Natural Heritage

1) Empress garden

Location

The Empress Garden lies in the eastern parts of the city near the Pune Race Course in Wanawadi. It is spread over a huge area of over 39 acres and is home to many rare species of trees and flowers.

History

Originally a Botanical Garden, it was christened ‘Empress Garden’ when Queen Victoria was honoured with the title ‘Empress of India’. As it was a favourite spot of the British soldiers it also came to be known as the Soldiers’ Garden. In 1892 the ownership was transferred to the Bombay Government. Much later the government passed it on to the Agro – Horticultural Society of Western India. Till date it is being managed by this society.

Importance

The garden is a favourite place not only for children but also for elderly people as there is a reserved area called ‘Nana Nani’ (for grand parents) park. It is a quiet place and senior citizens can enjoy the company of their friends and a peaceful moment amidst nature. A number of activity areas have been earmarked for the younger generations including a small toy train and a King Kong theatre. There are a few shacks selling snacks and water. The green spread of the garden is loved by birds and one can see a variety of them settling on the age old trees. An artificially created water stream running through the garden adds to the beauty. A quiet stroll under the old banyan trees that spread across the garden is a very relaxing as well as rejuvenating experience. Visiting Empress garden is a delight for people of all age groups.

Contact details: E mail – info@empressgarden.org , Tel: 02026361840

Empress Garden, Near Race Course, Pune – 411001.

Timings – 9.30 am to 6.30 pm.(inclusive of Saturday – Sunday), Ticket – Rs. 5/ – per person,

Parking – Two wheeler – Rs. 5/-, Four wheeler – Rs. 15/- Bus – Rs. 50/-

2) Kamala Nehru Park

Location

Kamala Nehru Park is located near the Deccan Gymkhana area between the Prabhat road and the Bhandarkar road.

History

It is one of those beautiful parks maintained very neatly by the Pune Municipal Corporation. The park has many old trees indicating their age.

Importance

The garden is a favourite place not only for elderly people but also for children as there is a playground with many types of equipment like a swing, slide along with a play ground and two fountains. An Indian Air Force Property, jet (HAL HF-24 Marut) is also kept here in one of the lawns. The lush green lawns and numerous huge trees give a pleasure to the eyes. There are nearly 330 trees in the park out of which 186 hare big trees. The jogging track is flanked by these trees one of which is the famous Gauripati (Couroupita guianensis). It is also known as the cannonball tree as the fruits look like spherical balls. The park is a nature lover’s delight as well as the place for peaceful gathering with friends.

There are snack vendor carts outside the park selling different kinds of popular snacks like Bhel, Pani Puri etc.

Timings – 6 am to 11 am and 4 pm to 9 pm.

3) Vetal Hill 

Location – The Vetal Hill is located in the western part of the Pune Municipal Corporation behind the Law College. This hill starts from the Paud Diversion on Karve road and stretches far ahead till Chatuhshringi. There are many access roads to go this hill and all of them are covered or accompanied by trees and vegetation.

History

The hill has got its name after a temple of the deity Vetal whose temple is constructed on the top of the hill. This hill is 2600 ft high from the mean sea level and this makes it the highest point in the city. There is a Hanuman temple also constructed on the top of the hill. The hill and its stretch are a delight for the local fitness enthusiasts as hundreds of them flock here early in the morning and enjoy the fresh clean air.  One of the stretches of the hill takes one onto a plateau where the ARAI (Automotive Research Association of India) is located.

Importance

The hill is an important site not only for the joggers and fitness freaks but also for the botanists and nature lovers. The hill is a repository of some of the rarest species of plants and bushes. There are alsosome examples found of some of the endemic species. Hence this hill has always been a popular spot for researchers and lay people.

4) Taljai Hill

Location – The Taljai Hill is in the Sahakaranagar area of Pune. The hill can be approached through the campus of Shivaji Maharatha College. This is a purely pedestrian road and vehicles are not allowed here.

History  -  There is a temple of Goddess Talajai on this hill. The hill has been a favourite destination for the people who go for a morning walk. The hill top has a good forest cover and is a favourite spot for the nature lovers.

Importance –  The hill comes under the Pune Vanavibhag of Pachgaon Parvati Forest region. There are large scale attempts being made by the Department of Social Forestry to conserve the vegetation on this hill and its neighbouring region. The biodiversity of this region is noteworthy and it is a home to numerous bird and animal species including peacocks, deer etc. This is a favourite place for the ornithologists and bird watchers who gather here for observing and studying the birds.

Timings – 5 to 9 am , 4 to 7 pm.

5) Lakes in Pune

Pune is surrounded by lakes and specially in the monsoons the area becomes a paradise. Just 10 kms outside city limits are numerous picnic spots amidst nature that people can avail of. Pashan lake, Mulshi lake, Panshet lake and Khadakwasla lake nestle amidst the Sahyadris and provide spectacular views of sunrise and sunset from different vantage points. Panshet, Khadkwasla together with Temghar and Varasgaon provide drinking water to Pune city. A natural habitat of many birds including the migratory bird species, with the presence of dense forests around them, these lakes are resplendent with scenic beauty and a nature lover’s delight.