October 29, 2012 – After yesterday’s swimming escapade, we were still invigorated to continue our excursion and head off to one of the best preserved and very accessible Fort in Oman, the Nakhal Fort.
We left Al Muladdah at 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon and drove past the town of Barka, about 50 kms from home, and turned inland on Route 13 towards Al Wasit and Nakhal. It was another 30kms stretch of concrete-two-lane road. This time, Jesse had to be cautious and alert because of huge trucks we encountered along the way. A long queue of cars were heading to the same direction as we were. These enthusiastic tourists were also taking the holiday to escape and visit wonderful places in the Sultanate.
My intuition was perfectly true because packs of people were already crowding at the base of the fort when we arrived. There were vendors selling traditional Omani sweets like Halwa and other food stuff. At one corner, there were donkeys or camels readily available for back riding at a cost of 1 Omani Rials per ride around the Fort perimeter. The whole area came to life especially when Arabic music filled the air as locals danced and played their traditional musical instruments and marched in and out of 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 is constructed around irregularly shaped rock, wherein some rocks become part of the fort’s structure. 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 was surprisingly gloomy and windy instead of hot and humid as a typical temperature in Middle East countries. The welcoming weather allowed us to have a leisurely walk around the labyrinthine and checked each of the fort’s compartments from the entry way to the seating areas up to the watchtowers. Each person had to pay 500 baizas for the entrance fee while kids were free. At this late hour, visitors were increasing in numbers adding to the vibrancy of the whole place.
As we climbed on the top floors, I sat down in one of the majilis (seating area). The room is decorated with oriental carpets and colorful silk cushions lined along the walls. Series of small windows at one side captured the summer breeze and provided a viewpoint of the surrounding mountains and lushes green palm trees. I love to stay in this room while gazing outside the windows. It helped me transported to the realms of Arabian Nights.
We hiked to the highest tower and found a very old canyon at the deck. The view of the fort at dusk was superb and amazing. I requested my friends to take snapshots and did some funny moves and faces. Honestly, my guests were completely mesmerized by this visit the fort.
After a while, we descended unto the fort’s display area where local women and men were showing off the old-aged way of weaving and pottery. We politely asked to take pictures with them and they delightfully gave us some welcoming smiles. I guess they liked to be photographed too, particularly the elderly men.
When we have so much of exploring, we finally head out of the fort and witnessed a performance of young Omani men dressed in very white and clean Disdasha (the traditional dress for men) with Kanjar ( a local dagger) hanged around their waits, holding a long-thin cane while singing and marching into the fort. Others were tapping the drums and one was playing the traditional Omani horn. They were really having fun.
And that was the final scene that capped our afternoon’s amazing tour. Then, we were all set to have a dinner with our Omani family friend in Suwaiq.