City Guide

Four hours in Pune

8 Aug 2015 by Neha Gupta Kapoor

1 - Osho Teerth Park

Osho Teerth Park, Pune, Maharashtra, India

The 12-acre Osho Teerth Park has been landscaped out of public waste land. From the lush greenery, giant bamboos, shaded jogging pathways, rushing brooks and serene still waterbodies, nobody can tell that it once used to be Pune’s dumping ground. Open 6am- 9am and 3pm-6pm; free entry. The park abuts and is a project by the Osho International Meditation Resort. In 1974, Acharya Rajneesh or Osho, as he is more fondly known, had bought six acres of land in upmarket Koregaon Park where he used to hold discourses. After his death in 1990, and over the years, it transformed into a luxury meditation resort with a pool, sauna, spa, spa bath, tennis court, table tennis facility, bistro, and a cyber cafe. It has been attracting seekers of the spiritual in large numbers from over 100 countries. Day visitors can access the 10 daily meditation sessions. Registration timings: 9am-12:30pm and 2pm-3:30pm; entry: ₹400 + meditation pass₹760/1560 per day for Indian/foreigner.

2 - Either Or

Either Or, Pune, Maharashtra, India

To the south of Koregaon Park, over a decade ago, husband and wife Rohit and Ritika Tickoo opened a space for young and old Indian talent to showcase their out-of-the-box contemporary designs. As you enter the shop, quirky clocks, some in unusual shapes, others with calligraphy or one that simply says “Who Cares?” tell you the time. A pillar opposite the cashier has trinkets crafted from thread, paper and metal. One rack of shelves is crowded with items such as quirky ashtrays, Indian themed-beer mugs, tribal coasters, and just about anything that can be dressed in humour. My favourite is the section that sells stationery made from treated elephant poo. There are also traditional clothes for men, women and kids. The rear of the store has silver jewellery for men and women, stationery in Indian prints, and board games that once used to entertain the Maharajas of India. Organic soaps and beauty products sourced from village women who concoct the items themselves are not only safe to buy as gifts, but attractive as well. Either Or is located in Sohrab Hall, opposite Jehangir Hospital. Open: 10:30am-8pm.

3 - Kayani Bakery

Kayani Bakery, Pune, Maharashtra, India

On East Street is a red shutter for a door, behind which is a modest white and cream room, stained with time, and always crowded from opening to closing time. It was in 1955 when brothers Hormuz and Khodayar Irani introduced Pune to their delicious recipes. To get your hands on their items, expect to queue for at least 20 minutes on any afternoon of a weekday, and maybe over an hour on weekends. It functions more as a takeaway.

While you will be spoilt for choice, don’t leave without a packet of buttery Shrewsbury biscuits (`320 per kilogram) and ginger biscuits (₹320 per kilogram). Their cakes ooze rich flavours as well, especially the mawa cake (₹20 per cake). Open: 7.30am-1pm and 3.30pm-8pm;
tel +91 20 2636 0517.

4 - Tulsi Baug

Tulsi Baug, Shiv Darshan Road, Parvati Paytha, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Drive towards the west from Kayani Bakery, to Tulsi Baug in Budhwar Peth. On entering the market, one must be alert of where the narrow lanes lead, for it is easy to be lost in its labyrinth-like layout. Each lane looks similar to the next one. There is a sense of urgency in the crowds, people are in a perpetual rush and haggling is a way of life. Utensils, brightly coloured saris, metal lamps, items for pujas or religious rituals, ready-to-eat cut fruits, copper and brass idols, shoes, artificial flowers, toys for toddlers, imitation jewellery, local snacks — the list of items available at Tulsi Baug is endless. The smaller vendors have carts lining the streets and the bigger retailers have set shop in cubby holes. Add to this incessant beaping from two-wheelers.

Why must you visit? Because this is the essence of a typical Indian lifestyle. The locals find everything they need in these alleyways. And as a visitor it is impossible to leave without bagfuls of colourful bric-a-brac.

Deep inside the market is a well- sized wooden temple from the 18th century — Ram Mandir. To reach here, one must cross-over a short wooden doorway that leads to an open space where dilapidated homes are stacked in two storey structures around the temple. The temple isn’t in the best form, but one can still enjoy intricate carvings on the wooden pillars and teakwood, lotus-shaped ceiling. Part of the temple extends to a 140 feet tall stone building. Dancing deities are carved into the walls, and the funnel shaped roof is a gold-plated finial. Shiv Darshan Road, Arnyeshwar, Sant Nagar; open daily: 12:30pm-9:30pm.

5 - Katraj Snake Park and Zoo

Katraj Snake Park Lake, Katraj, Pune, Maharashtra, India

On the southern periphery of Pune is a home for snakes of all shapes, sizes and species, as well as a mediocre collection of animals. While they have essayed a natural feel, the animals are still restricted to small spaces. For this reason the recent addition of Bengal and white tigers seems a tad bit cruel.

Their snake collection, however, is impressive and the main attraction, for which it is most popular; perhaps not the best choice for those weirded out by reptiles. Some are placed in glass tanks, and others are kept in open pits. On request, the park may even let you touch one of the snakes. Katraj Snake Park is on the Pune-Satara Highway. Open: 9:30am-5pm (closed on Wednesdays); entry:₹15/₹5/₹50 for adults/children/foreigners; tel +91 20 2437 0747.

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