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Car Rental in Pune: the City of Rich Cultural Heritage and Beautiful Landscapes
Known as Maharashtra’s cultural capital, Pune is a multifaceted city boasting old and new sights, a flourishing nightlife, excellent restaurants, and surroundings not to be missed. Whether you’re headed here for a visit to the controversial ashram, the Osho International Meditation Resort, for business, for research or studies, or for exploration, consider renting a car – with or without a driver – to make the most of your visit.
Pune’s weather is comfortable almost all year round, much cooler than in other regions of India, and even monsoon season, which takes place in the late summer and early fall months, is a comfortable time to explore the city.
Pune’s official language is Marathi, though most inhabitants also speak Hindi and English.
As in the rest of India, the currency is the Indian rupee. Currency exchange is available throughout the city; remember to always keep a receipt for your exchanges!
The time zone is the India Time Zone, UTC+5:30.
Automobile hire is available at multiple places throughout Pune. If you are able to fly directly to the city, you’ll land at the Pune International Airport, a part of the Lohegaon Air Force Station reserved for civilian flights. Currently the only international connections to Pune are via Frankfurt and Dubai. There are a limited number of car rental agencies just outside of the airport. Many other travellers will likely arrive at the Pune City Train Station. After arriving at the station, head southwest across the Mumbai highway to find a number of other car rental options.
Pune is a city with a very rich cultural history and some excellent surrounding landscapes, and it is recommended to spend plenty of time both in and around the city. Start your explorations, for example, at the Pataleshwar caves, carved in the 8th century, and now located on Jangli Maharaj Road in the city itself. Then head to the numerous forts in the foothills around the city for some excellent views. Day or weekend trips include:
- The renowned Diveagar beach, a 4- to 5-hour drive southwest from Pune
- Hiking at Malshej Ghat – particularly in the monsoon season – where you can see migrating pink flamingos and some very beautiful countryside, about a 3-hour drive north of the city (along some toll roads).
- The 4-hour drive south to do some hiking at Rajmachi Fort.
Many nationalities can now travel to India via an e-Tourist Visa, which you apply for online at least four days before your scheduled arrival and which allows you to stay for up to 60 days. The fee for the e-Visa depends on your nationality. Double check regulations before you leave, as some nationalities must apply for a visa before they arrive.
Driving in Pune
Just as in other Indian cities, driving in Pune is not for the faint-hearted. Roads are crammed with people, whether in cars or not, traffic conditions often turn to congestion for no apparent reason, and other vehicles on the road change their paths often and without warning. With that said, driving in Pune – particularly outside of rush hours – is more relaxed compared to other Indian cities and can make your travels in and around the city much more independent and intimate. And if you don’t feel comfortable driving yourself, hiring a driver is a viable and often inexpensive option!
- Traffic drives on the left-hand side of the road.
- The speed limit throughout Maharashtra is between 50 and 65 km/h for passenger cars.
- Traffic is especially bad in Pune during rush hours, so plan any automobile exploration to start much earlier or just after Pune rush hour to have much emptier streets and experience much more comfortable driving.
- Both on- and off-street parking opportunities are available throughout Pune. On-street parking is still fairly cheap throughout the city, which sometimes makes it hard to find. The city is discussing plans to raise parking fees to try to diminish the commuter population that travels by personal vehicle in the near future.
- You will need an international driver’s permit in addition to your domestic driver’s license in order to drive and rent a car throughout India.
- Pune is at the southeast end of the Mumbai Pune Expressway, India’s first six-lane tolled expressway; the expressway has significantly improved travel time between Mumbai and Pune, dropping intercity travel to between 2 and 3 hours. Tolls for passenger cars are paid in toll plazas and cost around 230 rupees.
- The minimum driving age in Pune is 18 years old, though you will likely have to be at least 25 years of age in order to rent a car.
- Indian drivers honk their horns often, so feel free to participate in the cacophony, particularly to alert other drivers of your presence.