Went to Pune on Independance day weekend. A twelve hour drive from Bangalore, including breakfast, lunch and all nature-room breaks. A very beautiful drive indeed. Must be the weather in August. The places were all green and dark green, like some meadows. Had to pay a helluva lot of money in toll though.
Drive aside, like Pune too. After the chaos of Bangalore, Pune looked spacious and green and under-populated.. ;) It helped that right next to where we stayed, there was a river and a park. There was also time for some relaxed sightseeing and shopping.
Pune City Trip
The first day went in touring around the city. First stop was Shaniwar Wada. It is the ruins of an 18th century palace/fort. The foundation’s still there, and you can kind of picturise the walls and the princesses. It has some cool fountains too, considering how old it is. The only bad thing about it was the municipality people manning it, as they asked for money to park in the free parking outside. We didn’t pay on principle, cause it was so disheartening to see the greed. Went to a paid parking and then to the Ganapathi temple in the city. Didn’t go in as there was a big queue of devotees waiting to get in. There was a tiny Shiva temple outside though, with a Nandi. Next stop was Aga Khan Palace. However, on the way two very suspicious guys in a bike came and told our driver we had to pay 150 rupees because it is army road. They had no uniforms and looked nothing like the army. And the driver said it was not cantonment road either. We said we will first talk to a policeman. Then they told us the police chowki was in some road, and they were gonna lead us to the actual cantonment roads! We ditched them and went on to our tour after telling the simpleton of a driver not to follow them. Aga Khan palace is a pretty house, and this is where Kasturba Gandhi died in 1944. It is currently a museum honouring Gandhi’s life. There are some items used by them and Samadhi of Kasturba and Mahadev Desai, Gandhi’s secretary.
The last stop of the day was Katraj zoo, which the driver called as the snake park. There was a reptile section as well, with some snakes and crocodiles and turtles, even though olive ridley was missing in its enclosure. The zoo was spacious and had a good walk. There are tiny buses and bus stops where you can board them, but the buses weren’t yet operating when we went it. There aren’t as many animals as in other zoos, but it was quite nice anyway. With that we called it a day and went home and watched a movie.
Lavasa & Sinhgad
Lavasa is a planned city near Pune, quite controversial already. It is in a valley surrounded by hills and bordered by a lake. The idea appealed to me, a retirement place nestled in the mountains and stuff. Self-sufficient and serene and what not. However, not a great fan of it now. The buildings are ghastly. They do impact the environment in quite an ugly way. Guess the builders got greedy in between and messed up the chance of creating something exclusive and private and sought after. The drive was breathtaking though, and they have made beautiful roads for us to enjoy the valley, but the buildings! yuck. Had a picnic lunch not far from the valley, near a tiny natural stream. Was perfect. Then we went to Sinhgad, a hill station nearby with a fort on top. We went mainly for the Kanda bhaji(onion pakoda) though and totally missed the fort. August is the best time for the drive, and the places were beautiful and very Westernghat-ish.
Next day we went to Alandi, the place associated with Jnaneshwar, the Gita translator and poet. I did not like the temple. I find that temples are not really very clean outside Kerala (Though I did like the Mathura Meenakshi temple), and the river was very dirty too. Still, Jnaneshwar is new to me, and looked him up and impressed. In the evening went to the riverside park. It is also a bird sanctuary, at least in name.
Laxmi Road & Tulsi Baug
Sunday was earmarked for shopping and spent way too much money than I should have. Bought a bunch of cloths as gifts and even some clay flower vases. Then it was time to leave and started around 5 the next morning and reached at 5 in the evening. That is with a long lunch break. A pretty relaxed trip.