Tackling the steep slopes, dense jungles, unbearable heat, incessant rains, diseases, landslides and wild animals that define the Western Ghats was an ambitious endeavor. The railway track was achieved by an amalgamation of the best of engineering expertise, machinery and skilled labourers toiling under inhospitable conditions. The majority of the workforce consisted of mainly South Asians who were involved in the daunting task of digging and moving earth and rock. At the peak of its construction there were around 16000 people, hailing from Afghanistan to Ceylon, employed in the Ghats.
The Shaniwar Wada Palace was commissioned in the year of 1729 when Peshwa Baji Rao I ruled Pune. The scale on which this construction was carried out reflected the Peshwas larger than like attitude. The place is filled with tanks, fruit trees, sprawling courtyards, halls where the ruler would hold an audience, office rooms and a large portion where the Peshwa would stay. This place has a total of five gates each with a distinct name - Ganesh, Dilli, Narayan, Khidhi, Mastani and Jambhul darwazas. The place is royal and majestic and one cannot afford to give it a miss. The authorities also conduct a light and sound show.
To the south of the Mula-Mutha River in Pune lies a place called KP or Koregaon Park. This place is a city in Maharashtra and is quite a prestigious landmark in Pune. The place used to serve as a residential area but has now grown into a commercial market. A walk through the city allows one to view some magnificent bungalows and sprawling parks. The city is home to famous places like the Osho Ashram, Chabad House, Bund Garden and the German Bakery.People from all over the country pay a visit to this place that was rocked by a bomb blast on 13 February 2010. A number of high-end places like Starbucks and the O Hotel Group.
There are some trips that you take deciding at the last minute which can turn futile or become memorable one. One such trip we took on Sunday, 13 August 2017 turned out to be one of the best. Since many people of our group were not available in Pune, we had deferred the trek to next weekend. I got up around 8 on lazy Sunday morning and the thought of not going anywhere was bothering me. I immediately called Shashi and Swarup to see if they can make it. They responded positively and that set the tone for our next trek. Since it was already late, we decided to go to Malhargad fort initially but later made up our mind to visit this less visited fort.We departed with two bikes at 10:30 AM from Pune. The base village for this fort is Ghera Kenjal. We followed below route, which is close to 100 KM from Pune. It took us 2:30 hours to reach the base village with couple of breaks.
To the south of the city of Pune is a famous hill known as Paravati. One has to climb a flight of 108 steps to reach the top in order to get an awesome and breathtaking view of the city below. Atop this hill are four temples dedicated to the Gods Ganesha, Shiva, Kartikeya, and Vishnu. The place is also steeped in Maratha history and associated with the Peshwa rule. One can also pay a visit to the Parvati Museum here that is home to some old manuscript replicas and paintings. The pillars and ceiling in the museum today are from the original structure that was the place where Shrimant Nanasaheb Peshwa breathed his last.
Law College Road
I reached the starting point exactly at 0630. People were already standing and our vehicle stood there patiently waiting. After around half an hour of wait the journey started with a faithful and energetic call to Lord Ganesha. We picked up a few people on the way and soon we left Pune. The long, heightened Katraj bridge followed by the kilometer long Katraj tunnel marks the end of Pune, the wandering spirit awakens and slowly the monotony of everyday life begins to fade. That mostly happens on bike when the wind is brushing your face. Today was different. There was a silence in the mini bus, the proverbial ice was still pretty thick. Thanks the winds and morning chill, I dozed off in no time.
Cafe Good Luck
Café Goodluck is one of the best pocket-friendly restaurants for non-vegetarians. Located in the most happening place in Pune, FC road, this café is a regular for many Punekars. Café Goodluck is a no frills place with fast service and delicious food. The food served is fresh from the kitchen. Visit this restaurant anytime of the day and you will have to wait in a queue for 5-10 minutes to get the table. Try bun maska, tea and omelette if you are going for breakfast. My personal favorites for lunch and dinner are - Mutton Keema, butter chicken, rumali roti. For those with a sweet-tooth, try Caramel custard. Flying Duck, Baner - Non-Veg (Dinner)
Parvati is the daily visiting place for a number of citizens and for many people, going to Parvati (103 steps) forms a part of their daily exercise regimen. Being the highest point in Pune and having conveniently located observation points, the beautiful panaromic view of Pune city leaves visitors spellbound. Beautiful sunrise and sunset views are like the icing on the cake. The height of Parvati hill is 2100 feet above sea level and 260 feet from the city level. The hill offers an aerial view of the city and the most picturesque scene in the early hours of the day. Parvati hill houses one big and three small temples. The Parvati gates open at 5.00 am and close at 8.00 pm.
Stroll around M.G. Road, East Street in Camp– A cosmo locale, M.G. Road has been one of Pune’s famous landmarks with Westend Theatre, Marz O Rin, Pasteur Bakery, Mona Food adding their touch to Camp. Kayani bakery, a name synonymous with Pune doles out mouth-watering Shrewsbury biscuits and mava cakes.
We took Spicejet flight from Pune to Bangalore at 4.30 PM. Cost RS 4600/- for return ticket. And then took AC bus from Bangalore Airport to Kempegowda Bus terminal, Bus Ticket 220/- each. We had dinner at Kamath Restaurant near Bus terminal, then we boarded KSRTC Airavat bus for Tirupati at 9.40 PM.
Swargate ST Stand
This is a twin bus station in the Swargate region of Pune and is just opposite to the Swargate Police station. This is directly operated by the Maharashtra State Transport Corporation. It is estimated that around 18000 buses arrive and depart from here every week. There is also a nice bus terminus made here with chairs for people to sit and wait.
We were to board the Goa Express from Pune. Having plenty of time at our disposal, we had lunch outside Pune station and headed for delicious Kulfis. Few friends decided to visit nearby Dagdusheth Halwai Ganesh Temple.The train journey was simply amazing. We started off with Antakshari followed by series of “Mafia” and “Dumb Charades”. Everything was crazy. Birthday celebrations of Pankaj and Aayushi at the stroke of mid-night. We were not ready to stop and Manoj had to insist that we go to sleep since we had to wake up at 2:00 AM. Finally, everyone went to sleep past mid-night.Manoj woke all of us at 2:00 AM at Londa. Suddenly, a search began. Mumpy was missing. As Vaibhav said, she was last seen sleeping on her berth at Belgaum. Everyone started searching for Mumpy. Even people who did not know her, participated in the search with great enthusiasm. At last, Mumpy responded to the calls. She was fast asleep in an upper most berth and our shouts woke her up.By 3:00 AM, everyone had packed and was ready. We reached Castle Rock. The plan was to alight at Dudhsagar station which was 10 tunnels past Castle Rock. So, we had to count the tunnels. 106 people divided into 6 groups with respective leaders at different doors.Ideally, there is no halt at Dudhsagar station for passengers. The train halts at Dudhsagar station for 30 seconds for technical checks and we were to alight within that window.Our bad, the train did not halt for 30 seconds and more than half of the bunch was unable to get down. Only 3 groups out of 6 managed to get down which has less than half number of participants. Rest of us were the unlucky ones (atleast for now, we considered ourselves unlucky).