Pune, pronounced "Poonah," is the academic, financial and spiritual center of southern Maharshtra in India. Southeast of Mumbai, the city is known for its universities, ashrams and meditation centers, as well as its nightlife and modern architecture. Ruled by the Marathas from the mid-16th century until the British takeover in 1817, Pune served as a summer capital for Maratha princes and British officials.Travel to Pune during the summer months, March through June, is best avoided, as temperatures can reach 107 degrees. From July through September, monsoon rains bring cooler weather, humidity and flooded streets. The best time to visit is between October and February. If you want to coordinate your trip with Hindu festivals, Diwali is celebrated in late October or early November, and Holi is celebrated in late February or early March.If you are coming from outside India, fly into Mumbai. From Mumbai you can take a domestic flight, ride the train, go by bus or buy a seat in a share-taxi to get to Pune. By land, it takes three to four hours from Mumbai. The fastest trains plying this route are the Deccan Queen, Pragati Express and Sinhagad Express. Domestic airlines that serve Pune include Air India, JetLite, IndiGo and Indian Air.To travel the five miles from the airport to the city center, you can take a taxi or auto rickshaw. At night, rates are slightly more expensive. Within the city, you can also travel by local bus or shared mini-van.Pune's main attractions include gardens, palaces, zoos and museums. If you enjoy the outdoors, visit Empress Botanical Gardens, Osho Teerth Gardens and Peshwa Park. See different species of snakes at Katraj Snake Park & Zoo, or learn more about India's tribal areas at the Tribal Cultural Museum. In the evenings, you can see a sound and light show at Shaniwar Wada, an 18th-century palace in the old part of the city.On the upscale end of the market is Osho Meditation Resort, one of India's most well-known yoga retreat centers. As of 2010, a single room here cost 4,500 rupees ($99) per night, which could buy you a week's worth of budget accommodations elsewhere. If you don't want to splurge on Osho, there are numerous mid-range and budget hotels clustered around the train station and Koregaon Park, near Osho. Note that if you want to stay at Osho, you need to be attending on-site classes, and that if you don't stay there, you are still welcome to sign up.ATMs are readily available in Pune. A 24-hour Citibank ATM is located on East Street, and you can also use international debit cards to withdraw money from HSBC, ICICI and UTI machines. Cash can be changed at banks and exchange bureaus during business hours, and credits cards are accepted at most upscale hotels and restaurants in the Koregaon Park area.Heather Carreiro is a certified English teacher who has been writing since 2008. The editor of Matador Abroad, her work has appeared online at BootsnAll, Matador Network, GoNOMAD, Journey Beyond Travel and Expat Women. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics and Middle Eastern studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is pursuing a Master of Arts in English at Bridgewater State University.