India // Maharashtra //

Osho International Meditation Resort

Pune is the headquarters of the infamous Osho International Meditation Resort, 2km northeast of the railway station. Set amid forty acres of landscaped gardens and woodland, the ashram of the now-deceased New Age guru, Shri Bagwan Rajneesh (aka “Osho”), comprises a dreamy playground of cafés, marble walkways, swimming pools, spas, tennis courts and clinics, with a shop selling Osho’s enormous list of books, DVDs and CDs. Courses at its Multiversity, mostly one to three days in duration (around $100/day), are offered in a variety of therapies and meditation techniques, alongside more offbeat workshops with titles such as “Disappear into the Painting”, “Squeeze the Juice of Life” and “Doing Dying Differently”.

This ecofriendly bubble follows a strict door policy, with security beefed up following the revelation of visits to Osho by 26/11 conspirator David Headley – guided tours had at the time of writing been indefinitely cancelled, and in the wake of Pune’s own attack in 2010 were unlikely to resume. If you’re interested in taking a course, you must take your passport to the Welcome Center, where you’ll have to take an on-the-spot HIV test in order to register – the induction, HIV test and initial day-pass package costs Rs1550 for foreigners, after which it’s Rs700 per day. You’ll also need two robes (maroon for daywear, white for evenings), on sale at the ashram’s “mini-mall”. If you want to actually stay inside the resort, the smart Osho Guest House offers stylish, minimalist, Zen rooms – though be warned that the accommodation is situated above the main auditorium, which, as the ashram likes to put it, “can make the 6am Dynamic Meditation hard to resist”.

The beautiful gardens laid out to the east of the main Osho complex, known as Osho Teerth, are open to the public, and make a serene place for a stroll, with babbling streams, stands of giant bamboo, mature trees and Zen sculpture artfully placed amid the greenery.