Best Western – Star Residency Pune : Pune can be categorized as one of the best cities in Maharashtra and the Best Western Star residency is a hotel which adds to this charm. I got an opportunity to stay there when I visited the city with my family to attend a wedding. The manager made sure we were comfortably settled in our rooms.
From the Saras Baug Pune we headed towards our next destination which was the Pu La Deshpande Udyan Pune. However, it was already 2:00 PM and we were extremely hungry. So before reaching the Udyan, we decided to stop at a roadside restaurant and have our lunch. Moreover, we knew that the park would open only after 4:00 PM. Meanwhile, I checked out all the beautiful photos that I had captured by then.
I was extremely fascinated by the manner in which the Marathas had planned the construction of the city. After having our lunch, we went to the Sambhaji Uddan on J. M. Road in order to obtain permit for carrying the camera inside the park. Also known as the Pune Okayama Friendship Garden, the Udyan is actually a garden which is located at a place called Sinhagad Road or Narvir Tanaji Malusare Road.
The design of the garden was inspired from that of Okayama’s Koraku-en Garden in Japan as it had completed its 300 years of existence by then. The Japanese styled garden is spread over a beautiful area which is ideal for spending a leisurely day. The entire garden was decorated with a wide range of flowers, plants and small sized water bodies.
There is no doubt about the fact that the Pu La Deshpande Udyan is a great spot for those who want to experience nature in its true form. It is one of those few locations in a well built city like Pune where you get to live in the lap of Mother Nature. We had to pay a very nominal entry fee of Rs 10 and the price was even lower for children.
One of the locals told us that the park stays open for the general public throughout the week from 6 in the morning to 8 in the evening with a gap from 10:30 AM to 4:00 PM. After spending around one to hours in exploring different parts of the park, we found that it was getting dark. And so we decided to return to our hotel and explore the remaining spots the next day.
Sinhagad Fort Pune : The Sinhagad fort which is located in Pune is famous because many battles were fought here. I loved my visit here as the place was located away from the city. It can be described as the natural tomb of kings and the soldiers who fought here. We all enjoyed our day out to the fort and I would love to visit again.
After having a great day spent in exploring various tourist attractions of Pune, we returned back to our hotel which was named as the Oxford & Country Club Resort Pune. Also known as O Golf Resort, it is regarded to be one of the best hotels in the city, especially for those who don’t want to burn a hole in their pocket.
We decided to stay at this hotel as it is situated at a prime spot and very close to the Railway Station as well as the Airport. After having a bath, all of us decided to relax near the swimming pool while sipping a hot cup of coffee at the in-house coffee shop. We also decided to check out the services offered by the spa centre in order to reenergize our bodies.
The resort is close to some of the city’s major tourist spots such as Pashan Lake, Katraj Snake Park, Lord Ayyappa Temple, St. Mary’s Church, etc. We were extremely overjoyed with the different types of services offered by the hotel.
Apart from the spa and salon services, the Oxford & Country Club Resort Pune is equipped with meeting rooms, banquet halls and state of the art equipments so that you don’t have any problem in cracking important business deals. We also came to know that the banquet halls can be hired by the local people for organizing various corporate and social events. Some of the basic features come in the form of laundry, valet parking, travel desk, doctor on call, etc.
As the name indicates, the Oxford & Country Club Resort Pune has a beautiful looking golf course on offer. In addition to that, we could spot facilities for various other spots such as squash and tennis.
There are three restaurants inside the hotel so that guests can be served with some of the most exquisite delicacies of the world. While Addah has carved out a niche for itself in terms of Indian dishes, Harajuku is known for serving delicious Japanese food. There is another restaurant called Kitsch which stays open throughout the day. We also spotted a number of tents which have been designed to offer all the facilities of a luxurious accommodation.
Description : The Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum in Pune is a building which is dedicated to the Raja, who happened to be the only son of Dinkar Kelkar. It houses many artifacts which were made in the days of the 14th century. There is a chess set made of the finest ivory and most items on display are priceless.
After being disappointed with the pathetic nature of the Vishrambaug Pune, we moved on towards our next destination which was the Saras Baug. It is considered to be one of the major landmarks of the city and has been created above a small lake which had dried up. It is situated at a distance of around 1 km from the main Swargate bus stand and around 6 km from the main Railway Station. The complex is extremely big and covers a total area of 10 hectares.
The main attraction of the Saras Baug is the Ganesh Temple known as Talyatla Ganpati. We came to know that the temple’s construction began in 1750 after a decision made by Mahadji Shinde and Sawai Madhavrao Peshwa from Maratha Confederacy. It took around 34 years to complete the temple’s construction with the establishment of the idol. It was built along a lake close to the Parvati Temple which also acted as the main residence for the chief of Maratha Confederacy.
We came to know that the Saras Baug Pune has witnessed renovations a number of times over the last 200 years of existence. Even the East India Company had carried out renovations in 1842 during their rule in India. One of the locals told us that it was under the supervision of Anandrao Mane and Mahadev Kumthekar that the last significant renovation was organized in the year 1969. It was due to this renovation that the 25 acre area of the Baug was extended by the Peshwe Park, a zoo.
We did visit the area where the zoo was located but couldn’t find any animal. This is due to the fact that all the animals belonging to the zoo had been transferred to the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park during the period between 1999 and 2005. We were happy that the garden was maintained very properly and the main reason for doing so was definitely the Ganesh Temple. We also visited the small museum which had several hundred idols of Ganesha on display. The museum was established in the year 1995 and attracts a large number of devotees who come to worship at the temple.
Description : The Aga Khan palace in Pune was recently built in 1892 and is maintained very well with green lawns surrounding it. I visited it as a part of my family tour to the city. The palace was home to the Sultan Aga Khan and has influences of Persian and Turkish architecture reflecting in it.
The next destination in our list was the Vishrambaug Wada Pune which is considered to be one of the finest structures of the city. It is regarded as Peshwa Bajirao II’s luxurious residence and located on Thorale Bajirao Road in the heart of the city. In its present form, the wada is spread over an area of 20,000 sq. ft with only a small portion of it being open for the general public. We could also find a small museum comprised of Maratha artefacts and collected by Babasaheb Purandare and many offices belonging to the municipal corporation.
The beautifully carved woodwork on the balcony and near the entrance makes the structure worth visiting. It came into existence in the year 1811 in order to serve as the home of Peshwa Baji Rao II. There is no doubt about the fact that the building is one of the best representatives of the vibrant cultural heritage of the city. At the time of our visit, we couldn’t spot many people in the surrounding areas. There were many markets in the surrounding areas selling a wide range of items, furniture, etc.
The white and brown coloured front portion decorated with terracotta figures is one of the best photogenic sites one can come across. I was extremely happy to visit this place as it enabled me to capture some of the best photographs of my life. A closer look at the wooden pillars will make you feel as if each one of them is crafted from a single trunk. However, on entering the Wada, we were a bit sad with the apathy, neglect and ruins. We could easily spot many rusting iron rods, bags of cement, damaged pipes and broken tiles right before us on the central courtyard.
Efforts have been taken for restoring the past glory of the Vishrambaug but none of them I think produce fruitful results. The dusty staircase made of stone and wood enabled me to visit the city’s development and history from a different angle though. I wasn’t too satisfied with the amateur exhibits either. This is mainly due to the fact that Marathi is the only language used inside the exhibition.