Pune

Known as the cultural capital of Maharashtra, Pune is located at the convergence of two rivers, Mula and Mutha. Pune has retained its historic past despite embracing modernity.

Pune, derived from the word Punyanagari - or City of Virtue, is often referred to as the "Oxford of the East". Students from all over the world come here to study in its world class educational institutions. Institutions like the Armed Forces Medical College, Film and Television Institute of India, Symbiosis Educational Society and National Defence Academy have earned international fame in their respective fields.

The city is also an industrial hub and preferred location for software industries. The automotive sector is prominent in Pune and so is the engineering industry. Pune is also a cantonment town, and the headquarters of Indian Army’s southern command. Lohegaon is a prominent air base and Sukhoi fighter-aircrafts are stationed here.

The city is a charming mélange of the old and the new, traditional and contemporary. Pune is also famous for adventure activities like camping, rappelling, lake crossing, paragliding and jungle trekking.

Nearby hill stations and spots like Lonavala, Rajmachi, Mahableshwar, Panchgani, Kashid and Phansad are places where there are numerous opportunities for adventure sports.

Tips

  • For travel within the city and tourist sightseeing, air-conditioned Pune Darshan buses are available.
  • The buses run from 9 am to 5 pm and the fares are around Rs 140 for a deluxe bus and Rs 72 for an ordinary bus. You can book seats on the buses through the internet.

History

Pune’s annals date back to 1600 years. Pune has had a rich history with several illustrious dynasties ruling it, like the Rashtrakutas in the 8th century AD, Yadavas in the 9th century and the Mughals during medieval times and later the Marathas.

The Rashtrakuta kings had built a beautiful temple of Lord Shiva called Punyeshwar, but it got destroyed during the Mughal attack on city in the 13th century.

Maratha king Shivaji spent his childhood here. Peshwa Baji Rao I made it the capital of Maratha empire.

The British gained control of the city after the war of 1817 against the Marathas. They developed the city as their summer capital.

Pune has also been a witness and a strong participant in the freedom struggle of India. Some of the great reformers in the socio religious field were born or lived in Pune. Bal Gangadhar Tilak spent a long part of his life in the city.

Fun facts

  •  Pune is host to a Gliding Centre, run by Civil Aviation Department, Government of India. Being a government outfit, it is highly subsidized and you can have 10-minute joy rides for very reasonable rates. People are allowed to have joy rides on Sundays, except on national holidays and in monsoons. This center also trains aspiring pilots and gives them licence.
  •  Shankar Math is an old temple. Devotees offer cigarettes to the presiding deity along with other usual offerings.

Culture

Pune exhibits typical Maharashtrian lifestyle as well as modern lifestyle associated with a metro city. The spread of modern education and an influx of students from different countries and culture have provided the city with a progressive and contemporary outlook. Pune has become very similar to Mumbai in lifestyle, trends and education. The number of clubs, pubs and discotheques has grown considerably in the city in recent years. So there is exciting nightlife in the city with good food, foot tapping music and cocktails!

The people of this city take pride in being intellectuals and highly educated. So no wonder you will find a good number of bookshops throughout the city. The 'Appa Balwant Chowk' area is famous for various big and small book shops. Even though Hinduism is the dominant religion in Pune, there are many churches, mosques, Gurudwaras, Buddhist Viharas, Jain temples and other religious buildings.

Among the major festivals, the 10-day Ganesh Chaturthi celebrated since 1894 is the most important. The idea of a public celebration was initiated by Bal Gangadhar Tilak in Pune, and has since spread to many other cities. The whole city basks in music and festivities during this celebration.

When talking about temples, one has to mention the Dagdusheth Halwai Ganapati Temple dedicated to Lord Ganesh. The temple was built in 1893 and is popular due to its grand celebration of the Ganesh Chaurthi festival. Thousands of devotees visit the temple every year  during the festival. The main Ganesh idol, adorned with diamond and gold jewelry, is insured for a sum of Rs one crore!

For the past few decades, Pune has emerged as a great centre of yoga and allied activities.

Pune would be incomplete without mentioning the Osho Commune International. The famous Osho Ashram is an amazing, serene place for meditation and yoga. Visitors are allowed to tour the resort twice a day with prior permission. Visitors are shown a video of Osho’s speech for 30 minutes and then taken for a 10-minute silent walk. They let you see around and absorb whatever you can.

Shopping

Pune is a shopper’s paradise as it has trendy shopping malls to local bazaars.Laxmi Roadmarket would be an apt place for buying gold jewelry and clothes. Shops in Tulsi Baug area offer conventional Maharashtrian goods and spices. Over here you will find traditional Maharashtrian items, cosmetics, jewelry and all types of household items. A part of this market is dedicated to fresh vegetables, fruits and items for Pooja.

The Juna Bazaar near Pune Railway Station is a bazaar held every Wednesday and Sunday on the streets. It is sort of a flea market where you can get a variety of interesting items for reasonable rates. Rare coins, gramophone records and home décor items are some of the things which can be bought at the market. And of course, at the up-market MG Road and shopping malls, you will find the trendiest of clothes and best brands.

Where to stay

Pune is a busy city with a lot of business opportunities. There are several hotels to suit every budget. You will get budget hotels to luxury hotels.

Minimum rent at a decent hotel would cost anywhere between Rs 1,200 to Rs 2,000. Air conditioning is necessary during summers. The luxury hotels in Pune are among the best in India. As Pune is also an emerging industrial city, businessmen often frequent the city. At these high-end, 5-star hotels you will get rooms with unlimited internet access, round the clock bar, breakfast and other perks.

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Where to eat

Whether you are a foodie or not, you won’t be disappointed in Pune as the city offers a wide range of options. Numerous bistros and eating joints are available. You will find everything from local Maharashtrian street food like vada pav, misal pav, bhelpuri and bhajjis to the more sophisticated sit down restaurants.

A typical Pune meal would consist of Bhakri-pitla (millet pancake served with flour-based curry), pickles and vegetables. Special foods like Soonth Panak, Puran Poli, Coconut Potali, Karanji and Chakli are the favourite of the Maharashtrians during festivals and family occasions. Mastani, a thick milkshake with dry fruits, and Modak are a specialty of the city.

Best time to visit

Pune experiences both hot and cold climates. The place has a tropical wet and dry climate with average temperatures ranging from 20 degrees centigrade to 28 degrees centigrade. Best time to visit Pune would be from September to February.

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