An Indian traveller (even myself) wants more out of everything and does not want to settle for less! When this traveller comes to know of a destination that abounds in spirituality, a rich culture, an incredible contrast of a desert spread wide and green lush forests, mountains, vintage wines and lip-smacking gastronomic delights…what can he do if not put it on the top of his bucket list and then strive to tick it off as soon as possible?
Nodding your head in agreement? Yes, that is exactly why Israel is the next big thing for the Indian traveller and more and more Indians want to visit Israel. The country’s uniqueness lies in its diversity that spans across various dimensions. It is the place where the regal old world charm meets the glamorous new world and they both exist in harmony.
Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, is both spiritually and religiously well-endowed and is home to the landmarks of three of the major religions in the world:
Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which lies in the Old City of Jerusalem is also known as the Church of Resurrection and is considered by the Christians as the place of crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It is thronged by pilgrims who come to pay their respects by kissing the slab where Jesus is believed to have been laid after the crucifixion.
Western Wall, the place of religious importance for Jews, is an architectural wonder as well. It is a part of the surrounding walls of the Second Temple which once stood at the place. The temple itself was destroyed in the 70 CE but the limestone wall stood undamaged. It is widely believed that writing your wish on a piece of paper and placing it in a crevice in the wall makes it come true. I can think of a long list to place there, what about you?
Dome of the Rock, also located in Jerusalem, is a 7th-century shrine which is held in high esteem by the Muslims. The shrine is home to the rock which Muhammad is believed to have risen up to the Heavens.
The experience of Jerusalem can be quite overwhelming for the Indian traveller who values spirituality in all its forms. The co-existence of these three monuments of three strikingly different religions is a lesson in itself!
True to its spirit of diversity, Israel is not only a spiritual haven but also party lover’s delight! Tel Aviv , the ”city that never sleeps” is famous for its nightlife. The economic centre and financial hub of the country brims with life and glamour. The coastal city has ample beaches, galleries and museums to explore. Beach bars, cold beers and sandy beaches make this city the party capital of the Middle East. Bars, clubs and wine yards leave you spoilt for choice but then, there is no limit to partying, right? Bars with soft music, clubs with lasers and beats or beach bars under a starry sky and sand in your feet, you are free to take your pick! Craving for Tel Aviv already? I can tell!
Tel Aviv is also home to a famous market (shuk, as they call it in Israel) called Carmel Market where you can satiate your taste buds gorging on culinary delights that match international standards. Nachlat binyamin is the oldest and biggest arts and crafts fair in the country of Israel where around two hundred different artists craft handmade items of wood, glass, cloth and rock. For every Indian, handicrafts are very close to the heart!
The Dead Sea, one of the seven wonders of the world, is another major attraction that makes Israel a must-visit place. Imagine floating (literally!) in water 400 metres below the sea level and breathing oxygen-rich, pollution-free air! Not only that, the mud of the Sea is therapeutic in nature for those suffering from skin conditions and joint problems. It is also possibly the best spa in the world and the only place where sunbathing is bereft of the dangers posed by the sun’s rays. The one who said ”Seeing is believing” probably thought of it when he visited the Dead Sea for it is truly an incredible place!
Caesarea, where the pristine white of the sand is hemmed by the royal golden hue of ancient ruins, sounds like a place out of a fairytale. Yesterday and tomorrow overlap each other as the ruins and an ultra modern golf club, both attract tourists to the place.
The geographically linear expanse of Israel is the reason for the microclimates that vary across the country. These result in a wide variety of wines across the whole of Israel and make it a wine connoisseur’s joy. Almost 35 commercial and over 250 boutique vineyards have listed Israel high on the international wine radar. Wine and dine always go together and for Indian travellers, who are generally foodie by nature, Israel offers a mesmerising experience of both. Many dishes on the Israeli cuisine like falafel, hummus and shwarma are famous all over but quite a few like jachnun and shakshooka are literally unheard of in other areas of the world.
For the traveller who actually wishes to experience the culture of Israel, there is nothing like a Kibbutz. The community way of living, depending primarily on agriculture, gives an Indian traveller a taste of the times that once were, in our land as well. The warmth and hospitality of the people of Israel can be gauged from the fact that Kibbutz are open to visitors who can spend time and carry that experience back home!
Israel is truly amazing and mesmerising! Have a look at the video below and you will agree too:
”On most vacations, you take a trip
But in Israel, you take a journey!”