Pune is the cultural capital of Maharashtra where education, arts and crafts, and theatre are given due prominence. It has one of India’s oldest universities and numerous colleges, and of course the famous Osho ashram.
Pune’s old city area is peppered with narrow and winding roads but the newer areas are more open and spacious. Though mostly populated with a Marathi speaking community, Pune is slowly becoming a more cosmopolitan city.
What to see
Osho Ashram: Bhagwan Rajneesh’s famous Ashram is located at 17 Koregoan Park, a green and elite suburb of Pune. This site attracts thousands of visitors. The Ashram offers a variety of expensive courses on meditation. All that is required is filling out of an application form (with 2 passport photographs) and an on-the-spot HIV negative test and purchase of special tunics. Accommodation needs to be arranged outside the ashram. Casual visitors can view a 45 minute video presentation and take a tour (Rs. 60) at 10.00 am and 2.30 pm daily. Please book ahead. You can easily reach this place by auto-rickshaw. The nearby Nulla Park also called Osho Teerth, is a beautifully maintained garden, transformed from a swamp, open for public from 6 to 9 am and 7 to 10 pm.
Shaniwar Wada: Built in 1736, Shaniwar Wada was once the palace of the Peshwa rulers. This historic seven-storeyed palace was built by Bajirao Peshwa I. During his days, it became the seat of political power and achieved tremendous importance. To this date, Shaniwar Wada has been the city’s main landmark. Within easy reach from all parts of the city, Shaniwar Wada was mysteriously destroyed in a fire in 1827. Mysterious fires continued to raze down portions of Shaniwar Wada in the early 19th century, and the entire palace – barring its Mirror Hall was burnt in the fire that broke out for about a fortnight. What now remains of this once palatial Wada are only the plinths, the fortification walls with five gateways, and nine bastions that enclosed the whole complex, elaborate foundations of the original palace and the nagarkhana with its fine wooden pillars and lattice work. One enters the palace through sturdy doors designed to dissuade enemy attacks. This palace is located in the narrow winding old part of the city. The palace is open from 0800 hrs to 1830 hrs. This site is covered in the Pune city tour.
Shinde Chhatri: Architecturally amongst the best, just about a couple of kms from the Pune racecourse is the memorial of the great Maratha nobleman Mahadji Shinde. You can see the warrior’s painted silver likeness, swathed in a flame-coloured turban and elaborate shawl. At his feet are the original prayer vessels, used to propitiate the family deity each morning. A sign asks you not to open an umbrella within the Chhatri’s precincts, as it would be an insult to the warrior’s memory.
Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum: A must see, this quaint building houses a fascinating collection of Indian artifacts collected by the late Shree Dinkar Kelkar. The 36 sections of the museum are used to display a wealth of antiques, carved palace doors, pottery, 17th century miniatures, a priceless collection of nut crackers, lamps, musical items, hookah pipes, hair drying combs and other such items from the Mughal and Maratha period. This collection was donated to the government of Maharashtra by Shree Dinkar Kelkar and is only displayed by rotation – giving you another excuse to return to Pune. The museum is open from 0830 hrs to 1730 hrs daily. The museum is covered in the Pune city tour.
Pataleshwer Cave Temples: Hidden in the heart of the city in the Shivajinagar area is this 8th century rock-cut temple. Still in use, this temple, similar to the caves at Ellora, has been painstakingly hewn from a single rock and includes massive pillars, a Shiva shrine and a Nandi bull.
Tribal Museum: The Tribal Museum documents the cultures of Maharashtrian communities, particularly those from the Sahyadri and Gondawana regions. It is open weekdays from 10 am to 5 pm. The city tours do not halt at this site.
Gandhi National Memorial / Aga Khan Palace: The gracious buildings with salons and suites that you see standing amidst well laid out gardens is more that just a palace. It is a historical landmark. It was donated to India by the Aga Khan IV in 1969. During the 1942 Quit India Movement, Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned here. On the grounds are the remains (samadhi) of Kasturba Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi’s wife, who died here while in internment. The memorial is open from 0900 hrs to 1745 hrs. The city tour makes a stop here.
Vishrambaug Wada: This is a three-storeyed mansion, known for its beautiful entrance and balcony with carved woodwork typical of the Peshwa period. The 260 ft long and 815 ft broad Teen-Chowki Wada was built by the last Peshwa, Bajirao II as his residence at a cost of Rs. 2 lakhs. The Wada’s eye-catching wooden facade is memorizing in its beauty, and has beautiful columns carved in the Suru form. On October 31,1880 a surprise fire engulfed the Wada ravaging the entire structure. Vishranbaug Wada was restored to its somewhat original appearance by public subscriptions and municipal contributions. For many years till 1958 it was to serve as the offices of the Poona Corporation. Today it houses assorted offices: a strange fate for what was once a king’s abode.
Bund Garden: Bund Garden is located on the right bank of the Mula Mutha river, only a couple of kms north-east of Pune railway station. A stroll in the breeze and a cool evening boat ride in the back waters created by the ‘Bund’ on the river attracts many fun lovers.
Saras Baug: Evenings are best for a stroll through this beautiful garden that houses the famous Ganesh Temple on the top of a small hillock in the centre. The temple was formerly surrounded by a lake, which has been fully reclaimed in the form of an open park, now a popular public place in Pune.
Parvati Hill: This famous landmark is located on the southern end of the city. A climb of 108 wide stone steps rewards you with a beautiful round view of the city and an invigorating draught of cool, fresh air. It also takes you to the group of four temples of Shiva, Ganesh, Vishnu and Kartikeya. The Parvati Temple used to be the private shrine of the Peshwa rulers. Also take a look at the Parvati Museum, which houses replicas of ancient paintings, old manuscripts, weapons and coins.
Peshwe Udyan: A zoo maintained by the Pune Municipal Corporation. It houses a variety of species of wild animals. The zoo offers a toy-train ride – a very special attraction for children, and boating facilities for the family.
Katraj Snake Park: Started in 1986 with the help of the Pune Municipal Corporation, the Katraj Snake Park is situated on the Pune-Satara Highway near Bharati Vidyapeeth Campus. The straight road emanating from Swargate takes you to the desired destination. The park today has a collection of wonderful reptiles, birds, a baby leopard, crocodiles and others. The prize collection is of course the six-year-old, nine feet long King Cobra.
Pune University: Pune’ s oldest education institute is the Pune University formed in 1948. The university has many affiliated education institutes and colleges from all parts of Maharashtra – research institutes such as the National Chemical Laboratories, Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, National Institute of Virology (NIV) are just to name few. The IUCAA, one of the pioneering institutes for research in astronomy, is located in the lush green environment of Pune University, and is headed by a world renown mathematician, Dr Jayant Naralikar. Pune University is located on 400 acres of sprawling grounds with quiet roads and small open canteens towards the city limits. It was once the official residence of the Governor of Mumbai during the monsoons, the Pune University is now a stately mansion at Ganeshkhind. A large building in the Italian Gothic style, built with local grey tap rock, it has a square tower 40 m high and well-maintained lawns. One can spend a pleasent evening here.
Empress Gardens ;
Film and Television Institute of India;
Katraj Snake Park: (Timings: 1000 hrs to 1330 hrs.and 1500 hrs to l730 hrs(Closed on Wednesdays);
Parvati Hills and Temples;
MUSEUMS: Sharat ltihas Samshodhak Mandal; Lord Reay Maharashtra Industrial Museum.
Air: Pune is connected by air with Mumbai.
Rail: Pune is a railhead on the Central Railway and is connected with all major cities in India.
Road: Pune is connected by motorable roads with Aurangabad 226 Km, Bangalore 835 Km, Belgaum 341 Km, Bhopal 814 Km, Chiplun 244 Km, Ganapatipule 385 Km, Karwar 537 Km, Kolhapur 237 Km, Lonavala 64 Km, Mahabaleshwar 120 Km, Mumbai 170 Km, Nagpur 730 Km., Nanded 476 Km, Nashik 202 Km, Panaji 482 Km, Ratnagiri 399 Km, Shirdi 195 Km and Sholapur 242 Km.
Area: 146 Sq.Kms.
Altitude : 598 Mts. Temperature: Summer - Max: 40 Deg.C Min: 26 Deg.C Winter - Max: 29Deg.C Min: 19 Deg.C Rainfall: 70 Gms.
Season : Throughout the year. STD Code: 020.
Ashta-Vinayak: Eight places in Maharashtra, where ‘Swayambhu’ or self formed idols of Shree Ganesh are installed are popularly known as the Ashta Vinayak Temples. These are Moregoan (55 Km), Madh (80 Km), Pall (11 1 Km), Siddhatek (99 Km), Ozar (19 Km), Lenyadri (78 Km), Raniangaon (53 Km) & Theur (25Km).
Gliderdrome(13 Km): The Indian Gliding Association, imparts training in gliding.
Chinchwad (16 Km): Famous for the temples and samadhi of Moraya Gosavi.
National Defence Academy (17 Km): This institute at Khadakvasia, imparts basic training to officers of all the three wings of the Defence Services.
The Durgadevi Park/ Vaishnodevi Temple (20 Km): A replica of the Vaishnodevi temple at Katra in Jammu. In order to have Darshan, one has to crawl through a small cave.
Sinhagad Fort (24 Km): Formerly known as Kondana, this fort was one of the most impregnable forts in Western India.
Alandi (29 Km): A small village, hallowed by the samadhi of Shri Dnyaneshwar, “ author of Dnyaneshwari, the famous Marathi commentary on the Bhagwad Gita.
Uruli Kanchan (30 Km): Started by Mahatrna Gandhi in 1946, it is a famous nature cure centre for all types of diseases/ disorders.
Baneshwar (34 Km) : A picnic spot with a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Dehu (34 Km): The birth place of the famous saint poet Tukaram.
Jejuri (38 Km): Khandoba, the deity of Jejuri, is family deity of many Maharashtrian families. An annual fair is held here in the month of Margashirsha.
Purandhar (38 Km): This fort (1350 mts in height ) was once the capital of Chhatrapati Shivaji. The National Cadet Corps Academy is located in the fort.
Panshet Dam (45 Km): Between Panshet and Varangaon dam, the Panshet Dam offers a unique water sports holiday. Water sport facilities are available here by the MTDC.
Bhatgar Dam (50 Km) : Bhatgar has one of the highest dams in India, built on the river Velunadi. It was originally known as Lloyd Dam and is a holiday resort and picnic spot.
Karla (55 Km) : Known for its Buddhist rock cut caves.
Malhargad (20 kms from Pune to Dive, thereafter an hour’s walk) : Features of this fort include a profusion of wild flowers, the cenotaph of Malhar Rao Panse and two beautifully carved temples at the base village.
Lonavala - Khandala (64 Km) : Popular hill resorts.
Shivneri Fort ( 93 Km): Shivneri, the birthplace of Chhatrapati Shivaii, is an important as well as imposing historical fort. The Shivneri caves are Buddhist caves dating back to the 2nd or 3rd century.
Harishchandragad (125 Km) : The fort has a number of caves and a well built tank.
Panchgani (98 Km) : A popular hill resort.
Bbimashankar (111 Km): One of the five ‘Jyotirlingas’ in Maharashtra. The Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over an area of 130.78 sq km. Many migratory birds also use Bhimashankar as their winter home.
Ahmednagar (118 Km): Ahmednagar is the district headquarter. Places of interest here are Ahmednagar fort, Chand Bibi Mahal, and Farah Bagh.
Mahabaleshwar (120 Km): A popular hill resort.
Raigadh Fort(126 Km): This fort witnessed Shivaji’s coronation and his death. Places of interest in the fort include his Samadhi, the remains of his palace, Gangasagar Lake and the Jeeiamata Palace of Pachad.
Vasota (140 Km): This is a ‘Vanadurga’ or forest fort on the banks of the Koyna dam.
Harnai (178 Km): A seaside village with a lovely beach in Ratnagiri district. The Seafort Suvarnadurg here and the temple of Shree Ganesh at Anjarle, 3 km away are worth visiting.