Pune City

About Pune City (
)

Not too long ago, Pune was known as a Pensioner’s Paradise and therefore became home to those who had retired and wanted a peaceful life. Today, the city is one of the fastest growing metros in India and is already a hub for the automotive, information technology and engineering industries along with being a seat for quality education. And all this is in addition to it also being the cultural capital of Maharashtra. In fact, if you are looking for a truly vibrant vacation, this is the place to be.

Pune is the seventh-largest metropolis in India and the second-largest in the state of Maharashtra. It is also the administrative headquarters of Pune district and was once the centre of power of the Maratha Empire.

The modern city of Pune was in fact once a small hamlet situated near the confluence of Mula and Mutha rivers. The name Pune is probably derived from the origin Punawadi with the basic word being Punya meaning merit. It is believed that if one bathes in the holy waters at the confluence of the rivers then all the sins are washed out and one gets merit too. Although the authentic epigraphical evidence comes from the 8th century C.E. Rashtrakuta Copper Plate inscription referring to the habitation as Punaka Vishaya (district of Punaka), the earliest habitation remains found in form of stone tools near the confluence of the river date back to at least one lakh years.

During the Yadava period (circa 9th century C.E. to 13th century C.E.), Pune had become a larger township. In the 17th century CE, the formative time of Shivaji’s career was spent here. The city’s most famous connection is with the rule of the Peshwas. In 1720, Baji Rao I was appointed prime minister of the Maratha Empire, ruled by Chhatrapati Shahu of Satara. He chose Pune as his administrative base and ordered the construction of Shaniwar Wada on the right bank of the Mutha. This patronage of the Peshwas helped the city flourish and there came into being several temples and large residential ‘wadas’, some of which continue to exist even today and are considered the pride of the city. Pune is reported to have really prospered during the reign of Nanasaheb Peshwa. He developed Saras Baug, Heera Baug, Parvati Hill and new commercial, trading and residential localities such as Sadashiv Peth, Narayan Peth, Rasta Peth, Raviwar Peth and Nana Peth.

Pune contributed a lot in the freedom struggle as well as in the social reform movements in the country with numerous freedom fighters, thinkers, social reformers living in the city. After independence Pune has become the cultural capital as well as a very important centre of education and industry. Pune has deep spiritual and religious connections, notably because saint-poets like Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram Maharaj were born near Pune. Their link to the city is commemorated with an annual pilgrimage to Pandharpur, 300 kilometers away. This is once again an occasion that draws people from outside Pune in huge numbers. The city also carries the pride of being the birthplace of Meher Baba, although his followers usually travel to Meherabad to visit his tomb. Hazrat Babajan, identified by Meher Baba as one of the five ‘perfect masters’, lived the final 25 years of her life in Pune. In fact, the city is known for many such spiritual masters, Bhagwan Rajneesh being one of them. The Osho Ashram, established by him, was one of the biggest attractions a few decades ago. The ISKCON movement too has a presence in the city and it is here that BKS Iyengar, an internationally known yoga master, has an institute.

Pune has the honour of being home to some of the premier institutes of the country. The National Defence Academy which is a centre for excellence and the joint training institution for the Armed Forces, the Film & Television Institute of India, the National Film Archives, the National Chemical Laboratory as also the first and finest establishments dedicated to the study of Archeology and Indology such as the Deccan College, the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute and the Bharat Itihaas Sanshodhak Mandal.

In fact, few other cities in India can match the dizzyingly different characteristics of Pune. While it is a cultural capital that witnesses a myriad range of activities in theatre, arts, music, cinema and so on, it is also known for its expertise in engineering and in particular, automotive manufacturing as it is base to some of the biggest OEMs such as Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, General Motors, Bajaj Auto, Force Motors, etc. At the same time, this is the city where the biggest of the IT companies have put up their offices while the best of educational institutions attract students from across the world.

Distance from Mumbai: 180 Kms

How To Reach

By Air
Pune airport is well connected to all major cities of India

By Road 
The journey along the Mumbai-Pune Expressway takes approximately 3 hours

By Rail 
Pune junction is well connected to all major cities of India by a multitude of trains

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Top Attractions
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  • ranjangaon_thumbnail-3
    Earlier known as Manipur, Ranjangaon near Pune is believed to have been created by none other than Lord Shiva. This was after Shiva prayed to Ganesha to make him victorious in a battle with the demon Tripurasur. It is said that this incident took place on the day of Tripuri Pournima, following which Shiva set up Ganesha’s idol in the form of ‘Mahaganapati’. The temple here is now known by that name. It is one of the ‘ashtavinayakas’ (8 Ganeshas) of Maharashtra.
  • Kelkar-Museum_Thumb
    As one of the largest one-man collections in the world, the Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum in Pune is fascinating for its curios and artifacts, ranging from beautifully embroidered textiles to sculptures and antique copper vessels to the swords of the Peshwas. And as you walk through its various sections, history literally comes alive.
  • Front view  Aga Khan PalaceT

    The Aga Khan Palace in Pune occupies a prime position in the history of India’s freedom movement for the fact that Mahatma Gandhi, his wife, secretary and others were incarcerated here from 1942. It now serves as the headquarters of the Gandhi National Memorial Society where the making of ‘khadi’ continues to be a prime activity. This imposing palace where one can feel an intense connection with the past is also known for its beautiful and serene gardens.

  • KarlaBhaje_Thumb
    Caves are not merely the abodes of people living thousands of years ago. The discovery of caves has also led to an understanding of the world as it existed during those times and the cultural, social and religious practices of people that influenced the generations that followed them. Maharashtra has some of the most interesting cave sites in the country and the three that you must definitely visit are located at Bhaja, Bedse and Karla – known for their Buddhist affiliations.
     
  • lenyadri_thumbnail-2

    Among the ‘ashtavinayakas’ (8 Ganeshas) of Maharashtra, references of Lenyadri can be found in the ‘Ganesh Purana’ as a Jeernapur or Lekhanparvat. These are Buddhists caves carved out in the hills near Junnar. In one of these caves is an image Girijatmaj Ganesh which is very unique among all the ashtavinayakas since it has been carved out of the cave wall and can be seen from the rear only. 

  • rajmachi
    Ask any regular trekker to draw up a list of some of the popular destinations for trekking in Maharashtra and Rajmachi will definitely figure on it. Although just a small village in the rugged mountains of Sahyadri, it has been a favorite tourist spot for the presence of two forts, namely Shrivardhan and Manaranjan, both of which are located amidst a green canopy offering amazing views of hills and valleys. 
  • theur_thumbnail-1

    One of the ‘ashtavinyaka’ (8 Ganeshas) temples of Maharashtra, the Chintamani Mandir of Theur is located 25 kilometers from Pune and is one of the larger and more famous of the eight revered shrines of Ganesha. Surrounded by the Mula river on three sides, it is just adjacent to the Pune-Solapur national highway. 

  • Temple, Bhimashankarc_T
    A pristine natural environment with hills, waterfalls and forests; a wild life sanctuary and an ancient temple! Bhimashankar offers the ideal setting to find spirituality. It is also the perfect place for adventure lovers with a plethora of treks. Moreover this is where you can find the shekru the giant flying squirrel which is also the state animal of Maharashtra.
  • Bhimashankar Waterfall
    A pristine natural environment with hills, waterfalls and forests; a wild life sanctuary and an ancient temple! Bhimashankar offers the ideal setting to find spirituality. It is also the perfect place for adventure lovers with a plethora of treks. Moreover this is where you can find the shekru the giant flying squirrel which is also the state animal of Maharashtra.
  • ozar_thumbnail-1

    Most places have interesting legends associated with them. One such is Ozar, located on the banks of river Kukadi in Junnar taluka of Pune district. An ‘ashtavinayaka’ (8 Ganeshas), it is said that Lord Ganesh had made Ozar his permanent abode after defeating a demon called Vighnasur. When the demon asked to be forgiven for his deeds, Ganesha became pleased and stayed at Ozar, taking on the name of the demon. 

  • Sinhgad_Thumb
    As one of the top military outposts during the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the fort of Sinhagad not only offers a fascinating peek into the history of the Maratha Empire but is also a perennial favourite with trekkers and the residents of Pune because of its proximity to the city. While standing atop the hill and taking in the panoramic view of the landscape below, you cannot help but wonder at the vision of those who built such imposing structures at such great heights.
     
  • rajgad-thumb
    It is a known fact that a lot of the history of Maharashtra has been structured and re-structured by none other than the Maratha ruler, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. And when it comes to any mention of this warrior king, Rajgad cannot be left behind. This majestic and sprawling fort atop a hill in the Sahaydri ranges was where Shivaji spent almost 24 years of his life. It was also the capital of the Maratha Empire up to 1672 CE.
     
  • Shivneri_Thumb
    For those in search of a heady mix of adventure, discovery of nature and a trip down history, nothing can beat a visit to the fort of Shivneri. It not only provides an emotional and historical connect with the place where the great Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's was born but also proves to be an opportunity to test your trekking skills.
  • Shivneri_Thumb
    For those in search of a heady mix of adventure, discovery of nature and a trip down history, nothing can beat a visit to the fort of Shivneri. It not only provides an emotional and historical connect with the place where the great Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was born but also proves to be an opportunity to test your trekking skills.
Things to Do
  • Pune Darshan Tour
  • The Pune Darshan tour starts at 8:30 am every day and is conducted by the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML). It begins with the Lokmanya Tilak Museum at Tilak Wada which used to be the great nationalist leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s home. A few minutes from here is the Shaniwar Wada, a fort that used to be seat of the Peshwa rulers of the Maratha Empire. Next is Lal Mahal which was built by Shivaji’s father Shahaji Bhonsle for his wife Jijabai. It was here that the great Maratha warrior spent his formative years.

    The tour also includes Mahatma Jyotirao Phule’s cottage, the Kelkar Museum, the Chaturshringi Temple and the Ambedkar Museum. In the second part of the tour you will find yourself in the serene and colourful Pune Okayama Friendship Garden, modeled on the lines of the famous 300-year-old Korakuen Garden of Japan’s Okayama City. From there it is to the sprawling Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park and the Shinde Chhatri Temple. The Aga Khan Palace is a part of the Pune Darshan tour.

  • Shaniwar Wada
  • Shaniwar Wada was the palace of the Peshwas since the 18th century C.E. The construction of this structure started on a Saturday, hence the name Shaniwarwada was given to it. Started by Bajirao I on 10th January 1730 C.E. the monument was completed in 1732. Spread over 625 acres, it was primarily a residence for the Peshwa (Prime Minister of the King). It is a heavily fortified building complex with nine bastions and five gateways. The Pune Municipal Corporation has started a sound and light show in an open air auditorium in the palace grounds of Shaniwarwada which is a must watch.

  • Vishrambaug Wada
  • This was the palatial residence of Peshwe Bajirao II. Today it houses a museum on Maratha artifacts as well as beautiful miniature models of the famous buildings of Pune. Its unusual entrance and the beautiful woodwork make it a must visit on the tourist itinerary.

  • Visit Pataleshwar Temple
  • The Pataleshwar cave temple on the Jangali Maharaj road is the earliest monument in the city. Dating back to 7th-8th century CE, it showcases stylistic similarities with the caves at Ellora. It was created as a Shiva temple with a separate shrine for his vehicle, Nandi.
  • Tour Museums
  • The city of Pune has many different museums the most well-known being the Kelkar Museum which is a unique collection of utility objects put together by one individual. The Deccan College houses two different museums, one dedicated to Maratha history and the other to Archaeology. The Tribal Museum showcases the tribes of Maharashtra and the Mahatma Phule Museum has sections on Industry and Natural history. Museums dedicated to Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Dr. Ambedkar are some of the other museums in the city.
  • Participate in Ganesh Festival
  • Pune is known for its 10-day celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi that attracts tourists and pilgrims from far and wide. The festival involves the participation of local temple trusts and neighbourhood groups who put up extravagantly decorated ‘pandals’ in which the deity is installed. The festival culminates with a parade of Ganesh idols from across the city; these are carried to the local rivers to be immersed. The Kasba Ganapati, as the presiding deity of the city, is the first in this parade. The idea of a public celebration was initiated by freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak and has since spread to many other cities, particularly Mumbai.

  • Sawai Gandharva Festival
  • The Sawai Gandharva Sangeet Mahotsav, one of the most prominent and sought-after Indian classical music festivals in India, is held in Pune every year in December. It commemorates the life and achievements of Pt. Sawai Gandharva and has witnessed the participation of some of the most talented exponents of Indian classical music such as Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, Pt. Ravi Shankar, Pt. Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Ustad Vilayat Khan and Pt. Shivkumar Sharma, among many others.

  • Buy Poona saris
  • What is it about ‘Poona’ saris that give them such a singular image? The saris are woven with an intricate checked field, detailed borders with multiple bands of different designs, striking colour combinations, good quality and finer yarn, and a higher thread count in the weave. These are considered ideal as gifts.

  • Try Puneri Cuisine
  • Pune is one of those few cities where you can sample cuisine from not just across Maharashtra but the world. There are some excellent dining restaurants that serve Italian, Chinese, Mexican, Southeast Asian and other specialties, while you will also find small and economically priced outlets that will provide Mughlai items, Maharashtrian or Gujarati ‘thalis’, Maratha-type spicy dishes, and so on. The ‘wada pav’ is the most popular snack available everywhere. 

Places to Stay
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