My first visit to Pune city

It was the late 70’s when I first visited Pune. It was with my mother, sister and my Maushi during some school holiday, don’t remember which one. Till that time I had only heard about the second biggest city in Maharashtra and that too through comics on Chattrapati Shivaji.
We went by some early morning train. On reaching Pune, our train chugged into a very chaotic station. The train journey was quite uneventful though two things grabbed my attention. One was climbing up the ghat section, which was comparatively better forested at that time. And we could see some monkeys sitting by the side, eagerly waiting for some snacks from the people sitting in the train. The sight was quite fun moment for us children. Another memory was the train making chugging noises, since it was pulled by a steam powered engine.
Finally we reached Pune station and on coming out, got into an auto. I think we stayed with some relatives of my Maushi, and their residence was long distance from the station. First and foremost, the biggest difference from Mumbai city was the large number of cycles on the roads! People of all ages could be seen cycling about and they rode as if the road belonged to them. Usually the autowallas are like that but here it was different. Our auto had to be very careful not to mistakenly dash against a bad tempered cycle rider. Later I got to know that the cycle riders in Pune were known as cycle swars. In the olden times, the only mode of transport was horse riding and a person riding a horse was known as ghode swar. With the advent of the mechanical age, the horses were replaced by cycles and motor cycles or scooters. And ghode swars were replaced by cycle swars or motor cycle swars or scooter swars. And since, usually the ghode swars were from a martial race, the mindset of the martial race percolated to these cycle and scooter riders in Pune, who were ready for a fight at the drop of a pagdi. So every one moving about in the Pune traffic was in awe of the two wheeler Riders and remained at a safe distance from them. Another peculiarity which I noticed was of two cycle riders having a mid road animated conference, their cycles acting as their thrones. Duniya geli udat!
I had never seen a river in Mumbai so the sight of a river passing through the city of Pune was a wonder for me. Especially the bridges which had to be crossed while going to the old Pune city precincts. The next two days were spent in roaming about the city taking in the historical sights on offer like Shanivar Wada, kelkar museum, etc. The Shanivar Wada was an eerie experience since we were taken there with prior stories of ghosts and screams. Without really hearing anything, the words, “Kaka mala vaachwa…” were ringing in my ears with the sound of running feet…
Third major memory of that trip was visiting a hill top temple. Now there are many hilltop temples in many towns but what was memorable here was that we walked from the residence to the temple and the entire walk was over a hilly expanse which we children enjoyed. I don’t think this will now be possible, what with Pune city getting crammed with huge housing complexes in every nook and corner with no open spaces to be seen.
The entire city was dotted with small cottages and big bungalows with not many high rises to be seen. This was certainly a welcome departure from the pigeon hole existence of Mumbai and was very refreshing indeed. Many types of flower bearing trees like roses, sada phuli, mogra, and huge number of Gulmohor surrounded these bungalows. And the trees lining the roads were huge! The girth was huge and the branches provided much needed shade to weary travellers.
So this was my first experience of a city, which at that time , was still having its soul in the olden times.
Yatindra Tawde

3 thoughts on “My first visit to Pune city

  1. Nicely written. I agree, we can hardly recognise our own cities now considering how fast infrastructural development is taking place every other day! It’s a pity that the quiet charm which ones adorned our cities is being lost in the Hustle of daily life


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