June 14, 2011 – It was quite many months ago when we traveled to the wilayat of Nakhal. I was on the onset of my third trimester and was longing to journey around neighboring places of Batihan region unconsidering the summer heat that was already hitting Oman. We just recently owned a new car and my husband also wanted to get familiar with many places particularly in the interior region.
So, I invited my two good friends and fellow workers in the college, Elena and Gabby, to join us for an afternoon ride just to get some fresh air and wander through Barka and Nakhal. After we got home from work, we quickly fixed ourselves and headed towards Barka located south coast in the direction of Muscat.
The town of Barka is approximately 45 kilometers away from my home in Muladdah. From there, we turned inland on Route 13 on the way to Al Wasit and Nakhal.
Jesse had to drive carefully because the concrete way is narrow with only two lanes while there were major road constructions on going in between places. After reaching Nakhal, about 30km inland from Barka, we stopped at the fort.
The Nakhal Fort is massive castle built during the reign of Imam Said bin Sultan in 1834. The fort got its name from the town itself which means “date palm”. It is considered as one of the most prominent historical monuments in the Sultanate. The fort’s architecture is very interesting because it was constructed around irregularly shaped rock, wherein some rocks become part of the building.
This can be found in some towers and entry ways especially in the western side. At a far distance, the fort impressively rises above the rocky hill at the base of Mount Nakhal surrounded with huge palm orchards and Hajar Mountains that perfectly provide a wonderful backdrop.
It was past 4 o’clock in the afternoon and the temperature was surprisingly hot and humid, but we were not bothered to tour around the mazed-like castle.
Each of persons had to pay 500 baizas for the entrance fee while kids were free. At this late hours and the fort was nearly closing, we were the only visitors and so we made sure that we have seen each of the fort’s compartments from the entry way to the seating areas up to the watchtowers.
After few minutes I was already gasping for breath so I sat down into a majilis (seating area) on the top floor. The room is decorated with oriental carpets and colorful silk cushions lined along the wall. Series of small windows at one side capture the summer breeze and provided a viewpoint of the surrounding mountains and green trees. I love to stay in this room while gazing outside the windows.
We hiked to the highest tower and found a very old canyon at the deck. The view in here is superb and amazing. I requested my friends to take a snapshot of us three.
My son Andrei had his enjoyable time roaming around the fort. He tried climbing up a very delicate wooden stairs, running through the doorways, and playing around with the old canyons.
When we were finished at the fort, I immediately asked them to take a short trip to AthThawara spring in the inner part of Nakhal which is also one of the most popular tourist sites in the region.We passed through bending and very constricted road in the midst of thick dates plantation.
I saw beautiful houses and little kids that were waving their hands and smiling at us. It was really nice to encounter such wonderful beings and made us feel very welcome to their place.
Many young boys were washing their cars along the riverbank. There were also troupes that were having dinner at the designated gazebos while playing drums and dancing.
But what I am surprise about that there were donkies also being bathed. I let my son, ride with the smaller donkey and pay the little boy 200 baizas.
But since it was already summer and it haven’t rained for months, the water level in the spring and wadi was relatively low and little. The water came from the Silud Mountain and flowing into the valley and channeled into many tributaries to irrigate its cultivating lands.
We sat down at one of the concrete staircase that descends to the wadi at the bottom. I slowly lifted up and folded some portion of my pants then dangled my feet into the warm water.
I invited them to try what I was doing. After some, there were tiny fishes nibbling our feet and toes. It was a tickled-like feeling! I felt relieved and refreshed after being toasted of the summer heat.