At an altitude of 598m, the sophisticated city of Pune (sometimes still anglicized as Poona), Maharashtra’s second largest, lies close to the Western Ghat mountains (known here as the Sahyadri Hills), on the edge of the Deccan plains as they stretch away to the east. Capital of the Marathas’ sovereign state in the sixteenth century, its rulers were deposed by the Brahmin Peshwa family, Pune was – thanks to its cool, dry climate – chosen by the British in 1820 as an alternative headquarters for the Bombay Presidency. Since colonial days, Pune has continued to develop as a major industrial city and is one of India’s fastest growing business and tech centres. Signs of prosperity abound, from multistorey apartment blocks and gated estates, to coffee shops, air-conditioned malls and hip boutiques. Pune also has a couple of spiritual claims to fame: Koregaon Park is home to the famous Osho ashram, while on the city’s outskirts is yogarcharya BKS Iyengar’s illustrious yoga centre.

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