Travel and Local Information

You are welcome to contact the Local Arrangements Co-Chair, Santhosh Daivajna - santoshdaivajna AT gmail.com for any additional information you may require.

About Pune

PUNE is the seventh largest metropolis in India, the second largest in the state of Maharashtra after Mumbai and the largest city in the Western Ghats. Once the centre of power of the Maratha Empire, it is situated 560 metres above sea level on the Deccan plateau.

Today, Pune is known for its educational facilities and prosperity. Pune is the cultural capital of Maharashtra. The city is known for cultural activities like classical music, spirituality, theatre, sports, and literature. These activities and job opportunities attract migrants and students from all over India and abroad, which makes for a city of many communities and cultures.

Travel Checklist

VISA
All non-Indian-citizens are required to have an Indian visa to enter the country. Allow yourself sufficient time (at least 2-4 weeks in US) to procure an appropriate visa from your nearest Indian consulate. There are several Indian consulates worldwide. Indian consulates in the continental US are located in Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco. All participants traveling from the United States must use this web site to obtain Indian visa. All other participants must contact Indian Embassy/ Consulate General of India in their respective countries for information on obtaining an Indian visa.

Participants who require an Indian visa to travel to HiPC should note that visa processes change frequently and are advised to check the exact set of requirements/documents that will need to be provided to the Indian Embassy/Consulate in their respective countries, including the type of visa required for their travel and the requirements for security clearance that apply to some countries. It is the responsibility of attendees to determine what visa application requirements apply to their individual circumstances.

If your India visa application requires an invitation letter from the conference, you may obtain the letter by submitting the information requested in the online visa letter request form.

Note that this invitation letter may be issued only to attendees who have paid their registration fees in full and are eligible to travel to India. Note also that HiPC must obtain government clearance before issuing the conference visa invitation letters. However, the request for the letter may be filed prior to the clearance date (sometime in October).

Flight Reservations
Flights to India and Mumbai (Bombay) in particular tend to fill up well ahead of the December holiday season. We recommend that you make your flight as well as lodging reservations 3-4 months in advance, to be on the safe side. We strongly recommend that you avoid arriving in New Delhi or taking flights that stop in New Delhi en-route to Mumbai (Bombay) or Pune as winter fog often throws air-traffic off-gear in New Delhi. For more information, see the transportation section of this page

Vaccinations (shots)
Many first-time travelers to India prefer to get preventive vaccinations(shots). The Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India has some more health tips for tourists.

Foreign Exchange

While international credit cards are widely accepted in commercial establishments in India, several places rely on cash transactions in the local currency (Indian Rupee), especially if the purchase value is not very high. We suggest that you either carry some Indian currency when entering India or purchase Indian currency at the currency exchange agencies at the Indian airports, upon arrival. The current exchange rate is about Rs. 53/- per US dollar. The exchange rate been fluctuating a lot recently. Please check the conversion rate before you travel. Once in India, you can purchase additional Indian currency from local branches of Citibank, Thomas Cook, etc. However, it is typically difficult to convert Indian currency back into foreign currency because of exchange regulations.

Foreign exchange services are available at airports and across Pune city at several independent Western Union agencies. Most bank branches also provide foreign exchange services. It is recommended you shop around for best exchange price, negotiating for a better rate is normal and acceptable. However, do not carry around large sums of cash on your person.

Foreign Exchange locations:

Pheroze Framroze and Co. Pvt. Ltd.
8 Nalin Chamber, 173 Dhole Patil Road, Pune 411004.
Telephone 020-26050565

Thomas Cook
13 Thacker House, 2418 Gen. Thimmaya Road, Pune 411004.
Telephone 020-26346171

Trade Wings Ltd.
321 Amba Complex, M.G. Road, Opposite Wonderland, Pune 411001
Telephone 020-4011555


Hotel Reservations
Please make your hotel reservations ahead of time so that you get your choice of accommodation.

Time and Weather
The Indian Standard Time (IST) is 5 1/2 hours ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time(GMT) and is 13 1/2 hours ahead of the U. S. Pacific Standard Time(PST). In December/ January the weather in Pune is mildly tropical with temperatures averaging about 26° Celsius (approx. 79° Fahrenheit) during the day and about 10° Celsius (approx. 50° Fahrenheit) during the night.

Sunrise: 7:00 am (approx.)
Sunset: 6:00 pm (approx.)

Transportation

Flights to India

The closest major international airport to Pune is the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at Mumbai (Bombay), India. Major international airlines such as Air India, Delta, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France connect Mumbai to various international destinations. This airport is approximately 175KMs (108 miles) from Pune.

Both Pune airport and Mumbai domestic terminals are well connected to other major Indian cities by national carriers such as Indian Airlines, Jet Airways and Sahara Airlines. Air tickets for travel between Pune and Mumbai are economical. However, this may require a terminal transfer at Mumbai airport.

Terminal Transfers in Mumbai:
Check with your travel agent and or airlines if you need to change terminals in Mumbai. Transfer between international and domestic terminals require a free shuttle transport. You will need to pass through security again at the other terminal. You should plan for at least 3 hours time between flights if you need to change terminals at Mumbai airport. Several airport staff and airlines staff are available to help you with the transfer. Following links provide additional information about Mumbai airport.

A helpful write up on Flyertalk forum - here.

Terminal map and transfer guide - here.

Mumbai International airport web site - here.

Mumbai International airport terminals map - here.

Mumbai and Pune are well connected by air, road and rail transport. See below for more details.

We recommend that you avoid flights into/via New Delhi if you are on a tight schedule as winter fog in December often delays flights at New Delhi airport. Some Mumbai-bound flights stopover in New Delhi -- please check with your travel agent. If you are planning to travel around India after/before the conference, check with your travel agent for attractive local air travel offers that are usually available with your international travel ticket.

Airport to Venue Transportation

The Mumbai International airport is about 175 kms (approx 108miles) and Pune airport is about 14 kms (approx 8 miles) from Hotel Le Meridien, Pune.

Transport from Mumbai airport to Pune
If you are flying in to Mumbai and not Pune, you can reach Pune either by road or by rail. Traveling by road is road is the recommended and most convenient option.

Road Transport: Shared and private taxis are available for transport from Mumbai International airport to Pune. The taxis will charge a round trip cost from Mumbai-Pune. The charges are all inclusive. There will be no additional cost for tolls etc.

Shared taxi: A shared taxi may seat 3 to 4 persons per taxicab. Charge per head is approximately Rs.1800 ($37) - Rs.3000/-($60) depending on the type of vehicle.

Private taxi: A private taxi will also seat 3 to 4 person per taxicab. Charge for the vehcile is approximately Rs.4000/- ($80) - Rs.8,000/- ($100) depending on the type of vehicle.

Upon exiting the International terminal, you will find pre-paid taxi booking counters (preferred) and private operators. In any case make sure the vehicle is well marked with the company name, phone number and other prominent taxi-related decals. For your own safety, do not board any private unmarked vehicles.

It is strongly recommended that you book a taxi well ahead of arriving at Mumbai. Travel agents should be able to arrange this as a part of your ticket. If your travel agent is unable to do so, utilize one of the following taxi companies / local travel agents or contact your hotel and ask them to book a taxicab for you. Provide them with the needed information such as your flight details, name etc. You will need to explicitly mention you will need an air conditioned cab, if you need one.

Taxicab companies for Mumbai-Pune travel:

KK Travels: http://www.kktravels.com/html/index.html. Book online or contact via email/phone to arrange for a pickup.
eCabs.in: Short-URL: http://goo.gl/oPDQ5. Click on outstation-oneway, From: Mumbai, From area: AIRPORT - (Domestic / Intl) To: Pune, To Area: Railway Station, Pune (for Le Meridien). You may also the email / phone to contact them directly and arrange for a pickup.
ComfortCabs: http://www.comfortcabzone.com/index.html .

Indian Railways:

Unless you are extremely familiar with the Indian railways, it can be overwhelming to reach the correct station and identify the correct train to board. International travelers are advised to opt for a taxicab service from the airport.

Pune is well connected by several train services from various corners of the country. Refer to the Indian Railways web site (http://www.indianrail.gov.in/ .) to research train schedules and reservations. The conference venue is adjacent (behind) the Pune city station. pre-paid Taxicabs, auto rickshaws are available at the station. Express and local train services are available between Mumbai and Pune.

Busses:
AC Volvo coaches are available from Mumbai to Pune. The cost for a single traveller is approximately Rs. 500/-. India based travelers can utilize the state or private bus services to travel to Pune. Refer to the state transport agencies or private carriers for information on schedules and charges.

Transport from Pune Airport:
Hotel Service: Your hotel may provide an airport pick up service. The venue hotel, Le Meridien provides (addl. charges may apply) pickup from Pune airport. Check with your hotel directly about transfer from Pune airport.
View HiPC 2012 Travel Map in a larger map

Taxi: Regular taxis and auto rickshaws are available from Pune airport to the venue vicinity. Taxi charge is approximately Rs.200/- ($4), auto rickshaw is approximately Rs.150/- ($3).

Local Travel in Pune

For local travel in Pune, you can utilize the auto rickshaws or taxi cabs. Your hotel may be able to schedule a daily transport to the venue using an auto rickshaw or a taxi. Auto rickshaws are most economical way to travel within city limits. Always insist on metered charges when hiring a rickshaw or taxi. Always prefer a pre-paid service, where available.

Contact information for local taxi companies are provided below:

Wings Radio Cab
24x7 service
+91 20 40100100
www.wingsradiocabs.com.

Tcabs They offers a reliable metered taxi service in Pune city through a fleet of modern, air conditioned cars equipped with GPS based communication technology backed by a 24x7 Customer Contact Center. +91 20 67286728
www.tcabs.in

General Tips

  • Often trains and flights get delayed and can be cancelled at the last moment without any prior notice.
  • If you are traveling in the trains, you should reserve your seats in advance.
  • Trains and buses are the cheapest option for travelling within city.
  • Be careful about your luggage when traveling in trains or buess.
  • Don't eat anything offered by strangers / fellow travellers. Refuse politely.
  • Carry proper maps and telephone numbers of the places proposed to visit, as signboards are often absent. Try to reach a station during daytime if traveling on your own. In any case avoid persistent touts and taxi-drivers at airport/stations/ bus stand to help you find your hotel. Always use tourist assistance desk for proper advice.
  • Women traveling alone in certain deserted places should avoid walking at odd hours.
  • While changing money, insist on getting encashment certificate.
  • Use licensed guides for sightseeing.

Car - Private Transportation for Travel

  • Cars are one of the best and safest way to travel Pune.
  • Pre-paid cars / taxi are available at airports and railway stations only. They are safe and the rates charged are correct.
  • Make sure that your driver is trained to speak basic English.
  • Avoid self-driving in India unless you have been trained on Indian roads.
  • If you feel not comfortable with the speed of your hired vehicle, inform the driver to slow down.
  • Prefer bottled water and beverages

Local Attractions

Osho Ashram:

Ashram of Bhagwan Rajneesh (Osho Ashram), in a 32 acre beautiful campus, is in Koregaon Park area of Pune. The ashram is a prime attraction for tourists who are followers of Bhagwan Rajneesh ideologies & preaching. It is a resort for Meditation and Yoga. Regular training programs on spiritual uplift and meditation are conducted in this place. The ashram is open all days all through the year. The ashram does not provide any residential accommodation. For visitors, a reception area is available from 9 am to 3.30 pm every day . Entry is restricted and visitors have to undergo AIDS test in the communes’ testing center. You can get guidance from commune counselors on different kinds of meditations and other programs in the Ashram. Website: http://www.osho.com

Raja Dinakar Kelkar Museum

Raj Dinakar Kelkar Museum houses various sculptures dating back to the 14th century. The three storey building contains the collection of Dr. Dinkar G. Kelkar (1896–1990). Ornaments made of ivory, silver and gold, musical instruments, war weapons and vessels form the compilation of the museum.

Established in 1962 by Baba Dinakar Kelkar and presented to the Maharashtra government in 1975, the museum has 20,000 different articles. All the articles were personally collected by Baba Kelkar from all over the world. In addition to the famous Mastani Mahal, the complex also contains research and storage facilities, and the Institute of Musicology and Fine Arts. The museum houses exhibits and artefacts from all over the country, dating back to the Mughal and the Maratha periods.

Collections of the museum also include paintings, nut crackers and Ganpati’s guns, carved palace doors, pottery and a number of musical instruments. Dr. Dinkar G. Kelkar began collecting the items from around 1920. Indian decorative items from everyday life and other art objects, mostly from the 18th and 19th centuries, are among the items on display in the museum.

The Film and Television Institute of India (FTII)

A premier institute, FTII imparts training in all major branches of film training in all major branches of film making and is known to have produced some of the finest film professionals of the country.

Yoga Institute

The 'Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute' directed by Mr B K S Iyengar is an internationally reputed Yoga institution. Courses for short and long durations are conducted here, depending on individual requirements and the availability of time.

National Defence Academy

The National Defence Academy is a premier Inter Service training institution where future officers of the Armed Forces are trained. Located in Khadakwasala, just 17 km from Pune, is the only academy in the world where all the three forces are trained together. The panoramic view around the academy attracts tourists from all over the country. Prior permission is required to visit the place.

Sinhagad Fort:

Sinhagad or the "Lion Fort" is located at a distance of 25 kms from the Pune city. The fort is associated with Shivaji’s general Tanaji Malasure who died during the battle to occupy the fort for Shivaji. The history behind the name of this fort Sinhagad is that Shivaji when heard that his general was died he mourned and said that we have won the fort but lost the Lion. On the ground a Samadhi is created for the memory of the slain leader. This 17th century fort has fallen to ruin but still it is a worth visiting place for the tourists.

For more information about places to visit in and around Pune visit following websites:

http://www.incredibleindia.org/

http://www.maharashtratourism.gov.in/mtdc/HTML/MaharashtraTourism/Default.aspx?strpage=../MaharashtraTourism/CitiestoVisits/Pune.html

http://www.punesite.com/


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