I have a very very important place for Pune in my heart. Being a Punekar, it is a privilege. It is something to get yourself imbibed in the cultural, demo-graphical, spiritual and novel extravaganza that Pune is. When you call yourself a “Punekar” you feel proud, not only of the great historical or educational epitome, but of simple little things like Fergusson College, Vaishali, Rupali, Dagdusheth, Bakarwadi and what not. Pune might not be the best place to live in India, but it surely is the most homely!
I know, a lot of you out there would like to contradict my sentiment here by giving loads of examples of Puneri people being rude. And I won’t counter that! All we have to do is give them time and they’ll take you in as a family and never let go. Another astonishing fact about all the ‘Punekars’ is that they always stick together, well at least when it’s a debate on Pune versus the world. And I think that is a very important thing for a city like Pune. The sense of simplicity does not exist in Pune; it has to be royal or utterly phenomenal. The simple pride of being a Punekar is sometimes overwhelming. Now I know that Pune is not a very big city, but I guess that’s what makes it special for me.
Located at the convergence of two rivers, Mula and Mutha, Pune has retained its historic past despite embracing modernity. The city is a charming melange of the old and the new, traditional and contemporary. You can also rush your adrenalin with adventure activities like camping, rappelling, lake crossing, paragliding and jungle trekking.
The “Oxford of the East” exhibits typical Maharashtrian lifestyle as well as modern lifestyle associated with a metro city. The spread of modern education and an influx of students from different countries and culture have provided the city with a progressive and contemporary outlook. Pune has become very similar to Mumbai in lifestyle, trends and education.
The best thing anyone would indulge in is exploring Pune’s Peths from Somwar, Mangalwar, Budhwar, Guruwar, Shukrawar, Shaniwar and Raviwar Peth. Phew! All named after 7 days of a week. The teeming Peths give you a glimpse of old world Pune. The famous monuments Shaniwar Wada, Lal Mahal, Vishrambaug Wada, are in the Peths. If the work(walk)out drains you, head to Srikrishnas, Tulshi Baug/ Bedekar’s, Budhwar Peth for ‘Misal’ and a mango ‘Mastani’ at Sujata, Sadashiv Peth. Bargain shopping at Tulshi Baug, and then buy the Pune;s renowned Chitale ‘Bakarwadis’ to carry back home. For the romantic soul there is Chandni Chowk, or the moon gaze near the Khadakwasla dam – Once the outskirts of Pune, Chandni Chowk is home to resto bars and fine dining restaurants. Just the right place to open up your heart to whisper the sweet nothings. And once done, drive down to the Khadakwasla dam for moon gazing near serene waters. This is one thing which I still long to do. Never got a chance, but hopefully will carve one out.
Glimpses caught only at the peak time of the year are ‘Palkhi’- Pune is famed for the Shakti and Bhakti movements of its rulers and saints respectively. Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram, 2 illustrious saints inculcated devotion in the hearts of the common man- through simple Marathi books and bhajans. Every year, thousands of devoted ‘Warkaris’ undertake a pilgrimage of close to 250 k.m. by foot to Pandharpur from Alandi & Dehu Road (with the padukas of the saints) to worship their ‘Vithoba’.
Foreigners thrive in the most happening part of the city Koregaon Park – KP as its fondly known has a few reputed addresses to its credit- the German Bakery, Osho Ashram, and my personal favourite Malaka Spice. You will spot people from different nationalities rub shoulders here. KP has some of the finest experimental restaurants, pubs in the city. A good time to visit would be in the evening. And yes, don’t forget to pick a pair of the famous ‘Osho chappals’.
I do not feel like ending this blog because there is still so much to say, but each has their own little experience of a city which holds a special place. This is mine. Would love to hear yours.
Note: Some info on the places is sought from Google!