Monday, April 25, 2011

A Visit to Sarasbaug – A Taste Of Pune

Sarasbaug is a big landmark in Pune and one place that you pass by very often if you're a denizen of this town. Close to the Swargate bus station, this park has always intrigued me because it is located at a depth from the surrounding areas - the road cuts off sharply and the slopes descend into the park area beyond the fences. I found out the reason why – this park was once a lake that got dried up! Anyway the Sarasbaug park is always surrounded by push carts selling lots of food stuffs and toys etc and has a carnival like atmosphere that one cannot miss.

It is one of those nicely maintained parks, great to walk around, sit down or even play in the lawns. Pooja, my motivator on these "Discover Pune" visits, and I went one fine morning to visit the Peshwe Park which is right behind the Saarasbaug. Unfortunately the Peshwe Park, which seems to have far more interesting things inside, had timings which were 10 a.m. onwards. Since we were there early we decided to walk around the Sarasbaug  park.

Sarasbaug is a popular joint for walkers and joggers and a whole bunch of people were in there walking around the circular path all round the park. From this path one can go into the lawns where many people walk around, play cricket, and I was amazed at a couple of old men who were playing an expert game of Frisbee, running lithely to catch the well swung frisbee. A waterbody with lotuses, fish with benches and ledges to sit and rest. Then there are the steps that go up a fair distance to the Shree Siddhivinayak temple which apparently was constructed in 1750, but is so well maintained that it surprises you. It is very clean, marble floored, shade of trees all around. In one corner a few ladies were teaching school kids vedic chants and they were reciting it loudly. It is a great place to just sit and let the atmosphere soak inm the bell, chants and all.

Though Sarasbaug has nothing of breathtaking nature in terms of landscaping or colourful or rare trees and plants, one gets the feel of the Maharashtrian culture as one walks by. Several middle class Maharashtrian or shall I say Puneri families walk around. Old and young jogging, walking talking, smiling, playing. One also wonders at the health this town bestows on its old people. I have never seen old people look so healthy as they do in Pune. The two old men playing Frisbee actively chasing it down cannot be less then seventy years old and all the old ladies walking past briskly on their own as well. They also seem to smile more often, have something small to laugh at or discuss, have some plan of action to do and something to celebrate all the time – maybe that is the reason for their longevity!

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