PUNE

Pune is 120 km south-east of Mumbai (Bombay) and is linked to Mumbai by road, rail and air. The road climbs from the sea-level (Mumbai) to 620 m altitude (Lonavala) before descending down to 560m (Pune). A taxi ride from the international airport at Mumbai takes ~ 3 hours and costs ~ INR 2000. Ordinary public buses from Mumbai to Pune, are available from the bus station at Dadar in central Mumbai every 15 minutes from 6 am to 8 pm. The buses take ~ 4 hours and charge ~ INR 150 per person. Air-conditioned buses are also available every hour which charge ~ INR 250 per person. There are several trains during the day which also take 4 hours to cover the Mumbai-Pune distance and charge between ~ INR 150 (2nd Class) and ~ INR 300 (AC Chair Car) .  There are a few air flights between Mumbai and Pune every day by  Indian Airlines, Jet Airways and Sahara Airlines.

Pune has a long history with the early settlements coming on the banks of river Mutha which originates in the Sahyadri hills nearby. Known as Punaka Vishaya or Punya Vishaya in 8th century AD, it was ruled by the Rashtrakootas dynasty. Punya, meaning a holy place due to its location on the confluence (sangam) of two rivers, was later ruled by the Yadava dynasty which was followed by the Muslim rule until the British took over in the middle of the 17th century. Some of the remains of the very early period can still be seen in Pune. The first is the Pataleshwar Temple on the Jangli Maharaj Road. It is a temple of Shiva in rock-cut caves with over forty pillars, and a bull (Nandi) in front of Shiva, with sixteen pillars. This dates back to the Rashtrakoota age and is close to one thousand years old. The second monument is the set of dargahs --Muslim places of worship. The senior and junior Shaikhsalla on the banks of the Mutha river, near the Shaniwarwada, were constructed on the earlier temples of Puneshwar and Narayaneshwar.

Pune has moderate and pleasant weather during most parts of the year. The monsoon (rainy) season starts in early June and lasts till mid-September with frequent showers. The nights are pleasant (~20 C / 68 F) but days may be warm (~30 C / 86 F) and humid depending on the intensity and frequency of showers. The average annual rainfall is 68 cm, most of it coming during the June-September period.  The participants are advised to carry an umbrella or a rain-coat.
 
Pune with a population of about 4 million is spread over an area of about 140 sq. km. Marathi is the main language spoken in Pune but Hindi and English are also widely spoken and understood. The city is served by public bus transport and metered taxis and 3-wheeler auto-rickshaws. However, it is advisable to confirm with the driver before boarding the taxi/auto-rickshaw about the charges. Pune has several 5-star hotels (~INR 4000-5000 per night) meeting international standards as well as many moderately priced (~INR 2000-3000 per night) Indian hotels. There are a large number of restaurants in the city serving various cuisines of India as well as Chinese, Thai and continental cuisines. (www.punecity.com)


VISA  REQUIREMENTS

Nationals of all countries, except Bhutan and Nepal, are required to obtain entry visas from the Indian Consulates nearest to them before arriving at any of the international airports in India. Participants are advised to apply for the 'Tourist' visa for which the Indian Consulate would not usually ask for any invitation or other documentation from the Organizing Committee. However,  in view of the presently grave security situation practically all over the world,  the Indian Consulate may ask for invitation letters from the Secretariat. Such letters will be faxed to the participants as well as to the concerned Indian Consulate  directly on request from the participants. For this purpose, the OC may require some more information, particularly about the passport, than requested in the Pre-Registration Questionnaire. The participants are advised to contact Indian Consulates nearest to them to find the specific requirements as early as possible in order to avoid any delays in obtaining visas.

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