Sunday, September 11, 2011

Trip to cultural center of Maharashtra - Pune

Pune - A city tipped to be younger sisterly city of Mumbai. A vibrant city mere 4 hour drive from Mumbai. The climate here in Pune is a plus as compared to Mumbai as being above sea level, winters and rains are at its best to be experienced. Summer I prefer to sweat out in Mumbai rather then get dry heat in pune. With every major IT and engg company having a base in Pune, its become more of a cosmopolitan metro with people from every corner of India converging here.

I only knew Pune existed on maps of India till my brother married a puneite. So it started my journey to Pune and by now have lost count of my number of visits to the city. With each visit an experience in itself, I got introduced to Pune more and more on each visit. Three things that I include in my visit each time now whenever I am in Pune is visit to Balaji temple 30kms outside pune, Dagdu seth Ganpati visit and food.

Buses for pune are available in plentyfull from Mumbai and I prefer Neeta travels as its starting point in Borivali is mere 5minutes walk from home so I can catch the first bus at 5.30am. So here I am with one of my trips to Pune which was minus family visit and pure adventure trips.

I got into Neeta Volvo for Pune early morning at 5.30am, Catching the bus early for Pune is advisable as it skips the city traffic and you can reach the city between 9.00-10.00 am. Since it was pure adventure trip to divert my mind from daily routines of work and to spend my weekly off in different place. I was in pune. I got down at Shivaji Nagar - pune as my first stop was to Narayanpur. - small village 45mins drive from Pune bus station on way to Mahabaleshwar. It a sitting place for Tirumala Devasthanam - Tirupati Balaji temple. A exact replica of main temple in Andhra pradesh. I usually catch a direct bus from Pune bus station - Swargate to Narayanpur which are available every 30-45minutes.

I reached Narayanpur - Tirupati temple around 12.00 noon. The temple complex is very peaceful place with expansion of the temple in full swing. Tonsure and Tirumala go hand in hand, devotees offer their hair to Lord, a symbolic sacrifice of the ego. I have also done it at numerous occasions.
Taking darshan does not take long here as usually temple is empty with few devotees so It did not take long for the darshan to complete. The visit to Tirupati temple is not complete without taking the famous Tirupati laddoo and simple prasad of dal kichdi at the langar. With darshan complete I headed back to Pune as buses are available from main highway easily.

My next stop was at Dagdu Sheth Ganpati temple. I am in love with the idol of Lord Ganapati here. the idol adorned in precious jewellery and gold, One small temple established by a halwai here over 100 years ago has transformed into must visit temple and holds as much significance as Mumbaites have for Lalbaugh Ganapati. Visit to this temple is a must for me and my family whenever in Pune.

Now it was time for foodie journey for which Pune is famous for. The "Joshi vada pav" bang opposite temple is from where I start my foodie journey each time when in pune. The taste of vada pav is so unique here that I cannot resist gulping down couple of them. When in Pune, I always skip my lunch and dinner as its time for street food.

Pune is also famous for its Namkeen & chivda and quite a few famous shops like KK halwai, Laxminarayan Chiwda at Budhwar peth, or Budhani wafers at MG. road, Chitale bandhu at sadashiv peth. My visit never ends unless there is some purchase done at all of the above shops famous for its unique quality namkeens. And also with all of them within walkable distance of 10-15minutes so it helps me in digesting my junk food.

My next stop is M.G.road. A very vibrant street and one happening place in Pune. Shops selling clothes to mobiles to everything that we can think of. Cake and icecream parlours here is a must try. But I prefer having soda icecream from a road side vendor who stands with his kiosk stall at M.G.road. Now its time for my shrewsberry biscuits at Kayani bakery off M.G.road, It takes 10-15minutes to order as the bakery is always crowded. They churn total of 200kgs of shrewsberry biscuits everyday with shelves running out of stock in no time.

With so much of walk and purchase that its time for me to have some relaxing time and one place which is again very unique like pune is Diamond restaurant and bar, two story open bar at M.G.road serving amazing non-veg and veg menu, Each time I have visited this place, it always full with young crowd sitting in groups for hours together. Chilled kingfisher beer is amazingly relaxing after tiring day and before I catch Neeta bus back home.

In one of my visits to pune, I also visited Osho ashram (Its not a ashram anymore but a seven star international resort) at Koregaon park. I always wanted to see the place but name "OSHO" is banned in our conservative marwari family as Osho's preachings don't go hand in hand with conservative nature of Indian culture especially our family. Nevertheless I wanted to check and get a glimpse of the place which has put name of Pune on International map. I was successful on third attempt to gain entry which is allowed only twice a day for 30minutes. Its a quite walk behind one of Osho discipline who takes you for a ten minute tour of the place. The Osho disciples walking in their red or white attire is unique sight in Koregoan park.

The cafe opposite the osho ashram lane selling cold coffee for Rs 10 is something that I have never tasted anywhere else. I am allergic to lactose or milk product but I still cannot resist the cold coffee here.

My food journey and my trip in Pune usually ends at South Indian restaurant Sukh sagar outside pune station which serves amazing Missal pav - a Maharashtrian speciality and taste is again unique to this place, have tried Missal at numerous other joints in Pune, in Mumbai and also tried my hands on cooking but still yet to find the taste like here.

One bakery which needs to be mentioned here which is again opp Pune station which sells biscuits filled with grinded coconut fillings just like Bounty chocolate. Its not so famous bakery and I just chanced upon purchasing it once. I and my office colleagues have liked it so much that I have been asked numerous times at office about my next visit to Pune to get it back & satisfy the tastebuds of everyone. One of my colleague recently made a unsuccessfull trip to Pune to get the biscuits only to find the bakery closed on Sundays !!!!!!

I have not been able to explore Pune's attractions like Agakhan Palace, Saras baugh, Sinhgad fort etc but I hope to see them in near future.

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