Once referred to as the Oxford of the east, Pune continues to be a stronghold for academics and culture. Its leisurely ambience finds its roots in its history as a cantonment town since the 19th century. The buzz in the city comes from its lively cultural outpourings and the modern-day pursuits of its youthful population.
The old capital of the Peshwas, Pune was ruled by a number of rulers till 1818 amongst them the Rashtrakutas, the Mughals, the Marathas and the British. The great Maratha warrior Shivaji lived here as a little boy with his mother for a while. The British having defeated the Marathas eventually turned Pune into an important cantonment town, and made it the monsoon base for the Bombay Presidency. Pune played an important role in India's struggle for independence with the likes of Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar dominating the political arena here..
The concept of peths (wards or neighbourhoods) marked by caste permutations, ruled the development of the city. The modernising of the city has unfortunately resulted in the demolition of many of the old peths. Some have been converted into government offices. The cantonment areas are filled with tree-lined avenues and flower filled gardens around the low slung bungalows dating to Raj times.
Pune is located between the western edge of the Deccan Plateau and the Sahayadri range of the Western Ghats. Deccan is the educational hub of the city where the leading educational and academic institutions are located. Camp, which is made up of Pune Cantonment, Koregaon Park, Mahatma Gandhi Road, and Dhole-Patil Road areas is the social hub of the city.
Not much remains of this sprawling Peshwa Mansion built in the 18th century by Peshwa Baji Rao and practically burnt to cinders in a massive fire in 1827. But the old palace ruins are an enduring reminder of one of the most colourful chapters of the city's historical past. What remains of this landmark edifice today is the impressive entrance and stone boundary wall with its bastions and gateways. The sound and light show held here features various aspects of Maratha history
Gandhi National Memorial
The Aga Khan Palace grounds are home to the samadhi of the Mahtama's wife Kasturba Gandhi and Mahadev Desai his secretary. It is also the site of the 2-year imprisonment of the Mahatma and other leaders of the Quit India Movement in 1942. The memorial is filled with memorabilia related to Gandhiji's lifetime.
This old rock cut temple, similar to the 8th century Elephanta rock temple is located across the river by Jangali Maharaj Road. Nearby is temple dedicated to Jangali Maharaj
Built by the third Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao in 1749 the hilltop temple is accessed by a steep flight of steps. The temple site, with its four subsidiary shrines to Vishnu, Bhavani, Ganesh, Surya, and Bhavani offers stunning views of the city below on clear days.
Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum
Situated in the Shukrawar Peth it is filled with everyday artifacts from the city's past. Worth spending time over are the miniatures of the Peshwas. It has several instruments dating to the Mughal and Maratha times
Film and Television Institute of India
One of Asia's top film institutes is located on Law College Street. It has trained many of India's leading actors, directors, and technicians for the Hindi Film Industry and television. Call in advance to visit the campus.
Housed in the verdant environs of Koregaon Park the commune still attracts a stream of visitors though its dynamic spiritual leader has long passed on. Tours of the commune are permitted at 10.30 am and 2.30 pm for about an hour. The commune also offers both short and long-term courses on a range of spiritual activities.
Located at Wanawadi the cenotaph was commissioned by Mahadji Scindia. It is still maintained by the Scindia family.