Poona or Pune: Inhabited since the 6th century, Punnyapattanam (City of Auspicious Deeds) has grown into todays metropolitan city of Pune, also known as the "Queen of the Deccan" with its salubrious climate and setting among the hills. She was once the capital of the Maratha Empire, then of the Peshwas. The English acquired her in 1818 and developed a distinct English flavor. Shivaji, the great Maratha ruler used the surrounding hills to their fullest for his guerilla warfare against the moguls. He also built a network of hilltop forts to keep them away.
Today the city is a major center of manufacturing, the Indian Army and academics together with the necessary support infrastructure.
Mahatma Gandhi was often imprisoned in either the Aga Khan Palace or the Yeravada Jail during his many internments by the British. In 1942, while he and his wife Kasurba were in prison in the Aga Khan Palace, Kasturba died while in prison. Today the beautiful 19 acre palace is a memorial to Gandhiji. Articles used by Gandhiji such as his bed, writing desk, Kasturba's saree and other clothes; her slippers are preserved. Prince Agakhan donated this palace to Gandhi Smarak Samittee in 1972, and is now maintained as a national monument.
Gandhiji was operated on for appendicitis in Sassoon Hospital, Poona on January 12, 1924.
Baghdadi Jews would come to India for trade, and later to flee their home lands. David Sassoon was one of these to leave Baghdad in 1826. His business brought prosperity and he built three synagogues, two in Bombay and one in Poona. In these synagogues "Nosah Baghdad" (the Baghdadi mode of prayer) was followed. Hakhamim came from Baghdad and contacts were maintained with the Baghdad Beth Din.
The Ohel-David Synagogue: The synagogue was built by David Sassoon in 1863 in Poona. A well known landmark, it boasts an impressive architecture in spacious grounds. It is popularly known as Lal Dewil (the Red Temple), as it is built of red brick - a fine, large structure with a clock tower and 90 foot spire, and a bell that chimed the hours. The interior is equally beautiful with stained glass windows and, again in the Baghdad style, with "tebah" and "hekhal", arches and the women's gallery. Sassoon died in 1864 in Poona and is buried the synagogue grounds in a fine mausoleum.
Succath Shelmo Synagogue: The Succath Shelmo Synagogue was established in 1921, and the foundation stone laid in 1919.
The Jewish community in Poona numbers about 300.
Aga Khan Palace/Kasturba Gandhi Smriti Mandir: A famous landmark. During the 1942 Quit India Movement, Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders of the Indian National Congress were imprisoned here. A samadhi of Kasturba Gandhi, the Mahatma's wife who died here while in internment, has been built on the grounds of the site.