We had a distance of 350kms to travel from Bijapur to Pune and according to the man at the enquiries desk at the bus station the day before, there were buses every half an hour in the morning but it would take us a good 7 to 8 hours to get there. We both decided that sitting on a local bus with no air conditioning for that long was too much even for us so we decided on a taxi.
The next morning we headed to the taxi stand and after some intense negotiations we had our taxi. Unfortunately our driver was not the best and the next 6 hours were spent with our feet constantly pumping the imaginary brake in the back seat. Oh and of course he wouldn’t turn on the air conditioning unless we paid him more money so out of principle we sweated our butts off with hot dusty air streaming in through the open windows. Needless to say we were pretty happy to have made it in one piece to our hotel.
We were both feeling like we needed a bit of luxury so had booked ourselves into a hotel with air conditioning! The location of the place was also amazing as we walked right out of our door into streets of restaurants. The streets were lined with beautiful big green trees and the streets were bitumen so no dust! I hadn’t realized how much I had missed trees!
Our hotel was a beautiful old almost Balinese style hotel filled with pictures of Indian aristocracy going about everyday life, which included tiger hunting. We also seemed to be the only ones staying there. It was quite surreal. The pool unfortunately wasn’t swimable and the place kind of felt as if it has been abandoned for awhile but has recently been reopened. But for us it was just perfect.
We are finding that we need to take several days off more often on this trip to India. We just need a few days of doing nothing to recharge the batteries as everything you see and do needs all of your attention to process. It’s not a bad thing it is just what needs to be done to enjoy the experience. So that is what we did in Pune. We took our time just wandering around the green streets, eating great food and enjoying the calmness of modern India. Well I say calmness but it should be more like less hectic.
We still managed to fit in several sites as well. One being the Aga Khan Palace which is where Gandhi was kept prisoner by the British in 1942/43 for 21 months. The rooms where he and his wife stayed were open to the public which was quite surreal thinking you were standing where one of the most influential people of the 20th century went about his life. His wife died here and her ashes are in a shrine in a garden in the corner of the estate. After Ghandi was assassinated some of his ashes where also brought here to be laid to rest with his wife.
We visited the Phoenix mall for some shopping and general relaxing. We even had KFC! Which I must admit was delicious. Our first taste of meat for quite some time. Although we have not really missed meat as the food is so varied and delicious I think the first meal we have when we get back to the Western world will be a big fat juicy steak! Though definitely going to try and eat less meat when we get home. Our time here has certainly changed our views on the make up of a solid meal. Everything in moderation.
It was very strange walking into the shopping mall and into modern Western living. Most of the shops are the brands we would get back home along with the pricing. I purchased a nice face moisturizer and upon paying realized I was forking over a third of a months wage for the average low income Indian worker. It wasn’t even a ridiculously expensive face cream! How can you have a mall like this with these prices when just down the road people are struggling to earn $150 a month! The differences in living conditions here are ridiculous. The security at the mall was also high with a guard at every shop. Even though they were standing about 3 meters away when purchasing you had to stop and give them a special printed invoice for them to stamp.
It was our wedding anniversary while in Pune so we spoiled ourselves for dinner and had delicious south East Asian fusion dishes under lantern light. The dish of the night was definitely the marinated mutton chops. Mutton in India is actually goat not lamb. But we were not complaining as the meat was delicious.
We got up early one morning and headed to the Osho Terth Gardens which were beautifully clean and manicured. The walk to the garden had us passing by some very large houses. These were mansions. Some old, some new and some being renovated. All with gates and guards sitting in their little guard houses. It was pretty surreal to see so much concentrated wealth in India. As we had gotten up early there were not too many people and thoroughly enjoyed some more green space in Pune. The walk to the gardens was through streets lined with beautiful big green trees and the houses here were mansions.
We caught an Uber into the Centre of the city and had a walk around the craziness of the central Bazaar or shopping district all selling everything a person could want. Some of the buildings caught your eye with beautiful dilapidated frontages from ages past. We were also thinking of catching another IPL match while here but found out the stadium was about 25kms from the city center and getting aback into town could be a hassle. So instead we watched it on tv in our hotel room and of course it went down to the last ball!
We have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Pune. A city moving forward but seemingly in a much more planned way than Bangalore. The traffic was not too bad and the roads in a lot better state. We even managed to get a great coffee in a cafe just down the road that would have not been out of place in the streets of Melbourne. Another great recharge before we jump on the crazy train that is India! S
Aha Khan Palace.
Osho Terth Garden
Osho Terth Garden.
One of the bustling city streets in Pune.