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Kasol and Dharamkot: Of two Himachal hamlets and their Israeli connection

Two villages in Himachal—Dharamkot, better known as ‘Tel Aviv of hills’ and Kasol, famous as ‘Mini Israel’—are much liked by Israelis tourists. While Dharamkot is in Kangra district, Kasol falls in Kullu.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2018 11:47 IST
Gaurav Bisht
Gaurav Bisht
Hindustan Times, Shimla
Kasol,Dharamkot,Himachal
Kasol village in Kullu district (in pic) and Dharamkot village in Kangra are much frequented by Israeli tourists. (HT File )

At a time when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is visiting India on a six-day visit to strengthen ties between the two countries, the bond that Himachal Pradesh shares with Israel may also deepen.

Two villages in Himachal—Dharamkot, better known as ‘Tel Aviv of hills’ and Kasol, famous as ‘Mini Israel’—are much liked by Israelis tourists. While Dharamkot is in Kangra district, Kasol falls in Kullu.

For the last three decades, these villages have emerged as the favourites of Israelis who visit India. Tourists, particularly the young who have just finished their two-year compulsory military service, frequent these villages quite often. They live in groups in the villages and rarely mix with the locals.

Residents in Dharamshala also host an annual community feast for the Israelis to mark Rosh Hashanah—the Israeli new years.

“Our village is mostly visited by Israelis. They are very peaceful and we have not had any problem with them in these years,” said Shanta, panchayat pradhan of Kasol village. He added: “There are many Israelis who visit our area for spiritual tranquillity.” Kasol is a village located around 32 from Bhuntar in Kullu district is famous for its scenic beauty.

The village also has small chabad house where Israelis gather in the evening. The chabad house was set up in the village ten years ago. On an average, around 500 Israelis visit Kasol every year. Some of them also visit Manali and Tosh villages in Kullu district.

Besides this, there are 1,500 Israeli settlers in Kullu district . “Many Israelis have settled in Kullu district. During winter, they travel to Goa and other destinations and return to spend summer in the mountains,” said Shalini Agnihotri, superintendent of police, Kullu.

Similarly, the small village of Dharamkot, 13 km from Dharamsala, has also been a popular destination among Israeli tourists.

The village is inhabited by the Gaddi shepherd community. However, over the years, regular visits of Israelis tourists have changed the village. It is now dotted with cafes, restaurants, yoga centres and gift shops.

Over the time, locals have also acclimatised and many can now fluently speak Hebrew. Signage and boards in the village are also written in Hebrew. “Israelis have found this village to be very comfortable. They also enjoy conversing with the locals in Hebrew,” says Onkar Neharia, a hotelier and businessman in Dharamshala.

Residents in Dharamshala also host an annual community feast for the Israelis to mark Rosh Hashanah—the Israeli new years.

Modi donned Himachali cap in Israel

During his visit to Israel in July last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi donned a traditional Himachali cap with a maroon band when he met his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu. The PM’s sartorial touch had sent Himachal BJP into raptures

First Published: Jan 15, 2018 11:43 IST