Visiting the ochre city of holy Jerusalem, floating in the Dead Sea, or racing on a Segway through Tel Aviv’s magical lanes, Sumita Chakraborty finds herself falling in love with amazing Israel.
Have you come across Instagram pictures of actress Sonam Kapoor blissfully floating in azure waters recently? If you have, well, then JFYI (just for your information), the pretty actress was floating in Israel’s famous Dead Sea. So that’s one great reason to visit Israel….
But if you love History and enjoy zipping through the sandy chronicles of times of yore or race through the kaleidoscopic cityscape with its unique nightlife, flavours and luxe shopping, Israel is just the place for you to visit. I was invited by the Israel Ministry of Tourism to soak into the wonderful ambience of this magical land, and I came back feeling dazzled!
Here are 10 reasons why one should put Israel on top of your bucket list of places to go globetrotting to.
1. History seeped Jerusalem:
Walk through the Holy ochre city of Jerusalem which goes back to 70 BC and loose yourself in the rich History that spans from before the Biblical times to the times of Jesus Christ. I turned the dusty pages of time as I stepped into the City of David which is even mentioned in the Bible. The ruins are still intact including a toilet from 70 BC. This is a must visit!
2. The Western Wall:
Jerusalem’s most sacred monument. The Western Wall or The Wailing Wall has thousands of visitors paying homage to it. Here, a local told me that when you pray at the sacred wall and your prayers are sure to come true – fingers crossed, I’m hoping my prayers come true. But of course, you can also visit this archaeological wonder for its History. I walked up the rampart of the Wall and had a complete bird’s eye view of Jerusalem. Undoubtedly, this is truly spectacular!
3. The Dome of the Rock and The Church of Sepulchre:
You must visit the Dome of the Rock with its gold dome. According to fable, this is where Prophet Muhammed supposedly flew to heaven on a winged horse.
The incredible Church of Sepulchre is built where Jesus Christ was crucified. This place too is visited by thousands of pilgrims. I walked through a bazaar with its narrow intertwining lanes which looked like Alladin’s den to the Church Of Sepulchre, and that was a magical experience by itself.
4. The Dead Sea scrolls:
From the ochre city of Jerusalem, my van whizzed through the polished lanes of the outer city through the dunes of the Judean Desert to Qumran National Park where the famed Dead Sea scrolls were discovered by a shepherd in one of the hill’s crevices. Truly amazing!
A cable car took me to the high mountains over which King Herod built his palace fortress in 30 BC – an architectural feat that has stumped many modern architects and archaeologists. Beyond the ruins of the palace rampart, I could see the remains of King Herod’s bath built on the steep sides of the mountain. The view from the rusty sandy high mountains were breath-taking. This too should be a must visit for tourists.
6. The Amazing Dead Sea:
This was my next call of the port. I was staying at the luxe Crowne Plaza which overlooked the Dead Sea. From the balcony, I could even spot Jordan, Israel’s nearest neighbour. Anyway like actress Sonam Kapoor, I rushed to float in the Dead Sea. The hypersaline landlocked waters here contains huge concentrations of sodium chloride and other mineral salts. The saline levels here surpass that of ocean water, making swimming impossible. But because of the salt and mineral content, supposedly, Dead Sea mud and salts are supposedly very good for the skin.
7. The City of Akko:
The amazing city of Akko, an ancient Phoenician and Crusader seaport has the incredible Knight’s Hall with its maze of Templar’s hidden tunnels that led to the Turkish Bath. And, if you are a History buff, you are sure to be fascinated!
An ancient port built by King Herod was my next stop. A tour through the city including the amazing amphitheatre made the visit memorable.
9. Tel Aviv Beckons:
Vibrant, zipping, smart, the city of Tel Aviv was built way back on sand dunes. But this city could give any global city a run for the money. It’s polished tarmacs, green lanes where you can ride your bicycle, tall, smart buildings, swanky brands and eateries, colourful markets, Segway tracks, amazing gardens and parks, is gorgeous. I was staying at the plush Dan Panorama hotel which had an amazing view of the azure Mediterranean Sea. After trying out the Segway and zipping through narrow lanes through cafes, I soaked in the picturesque view of the harbour. A quick city tour – the Rothschild Boulevard with its unique Bauhaus architecture and café, Rabin Square, colourful Carmel market, Habima National Theatre and the picturesque neighbourhood of NeveTzedek – I was truly impressed.
On the way to the airport, almost the end of my visit to Israel, I stopped by to stare with awe at the colourful ‘Artists Quarter’, the unique Ilana Goor Museum and the flea market. Truly amazing!
Israel with its amazing mix of old and modern is a wonderful place to visit. The food is aromatic and tasty especially their hummus. Moreover, with the Makemytrip offers from Couponraja, you can book your tickets and make hotel reservations at a reasonable price. So if you have a travel itch, lace up your shoes and head to the magical Israel.