Years ago came out a comic show by Pu La Deshpande titled Mumbaikar-Punekar-Nagpurkar. I could not believe how accurate his satirical yet extremely funny description of Pune was, and how even decades later everything held true, only some more things have been added. Life in Pune has always been extremely eventful, be it the multitude of festivals that greet you throughout the year, the variety of cuisines available to appease your palate or the quirkiness of the people wherever you go. However, if you’re new to Pune, it might be a daunting task for you to navigate through not only the peth areas, but also through life in this city! To put an ease to worries, and to celebrate this city of ours, we present to you: A guide to Pune!
Built over the decades, these areas present to you an amalgamation of the old and new, as you see old Vadas interspersed with newer, more modern buildings. Every Peth in Pune has a unique history – for example, the peths like Somvar Peth and Mangalwar Peth refer to the fact that the weekly market would be present there on the respective day. Nana Peth was named after Nana Fadnavis, an important Peshwa ruler, and so on. As varied their histories are, you might have some difficulty navigating through the narrow streets, so arm yourself with maps and explore! All Peths are known for different things – Kasba Peth has the Kasba Ganpati Temple, the gramdevta or the guardian deity of Pune, Sadashiv Peth is known for its proper Puneri setting, Rasta Peth is especially known for breakfast places and so on. They are really worth exploring, because not only are they interesting to go through, there also exists not too much traffic as usually the roads are too narrow to fit more than one car at a time. They are especially worth seeing during Ganesh Chaturthi, or Diwali!
Monuments and go-to places
Being a historically important city, Pune has quite a few places of historical and cultural interest, if you know where to look! You may already know the common ones – Shaniwarwda with its beautiful gardens, Lal Mahal, and the nearby fort of Sinhagad. However there are other lesser known places too. One of them is Pataleshwar caves, located at the start of JM Road. Built in the 8th Century as a Shiva temple, they evoke a sense of peace and belonging to everyone that goes there. Another important and beautiful monument is Mahadji Shinde Chatri in Wanowrie. A stellar example of the architecture of the yesteryears, this marvelous structure is worth a visit. Apart from these, there’s of course the Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati in Budhwar Peth, Pune Cantonment which is extremely peaceful and green. Malls in Pune have an amazing ambience, and a wide array of shopping destinations and eateries, making them an ideal place for an afternoon or evening hang out. Places like Koregaon Park, Kalyani Nagar and Kothrud have many options for lunch and dining, ranging from traditional cuisine to a mix of food from around the globe. Which brings us to the next part: food!
Food in Pune has evolved so much over time, and now you can find almost any sort of cuisine in the city. You might have heard of dishes like Misal and Vada Pav which are extremely ubiquitous, and rightfully so – for a meagre amount of money, you can get a delicious meal of Vada pav or misal. Sadashiv Peth and other peth areas have traditional dining and thali options, with places like Poona Boarding House in business since a hundred years. With the popping up of newer and more developed areas like Baner, Aundh etc, food in Pune has taken a huge leap. You can get tasty dining options almost anywhere, and for reasonable prices. A few iconic places that are recommendable include Marz-o-rin in camp, Chitale Bandhu Mithaiwale on Bajirao Road, Kayani Bakery in Camp, Cafe Goodluck and Vaishali on FC Road, and Shiv Kailash Lassi near Pune station. With the advent of food delivery apps, multiple options are now available at your fingertips, and it also provides opportunities for you to discover newer and better cuisines while going out.
Life in Pune
Being a city that does not sprawl over a huge area, Pune has its advantages and disadvantages. Travel times are limited to about an hour even if you go from one end of the city to another, and traveling is not much of an issue. On the other hand, it’s relatively small, which makes it not as happening as other metropolitan cities, like Mumbai. Still, this city has evolved its own mix of cultures, consisting of equal parts modernity and tradition. Nowhere else will you see Ganesh Chaturthi being celebrated in such an enthusiastic manner, with dhol-tasha groups making EVERYONE excited and in the mood for dancing. Nowhere else will you see the immense pride the people have in their being Punekars, nowhere else will you see people crowding at bridges when waters are left from the rivers. Nowhere else will you be able to learn how to drive better – you drive in Pune successfully, you can drive anywhere in the world. No kidding. There are so many things that make Pune what it is, and despite it not having the best amenities, life in Pune passes really smoothly and comfortably
Pune has spawned a lot of stereotypes over the years. One of the most famous ones is the one that says that Punekars will almost all the time correct your Marathi, and point out the difference between “भेटला” and “मिळाला”. Another stereotype talks about the Kothrud and Karve Road ajjis and ajobas, who have the entire knowledge of the universe. Then there’s the decree that a Punekar will always sleep between 1-4! They say Pune will have more German speakers than the entire country of Germany soon! Many of these are true, and it is extremely fun to see these in action most of the time. Of course, you shouldn’t be on the receiving end of these!
Each city has its own pros and cons, and Pune wouldn’t be Pune without its mind-boggling traffic jams, its numerous colleges, its “Abhimaan” and its quirkiness. Each place you go, you will encounter so many different people, so many different ideas, so many different tongues. And I think that’s the defining aspect of Pune – it never discriminates against you for who you are, but welcomes all in a multicultural embrace, with just a pinch of its classic जाज्वल्य अभिमान.
- The content team