When someone says Pune, a very laidback yet lively image evokes in my mind, AND I might not be the only one who associates Pune with a young and vibrant crowd. Indeed the cultural hub of Maharashtra, Pune boasts diverse masses that eventually bring about so much of vivacity in the city that one cannot help fancy this place. Apart from its vivid crowd, what makes Pune a travel worthy destination is the ease of access, minimal distance between attractions, heart-melting landscape and soul-stirring historical monuments. If you are a traveller, you must make it to Pune to see a whole new face of India! Here is the list of best places to see and things to do in Pune that may help you get around easily:
Probably the most famous place to visit in Pune, Shanivar Vada can rightly be called the landmark of the city. Dating back to 1736, this palace was built by Bajirao Peshwa I, thus one can consider it an important evidence of the glorious history of Peshwa Rule in Pune. The palace boasts five gateways, nine bastions, fine wooden pillars and lattice work. There have been many stories associated with this palace and one of the most popular ones describes this fort to be haunted. No, no don’t drop your plans to visit here! LOL, it is not a place to be missed as it can actually take you down on the road to golden period of Peshwas.
Opening Hours: 8AM to 6PM
Aga Khan Palace
History buffs, this is the place for you. Built in 1892 by Sultan Muhammed Shah Aga Khan III, this palace is a witness to vital incidents of Indian history. The palace is an eyewitness to the rescue of famine-stricken locals, the imprisonment of Mahatama Gandhi, his wife Kasturba Gandhi, Mahadev Desai and Sarojini Naidu and the death of Mahadev Desai and Kasturba Gandhi. The main palace has been converted into Mahatama National Memorial, where photos and paintings exhibiting the life of Mahatama Gandhi have been kept.
Visiting Osho Ashram is all together a different experience. The Ashram is situated inside the Korgaon Park area and is known for offering gala time to the guests. The Ashram is infact a 40 acre meditation resort, where meditation, massages, workshops, theatres and other events keep taking place. One can actually choose between spending time in solitude and interacting with people visiting here from 100 countries. It is a perfect place to relax in Pune.
It is a sight to cherish! The majestic Sinhagad Fort is perched on one of the isolated cliffs of Bhulaswar Range of the Sahyadris. The fort is reckoned to be built two years ago and has many myths and tales attached to it. Although, today the fort lay in ruins, it is certainly one of the best reflections of the glorious period of Pune. It has become a popular place to visit in Pune and many of the visitors like to trek to it from the base of the 700m hill that it is perched on.
Dagaduseth Halwai Ganpati Temple
One of the most famous temples in Pune and even in Maharashtra, Dagaduseth Halwai Ganpati Temple cannot be missed when planning a sightseeing tour in the city. The temple is dedicated to Hindu God Ganesha and was built by Dagduseth Halwai, a pious and honest man. The shrine is so popular that people from all over the country as well as world visit it. The best time to be here would be around Ganesh Festival.
Another popular temple in Pune is Chaturshingi, which was built during the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The legend has it that there was once was a merchant named Durlabhseth Pitambardas Mahajan who was an ardent devotee of Goddess Chaturshringi. Durlabhseth tried visiting all the temples dedicated to the Goddess but as he grew older he had trouble commuting. One night the Goddess appeared in his dream and asked him to dig at a specific place in North-West of Pune. To his surprise, a natural statue of the Goddess was found here and thus Durlabhseth decided to build a temple here. Therefore, even today, Chaturshringi temple has been of great importance to the locals.
An important place of interest in Pune, Parvati Hill is situated at the southern end of the city. The Hill houses four prominent temples of that of Shiva, Ganesh, Vishnu and Kartikeya. The major temple here is called Parvati Temple, which was once a private shrine of the Peshwa rulers. Visitors have to climb 108 unpaved stone steps to reach here and it surely adds to the adventure. The Parvati Museum is a must see here as it houses replicas of ancient paintings and manuscripts.
Pataleshwar Cave Temple
This 8th century rock cut temple is amongst the major attractions of Pune. Carved out of single basalt rock piece, this cave temple is able to grab the attention of many visitors. The temple is said to be built during the Rahtrakuta Era and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Shiva Linga, massive pillars and Nandi Bull are the main attractions of this temple.
The memorial of Mahadji Shinde, Shinde Chhatri is known for its architectural excellence. A well-preserved structure, Shinde Chhatri has gained the popularity for its fresh Anglo-Rajasthan style of architecture. The main hall has the silver statue of Mahadji; prayer vessels used by the family to propitiate family deity; carvings, paintings and photographs of the Scindia family.
Saras Baug can be an ideal place to visit during the evening. It is one of those places in Pune, where you can sit back and enjoy the view of setting sun. Yes, there is a temple perched on a hillock but visiting it is solely one’s decision. People often come to Saras Baug to spend a lazy and peaceful evening making this park a popular place in Pune.
Nature lovers are going to love this place, not that Pune lacks places that are blessed with nature’s best but this one is an add on. Somwhere around 2kms from Pune, Bund Garden is a perfect place for those who wish to spend time with nature. It makes a great place for organizing family picnics, laze around and may be read a book or two. One might also see a few migratory birds (if in the right season) and can enjoy boat riding as well.
Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park
Now, I may have to agree with people who think going to a zoo on a tour is waste of time. BUT, I honestly think that paying a visit to Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park is absolutely worth it. Yes, I know, the zoo has been in news for its reckless handling of the animals but things have changed. The place looks better and there also have been an increase in the number of animals here. The park is divided into three parts: an animal orphanage, a snake park, and a zoo that includes 42-acre Katraj Lake. Animals like Deer, white tiger, tiger, sloth bear and elephants can be seen here. The visitors can enjoy boating in the Katraj Lake.
Another haunt for nature lovers in Pune, Mulshi Dam is situated in the west of the city. The area around the Mulshi Dam has been developed into a tourist destination in Pune. Several resorts have been set adjacent to the Lake, which is formed by the water of Mulshi Dam. Those with interest in nature are going to love this place for the splendid view of Sahyadris it offers. It can be a great romantic escape for the love birds and an inspiration for those creative at heart.
Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum
Steeped in history, Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum is the place that every history buff needs to explore. There are 36 sections in this museum that houses antiques, carved palace doors, pottery, 17th century miniatures, collection of nut crackers, lamps, musical items, hookah pipes, hair drying combs other items from the Mughal and Maratha period.
Open Hours: 8.30AM to 5.30PM
Drive to Khadakwasla Dam, which is located at a distance of 20kms from Pune city. The area around the dam has become quite popular amongst the tourists due to its picturesque setting. Peacock Bay, Kudje village, Neelkanteshwar, located near Bahuli village and Sinhagad road bordering the dam have become favorite picnic spots for tourists in Pune.
Lohagarh Fort is another spectacular evidence of the golden Peshwa rule in Pune. Situated about 57kms from Pune on Pune-Lonavala road, the fort seems to have a rich history with rulers of several kingdoms occupying it at different periods of time. Mostly in ruins now, Lohagarh Fort has a charm that no one can deny. The fort overlooks the Pavana Reservoir and makes excellent vantage point for photography.
You have to get here, if you are in Pune to explore! Vetal Hill is the highest point in the city and do I need to say more? Offering an incredible view from the top, where Vetala Temple stands, Vetal is certainly a place to be if you are seeking to get some interesting pictures of Pune city. The best way to reach here is to trek, which by the way is an apt idea to execute early in the morning. It is indeed a delight to watch the sunrise view from here.
Eat at Vaishali and Have Coffee at Roopali
If you are a travel enthusiast, you eventually know that an ideal day sightseeing tour begins with a heavy breakfast. And, while you are in Pune, having breakfast at Vaishali and a cup of coffee at Roopali can give your day a kick start. Several travellers come here to enjoy the morning delicacies, so you have a good opportunity to interact with them and learn about their ways and reasons of exploring Pune. Enjoy authentic Maharashtrian and South Indian breakfast here.
Where: Ferguson College Road
What to Order: Sabudana Vada and Filter Coffee
Take Pictures from Shivaji Bridge
If your aim is to get some really cool pictures of Pune, Shivaji Bridge would be the perfect place to become footloose. It is an old bridge and also the entry point to Old Pune city. The place makes an excellent vantage point and is also a decent place for taking a walk.
Where: Near Shanivarwada
How to Reach: Take the Road opposite Mangala Theatre towards Congress Bhavan
Observe the Old Houses
Yes, we all live in cities with sky-kissing buildings that looking at the can cause acute cervical pain! And, to be honest, they aren’t fun anymore. So, Pune gives a break, momentarily, if not permanently, from feeling small infront of monster buildings. At Old Pune city, you have the opportunity to spend time checking out old houses, which by the way can be an absolutely delightful experience. According to people who have paid a visit to this place, there is always something new to be discovered.
Where: Old City
Shop for Bakery Items
You have to shop in Pune, not for souvenirs but for some sinfully tasty bakery items! Situated on MG Road, Budhani Chips and Kayani Bakery sell some of the best bakery makes that you cannot afford to miss out on. My advice to you would be to taste the item before you get it packed.
Where: MG Road, opposite Marz-O-Rin
What to Order: Potato Wayfers (Budhani Chips), Shruberry Biscuits and Mawa Cakes (Kayani Bakery)
Bike Ride to Lavasa
Ok, the USP of a trip to Pune! Lavasa, which is situated about 57kms from Pune makes an excellent place for a bike ride adventure. The journey between Pune and Lavasa is simply exotic; the winding path fringed one side with mountain and other with dense forest; roads that are just enough wide for a two –way traffic to move and the view that is somehow indescribable should not be missed. This is probably one bike trip in Pune that will remain etched in your memory.
Spend Time at Pu La Garden
Need a place to hangout in Pune? Well there are plenty and then there is Pu La Garden. Inspired by the famed Japanese Okayama’s Kōraku-en Garden, Pu La or Pune-Okayama Friendship Garden is a place in Pune to sought solace. The garden boasts multitudes of exotic flowers, creative landscape, exhaustive range of plants and a tranquil ambiance that is honestly hard to find anywhere else. So, it is recommended that once you are done with ticking everything on your things to do list, you must spend time here at the lovely Pu La Garden.
Where: Sinhagad Road
Opening Hours: 6AM to 10.30AM and 4PM to 8PM
Entry Ticket: Rs 5
Note: Photography is strictly prohibited, in case you wish to take pictures, please obtain permit from Sambhaji Uddan, J. M. Road.
Chill at Koregaon Park
Here’s where the action takes place in Pune! The best time of the day to visit here would be evening as the place comes to life. People come here to chill out with friends and to serve them many restaurants and cafes have been opened here. One has chance to try variety of cuisines both domestic and international. Koregaon Park can also be a great place for street shopping and to appreciate street art.
Where to Go: Sheesha Café, German Bakery, ABC Farms
What to Order: Cakes (German Bakery), Iranian Cuisine (Sheesha Café)