A Girls Weekend in Pune

Recently I went on a short trip with my school friends to Pune, Maharashtra. This trip was very dear to me as it was our first trip together after we finished school. Every year all of us meet during Durga Puja in Kolkata, where we would catch up on our yearlong gossips. But this time we thought of taking the party out of Kolkata. Despite of one of them cancelling at the last moment, rest of us went ahead with our All-Girls trip to Pune to enjoy monsoons in Lonavala and Mahabaleswar.

This trip closely resembles the staring journey of the protagonists in the movie Zindagi Na Milegi Doobara as my friends and I are flying to Pune from Kolkata and Bangalore respectively. I even downloaded the title track to listen during my flight journey. I always love watching that movie because it instantly transport me to the breathtaking road of Spain and leave me wander-lusting.

Armed with raincoats, umbrella, flashlights, selfie-sticks and a lust for travel, we all met at Pune airport for four days of some amazing girls time in Western Ghats of Pune!

Day 1: Lonavala

I have heard so much about Lonavala in movies and TV series that I had to visit it on my short trip to Pune. Lonavala and Mahabaleshwar are two famous weekend destinations from Pune and Mumbai and gets a crazy amount of footfall round the year. Since the months of June to September are considered to be a great time to enjoy monsoon in the Western Ghats, naturally Lonavala comes to every one’s mind. Even though we wanted to stay back in Lonavala and camp out, we decided to come back to Pune the same night.

Read all about my one day trip to Lonavala here.

Day 2: Pune Sightseeing

From imposing forts and palaces to intricately-carved rock-cut temples, there are numerous places to visit in Pune for history buffs. The former capital of the Peshwas, Pune has also been one of the most important cultural centers in Maharashtra.

First Stop: Agah Khan Palace

Agah Khan Palace

One of the most significant landmarks of the Indian freedom movement, Pune’s Agah Khan Palace is an elegant mansion built in 1892 by Sultan Agah Khan III. This graceful building was where Mahatma Gandhi and other prominent nationalist leaders were interned by the British following Gandhi’s Quit India campaign in 1942.

Displays in Agah Khan Palace

A walk through the corridors of this mansion, will show you the reminiscences of that era and a neat display of the belongings of its occupants. When Gandhi’s secretary Mahadev Desai died during their captivity period in the palace, he refused to hand over the body to British police.

Instead demanded that either he is allowed to go out and burn the body himself or let him hand the body to Gandhi’s closest friends. When both the requests were rejected, Gandhi burned the body inside the Palace grounds and a Samadhi was build for him.

Gandhi ji's Samadhi in Agah Khan Palace

Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi have their memorials located in the same complex, near Mula river.

Second Stop: Shaniwar Wada

Remains of Shaniwar Wada

Built in 1732, Shaniwar Wada was destroyed in a mysterious fire in 1828, but the massive walls and ramparts remain to remind us of its once glorious past. History says that Peshwa Bajirao himself laid the foundation of his soon-to-be residence on Saturday, January 10, 1730; hence the name ‘Shaniwar Wada’ which was an amalgamation of Marathi words, Shaniwar (Saturday) and Wada (residence).

The locals believe that Shaniwar Wada is cursed and haunted by Peshwa Narayanrao’s ghost. In 1773, Narayanrao, who was the fifth and ruling Peshwa then, was murdered by guards on orders of his uncle Raghunathraoand aunt Anandibai. A popular rumor says that Narayanrao’s ghost still calls for help on full moon nights.

In fact Peshwa Bajirao died just after one year of the completion of the house.

Third Stop: Shreemant Dagaduseth Halwai Ganpathi Temple

Shreemant Dagaduseth Halwai Ganpathi Idol

Dagadusheth Gadve was a successful sweetmeat seller and a rich businessman. In late 1800s, he lost his son in a plague epidemic. This caused Dagadusheth and his wife to go into deep depression. To heal themselves, their Guru, Shri Madhavnath Maharaj recommended building a Ganesh temple.

The construction is so simple that all the proceedings in the temple along with the beautiful Ganesh idol can be seen even from outside. Two sentinels, Jay and Vijay, made of marble are set outside to catch all eyes before you enter the temple.

Mewa modaks in various flavours

There are many sweet shops lining both sides of the street. Without wasting any time, went inside one of the sweet shop to taste the Marathi sweet called Modak. The sweet filling on the inside of a Modak consists of freshly grated coconut and jaggery while the outer soft shell is made from rice flour or wheat flour mixed with khoya or maida flour. The Modak can be fried or steamed. We chose to have mewa Modaks in the flavors of Mango, Chocolate, Kesar and Coconut.

Fourth Stop: Tulsi Baugh

It is a very narrow lane that hosts a variety of little shops and roadside stalls. I think the key to shop here is bargaining. If you can bargain well, you can score some good items here.

The downside of this lane is parking. You cannot stop anywhere you want and the moment you think of getting down from the car, a traffic police will catch you in the act.

If you have been to Delhi’s famous Sarojini market, then you will find Tulsi Baugh quite similar. From good cheap handbags to artificial junk jewelry, they have many eye catching things to sell.

Fifth Stop: Parvati Hills

Steps to Parvati Temple

The city tour is incomplete without a visit to Parvati hills, which is a hillock in Pune frequented by many locals. Atop the hillock is the Parvati Temple, one of the most scenic locations in Pune. Parvati hill also serves as an observation point that offers a panoramic view of the entire Pune city. Approximately, total 103 steps leads to the top of the hill where various temples of Hindu Gods & Goddesses are situated.

Parvati Hills

The hill was once owned by a patil named Taware. Peshwa Nana Saheb purchased the hill from him to build the Shiv temple. The Devi temple was believed to be of Taware’s kulswami [family priest] who’s angara [burning coals] were able to cure Kashibai, Peshwa’s mother’s injuries. Since then Peshwa was the regular visitor of this temple.

An artist's impression of Mastani bai (dated 18th century A.D.)

While the temple complex is beautiful and vast, a museum in its midst attracts large crowd to the hill. The Peshwa Museum in Parvati is dedicated to documenting the convoluted history of the Peshwa rule. What was once a part of the palace built on the temple site by Peshwa, is now a museum that houses the various artifacts manufactured and used during the Peshwa rule.

Final Stop: Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park

Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park or Katraj Park

Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park, commonly known as Katraj Zoo, is located in Katraj, Pune. Even though, all the zoos look same to me, I wanted to visit Katraj Zoo because of its Snake Park, which includes python, king cobra, etc. Covering the zoo on foot is a fun option but they also have paid electric cars to roam around.

Day 3: Onward to Mahabaleshwar

After having a wonderful time roaming in and around Pune, it was time for us to visit Mahabaleshwar. Mahabaleshwar is often referred as the queen of hill stations or the land of strawberries in Maharashtra. It offers a panoramic view of the plains with the imposing sloppy peaks and surrounding woods. The best time to visit Mahabaleshwar is in the months of March to June when the temperature sorely rises and people get respite from heat here. Many people like us do visit Mahabaleshwar in monsoon but most of the outdoor activities remain close due to heavy rainfall. Read about our experience in monsoon in Mahabaleshwar here.

Day 4: Spent in leisure in Pune

We initially thought of going to Adlabs Imagica theme park but then traded that idea with a leisure day in Pune. We watched Diljit Dosanjh’s latest movie ‘Soorma’ in Nitesh Hub PVR, which was the nearest to our home stay in Koregaon Park. We ended up having dinner in Pune’s Seasons Mall after picking some souvenirs for our homes.

Dreaming and plotting about our next trip, we girls left the sleeping city of Pune in the wee hours of night to board our flights back to our homes.

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A Girls Weekend in Pune

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