• travel guide to pune

Your mini travel guide to Pune

Before going to Pune, I was really pumped. I had asked all my favorite people (you guys) on Instagram and Facebook what I should see, do, and eat, and you guys gave me great tips and a nice travel guide to Pune.

Unfortunately, I have let you all down.

Although I did a couple things that you all recommended, I overestimated my time there. With flight time, travel to and from airport, staying far from Koregaon Park, and massive rain storms kind of ambushed my trip. I might not have seen everything important, but I sure did eat and drink enough! More on that in another post.

Regardless, here are my thoughts and a little of my own travel guide to Pune:

I also want to say I recognize this guide is more helpful for expats or foreign tourists in India, because most of what I did, I wouldn’t have as a backpacker or international tourist. The places I ate at were sometimes pricey and I did indulge in all the western things I missed from home.

There are a couple things I always knew about Pune: Osho is centered here, it’s pronounced “Poona”, Shiva spent his childhood here, this is where the Brits used to escape Bombay’s monsoon and where they stuck Gandhi in jail for a couple years.  It’s a sprawling business city and frequented by expats who come to India for work. In addition to the guys in suit and ties there are loads of hippies coming for Osho center (which is based from teachings of famous guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh).

travel guide to puneIt’s obviously got the charm all Indian cities have- chaos, traffic, fabulous food- but it’s a very balanced place. Unlike conservative Kochi where I last explored, I found people here more open and relaxed. With Ganesh Chaturthi around the corner,  it was fun to see the giants Ganeshes’ being sold on the streets.

I was happy to be spending a few days exploring and doing a little solo adventuring again.  The main areas are MG road which is more local and Koregaon Park, where you’ll find more foreigners and where you’ll probably want to find a guesthouse.

FYI: there is an MG road in most Indian cities and if you’re bored it’s a good place to tell a rickshaw driver to take you. You’ll always find shops, street food, hotels, coffee shops with other travelers, and a nice local culture. 

travel guide to pune

To be honest, I found the rickshaw drivers to be useless with knowing tourist hot spots. While searching for Aga Khan Palace, which I made my first stop, I had to switch ricks three times when drivers gave up looking. I probably asked 15 drivers to take me and showed them the name written down saying “Gandhi’s palace” as well but they had no clue.

TIP: You need to know the exact address, look it up on your phone (in the rain storm, I had no cell service), and in Koregaon Park, know the lane number! The drivers did use the meter when I asked nicely (most of the time). 

Aga Khan Palace // Pune

travel guide to pune

travel guide to pune

Aga Khan Palace houses Gandhi memorial, located on Nagar Road, and is the biggest attraction in Pune (although anyone on the street will say they’ve never heard of it). It was neat to walk through. 100 rs ticket price for tourists and 5 rs for Indians will get you entrance to the grounds and museum. It’s a bit out of the way, but worth a look. I mean, how many people can say they saw Gandhi’s sandals and glasses?

travel guide to pune

travel guide to pune

From here, I tried to go to famous and recommended Pataleshwar rock-cut (cave) temple dated back to 8th century, made for the god of the underwater but it was pouring, I had no WiFi and the driver I was with didn’t have a clue what it was.

They are meant to be similar to the Elephanta caves in Bombay and just across is the Jangali Maharaj Temple– so you can kill two birds with one stone.

Sinhagad Fort was next on my list but, again, I was met with a blank stare. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have a map with you and exact instructions for the driver. Even people on the street when he’d stop to ask didn’t have a clue.

I finally gave up and said “just drive toward Koregaon Park”, figuring I’ll get out if I see something. Just FYI most cool places are hidden from the main road, so you won’t just see them. I was getting hungry and requested Burger King, but again no one had heard of it. It’s not the real one, it’s a famous knock-off that the locals love. The driver took me to German Bakery against my will, so I got out and found a new driver. I didn’t eat at German Bakery because I knew it’d be good decent food just like I get in Goa, and I wanted to try something new. I actually walked in the rain until I finally found the hidden Burger King. More on that in my post on the best food in Pune. There are two, but the one I found was hidden near the Westin.

best food in punecheck out another post, my picks on the best food in Pune, to see where all I ate!

best food in pune

A few other places recommended I didn’t have time to see are:

Haunted Shaniwar Wada Fort which has a light show every night and gorgrous lotus fountain. It used to be the fortress of the Peshwa built in 1732 (although much was destroyed in 1828 in a fire). It’s near Shaniwar Peth railway station. The Osho Ashram gardens are in Korgaon Park and a garden stroll is open to public. It was pouring, so I skipped that. There’s an interested Tribal museum I would have seen if I’d had more time and a Katraj Snake park you couldn’t PAY me to go to.

Want to volunteer?

A friend told me just 30 km away is Sadhana village for mentally disabled adults. Know that you have to stay a couple months and even though they feed and house you free of charge, they will ask for donations.

If I didn’t see all the touristy things what DID I do!?

Well, don’t judge me people… but I ate a lot, got super drunk with some buddies that live down in Pune bartending, and went to the mall a couple times to buy Vogue India, ELLE India, Starbucks ground coffee to bring back to Goa, necessities from Marks and Spencer, and maybe some McDonalds chicken nuggets. We have none of this in Goa! I also happened to see a sign for 50% off all spa services and couldn’t pass up a 60 minute Indonesian massage for 1200 rupees.  We had some incredible meals out and stayed in a bomb ass apartment near Amanora Mall and Seasons Mall. I strolled through ABC Farms, which looked like it had some tasty restaurants and let our houseboy/helper/butler? make me yummy omelets for breakfast (perks of Ben’s job).

My Foreign/ Tourist Indulgences:

travel guide to puneNo, no it’s Rachel. “Yes Reeeeta, here you go!” Twice. Seriously. So yummy though and I haven’t had it since May!

travel guide to puneMy little oasis from the rain. Everything was half off… who could walk past that!? 

travel guide to puneI’m going to tell you a secret… I ate more than what is pictured. Sorry not sorry.

travel guide to puneummm and a shot of my wardrobe because on Instagram there are always a hit!

I definitely need to go back to Pune when the weather is nicer and with some cell phone reception so I can see more of what I want. One thing I didn’t realize was just how spread out everything is. Famous Kayani Bakery and Blue Nile were ages away with traffic. In Koregaon Park I must have asked 20 people where Malaka Spice was and it got me nowhere.

TIPS on what to wear: You should cover up just the same as Bombay, which means it’s a little relaxed. I packed nice long dresses as you can see above, but in the rain it was a challenge wearing something so long and um, gorgeous. Take a rain coat in the monsoon and don’t wear your good sandals. There are no sidewalks in a lot of areas because of all the construction.

Some thoughts on Osho

The thing Pune is most famous for is Osho, who I kind of think is nuts. Here’s a little summary from Wikipedia on the man that has enough followers it single-handedly made Pune a massive tourist attraction. It’s a little off topic, but I figure you might be curious since that’s why so many travelers go here.

In case you haven’t heard of Osho and don’t know what the fuss is about, here’s a few fun facts: he’s known as the sex guru, you have to get an AIDS test to go to his ashram, he was very popular in the 70’s and 80’s but died in 1990 which seems to have made him more popular. Some experimental group therapies he used included physical violence and sex; it became expensive so westerners started running drugs & prostituting themselves to stay longer which he approved.

The Indian government unsurprisingly had big issues with him so he left India, went to Oregon on a false medical visa, got 93 of his desired 365 Rolls Royce’s to do daily drive-by and wave at his followers. The locals didn’t like him but he was too busy inhaling nitrous oxide and writing books to make a big deal of it, so his assistant put salmonella in the food of the cities’ residents for which she later plead guilty to attempted murder and the first bio-terrorism attack in the U.S.

In tape recordings the guru said Hitler had the right “vision” (and that Jewish people were looking for “Hitler’s” because they were guilty that they’d killed Jesus), although people didn’t understand, and more people would need to die in Oregon. Eventually he was deported by the U.S., India welcomed him back and he talked nonsense about America’s evils.  He died of heart failure although some say it was AIDS. Some of what he taught was lovely: we are all Buddha’s and can reach enlightenment with meditations. One of his most well-known was Dynamic Meditation which comes in waves of jumping, being cathartic, breathing exercises and more, but he’s also known for weeping meditation, laughing and humming.  But through the good, he also said things like he believed children born dead, dumb, or blind should be put to sleep. He also said that Hitler used the most up-to-date gas chambers, so it’s better to have died there then to be poor in India. He also loved gay people until AIDS came about then he thought they were “not even human” and should be isolated.

It seems for each inspirational or profound thought he may have had, he said something offensive, unintelligent, or downright crazy. There is no chance I’d want to learn from people teaches his lessons and have no desire to see his “ashram”. I know other travelers who have and loved it and yes, I’m curious about his form of meditation which works for people- but how can you trust something coming from a man like this? For some reason, he’s revered in India as a cool dude by many, some just because there are funny YouTube videos where he talks about how cool it is to say “Fuck”. Really guys, I’m wondering what am I not seeing about this Osho that keeps tourists and Indians alike flocking to him?

AND rant over.

Seriously Pune was pretty cool, but it wasn’t the best in the rain during the day. I need to go back with a map, internet & cell reception, and more time!  But I did have a kick-ass time thanks to some friends in the nightlife biz taking us under their wing and showing us the nightlife!

travel guide to pune

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2016-10-13T10:06:28+00:00

About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.

28 Comments

  1. S A joshi September 9, 2014 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    try coming here in winter….you can also go for small hikes on nearby hills and forts. public transport is horrible so get a friend with a vehicle to show u places or come in a large group and rent a car. :D

  2. Joella in Beijing September 9, 2014 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    Oh wow I had never heard of that guy before.. sounds kind of crazy..! But anyways, I don’t blame you for indulging in Western stuff- when you live abroad it’s great to have a mixture of both I think.

    • Rachel Jones September 11, 2014 at 8:08 pm - Reply

      Thanks, I need my western snacks.. food is kind of my life.. and people thought travel was! ha

  3. Greg | Journey Blue Book September 9, 2014 at 3:44 pm - Reply

    I’m so jelly that you got to see Gandhi’s sandals and glasses. What a cool experience. Really though, what’s better than eating great food and getting drunk with buddies? I don’t know much about Osho, but your description of him makes him seem a little bonkers. As always, great photos Rita ;)

    • Rachel Jones September 11, 2014 at 8:07 pm - Reply

      HA! I totally forget about Rita and I was like “that’s not my name” lol. Gotcha now though. And you’re right drinks with friends is sometimes so necessary .

  4. Jess @UsedYorkCity September 9, 2014 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    The Indian massage and Indian Vogue sound RIGHT up my alley! Sometimes it’s nice to have a mental break while traveling!;-)

    • Rachel Jones September 11, 2014 at 8:07 pm - Reply

      LOL sometimes a girl just needs a Vogue and a lazy day!

  5. Veena September 9, 2014 at 10:00 pm - Reply

    Pune is awesome! You should go back in November when it’s time for NH7 Weekender — I went in 2012, and it was one of the greatest weekends of my life. The tickets are getting pricier, but it’s such a well-organized and well-put on event that it’s worth it. Not sure if you made it to Shisha Jazz Cafe on this trip, but it’s an awesome place, so relaxing and chilled out and the food is pretty great.
    xx

    • Rachel Jones September 11, 2014 at 8:06 pm - Reply

      Ahh that’d be nice. I went to NH7 in Bangalore last year in the rain and it wasn’t all that but I hear Pune is the best.

  6. Rika | Cubicle Throwdown September 9, 2014 at 11:55 pm - Reply

    WTF Osho?! Never heard of that dude, sounds a little bonkers. Glad you got your fix of ‘stuff’ though… totally hear ya on having to load up when you can. And that totally includes McDonalds (which I may or may not have already done twice today in Canada.)

    • Rachel Jones September 11, 2014 at 8:06 pm - Reply

      OMG you had it twice, that makes me so jealous… stop! lol

  7. Arykah September 10, 2014 at 12:41 am - Reply

    Im adding this city to my map out. Is this Osho who wrote “The Book of Secrets”???? Cuz that book is beyond amazing and #1 in world. Peoples personal lives versus when they channel can be night and day! Im going to google all that…

  8. venus john September 10, 2014 at 2:04 am - Reply

    nice..i don’t like osho either..

  9. venus john September 10, 2014 at 3:35 am - Reply

    how can I email this article to a friend?

    • Rachel Jones September 11, 2014 at 8:05 pm - Reply

      Hi! I think you’d have to copy and paste. I’m unsure. You can email the link!

  10. john obrien September 10, 2014 at 4:44 am - Reply

    hi Rachel,
    so you didn’t seek out the ” levitating stone” ? i sent you some details about.you did well to avoid the rajneesh( osho) ashram.i went there 30 years ago when he was just establishing in Pune and heard him speak many mornings. obviously things got even crazier since.

    • Rachel Jones September 11, 2014 at 8:05 pm - Reply

      Wow, very cool you saw Osho back then. And I just wish I had more time to see more of Pune.

  11. Rebekah September 10, 2014 at 10:33 am - Reply

    I think any expat has the right to go out for things that seem like home. Every time I go to the closest big city I ignore all the “local” foods and eat subway and starbucks. Oh well. I can’t imagine wearing those long dresses in pouring rain….

    • Rachel Jones September 11, 2014 at 8:04 pm - Reply

      MM subway lol. I miss foods like that from home so much. And luckily my dresses didn’t get ruined but I had to hike them up too high for Indian people to be okay with it. oops.

  12. Agness September 10, 2014 at 11:27 pm - Reply

    Pune seems so colorful. Is it doable for less than $25 a day? I can’t wait to go to India!!!

    • Rachel Jones September 11, 2014 at 7:59 pm - Reply

      It definitely is doable for that amount! easy peasy.

  13. Girlvscity September 11, 2014 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    I found your blog thanks to Laurel mentioning it on Cosmos and Pearls. Funny enough, I’m one of Laurel’s friends and I currently live in Pune!

    Have car, will travel! Next time you are coming up this way, shoot me a tweet- @girlvscity, we might also be down in Goa around the start of the year. Any recommendations?

    • Rachel Jones September 12, 2014 at 2:02 pm - Reply

      Ah too bad I didn’t know that before! Let me know when you are in Goa. The place to stay is Thalassa.

  14. rebecca August 7, 2015 at 5:44 am - Reply

    I had never heard of this Osho but gees that was an awesome read! What a nut case!

  15. Kris August 26, 2016 at 11:06 pm - Reply

    Well you guys think Osho a nut, but the bitter truth was 70% of his followers was Westerners, however being an Indian there are quiet noticing experimental meditations that he had discovered, so Reta I would say by not going his ashram , you might have missed something……. Take always what that is for you and let others slide in his own way!

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