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Peshwas and Puneri snacks

Hrishikesh Kanitkar
Indulge in Maratha history and Maharashtrian cuisine when in Pune
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Maratha forts
There are plenty of forts of the Peshwa era - almost all of them ruled by Shivaji - close to Pune. Sinhagad is less than an hour's drive away and is the most popular destination. Shaniwar Wada, which was the seat of the Peshwas in the 18th and the 19th century, is in the heart of town. Right next to it is Lal Mahal, where Shivaji spent a lot of his growing-up years. While travelling to Sinhagad, you can stop for a break at the Khadakvasla dam.

Temples to visit
Pune was popularly known as a pensioners' paradise till about two decades ago, when it turned into an education and information-technology hotspot. It is also well-known for its famous temples. The temple of Parvati - the deity of the Peshwas - stands on a hill, and you have to climb about a hundred steps to get to it. You can also visit the two temples dedicated to Pune's patron deity, Lord Ganesh - Kasba Ganpati Mandir and the Dagdusheth Halwai, which are pretty close to each other. Not far from these are two ancient Shiv temples, Omkareshwar Mandir and Jangli Maharaj Mandir.

Unique food joints
If you are a foodie, you will have a great time in Pune. The city now boasts of cuisines from all across the world, but the Udupi joints and the Irani restaurants still stand out. Vaishali and Roopali, Udupi restaurants that serve south Indian fast food, haven't amended their menus for nearly six decades now. Among the Irani restaurants, I recommend Cafe Good Luck at Deccan Gymkhana. Groups of people have been hanging out at these places for well over 50 years or so. You should also try the Puneri misal, a spicy Maharashtrian snack, at Bedekar, Shree Upahar Griha, Shree Krishna or Katakir, which are always packed.

Pune specialties to take home
Take back bakarwadi from Chitale Bandhu Mithaiwale and Shrewsbury biscuits from Kayani Bakery for your friends and family. These two items are so popular that almost everywhere I have been in the world, someone has reminded me of Pune's bakarwadi and biscuits. And gone are the days when you had to stand in long queues at one of only two Chitale outlets and hope that they didn't run out before you reached the counter. Chitale now has franchise outlets all over the city.

Pubs and lounging
Of late, with Pune emerging as a hub for students and young professionals, there are many places to enjoy a drink or two. Hard Rock Cafe and Mi-a-mi, the pub at the JW Marriott Hotel, are very popular, as is V Lounge near the golf course. But if you want to taste "real beer", as they say, Doolally is the place to go to. Situated in the premises of the Corinthian Club in Kondhwa, it is one of India's few micro-breweries.

Flea market visit
Tulshibaug, in the heart of the city, off the Laxmi Road, is a long lane where you can bargain for anything and everything - from jewellery to cutlery. Youngsters head to the Main Street in Camp, especially on Sundays. And if you are in the city on a Wednesday, do visit the Juna Bazaar (or Chor Bazaar, as it is referred to by many) - a weekly flea market.

Hrishikesh Kanitkar played two Tests and 34 ODIs for India in the 1990s
As told to Amol Karhadkar

fixtures

  • Feb
    14
    1st Match, Pool A

    NZ

    v

    SL

  • Feb
    14
    2nd Match, Pool A

    Aus

    v

    Eng