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Shirdi & Shani Shingnapur
Pune may not be a cosmopolitan city as its upstart cousin on the cost, Mumbai, but it is a pleasant getaway for all those who want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The city has a calm atmosphere, non-confronting people, and is certainly much more relaxed and peaceful than Mumbai. If you consider Maharashtra as a Marathi speaking state of India, then Pune can undoubtedly be called its capital, with its glorious past and high concentration of Marathi speaking people. The place was early home of great Maratha warrior Shivaji and became the Maratha capital in 1750.
For a brief period, the city was under the control of Nizam of Hyderabad and later came under the British rule in 1817. The British tried to develop the city as the summer capital of Maharashtra and a military cantonment. Today, the city has lost much of its grandeur of Maratha period but the places around here are quite rich in heritage and natural beauty.
In the recent times the city of Pune became famous for being home to the Osho Commune International. The ashram attracts a large number of people from around the world to practice Osho’s new-age meditation techniques. Pune is also an internationally renowned educational centre, being home to many institutions of repute like Film and Television Institute of India, Armed Forces Medical College, National Defence Academy and Symbiosis Educational Society.
Most of the attractions in Pune may not have been very famous, but that should not deter the tourists from visiting them. They have their own qualities that can be experienced only after seeing them. Most of the attractions are related to the Marathas, who at one point of time controlled much of the north and western India and challenged the might of Mughal Empire as well as that of British.
Here one can have a look at the remnants of foundations and outer walls of multi-story Shaniwar Wada that was burnt down in 1827. Pataleshwar Cave Temple is a welcome respite from the general bustle and crowds at most of the other temples. Raja Denkar Kelkar Museum is one place in Pune that should never be missed as the more than 17,000 art objects exhibited here are the example of how curiosity of a single man can create wonders. There are some more interesting sites in Pune like Saras Baug, Kasturba Samadhi, and Film and Television Institute of India that one should visit.
In the Maratha Kingdom, Pune was the centre of power and all the places around this city reflect the might and glory of Marathas. Sinhagad, a hilltop fort, is the epitome of the bravery and cleverness of Maratha warriors. Raigad Fort was the place closely associated with the life and times of Shivaji, an icon of Maratha pride. Bhimashankar is a place known as much for its religious importance as for its natural surroundings. Jejuri has one of the most important temples in Maharashtra situated on a hilltop.
|Shaniwar Wada Palace was built by Balaji Rao, the grandfather of the last Peshwa in 1736. Today, only the massive outer wall of the Palace is left as the rest of it was burnt down in 1827. During its glorious days, the palace used to be the multi-storey home of mighty Peshwas. The main entrance to this place is through iron-spiked Delhi Gate. The nearby street was used to punish people by getting them crushed by elephants. The gardens here were irrigated by Hazari Karanje (thousand jet fountain), though there were only 97 jets to irrigate.
Pataleshwar Cave Temple
A marvellous respite from the bustle in Pune, Pataleshwar Cave Temple is quite elegant and exudes spirituality. Adding to the tranquility and beauty of the site is the circular stone gazebo ( Nandi mapandapam) standing by the entrance of this small underground temple.
Raja Denkar Kelkar Museum
Creation of the passionate efforts of a single person, Dr. D.G.Kelkar, the museum has a vast collection of unique and peculiar exhibits. The collection is eclectic and exceptional. In a pleasant change from the other well-known museums of India, the Raja Denkar Kelkar museum exhibits the diversity of India\’s culture in a subtle and delightful way. Some of the interesting objects exhibited here are an elephant-shaped foot scrubber, a brass scorpion that reveals a secret lock and eight images of Lord Ganesha carved on a bean.
A popular evening spot in Pune, you can visit the sprawling green lawns and the famous Ganesh Temple constructed by Madhavrao Peshwa.
Kasturba Samadhi is located near the Aga Khan Palace, now Gandhi National Museum. Kasturba was the wife of Mahatma Gandhi. She died at Aga Khan Palace, which was used to imprison Gandhi by the British. The samadhi contains the ashes of Kasturba.
Film and Television Institute of India
Situated in the Law College Street, Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) is one of the most prominent film schools in Asia. The institute has trained a good number of famed actors, directors, and technicians for the Hindi Film Industry.
Excursions for Pune
Bhimashankar is a little picturesque spot situated around 95 kilometres from Pune. The place has everything to attract the visitors — deep forests, temples,rivers and all other things that give you a feeling of being in a paradise. More than anything else the place is famous for the temple of Lord Shiva, one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India. The place is also the point of origin of river Bhim. A must visit if you are interested in trekking, nature watching, and bird watching.
Popularly known as Khandobachi Jejuri, Jejuri is a famous temple of Maharashtra. The temple is dedicated to Mhalsakant or Malhari Martand, a god worshipped by Dhangars, one of the oldest tribes in Maharashtra. The temple is situated on a hill and you need to negotiate 200 steps to reach it. Jejuri is situated around 40 kilometres south-east of Pune towards Phaltan.
Raigad is the place where Shivaji was crowned in 1648 and died in 1680. From the fort located on an isolated hilltop, you can get a breathtaking view of the Western Ghats. To reach the hilltop, you need to ascend the steep climb. Raigad is situated at a distance of around 126 kilometres from Pune.
The Lion Fort or Sinhagad, situated around 25 kilometres south-west of Pune is atop a steep hill. Now almost ruined, the fort has a interesting history. It was in the year 1670, that Tanaji Malusre, a general of Shivaji scaled the steep hill in dark with his men and defeated the forces of Bijapur. According to legends, the Maratha forces used trained lizards to carry the ropes up the hillside. This is also the place where Mahatma Gandhi met another stalwart of Indian freedom struggle, Bal Gangadhar Tilak in 1915 for the first time. A pleasant day trip to this place should not be missed.
• Area 146.11 sq. km
• Population 1,566,651
• Altitude 560 m above the sea level
• Languages Marathi, Hindi, English
• Best time to visit October- May
• STD code 020