September 15, 2022

Why Dubai should be on your list to visit during Diwali

There is no better location to spend Diwali than Dubai with a Dubai tour package, where there are exciting events, family-friendly entertainment, and unforgettable gastronomic delights. With spectacular fireworks displays and alluring promos, the city ushers in the Festival of Lights, making it one of the largest and brightest ever!

The beaches are not the only places to visit in Dubai during Diwali. At the Bollywood Parks, you may also take part in the celebrations with your family and friends. It is among the greatest locations for a Bollywood-style Diwali celebration. By the Waterfront Promenade at the Dubai Mall is another fantastic location where people love to spend Diwali in Dubai. People find it fascinating to see the beautiful artistic cruise on the sea.

Therefore, you should not miss a chance to be a part of these unmissable treats if you are in Dubai during Diwali with an international tour package!


1. Dubai Creek for Fireworks

Every Diwali celebration in Dubai is illuminated with fireworks, which are also the only ones that are legal in the city during this holiday. Thousands of people enjoy a spectacular fireworks show with their loved ones.

2. Bollywood Parks

Numerous Bollywood celebs appear in performances and numerous concerts are held here by well-known singers. Some of the most popular Bollywood films are shown in the theater, and an Indian street food festival is also held there.

3. Al Seef festivities

The Diwali Mela at Al Seef is the place to go if you want to experience Diwali in Dubai in the same manner as it is celebrated in India. You may create vibrant rangolis and get henna patterns applied on your hands. Al Seef also takes in a number of Bollywood acts and concerts with lots of music and dancing that you can enjoy.

4. Waterfront Promenade at the Dubai Mall

Witness an exhibition of floating art on boats that use the water as a canvas to show off a lovely image to its viewers.

5. Witness The Burj Khalifa Diwali Light Show

There will never be a more spectacular Diwali light show than the one on the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The Burj Khalifa, the highest structure in the world, puts on a light show for this event, which you can witness in Downtown Dubai.

6. Enjoy Your Diwali Dinner In Patiala

Patiala restaurant is named after the Indian city with the same name. A unique menu of mouthwatering Diwali treats is available at this souk Al Bahar restaurant during their ten-day Diwali celebration. Enjoy the authentic Indian flavor at the most popular Indian event in a luxurious setting.

7. Global Village

One of the greatest sites to see fireworks in Dubai during Diwali is Global Village. Along with fireworks, you may enjoy exotic and traditional cuisines, spectacular light shows, live entertainment, and a few shopping opportunities.

8. Masala Bazaa

Enjoy a delectable Diwali feast including a variety of India's best culinary creations. The menu will include sweet sweets, chaats, and pani puri stations in addition to savory starters, appetizers, soups, and main courses.


P.S.: This is a collaborative post.

September 9, 2022

A Visit to the World's Largest Bird Sculpture


It was a Sunday, and I wasn't surprised to see the large crowd and the long queue to get on to the cable car to view the largest bird sculpture in the world at Jatayu Earth’s Centre. I was on my way back from Ponmudi, and stopped by at Chadayamangalam, where the hillock housing the sculpture stood tall rising above the small town. Silhouette of the head, claws and beak of the bird’s sculpture could be seen from the road.

Opened in 2018, this sculpture spanning over 15,000 sq.ft., was curated by Rajeev Anchal, and comes under the Build-Operate-Transfer model (BOT model) of tourism of Kerala state. Sprawling over 65 acres, and over four hills, it stands tall at a height of more than 350 metres.

Jatayu, which is a mythological bird from the epic, Ramayana, is believed to have fallen on this hillock, after its valiant fight with Ravana. The hillock has been referred to as Jatayu Paara (Paara meaning 'rock' in Malayalam) by the locals for the same reason. However, I have heard this story of Jatayu at a few other places a s well, with Lepakshi being the most popular one. The story may or may not be convincing enough, but the art work on display is absolutely spellbinding.    




We waited for a good one hour in the queue for the cable car. The waiting area is well equipped with shops selling short eats and beverages. Boarded the cable car and we were on our way up, with the panoramic views of surrounding greenery and towns on offer. As we neared the hilltop, the sculpture showed up. With a length of 200 feet, height of 70 feet and width of 150 feet, this is a massive sculpture with the wings, head, claws and every other part beautifully sculpted. Apart from the claws, which are made of steel, the remaining sculpture is made out of concrete. We walked around soaking in the joy of seeing such an enormous and stunning creation of art work. The aerial views of the surroundings were a delight to watch and my eyes were constantly jostling between nature's display and the man made wonder.


The hilltop also houses a museum, cafeteria and a temple. On the way back to the waiting lounge, you can experience a 6D theatre and a gaming zone for kids. The premise also has a host of adventure activities such as zipline, paintball, Burma bridges, bouldering among others. Jatayu Earth’s Centre is open from 10 A.M. to 5.30 P.M. For those not keen on taking the cable car, you can go up a natural trail with a flight of steps leading you to the top. Helicopter services too are on offer if you would like to save time. There are separate charges for cable car ride, sculpture visit, adventure games etc.

How to reach Jatayu Earth’s Centre:

Thiruvananthapuram is the major city close by, 47 km away, and has the nearest airport and railway station. Though not frequent, there are buses from Kollam (38 km) and Thiruvananthapuram to Chadayamangalam, where the Jatayu Earth’s Centre is located.

August 24, 2022

Ponmudi and Meenmutty Waterfalls: A Tryst with Nature


Whooshing wind greeted my face as I rolled down the window pane to enjoy the spellbinding view of the lush greenery and distant hills. The views were so captivating, that I stopped the car at multiple places to either capture the frame, or to just enjoy what nature presented before me. The sound of crickets, the winding narrow road, towering trees and the thin film of mist that hovered, made the drive up to Ponmudi from Kallar a delightful experience. 

Ponmudi, nestled at a height of more than 3600 feet is known for its salubrious climate and small tea estates, and is a quick getaway for people residing in and around Thiruvananthapuram. While there aren’t too many places to explore here, the views from atop Ponmudi are an absolute delight.



After meandering our way up, we had our first stop at Down Hill Viewpoint. Two trees outgrown from a rock creates a beautiful frame here, with undulating hills and deep valleys in the backdrop. While it looked like a large bonsai tree with a thick trunk and bushy leaves from a distance, it was only when we went near, that the rock made itself clearly visible. The road goes further down winding its way past small settlements and a school, before disappearing into the forests. Taking in the breath-taking views, we strolled around for a while before heading up further.





A forest check post welcomed us, as we neared Ponmudi hilltop, which was quite crowded, being a weekend. Walked up the many trails that lead up to numerous mounds, which offered spectacular panoramic views of distant hills, valleys and lush greenery all around. Jutting rocks scattered amidst the tall grasses and fluffy white clouds floating above made the frames prettier. A path led up to an abandoned sanatorium, which probably was built during the rule of the British. Walking down, I headed up another trail that led me to the watch tower, which stood tall atop the highest mound here. A short climb, and I was greeted to more panoramic vistas of the magnificent verdant surroundings.


A wide swathe of rock jutting amidst the greenery and mounds was my last climb. The mist had disappeared by then, but the breeze blew stronger, filling my ears with its rumbling sound. However, I enjoyed my tryst with nature, as the scenic setting and fresh air of Ponmudi ensured it was a memorable one. As the sun set, the crowds thinned, darkness slowly engulfed the hilltop, and it turned cold as we drove through the beautiful road back to Kallar. Entry to Ponmudi is only from 8 AM to 4 PM

Waking up the next morning to the calls of a peacock was undoubtedly the best alarm clock that got me out of bed. The wonderful River County Resort by the banks of the Kallar river was where we stayed. I made my way through the lush green environs of the property to the banks of the river. The river bed was laced with innumerable pebbles and the water levels were so low that I could wade through them. As I perched myself on the pebbles, the only sound I could hear was the gurgling of waters, which were intermittently interrupted by the peacock calls.

After breakfast we drove to Meenmutty Waterfalls, formed by the Kallar river as it cascades over rocks inside a forest. The locals say that the waterfalls got its name as fishes could not swim beyond this point due to the presence of rocks. The 2 km long trail through the forest with the river for constant company was a delightful experience. While there are forest guards assigned at intermittent junctions, most part of the trail was devoid of human presence.




The initial stretch was a mostly plain, snaking its way past tall trees, shrubs, fallen branches and tree trunks with mushrooms and ferns. A couple of places where we could get into the waters too showed up. Tumbling over small boulders, the Kallar river made its way gurgling through this forest. The path made captivating frames in some stretches with trees leaning into each other and forming a head cover. The tall trees, dense canopy, and foliage, with the gurgling sound of the waters and sunlight percolating through, gave us reminders that we were deep inside a forest. Roots of the trees in some places had naturally made steps, and dangling branches had formed into swings, which made me wonder if that was a welcoming sign from nature to explore her.



We trudged forward and the gradient gradually turned steeper taking us deeper into the belly of the forest. Beyond midway, an enormously large boulder balancing itself on another one formed a beautiful cave like structure, where we rested up, and chatted with the forest guard, who spoke stories of animal attacks here long back. Shortly later, the river showed up before us, and we had to cross it to get to the other bank to continue our trek. Placing our steps precariously over small rocks that acted as a stone bridge, we made our way across. 


A short climb up, and we were gazing at Meenmutty Waterfalls cascading over huge boulders and thrashing into the large pool at the base, before making its way down through the forest. The multi-tiered waterfalls with lush greenery and boulders in the backdrop made a picturesque frame. We relaxed there for while, and chatted up with the forest guard, who was friendly enough to take our pictures.

As we headed back from the waterfalls, I was happy that we went all the way, despite being a slightly tough one for my parents, who seemed more than enthusiastic to have completed the trek. Ponmudi is a delightful small hill station, ideal for a weekend getaway, with charming viewpoints, captivating panoramic landscapes, and the spectacular trek to Meenmutty Waterfalls.

How to reach Ponmudi:

Thiruvananthapuram, which has an airport and railway station is the closest major city, 56 km away. There are buses plying between Thiruvananthapuram and Ponmudi, but is not frequent. It is recommended to visit Ponmudi in your own vehicle so that you can enjoy the forest drive.

Food and Accommodation:

There are quite a few resorts and homestays at Kallar, at the base of Ponmudi Hill. Atop Ponmudi, there is a government owned resort. River County Resort in Kallar is well recommended. There are numerous eateries at Kallar, and a couple of them atop Ponmudi.

July 20, 2022

Thally: The Little England in Tamil Nadu

I lifted my visor, craned my neck and asked with a smile, “Lake?”. The two old men who seemed to be happily chatting away looked up with a confused expression on their face. When I said ‘Eri’ (Lake in Tamil), one of them walked up with a smile. “Not Lake, it’s Little England”, he said, and pointed his hand down the road to Thally Lake. I had read in many websites that Thally is referred to as Little England, which I felt was coined by the so called ‘travel influencers’. But, surprisingly that wasn’t the case, as most locals too refer to Thally as Little England, probably because of its serene setting with lakes and open farmlands.

The ride beyond Hosur was a picturesque one with blue skies, thick canopy formed by the lined-up trees, intermittent villages, sporadic farms sprawling on either side of the meandering road, and the occasional livestock that made me slow down.

Had the first glimpse of the expansive lake as I entered Thally village, but it hardly looked like a village, with numerous shops, pushcarts and vehicles. A narrow mud road from where the old man guided, led me to the lake. With lush greenery lounging along the fringes, the tranquil lake was absolutely captivating. The quite surroundings were infiltrated by a couple of men having a dip in the waters and laughter of a few boys enjoying their camaraderie. The lone tree here with a stone platform is an ideal place to gaze in oblivion at the placid lake. A while later, I took a stroll along the shore of the lake, which led me into bushes.  



Shortly after that, I headed back to explore the opposite shore, which was laced with open farmlands. Narrow muddy tracks led to the farmlands, where I parked my bike and walked across. The spectacular sunset with a silver lining caught my attention as I trudged forward, oblivious to the fact that I was walking on a ploughed and uneven surface. Standing by the shore and gazing at the setting sun that played peek-a-boo behind the clouds, I could hear people chattering and walking towards me. Two local men who had come to check their farmland had walked up to see a new visitor grazing their land. Warm and friendly, we spoke about the dead fishes that had washed up the shore and about the next farming season. They also advised against visiting Devarabetta Hill, which offers an aerial view of Thally Lake and surroundings. It was quite late, and apparently the place is not safe after sunset.

Taking in the final glimpses of the setting sun and the placid lake, I walked back on the narrow path to my bike, and bade goodbye to the two men and ‘Little England’. 

There isn't much to explore in Thally beyond the lake and the farmlands, but it definitely makes a wonderful day trip from Bangalore.


How to reach Thally:

Thally lake is 55 km from Bangalore, and the closest main town in Hosur, 32 km away. Though are buses from Hosur to Thally, it is recommended to take your private vehicle to visit the lake, as the buses are not frequent.

July 12, 2022

13 Years of Tales of a Nomad!

 
The last few months have been dull for Tales of a Nomad with hardly any posts published. However, there will be more posts published consistently in the coming months. Let me start that with this birthday post!

Thank you all for the continuous encouragement and readership over that last 13 years.

April 4, 2022

March 21, 2022

Illithode: A Secluded Getaway!


It got greener, denser and darker as I drove through the winding road to Illithode, an eco-tourism site along the banks of River Periyar, near Malayattoor in Ernakulam. I was reminded of Paniyeli Poru from the photos I found, and the diverging road that led me to the place.


Bordering forest reserves, the Mahagony Thottam here is resplendent with innumerable Mahagony trees intimidatingly staring down at you. A short trail meandering through the tall trees with bird calls in the distance made it a delightful walk from the information counter. Swirling branches, the sunlight filtering through the canopy, fallen tree trunks and the rustling foliage made it seem like I was deep inside a forest. The wind swishing once in a while, and the chattering of the monkeys made it all the more engrossing, until the break of a laughter among a few visitors behind brought me back to the moment. 



Strolling further, while dodging past the trees, I could hear the gurgling of waters as we neared a clearing. Soon, I was staring at the Periyar, flowing relentlessly, and the water glittering like precious stones. Despite the sun blazing away, I waded into the cool shallow waters, placing my feet with caution over pebbles, some of which were round and smooth, while a few not so much. While the waters at Paniyeli Poru are gushing, and with dips, under currents and whirlpools, it is much calmer here, and you can into the waters, which are mostly knee high. Making myself comfortable on a protruding rock, I gazed at the flowing waters, greenery along the opposite bank, and pebbles, which were so visible through the waters. The water was so pure and clear that the pebbles seemed like they were right on the surface, and not a foot below. I sat there for a while in the midst of the peaceful surroundings, watching in oblivion the Periyar flowing away.


Illithode is a great place to connect with nature, to play in the clear waters, or sit idle under the shade of trees, watching nature in all its glory.

How to reach Illithode: 

The closest city is Cochin, which is 60 km away from Illithode via Aluva and Malayatoor. Cochin 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 here.

March 14, 2022

How to Visit Manali on a Budget

Manali is one of the best and most alluring holiday destinations in India, and one does not have to take so many leaves to visit this little hill station located in Himachal Pradesh. The things that make Manali mesmerizing and breath-taking are too many, with some of them being the great weather, mountains covered with lush green forests, and amazing sight-seeing options. While you are there you can experience the best recreational and adventurous activities that will make your trip worth it. So, if you are bored and do not have any plans for the summer, pack your bags and visit this beautiful place. Below are some points that will help you to plan the entire trip on a budget.

Book the tickets in advance

The best and first thing you have to do if you are planning a trip to Manali is to book the tickets in advance. Since it is a popular hill station, and most travelers plan their vacation to visit there, it is highly likely that you might not get tickets for the required dates. Also, if you book your tickets in advance, there are high chances that you will get them at a cheaper price. If you are traveling from Delhi then you are in for some luck, as you can catch the bus from the Kashmiri Gate bus stand, and it would take you about 12 hours to reach Manali. The fare is approx. Rs.1000, which is nominal.

Book the hotel rooms in advance

Once you have decided your dates, make sure to book the hotel rooms as well, especially if you are traveling during the peak season. During this period most hotels charge double the rate than they usually do. So, if you are a little tight on budget, or do not wish to spend a lot on the trip, ensure to make your stay arrangements as well in advance. You can book the rooms in advance with affordable price from Makemytrip, Cleartrip, Agoda and more. To avail the extra discount use coupon code. Try to book a hotel room near Mall Road since the hotels there are comparatively cheaper and more affordable.

Rent a bike or a scooty

When it comes to visiting the local adventures, an ideal way to save money is to rent a bike or a scooty for commutation. There are several places that you can visit on a bike, which includes Vasisth Temple, Solang Valley, Naggar, Jana Waterfalls, and many more. All of them can be reached on a two-wheeler.

Skip the big restaurants

The best part about Manali is you will get ample eating options along the roads. So, if you don’t want to spend a lot, skip the restaurant at least for a day. This will save you a lot of money and you will get to taste the local dishes as well. The place has so many street food options including Bombay Bhelpuri, Samosas, Sidu and Babru among others.

Take every essential thing that you may require

It is an obvious fact that when you visit Manali, you will go there with the thought of having some adventure. However, do not forget to carry all the necessary things required for the same with you, as everything there will be expensive since it is a touristy place. So, if you don’t want to spend unnecessarily, pack a little more. Also, take a few packets of wafers and snacks to keep yourself satiated.

Rohtang Pass

Rohtang Pass is one of the major attractions of Manali, and if you are planning a trip here, make sure you plan to add this to your itinerary as well. However, Rohtang Pass cannot be visited throughout the year; it opens from May end to October third week, which also depends on weather conditions. So, if you have to go there, make sure to book the cabs in advance since last-minute bookings can cost you a lot. So, to avoid any type of inconvenience, make sure to do all the books before your departure date.

The above tips can save you money while you are exploring Manali. Being on a vacation does not mean that you have to spend a fortune. You can easily plan a trip on a budget, especially to a place like Manali.

 

P.S. This is a collaborative post.

February 28, 2022

Coddiwomple!

 


Like the goats here, sometimes the traveler in me needs a bit of guidance. Else, I always prefer to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination! As the saying goes, isn't traveling also about the journey, as much as it is about the destination?

January 31, 2022

Gaze in Oblivion!

Myriad shades of green blanketed over obscure and undulating mounds, with fog intermittently draping the setting, and the road making its presence felt by snaking through, makes this view from Thamarassery Churam, one of my all time favourite landscape frames.

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