The second largest city in the state of Maharashtra, Pune, located 118 km from Mumbai at the convergence of two rivers (Mula and Mutha), is known as the cultural capital of the state. Retaining its historic past despite embracing modernity post the 1990′s, the city is often referred to as the Oxford of the East with students flocking here from all parts of the world to enroll in its brilliant 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.
A charming mix of old and new, traditional and contemporary, there are several tourist attractions around the city. The Aga Khan Palace with Italian arches, salons, suites and spacious lawns is a historical landmark. Full of tranquility and solace, the palace has several black and white photos and paintings and a photographic exhibition of various epochs in the freedom movement that should not be missed.
The Shivneri Fort is another tourist attraction in the city. The birthplace of the Maratha King Chattrapati Shivaji, the fort was one of great importance during the Maratha rule. At an elevation of 2260 ft, the fort resembles the shape of a Shiva-Pind (Divine Phallus). With seven doors, Maha Darwaza, Parvangicha Darwaza, Hatti Darwaza, Peer Darwaza, Shipai Darwaza, Phatak Darwaza and Kulambkat Darwaza, the strong walls of the fort ensured that Shivneri was protected. The top of the building offers scenic views of the landscape around it.
While there are several other monuments and museums in the city, another major tourist attraction in the city is the Osho International Meditation Ashram. With several followers from all over the world, Osho (Indian mystic guru and spiritual teacher named Chandra Mohan Jain) started an institution in Mumbai which later shifted to Pune since the humid Mumbai weather caused his health to take a turn for the worse. The Ashram today sees lakhs of people who come to meditate and listen to the words of this great spiritual teacher.
Famous for adventure activities like camping, rappelling, lake crossing, paragliding and jungle trekking, Pune sees many adventure junkies flocking the city at all times. The Paragliding School and Flying club that functions from October to June barring the monsoon season, is located merely an hours drive from Pune. The Gliding Center in Pune allows you to experience the flight of a birs and gives you an aerial view of Pune at the nominal cost of Rs. 187. With horse riding and bird watching being the icing on the cake, Pune is the place to be for all those looking for an adrenaline rush.
Festivals in the city are celebrated with great fervour with the Ganesh Mahotsav and the Pune Festival being the hightlights. During Ganesh Mahotsav the city remains completely blocked for over 10 days with more than 2000 Ganesh mandals all over the city. The Nh7 Music Festival that sees musicians from all over the world visit the city to perform live for thousands of adoring fans is the newest addition to the cities many festivals.
While in Pune, make sure to pick up Chiwda (Mixture) from the famous Laxminarayan Best Chiwda. The rice flakes chiwda, cornflakes chiwda, potata chiwda, chitales’s Bakarwadi and mango barfi that are made here are the talk of the town.
Nearby hill stations and spots like Lonavala, Rajmachi, Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani, Kashid and Phansad are places where there are numerous opportunities for adventure sports as well.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN PUNE
While you will need an air conditioned room during summers, Pune has hotels that will suit every budget. The luxury hotels in Pune are among the best in India offering unlimited internet access, round the clock bars, breakfast and other perks. Minimum rent at a decent hotel would cost anywhere between Rs 1,200 to Rs 2,000.
BEST PLACES TO EAT IN PUNE
From local Maharashtrian street food like Vada Pav, Misal Pav, Bhel puri and Bhajjis to the most sophisticated continental food, Pune city has it all on offer. However, while in Pune make sure to try a typical Pune meal that consists 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 favourites of Maharashtrians during festivals and family occasions. Mastani, a thick milkshake with dry fruits, and Modak are a speciality of the city.
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Pune is as given below. The best time to visit Pune is also specified.