Pune is the 8th largest metropolis in India, the second largest city in the state of Maharashtra, with an estimated population of 7.7 million. It lies at the foothills of the Sahyadri hills, and is situated at the junction of the Mula and Mutha rivers and is called the ‘Queen of the Deccan’.
Pune is an integral part of India’s rich history and is the home of great freedom fighters and reformists including Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Swatantraveer Savarkar, Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and Maharishi Dhondo Keshav Karve. Pune was the capital city of the Maratha kingdom, established by Chatrapathi Shivaji Bhosale in the 17th century and continued to be the capital of the Peshwa kingdom under Bajirao Peshwa. The Aga Khan Place which served as a prison/house arrest for national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi during the Quit India Movement in 1942 is a landmark monument in Pune.
Pune has long been a major educational and cultural centre; former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru referred to it as the ‘Oxford and Cambridge of India’, due to the presence of several well- known educational institutions including Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU), Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) and other deemed, private and autonomous institutions known for their academic excellence and ability to attract large number of international students especially from Asia and Africa. Prominent research institutes in the city include National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), National Institute of Virology(NIV), Meteorological Institute, Central Institute of Road Transport (CIRT), National Institute of Construction Management and Research (NICMAR), Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune (IISER, Pune), Tata Research Development and Design Centre (TRDDC), Inter- University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (renowned for research and instruction in the Sanskrit and Prakrit languages and having more than 20,000 ancient manuscripts), National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and the Armament Research & Development Establishment (ARDE).
Savitribai Phule Pune University
Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics
National Defence Academy
National Chemical Laboratory
Pune is home to key business sectors like IT, manufacturing, education, and organisations such as NASSCOM. Internationally popular automobile companies like Mahindra & Mahindra, General Motors, Volkswagen, Kinetic Motors, Mercedes Benz and Renault are situated in Pune.
Major crops in this area inclide jowar (grain sorghum), bajra (pearl millet), sugarcane, and rice. Most of the important religious, historical, and tourist attractions of the region are located in the Sahyadri Hills. Some of the famous forts of the Marathas, such as Sinhgad, Shivneri, Rajgad and Purandar are in and around Pune. The important religious centres include Bhimashankar, site of a Jyotirlinga shrine; Dehu, birthplace of the Marathi poet-saint Tukaram; Alandi, home of saint Dnyaneshvara, author of the well-known commentary on the Bhagavadgita, a Hindu scripture; and Karla, site of the famous Theravada Buddhist Karle (or Karla) and Bhaja cave complexes.
‘Shaniwar Wada’ - Fort
Aga Khan Palace
The Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Museum located in Pune houses the personal belongings of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution. His memorabilia, including the urn containing his sacred ashes, the coveted Bharat-Ratna award and citation, were generously donated to the museum by Dr. Maisaheb Ambedkar, wife of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar.
The Raja Kelkar Museum situated in the heart of the city is a one-man museum with intricate carved archways in the lobbies, high ceilings with old and rare chandeliers, and depicting the changing fashion trends since the 15th century, swords, dand-pattas, arrows, spears, shields which were once used on battle fields, 14th century sculptures, rare armoury, statues, jewellery and even chariots.
Pune, coroneted as the ‘Cultural Capital’ of Maharashtra, was the city where Lokmanya Tilak introduced the concept of the Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav, a community celebration of the Ganesh festival. The Ganesh Festival is celebrated with supreme pomp and gusto each year in the month of August / September and attracts thousands of tourists from across the world.
Apart from the traditional Maharashtrian cuisine, Pune is famous for its Puran Poli, Zunka - Bhakri, Bakarwadi, Mastani, Vada Pav, Misal Pav, Mango Barfi, Amrakhanda, Basundi, Modak, Karanji, Soonth Paak, Chakali, Thali Peeth, Kobi Zunka, Varhadi Aloo Bhat, Pavta Batata, Valachi Birdi, and a number of other gourmet feasts.