Some cities become home even if it is thousands of miles away from your roots
It is hard to explain how and why I love Pune. Some cities are meant to be a love affair and that’s what Pune was for me – a beautiful love affair.
September 2015: I used to live in Chennai at that time. Husband & I did our first road trip through Maharashtra in September 2015. It started with staying at a farmhouse in Nashik, tasting gorgeous wines and exploring the vineyards. We also covered Shirdi, Satara, Kaas Plateau and a little bit of Pune. That was when we fell in love with Pune and call it the law of attraction or our luck – we moved to Pune in March 2016. Within 6 months. 🙂
March 2016 – July 2019: The beautiful period when Pune was my home. Deep in my heart, Pune is still my home. I lived in Pune for 3.5 years and those were unbeatably the most amazing and fulfilling years of my life.
I’ve had this blog saved in my drafts for over a month now. Every time I started to work on this article, I began to sway in my thoughts and never got around completing it. Anyhow, here it is – complete and ready for you to read.
For some of you, this blog will serve as a guide to Pune. For me, this blog is a small tribute to my beautiful years in Pune. I’ve jotted down everything that made my life downright amazing. I’ve included details from both traveller and a resident perspective. Don’t treat this as a definitive guide to Pune – no guides can be definitive! These are pieces I adore and I hope you’ll do too.
Alright, Let’s begin!
Things to do in Pune
Nestled amidst the Sahayadris, Pune is blessed with abundant natural beauty. Pune is the cultural capital of Maharashtra and the city is a beautiful blend of old and new. There is no dearth to things to do and see in Pune. I’ve categorised this into four sections so it is easy for you to choose your pick.
Temples of Pune
Let me begin with the temples because these are my absolute favourite. If you are someone who loves the bygone era, exploring old temples, soaking in the beautiful vibes and learning a thing or two about the days gone by – you will LOVE Pune. I’m a spiritual being and the temples in Pune fed my soul well. Here are my favourites:
I am told that the temple was built-in 1640 by Shivaji’s mother. Someshwarwadi is probably one of the most peaceful places in Pune. We used to go there almost every weekend, love this temple.
Located in SB Road, Chaturshringi is a gem. The main temple is situated on top of a hill. One needs to climb a fleet of stairs to reach the main shrine which is almost 90 feet high. It is an easy climb and is very beautiful and peaceful up there.
Dehu Road Iyappan Temple
A bumpy yet beautiful uphill ride from Dehu Cantt takes you to this serene Kerala style, Iyappan Temple. A perfect getaway for a calm evening or an early morning picnic. The drive and the views are unmatched for.
Patleshwar is a rock-cut cave temple carved out in the 8th century. Try visiting the temple in the mornings to feel the spiritual vibrations. The morning calm, the temple bells and the spiritual aura of the place are unbeatable. You can also combine your visit to Pataleshwar with Jangli Maharaj temple. Both the temples are located in an adjacent complex and are lovely.
An ancient and elegant temple that dates back to the 18th century. The architecture is unique and this temple is a great place if you are seeking calm, positive vibes. Similar to Pataleshwar, the main shrine is inside a cave and it feels amazingly positive.
Ayyapan Temple and Kali Bari, Khadki
Both the temples are located in the bylanes near Range Hill / Khadki Cantt. These temples are peaceful, never crowded (except on festivals) and is a nice place to just wind down and relax. Also, the neighbouring roads are nice for a long, leisurely walk.
I love this temple. It’s small and not as huge as other ISKCON temples. Nevertheless, it’s charming and serene. Don’t forget to make a trip to Kayani Bakery and MG Road while you are here.
Some more temples that are worth a visit – ISKCON at Kondhwa and Nigdi, Dagduseth Halwai (the most famous temple of Pune), Sarasbaug Ganpati, Mahalakshmi Mandir, Parvati Hill, Balaji Temple in Pashan, and Santoshi Mata Mandir in Balewadi.
Museums | Historical Places
Aga Khan Palace
Now, this one is a beauty. Whether you are history buff or a nature lover – this place is not going to disappoint you. Aga Khan Palace is a tranquil piece of history tucked amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. The palace + museum is very well maintained – houses the samadhi of Kasturba Gandhi and also has the ash remains of Mahatma Gandhi. It is worth a visit.
Unlike the regular museums which display exhibits and collectables, Darshan Museum shows the life of Sadhu Waswani using a fancy state of the art technology. A guided tour takes you through different stages of Sashu Waswani’s life. To be honest you feel being transported to the bygone era – thanks to the fancy technology. The museum is tucked amidst splendid greenery and calm – a must one time visit for adults and children above 3 years. The guided tours happen in two languages – Hindi & English. The staff at Darshan are very courteous and polite – I recommend you call them and book your appointment in prior.
Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum
The museum is nestled in one of the many minuscule lanes of Pune’s peth area. The museum flaunts a collection of over 22,000 artefacts collected by Dr Dinkar Kelkar. You can combine the visit to this museum with lunch at Duruvankur.
Well, this is not my favourite. But, I thought of mentioning this here because it is one of the most iconic spots of Pune. You could probably spend an hour here and move on to explore the ‘peth’ area of Pune.
Not a museum but a memorial dedicated to the 18th-century military leader Mahadji Shinde. It is one of the most significant landmarks in the city and is reminiscent of the Maratha rule.
For artificial jewellery, cheap clothing, lots of street food and other bits and baubles. FC Road is a quintessential ‘student adda’ – courtesy to the many colleges that are situated in and around. FC Road is very vibrant and it’s a fun place to hang out. If you happen to visit FC Road on a weekend evening, please do yourself a favour and take Uber. Don’t drive – the road is ‘one-way’ and finding a parking spot sucks. 🙂
MG Road | East Street (Camp)
Has everything that you would find in FC Road along with lots of good food. Kayani Bakery, Budhani Wafers, Dorabjees, Marzorin, ABC Farms outlet, lots of boutiques & brands – it is a nice place to spend the evenings. The hidden alleys and buildings have numerous boutiques and shops where you can find nice clothing & jewellery. I prefer to walk around MG Road and East Street – its the best way to soak in all the vibes without worrying about finding a parking spot.
Tulsi Bazar / Laxmi Road
For all knick-knacks, clothes, house-hold items and trinkets. You will find some good lehariya and bandhani sarees/dupattas in Tulsi Road. Laxmi Road is great for traditional Marathi wear and jewellery – Paithani saris, Thushi, Peshwai Nath – you will get them all at Laxmi Road.
Mahatma Phule Mandai
The stretch from Kaka Halwai to Mahatma Phule Mandai is my favourite. Starting from the flower market, the local spice market and moving on to the fruits and vegetable market – the entire area is a sight to behold. Whether you shop or not, you must visit the mandai to soak in the classic Indian market vibe. I love this place.
Shetkari Haat (translates to Farmers Market)
Every locality has its shetkari haat put up on different days of the week. If you are a resident, you should check with your local folks and find out about the place and timing. I’ve seen these markets in different parts of the city – Aundh, Baner, Balewadi and Pashan. I used to frequent the shetkari haat at Balewadi and it was pure gold. I’ve tried different kinds of vegetables and greens – courtesy these markets. If you live in Pune – you are already blessed. Bless yourself more by visiting these markets and eating fresh, local goodness.
Balewadi Farmer’s Market timing: Every Thursday – 2 PM onwards.
I lived near Aundh and for all good reasons – this is my favourite place because I probably spent a lot of time walking and shopping here. I love the area near Gaikwad Petrol Pump. It is always bustling with energy. Listing down some of my favourite shops here:
Vegetable markets: The entire stretch is dotted by numerous vegetable and fruits market and some of them have been there for the last 27 years. Great place to get fresh, local produce. Joshi Foods near Yewale Chai: For traditional Marathi ingredients like Goda Masala, Kolhapuri Masala, Kokum etc. They also stock up on good quality, organic Ratnagiri Hapus from their farm during the mango season. Millets & More: For organic groceries Aadrish: For zero-waste, organic vegetables and groceries – highly recommend visiting this shop. Love the quality and price point. Raj Dry Fruits & Snacks: Great place to buy good quality dry fruits. They also have good khakras. Fine foods: World foods, baking supplies, gourmet bread, teas and the likes.
And while you are there don’t forget to stop by at Yewale for a cup of chai and at Chitale Bandhu for some ‘farsan’.
This one ain’t a physical market but I had to mention this. Holyganic is a great source of organic vegetables and fruits. I’ve been their customer since the time they launched and I can vouch for the quality. They work directly with the farmers to get the best quality of produce. Their grapes, strawberries and Alphonso mangoes are mindblowing – If you are a resident of Pune, you should give Holyganic a try.
Gosh, this article is making me homesick. Anyway, moving on –
Parks | Nature Walks
Osho Garden & KP Walks
This is a no-brainer. The bougainvillaea strewn lanes of KP, the green cover, the peace and the calm – it’s all like magic. A bonus is the numerous cafes dotting KP where you can stop by for a good breakfast. My favourite breakfast spot is Sante Spa Cuisine – loved the boho vibe, outdoor seating and the hearty food.
This one is at the heart of the city. Though the university is at a junction where traffic from 3 main division converges, the moment you step into this university you experience calm like never before. There are also many guided walking/cycling tours available which walks you through the history of the campus. I highly recommend visiting this university. Drive around or go for a walk – it is beautiful either way.
This one is at Ganeshkhind Road and is nice for a casual evening walk. In the morning hours, fresh vegetables and fruits that come directly from the farms are sold here.
Located in the outskirts of the city, the lake is a great place to catch a beautiful sunset. A lovely nature trail + a peaceful lake – combine this with a long drive and your weekend is done right.
Great place for morning treks and picnics. There is a temple on top of the hill which is accessible by stairs. But beyond that, you will have to trek to explore further. I highly recommend trekking here. It is always peaceful and calm. And, if you are lucky you may spot some peacocks. Also, many community activities happen on weekend mornings. People who trek here come together to water the trees, clear up the old branches and protect the small trees that are just beginning to grow. Such a lovely way to spend time with nature and the community.
As I’ve already mentioned before, Dehu Hill is a short, uphill ride from Dehu Cantt. There is also a beautiful Iyappan temple on the top of the hillock. You can either hike up to the hill or drive – I prefer the drive. It is one of my favourite sunset spots.
Aga Khan Palace
While the entire palace area is green and serene, the area where Kasturba Gandhi samadhi lays is at a whole different level. Old banyan trees, dense green cover and nature’s music – it is all magic.
Some more places that are worth visiting: Vetal Tekdi, Pu La Deshpande Udyan aka Pune-Okayama Friendship Garden, Singhgad Fort, Khadakwasala Dam, ITI Road and the numerous hills that dot the city – just find one near your area and go for a trek. I’m sure it will be beautiful. 🙂
Favourite food experiences in Pune
Sharing some of my favourite restaurants/food joints in Pune. As a family, we do not eat out much. But, when we do like a place we end up going there often and that way we miss out on trying new places. Nevertheless, these are my top picks.
This is THE PLACE for a great Maharashtrian fare. I’ve been here a lot of times and I make sure to take my folks who are visiting me to Shreyas as well. The food quality is great and tastes amazing. Some of my favourites are – Alu chi patal bhaji (a dish made from colocasia leaves and peanuts), modak, puran poli, aamras (during the Ratnagiri Alphonso season), puris, farsan and I’ll stop here. My mouth is watering. I love everything in Shreyas. Oh, the ‘meetha paan’ they serve at the end of the meal is also gorgeous.
Note – Weekends can get very, very crowded. You should consider going on weekdays. Also, finding a parking spot or Uber in this area is very difficult. If you want to enjoy your lunch, go there by 11:30 am – 12 pm and leave before the crowd starts pouring in which is usually around 1 pm for lunch.
Durvankur is a good place for a simple, Maharashtrian thali. The menu is not as extensive as that of Shreyas, but nevertheless good food. If you are planning to have a thali at Shreyas, you can skip Duruvankur by all means. I prefer Shreyas to Duruvankur.
I like the Missal and Sabudana Wada here. But, sometimes they do disappoint – I find their flavours keep fluctuating. Nonetheless, a nice place for good Maharashtrian snacks.
This one is a no brainer. You must visit Chitale Bandhu if you come to Pune. The main (and the oldest) branch is in the market area. But, many franchises dot the city and are all equally good. My favourites: Alu Wadi (Patra), Khaman, Kachori, Masala Kachori, Puran Poli, Jalebi, Kesar Peda, Bhakarwadi, Aam Panna (summers only) and Sol Kadhi (summers only). There are many other delicacies and almost everything tastes amazing. This is also a nice place to buy snacks and sweets for your family back home.
Some people love this chai and some don’t. I fall in the former category – I love Yewale Chai! There are many branches throughout the city. Do stop by for a refreshing cup of tea.
Nothing like a tall glass of sugarcane juice on a hot, summer afternoon. You will find many sugarcane stalls across the city. My favourite one is located on the street between the Pride Hotel and LIC Building, Shivaji Nagar. It is one of the first two shops on the left and the juice here is FRESH & REFRESHING.
Just like Chitale Bandhu, Kayani is quintessentially Pune. Everyone you meet in Pune will tell you to try the shrewsberry biscuits. I ain’t a great fan of those biscuits, BUT, you MUST try the chocolate-walnut cake and mawa cake at Kayani. It is mindblowing. Be ready to brave the crowd, though.
Great cheese at a great price. And, they have a lot of variety to choose from. I used to buy all my cheese from ABC Farms and loved it. Also, do try their lemsi which is lemon-lassi. It is super yummy and refreshing.
Balewadi High Street
This is a booming place with numerous high street pubs and restaurants. High Street is great for dinners and parties. There are tons of restaurants, pubs, food trucks to choose from. Friday evenings and weekends can get very crowded and you probably won’t find a table without prior reservation – so make sure to book. Our favourite restaurant on High Street is Incognito. Simply, amazing food + they are kids friendly.
For your Irani fix – Bun Maska, Omelettes, Chai. This is a nice place to stop by for breakfast after spending the morning strolling in the bylanes of KP.
Sante Spa Cuisine
This place is a beauty. An added bonus is the sumptuous, healthy food. We used to visit this place often – it’s at a walking distance from Osho Theerth Garden and is a perfect place to soak in all KP vibes. And, the yummy food. Of course! My favourites: Ragi Pizza, Smoothie Bowls and Hibiscus Tea.
If you love eggs (and cheese) you must visit Anda Ground in Aundh. Mindblowing stuff, I tell you. I’ve seen Anda Ground grow from a food truck to a nice, cozy restaurant at the Aundh- Baner Link Road. I also remember spending a few evenings outside the food truck having anda bhurji during the last days of my pregnancy. Cravings, I tell you! 😀
Nina Pinta Santa Maria
Yet another food truck at the Aundh – Baner Link Road. This place has some amazing crepes, but my favourite is the ‘Death by Chocolate’ crepe. It is JUST TOO DELICIOUS – perfect for the gooey, molten chocolate cravings. You must try it.
I cannot talk about my favourite food experiences in Pune and not mention Naturals Icecream. This ice cream parlour has seen my happy days and sad days. The ITI Road branch was our haven. Late-night summer drives that ended with the most delicious mango or jamun icecream. Ah, how much I miss Pune. 🙂 Favourite flavours: Mango, Jamun and Choco Almond.
If you happen to visit Pune during summers, you must head to Falahaar to try their Mango Blast and Jamun Shots. During the peak season, it heavily crowded and the waiting can be long – but it is worth all the wait. You will see people of all age groups enjoy this deliciousness. It is that good. You can stand outside the shop, place the order and chatter away with your family while you wait for your drink. It is just one of the amazing ‘Pune’ wala feeling. 🙂
And, that’s a wrap. I know, I haven’t talked about any road trips in this article. That’s because it is a big topic and I’ll write a separate blog for all the short and long trips you can make from Pune.
I’ve written many guides on this blog but this one is special because it’s about my favourite city. I have written this article from a resident and a traveller perspective. I hope you will find this useful!
You know that by now, but, I’ll say it again. Pune has my whole heart. My 4 years in this city were very wholesome and I’m so grateful for that. Alright, signing off with one question for you. Have you lived in / visited Pune? If yes, what did you love about Pune? Do leave me a comment – I love reading them. 🙂
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