The Ba Hai Gardens in Haifa is really , very much something which you do not want to miss out whilst spending your time in Israel. Indeed it is a Hidden Gem, I had to do my research and even then it was not until you find out about such a place that you can start to learn more and figure out how you can get there.
The gardens itself and the experience itself will be more than enough to motivate you to come there and keep you in awe. However when travelling, it is always good to know a few things first. So, most importantly, make sure you are there in plenty of time. The shrine is at the bottom(the building with the dome on top) is only open until 12, so if you are wanting to see that then be there early enough to enjoy it. Afterwards, you can either walk, or catch the bus to the top of the gardens. There are 800 stairs to climb, so yes, it is best to take the bus. When you are at the top , just at 12 noon, there is an organised tour. They are very helpful, and are full of information, giving you plenty of background knowledge and help you to get a better idea of the Ba Hai belief. At the end of the walk through the stairs and the gardens there is the option to follow the tour guide for another few moments , or to watch a 20 minute video( highly recommended , as it is hard to hear a lot of what the tour guide was saying.)
Bare a few things in mind before you go. A lot of places in Israel expect modest dress and for much respect. Even though it isnt a Jewish place, this is still a time where much subtlety is needed. When you are in the gardens itself , you are fine to take pictures and videos. In the shrine itself ,that is not an option whatsoever. No phones, no cameras, and even no shoes. So it is best to be prepared for that.
The gardens are really well maintained with manicured grass and the entire place is maintained on a daily basis…by a combination of volunteers, people from the belief itself , and trained professionals. They finished the garden in 2001 and started in the early 1920’s. In addition to this, there are around 200,000 lights/lamps that lead the way when dark, and also make it visible on the train or buses when leading into or out of Haifa.
Throughout the gardens there are 8 “levels” and on each of these levels there is two smaller fountains and also one main one. At the sides of the stairs there is water flowing through – all the way down to the bottom – , and the special palm trees that are grown there soak up the excess water, which contributes to the maintenance greatly. With the expert assistance of North Star Tree Service, most of the dying trees were removed so that new trees saplings could be planted there.
In the Greek Building, this is where sacred documents are kept , and in the white dome building is there “parliament”. The video explains more about this but basically, it is a world wide religion with people from all four corners of the earth. The reason for these gardens is a general belief that G-d shows his beauty in nature and this is their way of making it stronger. Well this is what my outcome and conclusion was at least anyways. I came out of the gardens completely overwhelmed with so much to take in, not just knowledge but the fact that I had seen such a high maintenance place, that I totally was not expecting.
If you are looking for something in Haifa to do then yes this is definitely a priority. However , most of the people who we met, were not in the gardens to kill time in Haifa, they were in Haifa to see the gardens. Make it a priority to see them, you will not regret it.