Pune, famously known as the Oxford of the East due to the large number of universities here, is one of the fastest growing cities in India. It had been in national limelight during the 18th century, as the hub of the Maratha Empire and the seat of the renowned Peshwas. The cantonment area is also a well known one for the Indian army. Today, Pune is a flourishing, diverse and modernised city, with a high standard of living that is second only to Hyderabad amongst Indian cities.
The weather in Pune is mild all year round, except in the peak summer months of April to June. The best seasons to witness in Pune according to popular opinion is the monsoons and the autumn, when a soft breeze can be felt all day, stunning views of the sunset can be seen and the city is lush green.
Pune, being a major city, is very well connected by road, rail as well as air. Travelling to nearby destinations, including Mumbai, have been made easier by the constant railway as well as bus services available
1. Osho Ashram
The spiritual movement started by Swami Rajnish has gained much recognition on a worldwide basis. Thus is it not surprising that his headquarters, located in Koregaon Park in Pune, is known to be one of the best places to meditate. Followers of Osho flock here by the thousands and enjoy the invigorating programs and the beautiful landscape, all for a very small membership fee.
Other than this, Pune is also famous for being a hub of traditional forms of yoga and meditation.
2. Koregaon Park
A large, urban marketplace and a posh residential area, Koregaon Park is clean, green and colourful. A large number of eateries can be found here, including restaurants offering a variety of international cuisines, quaint cafes with delicious confections and vibrant pubs and nightclubs. It also offers some beautiful walks through the outer areas of Koregaon Park, where sprawling individual bungalows and greenery can be seen. In this area, one can mostly find college students as well as tourists, thus contributing to the air of merrymaking.
3. M.G. Road
The perfect destination for a little street shopping as well as enjoying the cafes, restaurants and pubs in the older part of Pune. Located close to the famous Fergusson College in Central Pune, one can try local street food at M. G. Road as well as shop for clothes, jewellery and other trinkets. It is a perfect getaway with family and friends, along with being easy on the pockets.
4. Rajgad Fort
For those who love adventure sports and going off the beaten track as well as delving into history, a short drive away from the main city of Pune is the trek to Rajgadh Fort. Rajgadh is said to be the capital of the great Chhatrapati Shivaji. Located within the Sahyadri ranges, this Fort, although in ruins, has been preserved enough to tell us of the Maratha ruler. The main entrance as well as many of the stairs and chambers is still intact. The air is crisp and clear here, and one can see the deep, freshwater tanks that were used by the Marathas. At the highest point in the Fort one can access what used to be the secretive ladies chambers.
5. Sinhagad Fort
Also known as the Lion’s Fort, the Sinhagad Fort was a military outpost for the Maratha rulers and has thus been the site of many battles fought with the Mughals. The most famous of these was the Battle of Sinhagad. Today, the Sinhagad Fort is located in the Sahyadri, close to the other forts such as Rajgad and Torna and, much like them, is in a state of ruins. Much of the Fort is, however, preserved and gives us an idea of what the military of the Marathas was like. The Fort is accessible by road; however, it is inadvisable due to the bad conditions of the roads. The trek up to the Fort is a mere one hour long.
6. Aamby Valley City
A township built and planned from scratch by the Sahara India Pariwar, Aamby Valley is a walk through a foreign land. A vast artificial lake with water sport facilities is located next to the posh marketplace, which not has our favourite fast food brands but also authentic brands from across the world. Well planned out housing systems, an emphasis upon greenery and beautiful weather make for an unforgettable experience.
Located midway between Pune and Mumbai, a hill within the Sahyadri range, Lonavala is not only famous for its sweet and hard chikki, but also for its beautiful weather and the feel of an untouched area. Along with the neighbouring hill station of Khandala, Lonavla has many natural caves such as Bhaja Caves, Bedsa etc. It is a treat to enjoy the pleasant weather at Lonavla with some tea and snacks.
8. National Defence Academy
The National Defence Academy, Pune is the first of its kind in the world. It is a tri-service academy, where cadets intending to join the army, navy as well as air force are sent for their training. Various war memorials and relics as well as a fascinating library can be seen on the 7000 acre campus, which is located a short distance from Pune city close to the Sinhagad Fort.
9. St Patricks Cathedral
One of the largest and most important cathedrals in India, St. Patricks Cathedral was originally built in 1850 to pray for the well being of soldiers residing in nearby areas. Over time, this gained importance, and today is one of the few places in India one can witness a Mass on Christmas Eve. Thousands of people, young and old, throng here on this day pray and celebrate.
A beautiful hilltop in Mulshi, Pune located close to the Mula River, Lavale has become famous for having some of the most scenic college campuses in the country, including the Symbiosis International University and the FLAME University. Lavale comprises of two green hills. Students can be seen cycling through the green hills or enjoying swimming and other sports.
Pune is a lively city, which is growing at a fast pace, yet not so fast as to make it unstable and excessively urbanised. One must visit it just to absorb the vibes of joy.