Posted: 10 Jan 2017 02:13 AM PST
Israel has long been on my mind and it is one of those destinations that I feel is so near and yet so far – I missed two opportunities to head there last year and it is the first destination on my bucketlist for 2017. Here are some of the places to see in Israel .
The Story of the Dead Sea Scrolls
The first time I fell in love with Israel was when I read about the story of how the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. These antiquities, which are religious manuscripts, were discovered in caves in the Judean Desert by two Bedouin shepherds. They apparently took it to the market, looking for dealers who would be interested in buying it. Even after the value of the scrolls was discovered, they were up for sale and there were advertisements in newspapers.
What fascinated me however were the jars, often referred to Dead Sea Scroll Jars in which some of these scrolls were discovered. They were found only in caves in Wadi Qumran near the Dead Sea. There are about 981 texts that were found in eleven caves over 60 years ago, some of them are in fragments. It is believed that the texts form the oldest manuscript of the Old Testament, written in Hebrew and Aramaic and made of animal skin or papyrus, ensuing interesting trivia around the scrolls. The longest of them, called the Temple Scroll, is over 28 feet. Another scroll called the Copper Scroll is like a treasure map listing out hidden places around Israel where treasure is believed to be buried. The Dead Sea Scrolls are now displayed in the Rockefeller Museum and the Shrine of the Book in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. However, the Israeli government is planning to excavate sites for more scrolls.
Places to visit in Israel
Israel is now one of the key destinations for Indian tourists and I for one would love to visit it. It has been on my bucket list for a long time. Anyone who has read my blog and stories would know about my love for ancient civilisations, historic sites, legends and myths. I am constantly fascinated by antiquity. One of the places to visit in Israel is Jerusalem. Old Jerusalem for instance has been on my wish list as it is not just a religious destination but is a trove of monuments. The Christian Quarter, the Jewish Quarter Islamic Quarter, the Armenian Quarter – every part of the Old City is historic in its own way as Jerusalem is the Sacred City for three main religious – Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Museums, monuments and markets beckon you here.
Tel Aviv – a vibrant city
But it is not just about history or religion. Tel Aviv, the financial capital, is emerging as one of the hotspots with a pulsating night life. Located on the coastline, it is vibrant, contemporary and cosmopolitan, attracting tourists from all over the world. Lonely Planet earlier ranked it in one of the top 10 action packed cities and Travellers Digest called it the city of beautiful people. The coastline is the main attraction with Gordon Beach and Banana Beach attracting a lot of crowds. The city is also LGBT friendly. If you want to do some people watching, then head to the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Promenade and just walk around. And while you are there, go to Old Jaffa to get a feel of the oldest seaport in Israel. Filled with boutiques and designer stores, flea markets and street food centres, galleries and gourmet stores, the city is forever bustling.
Float in the Dead Sea
And my third favourite destination of Israel is the Dead Sea, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. I have floated in the Dead Sea in Jordan but I have always wanted to experience the same in Israel also. So after exploring the monuments in the capital city and partying hard in the start- up city, it is time to now head to one of the spa capitals of the world. The salts, minerals and mud of the Dead Sea are known for their health and beauty therapies and all I want to do is to head to a spa and indulge myself with a Dead Sea mud pack therapy.
And these are some of my favourite places to see in Israel . Which ones would you like to recommend ?
Israel and I have a history – a history of disappointments. It is one of the destinations that has been on my bucket list for years and yet I have not been able to visit this mystical and magical country.
I was scheduled to go on two trips last year and yet they were postponed and cancelled at the last minute. Despite that, my fingers are crossed and I am hoping that I will be third time lucky
This post was written in partnership with Israel Tourism .
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