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Nestled within the expanses of a country so dramatic in its range of mountains and glaciers and deep coastal fjords, home to some really wholesome Scandinavian ways of life, resting also in a certain attribute that the Nordic identity allows it to, is a somewhat peculiar town of a lot many distinctions. Residing somewhere in the realms of the land of the midnight sun of Norway is Rjukan, a town with not very deep entrenches into history but significant nonetheless in the relatively small amount of time since it has marked its existence on the Norwegian map. With only a hundred something years of history, having come into existence sometime between 1905 and 1916, emerging from its erstwhile identity as an industrial center, when it was founded by Norwegian engineer and industrialist Sam Eyde perhaps in 1908 after buying the Rjukanfossen waterfall- literally the Smoking Falls or the Steaming Falls, which has been a famous tourist attraction in Norway since long. No wonder, with such a terrific object of natural beauty to boast about by virtue of its very beginnings, Rjukan has always been a tourist hotspot, an essence of its identity that delves also into the town’s distinguished legacy, with such standings like the Rjukan-Notodden Industrial Heritage Site that is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Also famous as the place in Norway from where the most beautiful mountain of the country rises majestically, Rjukan indeed is every bit a tourists paradise. Flanked by the mighty, heighty peak of Mount Gaustatoppen, Rjukan sits in a deep, narrow valley beneath a high barren plateau across a facade of beauty resplendent with sights and allures and aesthetics galore albeit in a fame that might be somewhat out of sync with the vibrant natural vibe of the region. One of the darkest towns in the world courtesy again its locational setting that also however endows it with its picturesque pleasantries, Rjukan’s embedment deep in the midst of the steep Vestfjord valley in Telemark means that it is party to a really paltry amount of sunlight for almost half the year. Between the months through September to March, the city lies shrouded in the shadow of the lofty mountains, missing out on the dose of sunlit exuberance for a hundred and a five long years before it finally worked upon the century long vision of its founder to usher sunlight into the region in 2013. Today a definite definer of the Rjukan identity is this mannerism of its sunlit premises that has been brought about by installation of giant mirrors at the top of the mountain wall over the town square that captures the sun’s rays and reflect it on to it.

Launched by Sam Eyde as early as 1913, this idea of the development of a Solspeil, or sun mirror, above Rjukan to afford its residents and the workers of his company Norsk Hydro access to some amount of sunlight saw however another route of action when the first cable car system in that part of the country was financed in 1928 as the Krossobannen. Designed to take Rjukan dwellers up to the foot of Hardangervidda, Norway’s largest national park, where they’d be able to feel the sun on their faces, the cable system continues to be in existence even today but the advances achieved in the field of technology meant that Eyde’s revolutionary idea came to fruition exactly a century later. But while these three giant heliostats that bathes Rjukan today in the glorious glow of the winter sun have their own place in the town’s distinctive identity, earning it the attention of international media and generating global interest, the charm of the Krossobannen persists still not just as an adventurous way of begetting the warmth of the elusive sun but also doubles as ski lift for ski tourers in winter, and bike lift in the summer season in an area of the country that has been described by travel magazine Lonely Planet as Southern Norway’s activity centre par excellence.

Boarding the heights of nostalgia along the 814 km of distance that the Krossobannen encompasses however isn’t the only adventure that visitors to Rjukan can partake of. As a town named after the eponymous waterfall around which it was founded, Rjukan is very veritable a hotspot of activities centered around its some 192 waterfalls that offers spectacular opportunities for ice climbing every winter when they freeze to ice cold perfection. In fact so numerous are the prospects of ice climbing hoarded by this town of uniqueties galore that sees an annual observation of the Rjukan Ice Festival usually ever February. Equally enthralling can be the embarking upon what is the toughest bunjee jumping experience in Norway, not to mention the numerous peaks and mountain trails to hike through for a view of not just Rjukan but of the entire country that is guaranteed to take your breath away with its amazing splendor. Specifically with the ascent to Gaustatoppen, the pursuit is all the more rewarding offering as it does panoramic views of some 60,000 km2 or a one -sixth of Norway! Or visiting Norway’s largest glacier Hardangervidda part of which makes also for a namesake National Park and is a really popular tourist and leisure destination, with also adventurous beckonings to its credit can be an all in one exploration of Rjukan some little distance away from it.

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