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Israeli tourists curtail their Himachal halts at Dharamkot, Kasol to return home

Kasol in Himachal Pradesh's famed Parvati valley is known as a mini-Israel

Shimla: With their families and close relatives in grief and fear, Israeli tourists—men and women, have cut down their stays in tranquil Himalayan villages of Dharamkot, near Dharamshala and Kasol –a quaint little village on banks of Parvati river to reunite with families at home.

Reports said there are only a few Israelis left at both the destinations as they curtailed their stay and reached Delhi waiting for flights to go back to the homeland after Hamas militants attacked a large civilian population, ‘butchering ‘and committing atrocities on innocent women and children.

“ We have been deeply hurt and affected by the news reports of the attack. There is no point to keep sitting here when the country is facing such a grave crisis. We are thankful to the Indian government for expressing solidarity to the grieved population, and helping them” said Danish, a trekker from Israel, who had been coming to Himachal Pradesh every year in summers.

Says Naresh Kumar, a journalist at Dharamshala “ There is an eerie silence at quaint  at Dharamkot village for past four-five days .The tourists from Israel have left abruptly cancelling their bookings”

Known as the little Tel Aviv of Himachal, the place was abuzz with activity only a few days back when the Israeli tourists celebrated Jewish festivals like Rosh-Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot and were seen partying.

After unsavoury happenings in the wake of Palestinian group Hamas’ violent offensive, they quickly got in touch with the tour organisers and decided to go back.

Another Israeli national said they had not anticipated it coming and since “Israel is at war, we want to be there for our country.”

“Israelis have a great sense of patriotism and duty towards the nation. They are going to play key roles in the army action and turn soldiers” says Pankaj Chadha,a hotelier at Mcleodganj

The ‘Chabad’House, the synagogue located at the southern edge of the village looks like a deserted place instead of the usual hustle and bustle and loud laughter.

Another woman tourist (name withheld) admitted that she was worried about the safety of the family back home. The situation is highly volatile . Though we have been told not to worry but can’t believe how the situation is exactly on the ground.

Himachal Pradesh‘s Additional Director General of Police (Law and order) Abhishek Trivedi said the authorities are fully aware of the movement of the Israeli from Himachal Pradesh following happenings in Israel.

“We don’t have an exact number as to how many have returned but will help them if they ask for any support or whatever” he says.

Kangra additional superintendent of police Hitesh Lakhanpal says “There are not many people left behind. During Rosh-Hashanah (Jewish new year), more than 300 Israelis had gathered at Dharamkot but now there are very few. Even though they are in the process of returning.”

At Kasol, the Kullu village known as ‘Amsterdam of India’, or also ‘Tiny Israel of Himalayas”, is also witnessing the outflow of tourists,who were booked here for stays till November 2023.

Such has been the presence of the Israelis at Kasol and other nearby destinations like Tosh, Manikaran, Parvati valley and Khirganga that one can find many people speaking basic Hebrew. There are sign boards in Jewish language at their shops.

Because of the drug abuse happening in this valley, the place has become quite infamous and often remains in the news due to frequent seizure of illegal drugs and narcotics from the local peddlers and traffickers.

Also Read: Drugs, rave parties and Chitta–‘Udta Kullu’ is Himachal tourism’s dark side