125 Kms from Az Zarqa
I had a great opportunity to make my holiday vacation with my close friend (Rahul) in Israel's capital Tel Aviv, located on Mediterranean coast. Here’s a quick summary of our journey which kicked off from Hyderabad (Rajiv Gandhi International Airport) via Dubai to Tel Aviv (Ben Gurion International Airport). It was chilling climate on Saturday morning, when we step out of the Tel Aviv Airport.
82 Kms from Az Zarqa
Aside from a dip in the Dead Sea, the main attraction in this area is Masada, site of a mass suicide by the Zealots in AD73 to avoid capture by the Romans and, today, a symbol of national pride. Diligent research revealed that the best time to see Masada was an early morning climb to the summit to watch the sunrise. The next morning I prepared for my climb up the "Snake Path" trail. We made it to the top in about 45 minutes and were rewarded with a spectacular sunrise. The Judean Desert spread out below and the Dead Sea sparkling turquoise in the distance. Truly, utterly amazing. Biblical, some might say. After exploring the ruins at the top for about an hour, I started the climb back down which was much easier going now that the sun was up.
103 Kms from Az Zarqa
So finally our trip was coming to a near end when we made our last stop over at Nazareth. Reaching after a two-hour long journey from Jerusalem, our adventures in Israel and Jordan would have been incomplete without the visit to Nazareth. Starting at the Basilica of the Annunciation, where we offered our prayers at the holy place of Jesus' birth, we then toured around the largest church in the Middle East. While we marveled at the architectural excellence of the dome of the Basilica from the Roman Catholic reigns, even the relics from the Byzantine and Crusader era left us awe-struck. This was followed by a short walk of pilgrimage, where we took a few steps towards exploring the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, along with St. Joseph's Church, Mary's Well and the Ancient Bath House amongst other religious structures.However, as we moved beyond the realms of Christianity in the city, we we amazed at the diversity of cultural activities that we saw at Diwan El Lajun, which was a multi-cultural center for the Stage Arts.And finally our trip came to an end with a sumptuous Jewish feast amongst the kind locals of Nazareth Village.
203 Kms from Az Zarqa
From Aqaba, we again set off on an amazing jeep tour into the Wadi Rum desert. And as we reached Petra, we knew it was the perfect place for a history-lover like me. As a young boy, I often imitated the adventures of Indiana Jones and now I was breathing amongst the walls that had once stood for the Last Crusade! So without further adieu, we delved our curious and excited foot steps into the carved pink sandstone and soon made our grand entrance, through the winding canyon of Siq, finally to the legendary Al Khazneh (The Treasury). Walking past the stone-resurrected tombs and narrow gorges amidst the rocks that have withheld a metamorphosis with the passage of time. And finally we got lucky for our first glimpse!Marked in every corner by its history of Bedouin culture, yet it reeks of the once effluent Pharaoh's lavish interests. So as we headed out, content with ourselves of the historical essence our trip had brought on, we realised it was just impossible to stay in Petra for just a day. To get the feel of the ruins that shaped history, we decided we'll stay on and explore more. So in the coming days came the Roman Theater and the Royal Tombs and the magnificent show that we are glad we didn't miss- Petra by Night. And with the visit to the Mountain of Aaron, our trip came to an end.