Pune city is the center of culture, sports, academics, industries and multinational companies. The Peshwa rulers of the great Maratha Empire ruled entire India from Pune, their capital city. Called the Queen of the Deccan, and the cultural capital of Maharashtra, Pune is a city with a future that promises to be as interesting as its history. Surrounded by verdant hills and beautiful lakes, the city has a temperate climate throughout the year and is among the greenest urban areas in the country. It is the center of traditional Marathi culture, in which education, arts and theatre are given pride of place. Pune has one of India's oldest universities and its numerous colleges attract both Indian and international students, which is probably why it is called the Oxford of the East. According to a recent opinion poll conducted for The Times of India by leading market research firm IMRB across the country's eight largest urban cities, Pune ranked as the second best place to live in.
Pune is fast emerging as a prominent location for high-tech, IT and manufacturing companies to expand in. The city has the eight largest metropolitan economies and the sixth highest per capital income in the country. Pune is the largest automotive hub in India with companies like Tata Motors, Mercedes Benz, Audi, Bajaj Auto, Force Motors, and Volkswagen has their design and manufacturing operations located in Pune. The Hinjewadi IT Park (officially called the Rajeev Gandhi IT Park) is a project started by MIDC to house the IT sector in Pune. The IT sector employs more than 100,000 people. Major IT companies in Pune include Infosys, Persistent Systems, Geometric Limited, Symphony Services, Wipro, TCS, Cognizant, Symantec, Tech Mahindra, Syntel, Fujitsu, Cybage, IBM global, Sybase, Allscripts and Crest Premedia Solutions (P) Ltd. Some of the most reputed VLSI leaders have design centers located in Pune. These include Applied Micro, Imagination Technologies, Intel, LSI, Marvell Semiconductors, Nvidia, QLogic.
Bhagwan Rajneesh's famous ashram is located at 17, Koregaon Park, a green and elite suburb of Pune. This site attracts thousands of international and Indian visitors. Casual visitors can view a 45 minute video presentation and take a tour (Rs. 60) at 10.00 am and 2.30 pm daily. Please book ahead. The nearby Nulla Park also called OshoTeerth, is a beautifully maintained garden, transformed from a swamp, open for public from 6 to 9 am and 7 to 10 pm.
Built in 1736, Shaniwar Wada was once the palace of the Peshwa rulers. This historic seven-storied palace was built by BajiraoPeshwa the 1'st. During his days, it became the seat of political power and achieved tremendous importance. To this date, Shaniwar Wada has been the city's main landmark. Within easy reach from all parts of the city, Shaniwar Wada was mysteriously destroyed in a fire in 1827. This palace is located in the narrow winding old part of the city. The palace is open from 8 am to 6.30 pm.
Sinhagad fort stands 25 Km from Pune, once being the most impregnable fort in western India. Itï¿½s literal translation is the "Fortress of the Lion". The fort has changed hands many times from Mohammed Tughlak in 1340 A.D., to the British in 1918 A.D. Legends say, 300 years ago Shivajiï¿½s Gen. TanajiMalusare scaled this sheer precipice with ropes and giant lizards. He was killed in the battle and a memorial exists. It is an ideal place for a day long picnic and site seeing. The main attraction is climbing the fort on foot.
The Pataleshwar Cave Temple is a rock-cut cave temple, carved out in the 8th century in the Rashtrakuta period. The temple, carved in basalt rock, is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The sanctum - a cube-shaped room about 3ï¿½4 metres on each side - houses a linga - the symbol of Shiva and there are two smaller cells on each side. In front of the cave is a circular Nandi mandapa, its umbrella shaped canopy supported by massive square pillars. This mandapa is one of the peculiar structures of Pataleshwar.
A must see, this quaint building houses a fascinating collection of Indian artifacts collected by the late Shree Dinkar Kelkar. The 36 sections of the museum are used to display a wealth of antiques, carved palace doors, pottery, 17th century miniatures, a priceless collection of nut crackers, lamps, musical items, hookah pipes, hair drying combs and other such items from the Mughal and Maratha period. This collection was donated to the government of Maharashtra by Shree DinkarKelkar and is only displayed by rotation giving you another excuse to return to Pune. The museum is open from 8.30 pm to 5.30 pm daily.
The gracious buildings with salons and suites that you see standing amidst well laid out gardens is more than just a palace. It is a historical landmark. It was donated to India by the Aga Khan IV in 1969. During the 1942 Quit India Movement, Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned here. On the grounds are the remains (samadhi) of Kasturba Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi's wife, who died here while in internment. The memorial is open from 9 am to 5.45 pm. The city tour makes a stop here.
Started in 1986 with the help of the Pune Municipal Corporation, the Katraj Snake Park is situated on the Pune-Satara Highway near BharatiVidyapeeth Campus. The straight road emanating from Swargate takes you to the desired destination. The park today has a collection of wonderful reptiles, birds, a baby leopard, crocodiles and others. The prize collection is a six-year-old, nine feet long King Cobra.
Puneï¿½s oldest education institute is the Pune University formed in 1948. The university has many affiliated education institutes and colleges from all parts of Maharashtra. Research institutes such as the National Chemical Laboratories, Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, National Institute of Virology (NIV), just to name a few. The IUCAA, one of the pioneering institutes for research in astronomy, is located in the lush green environment of Pune University, and is headed by world renowned mathematician, Dr. Jayant Naralikar.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ajanta Caves are situated approximately 338 Km (210 miles) from Pune. These caves, dated between circa 200BC and 600AD, are famous for its paintings and sculptures and are the reminiscences of ancient Buddhist religious art. The magnificent murals attract tourists from all over the world.
Situated approximately 100 Km (62 miles) from Ajanta caves,Ellora caves showcase the highest levels of the architectural heritage of ancient India. These caves are also a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Elephanta Caves, located on Elephanta (originally known as Gharapuri) island, situated less than 10 Km (6.2 miles) from the Mumbai harbor, are also designated as a World Heritage Site. The caves have been carved out in basalt rock between the 5th and 8th centuries are home to the famous Trimurti sculpture.
Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is India's economic capital and needs no formal introduction. It is the most populous city in India and is home to the most prolific movie industry in the world; Hindi Cinema, or Bollywood. Marine Drive, Gateway of India, Colaba Causeway, Elephanta Caves, Jehangir Art Gallery, Mahakali Caves, Essel World, Mahalaxmi Temple, Borivali National Park, Hanging Gardens, Fashion Street, and St Thomasï¿½ Cathedral are some of the popular attractions. Mumbai is nearly 150 km (93 miles) from Pune.