these is in the village of Werfen near Salzburg in Austria. There are several more near Salzburg, including the Eisriesenwelt. Ice caves in Skaftafell, Vatnajokull and many more are there in Iceland. The Mendenhall Ice Caves in Alaska are equally beautiful. These are extremely dangerous, too.
4. Hot springs in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
The Yellowstone National Park in the United States is home to more than 10,000 hot springs and geysers. Some of these offer strikingly vibrant colours that appear almost unnatural. These colours are caused by the algae in the water. The water is so clear and still that it is almost hard to tell that it is there at all, and only the rings psychedelic colours can be seen. The colours, together with the stillness and clarity of the water creates an almost-jewel-like quality of the springs. Some of the most enchanting, brilliant and clear water-bodies here are the morning Glory Pool, Grand Prismatic Spring and Norris Cistern Spring. The Yellowstone is amongst the inspiring wonders and best attraction of United States of America.
3. Glass Beach (California/ Newfoundland and Labrador)
Near Fort Bragg in California is a beach covered with a kaleidoscopic abundance of sea glass. These pieces of colourful, glassy stones have been formed when the locals dumped garbage, such as glass, appliances and even vehicles, into an area of coastline near the north of the town for many years. On the other hand, the outskirts of the town of Springdale in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, has the Glassy Beach, which is covered with smoothed out pieces of rainbow-coloured, broken glasses. These are believed to have been washed ashore by the waves, and are completely safe to walk upon, on bare feet. All over Canada, there are several beaches where such sea glasses can be found.
2. Pamukkale, Turkey
Everyone loves the infinity pools, with the calm, glassy water extending up to nowhere. If you have a penchant for them, Pamukkale is the place to be, with seventeen naturally formed infinity pools. The region is filled with crystalline limestone walls and their reflections brightening up the hot springs, but, it is the set of pools of clear, aquamarine water, ensconced in cottony travertines that pull the nature-lovers. Flowing water, emerging from the springs, deposits carbonate minerals in the terraces. In broad daylight, one may think that these look like shiny slabs of marble or even ice. Ironically, the temperature varies from 35°C to 100°C.
1. Salar de Uyuni, South America
Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flats, formed from rich salt content left behind by the drying up of the prehistoric salt lake called Lago Minchin in southwest Bolivia. Now, the area is covered with thick salt crust of amazing flatness, with some seasonal shallow pools of brine. When dry, the region is an endless stretch of white. But, during the rainy season, the plain transforms into a gigantic mirror. With no place to drain, the rain water covers the plain, and the dazzling water of the thickness of a few inches reflects the sky and it many wonders of colours, clouds and everything else that speckles the canopy above, including the flocks of flying flamingos that are common here. The world seems to extend to the infinity here. Salar de Uyuli forms the largest natural mirror in the world and can be seen from the space.
There are many other such wonderfully clear places in the world, like the lakes in Montana that offer a view of the bottom through the water, the ice-skating rinks in Sweden and Montana whose clear waters freeze fast enough to give a view of the plants and rocks growing below the icy surface, and many more. But, these natural pieces are getting murkier or losing their bejewelled sheen because of growing population, population, rising temperature, etc. It is time we start taking care of the treasures that Mother Nature holds for us, and take the responsibility of saving and protecting them, for us and our future generations to enjoy.