The expression, Israel in India, is not just a phrase but an existing reality that has been built in the last generation since Israeli tourism in India has taken root in Israeli society and has become part of the definition of Israeli identity.
If in the past, the trip to India was a “must” for young Israelis after military service, for many years, it has been part of a journey of many people of different ages, even ancient ages. India speaks for everyone.
Many Israelis of different ages travel to India. Some are young people after they completed their military service. Some are students or working people, families, and pensioners.
Why is India so attractive for Israelis? Why do Israelis like so much to travel to India? The answer to this question, why so many Israelis travel to India, is composed of many reasons, and it is clear that not every reason is relevant to everyone.
Both nations have a history that goes back many years and continues into the twentieth century, to the modern history of the State of Israel, even during periods where there were no diplomatic ties between them.
Eventually, people are individuals and activities for different reasons, but still, if you try to generalize, you can undoubtedly list several reasons. The order of reasons below is not necessarily related to their importance. The following article details why Israelis are traveling to India en masse and prefer it to other destinations.
If you compare travel costs in India between trips elsewhere, such as Europe, the US, Australia, and South America, there is no doubt that India’s journey is significantly cheaper. India is relatively close to Israel, so the flight costs more affordable. The food is delicious and cheap. The lodging is cheap. Mobility within India is reasonable.
The more you are willing to adapt to the locals’ way, the lower your travel costs. The amount of money that will be enough for a few weeks to travel in the US will suffice for a half year trip to India. So whether you are a soldier who has completed regular service or a family with two or three children is a significant consideration. Read here more about the travel costs in India.
2. Vegetarianism and veganism
As someone married to a vegan woman for many years, vegan food is not easy to get. In the last year or two, there has been a change, but in many restaurants, vegan dishes are improvised dishes or appear to be a kind of compromise made by the restaurant.
In India, however, vegan food is built into Hindu culture. Vegan food is an ideology and therefore cooking, groceries, and dishes are adapted to vegan food. The result is very, very tasty food and, most importantly, very available everywhere. India is a paradise for vegans. Since veganism has been gaining momentum in recent years, India has become a natural destination for vegans.
India is a vast subcontinent. The size of India is about 3.3 million square kilometers.
By comparison, Israel’s size is 27,880 square kilometers (including Judea, Samaria, and the Golan Heights); you need almost 120 of Israel’s territory to create a similar measure of India’s region.
It is a beautiful feeling of freedom to travel in such a large geographical area without this space ending somewhere for those who come from a small country.
You can travel to India for months and months and still cover only a small part of it.
4. No Antisemitism
If you are identified as a Jew because you spoke Hebrew or because you wear a skullcap or because you wear a Star of David necklace, there is a nearly 100% chance that someone will attack you physically in the street in broad daylight. Of course, such an atmosphere is not attractive to travelers.
5. No judgment
Israel is part of the Judeo-Christian culture of the Western world. One of the outstanding characteristics of this culture is your constant judgment by the environment; whether it is parents, friends, workplace, everyone judges you all the time.
They accept you as you are most naturally. You can live in any way you like, you can wear whatever you like, talk about whatever you want, and the environment will treat all with patience and naturalness. The lack of judgment creates an incredible feeling of freedom and is one of these places’ great attractions.
6. Beautiful India
India is a beautiful country. It has geographic, human, and cultural wealth—tropical regions, desert areas, mountainous flatlands. Everything is in India.
Cultural wealth reaches its peak in Hindu holy sites (Varanasi), in the far north of Dharamsala (Himachal Pradesh), the center of Buddhist Tibetans, in Amritsar (the center of the Sikhs). For travelers, the experiences in these places are compelling. It’s not just another monument or museum.
7. Israelis like being together
The Israelis are very family-oriented, love to be together, and love the sense of family. If some prefer to be alone, they will choose not to be identified with the other Israelis or to go to places where Israelis go, mainly out of a desire to feel the local environment as much as possible.
Of course, if you are in an Israeli guest house, eat Israeli food, speak Hebrew and socialize mainly with Israelis, it is challenging to feel India with all its might.
8. Without borders
Israelis do not like laws and do not like borders. They do not like being told what to do and when to do it. This feeling is significantly intensified after three years of military service during which they are in a military framework, with all that entails. Europe and the United States are places of laws and borders.
There are times to be respected, lines to be met, clothing code everywhere. In East Asia, especially in countries like India, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, the atmosphere is much looser. Everything is much slower and less pressing -less sense of limits and limitations. The advantage of a trip to such places is obvious.
India is the homeland of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism. Yoga was born in India, meditation, karma, Dharma; all were born in India. Many people are drawn to the spirituality of India. India is a warm home to all those who are fed up with Western materialism. The ability to experience these things in its source is desirable for Israelis, who are not necessarily young.
10. India is suitable for families
India is also suitable for families. Economically a trip to a family of four or five people would be much cheaper than such a trip to Europe or the US. Also, families who are less interested in classic tourist attractions such as Disneyland or large parks, preferring the cultural, geographic, and spiritual aspects, will choose India.