Pune, pronounced as poo-nay, is one of the cosmopolitan city in the state of Maharashtra. Pune is the second most important city in Maharashtra after Mumbai. Mumbai is called the financial capital of India whereas Pune is called the cultural capital of Maharashtra. Pune is an emerging IT hub and a renowned educational center and that is why it is called as oxford of east.
In ancient times, Pune was the land of Peshwas and Marathas who ruled about one-third of India. The culture is cosmopolitan and at the same time, it enjoys some traditional culture too. For those interested in history and architecture, Pune offers a mix of the modern interlaced with the old! You’ll see an old fort in the heart of the city and glass architecturally modern buildings all in the same city.
Today, Pune is a city with large population of students and young professionals (both Indian and foreigner). For those coming to Pune on a short visit, following are the top 10 things to do in Pune:
1. Stroll down Koregaon Park and Osho Ashram
The most happening area in Pune city is Koregaon Park, popularly known and referred as KP. Most of the people in this region are of foreign origin. The most popular attraction for these foreign nationals here in KP is the Osho Commune International or Osho Ashram as it is famously known. Rajneesh Chandra Mohan Jain (called Osho) founded the ashram. It is a resort for Meditation and Yoga based on the ideologies and teachings of Osho and his techniques that offer the practice of meditation to get rid of stress and strain of worldly life.
2. Explore and Shop MG Road / Camp
If your a shopper by heart, there is nothing you won’t or cannot find here if you just have an eye for it! Pune with its blend of Indian and Western cultures and with branded goods to the exquisite handicrafts it’s a paradise for all shoppers, catering to each and every individual. M.G.Road (Mahatma Gandhi Road), popularly known as Camp or Main Street serves not only as a shoppers haven but also as a perfect place to window shop! The most recent attraction is the walking plaza on weekends where by the road is closed of to vehicles and turns into a fair of sorts with food stalls, entertainment and of course shopping!
3. A Visit to Shaniwarwada
To see a part of history you don’t have to travel far from the city. The Shaniwar Wada Palace Fort of the Maratha Dynasty lies in the heart of Pune city. It covers six and a quarter acres in central Pune. It was constructed in 1732 as the seat of the Peshwa (prime ministers of the Maratha Empire), and remained the political capital of the Empire until its annihilation. While the Palace was destroyed in a big fire in 1827, the mammoth structure of the walls survived the fire. Shaniwar Wada is a real specimen of Maratha culture and the architectural design shows the influence of Mughal style and the feature of Maratha artistic styles. The 21 feet tall massive door of the palace known as Delhi Darwaza is one of the remains of the grand old Palace. Public can visit the palace everyday between 8 am to 6.30 pm.
4. Buy Osho chappals from Osho Street
As a souvenir pick up a pair of ‘Osho Chappal (slippers)’ a mat based flip-flop with velvet straps in multiple colors …which were originally sold outside the Osho ashram giving them it’s name, and they soon became one of the biggest fashion fads and must have’s for Indian youth. They are colorful, versatile, very comfortable and at just Rs. 50 (i.e approx $1) they’re a steal for even just home use!
5. Getaway to one of the three lakes around Pune
Since Pune stands on the leeward side of the Western Ghats in the Sahyadri mountain range, it is a catchment area resulting in 3 beautiful fresh-water lakes around the city. The closest lake to the city is Khadakwasla lake situated about 20 km from Pune. Khadakwasla is a small calm and quiet place and the lake has a Dam built across it, which is the main source of water for the whole city. The National Defense Academy is located to the NW of the dam, and has the whole western shore for boating and sailing-related training. About 50 km southwest of the city further from Khadakwasla is the Panshet Lake and Dam. Lush green hills streaked with numerous waterfalls surround this lake making it a great picnic spot. The Mulshi Lake, formed by the catchment area of the Mulshi Dam, is another sought after picnic destination around Pune. Situated 55 km west of Pune the lake has a scenic surrounding of unexploited Sahyadri hilly terrains and luscious green dense forests. The forest cover and the lake are habitats for different bird flora and many varieties colored birds can be spotted here.
6. A visit to nearby Hill stations Lonavala and Khandala
Lonavala and Khandala are the nearest hill stations and are the favorite monsoon picnic spots. Located at a height of 620m above sea level, Lonavala is also a great honeymoon destinations as well as a perfect weekend getaway (especially in Monsoon) for Puneits and Mumbaikars. You can reach to this place by train (local train) of taxi. Local trains from Pune will take about 1 and a half hour whereas taxi would reach here in 1 hr approximately.
7. A visit to beaches around Pune
The coastal climate of Maharashtra makes travelling agreeable all round the year. If you’ve got an inclination for sand and sea, these destinations will prove to be an exciting option. Discover the real Maharashtra at the same time as you soak up the sun on quiet sands or explore captivating sights. Kashid Beach, Alibaug, Murud, Dapoli, Diveghar are just to mention a few.
8. A visit to caves around Pune
Another main thing that you should do in Pune is visit any of the nearby caves. The nearest is the Karla and Bhaja caves, which is just 40 kms away from Pune city. The Karla and Bhaja are Buddhist caves that in-houses fine sculpture carved on walls and ceilings. These caves are about 2000 years old. Karla caves are 4 kms North towards from Malavli station and Bhaja caves are 2 kms south from Malavali station.
9. Katraj Snake Farm
Here you can get a chance to hold a snake in your hand or roll it around your neck and get a picture clicked. There are about 160 spices of snakes found here. Inside the park premise you’ll find a zoo that in houses various varieties of birds and other reptiles. Today, it is one of the most frequented tourist place in Pune.
10. Trek upto Sinhagad Fort
One of the prime getaways from Pune are the hills and the forts around it. The most popular fort is that of Shivaji’s called Sinhagad (which literally translates to Lions Fort) about 25 kilometers South of Pune perched on a steep hill at a height 700m of it’s surrounding. The lovely drive via the Khadakwasla Lake & Dam makes it a much adored and a desired picnic getaway spot.
The actual 17th century fort has mostly fallen to ruin but parts of it still remain and with the view it offers is worth a trip to the top. The monsoon season is the beat time to visit the fort, though it’s almost always cloudy and rainy up there then, the greenery and breath-taking view of the valley is unmatched. Buses are available to the top as are rented jeeps, but bikes or a car are the best way of getting there. Although the road isn’t that great getting up there with it’s 10 kms of curves and climbs it does have some breathtaking views along the way and is worth when your reach the top. For the more adventurous kind there is a trekking path you can take from the base of the mountain right up to the base of the fort where the parking lot is situated. Make sure to try out some of the local fare served up by the small make-shift stalls set up in the parking lot and around the fort. The bhaji’s and dahi wati (yogurt in an earthen ware pot) at the top are a crowd favorites. Also, recommended that you try out the pithla-bhakri and the rustic chicken curry. Sundays here are busy with picnic groups, trekkers and tourists so make sure to get there early to beat the crowd.