Pune, Maharashtra IT and culture capital, is a vibrant, burgeoning city. The second largest city in Maharashtra, and eight largest in Pune has earned a number of soubriquets; “The Oxford of the East”, “The Pensioners Paradise” and “The Automobile City”. Home to numerous educational institutions, traditional heavy industries, cutting edge IT companies, dynamic BPO’s, stud farms, and an international meditation centre, alongside an Air-Force base, and an army Cantonment, the character of the city is as rich and diverse as its inhabitants. Students from all over the country flock its borders, its IT and BPO industry attract talent from all over the world. Over the last decade Pune has grown at an astronomical rate. Entire suburbs have sprung up where there existed scarcely a building or two a dozen years ago. The early lack of development in these fringe areas is responsible for the large self-contained housing complexes that now dominate Pune. Growth in Pune radiates outwards from the new IT parks. Employing thousands of highly paid professionals, these parks have created millionaires overnight, who like to enjoy their new success. Malls, multiplexes, pubs, bars and discos have mushroomed all over town. Retail is the next big story, and the city malls and supermarkets cater to every single segment of society. However, while the city’s industrial development is changing the face of the city, Pune is still primarily a university town.
The origins of Pune are clouded by the mists of time. However, we do know that a settlement existed where Pune now stands, as far back as the 6th century A.D. numerous forts lie on the outskirts of modern Pune, some constructed as far back as 100 B.C.
The Lohagad fort, some 50kms outside Pune, was constructed by the Satavahana dynasty (who reigned over much of India from 230 B.C. till 190 A.D.). The Purandar fort, 20 miles SE of Pune, was built around 1350 A.D. during the reign of the first Bahmani king, Hasan Gangu. The Torna fort, constructed in the the 13th century, lies some 40 miles SW of Pune in 1643.
Coins dating back to the mid 7th century show that Punnaka, a thriving agricultural settlement was flourishing by the 8th century. It was during this period that the Pataleshwar Cave Temple was carved out.
Mention of Pune crops up in history after that, however, it wasn't till Shahji Bhonsle (Shivajis father) appointed Rango Bapuji Dhadphale administrator of Pune in 1625 that it truly began to develop. Rango Bapuji Dhadphale oversaw the construction of the Kasba, Somwar, Ravivar and Shaniwar Peths.
He was followed by Dadoji Kondev, who built the Lal Mahal palace, in an effort to revitalize the city after capturing it for his pupil, Shivaji. Pune was Shivajis childhood home, and he made the Lal Mahal his home till in 1643, at the age of 16, he captured the Torna fort.