A Toast to Israel

Excited and enthralled, when I first set foot on the soil in the holy land. Purityof air, streamlined traffic, solo highways, mammoth farms, pleasant weather and everything around me seemed different on my first international trip. It’s a country with just one-fifth the size of Tamil Nadu but ranks 3rd in Asia in terms of the standard of living. It’s one of the countries that is economically superior that leads the world in innovation and inventions in Science & Technology.Religious tourism is the key industry in the country, which is known for ancient biblical sites; those are thousands of years old, with few of them restored and preserved.

We entered Israel by road from Jordan via Allenby – King Hussein Bridge. The three-hour trip over the road that runs parallel to the Jordan border was unique, with agro farms around and the mountain ranges of Jordan at distance. Unlike the mountains that we see in India, the mountains are rocky and sandy. At the end of the road trip,we reached the coastal area to the west ofthe Sea of Galilee – which is actually avast lake,whose name should have emanated from its vastness thatblinds the glimpse of the shores from one’s eyes. After visiting couple of biblical sites, we took shelters in Tiberias, the small city along the coastal mountain area. Club Hotel Tiberias, named after the city,is constructed in a way that it is blended with elevation of themountain. Driving up the hill, if one doesn’t mindfully take diversion to pass by, will end up being received at Club Hotel Tiberias. Yes, the west side of the mountain opens into the porch of the hotel, whose rooms are on the east, raised above the ground witheach room blessed with the wonderful aerial view of Sea of Galilee and the mountain ranges behind it. Enjoying the wonderful sunrise behind the sandy mountains and the lake with a sip of tea touched the heart, but hardly quenched my thirst for this scenic beauty. (Click here to view)

Couple of days later, we meanderedthrough the cities of Haifa and Tel Aviv along the coast of Mediterranean Sea. Haifa is the third largest citywith port, connecting European countries. Tel Aviv – the city lying 60 km to the south of Haifa, is the financial capital of Israel. On the way, we visitedsome notable biblical sites and the aerial view of site of Armageddon, where the final battle on earth is believed to takeplace.

The final four days at Jerusalem, were more interesting. The city has two different faces, the modern outlook on one side and the ancient outlook on the other. The modern city facet has few high-rise structures, well-connected public transport with city buses and tram, whereas the ancient city has most of the ancient structures viz. Dome of Rock, The Western Wall, City of David, Gethsemane, Church of Nativity and ancient city walls etc.

In the City of David, trekking through the tunnel built by King Hezekiah around 8th century BCE was phenomenal. The tunnel is the pathway to the Gihon spring water, trekking down, which was adventurous as the path was narrow with a width of just 2 feet, dug deep beneath the rock and mountains.

Dead Sea is another place where one hardly enjoys swimming. Yes, it’s 10 times saltier than the ordinary sea water where the marine life is impossible and its higher density makesus to float above the water. The shores of the sea is 400 meters below the sea level and it is the earth’s lowest elevation on land. Ourfinal visit was to the Timna Park. Don’t get misguided by the name ‘park’, the area is fully dry, hazy, sandy and rocky. It is in fact, the copper mining area operating since 5000 BCE.

Overall, the entire trip was splendid and these are places that one will desire to visit more than once.

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