Pune is the headquarters of the infamous Osho International Meditation Resort. Set amid 28 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, Olympic-size swimming pool, spas, tennis courts and clinics, with a shop selling Osho’s enormous list of books, DVDs and CDs. Courses at its multiversity 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 eco-friendly bubble follows a strict door policy, with security beefed up following the revelation of visits to Osho by Mumbai 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 are 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. You’ll need two robes (maroon for daywear, white for evenings), on sale at the ashram’s “mini-mall”. It is also possible to stay inside the resort at the pricey Osho Guest House.
The beautiful gardens laid out to the east of the main Osho complex, known as Osho Teerth, are open to day-pass-holders. They make a serene place for a stroll, with babbling streams, stands of giant bamboo, mature trees and Zen sculpture artfully placed amid the greenery.