I was highly mesmerised by our trip to Rann of Kutch last winter, white sand on chilly winter night, with moonrise on the back drop, I was blown away. The wide expanse of white sand was incredible…I refuse to budge from there. This is when my husband Mukund told me that if you are finding this so enticing, plan a trip to Oman to explore the beauty of Sand desert which is exotic, mysterious, stunningly beautiful. He added, “You will feel like being in heaven while alive.”
Obviously he was referring toAsh-Sharqiyah Sands (also known as Wahiba Sands) which by his description looked to me ideal for a romantic visitor like me which is a desert in the accepted sense of the word. My curiosity grew when his description stretched while returning from Rann and joining bonn fire in the resort. He explained that these are Rolling sand dunes, varying from deep red to a rich honey colour sands stretching as far as the eye can see. They consist of grains of various eroded rocks and marine sediments blown into the area. My curiosity grew. He was telling me that sand driving requires skill, boards for digging out and a long tow rope in case one gets stuck. Now I was after him, when we will go to Oman? He had no answer…but it looks like my dream can come true.
Obviously this will be on my agenda, when I will visit Oman. My curiosity grew in Oman, and research began. During my research, my first knight in the shining armour was www.omantourism.gov.om which provided wonderful insights into the tourism destinations of Oman. Still I was looking for some real life people who had visited Oman as a tourist. (My husband was there for work). And I could lay my hands on one. She summarised in just one word, Heavenly! She added, “Oman for us is a rich colourful country, steeped in traditions, with hospitality at its very core.”
Now I was keener on Oman, suddenly this contest on www.indiblogger.in. and this compounded my excitement on Oman.
My other destination would be Ras al-Jinz Turtle Reserve, (Being a slow walker myself, I am always being addressed as one) where I would love to meet my counterparts, that too breeding. I can’t imagine what that sight would be like? I came to know that turtles do not approach the beach during the day so for the best chance of seeing a turtle, we can take a guided tour 9 PM onwards that too by Mr Mohammed who has been working with breeding of turtles since the age of 12. The beach is a 900m, 15-minute walk from the visitors centre across soft sand. Between 8am and 1.30pm, here visitors can enjoy the magical bay without an escort and it’s often possible to spot turtles between the waves, waiting for nightfall before approaching the beach.
One can know all about turtle reserve on this link on Oman tourism site, http://bit.ly/1lpvLK1
Being a music buff, music concert lover, music, and dance makes my life and what could be the better place than Royal Opera House Muscat which came up in 2011 and since then has become a high point in the cultural life of the capital. Built by the same architects as the Grand Mosque, the understated marble exterior belies the magnificent interior of inlaid wood and Arabesque designs. Some of the most famous names in opera and ballet performed in a world-class program in the opera house’s inaugural year and the quality of production has already won international acclaim. I surely intend to catch a show, it’s worth stopping by to admire the beauty of the building and enjoy window shopping in the adjacent Opera Galleria arcade.
Another place which caught my fancy as I love visiting forts and castles, and this is Jabrin Castle, located in Jibrin town in Wilayat Bahla; Ad-Dakhliyah region. Jibrin Fort resembles a remarkable blend of defensive architecture and sophisticated artistry. It consists of three floors and 55 rooms, and is penetrated by Falaj Jibrin. The Fort is considered one of the most impressive forts in the Sultanate and the details and carvings in the rooms and balconies are most elaborate. Finely painted flowers and symbols are found on the ceilings in the ‘living’ rooms. This exquisite palace was built by Bala’rab bin Sultan Al-Ya’arubi (1680-1692 AD). The tomb of Imam remains within the Fort and is on my wish-list.
Mountains – they always excite and give serenity at the same time. What would be green mountains like in Oman, I have no clue. And Al-Jabal Al -Akhdar, located about 10,000 feet above sea level, (The Green Mountain) is the highest peak in the Eastern Hajar mountains and one of the highest points in the Sultanate. The thrilling views from the Jabal, as well as its balmy climate, are among the qualities that distinguish it as one of the top tourism spots in Oman.
After all this & more, shopping would top my list of to do things in Oman. So I started digging and what who would be better than my husband, who knows where to dig my heels in Oman for shopping. He told me about Mutrah Corniche, which retains the chaotic interest of a traditional Arab market albeit housed under modern timber roofing. There are some good antique shops selling a mixture of Indian and Omani artefacts among the usual textile, hardware and gold shops. My work will be done here!!! Omani Heritage Gallery is known forguaranteed ‘Made in Oman’ crafts, try the Omani Heritage Gallery, a non-profit organisation set up to encourage cottage industries through the sale of handicrafts.
Describing the warmth and hospitality of shopkeepers there, Mukund told me that there shopkeepers will tell you: ‘Come in my shop, take Arabic coffee with me. If you like, you buy, if you don’t, then you don’t, my friend. Don’t worry about the price, my friend, we can talk.’ Haggling here is an art form and the most enjoyable way to spend the day. Who wouldn’t like to have coffee there?
My trip would not be complete without paying my visit to Grand Mosque, which is the glorious piece of modern Islamic architecture was a gift to the nation from Sultan Qaboos to mark the 30th year of his reign. Quietly imposing from the outside, the main prayer hall is breathtakingly rich. The Persian carpet alone measures 70m by 60m wide, making it the second-largest hand-loomed Iranian carpet in the world; it took 600 women four years to weave. The mosque can accommodate 20,000 worshippers, including 750 women in a private musalla (prayer hall).
No wonder, when the Palestinian Arab scholar Muqadisi visited the city in the 10th century AH, he described it as a “flourishing city with a large number of people living there. It is a beautiful city with a comfortable life, and its mosque overlooks the sea … the Mihrab changes colour because it is covered in copper…”
Maps can be referred to on: www.omantourism.gov.om. this will be my first reference point while in Oman. Indeed it is the site has proven to be great help for undertaking my research and also for planning my trip to Oman.