I think I am on to making some kind of a New Year traveling trend for myself – traveling to and exploring a new city within the country. Last year I went to Ahmedabad (read about the trip here) and 2017 started with a trip to Pune. Despite spending a couple of months in the outskirts of the city a few years ago and a few trips last year, this is the first time I saw the city like a traveller would. Here’s what you can do, see and eat if you are in the city for 24 hours.
Do and See
• Pune Heritage Walk: The best way to get in touch with a city’s heritage site is to go for a Heritage Walk. Janwani, a city based organisation hosts such walks every weekend covering 18 heritage spots including Shaniwar Wada, Lal Mahal, Mujumdar Wada etc. I was in Pune on weekdays so couldn’t attend it, but recommended it to a friend who loved it. You can find the details of the walk here – http://www.puneheritagewalk.com/
• Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum: Located in the by-lanes of Sadashiv Peth this museum is a personal collection of Dr D. G. Kelkar housing artefacts that he picked up during his extensive travels to India’s remote and tribal villages. The three-storey building has sculptures dating back to 14th century and a section which is the reconstruction of Mastani Mahal. Read more about the museum here – http://rajakelkarmuseum.com/
• Aga Khan Palace: Walking inside a palace where Mahatma Gandhi was kept under house arrest after the Quit India Movement and where Kasturba Gandhi breathed her last was an experience that gave me goose bumps. Built in 1892 by Sultan Muhammed Shah Aga Khan III, the palace has been declared a monument of national importance. Located in Kalyani Nagar, the palace is a bit of a drive from the main city but worth a trip for History lovers.
• Blades Of Glory: I would’ve never visited the one of its kind Cricket museum in India if not for my Cricket fanatic brother. Housing cricket memorabilia of almost every international player, the museum is dream come true for the fan boys. You can spot Sachin’s bats, Dhoni’s jersey and even Bret Lee’s torn shoe. Read more about the museum here – http://www.bladesofglory.net/
• Joshi’s Miniature Railway Museum: Housed in a small factory in Kothrud, the miniature railway museum built by B.S. Joshi is a fun way of learning about the workings of various kinds of trains. The narration is designed more to suit the children but it’s equally fun for the grown-ups as well. Read more about the museum here – http://www.minirailways.com/about.html
Pune has no dearth of good restaurants but honestly I don’t care much about the Italian, Continental or any other International cuisine that the city has to offer. I focused completely on the local food and went to some popular as well as hidden gems.
• Café Good Luck: This is where you start your day from, with bun-butter, chai and a simple masala omelette. Established in 1935, the Irani café on Fergusson College road is an institution in itself.
• Gopi Non Veg: I chanced upon this hole in the wall eatery while looking up places for Maharashtrian Thali. Opened in 1977, Gopi Non Veg in Sadashiv Peth serves Kolhapuri style chicken and mutton thali. With spice level fit for a winter’s evening and a thick layer of oil floating on top, the tambda and pandhra rassa (typical Kolhapuri style curries made with mutton stock and a mix of spices) is so far the best I have eaten. The pandhra rassa wasn’t white like you would usually see and instead had a slightly copper-ish colour.
• Bedekar Misal: The holy grail of misal in Pune, Bedekar stands true to its reputation. In a typical Kolhapuri style, the misal is served with bread slices instead of pav. You pay at the counter, pick up a plate of misal and bread and head to your table. The kat (spicy hot curry) is pored over the missal at the table. The taste too is much different from what you get in Mumbai. It’s not as fiery and has a hint of sweetness. The mix has sprouts, sev and light farsan and at the base there’s spicy potato mash. Easy to say that Pune is the reason why I fell in love with misal.
• Garden Vada Pav: I am not too big on vada pav but went to this road-side stall at my brother’s recommendation and was completely blown over by the hot and crisp vada. It was so crisp that I could hear the crunch. The masala too was lovely with every bit of potato completely mashed.
• German Bakery: I would consider the food at German Bakery a bit overrated but for the keema pav. Go for just that I would suggest.
• Ayurveda Paan at Rajdhani: While walking around Sadashiv Peth I spotted a shop selling Ayurveda paan. They have paan suited for every dosha and body type. Try the Bakasura paan or digestive paan with a hint of churan in it.