Yardenit Baptismal Site – River bank where Jesus was Baptised!
It was around noon when we reached the holy site of Yardenit Baptismal, situated on the southern coast of the Sea of Galilee.
Almost two millennia ago a man named Jesus was baptized here by John the Baptist, one of the priests of that time, ministry of Jesus is said to have commenced then and there. The ceremony of Baptism, at that time, was more of purification of sins than what it means now. Much like washing away sins in the river Ganga.
So this was the River bank where it all began!
Armed with these pieces of information we arrived at Yardenit, the Baptismal Site on Jordan River. This place is south of the Sea of Galilee and about 30KM from Tiberias. It was a hot day and the difference between our air con vehicle and outside temperature was stark.
The Jordan river, flows 250 KM from somewhere in Golan heights (2800M) into the Sea of Galilee and then flows to the Dead sea (-400m), with no outlet. In fact much of the distance is below sea level. It is one of the most important river and Yardenit is one of the holiest pilgrimage sites for Christians, after Nativity Grotto in Bethlehem and Golgotha in Jerusalem. We are fortunate to have visited all the three. 😀
Jordan River serves as a natural boundary between Israel and Jordan (the country). It is called Nehar ha Yarden in Hebrew, quite similar to Nahar ( नहर ) in Hindi!
On the walls of the entrance, called Wall of New Life, one can see the quotes from the Bible in several languages. We started looking around to see if we could see any of the Indian languages and were saddened to see none.
Once we entered the site, we saw long stretch of wall having the same quote in most of the world’s languages including many Indian languages!
The site was well maintained with gardens and paved way along the river. The Baptismal site is a few steps down and into the river, barricaded for safety. Each year hundreds of thousands of Christians come here for Baptism and renewal of their vows wearing white robes.
The baptismal site of Yardenit welcomes over half a million tourists and pilgrims annually who come to experience the spirituality and pastoral beauty of the waters of the River Jordan. We could see people from all parts of the world, including someone wearing a Saree! However, talking to that lady we found that she was from Uganda! Probably some descendant of Indian origin.
While sipping a drink at Manna restaurant, we were told that a few years back there have been excavations at Bethany in Jordan, which reveals a Baptism site too and some historians and archaeologists claim that to be the original site.
Well, whatever the truth be, it is the beliefs of pilgrims that make a site holy or not.
Picture postcards on sale in souvenir shop.
Getting there- Yardenit is only 30 KMs from Tiberias. One can either take a direct bus from Jerusalem (frequency is once a day) or go to Tiberias which is touristier and has more connections and then hire a cab or take local transport. I suggest the latter since you would want to stay for a few days in Tiberias itself. 🙂
Where to eat- Light refreshments are available at a small restaurant located in the baptismal pool area. A full lunch buffet is served daily (Sunday – Friday) at the newly renovated biblically-themed Manna restaurant.
Cost & Fees- Entry to the site is free and there is no charge for conducting baptismal ceremonies. To sustain a respectable and spiritual atmosphere, it is required that visitors wear special white robes during their baptism. These may be rented or purchased on site. To cover operating costs, Yardenit charges nominal fees for the use of some of its facilities.
Group size- Small parties of up to 40 people can visit Yardenit without coordinating in advance. We request larger groups to notify us in advance so we can plan to give you and other visitors the best possible service.
Souvenir shopping- There is a well equipped souvenir shop selling holy water, Glass Cross With Antique finish and Crystal, Olive Wood Rosary, postcards, Date Honey, Yardenit Adult Baptismal Gown, spiritual books and so on.
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