The city, formerly spelt as Poona is located just 170-km from
Mumbai at an altitude
of 598m. Pune is Maharashtra's second city, which lies close to the
Western Ghat Mountains (known also as the Sahyadri Hills), on the edge of
the Deccan plains as they stretch away to the east. Pune is the cultural
capital of the Maratha people, which is also known as the "Queen of
The city of Pune first gained its importance as the capital of the Marathas in the 17th century. It was temporarily captured by the Mughals but again became the official Maratha capital from 1714 until its fall to the British in 1817. It served as the seasonal capital of the Bombay Presidency, and after independence it is a burgeoning city, expanding in all directions, but especially along the Pune - Mumbai (Bombay) rail and road routes through the industrial townships of Pimpri, and Chinchwad.
Today Pune is one of the leading metros in India, with the Film and Television Institute of India and National Defence Academy based here. It is fast becoming one of the major hubs of industry and commerce in the country. It is also an important commercial and educational centre with distinctive features and characteristics of its own. The region surrounding Pune, now called Greater Pune, includes parts of the Sahyadri Hills, the Balaghat Range (north) and the Mahadeo Hills (south), which enclose the upper Bhima River Valley.
The city was one of the pivotal bases of the 17th century Maratha ruler Chhatrapati Shivaji, who was born at the Shivneri Fort here. Later, Pune was handed over to the Peshwa family, whose Maratha power rose to be a major political force. Its influence expanded beyond the limits of the Maratha kingdom. After the Battle of Koregaon in 1818, Pune fell into the hands of the East India Company. The British proposed to transform the city into a 'monsoon capital' but instead developed it into a 19th century Indian army town and renamed it Poona.
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 on the "Bhagavad
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 boasts of its art galleries, museums such as the Raja Kelkar museum, which is a one-man collection of artifacts. Recently, a National sports complex has been built on the north western edge of Pune. It has produced renowned authors like Mr. P.L. Deshpande, who personify Pune's standing as an old education centre.
Pune has been an example for the blending of the culture and heritage with modernisation and its side effects. With the Pune festival, Osho Commune International, IUCAA, FTII and a number of research and defence establishments, Pune has become a major attraction, with a lot to offer to its tourists. Though mostly populated with a Marathi-speaking community, Pune is slowly becoming a more cosmopolitan city.