Maharashtra's vibrant cultural capital, the city of Pune, has plenty to offer visitors. It's known for its historic architecture, tree-lined avenues filled with bars and restaurants and excellent universities. The city's large student population – which includes lots of international students – keeps its nightlife scene eternally vibrant. Shopping ranges from high-end malls to outdoor markets, scented with incense and sizzling street food. Outside the city centre, trekking paths lead up through lush jungle to hill forts, which command sweeping views over the surrounding area.
Hostels in Pune are clustered in the city's exclusive Koregaon Park area, where peaceful art galleries and buzzing restaurants lie next to leafy mansions. You can stay just a few minutes' walk from Osho Ashram, a city landmark and famous meditation centre, or in a colonial-style building packed full of colourful graffiti art. A hostel in Pune tends to be stylish, and some have benefits like free gym access and indoor tent-style rooms. Expect free Wi-Fi and comfortable beds.
Pune has plenty of interesting neighbourhoods to explore. Wealthy Koregaon Park, its streets lined with wide, gently swaying trees, is a favoured hangout spot. At the epicentre of a number of university campuses, Deccan is known for its vibrant contemporary culture. Art galleries, independent cafés and buzzing bars pulse with life, alongside historic buildings and some of the city's best museums. The heart of the city is known as Camp – a relic of Pune's military history during colonial rule. Here, you'll find shopping galore, colourful temples and perfectly manicured gardens.
Attractions in Pune include the imposing Aga Khan Palace, where Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned in the 1940s, and Dagadusheth Halwai Ganapati Temple, an opulent Hindu pilgrimage site containing an ornate gold sculpture of elephant god Ganesh. More of a nature lover? Don't miss the scenic views from Parvati Hill, the highest point in Pune. For history and nature rolled into one, trek up to the clifftop Sinhagad Fort.
Pune Airport is approximately 10km away from the city, and the journey will take 30 minutes to an hour by taxi. Some travellers find it easier to fly into Mumbai and take a taxi to Pune, which takes 3 to 4 hours. Pune is well-connected to cities all over India by rail or bus. The most popular way to get around the city is by auto-rickshaw. These run by the metre, and can be easily flagged down on any street corner.