Pune, the `Queen of Deccan’, had emerged as the `Oxford of the East’ with its numerous educational institutions and nine universities, several of which have been in operation since the 19th Century. The city is also home to some of the national institutions, such as the National Defence Academy (NDA), Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) National Film Archives of India (NFAI, National Chemical Laboratory NCL, Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astro-physics, National Institute for Virology, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, besides the Film and Television Institute of India and many others. The city is also a centre for a wide range of language studies. The presence of Pune’s vast and vibrant student community can be seen on its streets, reinforcing its identity as a University town.
A city as old as Pune is inevitably dotted with structures of historical splendour, right from the rock-cut cave temple Pataleshwar that dates back to the era of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty that ruled the region in the 8th Century, the (estimated 2000-year old) Sinhagad Fort, the 16th Century relic Shaniwarwada, the Lal Mahal, which too was built in the early 16th Century, to the Aga Khan Palace built in 1892. The city also has its share of museums, such as the personal collection of Raja Dinkar Kelkar, a tribal museum and a railway museum. Similarly, the flora-fauna of some of the city green belt such as the Hanuman Tekdi (in the backyard of FTII), Vetaal Tekdi and the Taljai forest are very engaging for nature lovers.
Considered the cultural capital of Maharashtra, Pune has a strong tradition in Hindustani classical music and Marathi theatre. It has been home to several music maestros, such as the late Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Uday Bhawalkar, Prabha Atre, Dr.Veena Sahasrabuddhe, Pandit Suresh Talwalkar among others.
Pune exemplifies an indigenous Marathi culture and ethos, in which education, arts and crafts, and theatres are given due prominence. It is the birthplace of the poet-saint Tukaram (in Dehu) and Jnaneshvara (in Alandi), the author of the well-known commentary 'Jnaneshwari',on the "Bhagavad Gita". It is the home of great freedom fighters like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Agarkar and Gopal Krishna Gokhale. Jayant Narlikar, the famous contemporary scientist, is from Pune. Pune is the seat of North Indian Classical music. Annually, in the month of December, it hosts a three nightlong cultural program of vocal and instrumental classical music, called "Savai-Gandharva".Pune has been an example for the blending of the culture and heritage with modernisation and its side effects. Pune is the cultural capital of the Maharashtra.
The city, for all its industrial development, qualifying as the `Detroit of India’ with its burgeoning automotive industry, and its emergence as a hub of the information technology sector, Pune has, in a certain way managed to sustain a certain quaint flavours of a small town, with its stone-facade and tile- roofed cottages, its innumerable old bakeries and restaurants.
Located at an altitude of 560 meters above sea level, on the fringe of the Deccan plateau, the city, laced with its share of hills, generally offers a pleasant dry weather. It’s long drawn monsoon arrives in the month of June, with the maximum intensity of rainfall during the month of July and August. Its summer is short. April and May are the hottest months. Maximum temperature during these months often rises above 40°C. , but even during its hottest days Pune’s nights are cool on account of its altitude and rocky terrain. December and January are the coolest months, when average temperature falls as low as 11°C.
Pune also has a strong association with sports. Most of its clubs have been woven around promoting sports. The Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex at Balewadi is one the country’s foremost state-of-
the-art sporting infrastructure.
Pune, the seat of the Peshwas has retained its traditional cuisine and a special Pune meal would consist of Puran Poli (a sweet paratha with pulses/dal) Amti (masala dal), Pithla Bhakri (a masala chickpea gravy with a stiff 'roti'), Varan Bhat (dal and rice), Matki Ki Usal (masala sprouts), Thali pith (a spicy chickpea based pancake) and Alu chi Vadi (steamed and fried, sweet n' spicy leaves). Bakar Vadi (spicy crusty savoury) and Missal Pav (spicy mixture of onions, chilly and small savoury items, with bread) are some of the most delectable snacks. For those with a sweet tooth, Pune offers its Shrikhand (a burnt milk delicacy) and the seasonal Amras Puri (thick mango juice with fried 'puris') complete the traditional Maharashtrian feast.
All the Indian festivals like Diwali, Janmashtami, Navaratri, Dashahara, Holi, Rakshabandhan, Christmas, Id etc are celebrated with the same excitement in Pune with no religion, language bars. But Pune is famous for its Ganesh festival.
The district is well connected with the state capital and surrounding district headquarters through road and rail linkages. The road network consists of Express Highways, National Highways, State Highways and Major District Roads. The rail network consists of both broad gauge (Electrified and Non Electrified) double track as well as single track lines. The district headquarters has connectivity through airways for transport and trade to major airports within the country and to select international destinations. In spite of availability of perennial river stretches, there is no significant utilization of waterways in the district.
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