Pune India – Top 9 Tourist Attractions Not to Miss
Pune is a metropolis with a buzzing atmosphere as well as a generous dose of old-world charm. It combines the best of city attractions such as palaces, museums and temples as well as parks, panoramic hilltops and animal sanctuaries. The city is located at the confluence of the Mutha and Mula Rivers, with plenty of surrounding tourist attractions to be explored by every type of traveller. Here is the list of tourist attractions we recommend including into your travel itinerary.
1. Aga Khan Palace and Gandhi Museum
The Palace, on Pune-Nagar Road, is a grandiose building considered one of the wonders of India. Not only that it is a place where Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned and subsequently died. A part of the Palace has since been converted into a museum in honour of the most famous of India’s freedom advocates and contains his ashes as well as a large archive of photos, portraits, and artifacts. The Archaeological Society of India declared it a national monument, which makes it one of the top 10 tourist attractions in the city. The Palace is surrounded by 19 acres of land and beautifully manicured lawns.
It is the perfect place to visit with the whole family and is open daily from 9.00am to 5.30pm. Entry fee is INR100.
2. Rajiv Gandhi Zoo
The 130 acre zoo, located about 5 miles outside the city, is easily accessible by local buses from Swargate bus stand. Divided into three main parts, the zoo has an animal sanctuary, a snake park, and a 42 acre lake. If you’re a nature lover or travelling with children this is one of the top attractions not to miss. The zoo houses a large collection of reptiles, mammals, and birds. Among the most impressive of its inhabitants are the white and Bengal tigers, sloth bears, monkeys, and elephants. The zoo also includes a library and prides itself on its reptile and snake collection which comprises such rarities as the Indian rock python, crocodiles and a 13 foot long King cobra.
The entry fee is INR15/adult, INR5/child, and the zoo is open daily from 9.30am to 6.00pm.
3. ShaniwarWada Fort
The 18th century built ShaniwarWada fortification of the city was once home to the Peshwas of the Maratha Empire, and the then existing Palace was considered the centre of Indian politics and discourse. Although much of the buildings were destroyed in a fire in 1828, what remains of this magnificent architectural relic is certainly worth a visit. While it is no longer possible to see the once outlandishly decorated halls with dangling crystal chandeliers, Persian rugs and fresco painting from Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the impressive infrastructure of the place is still something to behold. The complex contains five fortification walls, with bastions and gates, court halls and fountains set among exquisite gardens.
The ShaniwarWada is open daily from 8.00am to 6.00pm, and also holds a light and sound show from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. Entry fee is INR125 + INR25 for the show.
4. The Raja Dinkar Kelar Museum
This unique museum, on Natu Baug Road, housing a considerable number of artifacts from the 18th and 19th centuries, is another top tourist attraction. The museum has over 20,000 items on display, ranging from antique household objects to culturally significant artworks, showcasing the skills of Indian craftsmanship of the time. The genuinely fascinating pan-Indian collection includes hundreds of hookah pipes, carved furnishings, children’s toys, jewellery and a gallery of musical instruments. If you happen to have an interest in history we recommend you spend the whole day there.
The museum is open daily from 10.00am to 5.30pm; the entry fee is INR200/adult, INR50/child.
5. Parvati Temple
The Parvati Temple – the oldest heritage structure in town - is one of Pune’s highlights. Located near the centre, close to Swargate bus station, the Temple is up on a hillock 2100 feet above the sea level. The location itself is considered to be one of the most scenic in the city, offering picturesque views of Pune, especially at dawn. The 103 step climb to the top is worth the effort, especially if you plan to greet the sunrise there or have a mid-afternoon picnic. We recommend you get there as early as possible as the place is also favoured by the locals, who go there to greet the day.
The Temple is open daily from 4.30am to 9.00pm, and entry is free. It is customary, however, to take along token gifts when visiting holy places in India so please do so at your discretion.
6. Okayama Friendship Garden
The garden, one of the largest and most impressive in the city, is located on Sinhagad Road and can be reached by rickshaw or taxi from the centre. It is the perfect place for a quiet getaway from the city buzz and bustle. The Okayama Garden houses a canal, which runs throughout the entire landscape, with its paths leading you along the ever-changing scenery, spread across 10 acres of land. It is a truly inspiring site, with many varied and exotic plants, flowers and wildlife, including small hoards of colourful fishes in the pond beneath the central bridge.
The Garden is open daily from 6.00am to 10.30am and from 4.00pm to 8.00pm. Entry fee is INR5. Please keep in mind that neither food nor beverages are allowed inside. You will also require a permit if you’re carrying a camera.
7. Shreemant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganapati Temple
This is one of the most famous and frequented temples in the whole of Maharastra, visited by thousands of pilgrims each year. The Temple, home to Lord Ganesha, is famous for its idol which is seven feet tall, three feet wide and is adorned with over 88 pounds of pure gold. The Temple itself is an impressively imposing superstructure, with a historic past evident all around. This is one of the top attraction’s that’s not to be missed. The daily pooja, abhisheka and the arti celebrating this most famous of Indian deities is something of a spectacle and one we highly recommend. Additionally, you are more than likely to chance upon a special concert, bhajan or an Atharvasheersh recitation when there, so please do take along some token gifts or simply make a small donation.
The Temple, on Shivaji Road, is open daily from 6.00am to 11.00pm. Entry is free.
8. Art2Day Gallery
This is an excellent little gallery, on Bhandarkar Institute Road, dedicated to showcasing new and upcoming artist and promoting awareness of the evolution of modern Indian art. The gallery’s ethos is For Artist By Artist & Art Lovers – a platform where all those interested in cultural trends can come together and enjoy both new talent and works by already established eminent figures. This is definitely a gallery with a difference and one which we recommend you visit for some light cultural relief, where you will find a diverse range of works by budding student artists, famous painters, sculptors, photographers and Folk artist, whose works are thoughtfully curated to wow and inspire. This is one of the key tourist attractions for the culture vultures but everyone is heartily welcome by the founders, Priyamvada and Sanjeev Pawar.
The gallery is open from 11.00am to 6.00pm daily. Free entry.
9. Mandai Market
The market has eight entrances, the main one being on Chhatrapati Shivaji Road. This is something you will enjoy if you’re after an authentic Pune city experience. The market opens at 4:00am with some 500+ fruit and vegetable sellers setting up their stalls for the day ahead. The exotic produce on offer are not the only thing to see when there. The Mahatma Phule Mandai, a giant structure carved in stone and wood, with eight wings and eight openings for entry and exit is an impressive site, constructed in the 1880s, it still serves today as a working marketplace for the best and cheapest produce that Pune has to offer. This is a wonderful place to visit if you wish to try some rare exotic fruit, or simply have a wander around the magnificent building that houses the market.
Entry is free. The market closes at 10.00pm.
Due to its size and scope, the city of Pune has a lot to offer and what it does offer is a great variety of cultural, historical and local tourist attractions and sights, some of which we have recommended above.