Dharamsala, October 11
The raging war between Israel and Hamas has adversely impacted tourism in the Dharamsala region. Most of the Israeli tourists, who were staying here, have left for their country. Dharamkot, which is a popular place with Israeli tourists, has been the worst hit. Located in the lap of Dhauladhar mountains, about 2 km from McLeodganj, Dharamkot village is also known as “Little Israel” due to the presence of a large number of tourists from that country.
About 20,000 Israelis visit the village every year. Wall writings in Hebrew language on many buildings and a Chabad House (Jewish community centre) indicate the strong presence of Israelis in the village. Too fond of the village, some Israeli tourists have solemnised their marriages here. The Israeli tourists can be seen here almost throughout the year.
Rashpal Pathania, who runs a famous restaurant in Dharamkot, said that about 300 Israeli tourists, who were living in small guesthouses in the area, left after the attack by Hamas militants on Israel. Most of them were young Israelis. Their departure has badly impacted tourism in Dharamkot, he added.
Vivek, a resident of Dharamkot, said that Israeli tourists started coming to Dharamkot about three decades ago. “They have contributed immensely to the development of Dharamkot as a tourist destination among international tourists. Many of them are like a family to the residents of Dharamkot,” he added.
Dharamkot residents said that over the past few years due to the Covid pandemic the arrival of Israeli tourists had dropped. Besides, in the past few years, the government had restricted visa period for tourists coming from Israel to just three months. A condition was laid that tourists, who visit India on the three-month visa, could revisit India only after one year.
Earlier, tourists used to come to the area for a long stay. They used to get tourist visa of at least six months and it could be extended for another six months in Nepal.
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