If you’ve never been to this city, it’s time you pack your bags and go. Consider it worth the wait. The city has an appeal to travellers and students alike and you could discover why in your own time. In fact, it is considered to be the student’s city and rightly so. In the peak of summer, the weather is what one could very simply call, “beautiful”. It’s congenial for activity, lacking the killer sting of Delhi heat and the sticky drag of Kolkata’s humid weather.
It’s good to have a list of what you wish to see and engage with in the city. For me, the journey began inwards and the wish to see monuments that have stood the test of time. There are several temples you could visit, release your inner turmoil, de-stress and obtain your blessings at. The ISKCON temple and the Bhuleswar Temple were beautiful and it felt very satisfying allowing the serenity of all that is holy to envelope me on my onward journey of discovery. As a student, my temple may have been slightly tinted with an agenda to get through my stressful pre-exam moments. (I think we’ve all been there.)You could alternatively hike to one of Shivaji’s old fortresses or bases. For this trip I gave it a miss but I intend to return to it soon!
Having visited some of the customary sites and ticked off the temples from my to–visit list, I head onwards further to the monuments and the Ghats that make Pune the beautiful sprawling greenery that beckons environment enthusiasts. I was literally amidst the clouds (cloud number nine, if you will) in the refreshing embrace of Lonavala Lake. It does have the most beautiful view and maybe the attention it receives from potential visitors would help authorities revive and maintain its beauty. Note down that Lavasa city, Aamby valley, Lonavala are popular and exciting destinations for those people who prefer road trips to hiking.
Speaking of the environment, it was almost impossible to miss seeing the number of runners or cyclists in the city. This is a fairly new feature in the city – as I was informed by a bemused local uncle – courtesy the aptly named running group, “Pune running”. And hitching a ride with a friend who helped me plan parts of my trip, took me through East Street which at those hours, enticed me with smell of freshly baked goods from Kayani Bakery forcing me to make a stop for a packet of its famed Shrewsbury biscuits on the way. George’s restaurant was the pick for a sumptuous meal at night on our way back. When I craved a spicier bite – pat came my friend’s advice – listen to the call of the Vadapav chorus. They promptly took me to Joshi’s vadapav stall and it has now ingrained me on my very own food map keeping me wanting to come back for more!
Having now suddenly remembered my other friends who decided not to make the Pune trip for one reason or the other I managed to focus my chi to the more material things in life and decided to look for souvenirs.Loads of names came up like the numerous malls in either Magarpatta City, or SB Road – or perhaps near Viman Nagar or Camp. While Phoenix and Amanora dominate the scene these days, Inorbit, Seasons and Koregaon Park Plaza also remain a huge attraction. So Koregaon remained my pick, having heard of it several times in various contexts. (If you’re looking for a quieter space SGS and Gold Adlabs in Kalyani Nagar are wonderful for unwinding and isn’t as swamped by the youth.) To me, adventure was still out there!
Once outside the space of the malls, I was asked not to panic on seeing shops shutting down in the afternoon. The Marathi Manoos loves his siesta, I was informed. I could only empathize. Seeing that the Bangali Babu too relishes those few hours of peace till the hectic day ensues. I grew up in an environment that understood the value of those stolen hours of Paradise. The enthusiast in me couldn’t resist random walks in the park or cycling around where I was staying near the insanely busy Fergusson College Road. The German Bakery in Koregaon Park which was restored after the blasts in early 2010 stand testimony to the city’s indomitable spirit and I couldn’t have completed my Pune visit without paying respect to what it stood for and enjoying the amazing food it still produces on a daily basis. I couldn’t help then, as I stood outside and scanned the bustling city, but be enthused by the same spirit. I was constantly breathing in all that is Pune and could thankfully take this trip as an opportunity to release all the tension I had piled up from work and college and could just hang out with your friends. The next thing on my agenda is a drive down to Pune from the Mumbai seaside and running into (definitely not running over!) celebrities on the way.
It was a lot to do for a short trip to Pune and I considered taking a few more days off than I had intended just to enjoy the party that was my very own Pune trip. With a friend who could guide me through the city I had a very well organised, high on energy trip but I still believe there’s nothing like discovering a city on your own. You’ll love every aspect of this city and you may find itssomehow easy and fulfilling connecting with one of the most complex yet simple cities in India – I know I did. The myriad emotions I ended up attaching to such a trip stands true testimony to this visit, worth revisiting in memory and in person.
Submitted by- Manosi Chatterjee