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Cappadocian wonderland: Fairy chimneys, troglodyte dwellings and more

There is more to Cappadocia than meets the eye. From high up in the sky to the surface of the earth and deep below the ground-this Turkish region is straight out of a fairy tale
Turkiye, a transcontinental oasis, has relaxed all norms for travellers entering the country. As a result, it is expected to welcome the highest-ever number of tourists from India this year. Considering Turkiye's vast offerings, it's vital to curate your trip in such a way that you explore most, if not all, key places.
Among the many celebrated regions in the country, Cappadocia stretches across central Turkiye and is unlike anything you've ever seen. Easily accessed from Kayseri Erkilet Airport-a one-hour drive from the region's centre- Cappadocia presents an impressive array of curving valleys dotted with idyllic volcanic rock formations, labyrinthine underground cities and luxurious cave hotels. Owing to its unique topography, the region looks nothing short of a moonscape. And so, with its many wonders, both natural and man-made, a journey to Cappadocia is understandably awe-inspiring.

ENTER THE FAIRYLAND
Cappadocia is marked with one of the most unique geological creations in the world: hoodoos, also known as fairy chimneys. Years of volcanic and erosional activity have birthed these marvellous chimney-like rock structures extending up to 130 feet which can be found across the region.
The town of Goreme offers a wealth of brilliant hoodoos, numerous valleys and heritage sites that also lead up to panoramic viewpoints. What makes Goreme even more popular is its proximity to most other locations in Cappadocia. Here, you can indulge yourself by bedding down in one of the boutique cave hotels carved out of volcano rocks, many of which were former homes of Cappadocia's ancient dwellers. 
Other places that feature these rock pillars include Pasabagi (where the hoodoos were once used as monk cells and Urgup, the home of the world-famous Three Beauties. This landmark of fairy chimneys remains a popular draw for tourists- thanks not only to its majestic beauty but also to the fascinating legend associated with it. It is said that a princess prayed for herself, her husband and her child to be converted into stone-now deemed as the three Beauties - while seeking refuge from her domineering father. More importantly, it grants a breathtaking view of Mount Erciyes, an inactive volcano.

EXPRESSIONS OF INGENUITY
While it's undisputed that Cappadocia's charm lies in its topography, human labour and ingenuity have also contributed to its surreal architecture. Inhabitants of long ago used the soft honeycombed rocks to create an awe-inspiring network of underground cities, dwellings, caves, churches and storehouses, many of which can be explored by tourists. 
Hence, visiting the churches of Goreme and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Goreme Open Air Museum will be worth your while. The Byzantine churches- some of the oldest in the Cappadocian area-in the quaint village of Cavusin, are also worth a visit and afford a sweeping vista of the countryside. Close to Cavusin is another noteworthy museum, the Zelve Open Air Museum, where three valleys of crumbling troglodyte habitations and churches converge. While its sinewy valleys, rock-cut sites, and primitive paintings are the main points of interest, stalls and eateries that serve local delicacies also border the place.
Furthermore, traversing through the renowned underground settlements of Derinkuyu and Kaymakli should be an absolute must on your itinerary. Kaymakli is regarded as the largest example of an underground city in the region; it is carved eight levels deep into the earth and contains mazelike rooms connected through tunnels. Only four of these portions are open to tourists. Likewise, Derinkuyu is said to be one of the deepest settlements in Cappadocia and makes for a convenient visit as it is located close to Kaymakli.

SOAR THROUGH THE SKIES 
Given its other-worldly panoramas, Cappadocia is one of the most glorious places in the world for a hot air balloon flight. Gliding through the sky will make for a rewarding experience like no other as you soak in the region's picture-perfect scenery from an unparalleled vantage point.
And finally, it would be amiss to bid adieu to this wonderland without a souvenir. So, culminate your Cappadocian journey at Avanos, a small town famed for not only the Kizilirmak (the longest river in Turkiye), but also pottery-making which will compel you to splurge on unique handcrafted items.
Without a doubt, the fusion of fantastical landscapes, human history and dream-like experiences positions Cappadocia as an unmissable part of your travels in Turkiye.

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