When the blogging contest at Indiblogger read that you could have your wish and unique experiences in ‘Sultanate of Oman’ I was evoked with exoticism (the charm of the unfamiliar). Next thing I did I called up my friend Eva Bhargava who had visited Muscat (capital of Oman) last year. I could sense squeaky delight and nostalgic tinkle in her voice when she revisited her experiences. I was awed just at the mention of words like eye-arresting wadis, sands and desert, sapphire blue water, dhow cruise, waterfalls, lakes, mountains, caves, wildlife and lush green vegetation. The conversation was fulfilling and a great learning experience for me. I couldn’t thank her more for sharing lots of information and gorgeous pictures of her trip to Oman.
The idea of hearing about a place, virtually exploring it through experiences of others, reading about it and then lusting to see it in real makes me no less than a passionate traveler. Also, having been enamored by the opulence and rustic beauty of Middle East in my visits to Dubai and Riyadh, I hear this one is unique and different. Its king and religion practice tolerance and thus what impresses me is that Muscat has a Shiva temple, Krishna temple and Paul Catholic Church along with the majestic Grand Mosque (quite interesting indeed). Unlike Riyadh, women here drive cars and one third of civil servants are women. (Applaud)
More, the pictures and video below do shout out loud that Oman is outrageously spectacular and stupendously beautiful!
Interestingly, what got me more enthusiastic about unearthing the secrets about this jewel of Arabian Peninsula is Oman’s history that’s recent and inspiring. The heir wished to bring modernization, was house arrested, bloodless coup followed and finally emerged as a leader. And since then Sultan Qaboos’s rein has been progressive. Peace and happiness prevails in the country. There isn’t any glitter, glamor or razzmatazz about the country but vastness of Wahiba sands, the lush wadis and beautiful river valleys makes it stand out from others in Middle East.
My way of experiencing Oman would include many things together. I would love to know Oman, its beautiful blue and luscious green with utmost closeness, bring back experiences and memories and paint its picture in my words. Throwing my inhibitions in the air and taking to freedom and adventure, I would want to get lost in the wadis and souks. I would wish to get inspired to the highest to paint as Alix Baker who says that Oman inspired her to paint. (She held her first exhibition in gallery in Ruwi.) I would want to get my insight in the Omani culture and customs. And as it goes, as a traveler, I would love to make videos and do photo shoots.
I made this video from wonderful photographs shot by Bhargava family.
I have composed this poem to describe Oman’s magnificence and my desire of experiencing it.
O dear, Sultanate of Oman !
Caressed by Arabian Sea, the Sea of Oman and the Arabian Gulf,
Proudly perched on the south-east tip of the Arabian Peninsula,
A landscape that unites and thrives on sea, sand, sun, mountain,
You are uniquely rustic, authentic, pollution-free and vibrant.
After having read about your murderous splendor,
And hearing stories about your beauty unique and rare,
A desire with a long wish list is born in my heart,
To see it all from the Khasab Fort to Grand Mosque to Al-Hoota Cave to Royal Opera until I reach Sultan’s Palace.
I wish to be lost in your land of adorable rugged wadis (gorges),
And sail towards Musandam via the beautiful straits of Hormuz.
Marvel in the wide expanse of Wahiba sands,
And slide down the 400 ft golden sand dunes.
I wish to savor the turquoise sea and its sights,
Gliding my way through the pale aquamarine Omani waters,
Passing by The Sultan’s Al-Alam Palace,
I want to enjoy dinner over sunset in the special dhow cruise.
Wish to take the Bentley ride to Shangri-La’s Al Husn (The Castle) hotel,
And be lost in its luxury and opulence.
My fun would extend to Salalah which is the gem of Arabia,
And I wouldn’t have enough of it until getting arrested in the waft of Frankincense, Oman’s special aroma,
I would love to do a care-free dance under the stars of Wahiba Sands.
And spend a romantic night in the Bedouin-style tents,
I wouldn’t free my guide until he got clicked with me wearing a dishdasha and muzzar,
More, I wouldn’t miss the chance to visit Al Sawadhi, Ras Al Junaiz beach,
And capture the unique experience where giant turtles can be seen laying their eggs.
Not return without being stunned by the architectural masterpiece of the Grand Mosque,
And having seen the Swarovski chandelier and 21-tonne hand woven rug in real,
Like a real traveler, I would find my way to Burj A’Nahdah, Mughsail Bay, Ain Homran, Wadi Darbat,
In the city of Sur, famous for Sindbad the sailor.
I would love to play with the ceremonial dagger, khanjer,
And wouldn’t come back without having the fun of barbeque and dining at Mumtaz Mahal.
I wouldn’t want to miss the Bilad Sur Fort and Sunaysilah Fort,
And Bait Al Zubaer Museum which reflect the beauty of its past.
In Muscat there is more like Al Jilali/Al Mirani Forts, Mutrah Corniche Area,
And also I wish to explore ‘Norway of Arabia’,
Khasab, its fjords and cliffs plunging into the turquoise sea,
Just outside Dibab, there is a sinkhole too,
It’s on my must see list with it transparent blue waters
There is Daymaniyat Islands, World Heritage-listed Bahla Fort, Jabel Al Akhdar, ‘the Green Mountains’.
Enroute, the highway in between the towns of Tiwi and Shab,
Come not without being to Wadi Shab, Wadi Tiwi.
If you thought I was pacified,
I wish to say, not yet.
Would take a ride in and around the city in the Baisa busses,
And buy some Arabian lamps from Muttrah or Nizwa Souq,
Also I have set my eyes on the Grand Canyon of Middle East aka Jebel Shams
And want to travel to the lost city of Ubar,
Treat my taste buds to the Omani Halwa and laban,
Leave not without gorging on Maqbous and Mashuai.
More than capturing sylvan and scenic spots,
I wish to rejoice in the company of your warm and hospitable people,
Dive deep into the Arab’s world.
And learn the Omani culture over bowls of dates and qahwa.
Exploring it inch by inch,
In the land of Arab traditions and Ibahdism,
I desire to be inspired to write another ‘Arabian Sands’,
Like the famous explorer Wilfred Thesiger.
O dear, Sultanate of Oman!
You are a mystique of deserts and wadis,
Of Camels and citadels,
Of Love and hospitality,
I must declare it to all,
You are beautiful and serene,
You are gorgeous and tranquil,
You are an enigma!
To Plan your trip please go ahead, http://www.omantourism.gov.om
A special thanks to Eva Bhargava for the pics. I promise to bring her a gift from Oman.