#VinitasPune: Pune Has It All, Yet, Far From Popular Among Tourists And Corporates

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Our poor Amche Pune is far behind than other metros when it comes to the choice of holding corporate conferences due to chaotic infrastructure and dearth of luxury hotels.

There’s much more…

A recent report published by the Union Ministry of Tourism shows that Pune is amongst the least preferred destinations for corporate conferences, meetings and exhibitions and that is not surprising considering the unbridled growth of our so-called smart city.

As per the news report in Times of India last week, just 19% of people preferred Pune while a whopping 88.5% and 79% chose Delhi and Mumbai respectively. The reasons cited against Pune in the Meetings, Incentive, Conference & Exhibition (MICE) Tourism, were lack of adequate luxury hotels, no direct flights to Pune and lack of suitable infrastructure.

While all these reasons show Pune in poor light, even an individual tourist faces several other deterrents on his or her trip to the city.

So, taking a thread from the recent survey, let us probe the other shortcomings.

Despite Pune as a city that enjoys a formidable reputation as a cultural and educational city and historically; as, one of the prime cities (being the seat of Peshwa Power and Summer Capital of Bombay Presidency), there  is a big question mark as to what you can show your outstation guests…

I know several of my friends who land up taking their guests to dinners at fancy restaurants that have blossomed in practically every new residential neighbourhood of Pune. Or then they take them for a stroll to the various malls. Bah, that’s boring isn’t it?

But then what option do you have?

A trip to Shaniwar Wada is mandatory as it is the epitome of Peshwa Power but is located at the heart of the city with mindless traffic, practically at any hour of the day and night.

This otherwise historic fort-like place with an awesome front gate and made in stone should have been the pride of place, but violating the urban heritage norms, which states that no concrete structures should come 500 metres around it, you see a mess around.

Nevertheless, many travelers have adored it for its historical importance, particularly the light and sound show in the evenings, but like one of them stated in a recent comment, `Very badly maintained’. Inadequate parking. No guidance. Only patches of dirty water everywhere. Very sad to see compared to forts of Jaipur, this was a big disappointing experience.’’ 

Tulsibaug, a shopping area of yester years, one of the few shopping complexes made by the British to suit the way Indian women shopped has an array of copper, brass and steel utensils, besides jewellery and other accessories.  

You will find several foreign tourists, escorted by their hosts, shopping for these interesting articles. However, the Pune Municipal Corporation has failed in highlighting it as one of the unique shopping areas and maintaining it as an attractive tourist spot.

The Osho Commune is by far the most well-known and favoured tourist attraction. However, after the death of Osho, commercialisation of the commune and particularly after the German Bakery blast in 2010, has literally made it very restricted zone for casual visitors.

Known as the Osho International Meditation Resort, you can opt for its weekend and other packages, but to see it as Pune’s showpiece which is a beautiful landscape made by one of the most controversial spiritual gurus of the 20th century, Acharya Rajneesh alias Osho, you are in for a big disappointment. 

Pune rightfully boasts of many public gardens created tirelessly by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) over the last three decades, so like any other city, you would like to show your guests, one of them at least, right? So, the most impressive one is the Pu La Deshpande Garden on Sinhagad Road which has a Japanese as well as the Mughal Gardens. So, a few months back, I took some of my outstation friends to see it.

While both the gardens are picturesque, only the pond water in the Mughal Gardens was stagnant, breeding with mosquitoes. Earlier, the garden used to be impeccably maintained.

The Aga Khan Palace is of historic importance as Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba (she breathed her last here) stayed here during the Quit India Movement. You go through series of photo galleries here and the usual remark is it is `so so.’ The place has no life in it, as maintenance is not as good in comparison to the Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat.

Pune is known for its hills and the Parvati Temple Hill, the Chatuhshrungi Temple and Sinhagad Fort are the three-prirme tourist spots. However, lack of facilities for people who are unable to climb the steps (except for Sinhagad, which has a road up, but in bad condition), they get limited to those who can undergo the strain of walking up.

Laxmi Road is the traditional shopping centre for sarees but despite the pedestrian barriers along the road and narrow pavement studded with hawkers, visitors have to constantly battle vehicular traffic.

Also, there is no place to park and you will not get a rickshaw during prime hours. Therefore, the hosts deter visitors from coming here.

The Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum is a fascinating one-man collection of Indian artefacts but situated in a small lane, off Bajirao Road. Going by any vehicle is challenging here and despite its uniqueness the state government, which has sanctioned land somewhere in Bavdhan since the last 30 years, continues to priorities it’s shifting.

The common thread between all these visitors’ spots is the irritating traffic, lack of public transport, lack of parking space and lack of an attractive overall experience. 

All you can do is board the Pune Darshan bus which ferries you from one place to another from 8 am to early evening and experience a lacklustre outing.

Sorry for being cynical but when you visit other cities particularly in Rajasthan, you feel dissilusioned that our city of Pune has been turned into one of the worst cities for a tourist, not to forget corporate conferences!

Please do comment if you beg to differ!

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#All views expressed in this article are those of the author and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them. 

Vinita Deshmukh

Vinita Deshmukh

Passion for the written word that comes alive, not only to tell a story, but to speak out loud about all that's good, bad and the ugly in society...

That's Vinita Deshmukh, Senior journalist and RTI activist who believes in journalism that reflects the views and needs of the common man.

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Vinita Deshmukh

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