Poona or Pune derives its name from the title-“Punya Nagari” which means ‘blessed city’. Less well known than its prominent cousin- Mumbai, it has become what Mysuru is to Bangalore, a haven for people after their retirement.
But today Pune has broken away from the fetter of such odious comparisons to Mumbai, Pune is a city that is replete with the best features of any modern metropolis and at the same time, it retains its old world charm.
Pune is regarded as the cultural capital of Maharashtra. The majority of its residents belong to the Hindu faith and so there are some simply wonderful temples. The best known temples are the Halwai Ganpati temple and Parvati temple on Parvati hill. History buffs seeking religious places with historic value finds the temple of Dakshinamurthy, located near the confluence of rivers such as Bhama, Indrayani and Bhima. Other historic places include the world renowned rock-cut temple complex of Pataleshwar belonging to the 8th century and also Lal Mahal, Shaniwarwada and Aga Khan palace. Another prominent temple is the Shri Raja Kunjbihari temple built by ISKCON.
Persons, who are spiritually inclined but are not religious, can head to the globally famous Osho Ashram in Pune which assumes the name- Osho International Meditation Resort. This Ashram was founded by the late Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, also referred to as Osho. Preaching ‘free love’, this Ashram is one among the most well-liked spiritual resorts in the world which attracts visitors from hundreds of countries.
The city is one of the biggest in the Western Ghats and is surrounded by the beautiful mountain ranges of the Sahyadris which have inspired poets and travelers down the centuries. Hiking and trekking on the Sahyadris have been fascinating for the romantics and adventurous at heart. The Sinhagad fort, located on the outskirts of the city is an important tourist destination. A lake called as Pashan lake is found in the North-Western suburbs.
Along the Mumbai-Pune expressway lie the roads leading to the stunning Bhaja and Karla caves which are the vestiges of the Buddhist faith of ancient times. Karla is home to detailed carvings, elaborate sculptures and an imposing prayer hall. This Buddhist complex lies on the trade route linking the Indian heartland to the Arabian sea. The monastic dwellings of the Bhaja caves are hewn in Basalt rock. The ceilings feature amazing wooden architecture. An enchanting ambience is created in the monsoon season with an amazing waterfall set amidst decorative sculptures.
Being a cultural capital, Pune is rich in theater, crafts, arts, music festivals and other events in Pune. Pune is also home to FTII, the premier film institute of India which is alma mater to the who’s who of the Indian film industry. These doyens of the industry provide guest lectures and take part in interactive session with the FTII students.
Pune also hosts the Sawai Gandharwa music festival organized annually in December led by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and his followers. These concerts fete the life and achievements of Pandit Sawai Gandharwa and attract an audience of people from all around the country and the world. These concerts are among the most popular classical music events in the country.
For those interested in public monuments, head to the Babasaheb Ambedkar museum , museum of war memorial and Pu La Deshpande Garden. Pune is also famous as a green city with numerous parks like Shahu Udyan and Kamala Nehru park.
These are some interesting spots to visit in Pune.