If Mumbai is the financial capital of the Maharashtra state of India, then Pune is the cultural capital, known for its education, palaces, temples and forts. Pune is a cosmopolitan city where ancient cultures are mixed with modern technology. With historic palaces and temples, tempting spiced cuisine and shops selling everything you can think of, this is a city waiting to be discovered.
There is a rich history and culture to be explored in the city centre, and one of the best ways is to take a tour for yourself. The easiest way to travel is by rickshaw, or you can organise a driver with a car – remember there are no taxis in Pune.
Start your journey at Shaniwar Wada - the Royal Palace of the Maratha dynasty. This impressive fortified structure covers over six acres and is open to visitors every day. Next to this you can see the Lal Mahal (Red Palace), and from here you can walk five minutes to the beautiful Dagdusheth Ganesh Temple. Ganesh is the God of Wisdom so if you want a blessing remember to remove your shoes before you go in and take a basket with an offering inside with you.
Five minutes from the temple is the historic market Mandai housed in a very fine building, this is the largest fruit and vegetable market in the city. There’s more shopping in the building adjacent, Tulsi Baug, with bargains galore in this market.
You can see another example of Maratha architecture nearby in the Vishrambaug Wada, a mansion from the Peshwa era. Next to this is one of Pune’s most famous sweet confectioners - Chitale Bandhu Mithaiwale, perfect for a snack or a souvenir gift to take home.
The final place to head to for even more shopping is the hectic Laxmi Road, whatever you want, you will find it here!
The surrounding area of Pune is also well worth exploring. Take a trip out to one of the lakes around the city, perfect for a picnic and to get away from the busy city centre. Mulshi Lake and the Dam are surrounded by lush green hills and many types of birds can be spotted here.
Lonavala and Khandala are the nearest hill stations and these are favourite weekend destinations for locals, 620m above sea level, here you can trek around the stunning landscape.
The caves near to Pune are another exciting feature of this beautiful place, the nearest ones are Karla and Bhaja caves 40km away from the city. These Buddhist caves are 2000 years old and famous for the fine carvings in the walls and ceilings.
Finally, the must-see trip from Pune that everyone who visits is keen to make, is to the popular Singahad Fort. Perched on a steep hill, the drive up to the top is spectacular and this is best seen in monsoon season when the green valley view is breath-taking.
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