Queen of the Deccan” or ,” Oxford of the East” by whatever name you call it-the cultural capital of Maharashtra, Pune is a city with a future that promises to be as interesting as its history. . Long-standing bastion of the Maratha empire and home to the legendary Raja Shivaji, the Pune district is marked by magnificent land and forts, testimony to its glorious past. Today, Pune is the centre of traditional Marathi culture, in which education, arts and crafts, and theatre are given pride of place. It has one of India’s oldest universities and its numerous colleges attract students from both India and abroad. Pune is slowly becoming a cosmopolitan city and is now an important commercial centre. 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!
For those coming to Pune on a short visit, here is a list of the must –to-do things in the city:
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.
Explore and Shop MG Road / Camp:
If you’re 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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
Well apart from the traditional realms of art , culture and history that the city has to offer, here are a list of some identical, distinctive and offbeat thing you can try experiencing, while on a trip to the city of Pune:
Often been criticized for its provocative dance moves, but Lavani, is back in fashion with the elevated status of a folk dance form. It’s making a re-appearance on the silver screen, at cultural festivals and at state-organised shows. With Lavani shedding its negative image, young enthusiasts are taking to this sensuous dance form in a big way. To experience Lavani first hand, catch the performance at the Pune Festival, which usually takes place between August and September; or join a Lavani class to learn the moves and expressions.
Get booked@Manney’s book store:
Indulge the bookworm in you at Manney’s, the 63-year-old book store which stocks a collection of rare and old books. It started with a small selection of books on military and English literature, but later expanded its collection. Manney’s has encouraged generations of Puneites to take to reading.
All titles in the store have been handpicked by Manik V Mani, owner of the store. It’s one of the few places where you can find copies of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and the complete Ayn Rand collection.
Come here to enjoy Songwriters Wednesdays, where artistes, both established and amateur, perform their own compositions. Originally meant to be a platform for young talent in the city, they’ve recently hosted popular names like Midival Punditz and the rock band Agnee.
On most days, you are likely to find local bands like Empty Cafe, Sattva, Rachit and the Crew or budding artists such as Tejas Menon and Danesh Munshi. There’s no fixed theme; artistes play anything from rock to underground Hindi and Urdu music. Experimental music accompanied with exotic cocktails makes this an excellent option for mid-week partying.