Our last day in Pune was a "free" day with no set plans until the evening. Of course, Mr. Cool and I managed to pack it full of excitement, just as if we had been at home. Despite our jet-lag, we were committed to cramming as much culture and exploration as possible into our short stay in Pune. For Mr. Cool, this meant touring temples and forts in the city. For me, it meant a day of shopping with Mr. Cool's local cousins. We each took a camera along to document our respective days.
Mr. Cool and my in-laws started at the Shaniwar Wada fort, which was built in 1776 and served as the seat of the Maratha empire until it was surrendered to the British in 1818:
After touring the fort, Mr. Cool and company made their way to Saras Baug Ganesh Temple for some additional sight-seeing. On the way, Mr. Cool was able to get some amazing photos of daily life in Pune:
Both Mr. Cool and I observed that there aren't too many tourists in Pune, most likely due to the fact that it is an inland city that was only recently made accessible to Mumbai by virtue of the 2002 Mumbai Pune Expressway. Prior to the construction of the highway, it would take an entire day to make the journey from Mumbai to Pune. Today, the trip can be completed in three or four hours, depending on traffic:
According to Wikipedia, the site of the Saras Baug Ganesh Temple was once covered by a small lake that dried up. Construction of the temple began in 1750, with the last major renovation completed in 1969:
A vendor selling offerings of flowers and coconuts outside of the temple:
Meanwhile, my sister-in-law and I went shopping with Mr. Cool's cousin. We took an auto-rickshaw to the shopping district in Pune, where we were able to visit several shops and wander past countless street vendors selling a wide array of snacks and wares:
The highlight of my day was sari shopping at Kajree on Laxmi Road. I went home with a gorgeous green Paithani sari with a red and gold border. Paithani saris are made of very fine silk, and are considered to be the richest saris in the State of Maharastra. Since they are also very traditional, I think my mother-in-law was pleasantly surprised by my choice!
Sari shopping in India was quite the experience! After entering the store and climbing three flights of stairs, we were led into a room with extremely low ceilings. We removed our shoes and sat cross-legged on the floor while the shopkeepers presented us with piles and piles of saris from which we selected our favorites. From there, the shopkeepers draped us into the saris and let us fall in love with them before naming their prices.
I'm thankful we had a local with us to show us the ropes and make sure we got a good deal (in case you are curious, the sari I purchased was slightly over 5,000 Indian Rupees, which is roughly $100 USD):
Back at the hotel, Mr. Cool and I swapped stories from the day and discovered a surprise in our nightstand, the Bhagavad-gita:
After that, there was little time to rest before it was time to attend a reunion, this time for my mother-in-law's relatives and medical school friends. Mr. Cool and I put on the clothes we wore to our wedding and hurried to join our guests downstairs in the banquet room at The Pride Hotel:
My sister-in-law put on her wedding sari as well. Since many of the guests at the reunion were not able to attend our weddings in the U.S., my mother-in-law thought it would be nice for them to get a sense of how my sister-in-law and I dressed on our wedding days:
Of course, there was plenty of food to go around. I haven't focused too much on the food during these recaps, but I will say that it was plentiful and delicious during our trip. Everywhere we went in Pune, another relative was waiting to ply us with food, tea and mithai (desserts). By the time we reached this reunion, I was entirely too stuffed to even think about digging into the buffet:
The night was filled with laughter and good conversation with family members, new acquaintances and old friends:
After the reunion, Mr. Cool, my in-laws and Mr. Cool's cousins accompanied us to the hotel bar, where we enjoyed ice-cold beers and concluded another fun day in India. After that, it was time to head to our rooms and pack, since we would be leaving for Mumbai bright and early the next morning!