Pune, Maharashtra

Located 118 km from Mumbai at the convergence of two rivers (Mula and Mutha), Pune is acknowledged as the cultural capital of Maharashtra. Retaining its historic past and espousing modernity at the same time, the city has come a long way from just being a ‘pensioners’ paradise’. This second largest city of Maharashtra (after Mumbai) is often called the Oxford of the East, thanks to the existence of several reputed educational institutions. Pune is also home to the National Defence Academy, the elite training school for the armed forces as well as the Armed Forces Medical College, Film and Television Institute of India and the Symbiosis Educational Society as well as the University of Pune (now renamed Savitribai Phule Pune University). An appealing mix of the traditional and contemporary, Pune has several tourist attractions. From the Aga Khan Palace with its Italian arches, salons, suites and spacious lawns where Kasturba Gandhi spent the last years of her life to the Shaniwar Wada, the iconic monument of the Marath Empire, Pune is a history student’s paradise. As one of the capitals of the Maratha Empire, Pune’s rich history is reflected in its several wadas (or large houses) and temples like the ones at Saras Baug and atop Parvati Hills.

Fast Facts
STD Code: 020
Climate: Pune has a hot semi-arid climate bordering with tropical wet and dry with average temperatures ranging between 19 to 33 °C. Pune experiences three seasons: summer, monsoon, and winter. Even during the hottest months, the nights are usually cool due to Pune's high altitude. The monsoon lasts from June to October, with moderate rainfall and temperatures ranging from 22 to 28 °C (72 to 82 °F). Most of the 722 mm (28.43 in) of annual Rainfall in the city falls between June and September, and July is the wettest month of the year.

Getting There & Away: How to reach Pune
Road: Mumbai is the closest metropolitan city from Pune at a distance of 118 kms. The approximate distance from Nashik to Pune is 210 kms whereas from Aurangabad to Pune is 240 kms. Nagpur is at a distance of 720 kms whereas from Shirdi to Pune is 190 kms. Pune by road is easily accessible from other state like Goa, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
Rail: The Pune Railway Station is one the busiest railway stations in the Deccan railways. It connects with all the major cities in India as well as the Deccan Odyssey, which is a luxury train in India, has a halt in Pune. Thus one who is planning to reach Pune by train can connect from distant part of the country. 
Air: Airport is located in Lohegaon, only 12 km away from the city. Different Airlines are providing regular to and fro flights connecting Pune with all significant cities of India.

Tourist Attractions in Pune

The Aga Khan Palace: The Aga Khan Palace is a historically important pace in Pune. It is famed for its connect with the Indian Independence movement. British held many important freedom fighters under arrest in this Palace. It is in this palace where Mahatma Gandhi and his wife Kasturba Gandhi were imprisoned along with Mahadeobhai Desai during the Quit India Movement in 1942. There are memorials of Mahadeobhai Desai and Kasturba Gandhi, which are made out of marble. It is indeed a place which is worth a visit to pay tribute to India's great war heroes. Mahatma Gandhi's items like his bed, writing desk, Kasturba's saree and other clothes; her Chappals (slippers) are maintained properly at their place.

Osho Ashram: Osho Ashram, also known as the Osho Communal Centre is located at the greenery area of 17 Koregoan Park of the city. The Ashram offers a variety of expensive courses on meditation. Osho Ashram attracts a number of devotees each year including a large number of them from the western countries since early 70s even though Osho expired in 1990.

Shaniwar Wada: Shaniwar Wada is a royal residence built by the second Peshwa, Bajirao-I Shaniwar Wada, which is located in Pune. Construction of Shaniwar Wada began on 10th of January 1730. It is said that Bajirao Peshwa-I laid the foundation by collecting handful of mud from the nearby Lal Mahal. Shaniwar Wada today is left with only with an imposing outer wall. It is visible that the ruins can translate the glory of the Maratha power. The doors of the palace are so strong that it had been designed to dissuade huge enemy attacks.

Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum: The museum has nearly 20,000 collections of objects paintings, handicrafts, armour-suits, musical instruments and many other objects of art and artifacts collected from all over the world. The building has been designed in a Rajasthani-style, but the galleries give a clear depiction of the life and culture of the Marathas. Dinkar Kelkar spent almost 60 years traveling and purchasing objects from the remote areas and towns of India. Dividing into 36 sections, the collections are confined mostly to everyday life like pots, lamps, containers, nutcrackers, pen stands. 'Mastani Mahal' is regarded to be the masterpiece to this museum, which was erected here in its original form.

Tribal Museum: It is near the railway line, which is just east to the railway station. Maharashtra is a vast country and there are uncountable numbers of tribal in this country. Having different languages, these tribes have their own food habits, taboos, and beliefs - in short distinct cultures. Tribal Museum exhibits the cultures of the tribal communities mainly from the Sahyadari and Gondwana regions. It is a place where one can find to get an insight into the lives of the tribal communities of Maharashtra.

Vishrambaug Wada: This is a three-storyed 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: Sir Jamshedji Jeejeebhoy constructed the Bund Gardens. The Bund gardens, which are next to the river, are just the place for evening strolls on the lush green grass. Boating and rowing facilities are also available over here. There is a Ganesh temple situated in the vicinity of the park too.

Shinde’s Chhatri: Shinde's Chhatri is located at a place called Wanowri, pretty close to Pune city. This is a building constructed as a memorial of the Maratha noble character Shri Mahadju Shinde. The architectural style of the building is appreciable with its beautiful carvings and intricate craftsmanship following the Vaasthu Hara rules. This is an excellent architectural marvel worth visiting.

Saras Baug: Saras Baug or Saras Garden - constructed by Nanasaheb Peshwa is located against the scenic background of Parvati Hills. The imposing garden is a popular relaxation spot and is exquisite with elegant fountains and lush green lawns. The garden houses a renowned temple constructed in 1774 by Madhav Rao Peshwa. The temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesha and there is a Ganesh Murthi Museum, enclosing large number of Ganesh statues. Saras Garden has been used by citizens of Pune as a walking and jogging track and it also serves as a beautiful hangout for the populace during the weekends and evenings

Katraj Snake Park: Katraj Snake Park is a rare location to get the close view of variety of reptile species. This Park, established in 1986, is situated close to Pune on Pune–Satara Highway at Katraj. The Park houses birds and turtles apart from the reptiles. The park houses a rare species of Brown Palm Civet and this is a major draw here. As per the wildlife records this is the only specimen of this kind in captivity. The King Cobra of length nine feet, which is brought from Sunderbans, is another attraction to the wildlife enthusiasts. A zoo and a garden located nearby are also worth visiting.

University Park: Pune University's premise spreads over 400 acres of sprawling grounds with quiet roads and small open canteens towards the city suburbs. Mr. Woodrew laid out the university garden. Spending a pleasant quiet evening at this garden is refreshing.

Ashtavinayaka: The legendary Eight Ganesh Idols formed through forces of Nature are still a marvel as thousands flock every year to see the nature. Vinayaka, another name for Lord Ganesha, eight effigies have been found, and these form the Ashta Vinayaka, an octet of eight temples formed around these idols. All these are within 120 km from Pune like: Morgaon (65 km away), Ranjangaon (70 km away), Siddhatek (99 km away), Theur (25 km away), Pali (110 km), Mahad (87 km), Ozar (85 km away) and Lenyadri (97 km).

Jejuri: Situated 48 kms away, Jejuri is known for its Khandoba deity and is considered a religious place by the Hindus. Large congregations attend the annual fair held here. Khandoba, the deity at Jejuri is the fighter God of the Marathas. He is shown astride a horse and has a angry warlike look. This was reason enough for the Muslims to repeatedly destroy the temple. Even Aurangzeb attempted to destroy the temple a second time in 1690. He however was thwarted in this attempt when the Mughal soldiers while trying to attack the temple disturbed a nest of hornets. The hornets, so harassed the besieging Mughal soldiers that Aurangzeb was forced to lift the siege and spare the temple.

Alandi: A small village on the banks of the river Indrayani, it is also popularly called Devachi Alandi. Two fairs are held annually here - one on Ashadhi Ekadashi and the other on Kartik Ekadashi. One can find the samadhi of the famous saint and poet Dnyaneshwar, the author of ‘Dyaneshwari' the Marathi commentary on the Gita. Also situated on the banks of the river Indrayani, 31 kms away, is Dehu, the birthplace of Tukaram, the great 17th century poet-saint of Maharashtra. Hindu pilgrims mostly frequent it. Transport is easy with a number of State Transport buses from Pune. One can also find ‘Dharmashalas' for a comfortable stay, but prior booking is necessary.

Bedsa Caves: 16 kms south of Karle, close to the Kamshet Railway Station, is this interior village called Bedsa, with the cave located on a stiff hill. Though smaller in size, the shrine is very attractive. With breathtaking scenery, one cannot help but appreciate the spot chosen by Buddhist monks. With a huge chaitya and one big vihara, there are also numerous small resting chambers or cells for monks that were chiselled out here.

Karla Caves: About 40 km from Pune, these Buddhist caves dating back to 160 BC, have a Chaitya (chapel), the largest in the country and some viharas (dwelling caves). Karla is the site of some of the best-preserved Buddhist caves and the chaitya cave is perhaps the best-preserved cave of its kind in the subcontinent. Unlike the Ajanta and Ellora caves, the most refreshing feature of Karla is the absence of tourist hordes, since Karla is quite off the tourist beaten track.

Mahabaleshwar, Khandala-Lonavela and Panchgani are other suitable places for weekend tours from Pune city.

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