An enterprising lady from the city, Neena Sharma travelled to Israel with her friends Sindi and Amy, along with a group of other travellers on a seven-day trip. “I have always wanted to visit the Holy Land, and hence I jumped at the opportunity as soon as it presented itself,” Neena tells us. On the first day of the trip, the group travelled to Haifa, Israel’s largest port city, built on the slopes of Mount Carmel, along the beautifully blue Mediterranean Sea. After a pit stop to see the Baha’i Shrine, they went up Mount Carmel to visit the Stella Maris Monastery of the Lady of Mount Carmel, and thereafter to Golan Heights.
The second day began with a wine tasting and tour around the winery of the Kibbutz Ortal, after which the group visited Bental and went on to the historical city of Capernaum. After paying a visit to several biblically significant spots, they went on to the Church of the Sermon on the Mount located on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The black-and white church is an architect’s delight, built with engraved tiles leading to the inner sanctum. On the third day, they first visited the oldest city in the world, Jericho, where they stopped at Mount Qarantal where it is said that Jesus Christ was tempted by Satan and resisted. They then went on to see other sites of religious importance including Elisha’s Spring, which is held holy by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. Afterwards, they made a pit stop at the Sycamore Tree. Neena and her friends went on to see the imposing and tragic Fort Masada and then proceeded down to the famous Dead Sea, where they floated, thanks to the dense sea water. The group finally retired in a Bedouin campsite after a sumptuous dinner and bonfire.On the fourth day of the trip, the group drove to Jerusalem, where they visited the Knesset (the Parliament of Israel), the Ministry of Tourism, and the chilling Holocaust Museum.
The fifth day entailed a stopover at Mount Zion and then the old city of Jerusalem. This area has been divided, over time, into four parts: the Muslim quarter, the Christian quarter, the Jewish quarter, and the Armenian quarter. From a particular spot in this part of Jerusalem, the group had a clear view of the two domes on the Temple Mount: the Dome of the Rock and the Aqsa Masjid. They saw the Wailing Wall and witnessed devout Jews lamenting at the 2,000-year-old structure that has survived repeated destruction and multiple sieges over the country. They continued into the Temple Complex along a narrow path to Calvary, where the Church of Holy Sepulchre now sits. Neena was very eager to see the tomb of Jesus Christ and by nothing short of a miracle, a priest spotted her in the crowd and signalled for her to come in and see it. “It was an overwhelming experience and I consider it a miracle that I was singled out in that crowd of pilgrims to go see the tomb without having to wait for hours!” she recounts. On the sixth day, the travellers headed to the Mount of Olives and then went down the path that Christ took on Palm Sunday to Gethsemane. Their next stop was the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem, which contained several interesting artefacts.
On the final day of the trip, the group visited the Tank Museum of Israel, after which they travelled to Tel Aviv and the ancient port city of Jaffa. “The trip was fantastic and the company was great too, which made the experience all the more amazing and unforgettable!” – as told to Tanya