4 Hidden Gems & Beautiful Sights of Pune

Attributes: Heritage, Around the City, Museum

Pune, the cultural capital of Maharashtra. From its glorious history to the artists it has produced and art that has flourished here to the traditions that are followed, everything about this city is unique. The significance of each has been captured in various establishments and monuments. But truly how much do we know about Pune? Move over Shaniwar Wada. Today, we bring to you 4 lesser-known,  hidden gems from the city that have not garnered as much attention. These sleepy sights, largely oblivious to most make for some amazing tourism sights.

1.Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Yerawada:

If you are an avid birder and watching or listening to birds makes you happy, you would be more than delighted to visit a quaint and a rather undeveloped piece of greenery along the busy Nagar Road stretch. Called Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, it is more popularly known as the ‘Yerawada Bird Watching Point’ amongst the birding community and is largely unexplored. Story goes that the place was frequented by none other than Dr. Salim Ali, the legendary ornithologist or ‘Bird Man of India’ where he spent hours studying the different species of birds.

This free range Sanctuary is a home to a variety of Land, Water as well as Birds of Prey. As the river Mula-Mutha runs along this piece of land, large flocks of waders like Egrets, Black-winged Stilts, Ruddy Shelducks, Coots, Painted and Woolly necked Storks, Little Cormorants, Ibises, River Terns, Purple Swamphens, Sandpipers make for a beautiful sight. The migratory and winter visitor birds have made this place their favourite pit-stop.

Sounds like bliss right? However, a Disclaimer! Such beautiful sightings are not possible without taking a risk. If that makes your adrenaline rush, then know this! This place is not for the faint hearted as the entrance is flanked by the Yerawada Crematorium Ground on one side and a Garbage Transfer Centre on the other. This necessarily means that you enter the same gate as the Crematorium Ground and make your way through a pile of garbage till you reach the part where you start seeing the trees around. Thus, using a four-wheeler is recommended; however one can also use a two-wheeler if one does not mind riding it through the trash strewn all over. Needless to say, if you are a true explorer you will not mind the foul stench constantly emanating from the garbage centre. Rest assured, the stench will not bother once you are further on the trail.

That’s not all. As mentioned earlier, the place although public is undeveloped and unprotected which essentially means that it is stuck in red-tape. No Civic or Government authority has a definite ownership over it and there is an on-going yet highly neglected dispute over it. This has given rise to anti-social elements frequenting the place to consume alcohol and gambling who also litter the area.

To have a safe and fun-filled nature trail at this sanctuary better, here are a couple of tips for you-:

  • Visit in big and mixed groups and you will be safe!
  • Try and stay on the designated trail. Venturing in too deep in the woods can be unsafe.
  • On the river bank, ensure to maintain a considerable distance with the water birds and enjoy watching them. Do not approach them too close or they will be startled and may flee.
  • Do not enter the water from the river bank.
  • Maintain silence while in the premises. Loud noises can be disturbing for birds. This will also ensure that you get maximum sightings.
  • Wear comfortable and dark coloured clothing that will blend with the surroundings. A good pair of walking shoes is a must.
  • Do carry a good pair of binoculars, your camera to capture some beautiful shots of the birds and plenty of enthusiasm!

Address: Near Yerawada Crematorium Ground, Nagar Road, Yerawada, Pune

2.Trishund Ganapati Temple, Somwar Peth:

Unless you are a History, Indology or Architecture enthusiast, we bet you did not know about this small yet architecturally significant temple. Known as the Trishund Ganapati Temple, with intricate stone sculpture work reminiscent of the Ellora Caves; it is undoubtedly one of the most lesser-known temples of historical significance in Pune. As you discover this temple, you will realize, there’s more to Shaniwar Wada and Vishram Baug Wada in Pune from the Peshwa Era!

The temple construction was carried on between 1754 to 1770 and is credited to Bhimjigiri Gosavi, a resident of Dhampur near Indore. The architecture of this temple is a mix of Rajasthani, Malwa and South Indian styles; thus rendering it a pan-India architectural look. The wall of the sanctum bears 3 inscriptions; 2 in Devnagari (Sanskrit) and 1 in Persian. The first inscription gives information about the construction period and the foundation of Rameshwara; the second refers to a verse from the Bhagavad Gita. The third and the most interesting inscription in Persian states that here lies the temple of Gurudevadatta. The façade of the temple bears sculpted decorations of a myriad real-life and mythological creatures. The design of the temple is such that the exterior is also decorated with small sculpted images of Shiva and Vishnu as this was originally intended to be a Shiva Temple. The sanctum houses a Ganesh  idol of a Three-Trunked Ganapati with six hands on a Peacock throne. Thus, the name Trishund. This itself is a very rare depiction of the deity.

 The most intriguing part of this historical temple is the depiction of the then current events. Very rarely has one come across a temple which depicted the political situations and events prevailing at that period of time. The exterior façade of the temple bears an unmissable carving of a rhinoceros being tied with iron chains by a British Soldier. This was a testimony of the capture of Assam and Bengal in 1757 by the hands of the victorious British after the historic Battle of Plassey. The carved Rhinoceros being an animated symbol of Assam.

The basement has an inlet of stream of water due to which it is filled with water. It is not open all the year round except on Guru Pournima during when the basement is cleaned and opened for general public to pay homage. Today, the temple is looked after a Trust, who has carried out restoration work of some carvings. Nevertheless, the Trishund Ganapati Temple is a hidden gem from the rich history of Peshwas and is architecturally unique in its own way.

Address: Somwar Peth, Near Kamala Nehru Hospital, Pune.

3.Gram Sanskruti Udyan, Pashan:

To add some cultural colour to the area of Pashan, the PMC has cultivated a beautiful Gram Sanskruti Udyan which is an ode to the typical village life in Maharashtra. This newly developed open museum in Pune definitely deserves a visit.

Enter the gate and the tour of this unique village begins instantaneously. The idea of this park is to educate the visitors about every tiny nuance of village life. Expect to witness every aspect, every element, every contributor, small or big, from a typical village in Maharashtra. A vaidya (village doctor), an astrologer, a goldsmith, a money-lender, a grocer, a village katta thronged by villagers, a tailor, panchayat meeting, a bangle maker. Each of these parties have a role to play in the village set-up and are unique to it. Isn’t that an exhaustive list? Some of the other cultural and social nuances you can catch a glimpse of in the rural life here are a scene from Nag Panchami,  a pooja, a palkhi, a temple, an oil extraction place, a verandah in a house and its significance, a wedding, women performing pooja, a game of viti-dandu, an open school under the tree. Witness all this in awe-inspiring  life-like statues depicting the scenes from an everyday village life. Know about the significance of each, worded in Marathi outside each illustration.

This effort to bring a slice of the rustic and rural life to Pune is quite laudable. The work done on the statues as well as the set ups is quite intricate and well done. The Gram Sanskruti Udyan is maintained by the PMC. An entry fee of Rs. 50 for adults and Rs. 30 for children is chargeable to enjoy this one-of-a-kind garden and open museum.

Timings: 10 AM to 9 PM

Address: Near Someshwar Wadi Temple, Pashan, Pune.

4.Yashwantrao Chavan Garden, Sahakar Nagar:

Find the finest artificial construction of all the seven wonders of the world in Pune at Yashwantrao Chavan Garden, one of the most scenic parks in Pune near Sahakar Nagar. Witness Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower, Leaning Tower of Pisa, The Pyramids and others right here in Pune! Not only do the structures look realistic, But the park also has 4D shows. There are 3 of them - Count Dracula, Alice in Wonderland & Aladdin. Considering the Rs 20 fee for the 4D show, its an amazing deal for such lovely experience.

Time: 6 AM to 9 AM, 4 PM To 8 PM
Address: Located at Shiv Darshan Area, Near Mitra Mandal Chowk, Opposite to Rajiv Gandhi Academy of E-Learning ,Pune

Tags: Sights in Pune, Hidden Gems in Pune

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