One of the major tourist attraction sites of Pune, Maharashtra, Ohel David Synagogue is a perfect amalgamation of beautiful architecture and a place offering tranquillity. It was built by a great philanthropist named David Sasson who is also well known for building the Sasson hospital and other synagogues such as Mumbai’s Magen David and Keneseth Eliyayhoo. Although the construction work started in 1863, its completion was done in 1967 by the successors of Sasson.
This synagogue is the largest one outside Israel in Asia. The literary meaning of Ohel David means “tent of David “ in the Hebrew language. It was basically built to serve the Baghdadi Jews who came to India for economic reasons and betterment of life and slowly built a large community who were well educated and cultured. The Ohel David Synagogue, also known as Red Synagogue or Lal Deval, due to its red colored bricks was built in a neo-gothic style which resembles a church. Henry Saint Clair Wilkins, a British army officer, appointed to serve public Works Department of Architecture and Engineering in then British India, designed this structure. The main attraction is the 90 feet high square obelisk. At the top, an imported clock from London is placed.
The sanctuary has a capacity of accommodating 100 families. It also has a Mikvah,i.e. a place where ritual baths take place), but it is not in functioning anymore. The tomb of the founder David Sasson is also present in the premise.
How to reach – The Ohel David Synagogue is located on the Moledina road, opposite to the Nehru Museum. One may reach the place via bus, car or a cab from nearby cities. Although the Jewish community has decreased a lot over time yet regular services are held in the synagogue.
Timings – The synagogue is open every day from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and people of all faith are welcome to visit here. However, reservation is necessary for non-Jews to visit the synagogue. It is a is 24/7 high-security zone where you may require permission to click photos.