PUNE TOURISM GUIDE:
Map: Pune Tourism, Maharashtra, India
Location: Southwestern Part Of Maharashtra
Formerly Known As: Poona
Also Known As: Queen Of The Deccan
Best Time To Visit: October To March
The city, formerly spelt as Poona is located just 170-km from Mumbai at an altitude of 598m. Pune is Maharashtra’s second city, which lies close to the Western Ghat Mountains (known also as the Sahyadri Hills), on the edge of the Deccan plains as they stretch away to the east. Pune is the cultural capital of the Maratha people, which is also known as the “Queen of the Deccan.”
The city of Pune first gained its importance as the capital of the Marathas in the 17th century. It was temporarily captured by the Mughals but again became the official Maratha capital from 1714 until its fall to the British in 1817. It served as the seasonal capital of the Bombay Presidency, and after independence it is a burgeoning city, expanding in all directions, but especially along the Pune – Mumbai (Bombay) rail and road routes through the industrial townships of Pimpri, and Chinchwad.
A Metro City:
Today Pune is one of the leading metros in India, with the Film and Television Institute of India and National Defence Academy based here. It is fast becoming one of the major hubs of industry and commerce in the country. It is also an important commercial and educational centre with distinctive features and characteristics of its own. The region surrounding Pune, now called Greater Pune, includes parts of the Sahyadri Hills, the Balaghat Range (north) and the Mahadeo Hills (south), which enclose the upper Bhima River Valley.
The city was one of the pivotal bases of the 17th century Maratha ruler Chhatrapati Shivaji, who was born at the Shivneri Fort here. Later, Pune was handed over to the Peshwa family, whose Maratha power rose to be a major political force. Its influence expanded beyond the limits of the Maratha kingdom. After the Battle of Koregaon in 1818, Pune fell into the hands of the East India Company. The British proposed to transform the city into a ‘monsoon capital’ but instead developed it into a 19th century Indian army town and renamed it Poona.
Specimen Of Maharashtrian Cultural Heritage:
Pune exemplifies an indigenous Marathi culture and ethos, in which education, arts and crafts, and theatres are given due prominence. It is the birthplace of the poet-saint Tukaram (in Dehu) and Jnaneshvara (in Alandi), the author of the well-known commentary on the “Bhagavad Gita”.
It is the home of great freedom fighters like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Agarkar and Gopal Krishna Gokhale. Jayant Narlikar, the famous contemporary scientist, is from Pune. Pune is the seat of North Indian Classical music. Annually, in the month of December, it hosts a three nightlong cultural program of vocal and instrumental classical music, called “Savai-Gandharva”.
Pune boasts of its art galleries, museums such as the Raja Kelkar museum, which is a one-man collection of artifacts. Recently, a National sports complex has been built on the north western edge of Pune. It has produced renowned authors like Mr. P.L. Deshpande, who personify Pune’s standing as an old education centre.
Pune has been an example for the blending of the culture and heritage with modernisation and its side effects. With the Pune festival, Osho Commune International, IUCAA, FTII and a number of research and defence establishments, Pune has become a major attraction, with a lot to offer to its tourists. Though mostly populated with a Marathi-speaking community, Pune is slowly becoming a more cosmopolitan city.
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN PUNE:
Most of the important religious, historical, and tourist attractions are located around the Sahyadri and its slopes abutting the Bhima River. Some of the famous Marathi forts like Sinhgad have become modern resorts. Important religious centers of Pune include Bhimashankar, one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, of India; Dehu the birthplace of the poet-saint Tukaram; Alandi, the home of the Jnaneshvara, the author of the well-known commentary on the Bhagavadgita, and Karli, the site of famous Buddhist caves. Nearby are Meherazad and Meherabad, sites associated with Saint Meher Baba.
The Agakhan Palace: Agakhan Palace is a great historical landmark of Pune, situated 2-km away from Bund Garden in Yerwada on Pune – Nagar Road. Agakhan palace is made of Italian arches and spacious lawns.
Appu Ghar: Appu Ghar located in Indira Gandhi Udyan near Pimpri in Pune is a perfect picnic spot for all. People from all age groups visit this place. There are number of games, which attract children. Appu Ghar also houses vast explorable hills, which attract the youngsters and a cool and comely Lake for older generation people. It’s a place worth visiting at least once, while in Pune. It is opened from 12:00 Noon to 8:00 p.m.
Bund Gardens: Presently known as Mahatma Gandhi Udyan, these gardens are situated just two kms north east of the railway station on the right bank of the Mula Mutha river in Poona. The bund was constructed by Sir Jamshedji Jeejeebhoy for providing water to the poor. A noble gesture remembered forever.
Chaturshrungi Goddess Temple: The popular temple of Goddess Chaturshrungi considered as the reigning deity of Poona is situated on the slopes of a mountain on Senapati Bapat Road, northwest part of the city of Poona. She is also known as Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati and Ambareshwari. This temple is ninety feet high located midst of nature’s scenic beauty. This temple was built in Shivaji era. It is looked after by Chatushringi Devasthan Trustees, with full dedication.
Dagdusheth Ganapati: Dagdusheth Ganapati temple is situated in the heart of the city, which houses the most famous deity of Maharashtrians, the Ganesh. Dagdusheth Ganapati is the famous and richest deity of Pune and so it is called the ‘Shreemant’ Dagdusheth (Shreemant means rich in Marathi).
Dashmesh Darbar On Deccan College Road: Dashmesh Darbar was established in 1950. According to Mahendra Singh, caretaker of this Gurdwara, their 10th guru, Guru Gobind Singh’s, presence and strength prevails in the entire area of the Gurdwara. According to him man should never forget the holy ‘Granth’ be in happiness or distress. Guru Nanak Jayanti, Baisakhi and Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti are the three significant days that are observed in this Gurdwara.
Ganesh Peth Gurdwara – Gurusingh Sabha: Ganesh Peth Gurdwara is one of the oldest and biggest Gurdwaras of Poona. This Gurdwara opens up early in the morning with prayers. This Gurdwara also adheres to the teaching of their first Guru, Guru Nanak Dev, that all human beings on this Earth are equal and whatever we produce should be equally distributed among all. Every Sunday after the morning session a community Lunch – ‘Langar’ is served, where everybody, irrespective of rich or poor, sit on the floor and eat. The Gurdwara is open to people of all religions.
Gurdwara Shri Gurusingh Sabha, Khadki Bazaar: Gurdwara Shri Gurusingh Sabha is located at Khadki Bazaar in Poona. On every Sunday there is a holy gathering where discourses are held to enable devotees to spend the day immersed in the teachings of their Gurus.
Ramgodia Shivajinagar Gurdwara: The day in this Gurdwara starts at 5: 00 a.m. with Pooja, followed by ‘Raheras Path’ and ‘Kirtan’ is arranged between 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. After Kirtan, ‘Langar’ is held in which 250 to 300 people participate. Ramgodia Bhavan Committee extends financial help to the needy and poor.
Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum: Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum in Poona (Pune) houses an enormous number of over 20,000 collections of objects and artifacts collected from all over the world. Built in a Rajasthani-style, the museum has a vast collection of paintings, handicrafts, armour-suits, musical instruments and many other objects of art. The galleries give the onlooker a clear depiction of the life and culture of the Marathas.
Nagpur Chawl Gurdwara: Sobharaj Khatani established Chawl Gurdwara 30 years ago. Though the Gurdwara is small in size, all the rituals and prayers are carried out with high sanctity over here. The day starts at 5.30. p.m. with Pujas and Kirtans, after which the ‘Prashad’ is distributed.
Datta Mandir: Dagdu Halwai Datta Mandir is a famous temple of Pune located in the city area of Budhwar Peth on the famous Laxmi Road as well as near the Mahata Phule market, which is popularly known as “Mandai”.
Kasba Ganapati: Kasba Ganapati temple is situated in the heart of the Pune City, which is considered as the first Ganapati in the city. This Ganapati is Pune’s pride and entire Maharashtra’s most popular and most respected Ganapati. He is considered as the Gram Devata (deity of the city) of Pune.
Nageshwar Temple: Nageshwar temple is considered as one of the oldest temples of Pune and it has been there since the times of Sant Gyaneshwar (also known as ‘Jnaneshwar’) and Tukaram. One can notice that the main shrine has the typical Yadava structure with a stone roof. Several renovations and additions have been made the temple over the years. It is believed that there was once a reservoir near the temple, whose water could cure leprosy.
Osho Ashram: Ohso ashram, which is now known as the Osho communal centre is located at 17-km away from Koregoan Park, a green and elite suburb of Pune. This place gained recognition, because of the presence of this ashram. Bhagwan Rajneesh is the founder of the ashram. Thousands of visitors are attracted to this ashram. The Ashram offers a variety of expensive courses on meditation
Panchaleshwar Temple: Pune has many temples, which are very famous. Among them there is Panchaleshwar Temple, which dates back to the 8th century. Panchaleshwar temple is very small and is built in a style similar to the much grander rock temples of Ellora. The story goes that it was excavated in one night. One can see a fine equestrian statue of Shivaji near the temple.
Parnakuti: Parnakuti is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, which is situated on top of a hill across the famous Bund Garden. The place is very crowded but as soon as one enters the temple, one can meditate peacefully.
Pataleshwar Temple: Pataleshwar Temple is an ancient rock cut temple dating back to 8th century housed in caves, amidst modern high-rise structures and developments, at Jungli Maharaj Road in Pune. Pataleshwar temple is similar in style to that of temples found in Ellora. This temple has been carved out of a single boulder of awe-inspiring size, which includes massive pillars.
Parvati Hill and Temple: Parvati hill is in the southernmost part of the Pune City. It is a famous landmark of the city with a group of beautiful temples. These temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati, Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya, the family of Lord Siva, which were built by Balaji Baji Rao. A steep flight of 108 narrow steps lead to the hill, but it is not very difficult to climb.
The Fire Temple: Sir Jeejeebhoy built the Fire temple in 1844, which is located along the Dastur Meher Road, once known as Agiary Street. It is the place of worship of the Zoroastrian inhabitants. The temple has the Atesh Adaran Saheb (the Holy Fire and Sacred Holy Book) enthroned in it.
Trishundya Ganapati Temple: Trishundya Ganapati temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha (also spelt as ‘Ganesh’) is located in Somwar Peth, Pune. It was built during reign of Peshwa. The temple derived its name from the idol of Ganesh, which has three trunks and hence the name ‘Tri-Shundya’ which means three trunks. The idol is made of wood, which is the only one of its kind in the entire country. The temple has beautiful carvings on its exterior.
The Durgadevi Park Temple Of Vaishnodevi: The Durgadevi Park Temple of Vaishnodevi is located in Pimpri about 20-km from the city of Pune. This temple is a replica of the Vaishnodevi temple located at the Katra village in Jammu and Kashmir. It was built in just 90 days in the year 1993. Vaishnodevi is also called, ‘Jai Mata Di’. It is said that this deity fulfils all your desires.
Shaniwarwada: Shaniwarwada, the royal residence built by the second Peshwa, Bajirao-I is located in Pune to the West of Lal Mahal, divided by just a busy traffic intersection from the famous Ganesh Darwaza. It became the seat of political power during his days and achieved tremendous importance. To this date the Shaniwarwada has been the city’s landmark. A charming place that will take one through the memorable pages of Maratha history. It is said to have been the finest palace in the Deccan in its times.
SarasBaug: With pleasant lawns and the famous Ganesh temple built by Madhavrao Peshwa, Saras Baug is a popular evening spot in Pune. An exquisitely landscaped place with excellent, well manicured lawns and well lit fountains recourse where one can relax especially during the evenings.
Shinde’s Chattari: Shinde’s Chattari is one among the best architectural sights in Pune, which is a memorial of the great Maratha warrior, Mahadaji Shinde. It treasures his Chhattari (umbrella) among many other personal effects.
Lal Deval (Synagogue): David Sassoon built the Ohel David Lal Devul (Red Temple), in 1867 for the small Jewish community. It is a beautifully built synagogue, in English-Gothic style, made of red bricks and well-drafted stones. It is also believed to be one of the largest synagogues in the world.
Pashan Lake: Pashan Lake is a small lake around 12-km off the road to the National Defense Academy in Pune, which is a favourite haunt for migratory birds during the winter. The lake is being developed as a bird sanctuary and is considered a Ornithologists delight.
Sinhagad Fort: Sinhagad fort stands 25-km away from Pune and is one of the important Maratha forts having a colourful history linked with it. The fort was formerly known as “Kondhana”, its literal translation is the “Fortress of the Lion”. The fort is the most impregnable fort in western India. It has changed hands many times from Mohammed Tughluq in 1340 AD to the British in 1918 AD.
Pimpri Lake: Pimpri Lake is an artificial lake connected to an industrial-cum-residential effluent water treatment plant in Pimpri. Recently, it has started attracting some rare migratory birds, including Siberian cranes.
Dehu-Alandi: Dehu is an ancient town on the river Indrayani. It is about 24-km from Pune and is easily accessible. Dehu is the birthplace of famous poet-saint Tukaram. Abhang Gatha is considered as the eternal creation of Poet Tukaram. It has gained a proud place in Marathi literature. According to legend, the adversaries of the saint-poet mercilessly sank his entire collection of Abhangas in the river, but low and behold, to their surprise, the Gatha surfaced and was saved.
Alandi is a small village located 22-km away from Pune, on the banks of the river Indrayani. It is one of the important pilgrim centres of Maharashtra. It houses the ‘Samadhi’ of Sant Dnyaneshwar’s who is the author of “Dnyaneshwari”. Dnyaneshwar lived and attained ‘Samadhi’ in Alandi at a tender age of 21.
EXCURSIONS IN PUNE:
Baneshwar: Baneshwar is situated 30-km down south of the Swargate area in Pune. It’s an ideal spot for a one-day trip. The famous temple of Lord Shiva has been built amidst a green forest. Since the temple is situated in ‘Ban’ – Jungle or dark woods – hence it was named as ‘Baneshwar’. The temple is simple and lovely with a light stand, water tanks, and a big bell. The feeling of tranquillity is enhanced by the gentle swaying of the huge ‘Gulmohar’ trees as you approach the temple. There are idols of Devi Laxmi, Lord Vishnu and Lord Mahadev in the temple. There are five Shiva Lingas here in trench, which can be easily seen with the help of light.
Shivthar Ghal: Shivthar Ghal is a small place near Pune, which is a must-see especially in the rainy season. This Ghat is situated north of Varandha Ghat. The caves situated here are famous because Saint Ramdas (Shivaji’s Guru or teacher) had written the famous “Dasbodh” here. It took almost 12 years to complete Dasbodh as Ramdas Swami dictated it and Kalyan Swami wrote it down.
Karla and Bhaja Caves: Karla and Bhaja Caves are the largest Chaitya Caves in India that date back to 2nd century BC, which are situated near Lonavala. The Chaitya among the caves is the biggest of its kind and well preserved. They are the pinnacle of modern Maharashtra and were carved thousands of years ago. Although as exquisite as the more, famous Ajanta and Ellora caves, these caves are less crowded and make for an extremely pleasant outing.
Shree Chintamani Temple At Theur: Theur is a village that lies along the river Mulamutha in Haveli Taluka 30-km away from Pune and is one of the most ancient areas of Maharashtra. It is believed that at Theur, Morya Gosavi attained ‘Siddhi’ (knowledge) and the Chintamani Ganpati temple was erected by Shri Daharnidhar Maharaj Devji, son of Maurya Gosaviji.
Katraj Snake Park: The Snake Park came into existence in the year 1986, with the active aid of Pune Municipal Corporation. As on date, this reserve houses a collection of a wide range of reptiles, birds, and others. The most valuable one is the six-year-old; nine feet long King Cobra. A group of beautiful temples of Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha, Vishnu and Kartikeya, and of Goddess Parvati makes it an increasingly attractive sight.
Khadakwasla / Panshet: Khadakwasla and Panshet are the two major dams providing water to the entire Pune City. Khadakwasla dam was constructed in pre-independence period in 1867. The dam is a major one and Puniites enjoy their holidays here. It is one and half hour drive from Pune and two and half-hour drive from Mumbai. The amazing view of Sinhagad and Peacock Bay is again a major attraction of Khadakwasla.
Ballaleshwar Vinayak Temple: Palicha Shree Ballaleshwar is situated 110-kms from Pune. It is one of the Ashtha Vinayak temples dedicated to Ganapati who is known here as “Ballaleshwar”. This temple is named after a devotee ‘Ballal’ of Pali. Nana Phadnis constructed the temple in the year 1770.
Moreshwar Moregaon: Moregaon village is located in the Baramati Taluka of Pune district in Maharashtra. It is at a distance of about 50-km from Pune and this region is also known as the Bhuswananda. It gained prominence as it houses a shrine of Mayureshwar Vinayak, one of the Astha Vinayak shrines. It is considered, as the foremost shrine of Ganesha. Morya Gosavi built it in the 14th century.
Mahaganapati Temple At Ranjangaon: Ranjangaon is a small village located around 50-km from Pune on the Pune -Aurangabad Highway, which houses a temple where the deity is known as Mahaganapati because of the size of the statue. The statue has ten trunks and twenty arms. It is believed that Mahaganpati was hidden to prevent its destruction from non-believers. This temple is visited by thousands of devotees during the Bhadrapad festival.
Bhimashankar: Bhavagiri is a small village 50-km north west of Khed, which houses Bhimashankar (also spelt as ‘Bhimashankara’) is one of the 12 ‘Jyotirlingas’ of Shiva. Nana Pandnavis constructed this beautiful temple, which is located just 110-km away from Pune in the ghat region of the Sahyadri hills. Bhimashankar is a very important pilgrimage place in Maharashtra. Bhimashankar is also the source of the river Bhima, which flows southeast and merges with the Krishna River near Raichur.
Lonavala & Kandavala: Lonavala and Khandala are two charming little hill stations on the western slopes of the Sahyadris, 5-km apart, that straddle the Mumbai – Pune highway at an altitude of 625m. Quite popular as health resorts and blessed by the nature in bounty, the hill resorts have plethora of places of Tourist Attraction such as beautiful Hills, deep green valleys, huge lakes, historic forts, waterfalls etc. Lonavala and Khandala offer breathtaking views of cascading waterfalls during the monsoon, and the surrounding mountains of the plains spread out to the horizon. A trip to these holiday resorts can be combined with that on the Karla, Bhaja, and Bedsa caves, which are very near from Lonavala.
Lohagad And Visapur Fort: Lohagad and Visapur Fort are located near to Malavali, 52-km away from Pune. These majestic forts were built in the 18th century atop an impressive hill. They are separated by a 1-km ridge and are ideal for trekking and can be toured in a day from Pune.
Matheran: Matheran is a fascinating hill-station, 80-km east of Mumbai in Alibag district and it is situated at an Altitude of 800m. This little hill paradise has been left largely undisturbed, since the time when an Englishman, Hugh Mallet, Collector of Thane, discovered it in 1850 and declared it a fine place for shady walks.
Shivneri Fort: The Shivneri Fort is located at a distance of around 3-km from Junnar (125-km from Pune). The prominent historical figure of the state of Maharashtra, Chatrapathi Shivaji was born in this hill fort in 1627.
Panchgani: Panchgani is an idyllic mountain retreat in the Krishna valley. Tucked away in the Satara district of Maharashtra, Panchgani is a well-known hill station of Maharashtra on the highway to Mahabaleshwar from Pune. It derives its name from the five hills around it. Situated at an altitude of 1334 m, the 18-km approach to the Panchgani is breathtaking, offering heart-stopping views of the River Krishna on one side and the coastal plains on the other. It is far from the noise of Pune and the endless hustle-bustle and pollution of Mumbai metropolis. It is the first hill town one reaches from Mahabaleshwar on the Pune road.
Jejuri: Jejuri is one the popular pilgrim centres of Maharashtra, located 38-km away from Pune and 60-km away from Solapur. It houses a temple dedicated to Lord Khandoba. Khandoba, popularly known as Khandobachi Jejuri, is one of the important Gods worshipped by Dhangar, the oldest tribes in Maharashtra. It is believed that Khandoba, is a god of Sakamabhakti i.e. the God who fulfils all the desires of his devotees. Jejuri is popular for its old Deep Mala.
Mahabaleshwar: Mahabaleshwar, Queen of all Hill Stations, is situated at an altitude of 1372m in the heart of Sahyadri Hills in Satara District. The hill station has a legendary past. The name ‘Mahabaleshwar’ is derived from a temple of Lord Mahadev and three Sanskrit words, Maha (great), Bal (power) and Ishwar (God). But, some say that the name ‘Mahabaleshwar’, which simply means very mighty God, seems to have a mythological past.
Rajgadh: Rajgadh fort is about 85-km from Pune, this fort has great historical relevance, as it was Shivaji’s favourite fort. Practically speaking, a two-hour bus drive to Wazheghar, or Bhutonda or Pali are the three options one is having that will take one right to the foothills of this legendary fort.
PUNE TRAVEL INFORMATION:
Air: Pune has an airport situated in the Lohagaon area, about 12-km from the city. Though the airport is small, but it is well maintained and operates about 7-8 flights every day. Various Domestic Airlines provide regular flights between Pune-Mumbai, Pune-Bangalore, Pune-Delhi, Pune-Chennai, Pune-Ahmedabad, Pune-Hyderabad and Pune-Goa sectors.
Rail: As Pune is one of the last stops for around twenty long-distance trains on their way to Mumbai, rail services are excellent. Many depart early in the morning, however, and some terminate at Dadar, so always check up at Telephone Information Service run by the Railway Enquiries Office. The most convenient, options for Mumbai CST are Deccan Queen Express #1008 (4hr 30min), Pragati Express #1026 (3hr 45min) and Sahyadri Express #7304 (4hr 35min).
Direct Express trains from Pune also run to Hyderabad (Mumbai-Hyderabad Express #7031; daily), New Delhi (Jhelum Express #1077; daily), Madras (Mumbai-Chennai Express #6011; daily), Bangalore (Shatabdi Express) #2027 and Indrayani Express; daily) and Thiruvanantpuram (Kanyakumari Express #1081; daily). Reservations for all trains should be made at the New Reservation Centre next to the station (Monday-Saturday 8.00am-2.00pm & 2.15pm-8.00pm, Sunday 8.00am-2.00pm).
Road: Pune is well connected by road with the cities and towns within the state and also with the major cities and towns beyond the state. From Mumbai, regular MSRTC buses and private buses ply to Pune. Services from the city stand next to the station head south, to Mahabaleshwar (3hr), Kolhapur (12hr), and Goa (6:30pm & 8.00pm; 15hr; book in advance from the Kadamba hatch).
Asiad buses to Mumbai (4hr) also leave here every 15 minutes, but must be booked a day or so in advance. If one is heading up to Lonavala or Aurangabad, one will have to travel across the river to the Shivaji Nagar terminus. Finally, there’s also a very handy direct bus service to Mumbai’s Sahara and Santa Cruz airports, leaving Pune at 4.00pm and arriving five hours later; tickets are sold through the Thomas Cook Office on General Thimmaya Road
PUNE CITY USEFUL INFORMATION:
Where to Stay in Pune City:
Pune is well stocked with hotels, though the five star ones are quite high priced to keep up with the big cities. Most of the budget accommodations can be found in the area south of the train station around Connaught Road. The station is also equipped with some better than average retiring rooms.
The Pune Festival, held in the months of August-September during Ganesh Mahotsav, is the biggest festival in the city of Pune. Beginning on the day of the installation of idols of Lord Ganesha it goes on till the immersion of the Lord’s idols on the tenth day.
Thomas Cook Gen Thimmaya Rd, MG Road and East St
American Express M. G. Road
Bank of India
Dr. Ambedkar Hospital
Deen Dayal Hospital
Inamdars Heart Hospital
Inlaks & Budhrani & M.N.B.Cancer
Jahangir Nursing Home
Laxmi Road and Mahatma Gandhi Road are quite popular clothes, electronic goods, white goods and food related items.
PUNE GENERAL INFORMATION
Population: 15,64,000 (1991 Census)
Altitude: 559 meters
Temperature range (deg C)
Summer: Maximum 400C Minimum 290C
Winter: Maximum 260C Minimum 100C
Clothing: Cottons in summer and light Woollen in Winter
STD CODE: 020
The MTDC tourist office is in the government offices known as Central Buildings.
NEARBY CITIES OF PUNE