I’ve never had the chance to visit Israel. And until recently, I wouldn’t have wanted to either. What did I know of Israel after all, other than Biblical references and the fact that India enjoys good foreign relations with the little Middle-Eastern nation? But lately, my thirst for revisiting the relics of bygone eras has compelled me to confront the ancient charms of Israel. And in an interesting juxtaposition of the old and new, Israel is also witnessing an evolving culinary scene and night life. Here are 10 reasons why Indians want to have an exclusive vacation in Israel:
- Jerusalem’s spirituality
The Holy City of Jerusalem marks the confluence of three beautiful religions – Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Here, you can soak in the mysticism of the Temple Mount, Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque.
- Tel Aviv’s lifestyle
Perched on Israel’s Mediterranean coastline, Tel Aviv is the most vibrant city of the country and a must-visit for its electrifying nightlife, welcoming and beautiful locals and modernist Bauhaus buildings dating back to the 1930s.
- The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea needs no introduction, being one of the Seven Wonders of the World. For this sight alone, you need to make a trip to Israel. Visit Neve Midbar Beach to bathe in the salty sea (which is nine times saltier than the ocean) and enjoy the curative powers of the mineral-filled brown mud.
- Delicious food
Israeli cuisine is a combination of Levantine, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes. Known for its delicious milk and honey, modern restaurants are dishing up excellent versions of falafel, hummus, msabbha, shakshouka, couscous, and za’atar.
- Steeped in history
Israel is an ancient land with a history spanning several generations. Among its many picturesque ruins are Beit Guvrin-Maresha’s ruined Roman city, human cave settlements in Maresha (especially known for its Sidonian Cave), large Crusader Church of St. Anne and the Shrine and Tomb of Prophet Muhammad’s Sahabah Tamim al-Dari.
- Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee is a picture perfect spot in Israel, known for its floral biodiversity and spellbinding sunrises and sunsets. It is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth and has an important place in religions annals as well. Israel’s most famous open water swim race, the Kinneret Crossing, is held here every year in September.
- Desert adventures
The spectacular Negev Desert lends itself to a variety of desert adventures like hiking and biking along desert trails, all-terrain jeep trips, camel rides along the ancient frankincense route, rock climbing and rappelling.
- Excellent weather
Israel enjoys pleasant weather throughout the year. While summers can get hot, it’s always cooler closer to the sea. Seen in this photo are the flamingos of Hula Valley, an agricultural area in the north with copious reserves of freshwater that attract migratory birds.
- Jaffa’s beaches
The ancient port city of Jaffa has a stunning coastline and fascinating boutique shops that tourists will love. Although technically part of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Jaffa has a personality of its own. The gardens adjoining the sea are a must-visit.
- Inspiring accommodation
Apart from a glittering array of luxury five star hotels, Israel is also home to several interesting boutique hotels. From a spa cave to a renovated bus, restored buildings, Crusader inns and Mongolian-style yurts, Israel has it all. You can even stay in an art gallery or cinema or opt for eco-friendly mud huts.
Israel is a dream destination for families given its easy accessibility and transport options. But for now, I’ll leave you with this video which probably speaks even louder than all the words I’ve just penned down:
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