Being the capital city of the Peshwas, Pune has always been historically an important city. You will find places of historical importance like the Shaniwar Wada, the Agha Khan Palace as well as the Singhad fort and so on. The city was also a main garrison for the British forces during their rule and so you will also find the British era army cantonments that give the city a royal feel. This mixture of ancient and contemporary makes Pune a must city to visit. The city has something for everyone. While on one side are the beautiful historical places, on the other side there are forts and mountains for the adrenaline seekers.
How I got the Pune Bug?
Even though Mumbai is just 3 hours away from Pune by bus and just 2 hours by train, I had not travelled much to the city. But things changed when I joined my current organisation in 2011. The place where I work has offices in Pune too. Once every six months, our office carries out a mock drill just to make sure that in case one of the offices is not able to function due to some reasons, the work can be diverted to other locations like Pune. So every 6 months, a few selected people from Mumbai are required to go to Pune and login and work from there and vice versa.
I have been to Pune on official duties many times. This was like a cultural exchange programme where we used to be put up in hotels and work as per the normal schedule. Usually, this exercise did not last beyond two days. So there was never scope for visiting any places. But the laid back attitude of the city always appealed to me. So the idea of exploring the city was always at the back of my mind but it did not materialise due to various reasons.
Things, however, changed when my cousin moved into Pune from Mumbai due to work-related reasons. This change meant visiting him and travelling around the city. To be honest, though, up until this post, I’ve been to Pune just 6 times and have only visited Dagdusheth Ganpati Temple and the Shaniwar Wada. This is one record that I wish to improve in the coming days.
The Weekend Suprise and the trip is planned
Working for an international BPO means giving up on a lot of things. The most important thing is giving up on the weekend offs – Saturdays and Sundays. We have to do with split-offs and getting a back to back off on Saturdays and Sundays meant that it was our luckiest day.
The November roaster had this good news for me. I had a week off on 27th (Saturday) and 28th (Sunday). There were two things that I could do– Sit home and laze around with Netflix or Get out of the house and do some exploration. I chose the latter.
A one day trip was planned so that I could use Sunday as the rest day and resume work from Monday. After a bit of google search, the location was finalised and the trip was on.
I generally prefer to travel to Pune by bus. The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC or ST for short) runs AC bus services (Shivneri, Shivshahi and Ashwamedh) from Dadar East. The buses are regular and clean. The charges are around Rs 500. The bus travels through the Mumbai Pune Expressway which is a treat to watch especially in the rainy season. But on this particular day, I chose to travel by train because of time constraints. If I were to make it back from Pune on the same day, I had to leave early. The first bus for Pune leaves Dadar at 8 am and reaches Pune at 11. This was a considerable waste of time as it would have delayed my return. Additionally, the bus drivers of MSRTC were on strike. This meant that there were lesser number of buses available than usual. So it was decided to travel by train.
On 27th November 2021, I took the early morning train to Pune. Train No. 22105, Mumbai Pune Indrayani Express leaves Mumbai CSMT at 5.40 am and reaches Pune Junction at 9:05 am. The idea was to reach Pune as early as possible, visit the places and re/turn on the same day. The train returns to Mumbai as 22106 Pune Mumbai Indrayani Express, which leaves Pune at 6.35 pm and reaches Thane @ 21.10. I boarded the train at Mumbai CST.
The train left on time and since it was early in the morning, there was not much of a rush. This train is generally used by people travelling to Pune for work. The crowd came in at Kalyan.
The train dropped me at Pune dot on time. After a quick breakfast, it was time to tick off the first destination on the list.