Flying into the second largest city of Maharashtra was a thrill rush of its kind. Poona, as spelled locally is a well-known Maharashtrian city having made a name for itself through its cantonment area, educational institutes, pilgrimage landmarks, and iconic architectural wonders. And it all began in the 18th-century when Shiva Ji and the Peshwas reigned this side of the Deccan plateau, marking the significance of the Maratha Empire. In the present times, Pune is recognized as the cultural capital of the state, while hosting vital political centers and foremost universities. A cosmopolitan hub celebrated for colonial-era charm, automobile industries, badminton, and Osho Ashram, an epitome of liberal spiritualism. From thriving malls to palaces, here’s a rundown of best landmarks that summarize Pune at its best.
Aga Khan Palace
Aga Khan Palace not only has Pune’s most stunning architecture on display but, this serene 18th-century property also features historic importance. Sprawling across 16 acres of manicured gardens, Aga Khan Palace is where both Mahatma Gandhi’s wife, Kasturba and Mahadeobhai Desai, his secretary died in confinement. Although, originally this Palace was built by Sultan Aga Khan as an act of charity to facilitate the poor, who were severely hit by the scarcity of food. Eventually, the building served as a prison for Kasturba Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi, Mahadev Desai, and Sarojini Naidu during the Quit India freedom movement in 1942.
Gandhi National Memorial
The museum situated inside the Aga Khan Palace is known as the Gandhi National Memorial. The ticket to Aga Khan Palace allows you to get a sneak peek at the valuable room where Gandhi Ji was captivated during the Quit India Movement and even features his possessions and pictures of the time.
Shaniwar Wada Palace
Shaniwarwada is a 17th-century fort of Pune which was built by the Peshwas of the Maratha Empire. In the 18th-century this palace became the center of Indian politics, however, was destroyed by an unaccounted fire. The remaining ruins of this 7-storied stone building are today maintained as a tourist site. They say, only the teak gateways, granite ramparts, and ground-level stone foundations within the fort survived.
National War Museum
Built in the memory of the Indian martyrs who sacrificed their lives in Kargil war, is this remarkable National War Museum of Pune located on the Prince of Wales road. A landmark symbolic of the Post Independence war which is best represented by the gigantic Mig 23 BN it houses, along with, the inoperative frigate INS Trishul, utilized in the Indo-Pakistani and Portuguese-Indian war of 1971.
Built-in 1997, this Pune museum is one of the best war memorials of the nation and deserves a salute for its display of significant war contributions. Here, you will find the uniforms, arms, and personal mementos given to the British Army.
Empress Botanical Gardens
Another jewel of Pune in Western India is this lush botanical park that goes by the name Empress Garden. Operated by the Agri-Horticultural Society of Pune, the 18th-century Empress Botanical Gardens is an estate celebrated for its rare plantations, flora, and fauna. Besides, this well-landscaped garden stretches out on a lush area of 39 acres showcasing flower shows and programs throughout the year to generate environmental awareness amongst visitors. A picturesque stream of water adds additional grace to the park and is a delight of an experience for those who love nature.