July 12, 2021

12 Years of Tales of a Nomad!


Some journeys are long, would require laborious effort to keep moving, and might even be crammed with perpetual obstacles. However, if it still brings a smile on your face, you are definitely enjoying that voyage.

'Tales of a Nomad' has seen tough times, where I have struggled to publish a single post in a month. There are articles and photographs that I have not really been happy about, but still gone ahead and published, because I had to feed the blog. On the brighter side, there have been numerous instances, when I felt content and loved writing my travel experiences. Like everything else in life, this ride of 'Tales of a Nomad' over the last 12 years has been full of adventure, filled with many highs and a few lows.

The picture above indicates that the sun is setting, but the splash of colours has made the sky beautiful; concrete structures can be spotted along the banks of the river, but it's largely lush green everywhere; the thorns on the bougainvillea might hurt you, but the flowers look gorgeous; there is a lot of weed floating on the waters, but it is still placid and looks beautiful. Despite the incessant changes it has witnessed over the years and the presence of innumerable hindrances, the river still flows nonchalantly! 

With travel taking a huge blow due to the tough times we live in presently, 'Tales of a Nomad' too might face hurdles and struggles in the future, but like the river, it too will continue the journey, bringing its followers many more travel stories.


Thank you for all the love you have showered over the last 12 years!

June 28, 2021

Evening Frames from Munambam Beach

It was an impromptu visit to Munambam beach, and we were right in time to see the sun recline for the day. Periyar river nonchalantly disgorged itself into the Arabian Sea at Munambam beach, and we strolled on the long walkway that runs parallel to it. Chinese fishing nets dotted the beach, fishermen went about their chores, a few visitors tried a fun banana ride, and the gentle sea breeze blew past me, as I gazed at the horizon in oblivion. The tranquil setting and the evening sky with a tinge of orange hue as the sun went down, offered picturesque frames.




Nestled in the northern tip of the island of Vypeen, Munambam is primarily a fishing harbour, which has gained popularity in the recent times. Away from the beach at Cherai, which is a more popular one on this stretch, Munambam beach is about 33 kms from Ernakulam town (Cochin). 

June 21, 2021

Bhoothathankettu Dam: Built by Ghosts

Lush greenery with the relentlessly flowing River Periyar, hovering dark clouds, and half open shutters of the dam awaited us at Bhoothathankettu. As we took a stroll on top of the dam, and later on the narrow road that snaked its way beside the river, endless vistas of the meandering river flanked by undulating hills and dense forests left us captivated. A gentle breeze blew across my face, as I gazed at the breathtaking panoramic view of the surroundings from the watch tower. Except for distant chirping of birds and clinking of bottles hung from a nearby tree, it was just the silence of nature that wrapped us.

While the landscape views at Boothathankettu are picturesque, the interesting stories behind the dam’s name would leave every curious traveller intrigued.  Bhoothathankettu, translates to ‘built by ghosts or demons’ in Malayalam, and the legend says that demons wanted to dam the waters of the river to submerge the Shiva temple at Trikkariyoor down the stream. They had to complete the task of building the fort with boulders before the break of dawn, but Shiva tricked them by sending a rooster that gave out a false cock-a-doodle-do. The demons panicked, stop building the dam midway, and left the job half done. Believed to have been the work of the demons, there are boulders downstream, which act as a hindrance in the flow of the river. However, geologists and historians might have a more reliable story to it. There are records that suggest that it was the flooding of Periyar River in mid 14th century, which resulted in the boulders being where they are presently in the river.



With both a modern dam and a natural one, Bhoothathankettu Dam is definitely one of the most picturesque places to visit in the state of Kerala. Though I restricted my exploration of Bhoothathankettu to the views of the gorgeous landscape, there are trekking trails offered by the authorities, which will take you on some exciting adventure into the nearby forests. There are boating services available as well that would take you further down on the river, and offer a closer view of the lush green forests and hills.

Paniyeli Poru, Inchathotty suspension bridge and Thattekad Bird Sanctuary are some of the other attractions nearby, which you can head to after your exploration of the new dam built by humans and the old one by ghosts.

How to reach Bhoothathankettu:

The closest major city is Ernakulam town (Cochin), which is about 60 km away from Bhoothathankettu. Ernakulam is well connected to other cities across India by trains and flights. It’s ideal to take your vehicle or a private cab to get to the dam.


May 31, 2021

Pit Stop!


Pit stops at tiny tea shops, which sell random short eats in nondescript villages or towns are ideal for a break during long journeys. The pit stops mostly offer a much needed and enjoyable break, but they become a mandate sometimes.

The pandemic, lockdowns and norms that we live amidst at present are like a good break for all travellers. Hopefully, travel will be back in action soon, and we all will be on the road again. Until then, let's enjoy a nice and well needed pit stop.


Wayanad, Kerala. January 2021.

April 30, 2021

Nonchalant!

 

Bharathappuzha River, also referred as Nila is considered to be an integral part of the culture of Kerala. Here she flows nonchalantly under the blue skies while meandering past lush greenery and sandy banks.


Shot from Kuttippuram Bridge, Kerala. January 2021

February 23, 2021

An Evening at Inchathotty

We were racing against time and sped on the road that meandered through endless rubber plantations to Inchathotty. Though we couldn’t make it on time for the sunset, the orange hue that lingered over the horizon along with mist wrapped distant hills and lush green surroundings made a picturesque frame. It drizzled incessantly and the serene Periyar flowed without a gurgle below the popular suspension bridge at Inchathotty. We were awed by the pretty picture that nature painted, and gazed at it in oblivion until it got dark.



The walk on the bridge was an exciting experience, as it shook, and I was lost on whether to give into the allure of the landscape or worry about my next step. The bridge is only for pedestrians and is a great spot to enjoy the panoramic views and the charming countryside. At approximately 181 meters, this is apparently the longest suspension bridge in Kerala.


Inchathotty was like any other nondescript village until it garnered a lot of attention after this suspension bridge was built in 2012 to help commute between the villages on either banks of the river. There are activities such as kayaking that is on offer here. Inchathotty is a small village surrounded by forests along the banks of River Periyar near Kothamangalam in Kerala. Popular tourist attractions such as Paniyeli Poru, Bhoothathankettu Dam and Thattekad Bird Sanctuary are nearby. 


January 24, 2021

Unforgettable Moments in Goa: Enjoy Your Idleness at These Beaches

Image credit: Unsplash

Goa, the smallest state in India, has umpteen surprises in every corner, and is world-renowned for its lovely beaches. Bounded by the Arabian Sea on one side and land on the other, this region is home to numerous picturesque and vibrant beaches. The stellar nightlife and parties in Goa are an intrinsic aspect of Goan vibes and the hippie culture.

Be it the parties, pulsating clubs and pubs, beach shacks, adventurous water sports, gaming casinos or the buzzing flea markets; all come together to invoke an exhilarated ambience. Goa offers a plethora of beaches for youngsters, family and couples, with innumerable shacks, quaint cafes, a slew of budget hotels and luxurious resorts lined up along the coastline.

Goa is the exemplary holiday paradise full of amusement. The charm of the seashore and the beaches allure the tourists' souls to spend a vacation in the land of sun, sand, and surf. Tourists from world over come to Goa to revel in this exciting destination.


The Historical Significance of Goa

Image credit: Pixabay

The old name of Goa according to ancient literature, are Gomanchala, Gopakapattana, Gopakapattam, Govapuri, Gopakapuri, Govem, Gomantak, Sandabur, Sindapur, and Mahassapatam.

Did you know that Goa didn't always belong to independent India? Yes, after being liberated in 1961, it became an Indian state. The Portuguese ruled Goa for 450 years until it was liberated from the Portuguese to form a part of India on December 19, 1961. It is known that the whole military operation took almost three days to successfully liberate Goa. The Portuguese heavily influenced Goan culture, cuisine, and architecture.

Goa Liberation Day is one of the most important days in the history of Goa. It is celebrated every year on December 19 in Goa with numerous events and festivities in the city. This day of celebration is marked to remember the struggle of Indian armed forces that freed Goa from Portuguese rule on December 19, 1961.


How to Reach Goa:

Image credit: Unsplash

How to Reach Goa by Air

Dabolim Airport is the major airport in Goa, which makes it accessible from major cities within the country and also from abroad. The Dabolim Airport is an international airport that handles international flights and regular domestic flights as well with a large inflow of foreign and domestic travellers. Goa's Dabolim Airport is almost 26km from Panaji.

The Nearest Airport: Dabolim Airport, Goa

How to Reach Goa by Road

You can reach Goa by road through two major highways. Follow the National Highway 4 (NH 4) to travel to Goa from Mumbai or Bengaluru by road. The drive to Goa by road is a scenic route that turns lush green during monsoon. There are many bus services from major cities to Goa for travellers.

The Nearest & Main Bus Station in Goa: Kadamba bus stand, Panaji.

How to Reach Goa by Sea

Reaching Goa by sea is a unique way to travel Goa. You can catch a cruise from Mumbai to go to Panaji, which will take you along the coasts of Maharashtra and Goa.

How to Reach Goa by Train

Reaching Goa by train is the most comfortable and convenient mode of travel. There are two major railway stations in Goa- Madgaon and Vasco-da-Gama. Goa enjoys extensive rail connectivity with other major cities of the country. Goa's rail route is a relaxing journey that takes you through some of the Western Ghats' most beautiful landscapes.

Goa Railway Station Name & code: Madgaon Junction (MAO), Vasco-Da-Gama Railway station (VSG).

You can also order your favourite food in train online from RailRestro while travelling to Goa by a train.

 

The Scenic Train Trip to Goa

Image credit: Pixabay

The rail journey from Mumbai to Goa is one of the most scenic train rides in India. The train routes connecting these cities give you an incredible experience intersecting through the gorges, Sahyadri hills and the Arabian Sea. Riding through 92 tunnels and on 2000 bridges, this route offers beautiful sceneries with jaw-dropping sight of scenic landscapes, dazzling rivers, rugged coastline and lush green meadows. Mandovi Express train, a part of the Konkan Railway network, runs between Mumbai and Goa.

The journey from Vasco Da Gama to Londa offers you one of the most thrilling and enchanting train journeys in India. It traverses through the Western Ghats laced with lush green forests, thriving villages and sparkling waterfalls that add to the charm of this rail route in Goa. The train pass along many serene beaches and the magnificent Dudhsagar waterfalls, cascading beauty gushing in full vigour.

If you want to enjoy this thrilling train journey from Vasco Da Gama to Londa closely, get down at Londa junction, which is the nearest station to Dudhsagar falls.

If you don't want to miss the most scenic rail journey in India, always check the PNR status to know the current booking status and live train delay information. RailMitra is the best train enquiry app for checking Train PNR status and live train status along with a set of other features for which you don't need to install any other Indian Railway app. The RailMitra app is free and is available for Android devices. Other exclusive features include food delivery in train and booking hotels at affordable rates.


Five Famous Beaches in Goa


Baga Beach

Image credit: Wiki Commons

Baga resides a little farther south of Morjim, exhibiting a very different atmosphere to that of its neighbour. It has a stunningly vibrant atmosphere characterized by an unbroken line of exotic and pleasant beach shacks situated beside a long golden sand stretch. It is one of the most popular beaches among the Indian family crowd.

Things to do in Baga beach: Scuba diving, motorboat rides, banana Boat Ride, jet skiing, dolphin rides, diving, and spas.


Candolim & Calangute Beach

Image credit: Unsplash

These are considered one of the most popular beaches among European tourists who spend their holidays in Goa. The long strips of golden sands of Candolim and Calangute lead to one of the most welcoming stretches of coastline in the state. You can also relish the delicious Goan curry at one of the eye-catchy beach shacks. Calangute Beach is renowned as the "Queen of beaches" for its alluring sandy landscapes.

Things to do in Candolim beach: Snorkelling, kite surfing, windsurfing, diving, jet-skiing, parasailing.


Palolem Beach

Image credit: Unsplash

Palolem beach is often marked as one of Goa's finest beache due to its breathtaking view. Let your worries take a back seat and lose yourself on Palolem Beach. If you enjoy socializing with crowds, this is just the place for you. Palolem Beach offers one of the best swimming locations in Goa with a long curve of palm-fringed sandy stretch. The beach huts here serve tasty local grub.

Things to do in Palolem beach: Shopping, food, partying and diving.


Benaulim & Varca Beach

Image credit: Pixabay

Benaulim Beach offers holidaymakers not only a splendid retreat for rest and relaxation but also lots of things to do around the city. A breathtakingly beautiful setting for sunbathers, it is a long stretch of soft white sand with verdant palm trees. But, if soaking up the rays on a sun lounger doesn't suit you, do explore water sports or try your luck sighting dolphins here.

Things to do in Benaulim & Varca: Water sports, bar hopping and food.


Morjim Beach

Image credit: Wiki Commons

The calm and peaceful ambience of Morjim Beach will soothe all your travel fatigue. Embrace your Goa holidays by walking on this unsurpassed beauty that only a few beaches in Goa can be compared with. Apart from enticing beach bars and shacks, Morjim also attracts olive ridley sea turtles, the most popular attraction at this beach.

Things to do in Morjim: Bird sightseeing, adventure activities.

 

Explore the Goan Cuisine

Goan cuisine is a perfect blend of Konkani, French, Malaysian, Portuguese and Catholic influence!

Goan cuisine is blisteringly rich and delicious. The traditional Goan food is a favourite with Indians as well as foreign tourists. Rice, seafood, coconut milk, meat, pork and local spices are the main elements of the Goan cuisine. Fish curry and rice are Goa's staple food. Due to its long coastline, the magic of Goan cuisine encompasses seafood dishes that are highly influenced by the Portuguese culture.

Kingfish is the most prominent seafood commonly present in most Goan meals. Other seafood cuisines of Goa include prawns, shark, tuna, mackerel, crabs, lobsters, squids, etc. Some specific Goan specialties are Goan fish curry, Fish Caldine, Xacuti, Pork vindaloo, Sannas, Sorpotel, and Bebinca. Try Feni- the local Goan alcohol prepared from cashew or palm toddy.



P.S.: This is a collaborative post

January 8, 2021

Chittorgarh: The Historical Fort

As you stroll through the stunning Chittorgarh fort, it evokes stories of the spirit, valor, pride and romance of the Rajputs, the warrior clan. Sprawling over 700 acres and intimidating over a hillock by the Berach River in Rajasthan, Chittorgarh fort with a 13 km long circumference is the largest fort in Asia. It is believed to have been initially built in the 7th century A.D. by the Maurya Kings and was later taken over by the Mewar kingdom for a long period. The fort was ruled for 800 years by various dynasties such as Mauryas, Pratiharas, Solankis, Guhilas and Mewars. It was also witness to three attacks by Alauddin Khalji in the 14th century, Bahadur Shah and Akbar in the 16th century. Legend says that while the men died in the battlefields, the women and children committed Jauhar (self immolation) to save themselves from the wrath of the victorious army. However, the Mewar kings managed to fight back every time and regained hold over Chittorgarh fort, which is considered as the 'Pride of Mewar’. The prominent Mewar rulers who ruled this fort were Ratnasimha, Rana Kumbha, Rana Sanga, Maharana Udai Singh II (Founder of Udaipur) and Maharana Pratap. The Mewar dynasty later moved to Udaipur and made it their capital. Kumbalgarh fort, with one of the longest fort walls in the world is the other major fort that was under the Mewar kings.

Chittorgarh fort is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the Hill Forts of Rajasthan.



Magnificent structures laced with stunning sculptures and intricate carvings are strewn across the fort, which showcases a blend of Rajput and Islamic style architecture. The formidable fort wall runs all across the hillock with seven entrance gates that you need to pass through to reach the insides of the fort. The fort is also sometimes referred as water fort, as it had about 84 water bodies during its prime, of which very few remain today. Rana Kumbha’s palace which is mostly is ruins, once housed many structures such as underground cellars, elephant and horse stables, royal treasury and shrines a well. It is believed that Rani Padmini committed Jauhar inside this palace. Rani Padmini’s palace with a well laid out garden is the other major palace here, and has a small palace (Jal Mahal) inside a large pond. Fateh Prakash palace is presently a museum which houses various artefacts, weaponry, photographs and other displays of the royal family.










The fort also houses numerous Hindu and Jain temples such as Kumbhashyam temple, Kalikamata Temple, Meerabai temple, Tulja Bhavani temple and Satbis Deori Jain temple.  There are numerous ponds or reservoirs as well with Gaumukh Kund being the most significant one, as it served as the source of water during the fort’s glorious times. There are also cenotaphs, gates, smaller palaces and more dilapidated structures scattered across.





Despite the magnificent palaces and stunning temples, what garners most of the attention inside Chittorgarh fort is undoubtedly the Vijay Stambh or the Tower of Victory built by Rana Kumbh in the 15th century to commemorate his victory over the Sultan of Malwa. Emblazoned with spectacular carvings of gods and motifs, this is an absolute stunning piece of artwork and unsurprisingly the most celebrated structure here. Narrow steps lead you to the top of this 37 meter high nine-storeyed structure with magnificent views of the fort through the numerous peep holes. Kirti Stambha, another victory post with elaborate carvings was built in the 12th century, and is dedicated to Adinath, the first Jain Thirthankara.





The fort also has a sound and light show every day from 7:00 P.M. until 8:00 P.M.

Travel Tips:

  • Chittorgarh fort is open every day from 9:00 A.M. until 6:00 P.M.
  • The entry charges are INR 50 for adults and INR 25 for children.

 

How to reach Chittorgarh Fort:

The closest major city is Udaipur, which has an airport and railway station connecting to other cities in India. It is recommended to take a private taxi from Udaipur to reach Chittorgarh fort, which is about 116 kms away. Public transportation is not frequent between Udaipur and Chittorgarh.

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