Once upon a time, Pune or Punyagiri as it used to be known was a small army outpost. Now, it is the second largest city in Maharashtra and growing.
The history of Pune can be considered to have started from the 8th century based on the artifacts found here. However, it was only after the great Shivaji came that Pune began to rise in importance. Pune is a captivating city where you can experience the cultural flavors of Maharashtra. There are the ruins and monuments of the former empires and the spectacular verdant valleys in the Western Ghats to explore. The cultural heritage of the city is exceptional. The city reverberates with the classical music of the region and the traditional literature of the region is immersive.
How to Get There
By Air :
Pune’s airport at Lohegaon is 12 km from the main city centre. Daily flights connect it to Mumbai and Delhi as well as to other cities such as Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai.
By Rail :
Pune is one of the most important rail junctions in the Central railways zone of Indian Railways. Plenty of trains connect it to major destinations in the south, north and west of the country by mail, express and superfast trains.
By Road :
Pune is well linked with major parts of the country and then it further connects to the major cities in Maharashtra as well.
Aga Khan Palace
The wooded landscape near the Mula River is the perfect spot for the grandeur of Aga Khan. It was constructed in the year 1892 but is most famous for the role it played in the struggle for independence in India. It was here in this immense palace that the major leaders of the nationalist movement including Mahatma Gandhi were interned for nearly two years by the British after Gandhi had launched the famous Quit India movement. The palace is also notable as the place where Kasturba Gandhi, the wife of Mahatma Gandhi, had breathed her last.
The ruin of the Shivneri Fort which was constructed in the 17th century is a spectacular sight. It is famous as the birthplace of the legendary Chhatrapati Shivaji who would go on to become the founder of the Maratha Empire and one of the greatest generals of India. Inside the fort, you will find two beautiful statues. One of them is a statue of the young Shivaji while the other belongs to his mother Jijabai. The small temple of Shiva Devi is thought to have been the inspiration for Shivaji’s name
The original Lal Mahal was built in the year 1630. It is famous as the palace where Shivaji grew up and stayed till he went on to capture the first fort in his long military career. Unfortunately, over the years the palace was reduced to rubble following a series of attacks. The current structure is a reconstruction of the palace. Lal Mahal is now a fascinating palace dedicated to the great general with various statues and paintings of him showcased inside.
Built in the year 1736 by Bajirao Peshwa, the Shaniwar Wada was a glorious palace. The seven storied palace was once the seat of power during its peak. Unfortunately, most of the palace was completely destroyed by fire in the 19th century. However, the ruins still stand showing you a fascinating glimpse into an older age. The foundations of the palace are still visible. The nagarkhana has survived as well and showcases an amazing craftsmanship with its lattice work and wooden pillars.
The Omkareshwar Temple is an incredible piece of architecture. This magnificent structure was constructed in the 17th century and is strong enough to withstand floods as shown by its endurance in the floods of 1962 which devastated the region. The style is decidedly extravagant with its massive columns and the amazing shikara and dome. The peaceful looking white dome was crafted from soapstone and displays delicate carvings. The shikhara of the temple has been influenced by the Nagara architectural style and it has five distinct layers. Each of these layers represents a different god of the Hindu religion. The temple itself is dedicated to Lord Omkareshwar, an avatar of the god Shiva.
Pataleshwar Cave Temple
The Pataleshwar Cave Temples were constructed during the 8th century and dedicated to Lord Shiva in his avatar of Lord Pataleshwar. The construction and the architecture are simply fantastic and is a testament to the skills of the artisans who made it a reality without the help of modern tools. The temple is filled with incredible and ornate carvings. The temple is also home to a grain of rice. It is, however, not just any grain of rice as it has been inscribed by a staggering number of 5000 characters.
Parvati Hill and Temple
Climb up the 108 steps of the Parvati Hill to get a spectacular panorama of the city of Pune. The top of the hill is adorned with five Hindu temples which are the Devdeveshwar Temple, Kartikeya Temple, Vishnu Temple, Shri Vitthal Temple and the Ramana Temple. The hill is also important historically due to its association with the Peshwa kings. A museum is also present here which contains an array of interesting artifacts, manuscripts and paintings from the Peshwa dynasty.
Katraj Snake Park
The Katraj Snake Park showcases the beauty of the slithering reptiles. The collection of snakes is quite good. It is possible to get a good view of these often misunderstood creatures as they move around the open pits. Additionally, there is zoological park nearby which houses various other animals and birds.