Iceland is home to amazing landscapes. Mountains, waterfalls and ice fields abound. Bays, fjords and other-worldly rock formations adorn the coastlines. Thirty active volcanic systems contribute to the island's unique geologic features and terrain.
Against this backdrop, film director Rohit Shetty and choreographer Farah Khan filmed the legendary Dilwale love story of Raj (Shah Rukh Khan) and Meera (Kajol) in the song "Gerua", composed by Pritam Chakraborty. While the cast and crew did not venture near active volcanic activity, they took advantage of the beautiful Icelandic terrain.
Stokksnes and Vestrahorn
Located on the southeastern coast - near the Hornafjörður fjord and the fishing village of Hofn, one of Iceland's earliest settlements - is the Stokksnes headland, a narrow piece of land that projects from the coastline into the sea. Towering over this headland is the Vestrahorn mountain. Standing 454 meters high (1490 feet), the iconic Vestrahorn is composed of unstratified plutonic rock crystallized from magma slowly cooling below the surface of the Earth.
According to PlacesToSeeInYourLifetime.com, this is one of the beautiful unspoiled natural sites to add to your Iceland travel bucket list:
The shore features stunning lava dunes, that are constantly being shaped by the natural forces of water and wind. The site is very popular among the photographers, because the scene changes constantly. The sun, fog, waves and those black dunes perform a truly dramatic view. Wet sand mirrors reflections of the mountainous range above, providing an enigmatic site.
Near Iceland's southernmost coastal hamlet of Vík í Mýrdal lies the impressive black sand beach of Reynisfjara. The area is rich in birdlife, including puffins, fulmars and guillemots.
Adorning the coastline are the Reynisdrangar, three large, dark, and needle-like basalt sea stacks formed by a volcanic eruption during the ice age. But locals have a much more colorful explanation for the presence of the Reynidrangar. According to legend, three trolls named Skessudrangur, Laddrangur and Langhamar were pulling a three-masted ship into the shore, but they were caught by the sunlight at dawn and turned into rocks. Rising 66 meters (217 feet) above sea level at their highest, these rocks can be seen from the village of Vík í Mýrdal. In times past, local inhabitants would row their boats out to the rocks to gather eggs - a risky job due to the rough sea and steep rocks.
In another local legend, a monster lived in one of the caves along the coastline for many centuries but disappeared after a landslide over 100 years ago.
Also along the Reynisfjara shoreline is the Gandar cliff of basalt columns resembling a rocky step pyramid. A common feature in the Icelandic landscape, these formations are created by rapidly cooled lava that solidifies into prismatic columns adopting the shapes of five- to eight-sided polygons. Because these columns are like stairs, you can climb them quite easily to get an excellent view of the Reynisdrangar.
At a width of 25 meters (82 feet) and height of 60 meters (197 feet), the beautiful Skogáfoss Waterfall on the Skógá River cascades over the cliffs of the former coastline. On a clear and sunny day, a vivid single or double rainbow appears in the mist of the waterfalls. A path leading to the top of the waterfalls follows the river upstream where there are smaller but equally beautiful waterfalls.
Skogáfoss has it's own legend. According to Nordic Adventure Travel:
The first [Viking] settler at Skogar was Thrasi Thorolfsson. He was a learned man and his character was antiquated. He is said to have hidden a chest filled with gold coins in a cave behind the waterfall. On fine days, when the sun is shining, people say that his gold is glittering through the water. Many have tried to find the chest and once a young man succeeded. He tied a rope to its ring and pulled. He only retrieved the ring, which was later used for the church door at Skogar. Now it is one of the prides of the Skogar Museum.
The river below the falls holds a large population of salmon and char and fisherman are seen here from July through October.
Also along the south coast but northeast of Reynisfjara Beach, between the Skógafoss Waterfall and the town of Vík í Mýrdal, lies the Black Beach of Sólheimasandur. This vast area was built up by recurring jökulhlaup (glacier bursts) that abruptly release water from the glacier river Jokulsa, sweeping sand and gravel from the mountains to the shore. According to the Guide to Iceland:
The beach of Sólheimasandur is astonishing. It is quite common as far as sands and pebbles go but the colour stands out, a dark greenish, sometimes reddish grey, turning pure black when it turns wet. Mixed with the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean it becomes an amazing sight.
Another amazing site is the wreckage of U.S. military plane that crash landed in 1973. Though wind, rain, and sea have taken a toll on the plane, the fuselage is still somewhat intact. As is likely to happen, varying accounts arose about the cause of the plane accident. According to StuckInIceland.com:
On the 24th of November 1973 the navy plane Douglas R4D-8 17171 on route to Hofn í Hornafirði was forced to make an emergency landing at Sólheimasandur due to bad weather conditions at Höfn and low fuel. The landing was successful and the plane suffered no major damages. At the time the US navy was discontinuing it’s use of the Douglas C-47 and instead of repairing it the plane was stripped of all valuables and abandoned in the black volcanic sand. Since then it’s been a favourite of photographers and adventure seeking tourists.
But some question the exact reason and date of the crash. In a 2014 photostory, Daily Mail reported:
The exact reason for the crash is not known, although some sources suggest the plane simply ran out of fuel after the pilot switched to the wrong fuel tank. And even the date of the crash is shrouded in mystery - while the Aviation Safety Network reports that the DC-3 went down on Saturday, November 24, 1973, an Icelandic newspaper published on November 22 suggests the plane actually crashed on November 21, 1973.
The final word may be found in the records of the Aviation Safety Network, which reports that the plane departed Hofn Hornafjördur Airport then crash landed at Sólheimasandur on 21 November 1973 at 2:00pm and was damaged beyond repair, though there were no fatalities among the 7 occupants:
The Douglas R4D-8 US Navy transport plane had delivered supplies at Hofn Hornafjördur Airport for the radar-station in Stokksnes, Iceland. En route the airplane encountered severe icing. The crew were not able to maintain altitude. A forced landing was carried out on an ice covered river on near coast of Iceland. The ice broke but the airplane did not sink. The remains of the plane were abandoned and the main fuselage as still there in 2015.
Aise hi baithe baithe kuch khyaal aaya...aviators leather jacket fuselage...Dilwale Rohit Shetty Ishtyle. pic.twitter.com/EmCrA1sGD6
— Shah Rukh Khan (@iamsrk) August 29, 2015
An Indian Express article highlighted Shah Rukh Khan's recollection of his experience filming at Sólheimasandur Beach:
"The place in Iceland is called as Black Beach. The plane there has a little history behind it. It was landed by a pilot there who ended up saving the lives of all passengers on board. No one was killed in the crash. Ever since then it has remained there. the plane is black as well. Recently Justin Bieber too skateboarded on the plane."
On the edge of Vatnajökull National Park is the lagoon of Jökulsárlón, the result of a melting glacier. Perhaps a tell-tale sign of the impact of climate change, the lake has increased fourfold since the 1970s and has been described as a "ghostly procession of luminous-blue icebergs" by Lonely Planet: Scandinavian Europe.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland this unique location has served as the setting for several films including A View to a Kill (1985), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), Die Another Day (2002) and Batman Begins (2005). Jokulsarlon Landowners, who provide film and photograph licensing for this unique site, describe the glacier lagoon as a "unique pearl of nature":
The white cap of Breiðamerkurjökull glacier dominates the lagoon and its icebergs. The icebergs break free from the glacier edge and are carried by the current towards the river mouth, until they strand on the bottom. Only one tenth of the iceberg mass is visible above the water-surface. Tidal currents move the icebergs back and forth, causing them to scrape the bottom of the river. Winds and tides erode the icebergs until they are small enough to float to the sea. Most icebergs are milky white, but some have a a bright blue colour, caused by the interplay of light and ice crystals. Seals are often seen swimming in the lagoon or lying on icebergs. Shoals of herring or capelan are sometimes carried into the lagoon by the tide, making a feast for the birds.
The following playlist features the song "Gerua" from the 2015 film Dilwale starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol along with a "making of" video, a video drone footage of some of the amazing Icelandic landscapes, and the Arabic version of Gerua.
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