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2552Dharamkot — Tel Aviv of India

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  • Rajesh Chandwani
    May 7, 2007
      Dharamkot — Tel Aviv of India
      Kulwinder Sandhu
      Tribune News Service

      Dharamkot, May 6
      In the rough terrain of Dharamkot village near McLeodganj, one can
      see hordes of Israeli holiday-seekers.

      Surprisingly, their presence is so strong that Israelis almost
      throughout the year constitute more than half of the 1200-strong
      population of the village. The villagers rent out accommodation to
      Israelisa on a monthly basis.

      There is a popular joke among Israeli tourists living here. If an
      Indian asks an Israeli tourist "How many Israelis are here?" The
      tourist answers

      "Five million" and the local then asks "And how many are in Israel?"
      In fact, western tourists have named this village as Tel Aviv of
      India. The total number of Israelis presently staying in and around
      McLeodganj is approximately more than 2000.

      In the past few years, they've turned this village into an Israeli
      enclave thousands of Israeli tourists flood it during the peak
      season. Some of them stay for long periods, even years. Most of them
      stay a few weeks or months but when they leave, other Israelis take
      their place.

      They regard Israeli enclaves as playgrounds where they can do almost
      anything. Uninhibited drug use is common in this village.

      But for the Indian backdrop, everything here is Israeli. The menu
      cards are in Hebrew in restaurants that serve Israeli food. Many
      Indians who work with Israeli tourists can now speak Hebrew, some of
      them quite fluently.

      Drugs and loud music mark parties that go on till the early hours of
      the morning.

      The low cost of living is the major reason that beckons most of the
      long-term Israeli traveller. Cheap drugs is another major attraction.
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