Kolkata: For Christian pilgrims planning to visit religious sites in Israel during the holy season of Lent, direct arrangements have been made for the first time from Kolkata.
The newly formed West Bengal Christian Holy Land Pilgrimage Committee has tied up with Qatar Airways which is offering 50 seats from Kolkata in a direct flight to Amman in Jordan, officials said.
The committee, which has representation from all churches, has done all the logistical and visa arrangements for around 200 pilgrims which costs Rs 66,000 for a five-day trip per person.
"The flights will leave Kolkata every Wednesday from November 14 to December 5. So far there was no direct flight from Kolkata for Christian pilgrims going to Israel. This is for the first time we have done all the arrangements," Maria Fernandes, vice-chairperson of Minorities Commission in West Bengal, said.
The tour was initiated by the government of West Bengal and the Embassy of Israel in New Delhi.
Industrialist Harsh Neotia, also the Honorary Consul General of Israel in Kolkata, is sponsoring 25 pilgrims from poor economic background.
The pilgrims would be visiting such important places as Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Mount of Olives, Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee.
A delegation of Christian leaders from across West Bengal had gone to Israel last month to meet tourism department officials, religious leaders and embassy officials to check the arrangements.