Torrey Pines State Reserve: Diverse Trails & Panoramic View

While visiting San Diego we came across Torrey Pines State Reserve, a 15 miles drive from the city, it’s a 2000 acres state park running across the coast.

Offering spectacular beach, cliffs, flora & fauna, trails in abundance & rare torrey pines, this place is a bliss for nature lovers. It has been listed under National Natural Landmark and California State Parks for preserving “Torrey Pines” an endangered species of pines.

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Why to visit Torrey Pines State Reserve:

Hiking Trails :  Having 8 trails including Broken Hill Trail, Beach Trail, High Point Trail & many more this reserve attracts hikers throughout the year. Beach Trail, Guy Fleming & Razor Point Trail are considered as most famous among visitors. The Beach Trail, 3/4 miles stepped stretch takes you to the Torrey Pine State Beach.

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Beach Trail

Glider Port: Apart from hiking, this place also welcomes gliding enthusiasts for paragliding, tandem gliding and hang gliding. Perfectly positioned on the cliff above Black Beach, it’s an ideal way to get stunning view of the ocean, state reserve and La Jolla.

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Captivating Rock Formation: The most striking feature at reserve are the rock formations. This natural habitat is mostly rocky and has sedimentary rocks all over, mainly prone to erosion. That’s why fascinating formations have build along the trails over the vast expanse of time.

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Photographer’s Paradise: Even without an adventurous spirit, still you can enjoy the picturesque landscape or stroll around the park. One can spent a whole day either on the beach or sitting on the cliffs overlooking ocean.

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Travel Tips:

  1. Easiest way to reach Torrey Pine is by car.
  2. Being a natural reserve, food and drinks are not allowed except on the beach.
  3. Wear comfortable shoes for trekking, as trails are steep at points.
  4. Reserve remains open from 7:15 AM to sunset, all around the year.

7 Reasons To Visit Navy Pier In Chicago

Just a few weeks after landing in Chicago, we made our maiden visit to Navy Pier. This 3300 foot long Pier on shoreline of Lake Michigan left us fascinated. A place which attracts all walks of life equally, with uncountable reasons. After our first visit we had a lot many reasons to get back here, to quench our quest and explore it fully. Here are the things, which make Navy Pier so special:

Historical SignificanceLooking at today’s Pier, it really feels surprising how it has evolved from being just a Commercial Pier, to a Naval Training center, then a College Classroom and finally as we see it today a place for entertainment and public gathering. IMG_1816

InfrastructureNavy Pier currently has sections starting from a Park at entrance followed by Children Museum, IMAX theater(Chicago’s largest movie screen)shops and Ball room. In middle there are rides, Miniature Golf Course on upper floor, restaurants at lower level and festival hall at the end.IMG_3526

Rides– Pier Park has most popular rides as Ferris wheel (under renovation to increase its height from 150 to 196 feet), Musical Carousel, Light Tower Ride & Wave Swinger. 

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New Ferris Wheel

 

Ferris WheelVisiting Navy Pier and not opting for Ferris Wheel, one should not dare to do that. It should be on your bucket list while visiting Chicago. Take a 7 minute ride on Ferris for panoramic view of Chicago Skyscrapers & Lake Michigan, in the midst of winds just for $6.

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View from Ferris Wheel

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Water Tours & Cruise Another way to catch the sight of Windy City, opt for Water Taxi from Navy Pier to Shedd Aquarium and Union Station or Architectural Tour to get acquainted with the City of Chicago.

Go for any of the following:

  • Sightseeing cruises – Seadog Cruises, Shoreline Sightseeing and Tall windy ship,
  • Diner cruises – Odyssey, Spirit of Chicago and Mystic Blue.
  • Private yacht.
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Shoreline Sightseeing
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Tall Windy Ship

Live Music After rides, shopping & strolling around the pier, be entertained by the live bands (absolutely free) at Landshark Beer Garden along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Grab a beer,have a good time dancing with people around you or gazing blue water with the breeze at lake shore. IMG_1812n

Fireworks– Right through the Memorial Day to Labor Day, Navy Pier gets dazzled around every Wednesday and Saturday with fireworks. But the charismatic view comes across on 4th of July and New Year Holiday when the fireworks dance on music tunes. All looks stunning from Pier but the view from boat is out of this world.o (6)

Travel tips 

  1. Plan your visit to Chicago around 4th July, New Year’s Eve to get spellbound by festive fireworks, free of cost.
  2. Get boarded to Shoreline water taxi(Green Route) which cost around $8 to Shedd Aquarium for most striking view of Chicago Skyline.
  3. Full day parking costs $21 on weekdays and $25 over weekend including Friday
  4. On a budget try to eat at Food Court,if not there are many famous restaurants.
  5. Make a visit in summer for the pleasant weather.

 

 

P.S- The pictures in the post are our own except the fireworks one.

Junagarh Fort- Grandeur of Bikaner

As 2015 is bidding adieu, reminding us our first road trip of the year in January. Its going to be an year since we visited Junagarh Fort Bikaner, an unplanned detour while we were on our way back to Delhi from Chandigarh after New year celebration with family. We did all bookings on the go and fortunately got a good deal via Makemytrip.

Junagarh Fort means the old fort, so called after the Royal family moved their residence to Lalgarh Palace. The fort standing since 1594, is a significance of Royal culture and marvelous architecture. This fort was originally build by Raja Rai Singh Ji and at that point it was called Chintamani, build between 1589 to 1593. There have been lots of additions over centuries under reign of many kings, which has resulted in many palaces, museums, temples and gardens.IMG_1515

At entrance Sati Handprints can be seen which are of the women who offered themselves to fire after their husbands died saving the fort.IMG_1510

The beautiful doors in the fort are build out of walnut wood from Kashmir with astonishing carvings. Also can be seen the big silver door weighing 65Kg, while entering towards courtyard after Karan Mahal.


KARAN MAHAL (Public Audience Hall) was planned in reign of Maharaja Karani Singhji and constructed under Maharaja Anup Singhji in memory of his father. A finest example of Mughal style architecture and extensive use of white marble.

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PHOOL MAHAL This is the oldest part of the fort constructed under Raja Rai Singhji. The decorations and artwork in this part is mostly inspired by the Jahangirian period.

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ANUP MAHAL (Private Council) Build by Maharaja Anup Singh this hall has a throne in the middle, which was used by Maharaja to meet high officials and foreign visitors. When we look around the throne it has golden work all over with mirrors beautifully engraved, elevated by splendid use of colors like green, violet purple. One look at this place keeps you spellbound for a while. This hall played the same role as Diwan-I-Khas in Mughal Forts.IMG_1552.JPG

BADAL MAHAL As per its name this hall explains importance of rain in this dried arid land. On roof there are blue and white clouds depicting rainy time.

GAJ MANDIR Build by Maharaja Gaj Singhji along with his two favorite queens, this hall has all lavishness, architectural and decorative arts of its time. Looking at the detailing of floral artwork and use of marble, this is more of a fairy world in itself.

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DUNGAR NIWAS Maharaja Dungar Singhji, who is better known as modernizer of Bikaner built this hall. This hall as others has many architectural exquisite and artwork details, but what put this on a different level is the Lift…Yes! In 1886 he imparted electricity to Bikaner city.

DURBAR HALL also known as Ganga Durbar Hall was build by Maharaja Ganga Singh. It has beautiful pink walls and on side displays are weapons and protective clothes of war times. The heirloom (sandalwood throne) seen in Darbar hall is said to be one which was brought to Bikaner by Rao Bikaji, being elder son from Jodhpur (Mehrangarh fort) after his father Rao Jodha ji died.

Vikram Villas The only one not after any dynastical ruler, this is named after King Vikramaditya, known for his justice. This one house mainly war souvenirs, palkis, awards, throne and a plane in middle: WWI De Havilland DH-9 biplane bomber.

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Shiv Temple

We consider this our best trip till date, as we didn’t had a lot in our list, but what we got was the best scenic drives between Chandigarh to Bikaner and then Bikaner to Delhi.

Travel Tips:

  • Junagarh Fort Timings: 10: 00 AM to 4:30 PM .
  • Free public guide to get more familiar with the fort and its history.
  • Must visit Kote Gate, it’s over crowded whole day but very popular for shopping Rajasthani art and craft material.
  • Prefer local transport in main Bikaner city, driving is not advisable for outsiders due to heavy rush.
  • Must try  Kachoris and Ghewar at “Chotu Motu Joshi Sweet Shop”, Station Rd. 
  • Bhujia from “Bhikaram Chandmal Bhujiamal”, Kote Gate, Bikaner, Rajasthan.