Pune is the cultural capital of Maharashtra and it is no wonder that the city hosts one of the most important classical music festivals in India. The Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav (formerly known as the Sawai Gandharva Sangeet Mahotsav) is an annual festival held in honour of the great musician Pandit Rambhan Kundgolkar, also known as Sawai Gandharva. The festival was initiated in 1953 by the late Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, in whose memory it has been recently renamed. This year marks the 60th year of the festival and to commemorate this, the fest will be held for six days – between December 11 and 16. The venue is the New English School, Raman Baug grounds in Narayan Peth, Pune.
A Musical Extravaganza
The festival is a celebration of Hindustani classical music and sees performances from well-known maestros as well as upcoming artists. Performances range across all the musical gharanas and the festival brings together different styles of music to one platform. Some of the famous artists who performed in 2012 include Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, to name a few. New artists also get an opportunity to showcase their skills. The festival draws a large crowd of enthusiasts every year and 2013 promises to be a veritable treat for music lovers. So whether you’re a connoisseur of Indian classical music or you appreciate its beauty, this is one festival that you should not miss.
Pune is well-connected by road, rail and air. The bus station and train station are merely 3 kilometres from the venue and you can easily get an auto-rickshaw. The airport is situated outside the city and is 10 kilometres from the venue. Taking a prepaid taxi from the airport is the best way to reach the school ground. Pune has several hotels that you can choose from. If you’re looking for a luxurious stay, the Courtyard Marriott on Bund Garden Road is 4.5 kilometres from the venue. Hotel Woodland, near the railway station (3.5 kilomteres), is a good mid-range hotel. For the budget-conscious, Hotel Basera in Budhwar Peth is less than a kilometre away. You can also make the best of MakeMyTrip’s last minute deals on hotels.
Eating and Drinking in Pune
There are many restaurants near the venue for you to choose from. Fish Curry Rice is a coastal specialty restaurant in Narayan Peth, practically next door to the school. Good Luck Cafe, a Pune institution, serves excellent North Indian food and is 1.6 kilometres away, in the Deccan area of the city. For South Indian and fast food, Vaishali Restaurant on F C Road (2 kilometres) is a good option. Home to a large student population, Pune has no dearth of watering holes. Koregaon Park, about 5 kilometres from the venue, has the best pubs in the city. Try 1000 Oaks or Ouzo’s. Curve at ABC Farms, in the vicinity, is also quite popular. There are plenty of other things to see and do in Pune as well as some day trips from the city that would be worth your while.