Pune -> Sinhgad -> Pune -> Lavasa -> Ajanta -> Ellora -> Aurangabad ->Mumbai
Some vacations are not for chilling in the typical sense. They are for wonder and fun and meeting people, places, and new and interesting versions of yourself that you didn’t know could calmly hike 6kms after the more hectic 3 days of foot-work or stay awake without fatigue till 1AM.
Pune : 2 days
After a birthday spent mostly at the bank either physically or mentally, the highlight being a lovely lunch with (mercifully) a group of folks who did not know of it being my birthday, and being interrupted even during the lunch with 2-3 bank related interruptions, all I wanted was to head out the next day with a reasonable level of things settled in.
After starting work from 6 AM and going on till 11 AM (we had booked tickets mid-day by mistake instead of the evening in our holiday planning rush) and wading through Bangalore traffic we managed to get into the flight that would take us away, just long enough for us to be away to be glad to get back home too
We landed in Pune and headed to our hotel room only to be absolutely delighted with it. Cosy and carefully decorated with attention to detail it was just what we needed for a quick nap to start off our vacation. Early in the evening we were up and decided to ramble around the Koregaon park area with my walking shoes (that I was eternally grateful for throughout the trip). Our first stop was German bakery that was just a couple of minutes away from our hotel. It was the first eatery I’d ever been to with a security check and metal detectors, no thanks to the nasty bombing of 2010 that killed and injured many. Keeping that thought aside, we tried to focus on the bakery itself and decided amongst ourselves that we liked it. Some satisfying cheese filled jalapenos and coffee later we decided it was enough nourishment to tide us over our walk of the area. As popular as the kheema pao was, as a speciality in Pune, I didn’t feel up to finishing that for tea and decided to try it some other day.
We continued walking in the area past the Osho ashram that we considered visiting, however stumbling upon a Quora post on a very weird guy describing the place made us decide against it. Nevertheless, it was an interesting stroll through residences of people we’ll never be as rich as. The Ganesha idols in pandals were also all over the place.
We stopped at a sufficiently interesting place for something to drink and had drinks called Boom(Musumbi,Khus,Lemon) and Jhoom (Musumbi,Rose,Lemon) to satisfy our thirst and our tickled curiosity. The cheese from the previous meal still filling us up, we walked back to the welcoming hotel to rest enough for another interesting day.
Interesting dreams paid us a visit : a visit to the heavens and being chased back to the earth , form-changing creatures and floods for me, and a honey badger attacking a cat for him. We took a rick to pick up the hired car for the day and headed off to yummy breakfast of alu vada, puri with shrikhand, and sitaphal milkshake. Following the maps to Sinhgad lead us to a suspicious fine of Rs.250 for a toll ‘missed’ because we were in a hired car. But that was also the first time we passed by the war cemetery. We couldn’t help but stop there even if only by the road, every time we passed by it on our trip. This was only the first.
After a bumpy ride with beautiful purple and yellow blooms and thriving plantain plants on either side of the rocky surfaces ,we did reach Sinhgad and were welcomed by the sight of thinly sliced amla, raw mangoes, guava, cucumber, kulfi and boiled peanuts. We headed off on the trek uphill to reach the top. For all places on this trip, the recurring theme was to carry as much water as comfortable, good walking shoes and hats. Even despite it being expected to have mild weather/rains, it was predominantly sultry. We passed by towers and pools of water randomly showing up along the way. The walking route, however, was quite confusing with it forking every few minutes.
After Kuvempu’s in Shimoga, this was yet another scenic samadhi, this time of Raja Ram Mohan Roy one of my favourite social reformers.
Other than the view from there, it also had a catchment of water and a small Ganesha temple beside it. Once we reached the top it was scenic with the Khadakwasla river also visible. The beautiful breeze gave some respite and sufficiently revived us to make our way back down.
After some disappointing boiled peanuts (they were steeped in turmeric and didn’t have any salt!), we entered an area that promised ‘unique art’ for an entry fee. It turned out to be metal etchings depicting Shivaji’s life starting from the time his parents were wedded till his own demise. It made for an interesting overview of him. Just as we were about to leave we also stumbled upon the horse stables of the older ages that were essentially a rock carved out into sections for the animals to rest.
We were quite hungry and decided to head out to the thatched hotel of the guy who first called us over when we had parked the car. We got to sit on chairs at an angle due to the inclined mud-floor, and what a view it was.
I had the most delicious usal made with green gram. Turned out that the rest of the trip would disappoint me as I continued to order it everywhere hoping for a repeat of the taste. Anand merrily consumed 2 tiny pots of the matka curd too and it was clear that was not a day for food complaints.
We lingered a bit more, bought some bottled water, promptly left it behind and then headed off to the Khadakwasla dam in search of some soothing water views.
It was, however, teeming with people and we just went around it without stopping. Looking for places to cover the rest of the day we headed to the Pataleshwar temple within the city. It was a rock cut temple below the ground level, but otherwise wasn’t much to write much about.
To further our culinary adventures for the day, we headed off to Kalyan bhel which was supposed to be the best in Pune. We did have bhel puri but our Bangalore- bhel- puri-adjusted palate found it too sweet to be completely happy about it. We had to return the car, so stopped again on the road by the war cemetery, then returned the car, packed some dinner of a salad and some chilli-cheese toast from German Bakery again and walked back to the hotel to rest for another day.
Up next : A mix of old and new in Pune