“I must travel, for new horizons won’t come tither.” With new year around the corner, it’s time to set the travel goals for 2017 and the one destination on the top of my chart is Israel. A land with a holy past of biblical scale, quite literally, has an obvious charisma to attract wanderers and travellers. But, there is more to it than just that. Sitting at the junction of three continents, Asia, Europe & Africa, Israel is truly what happens when East meets West. The country known for religious sites and natural wonders, can really surprise the unprepared travellers with its modernity and cultural diversity. I have had Israel on my ‘go to destination’ list for long and now when it is becoming a hot destination among Indians, it has become the ‘must visit in 2017’ for me. My top three places/spots to visit in Israel are Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Dead Sea.
Tel Aviv a contrast to Jerusalem, true to its name, ‘Old New City’ stands as a symbol of modernism. The city is a UNESCO heritage site recognizing the 4000 Bauhaus buildings. For the uninitiated, Bauhaus is considered as the founding father of architectural modernism. With its sky scrapers, Tel Aviv is the technology & start up hub of Israel also known as ‘Silicon Wadi’. The other face of this enterprising city comes out after dark. If you are looking to party, head to Tel Aviv right now – Silicon Wadi by day time, the city has also gained a reputation as the city that never sleeps. A quarter of the total city population actually works in the nightlife sector. So, I won’t be completely wrong, if I called it the party capital of the middle east. The long Mediterranean coast only adds to the charm of the city.Jerusalem is home to the three major religions of the world. Grown around the “Holy of Holies” on the Temple Mount, the city is dotted with synagogues, churches and mosques. For a traveller in the city, it is like travelling back in time & witnessing history in the making. Following the footsteps of Jesus starting from Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre can really be exhilarating. The colourful market of the old city across the magnificent Damascus Gate can easily give a sense of being teleported to the medieval middle east. Beyond them the Mamluk bathhouse, Dome of the Rock and Aqsa Mosque would stand to mesmerize with their architecture. If the doze of culture & history is not enough, the city offers a range of culinary treats, so after the end of a walking tour in the city heading for some falafel and hummus would definitely satisfy those taste buds.
On the other side of the country lies a lazy option and a dream come true for couch potatoes who also like outdoors. The Dead Sea, one of the seven natural wonders of the world lies on the border of Israel and Jordan. This deep blue hyper-saline lake is a blessing for non- swimmers like me. Jump in and just float the whole day away in a ‘sea’ where it is practically impossible to sink. Many also head to these waters for the medicinal properties both the water and the mud on the banks supposedly have.
Beyond these three destinations which are on top of my list of places to visit in Israel, the country has much more amazement to offer. The Sea of Galilee, about 150 km away from Dead Sea, is a balancing act of the nature. At over 200 meter below sea level, the Sea of Galilee is the lowest fresh water lake in the word and second lowest lake in the world after the Dead Sea. Israel also has a small window opening to the Red Sea. There is no end to the geographical and cultural diversity of the country. It is not just a place to visit and see, it is one to experience.
Indian travellers are rapidly growing in international travel community and it seems in Israel they have found a new favourite destination. It makes complete sense, given the strong close historical ties we share with the country and its people. If you have been wanting to go on an international trip, may be this beautifully shot video is the right inspiration you have been missing! For the vegetarians, the falafels and breads won’t disappoint you!
If like me, you are also spellbound by the beauty of this historically significant and geographically magnificent country, ride on the motivation and plan the trip to the promised land! If you are not sure where to start and how to go about it, clicking on this will take you to the one stop guide site for all Israel travel information.
Travel well and do let me know how you liked it!