We decided to stop at Pune for a few days on our way back from the Four Seasons Vineyard at Baramati. Till then the impression that I had of Pune was of a tiny, quaint city with pretty houses, all built around a huge Kayani bakery, which, in my imagination, wasn't much different from Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.
What I definitely didn't expect was a city like any other city - traffic, high-rise buildings, independent houses giving way to apartments, MG Road, malls etc. We only stayed there for a couple of days, so I definitely cannot say that I understand the city now. But I can definitely say that I do feel like going back and exploring the place for a few days. I am sure the city won't disappoint.
Even during our short stay, the city had started unveiling its secrets to us. With Western Ghats in its backyard, the city is a traveller's delight. One can easily drive to hill stations such as Lonavala, Khandala, Mahabaleshwar. You can get Chikki and Fudge on the way from Lonavala and big juicy strawberries from Mahabaleshwar. And if you happen to visit during the monsoons, which we didn't, I have heard the landscapes can take your breath away. But that is beyond the scope of a time-turner post. Let us return to the lingering memories of the city.
I remember, in particular, that a large part of the city was crowded, with lots of traffic, but the suburbs were peaceful and the apartment complexes were high-rise, but not overwhelmingly so. In general, these areas were green too. We visited the city in the month of February, and the weather was cool and comfortable.
We drove to Lonavala and back. This was the first time I was driving in the hills so it was a thrilling experience. It wasn't monsoon so the landscapes were desolate, and yet hauntingly beautiful. I remember long stretches with nothing but little shacks serving maggi and tea, with motorbikes and cars parked close by. I remember "tiger point" and "lion point", that offered breathtaking views of the Western Ghats. On our way back, we also briefly visited Khandala, memories of which have more-or-less faded.
While in the city, we also visited Lavasa. I remember a horde of cars speeding across the hills. A women's rally was culminating in Lavasa that very day, and Lavasa itself was very crowded because of the celebrations. I also remember candy-colored houses and a large, a lake with musical fountain. There were nice restaurants and shops alongside the lake, however, many were yet to open. There were houses around the lake that one could either purchase or rent or book for a few days.
We cannot end this post without mentioning Kayani bakery. The fact is that we happened to reach there on a Sunday, and Kayani Bakery was closed. I was disappointed, because I desperately wanted to try the famous Shrewsbury biscuits. However, another bakery was open, and they too had the Shrewsbury biscuits. We bought some and also got some packed for home. The cookies were good, but nothing great. Later, my cousin bought me a box from Kayani Bakery and we could see the difference. The Shrewsbury biscuits from Kayani bakery were crisp and yet melt-in-the-mouth.
We had 3 days to explore Pune and at the end of these we wished we had a bit more time. If you really want to explore Pune, you should try to spend at least a week there. Every nook and corner hides a secret that is waiting to be uncovered and one can truly befriend the city only by actually staying in it.
If you liked this post and found it helpful, I would request you to follow these things when traveling -
- Manage your waste well and don’t litter
- Use dustbins. Tell us if you went to a place and found it hard to locate a dustbin.
- Avoid bottle waters in hills. Usually you get clean water in hills and water bottles create lot of mess in our ecosystem.
- Say big no to plastic and avoid those unhealthy snacks packed in plastic bags. Rather buy fruits.
- Don't play loud blaring music in forests of jungle camps. You are a guest in that ecosystem and disturbing the locals (humans and animals) is not polite