Features > General > Pune City: Vibrant and Historical India


Pune City: Vibrant and Historical India



Pune City at Night - Photo by Flickr's cell105

Pune City at Night - Photo by Flickr's cell105

From the famous Deccan-Queen train to the beautiful valleys of Khandala, from being a home to famous Indian literary figures to many forts surrounding it- the mention of this city will bring a variety of images to the minds of Indians. Situated on the confluence of the two rivers Mulaa and Muthaa, this city forms a major part of all the academic history textbooks. This is the second most important city in the state, after Mumbai.

Also well known for its University and high standards of education, Pune attracts students from all over the world. This city has truly earned its fame as the Oxford of the East. Pune – better known as ˜The Queen of the Deccan', sports many historic forts and traditions that are several centuries old, co-existing with business and industry. Along with the mammoth engineering set-up, Pune also has one of the best Software Technology Parks in India, The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) & The Inter-University Centre for Astronomy & Astrophysics (IUCCA). Pune also boasts of The Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), Dr. Iyengar's Yoga Institute & The Osho Ashram.

The city has provided many scientists, revolutionaries, social reformers, political leaders, researchers, educationists and players. It is a Military Cantonment, the Head quarter of Southern Command of Indian Army, Air base for Jaguar, Mig29 and Su30 Aircrafts of Indian Air Force.

Reaching the city
Pune is well connected to Mumbai and all the other major cities by rail, road and air. But it is better to reserve seats in advance as many people commute daily between the two cities.

Indian Airlines and Jet Airways have regular flights from Mumbai to Pune. The journey takes just twenty minutes by air.
Important tip: You can always check in advance, since there are many concession-offers on online-bookings.

You can also opt to travel by rail with the Sahyadri, Pragati or Shatabdi express. Travel to Pune by The Deccan Queen for a royal experience. It is advisable to check for rail-bookings in advance. This journey takes up to four hours, depending on the stops of the train takes.

Reaching Pune by the road has now become very quick due to new Mumbai-Pune Expressway. The three-hour journey becomes a pleasant experience if you stop for a quick-bite in the restaurants on the way and enjoy the pleasant scenery in the valleys of Khandala. The State transport runs buses every hour from Mumbai to Pune. There are many private companies running luxury and video coaches between the two destinations.
Do not forget to indulge in a helping of the wild-berries or roasted corn sold at on-the-way stalls, which are run by the locals.

Tip: Always stick to the consumption of bottled mineral water.

Photo by Flickr's Kushal Das

Photo by Flickr's Kushal Das

Where to stay? (Some of the telephone numbers may have changed)

1) The Holiday Inn
Star rating: 5
Location: Bund Garden Road, Pune
Tel: 9120 613 7777
The Holiday Inn is one of the leading names in the 5-star luxury hotel and resort industry for the world's most discerning business and leisure travellers. Its strategic location, individuality, architectural aesthetics, lush greens and exquisite standards of service distinguishes it from the rest.

2) Hotel Taj Blue Diamond, Pune
Star rating: 5
Location: 11 Koregaon Road, Pune, 411001
Tel: 91-20-26125555
Situated in the lush green Koregaon Park, this hotel is easily accessible by Rail, Road and Air Network. You can select from a wide range of accommodation experience, with 108 rooms ranging from Standard, Superior and Residency rooms to Junior, Executive and Deluxe Suites. All floors sport a pool-facing Lounge. Pamper your gastronomy at the Coffee Shop, Mystic Masala, Authentic Indian Restaurant, Whispering Bamboo and the Authentic Oriental Restaurant. Spend away your nights at the Casabella Bar, Club Polaris, Night Club and Discotheque.

3) Hotel Sun n Sand
Star rating: 5
Location: 262, Bund Garden road
Tel: 91-20-26137777
All 115 rooms have a data port, international direct dial telephone service and mini bar. Check for availability in advance.

4) Best Western The Pride hotel, Pune
Star rating: 5
Location: 5 University Road Shivaji Nagar, Maharashtra, Pune, 411 005
Tel: 91-20-25534567
Excellent Service and elegant atmosphere assure you a memorable business or a leisure experience. On offer are a Multi-Cuisine Restaurant, Fully Stocked Bar, 24hr Room Service, Business Centre, Health Club, Beauty Parlour, Pool and Conference Halls.

5) Le Meridien, Pune
Star rating: 4
Location: RMB Road, 411 001, five kms from the Airport.
Tel: 91-20-2605050
With State-of-the-Art Facilities and 176 Superb, this hotel offers spacious bedrooms with a unique view of Pune. A Royal Club, Swimming pool, Health club, three Restaurants and three Bars make it a popular choice for business or leisure.

6) The President Hotel
Star rating: 4
Location: 34/11, Prabhat Road, lane-8, Deccan Gymkhana
Tel: 91-20-25431797
Take a break from the routine to relax at this lavish hotel. Experience a multi-cuisine meal or just relax in one of it exquisitely furnished rooms. Pick-up from and drop to the Airport available.

7) Hotel Sagar Plaza
Star rating: 4
Location: near the Railway station
Tel: 91-20-26122633
Apart from the 78 rooms, all well equipped with star facilities, this hotel has Travel desk, Laundry, Safe deposit lockers, Money Exchange, Doctor on call, Health club and a Swimming pool.

8) Hotel Kohinoor Executive
Star rating: 4
Location: 15 kms. from Airport; 2 kms. from Railway Station; 1 km. from Bus Stand
Tel: 91-20-25532000
Kokane's Kohinoor group is the owner of the four Star hotel Kohinoor Executive approved by the Tourism Department, Government of India. The hotel has 60 centrally air-conditioned rooms, opera and dawat restaurants, dress circles bar, banquet halls, party rooms, terrace garden restaurants etc.

9) Hotel The Aurora Towers
Star rating: 4
Location: 9, Moledina Road, head of M.G. Road
Tel: 91-20-26131818
The well-furnished 69 rooms entice you to check-in and indulge yourself for an experience to remember at the Aurora Towers

10) Hotel Kundan Palace
Star rating: 3
Location: C.T.S. No 4441, Mumbai-Pune Road, Opp. Bajaj Tempo, Akurdi, Pune
All rooms are elegantly furnished with attached bath with hot & cold shower.

11) Hotel Shreyas
Star rating: 3
Location : Apte road, Pune
This hotel is very famous for a unique dining experience. It has a three course meal on menu, which includes all the Indian culinary specialities. Located in the heart of the city, this hotel has comfortable, but economical rooms. You can be directed to this hotel by anyone, as it is like landmark in Pune.

12) Hotel Sriman
Star rating: 3
Location: Bund Garden road
Relax in the warm, homely atmosphere at this not so expensive hotel. This is within the walking distance to the Osha Commune, a famous attraction in Pune.

Photo by Flickr's Kushal Das

Photo by Flickr's Kushal Das

Where to eat ?

This should not at all be a problem in Pune as the city is full of restaurants, coffee houses and other eating places. They are ranged to suit all pockets. Whether you wish for a continental breakfast or a Thai lunch or a Chinese dinner¦do not worry, Pune can satisfy all culinary tastes and habits.

Recommended Restaurants

1) Shreyas Lunch Home : Apte road, Pune
Famous not just in the city, but the entire state, this lunch home offers a sumptuous set-lunch and set-dinner. A must visit if you want to try traditional Marathi food.

2) Vaishali : Furguesson College road ,
directly opposite the main entrance of the college
Favourite with the teenagers, this place is ideal for breakfast and afternoon snacks or a quick bite anytime.

3) The Banjara Hills: Paud road
Located just on the outskirts of the main city, this restaurant is situated atop a small hill. Ideal to visit at dinnertime, as you can enjoy dinner on the lawns. Do not forget to carry warm clothing if you plan to visit this place.

Events:

1) The Pune fetival

What once started as a local event, the Pune Festival has, over the years, gained national and international reputation and is now counted into one of India's foremost cultural events. It attracts not only the people of this lively city, but also the culture enthusiasts from all over India and abroad.

Considering it a privilege to be invited to perform at the Pune Festival, these eventful years have seen some of the country's internationally renowned artistes perform here. By providing a unique platform for the exponents of classical music and dance, the festival has kept pace with the changing times by encouraging modern trends, notably in the dramatic arts.

A delightful treat for culture enthusiasts, the week-long festivities at the Pune Festival provide a feast of entertainment for visitors, who can participate in traditional as well as modern sport-events, shop for exquisite textiles or handicrafts, relish the delectable cuisine and rejoice in the colourful customs of Maharashtra.

2) The Ganesh Festival

Falling in the middle or end of September, this ten-day festival is popular not only in Pune, but the entire state. It was started by the revolutionary Lokmanya Tilak, first in Pune, at the time of Indian Freedom struggle with the aim of creating social awakening.

The city is famous for the massive scale of lavish and grand celebrations which accompany this festival. Idols of the deity, specially made to be installed in ˜sarvajanik' or huge public canopies, tower to awesome heights. Hundreds of people gather together to sing aartis, or devotional songs. The decorations which accompany the idols are highly attractive and are scenes form history, politics or current affairs.

This festival is an occasion where the city hosts huge fun-fairs, classical orchestras, special theatre performances and shopping fairs.

Must visit places in Pune

The Shanivarwada stand imposingly in the middle city. This is a small fortress, which served as the residence to the royal family of the Peshwe, the rulers of Maharashtra in the 16th and the 17th centuries. Most of the royal residential quarters were perished due to repeated fires in the premises. Though now mostly in ruins, visit to the monument is always recommended.

The Raja Kelkar Museum is famous for its unusual, antique and artistic collections and attracts many tourists. The 17th century miniatures, musical instruments, antique pottery, and unusually, betel-nut cutters and brass padlocks form interesting exhibits. The other recommended museum is the Tribal Museum near the railway station.

The Gandhi National memorial , in the Aga Khan palace is also an important monument from the history of India's freedom struggle. It is a memorial of Kasturba Gandhi, the wife of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Indian freedom struggle.

The Parvati is a major landmark in Pune. This is a centuries old Shiva-temple located on atop a small hillock, right in the heart of the city. This temple can be seen from any part of the city. A good half an hour climb will take you to the temple and the adjoining museum. The place is a favourite of early morning joggers, which is also the ideal time to visit it.

The 8th century rock-cut temple, the Pataleshwar Temple on a hill a little outside town is one of the most popular temples, dedicated to goddess Parvati.

There is a famous Muslim shrine, the Qamarali Darvesh that has a stone that is reputed to levitate.

One of the most important landmark of Pune is the residence of the self-proclaimed guru, Bhagwan Rajneesh, also known as Osho. The Osho ashram in Pune still attracts thousands of devotees, sightseers, curious onlookers and lots of controversy.

If you fancy a cup of coffee with friends or a quiet evening, just go to the Camp area. It is a favourite with the Pune collegites, with lots of pubs, bars, fancy restaurants and shopping centres.

One of the modern attractions are the Panshet Lake Resort -an aqua sports complex 50 kms. from Pune. Located in the midst of green hills, the MTDC (Maharashtra Tourism Developmene Corporation) has set up exciting aqua sports facilities like water scooters, hovercrafts, motorboats, angling and kayaking at Panshet.

If you are an active sportsperson, have a peep in the Balewadi Sports Complex , just on the outskirts of the main city, which was built to host the Asian Games. It has a swimming pool and other sport-complexes built to the Olympic standards.

Photo by Flickr's Kushal Das

Photo by Flickr's Kushal Das

Places to see around Pune

1) The Bhimashankar :
Bhimashankar is an ancient pilgrim centre and houses one of the five holy Jyotirlingas in Maharashtra. The Shiva temple was constructed by Nana Phadnavis, a prominent minister of the mighty Maratha empire. The temple has excellent carvings and reliefs. The fair during the festival of Mahashivaratri that falls in the early part of the calendar year draws great crowds. The nearby bird and game sanctuary and the pleasant climate and natural scenery are among Bhimashankar's many attractions.

Getting there:
The nearest airport and railhead is Pune. Drive along the Pune-Nasik highway and turn off at the road leading to Bhimashankar. The mountain road is quite a steep climb. The distance is about 160 km from Pune. Accommodation at Bhimashankar mainly comprises two bungalows [with a capacity of 8 beds] and tents.

2) Malshej Ghat
If you are a trekker and do enjoy a hike, a visit to the Malshej Ghat is a must. The Malshej hills are replete with Buddhist caves dating back to the 3rd century but nowadays serve as a stopover for migrating flamingoes during a part of the monsoon months. The Fort Shivneri, the birthplace of Shivaji, a prominent Hindu Emperor, is close enough to be visited during a visit to Malshej. It is about approximately 40 km from the hill station.

Getting there:
The nearest airport is Mumbai and the nearest railhead Kalyan, on the Mumbai-Pune route of the Central Railway. Maharashtra State Transport buses run regularly from Kalyan to Malshej and proceed onward to Shivneri. The distance is about 120 km. Pune-Malshej is about 130 km. Accommodation at Malshej comprises self contained rooms and dormitory. It is advise to have advance reservations, which can be done at the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation Offices in Mumbai or Pune.

3) Fort Sinhagad
Twenty-five kilometers south-west of Pune, perched on a hill-top, is one of Maharashtra's historically famous Sinhagad, or the Lion Fort. This fort is significant from the point of view of the Maratha history. Tanaji Malusare, one of the lieutenants in the army of Emperor Shivaji, fought like a lion or sinha to capture this fort from the hands of the Mughals, thus lending the fort its present name. The residence of the famous revolutionary Lokmana Tilak is also located atop this fort. Seeing around the fort is a good trek of about four hours.
Tip: If you are not so much bothered with health concerns, do try out the fried onion fritters and yogurt set in mud-pots. The fritters are an important factor in the reputation of Sinhagad nowadays.

Getting there : The state transport runs regular buses to the fort form the bus station. Also check for the return bus timings when you plan a visit to this fort.

4) Fort Shivneri
The birth-place of the Maratha Emperor Shivaji, this fort is an hour drive from the city. Not so much of a trek, this fort is famous for its historical significance. This 1290 meter high Fort bears witness today to the spirit and valor of a bygone era.

Getting there : The fort is best accessible via road. The state transport runs regular buses to the fort form the bus station. Also check for the return bus timings when you plan a visit to this fort.

Other important Information
¢ Language
Marathi is the official language of the state of Maharashtra, so of Pune, which is a major city in this state. Marathi and Hindi are the two main languages spoken. English is widely spoken and understood.
¢ Local Transport
Pune has a hassle-free transport system. There are trains, yellow-and-black auto-rickshaws, buses and also private taxis for sightseeing.
¢ Tourist Information offices
The MTDC tourist office is in the government offices known as Central Buildings. (+91-20-628169 : subject to change)
Weather Trends

Winter:
Mid Nov – mid Feb. Dry, cold nights, pleasantly warm days.

Spring:
Mid-Feb to end-March. Warm days and pleasant nights

Summer:
Early-April to late-May. Hot days and warm nights

Monsoon:
Early June – early October. Rains. Warm and humid. Rain coat, plastic shoes or small boots advisable.

Post-Monsoon:
Early Oct – early Nov. A little rain, but still warm.

October to March is the ideal period to plan a visit to this city.

Clothing
Light cottons in summer (March to October), Lightweight jacket or pullovers in winter

Information for foreign tourists
¢ Visa
The Foreigners' Registration Office on Dr Dadabhoy Naoroji Road,
Mumbai 400001,handles visa extensions (up to the maximum stay of six months).
Phone +91-22-2620446 (subject to change)
Customs (India)
¢ Following goods are permitted free of duty:
2000 cigarettes; 400 cigars; 2kg tobacco; a reasonable quantity of perfume, up to a maximum of 2 litres of spirits and 2 litres of wine.
¢ Credit cards
Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Access and other major cards are accepted at restaurants, shopping centres and other prominent establishments.
¢ Money exchange
Money can be exchanged at banks and most hotels. There are a number of money exchange centres offering competitive rates.
¢ Currency
The Indian Rupee is the local currency. 1 USD = 52.6 Rupees (approximately, is subject to change).

Telecommunications

¢ International dialing code
+91
¢ Local area code for Pune
20
¢ Communications
International direct dialing is available to almost all the countries in the world. Excellent Fax, telex and Internet services.

Stay Safe Tips :
1) Strictly consume only bottled mineral water
2) When travelling by a rickshaw, pay attention to the fare-meter. Some rickshaw drivers are cheats and can demand more money from foreigners.
3) Avoid venturing out late night, unless yours is a big group.
4) Beware of pick-pockets at all the public places.


Jessica | Apr 17, 2009 | Category: General

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