Everyone who’s been sharing their interesting list of ‘Where to Travel in 2015?’ has definitely touted ‘Oman’ as the next tourist destination. The oldest independent state in the Arab world with an eclectic mix of both offbeat and adventure, magical and mystic, mountains and deserts, forts and souqs truly deserves to be marked in bold on every traveler’s map.
Those who have visited it are lovingly writing about it. Of course, I have been reading and eyeing the details. I enjoy, relate to their opinions and get nostalgic as the beautiful memories of this unspoilt destination are freshly etched in my mind too. My 5 days trip to Oman in last week of October 2014 was definitely one of its kinds. Blogging about it is a great way to relive the fun and glories of the trip.
ART SOUQ AT NIZWA
In my previous posts, I have mentioned about Oman’s undulating splendor of its deserts, misty mountains, shimmering blue ocean, wealth of marine life but its 16th century forts. This one will get me talking about its opulent and magnificent forts. Oman has jewel box of fortresses.
ASEEM AND MITHUN , bloggers who visited with me
History is all around you in Oman, Lets begin with Nizwa fort
Fortifications built during the Portuguese period (1508- 1650) can still be seen around Muscat. In contrast to its neighbor country Dubai which has a fascination with skyscrapers, hundreds of forts, some which are recognized on UNESCO’s World Heritage list dominate the skyline of this country. The beautiful mosques, traditional souqs and the ancient forts with their endless staircases and secret passages hint at its dynamic past.
On the third day of our trip, after visiting the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, our itinerary took us to Nizwa fort. People can take a bus or hire a taxi to travel from Muscat to Nizwa. A 4×4 was at our disposal as after visiting the forts, we were supposed to scale the heights of Jebel Akhdar and Jebel Shams too. The road to Nizwa from Muscat is around 140km, an easy drive along the modern Highway 15 which makes for hassle free and great drive.
The rugged mountains of all shapes and sizes kept me entertained all the way from MUSCAT to NIZWA by road. Our driver Mazid told us that in Oman, it is said that the colors of the mountains changes after every few kilometers.
Indeed! I was in agreement…
To feel the pulse of its trade, culture, art, local people, Nizwa (once its capital) is the place to be. The locals believe that it is no less important than other famous Arab metropolises. “Solace in the History of Nizwa” is a book on Nizwa that has been printed this year to celebrate Nizwa’s significance in Oman’s history.
What I liked about Nizwa town is that its quaint and peaceful. Its majorly known for its forts and souqs. These forts have withstood the times of fierce invasions, tribal rivalries and devastating sieges.
‘Nizwa, has been declared as Capital of Islamic Culture 2015′.
‘At over 30 m high and 110 m in circumference, Nizwa’s brooding tower is the largest in the Arabian peninsula.’
The Friday morning souq is very famous where sheep, cows, goats are paraded before the potential bidders. Trading starts early and ends before midday prayers.
Pottery, Omani silver, crafts and antiques caught my attention the moment I entered gate which leads to the evocative castle. Walking around in the insides was indeed a different experience but I loved the view from its top. The sight of the town, the date palms, greens and mountains is great.
HISTORY OF NIZWA
Build in 12th century, it took 12 years to build this fort in 1650 A.D. The huge, massive and circular shape introduced mortar-based warfare system. Nizwa has played a significant role in cultural and political Omani history. It was the seat of government for more than 1,000 years.
Two cannons guard the entrance of the fort. There is a maze of rooms, narrow staircases and grand terrace that awaits inside. The mysterious doors, battlements, turret, secret shafts, false doors add to its enigma. There is an interesting museum inside too. Everything here relates with the old Omani culture. Nizwa will make you fall in love with forts of Oman.
Later we went to Jabreen castle in the vicinity. At Jabrin every ceiling is a work of art. My next post will talk about it. Climbing all the way up to the fort terraces in the scorching sun made me exhausted and thirsty. Carry your water bottles for sure.
Believe me, In Oman you will love to relive the glory of the ancient civilizations. It is the last place where you would even think of stepping in the 5-storey, air-conditioned shopping mall except to breathe a respite from its hot and humid season.
I won this trip in a blogging contest organized by Indiblogger and ‘Ministry of Sultanate of Oman Tourism’ .