July 30, 2019

Places in Odisha you need to visit for the best wildlife experience

Satkosia (Credit- Outlook India)

Being home to a variety of flora, fauna and natural diversity, Odisha’s wildlife scene is quite an enchanting one. Having a total of twenty-one wildlife sanctuaries, three significant wildlife reserves, three national parks, gorgeous wildlife safaris, as well as two tiger reserves, there’s no doubt at all in what the state offers in terms of an adventurous and amazing wildlife experience.

Some of the most amazing wildlife sanctuaries here are Simplipal wildlife sanctuary, Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary, Chilika wildlife sanctuary, Nandankanan wildlife sanctuary, Satkosia Basipalli sanctuary, Chandaka wildlife sanctuary, Debrigarh wildlife sanctuary etc. While Simlipal wildlife sanctuary of Mayurbhanj District is home to 231 species of avian fauna, 42 species of mammals and 29 species of reptiles, the Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary is an important habitat for wild boars and porcupines, apart from a huge number of saltwater crocodiles. In Chilika wildlife sanctuary, one can spot rare birds including flamingo, billed pelican, white bellied sea eagle and a lot more. Also, in the Nandankanan wildlife sanctuary, one is sure to get enchanted by the white tigers.

Chandaka Willife Sanctuary (Credit- Bhubhaneshwar Buzz)

The Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary is unique and precious in a way that it has historical and also natural significance. It is apparently the jungle where freedom fighter Surendra Sai hid from the British while he planned his rebellion. Besides, it is home to the endangered four-horned antelope, and even has tigers, bisons, hyenas, leopards, monitor lizards and much more. 

The Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary is the only marine sanctuary in Odisha where you can find the Olive Ridley turtles. These turtles come here every year to mate and breed on the beaches all the way from the South Pacific Ocean. The sanctuary is a great way to combine a beach holiday with some marine sightseeing.

Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary (Credit- Odisha govt.)

Apart from the magnificent wildlife sanctuaries located here, you can also visit the wildlife reserves at Simlipal, Chandaka and Satkosia. While Simlipal Tiger Reserve has been amongst the 9 reserves for implementation of the 1st phase of project tiger, the Chandaka Reserve is home to elephants, and the Satkosia Reserve is a prime tiger reserve.

As far as the national parks go, there’s Bhitarkanika national park, Simlipal national park and Nandankanan national park. To experience a close encounter with the wild animals, one can opt for the tiger safari at Nandankanan to spot pug marks of the white tigers or the ethnic Indian Royal Bengal Tigers. Also, the Lion safari introduces visitors to the kingdom of the ruler of the jungles. At Simlipal national park, one can enjoy the thrill of nature, adventure and wildlife by taking a trip in the forest jeep, which brings visitors to the natural habitat of the wonderful creatures.

With excellent adventurous opportunities, one can book an exclusive wildlife tour of Odisha for the most memorable wildlife experience, with lots to see and learn.

P.S.: This post is in collaboration with Best Choice Holiday.

July 26, 2019

The Pines, Melaka- Review

Overlooking the heritage city of Malacca (aka Melaka) and the winding Malacca river, The Pines is a nice accommodation option in the heart of this cultural city. The hotel has infused the cultural touches of Malacca to ensure that the guests get a glimpse of the heritage of the city during their stay. Located in the heart of Malacca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Pines has a beautiful ambience, nice décor and detailed furnishings. It is ideal for both leisure and business tarvellers, and the hotel is 20 minutes away from Malacca international airport and two hours away from Kuala Lumpur international airport. The hotel is a short distance away from all the major attractions of Malacca such as Jonker Street, Chinatown, Kampung Kling mosque, Chinese Cheng Hoon Teng temple etc.

The Pines offers the largest hotel rooms in Malacca ranging from 31 sq.m. to 91 sq.m. It is the first hotel to collaborate with artists from Malacca and feature their works across the premises. The customized signages in the hotel are interesting and bring a creative environment.

The Pines has 390 rooms in total which are spread across 7 categories. All the rooms are spacious, well furnished and fully equipped with all the modern facilities. Every room comes with king size or twin beds, a pantry, ensuite bathroom, mini bar, sofa- bed, flat screen television etc. Superior room, Deluxe room and Executive room which are 46 sq.m. are ideal for a family of two adults and two kids.  All these rooms offer a view of Malacca river or the sea. While Premier room is of 31 sq.m., Executive with Balcony has a spacious seating area. Both these rooms are recommended for two adults. Poolside suites have a direct access to the pool from their balcony attached to the room. The luxurious Executive suite comes with two separate bedrooms.

The hotel has two dining areas, The Oak and GREA8. The Oak is the main dining option and they serve a mix of local and international cuisine. The breakfast buffet spread is huge and is served here. GREA8 is a café which is ideal for high tea or for some coffee in the evenings. There are also a host of facilities such as swimming pool, children’s playground, gymnasium room, meeting and function halls, concierge and multi level car parking that the hotel provides. They also provide bicycle rental, shuttle service and river cruise services upon request.

My Experience:

I stayed in a Superior room which had a simple but beautiful décor. The comfortable king size bed and the spaciousness of the room made my stay a wonderful one. The other highlight of the room was the beautiful art work that was displayed on the wall. The lovely views of the city of Malacca and the river winding through it was a delight both during the day and at night. The breakfast at The Oak was a nice mix of Continental, Indian and Malaysian cuisine. I had a lovely experience at The Pines, Melaka and would definitely recommend this hotel to stay while in Malacca.

P.S.: I was hosted by The Pines, Melaka on an invitation from Malaysia Tourism board, but opinions are my own.

July 23, 2019

Sunway Putra Hotel, Kuala Lumpur- Review

Situated along the Diamond triangle and opposite to Putra World Trade Centre, Sunway Putra hotel is adjacent to the new Sunway Putra shopping mall. Managed by the Malaysian conglomerate, Sunway Group, this trendy hotel is ideally located amidst all the major business centres, dining avenues and shopping arenas in Kuala Lumpur. Sunway Putra hotel is just 45 minutes away from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and is well connected to all parts of the city’s attractions such as Petronas Twin Towers, Bukit Bintang etc. One can either hire a taxi or take monorail or LRT to reach other locations from the hotel. The hotel is directly connected to the award winning Sunway Putra mall, which offers a plethora of options for shoppers.

Sunway Putra Hotel has 650 tastefully done up rooms in total which are well furnished and spacious.  These contemporary rooms have been classified under nine categories to accommodate the needs and requirements of business travellers, families and leisure travellers. The rooms come with all the modern facilities and comforts such as wifi, coffee & tea maker, mini refrigerator, laundry service etc. While the Superior rooms come with comfortable king size beds which are ideal for leisure travellers, the Deluxe rooms have a lovely décor with king size beds, a lounge chair and work table. The Family rooms are ideal for a couple with a kid or three adults, and come with a dining table apart from the common facilities. The spacious Club rooms and Suites have a contemporary theme with access to the Club Lounge. The club rooms and suites are suited for a relaxed stay and some come with a balcony, living space and multiple bedrooms.

There are three dining options in Sunway Putra Hotel apart from Cherootz, which is a bar. Coffee House is the main dining restaurant which serves a wide range of cuisines from Asian to Continental to Middle Eastern. While Gen is a Japanese restaurant, Atrium is a café that serves cakes, tea and coffee. The hotel also has a fitness centre with state of the art equipment for the guests to work out. The parabolic shaped outdoor pool is where the guests can have a dip and a swim. There is also a kid’s pool and a hot tub jacuzzi. The hotel has 15 spacious function rooms for corporate meetings and a Grand Ballroom which can accommodate more than 1200 people.

My Experience:

I stayed in Junior suite which was spacious and had a beautiful décor. The suite has a comfortable bed, attached bath, mini bar, television and all other basic facilities. The highlight was definitely the balcony which offered a magnificent view of the city skyline. The views of glittering Petronas Twin towers and KL Tower were a delight in the evening. It also offered a view of the swimming pool. I had buffet breakfast at Coffee house that had a nice mix of Indian and continental cuisines. As the visit was during the month of Ramadan, I also had a chance to relish a huge spread of the local cuisine while experiencing Iftar. A major attraction of Sunway Putra hotel is its direct link to the shopping mall, which has numerous brand outlets and dining options.

P.S.: I was hosted by Sunway Putra Hotel on an invitation from Malaysia Tourism board, but opinions are completely mine.

July 22, 2019

Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre: Review

Conveniently located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur in Jalan Conlay, Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre is amidst the dining, shopping and business centres of the city. The hotel is well connected by LRT, Monorail and city bus stations making it ideal for both business and leisure travellers. The major attractions such as Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur City Centre and Bukit Bintang are a short drive away making Pullman KLCC a great place to stay while in Kuala Lumpur.

The spacious lobby with a double ceiling height has a plush setting and is one of the highlights of this premium hotel. Pullman KLCC has various categories of well furnished guest rooms and serviced residences. The rooms vary from Deluxe rooms to Executive rooms to Family residences spreading over eleven categories. The hotel has an urbane ambiance with all modern facilities and come with work station. Some rooms do come with living spaces and kitchenettes.

The hotel has multiple dining options with restaurants and bars offering various cuisines for the cosmopolitan travellers. From Malaysian to Cantonese to Japanese to Continental cuisines, Pullman KLCC offers a range of options to choose from. While Sedap Restaurant is their primary dining area, Terrace Poolside Bar & Grill is a favourite with guests. The hotel also offers a host of facilities such as wifi, laundry services, outdoor swimming pool, covered parking etc. Pullman KLCC has a wonderful spa and fitness centre. The Vibes Spa offers numerous holistic treatments and the Fit Lounge has many cardio machines available to keep guests in the best of their health. The hotel is also equipped with banquet hall and board rooms which can be great venues for weddings and meetings.

My Experience:

Location is a major plus point of Pullman KLCC as it is well connected to all other places in Kuala Lumpur. The large lobby has a beautiful décor with lovely art works and furnishings. I stayed in a spacious Deluxe room with comfortable beds, television, attached bath, coffee maker, mini bar and all other basic facilities. The large window offered views of the outdoor swimming pool. I couldn’t explore their spa and other recreational facilities due to lack of time. I dined at Sedap restaurant a couple of times and it was a delightful experience. While the breakfast buffet was a mix of continental and Malaysian dishes, the lunch was a lovely spread of the local Malaysian cuisine.

P.S.: I was hosted by Pullman KLCC on an invitation from Malaysia Tourism board, but opinions are completely mine.

July 20, 2019

1 Utama Shopping Centre, Malaysia: More than a Shopping Experience

The largest shopping mall in Malaysia and the seventh largest in the world, 1 Utama Shopping Centre offers much more than what a shopper would like to experience. This is a shopping mall where one could go not just to shop, but to also explore various other activities that the place offers.

With a built up of 5.59 million sq ft area, 14,000 parking spaces and spread over seven levels of retail floors, 1 Utama was opened in August 1995 with the concept of suburban shopping. It has a strategic location along the golden mile of Petaling Jaya, which is just outside the city of Kuala Lumpur. The shopping centre believes in imaginative retailing and has more than 700 shops including a mix of blue chip departmental stores and retailers from worldwide. It also houses more than 150 dining outlets which include cafes and gourmet restaurants. One of the recommended places to dine is Peranakan Place which serves authentic Nyonya cuisine. 1 Utama offers a shopping privilege card, OneCard, which can be used to earn points and redeem them to shop later. The mall also runs promotions, events and activities through the year. They have won numerous accolades and awards over the years.

However, while most of the malls focus majorly on retail outlets of various brands and restaurants, 1 Utama has brought in concepts beyond shopping and dining. The most impressive part about this shopping centre is the various themed zones that they have, which makes even a non- shopper head here.

The Secret Garden atop the building is one of the largest rooftop gardens in the world. They have nurtured more than 600 species of plants from worldwide including Victoria Amazonica, the largest water lily in the world. Around the food and beverages outlets is the Rainforest which houses more than 100 species of flora and fauna. The Koi fish ponds, giant freshwater fish aquarium, cascading waterfall and rainbow suspension bridge are some of the attractions here.

If you are an adventurous soul, 1 Utama would surely keep you engaged. The Sportszone here has numerous adventurous activities for the visitors. Camp 5 has the largest indoor rock climbing gym in Asia. Air Rider has indoor skydiving and Flow Rider offers surfing with artificial waves. Sealantis offers PADI certified scuba diving inside this shopping centre. It also has a bowling centre, rooftop futsal court, automated baseball centre and a lifestyle gym.


1 Utama Shopping Centre is located in Selangor, just 20 minutes away from Kuala Lumpur and 45 minutes away from Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

P.S.: I was in hosted by Malaysia Tourism board during my visit to 1 Utama, but opinions are my own.

July 14, 2019

My Favourite Destinations after 10 Years of Travel Blogging

Ten years ago when I started Tales of a Nomad, not in my wildest dreams did I think that my personal travel diary would turn out to be my bread earner one day. I never thought that it would take me to some of the most amazing places and offer surreal experiences. But it did, and thank you a million times for that, Tales of a Nomad. Happy Birthday to you!

Whenever, I had written about travel blogging in general, the focus has always been on blogging. Yes, I still reiterate the fact that in travel blogging, writing comes first and travel is secondary. However, this time am focusing on travel. Below is my list of favourite destinations that Tales of a Nomad has taken me to in the last ten years.


Kannur has always remained tucked away from the curious eyes of tourists and that is probably why it is never mentioned in the same breath as the tea estates of Munnar or back waters of Alappuzha. This is also one of the reasons why I love Kannur as it attracts lesser crowds. The beaches such as Ettikulam, Palakode, Chootad, Chaal, Meenkunnu, Ezhara, Kizhunna and Thottada are some of the most pristine ones I have ever seen in Kerala. The other reason I love Kannur is because it is the land of Theyyam, a ritualistic form of worship. From December to April, the sacred groves and temples witness Theyyam performances late at night. Decked up with facial paintings and attires, the Theyyam performers metamorphose themselves into deities and bless the people.


I had been to Varkala in 2009 before it became quite popular on the tourist map. I love the setting here with the natural cliff and the beach way down. This is an absolute stunner and definitely an unexpected landscape along the coast. There are numerous shacks and hotels serving the day’s fresh catch atop the cliff. A walk along the cliff with sea breeze and setting sun is undoubtedly an ideal way to end a day. Varkala was apparently the first destination that I wrote about on Tales of a Nomad.


Gokarna is probably my favourite beach destination in India. Though it is a temple town, the beaches of Gokarna are equally popular. It is a nice trek over the connecting hillocks to reach each of those beaches. The views are magnificent all along and the trails are beautiful. The protruding rocks of Om Beach have an encapsulating charm. The numerous shacks on Om beach and Kudle beach are where one can unwind.


There are different reasons to love Hampi, such as its landscapes and hippie vibe. However, what I adore about the place is its history. I have been to Hampi twice and each time I have felt that I have been walking alongside the legends of Vijayanagar empire. Every time I find the wonderful structures and exceptional sculptures come alive. I can sit in any corner of Hampi and envisage a bygone empire and their great achievements.


The little village of Kanadukathan in Chettinad blew me away with its numerous criss-cross lanes lined up with magnificent mansions or nattukottais (land fortresses). There were very few visitors and very few locals. It seemed like I had the whole village to myself. Large colourful mansions stared at me from all directions and I happily gazed back at them. Built more than 100 years ago by Chettiar community, who were traders and financiers, these grandiose mansions are huge and extended from one lane to another. With extensive décor, sculptures and carvings inside the mansions and on the the outer façade, these structures are absolute stunners. One can visit some of these, stay in some of them and just gaze at the others.


While Thanjavur is popular for its paintings and music festivals, what left me awestruck was the spectacular Brihadeeshwarar temple. This magnificent temple built in the 11th century during Chola empire has extensive carvings and sculptures all across, and is a UNESCO world heritage site. I could gaze at this amazing creation forever in oblivion. The large entrance gates with sculptures and numerous other shrines make up the complex apart from the thirteen storeyed gopuram of the main shrine.

Divar Island:

I was absolutely at peace as I cycled through the island of Divar and later through Chorao. A ferry ride across river Ribander took me to the island of Divar in Goa. Away from the maddening crowds of the beaches, Divar island welcomes visitors with open fields, mangroves, birds, colourful houses and roads winding around them. The island has a laid back feel, is serene and perfectly explains the word- susegad, the Portuguese word that Goa is so much associated with. Chorao, the neighbouring island is another ferry ride away, and is known for the popular Salim Ali bird sanctuary.


Ratnagiri left me wonder struck with magnificent vistas of its beaches. The ride on the meandering road that runs along the coast of Ratnagiri offers spectacular views from vantage points. Ratnagiri is known for its gorgeous beaches such as Ganeshgule, Bandarpule, Kajir Bati and Aaare Ware. The twin beaches of Aaare Ware are probably the best on this stretch. I also love Ratnagiri for its unending mango orchards and the fresh mangoes one can buy during the summer months.


Transported to a different era, Mandu was a story teller and I became the keen listener. Every dilapidated structure had stories to say about kings and queens. The lush green landscape and the voluptuous water bodies further accentuated the charm of the place. I fell in love with the beautiful structures which were a few centuries old and still withstood time and attacks over the years to tell its tales. The tall and weirdly shaped Babobab trees are another attraction in Mandu.


Jaisalmer fort is probably the biggest attraction in this desert town and I definitely second that. The vibrancy of the fort with its colourful shops and numerous alleys is every visitors delight. However, what I loved more about Jaisalmer are its sand dunes and the ride into the Thar desert.  It introduced me to camels, nomads and life in the desert. The sun setting over the sand dunes was a delightful visual. The moon rising and stars glittering over my bed was another mesmerising one. Ain’t it wonderful to gaze at the darkness of the night and doze off under an open sky?


Bundi is one of the most nondescript villages in Rajasthan, but which is abound with art works. The magnificent art works on the walls of Bundi left me stunned. Depicting stories from mythology, the works are colourful and delightful. The best of these works can be seen at the Chitrashala near Taragarh fort. Pillars, walls and ceilings here are covered in colourful paintings and art of various gods and figurines.


The first frame that comes to my mind when I think about Binsar is the view of blue misty mountains from zero point. Walked up early in the morning to witness this view and I was left flabbergasted seeing the amazing frame of endless mountains juxtaposed and mist rising amidst them. Binsar is a land where snow capped mountains and forested hill terrain beautifully blend into each other. The place is also known for its rich flora and fauna.


I love Landour for its tranquility, and it is probably the most serene hill station I have ever visited.  Nestled amidst oak, pine and deodhar trees, the quaint charm of Landour is an absolute eye soother. The narrow alleys, old churches, stone structures all add to the beauty of the place. Landour is where I can spend many days without absolutely any itinerary. Just walk around, gaze at the beautiful views and take in a lungful of fresh mountain air.


Everyone loves Varanasi despite its chaos and crowds. I love Varanasi for its narrow alleys and ghats that lead down to river Ganga. It might be chaotic, dirty, full of people who are always in hurry, but this also where you would find people praying, sadhus (monks) meditating, people enjoying a boat ride on Ganga, visitors watching Ganga aarti and where the dead get burnt to attain salvation. Considered to be one of the holiest places in Hinduism, Varanasi is where visitors get a glimpse of real India.


A big reason to go to Kinnaur is that you get to ride on Hindustan- Tibet road (NH-22) which is considered by many as one of the most dangerous roads in the world. It was no different for me, but the colourful landscapes that Kinnaur threw up made it all the more magical. Engulfing mountains, gorgeous valleys, apple orchards, ogla fields and gurgling Baspa river makes every frame in Kinnaur picturesque. The pretty villages of Sangla, Rakcham and Chitkul left me absolutely encapsulated.


I would go back to Spiti just to gaze at its surreal landscapes. The brown mountains, turquoise blue rivers, blue skies and isolated villages make Spiti a mesmerizing land. Away from civilization and other modern amenities, Spiti is a landscape lover’s paradise. My ride to Pin valley in Spiti is one of the most memorable moments in my life. It was the only time I cried out of happiness looking at a colourful mountain. All that I did was stop my bike and gaze in happiness at the rainbow mountain that stood tall before me. Monasteries perched atop mountains which are home to hundreds of Buddhist monks are equally inviting.

Tso Moriri:

Pangong Tso might be the most popular lake in Ladakh. However, for me the most beautiful lake is Tso Moriri. Located in Changthang plateau and surrounded by mountains which are more than 18,000 feet tall, the lake has wetlands which are a breeding ground for black necked crane and bar headed goose. This plateau is also home to wild kiangs and the Changpa nomadic tribes. I loved my stay at the small Korzok village which offered views of the magnificent Tso moriri lake.

Nubra Valley:

I find Nubra Valley to be the most beautiful part of Ladakh. Located ahead of Khardung La and closer to Siachen glacier, Nubra falls on the old trade route between Central Asia and India. The meandering Shyok gleams as it flows through this low lying valley. The major attractions here are the double humped bacterian camels, sand dunes and hot springs. The contrasting landscape despite being a part of Ladakh makes Nubra valley a charming land.


Home to the wonderful Galo tribe, Basar in Arunachal Pradesh is my favourite land in north east India.  I had some of my most memorable days in Basar when I stayed with the locals, had meals with them, played with their kids, danced to the local music, listened to their stories and went on short trails with them. I even learnt a few words in Galo and they made sure that I was always a part of them. Galos are one of the friendliest people whom I have ever met during my travels. I would love to go back to Basar for its people and Poka, a local beer.


Mechuka’s landscape always reminds me of Scandinavian countries. Engulfed by mountains, the valley of Mechuka is a delight for every discerning traveller who would love to soak in the beauty of nature. The snow capped mountains in the back drop, the azure waters of Siyom river, horses grazing in open lands and pine forests make this valley a surreal one. What I love the most in Mechuka are its numerous hanging wooden bridges, which are an absolute delight to walk on.


While Maldives has over the years been known for its island resorts, the country has recently opened up a few islands for tourism. Maafushi is one such island which is brimming with serenity, and I strolled around the whole island to take in its exquisiteness. Though a small one, the island is self contained with school, medical care, mosque, cafes, restaurants and all other basic requirements. The sea here showcases multiple shades of blue and the world beneath the water offered  a mesmerising experience with colourful fishes, turtles and corals.  I just did not want to come out of its blue waters.


Florence is a city I fell in love with as I strolled through its cobbled streets. One of the prettiest cities in the whole of Europe, Florence took me back to the renaissance era with its red tile roofed buildings, numerous art works and magnificent churches with stunning work. This is the city where art and artists thrived during the renaissance era. The spectacular works are still on display and all I did was gaze at them as I languorously meandered through its alleys.

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