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A Pune City Guide - mystical temples, spicy cuisine and buzzing festivals in bustling metropolis

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Pune is a dazzling city set on the banks of the mighty Mutha River, in India’s western green-washed state of Maharashtra. The city dates back over 2,000 years, and its infinitely intriguing heritage can be explored in the palaces and ornate temples, which house flower-covered golden shrines and stone monuments. Food-lovers will rejoice at the mix of spicy street food and laid back restaurants, and you'll get swept away by Pune’s spellbinding dance and music festivals.
Events

 

 

Pune is a hotspot for dance, music and religious festivals. Each year in late summer the city hosts the Ganesh Festival, a 10-day celebration which thrums with a carnival-like atmosphere. Glittering white lights line the central streets, and flower-laden Ganesh idols glide on floats - lead by singing processions - to the soft river banks. Pune also hosts the Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Festival, a medley of live classical music events, where harmonious sitar music blends with hypnotic tabla drums to create an other-worldly experience. Lovers of dance won’t want to miss the Shaniwarwada Dance Festival, which blends Pune’s cultural heritage with graceful and lyrical choreography.

 

Where to eat

 

 

Pune boasts a rewarding blend of fine eating establishments and delectable street food. Treat your taste-buds to a plate of steaming bhelpuri from one of the vendors, a puffed rice dish drizzled in a tangy tamarind sauce. Head to Shivaji Market and discover colourful fruit stalls, which dish up bowls of fresh pineapple, figs and strawberries. For delicate dishes expertly infused with aromatic Indian spices, explore the elegant eateries in Pune’s Koregaon Park area. If you ever find yourself missing the comforts of home, Pune also provides a number of Westernised restaurants and fast-food takeaways.

 

Nightlife

 

 

Pune is home to a number of highly respected universities and colleges, which provide a hip, youthful energy to the city’s abundant nightlife. If you’re after ritzy, stylish cocktail bars and lounges - full of Pune’s coolest conversationalists - head to the affluent area of Koregaon Park. For a more chilled out vibe, spend your evenings unwinding in the Deccan Gymkhana area, Pune’s cultural hub. Catch a show at one of the theatres or cinemas, before enjoying drinks and dinner at one of the bars and restaurants.

 

Travel tips

 

 

Pune’s vast size and winding streets can be intimidating at first, but the stellar city-wide bus service will whizz you around at very little expense. Alternatively, Pune provides a fleet of auto-rickshaw drivers, which are a memorable way to travel short distances. Make sure your rickshaw driver is using a meter to get an accurate and fair cost, and remember that they may charge slightly higher rates late at night. Pune is friendly and welcoming - full of charming locals and students - but keep an eye on your belongings in public, especially around the more touristy areas.