Pune, the cultural capital of Maharashtra, has adopted contemporary ideas with ease even as it continues to follow its age-old traditions, says ANURADHA RAMAMIRTHAM Pune, long regarded as a sleepy city, is getting younger and more progressive by the day, even as it continues to follow some of its ageold traditions. Today, traditional shopping streets co-exist comfortably with glitzy malls. Ultra-modern residential complexes abound, but they have not eclipsed the charm and value of the established residential areas. Pune City is a prime example of progress and tradition having found a working relationship. "Pune's main city areas like Tilak Road, Laxmi Road, Bajirao Road etc. are still holding the charm of the old city, while the peripheral areas like Aundh, Baner and Hadapsar are going the modern way with newer buildings, new culture and fancy things," says Manish Kaneria, Director, MontVert Homes. The two different segments amicably exist and also extend out to each other. This is a very positive sign for the city as it has a mix of both old and new and is not actually losing on anything. Thanks to its rapidly evolving IT culture and also its overall cosmopolitan mindset, Pune has adapted admirably to India's integration into the global village. "There has been a strong forward movement in terms of lifestyle quotient, driven by larger salaries and the cross-border influences of the IT/ ITeS sector. Housing and office spaces have kept pace with this trend, which reflects in the modernised architectural styles and internal decor evident in the new generations of structures," says Sanjay Bajaj, Managing Director - Pune, Jones Lang LaSalle India. Pune has been more successful in retaining its essential character while upgrading the lifestyle quotient as compared to many other cities. Being an educational hub, Pune has attracted many students. Krithika Ravi, a resident of Pune who had come to the city six years ago as a student, says, "When I got down at the Pune station, on one side I saw the traditional architecture of the Pune city and on the other side of the station, stood the Le Meridian hotel. I was amazed by how the city actually had its traditional and contemporary side on the same page." With 'A' grade educational institutions available, IT companies saw the city as a prospective place. The students who came to the city continued staying here once they were employed like Krithika, who after completing her engineering degree took up a job with a leading IT company. The old Pune city is congested and there is very little land available to developers for development. These areas have the age-old buildings, the traditional grocer's shop, traditional Maharashtrian saree shops and so on, exactly as they existed twenty years ago. Here, one gets to see a glimpse of traditional Pune with buildings having the architecture of yester years. On the other hand, peripheral areas in Pune city have land availability and are being developed with all the amenities. This is where the IT companies, and the automobile MNCs have all set themselves up. "The IT companies and automotive giants have provided huge employment to the city. This has resulted in heavy residential development. Because these parts of Pune, saw a lot of people from other states of the country in addition to the locals, the design and the way of life was very cosmopolitan in nature. Even though being very traditional in nature, Pune city has welcomed migrants with open arms. Pune city have made people stay because of the pleasant weather, proximity to Mumbai and a very stable political climate," says Rohit Gera, Joint Managing Director, Gera Developments Pvt. Ltd. "Puneities have very easily adapted to modern ways and upped their lifestyle quotient. But, they haven't lost touch with their tradition. They religiously follow their 'upvas' (fasting) and also do their daily Aarti without fail," says K Bhagya Lakshmi, a resident of Pune. However, Bajaj points that cost consciousness among the consumers prevail, and that explains why there have been no exorbitant spikes in property rates. After all, it is always the market dictates what is sustainable and what isn't. Pune's middle-to-upper-middle class citizens are willing to pay for genuine quality, and the market has responded. The residential projects being churned out now tend to be of high standard construction, with most amenities of modern living available. This is a far cry from what is available in some of the larger cities, where amenities decrease as location-driven property rates increase. There is a high degree of adaptation evident everywhere. Many locals belonging to the old city and traditional in nature are slowly opening up. People staying in areas like Laxmi Road are moving to places like Aundh where they get to enjoy modern amenities. These places are not congested like the main city. And moreover, these locals get their traditions along with them, thus rubbing off on the youth. "With the migrants coming in, Pune city has managed to pass their traditions to them and also take in some learning from them. For instance, Pune city has been celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi with great pomp and show and until almost 15 years ago, other festivals weren't celebrated with such fanfare. However today, festivals like Durga Pooja are celebrated in a big way in Pune city," says Yogesh Mehra VPResidential, Panchshil Realty. "Many changes have been seen in Pune city. Vast development have been seen in terms of construction aspects with developers offering properties with amenities and beautiful design aiding enough sun light and breeze to come. Infrastructure has also improved with the roads widened and many flyovers constructed to avoid traffic jams. Because of the Expressway, people can travel to work to Mumbai from Pune on a daily basis. With the youngster population, Pune has been introduced to the Mall and Multiplex culture," says B.Krisnamurthy, a resident of Aundh who has been staying in Pune city for the last 20 years.
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