Tuesday, June 24, 2008



The whole of Chicago itself is big a tourist attraction, with the downtown, lakeside road, parks, museums, shopping malls, temples, etc.

Downtown is very beautiful and lively with huge buildings, rivers and Lake Michigan. Reaching there through train is advised to avoid difficulty in parking your car. Free trolleys with frequent intervals are available in Downtown connecting all places. In addition to this regular bus services, water taxis are also available which are affordable.

Water Taxi

Not windowshield -- two fountains -- scene from water taxi

In Downtown, Sears Building is the tallest building. Hancock is the second tallest building. You can reach top of these buildings through elevator (ticketed) and view the surroundings. From the observation deck of Sears’s towers you can see the whole of Chicago’s concrete jungle and from Hancock tower you find a variety of water, greenery and of course the concrete jungle of Chicago. Due to long waiting lines, we missed these views.

Architectural tours in big boats are available which cost about $60 per head for a one-and-half hour trip around Chicago’s famous buildings.

Navy Pier, located on the lake side of the Downtown is a big tourist attraction with people hanging out at the pier and also in a couple of museums along the way. Boat rides are available into the Michigan Lake and one can also take water taxis from here to different places. Other attractions at Navy Pier include a children’s museum, funhouse maze, stained glass window museum, Pier Park, etc.

Funny Images in mirror exhibited at Navy Pier
Stained glass window

Sunday - Thursday: 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Summer (Friday before Memorial Day - Labor Day)
Sunday - Thursday: 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 midnight

Fall (Tuesday following Labor Day through October)
Sunday - Thursday: 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Winter (November 1 - March 31)
Monday -Thursday: 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Sunday: 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Spring (April 1 - The Thursday before Memorial Day)
Sunday - Thursday: 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Closed on Thanksgiving Day and December 25

Visit www.navypier.com for further information.

Millennium Park:

A must visit place on the Michigan avenue is the Millennium Park, where you can spend a whole evening. This park originally used to be a parking lot for a railroad. To preserve the railroad a park was developed around it and originally named Grant Park. The increased development of Chicago called for a need of a place to arrange musical shows and Grant Park was chosen and developed even further sidelining the railroad history to far corner, thus, giving birth to Millennium Park and was open to public in 2004. The most prominent feature of this park is a huge and highly sophisticated open air auditorium “Jay Pritzker Pavilion” for open air concerts. Another prominent feature in this park is the “Cloud Gate”, a 110 ton elliptical structure made up of seamless highly polished stainless steel plates, which gives you a very beautiful view of the Chicago skyline and also you can see yourself in a number of shapes once you stand under it. This park is open free for public from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm all the seven days of a week.

Jay Pritzker Pavilion -- Open Air Auditorium

Cloud Gate

Visit www.millenniumpark.org for further information.

You can spend all the time at your disposal in the above places.


BAPS Sri Swaminarayan Mandir, Aurora, Chicago:

BAPS is an internationally renowned socio-spiritual organization involved in humanitarian activities through a world-wide network of 9,090 centres, 550 temples and 55,000 volunteers. This traditional Hindu Mandir is a masterpiece of exotic design and workmanship. Over 7000 tons of Italian Carerra marble and Turkiosh limestone were hand-carved by skilled craftsmen in India and assembled in just 16 months. Ancient Indian arts, tradition and philosophy have been encompassed in this house of worship.

There is a video show illustrating how this grand monument was created and its purpose. The vibrant panels lead you through a journey of discovery in the origins, science and beliefs of Hinduism.

Bhagwan Swaminarayan (original name Nilkanth) renounced his home at the age of 11, toured 8000 miles barefoot across the length and breadth of India. You can offer your prayers at Nilkanthvarni.

This Mandir is open to all visitors without any entry fee with the following restrictions:

Dress code: Neat casual attire. No sleeveless tops. No shorts. No skirts shorter than knee length.

Video & Photography, Cell Phones: Sorry, in the Mandir not allowed. From ground level outside the Mandir and Haveli – as you wish.

Smoking or tobacco products of any kind are not allowed on the premises.

Food and drink are also not allowed on the premises. But there is canteen and sweet stall with Gujarathi varieties.

Other facilities include elevator, wheelchair access and guided tours.

Visiting Hours 9.00 am to 7.00 pm

Viewing sacred deities: 9.00 am to 10.15 am

11.15 am to 12.00 pm

4.00 pm to 6.15 pm

7.00 to 7.45 pm

Allow at least 90 minutes for an enjoyable visit (of course excluding canteen and photo session)

For further information please contact:

BAPS – Shri Swaminarayan Mandir – Chicago

4N739 IL Route 59, Bartlett, IL 60103

Phone 630.213.BAPS, Fax 630.213.2088


Balaji Temple, Aurora, Chicago:

You can worship the deities Sri Venkateswara Swami, Lakshmi, Andal, Siva, Parvathi, Ganesh, Kumara Swami with Valli, Devasena etc. and also meet a number of Telugu, Tamil speaking people here. Don’t miss vada, pongal in the canteen. Photography not allowed inside the temple premises. Check for the timings online before you go as they may change seasonally. Also, check for important events at the temple premises.

Temple hours 9:00AM to 9:00PM


1145 W. Sullivan Rd., Aurora, IL-60506, Phone: 630 844 2252

Devon Avenue:

In this street, you can find all varieties of Indian and Pakistani stores. One of these popular stores we visited is the Patel bros. groceries shop. Patel Brothers has a very big groceries shop in which you can get all the Indian varieties you name, including ripe mangos, required by any Indian, to whichever State of India one may belong. You will find ganna ras (sugarcane juice), tender coconuts; just outside the shop. A very convenient facility provided by them is that you can take the shop’s cart loading all the items purchased by you up to your car (you park your car a long way away from this shop due to thousands of visitors), by depositing $5 which will be returned back to you immediately after you returned the cart by a person standing outside the shop for this purpose only. So, you need not carry the load of your entire groceries up to your car. Very convenient , isn’t it? Shops on this street are closed by 8:30 in the night.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Places visited -- United Stated of America

Places visited in US and India

Planning a trip to the US, but are not sure where to go? Are you on a tight schedule and only have time for few places? We were in the same dilemma when we first visited US during May and June 2008. The main purpose of this blog is to bring to you some important worth visiting places in the US which we visited, to help you plan a trip with no hassles.

See and enjoy. Brochures that are available free of cost at various hotels and rest areas will help you in providing more details.

This blog will be updated from time to time.

Dont forget to post your comments.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Places visited in US -- New York

New York

Several high rise like ones in the pics above and below occupy the NY skyline

Lincoln Tunnel to NYC

Times Square

Times Square is a visual treat in the night

Statue of Liberty:

A 20 minutes ferry trip from Battery Park will take you to Statue of Liberty, America’s National Monument, located on Liberty Island. Timings for the ferry are 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. You can board the ferry from LIBERTY State Park in New Jersey if it is convenient for you. Time for catching a ferry will take more than 30 minutes after purchasing the ticket for $12 (for round trip including Ellis Island) depending on the crowd. Remember that for climbing the Statue atleast one week’s advance reservation (online also) is necessary. Otherwise enjoy in the island, have some good food, take some snaps and return when you want. In your return trip get down at Ellis Island without any extra cost for watching the museum and catch another boat for return with the same ticket. The battery park was the immigration center for people entering USA from sea and later was shifted to Ellis Island, but now, since, everyone travels through air, this place in non-functional.

Ferry to the Liberty and Ellis Islands

Madam Tussaud's wax museum:

You will be taken to ninth floor from the third floor in an elevator from where you have to climb down all the steps to go out but you will not notice that as you will be busy in appreciating and taking photographs with the life size wax replicas of celebrities, most of the times mistaking that they are original persons.

Ripley's - Believe it or not:

Worth seeing museum with a number of unbelievable exhibits with facts.

Both these museums are situated side by side but you have to spend minimum two hours time at each museum. Photography is permitted in these two museums.

He used to be the heaviest man on Earth

Completely made up of Camel Bones

made with Stamps

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Places visited in US -- Port Huron, Michigan

Port Huron, the blue water area, Michigan:

The blue waters of Lake Huron invite you and do plan to visit the following museums too:

Thomas Edison Depot Museum

Huron Lightship Museum

Coast Guard Cutter Bramble Museum

And the Main Museum.

All these museums are open 7 days Memorial Day to Labor Day – 11.00 am to 5.00 pm—Thursday through Monday the rest of the year.

Ticket to each museum if $7 . Passport to all museums is $ 15 and there are concessions for seniors (55+ any national) and students.

For more information

Telephone (810) 982-0891

Here’s a brief description of the various museums collected from various brochures, for your information

Thomas Edison Depot Museum

This place is the boyhood home of world-renowned inventor Thomas Alva Edison, who conducted his first electrical and scientific experiments here. Visitors can learn about Edison’s life and inventions in a variety of ways such as

Hands-on interactive displays

Intimate theater experience

Live science presentations

Artifacts from the site of his boyhood home—including glass bottles from his first laboratory and lead type from his printing press

An authentic rail car with a recreation of Edison’s mobile printing shop and chemistry laboratory.

You can spend half an hour to a day here according to your leisure and interest in this world of Thomas Edison. Some pictures for you

Huron Lightship Museum

· Located in Pine Grove Park this is a testament to how navigational aids are crucial components to sailing the Great Lakes

· This was buit in 1920 by the Consolidated Shipbuilding Company in New York

· This 50 year veteran of lake duty which retired from active service in 1970 was the last lightship on the Great Lakes

· Serving as floating lighthouses, lightships were anchored in areas where it was too deep, expensive, or impractical to construct a lighthouse. Thus she guided mariners into the narrow dredged channel of lower Lake Huron leading to the St. Clair River for 36 years from 1935. They displayed a light at the top of a mast and also sounded a fog signal and broadcasted a radio beacon when needed.

· Acquired by mandate of area residents and enshrined at Pine Grove Part in 1972 as a tribute to her vigilance and in fond memory of a by-gone area

· Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989

Take the help of a guide available in the ship (free of cost ofcourse) who will explain all details with great interest – will take 30 to 40 minutes

Coast Guard Cutter Bramble Museum

The United States Coast Guard decommissioned the Bramble in 2003 to be used as a museum – giving visitors the chance to see where her crew had lived and worked during her many missions. Commissioned in 1944 the Bramble holds a unique place in maritime history…

· Participated in ‘operation crossroads’ at Bikini Island – the first test of an atomic bomb’s effect on surface ships

· Found the legendary Northwest Passage—an ambition mariners has for more than 400 years. 1957, she travelled with two other cutters for 64 days and 4500 miles of partially uncharted waters through the Artic Circle to be the first vessels to circumnavigate the North American Continent.

· In 1962 the Bramble transferred to Detroit to perform missions of search and rescue,, icebreaking, law enforcement and aids to navigation throughout the Great Lakes

· In 1975 she reported to Port Huron.

Main Museum

This building was constructed and given to the city in 1904 by steel mangnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The museum began occupying the building in 1967. This museum is now home for more than 15,000 objects and archival items relating to the history and culture of the Blue Water Area.

Blue Water Bridges

Outside Thomas Edison Depot Museum the expanses of the Blue Water Bridges is awesome. Two bridges span the St. Clair River, the first opening in 1938 and the second opening in 1997. The sections run parallel and span more than 6,100 feet to connect Port Huron with Sarnia, Ontario. In addition, they provide ample space for ships to pass underneath – accommodating ships heading from Lake Huron to the St Clair River. The bridges remain a key component to the area’s business success.

International Flag Plaza

Just North of the Blue Water Bridges, visitors can see U.S. and Canadian flags fluttering in the wind. This International Flag Plaza is a tribute to all the emergency personnel who respond to 9-1-1 calls in the United States and Canada. The plaza has been created solely by donations. Inscribed bricks show the names of fellow responders and citizens who have helped ceate the patio, which marks the end of the freshwater walkway.

Blue Water Trolley

For a guided, riding tour Port Huron, board the Blue Water Trolley. For 10 cents each passengers will enjoy a one hour tour around the city. The trolley makes 13 stops for passengers to come and go. Its route travels the entire length of the Port Huron’s waterfront throughout the summer.