Pune is a silent city. Not many travelers from outside the country know of this highly underrated city. It doesn’t make it to too many travel itineraries as a place of importance, perhaps a short visit if it happens to be on the way. Those who do come are mostly headed to the Osho Meditation Resort. Obviously, tourism in Pune is not taken very seriously.
She is apparently called the ‘Queen of the Deccan’ and remains the cultural capital of the Marathis to this day. Pune or Poona, as she was first called, came into existence sometime in the 6th century, the legendary Maratha warrior, Chatrapati Shivaji grew up here.
Copper plates dating back to as far 758 and 768 show that, by the 8th century, an agricultural settlement known as Punnaka existed where Pune is today. By 993 A.D, it came to be called Punaka Desha. It went through Punekavada and Punevada before finally settling down on Pune.
The Poona gazetter offers an alternative explanation. The city is situated on the confluence of mula and mutha rivers. The confluence or sangam of two rivers is called as punya. Hence the name Pune, also referred to as Punyanagari.
Another theory says Pune got its name from the name of the ancient temple ‘Punyeshwar’, the ruins of which were unearthed in 1918.
In the immediate years that followed India’s independence, Pune became famous as a ‘Pensioner’s Paradise’. For some reason, many government officers, civil engineers, and Army personnel preferred to settle down here after their retirement.
Boom Boom Boom
In July 1961, Panshet dam broke and its waters flooded the city, destroying most of the older sections. This proved to be a sort of blessing in disguise; the city rose up from the water with a boom in construction and manufacturing sectors. By 1970, it emerged as a leader in engineering with Telco, Bajaj, Kinetic, Bharat Forge, Alfa Laval, Atlas, Copco, Sandvik and Thermax setting up shop here. Even today, MNC’s like General Motors, Volkswagen, and Fiat have set up facilities near Pune.
Pune is home to the National Defense Academy and serves as headquarters for the Southern Command of the Indian Army.
Oxford of the East
Simultaneously, it became a sort of Mecca for education in India and still remains so. Pune has a huge number of universities and colleges of very high reputation. Read Symbiosis, FTI, Army Institute of Technology and the like.
Well, so it’s a pretty great place to live. Even if you’re visiting, there are loads of places to see in Pune - temples and wadas, museums and caves, a snake park, a palace. And then of course the amazing Shrewsbury biscuits and Bakherwadi that you’ll only find in Pune.
The city is known for its pleasant weather throughout the year and has no tourist season as such, so the best time to visit Pune is anytime. If I had to pick, it would be November.
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