As it is famously mentioned a million times in the glory of travellers, “it’s about the journey and not the destination”. The next destination embossed in my travelogue is also in the lines of this quote, as the National Highway 4 to the queen of Deccan is the most beautiful transition of terrain.
Mode of transport For Pune
I mostly prefer an overnight bus journey to get to Pune, for an impulsive traveller this is the most reliable and comfortable alternative. Another important reason being the stretch from Mumbai highway via Lonavala to Pune is so intricately detailed with the moods of nature that it is a sheer visual delight. And especially for an early riser like me the view from my bus window starting from the sun swallowed crimson sky to the mirage creating glazing sun is the remnants of the journey. If you are travelling overnight, wait to get to the city to get better breakfast options, instead of settling for high priced and low on taste joints along the road.
Pune The scenic city
The drive from the plains of Lonavala, with fields and architecturally comfortable looking abodes placed at luxurious stretches of land, is what sums up your first glance. Holiday home extraordinaire swelling up to luscious landscaping and natural endowments like ponds and lakes prefixed gives out a perfect countryside image. The purple hills in the backdrop are where the city is nestled in which is a complete contrast to the next one hour of journey before we get there.
Uphill from the plains as we drive along those hills, there are many tiny springs popping out of nowhere sprinkling water, one of the rituals done boisterously by my fellow native south Indians to welcome guests. On the other side of the railing is a thick sheet of tall grass with bright yellow flowers, valley with waterfalls and foggy hill tops which I always assure me that Atlantis-the lost city might look exactly similar.
Dual perks of city life
The city has been real close to me as a very good friend stays here, a vocalist in a band. The charms of this man and the mysterious beauty of this city is what bring me here often. So once off the bus, I head directly to model colony by catching an auto. Be very careful, the autowallahs in this city are particularly smart and can make you pay huge sums for a short distance. Google kilometres and fare rates before hiring one to wisely shuttle around this city.
Getting off at the peaceful corner of this area, as the house is situated right across the foot of a hillock. The view from the window will take you to a different state of mind as there is a stretch of thick trees on this hillock and a stepped descending terrain- a probable waterfall during monsoons. I have spent hours at this window writing, watching, sketching or just listening to my friends jamming.
Eating out in Pune
As we both were hungry, we headed out straight to a small food joint without a name which we call it Aunty’s for common understanding. She dishes out the best Aloo parathas in the whole Mum’s handmade food world. Served with a small curd pack and homemade lemon pickle is worth the meagre 30 bucks she charges for the same. Sometimes waiting for the paratha takes long as she is the only one handling customers alternatively, which calls for her samosas or vadapav with full chai and smokes.
A heavy breakfast leads to a late lunch and so I make my grocery and vegetable purchase in the morning, when the produce available is fresh. I like to cook here as the vegetables and fruits available are fresh and have a different taste from where I belong. The afternoons are occupied in either working, tending to the house, cooking, or lavish wine and cheese sessions.
Things to do here in Pune
The evenings are what I look forward to when I am here as we trek up this hillock, get on the top in time for sunset and meditate. It is an idea of a grand park with fitness freaks, nature lovers, and lovers, various clubs, etc gather in the evening to unwind in the middle of nowhere. The trek is taxing if you are not a regular and can take a break at this beautiful Shiva temple on the way up. As soon as you pave your way through these trees and get on the top you will be welcomed by pleasant breeze and a view of most of Pune. There is a huge crate like portion in the centre with small ponds as a result of rain. Sit at any corner and witness the sun set into the mountains, just like the mentions in literature and poetic works.
A good one hour up there is going to ease you off all tensions and rejuvenate you for the next week. The trek downhill is fast as compared to the climb as you are tired at the end of the adventure surfing. The ritual after is to head to Chinese hut a coffee joint right next to the paratha place, as a friend often said this is the latitude and longitude intersection of the best coffee in the world. The place where I have spent most evenings reading a book or writing my diary or just absorbing a spectrum of student crowd living in the vicinity from national and international origins.
On days when there is a jam session in the evening, I cycle to this place to catch up on other band members in between breaks for either thick bournvita or beer on most days. Whenever I am in town my friend makes sure we go to Koregaon Park lane 6 as you get the best steamed momos and spicy tomato chutney. As we walked full towards our bike, we spotted a famous ice cream joint that served tender coconut and mango which are our favourites.
After dinner we are usually up till late either watching Game of thrones or I read the Shiva trilogy to my friend as we had just one copy. So on most nights either a late night hunger pang or just a drive would have us venturing out in the city at midnight. And a joint open in the middle of night serving you noodles and sandwiches while you’re busy at a game of pool is good end to the night.
Pune has a variety of restaurants serving delectable and authentic cuisines from world over like a rare slimy coconut fish gravy, chicken pot pie, beef burgers to mention a few. Weekends could mean a drive to nearby places like lake city Lavazza or Lonavala or simply venturing into the new somewhere in the outskirts would be an interesting thing to do.