NECESSARY advice when traveling in Pune!

“Situated in the West Indian state of Maharashtra, Pune (assume an accent on the e) is a city for those who enjoy a lively nightlife, hiking, and spicy and delicious street food. It is an important city to me because I’ve spent many summers with my grandparents here, and I’m back again for a six month internship with a human rights law firm.  I’ve had more time to try the street food, find the best places to shop, and discover where to get the best views of the city, which, in my opinion, is the best part of traveling somewhere new.

I can offer you clichéd advice (“Take an auto rickshaw everywhere!” or perhaps “don’t drink the water”), but there are so many other things that are worth mentioning! I am hesitant to offer advice because when I travel, I do what I want. I look at a map and I simply go exploring. I firstly recommend to never buy a single guidebook, especially with an ever-changing, growing country like India. I also don’t like having a packed schedule during my trips where I’m running from one supposedly must see attraction to the next. Take it easy when you’re here. Don’t be impatient, don’t plan your trip hour by hour; you will get absolutely exhausted. India is for the adventurous open minded soul, so the best way to enjoy Pune, or any Indian city for that matter, is to just go with it!

Yet I realize that this spontaneous way of traveling can lead to missed specialties that can only be found in that city. So I should probably give you something to start with. Let’s make this short, sweet, and to the point.

First thing first. The best time to come here is between November and February, as those are the coolest months. I was here during the summer and it reaches 105; if you’re planning to travel around India rather than stay only in Pune, you’ll bake from April to the end of May. Then, the monsoons start in June, so you’ll drench until September.

Once you’re here, take a moment or two to just soak it all in. The sights, sounds, probably not the smells; it will be like no other city that you’ve ever been to, and I can guarantee that.

Regarding the food, ease yourself into it. Don’t get the pani puri first. Pune is for foodies, and those who enjoy high end dinners will get what they want in the Kalyani Nagar and Koregaon Park areas. But street food is the real forte of any Indian city. The local specialty is the vadaa pav, a spicy potato sandwich, which I’ve literally been obsessed with. It’s doused in oil, so I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who is health obsessed, but still, try it just because you might just have a foodgasm (“I’ll have what she’s having!”). It can be found anywhere in the city, but the best ones are in the Camp area, on MG Road. With your vada pav, have some chai. I can’t imagine it getting any better than that combination.

drink                         food

(left, chai at Vohuman Café. Right, vada pav from Karve road, served with green chilies)

If you’re into hiking or just want to give it a try, check out Sinhagad, which has literally been a tradition for me for years. It has really nice views of a few rivers, and if you’re coming anytime between July and August during the monsoon season, then the greenery of the surrounding mountains is pretty amazing. Other than Sinhagad, there’s Parvati, with a sweeping view of the city at sunset.

Or, if you’re not into the hiking thing and simply want to enjoy rooftop bars and classy evenings, visit the Pashaa lounge at the top of the Marriot. 

temple

(Temple on Parvati)

And finally, shopping. On Lakshmi Road in Old Pune, you can find everything from precious metals to stores filled with random knick knacks. MG and FC Road street shopping can get you a shirt and shoes for less than five dollars total. Lastly, for those who want the international brands, there are the malls of Viman Nagar. But come on! Forget about huge malls! Street shopping and haggling are the proper way to shop here. 

nightlife

(Lakshmi Road at night)

Let me once again emphasize how important it is to take it all at your pace. Don’t think that I’m underestimating you, it’s just that you’ll be pushed in crowds and note the aggression on the roads with apprehension. Yet Pune is a city with beautiful people, savory foods, and scenes of daily life that will absolutely amaze you.

flower shop

(Street corner flower shop)

This post was written by Kanan Gole, if you are interested in checking out her other travels, and/or GAINING helpful advice, check out her blog & leave a comment!

kananabroad.wordpress.com

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