The fragrance of knowledge, the verdant lawns, and a magnificent view of the river Cam. I just had to visit this prestigious university during my recent trip to the UK. Cambridge University is about an hour and a half away from London Bridge by train. Outside the railway station were a few booths where you could book punting and walking tours.
Kings College and Kings Chapel. Founded by King Henry the Sixth in 1441. The chapel had the most enormous fan vault ceiling in the world. You can witness the beauty and splendor of the College while punting in the river Cam.
Just around the corner we also witnessed the incredible, spectacular, Corpus Clock. Also called the Grasshopper Clock, it is made of stainless steel plated with 24-carat gold. But this is no ordinary clock. Atop the structure sits the Chronopage or the Time-eater. At 30 seconds past each minute, the mouth opens, snapping shut after the minute is over. Thus giving it the name Time-eater. It is believed to be the largest grasshopper escapement in the world. The shape of this clock looks like radiating ripples which portray the Big Bang. The corpus clock teaches us that time waits for none.
Cambridge is also home to a descendant of the apple tree grown in the garden of Woolsthorpe Manor, near Grantham in Lincolnshire, which, it is said, inspired Sir Isaac Newton to formulate his theory of gravity by watching the fall of an apple from the tree. We asked a few of the students about this supposed theory, but we were surprised to find out that it wasn’t true! The theory (without apples) was published in Newton’s Principia in 1687. The place where the tree is located was genuinely picturesque! We even posed with an apple!
We came across the Fitzwilliam Museum on our way to the punting site. Entry was free and once we got in we saw all sorts of exciting things from Egyptian coffins to illuminated manuscripts and Renaissance sculptures; rare coins to Asian arts. We had learned about a few of these things in school but that was much less interesting than experiencing them in a museum!
We also came across a few tempting ice cream vans! We just had to get an ice cream(or two!)
St. Jonhs College was ginormous. We saw just some parts of the 36 acres on which the campus was built. At some point, in our walk, the view was so beautiful. Flowers that dotted the lush grass were in full bloom! We took too many pictures!
We arrived about forty-five minutes early for our punting tour so we explored a bit and then sat down in the lush grass dotted with daisies and buttercups facing the river. Mallards and herons were plenty in number!
Punting in the river Cam offered us incredible views of many colleges including Trinity College, Kings College, and St. Johns College. It is the students themselves who organized the punting tours. They were setting up the punts and registering people’s names. I asked my parents and realized there is so much more to college life than just studies. It’s about earning a living too. So students usually signed up for part-time jobs like these.
While punting, we crossed the Mathematical Bridge. It is made with entirely straight timbers, despite maintaining an arched shape! The student manoeuvering the punt knew quite a lot about the university.
While crossing St. Jonh College in the punt, we saw that one portion of it was covered in vines; top to bottom! I imagined how beautiful it would have looked in the autumn. A breathtaking reddish-orange carpet draped across the walls!
The Bridge of Sighs is another fascinating landmark. Before the 19th century, all the colleges were on the east side of the river, so the bridge facing the colleges was very intricately designed. In contrast, the other side is just a bunch of cuts and curves.
On the whole, the trip was a huge game-changer. I felt we were transported to an inspirational place where over the course of 800 years some of the world’s greatest minds have experimented with and invented the most amazing things.
Visiting such incentive places made me understand how much more I can achieve in life.