Pune, the second largest city in the state of Maharashtra, is situated on the banks of River Mutha. The city is often referred to as ‘Oxford of the East’ owing to the presence of several prominent educational institutions where thousands of international students study. Even when it is adjudged one of the rapidly-evolving cities in the Indian subcontinent, Pune, fortunately, remains comparatively less crowded and commercial than its other Maharashtrian counterpart (and capital city) – Mumbai. Pune is located reasonably close to a number of getaway spots (such as Lavasa, Lonavala, and Panchgani) and is easily accessible by road, rail, and air.
Although a busy, bustling city, Pune is fortunately blessed with plenty of tourist spots. Here’s a list of places to visit in Pune to get your travel plans going:
Top Tourist Places in Pune
1. Osho Ashram
Located in Koregaon Park, the ashram was opened by none other than spiritual guru Osho Rajneesh. Spread over 32 acres of land, the ashram provides a spectacular setting to unwind and let your peaceful side take over. Yoga and meditation activities are conducted here on a regular basis. A stress-free non-materialistic lifestyle is emphasized as part of their programmes. While the gardens are fully open to public access, an entry fee is charged for getting into the ashram.
2. National War Museum
One of the most frequented landmarks in the city, the National War Museum was constructed in 1977 as a result of the efforts put in by the Express Citizens’ Forum. The major attraction here is the MIG 2 BN aircraft that was employed during the Kargil War. Located in the Cantonment area, the museum stands as an ode to the soldiers who gave up their lives during those wars that occurred post-independence
3. Adlabs Imagica
A well-known day trip spot in Pune, Adlabs Imagica features an array of live shows, besides numerous land/water rides. Situated on the Mumbai-Pune expressway, Adlabs Imagica remains an excellent spot to visit throughout the year. Rides such as ‘gold rush express’, ‘scream machine’ and ‘nitro’ are bound to induce a rush of adrenaline in everyone. A number of kid-friendly rides can be found here as well.
4. Parvati Hill
Rising to about 2100 feet above sea level, the hill is famous for being home to the Parvati Temple (which is comprised of five sub-temples). Considered to be the most scenic spot in Pune, the temple atop the hill is said to have been built during the Peshwa dynasty rule. The hill acts as a vantage point offering spectacular views of the city. The Peshwa museum is also situated here
5. Pashan Lake
At a distance of 12 km from the heart of the city lies a captivating yet manmade lake in the suburbs of the Pashan Hills. The lake was created during the British rule to serve as a potable water source for locals living in the region. While it has lost its drinkable quality, the lake is still visited by thousands for the scenic views and backdrops it offers (especially for photographers).
6. Shaniwar Wada Palace
A key landmark in the city, Shaniwarwada is a magnificent fortress built in the year 1732 and used to be the seat of the Maratha Peshwas. The fort was sabotaged by fire in 1818 and the ruins were converted into a tourist site. The doorways made of teak, ceilings lit up by gorgeous chandeliers, marble floors embellished using Persian carpets and rugs, the walls filled with portraits of Kings – the palace is splendid no matter how you perceive it!
8. Aga Khan Palace
Sultan Muhammed Shah Aga Khan III built the palace in the year 1892. The Palace has played venue to significant events in the Indian Independence struggle (and is now partially a memorial to the ‘Father of our Nation’ Mahatma Gandhi). It was declared as a monument of national importance by the Archaeological Survey of India in the year 2003. The Gandhi National Memorial Society is headquartered here.
8. Hard Rock Cafe
A vibrant rock-themed resto bar that churns out amazing burgers and cocktails, Hard Rock Cafe is the go-to place for live gigs and karaoke nights. Located on the Koregaon Park Extension in Mundhwa, the place also sells music-related collectibles and curios. Rated 4.6 on Zomato, Hard Rock Cafe is also a great venue for date-nights with your better half.
9. High Spirits
This pub, which doubles as an outdoor party destination, often hosts top DJs from all over the country. The ambiance is composed of yellow-colored metal chairs, quirky wall art designs, and fancy lights. You get to attend live performances from a variety of bands (from different genres) at High Spirits. The ‘cookouts’ (or ‘brunches’) offered here are a crowd-favorite.
10. Pataleshwar Cave Temple
An ancient, rock-cut cave temple the origins of which, date back to the period of the 8th-century Rashtrakutas, it is also known by alternate names such as Bhamburde and Panchaleshwar. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple has been cut out of basalt rock and holds cube-shaped sanctums on either side, with a linga at the center. The walls feature drawings and inscriptions that tell stories from the Indian mythology.
11. Bund Garden
Situated right next to the Pune Railway Station is a picturesque garden that is visited by thousands. The garden derives its name from the dam built over River Mula by the Parsi philanthropist and businessman Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy. Opened to public entry in the year 1869, the garden is now a jogger’s paradise. Evening strolls and boat rides are fun activities you can indulge in, while you’re here.
12. National Defence Academy
The campus is located 17 km southwest of Pune city, at a place called Khadakwasla. Since its inception, the academy has churned out efficient cadets who have been part of major battles that involved the Armed Forces. The exteriors are characterized by pillars, arches, and balconies, crowned by a dome. Part of the campus is a museum that houses war artifacts and a library that has over 100,000 publications.
13. Peshwa Udyan
Push your worries aside and proceed to this beautiful zoo and garden which is home to a large variety of flora and fauna. Offering locals and tourists a space to relax while staying well within city limits, the Peshwa Udyan looks absolutely amazing during the spring season when flowers are in full bloom. Kid-friendly attractions (such as toy-train rides) are also part of the garden.
14. Shinde Chhatri
A monument built in memory of 18th-century military captain Mahadji Shinde who served in the Maratha army. Witness a blend of Rajasthani and British architectural styles as you enter the monument. The hall has been beautifully decorated with photographs and portraits of members from the Shinde household. Efforts have been made to restore parts of the memorial.
15. Vishrambaug Wada
Previously the luxurious residence of Peshwa Bajirao II (the last Peshwa of the Maratha Confederacy), the mansion has a beautiful frontage and balcony featuring exquisite woodwork. The construction took nearly six years and was completed by 1807. The walls, facades ceilings, and columns here throw light on the colonial rule. Part of it has now been converted into a post office.
16. Lal Mahal
A strikingly red monumental structure established by Shahaji Bhosale (the father of Emperor Shivaji) in 1630, Lal Mahal has undergone several stages of destruction and renovation. Emperor Shivaji’s marriage is said to have taken place here. Built with the aim of reviving the city of Pune, the Lal Mahal used to be the Emperor’s residence till construction work on the Shaniwar Wada was completed.
17. David Synagogue
Conceived by philanthropist David Sassoon in the year 1867, the David Synagogue predominantly featured English Gothic style of architecture and is located on Moledina Road. Unannounced visits are usually not entertained here. Visitors are required to obtain permission in advance. The synagogue is said to have served Pune’s Baghdadi Jewish community for decades. The clock-tower with its arched openings is an added attraction.
18. Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum
The museum houses a large collection of artifacts gathered from various parts of the country especially during the 18th and 19th centuries such as vessels, paintings, door frames, and handicrafts. Apart from these, a rare set of items collected by Dr. Dinkar G Kelkar is featured here. At the exit point, a shop selling souvenirs can be found. The museum stays open between 10 AM and 5 30 AM every day.
19. Darshan Museum
This museum stands as a tribute to spiritual leader Sadhu Vaswani. The museum is open for public between 11 AM and 7 PM every day except Thursday. While entry to the museum is free of charges, you’ll be required to fill in a registration form on arrival. The place is run solely by the Sadhu Vaswani Mission. Pay a visit to the museum and embrace your inner spirituality!
20. Tribal Museum
The Tribal Museum seeks to put indigenous people of the region (and of the entire country) into the limelight. Their lifestyles, cultural practices, food habits and rituals performed (which are unique to each tribe) are expounded in detail at this museum. Photos and objects collected by journalists, philanthropists and explorers have been put on display here. Special attractions include tribal masks and musical instruments used by tribals during their festivals.
21. Mahatma Phule Museum
Established in 1875, this museum has undergone quite a few name changes (from Poona Industrial Museum to Lord Reay Museum to Mahatma Phule Museum). The weapons display here (that belongs to the Maratha and Mughal eras) is one of the finest you’ll ever see. What makes this museum stand out from the rest, is its monthly publication known as ‘Srushti Dnyan’, which focuses on developments in the field of science.
Along the mountainous terrain of the Sahyadris lies a gorgeous piece of land called ‘Maval’ which is touted to be a region of flourishing biodiversity. The quiet, peaceful lives of the villagers here are bound to impress all and sundry. Maval also provides ample opportunities for its visitors to partake in various adventure activities such as swimming, kayaking, tunnel crawls and commando walks.
A famous paragliding destination located near Pune, Kamshet is a charming little hill-town. The place can be accessed by both road and rail (as it has its own railway station). The cold semi-arid weather of the place makes it a perfect getaway spot just one hour away (about 50 km) from Pune. Kamshet is home to many lakes, temples, and caves.
24. Tulsi Baug Market
A lively, buzzing area in the heart of Pune city, Tulsi Baug primarily features an ancient temple precinct and a huge marketplace. The temple was constructed during the era of the Peshwas post the Battle of Panipat. The market here is a storehouse of Maharashtrian goods such as cutlery, jewelry, cosmetics and cooking ware. A number of restaurants serving local treats can also be found here.
25. Empress Botanical Garden
The garden was opened in 1880 with the intention of preserving rare floral species. Featuring lush green lawns, a huge variety of flora, a kids play area, and a snacking point, the Empress Botanical Garden has managed to retain its natural charm over time. The place is open every day from 9 30 AM to 6 30 PM with a nominal INR 10/- entry fee.
26. Mulshi Lake and Dam
A major dam on the Mula river, Mulshi has recently evolved into a major tourist spot owing to its picture-perfect setting. The water from the dam is used for irrigation as well as the generation of electricity (at the Bhira hydroelectric power plant). The place is ideal for nature walks, bird watching, photography, and trekking. The sight of the overflowing lake (during the rainy season) is not one to be missed.
27. Peacock Bay
Quite the famous picnic spot and pivot of all water-based activities in Pune, Peacock Bay positions itself at Khadakwasla dam and is managed by the NDA wing of the city. The place got its name due to a large number of peacocks roaming around the area. The bay is famous for hosting big events such as the open lake swimming contest and the annual national inland championship. Tourists flock to this place to experience a slice of water-based adventure activities.
28. Baner Pashan Biodiversity Park
Extending over 200 hectares, the Baner Pashan Biodiversity Park is a protected region located in the Pune suburbs. The construction/expansion of I.T parks in the city was contributing heavily to deforestation and hence this park came into existence to curb further damage to the environment. You can spot rare bird species here. The park is a garbage-free, untroubled spot where locals and tourists enjoy mellowing out at.
29. Chaturshringi Temple
Situated on a hill slope on Senapati Bapat Road, the Chaturshringi Temple is said to have been built during the reign of Maratha emperor Shivaji. Now under the management of the trustees of Chaturshringi Devasthan, the temple can be reached only by ascending over a hundred stairs. Durlabh Seth Pitambardas Mahajan, a staunch devotee of the Goddess, is believed to have led the construction procedures. Residents of Pune throng the temple during the eve of Navratri.
The Khadakwasla is dam located about 20 km away from the heart of Pune city and built across the Mutha river. Well known tourist spots in the region include the popular Sinhagad Fort and the twin dams of Varasgaon and Panshet which provide an adequate supply of water for irrigation purposes. There are neither fixed timings applicable in case of visits nor any entry fees levied.
31. Vetal Tekdi
Boasting an elevation of 2600 feet, this hill has a temple at its peak known as the ‘Vetala’ temple where it derives its name from. The place is deemed excellent for early morning treks and adventures. The Indian Forest Department has set up an observation deck next to the temple which offers stunning views of the landscape. Afforestation programmes are being conducted here on a large scale.
32. Dagdusheth Halwai Temple
Visited by thousands of pilgrims every year, the Dagdusheth Halwai Temple is famous for its Ganeshotsav festivities that span ten days (and are even attended by politicians and celebrities). The main idol at the shrine has been insured for a whopping sum of INR 1 crore. Constructed in 1893 by a businessman (and confectioner) named Dagadusheth Halwai, the temple lures visitors with its beautifully designed sentinels, gold-plated idol (with a height of 7.5 feet), and unusually large offerings.
33. Katraj Snake Park
Part of the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park, this snake park is home to over 22 rare species of the reptile. The main attraction here is the 13 foot long King Cobra that often stands on its tail to greet visitors. Events are often organized by the management to spread awareness on the preservation of reptile species and to rid them of the common fear of snakes. A guided tour is recommended so as to gain better knowledge while visiting.
34. Pu La Deshpande Garden
This is one of the largest gardens in Pune city. Drawing inspiration from the 300-year-old Okayama Korakuen Garden, this garden is fed by a natural canal (with water flowing steadily throughout). A bridge laid across the canal offers a standpoint from where you can spot a good number of marine species (especially fish). A children’s play area is also part of the garden. Open every day between 6 AM and 8 PM, entry to the garden comes with a fee of INR 10/- per person.
35. The Ganache
A quaint little cafe (which is part of a bungalow) located near More Vidyalaya, The Ganache serves up some of the best desserts you’ll have in the city. The Blueberry cheesecakes and Chicken Pesto sandwiches here are recommended by many. Rated 4 out 5 on Zomato, this pocket-friendly cafe is a must-visit for anyone with a sweet tooth. Truly a hidden gem!
36. Anna Idli
One of the best South-Indian restaurants in the city, Anna Idli has made a name for itself by hiring a courteous bunch of employees and cooking up amazing ‘podi idlis’. The dosas (namely Mysore Masala, Rava and Set) prepared here are also loved by guests and go marvelously well with their Filter Coffee. Even if the items are priced slightly higher (in comparison with similar joints), the quality is reflected in every aspect.
A cozy little resto-cafe situated in Viman Nagar, GeoBistro boasts of wonderfully done European interiors. Their low-fat handcrafted milkshakes (such as Nutella Pretzel and Oreo Cookie) are certainly Instagram-worthy. The restaurant serves Continental, Mediterranean, American, Mexican and European cuisines and is rated 4.9 on Zomato. The place is kid-friendly, screens live sporting events, has al-fresco dining area and even delivers to places in the vicinity.
38. Surve’s Pure Non-Veg Restaurant
This restaurant is recommended for authentic Maharashtrian treats. Located beside Phoenix East Court in Viman Nagar, Surve’s has excellent buffet deals. The Non-Veg Thali meals (Chicken and Mutton), Pandhra Rassa, Mutton Keema and Chicken Handi are frequently ordered by guests here. This is one restaurant in the city that cooks up only non-vegetarian dishes.
Pune is a city where history and modernity meet. With this list of places to visit in Pune, your travel plans to the city shouldn’t wait any longer. Do share your travel experiences with us in the ‘feedback’ section provided below.
While visiting Pune, stay at a Treebo property!