Not too long ago, I found myself in Pune. It’s a city quite far removed from the lists of ideal tourist destinations. The basic things I knew about it were: that it was the cultural hub of Maharashtra, previously home to the Peshwas, an evolving IT centre, and the education hub often referred to as The Oxford of the East.
And so for me, Pune was the city of almost. Almost keeping up with the fascination of Mumbai, the historical relevance of Delhi, the cultural capital of India, Kolkata, and the well established IT hub of Bengaluru.
But turns out, almost is pretty beautiful. Pune is, simply put, an underdog of the metropolitan cities brimming with potential. And everybody likes an underdog, because everyone feels like one.
In recent history, Pune was home to those who had retired; a ‘pensioner’s paradise. Now, we have here a crowd of students, retired officers, people budding from emerging economies and the locals. The city is somehow very peaceful and yet, exciting.
In my one week at Pune, I tugged roots of its glorious past, walked through the local markets and chaos of the contemporary, and of course, crawled in and out of pubs in Koregaon Park.
WHERE TO GO
Shaniwar Wada, the most stately and magnificent mansion built by the peshwas, was laid by bajirao-I in 1730 AD and completed in 1732 AD. The infrastructure was elaborate with bastions, fortifications, large halls, foutains and reservoirs. However, in 1828 AD, fire gutted out the entire royal mansion and what remains are only but faint echoes of what once was.
One can only imagine the magnificence it once withheld. Tourists and locals almost crowded the ruins on the weekday I visited and with the ongoing work on light and sound show it will only perhaps garner more positive response.