Popularly called Pensioners’ Paradise, the laid-back city of Pune has tried to retain some of its peace and serenity despite urbanisation. Today, it is a centre for education, industry and information technology. On the other hand, its proximity to hill stations, forts and pilgrimage sites also makes it a key city which is often visited by travellers. Historically too, Pune has always played an important role, as it was the base of the Peshwas- the ministers of the Maratha empire. Some references to its past can be seen in the Sinhagad Fort and Rajmachi. Pune is popularly known as the ‘Oxford of the East’.
Aga Khan Palace
An interesting study for history buffs, this captivating palace was built in 1892 by Sultan Muhammed Shah Aga Khan III. The construction of the palace was a benevolent measure taken by the Sultan for those immensely hit by famine in and around Pune. During India’s struggle for Independence, this palace housed Mahatma Gandhi, his wife Kasturba Gandhi, Mahadev Desai and Sarojini Naidu in confinement. The palace was also witness to the deaths of Mahadev Desai and Kasturba Gandhi. Today, the main palace displays photos and paintings depicting the life of Mahatma Gandhi and has been declared a monument of national importance.
Shaniwar Wada was built by Bajirao Peshwa I. This imposing structure was made popular in the Bollywood movie ‘Bajirao Mastani’. It A tour inside the palace takes one back to the glorious era of the Peshwas. It originally had seven storeys but some of them were destroyed in a fireOnly the lower half, made of stone has survived till date. It has five different doorways which guard the past filled with innumerable shocking stories. One of the Peshwas, Narayan Rao, was murdered here and rumours say that his ghost still haunts the place on few nights.
Situated in a large part of an area called the Koregaon Park, the Ashram has a lifestyle of its own. Spread over 40 acres, this space offers meditation, massages and workshops, theatres, swimming pool, sauna and spa facilities. Claimed to be one of the most luxurious and commercial meditation centres, it sees thousands of seekers thronging the place throughout the year. One can live here in seclusion and relax or be part of a group involved in various activities.
This old and majestic fort has been sought-after by several rulers throughout history. It was first sought by Chhatrapati Shivaji in a combat against Adil Shah. The fight for the fort lasted many generations, before it was captured by the Mughals and later recaptured by the Marathas. The Sinhagad Fort sits on one of the many precipices of the Bhuleshwar Range in the Sahyadris. Due to its location, the fort has attracted many an adventurous spirit to trek it. Today, it functions as the tomb of Rajaram, Shivaji’s younger son, who breathed his last here. It is also a monument to Tanaji, who was a military leader in Shivaji’s army, and one of his closest friends. The National Defence Academy in Khadakwasla, Pune also uses this fort to train its Cadets in building endurance and stamina.
Pune, is known for its picnic spots and getaways, has many feathers to its cap – the backwaters of the Khadakwasla dam, the famous hill stations of Lonavala and Khandala, caves and forts, and so on. A mix of visitors – tourists, businessmen and students – Pune has them all. A city which has retained its past glory along with the modern amenities to cater to the demands of its citizens, Pune is a place where one would like to retire to a life of peace and quiet.