May 10, 2012 – After swimming at Falaj Daris Hotel, we decided to stay in the newly built Lulu Hypermarket while waiting for the opening hour of the renowned Nizwa fort.
The Lulu Hypermarket was opened in August 15, 2011 and considered to be one of the biggest in the sultanate. It has total floor area of 400,000 square feet that house the groceries, food court, coffee shops, children’s amusement corner and several other shops of international brand. But we only roam around the area. I notice several empty stalls that are expected to open before the end of this year. Indeed, this will be an additional comfort for consumers within and neighboring places of Nizwa because the outlet will have an extensive supermarket section with fresh vegetables, fruits, butchery and delicatessen serving hot and ready-to-eat foods and special counters serving the best of bakes and cakes and special sections to promote Omani products. There is also a huge area for department store in which various items are sold such as electronics, home appliances, furnishing and furniture, fashion wear. Most of all, a spacious parking is ready to cater hundreds of vehicle from avid shopper.
But because Nizwa is still a secluded place and most locals here are still conservative, most women are entitled to respect the Islamic culture and must dress appropriately. Wearing of revealing and sexy tops is not allowed along with short shorts, mini skirts, and anything that can catch up ones attention.
Although I am wearing black leggings and extra-large baggy shirt still I am conscious enough to just sitdown and chat with Rubie and Romeil instead. I simply asked my husband Jesse to buy us cold drinks and some chips to munch in.
Past 4:00 o’clock we leave the hypermarket and wandering around the city of Nizwa. According to Oman tourism website, Nizwa was known to be one of the oldest capitals in Oman and was once a center of trade, religion, education and art in the 6th and 7th centuries AD. It also served as a meeting point for merchants and nomads that are crossing routes between Muscat and the lower reaches of Dhofar region.
Up to this date, the old souk sells various agricultural items and livestocks. The grand mosque stands during glorious years of Oman as a center of Islamic Learning. Its teal blue color dome is a magnificent view from afar amid a verdant spread of date palms. Above all, the impressive and huge walls of Nizwa fort accentuate the old trading point of the town.
When we arrive at the fort, it is almost closing time at 4:30 o’clock in the afternoon, we plead to the local caretaker to give us access because we come from Musanna and had to drive three hours to get to Nizwa and visit the fort. With his gentleness, he grant our requests and pay 500 baiza for the admission fee.
Nizwa fort was a historical landmark built by Imam Sultan bin Saif al Ya’arubi in 1650s as headquarter and its structure is designed to withstand the aggressive sieges from invading Portuguese in the ancient time. It is considered as the biggest from in the Arabian peninsula with large circular shape of 24 meters high and outer diameter of 43 meters and inner diameter of 36 meters.
The fort is linked with a castle through intricate corridors. It has a museum with full airconditioned facilities which give comfort to the visiting holidaymaker. There are varied displays of artifacts, jewelries, books, and way of living presented in LCD screen TV. I am really impressed with what I discovered in here especially with the culture and tradition of the people in the old times.
There is a huge visual diagram of the fort’s history along with the story of its sympathetic renovation. According to the map, the fort was built out of ingenuity of great architects and engineers of the ancient times. The fort is intentionally situated above a subterranean stream to ensure continuous supply of water to the occupants and residents. Many water wells are made within the compound to ensure plentiful of supplies. There are underground cellars to stock food and weapons. Its maze-like compartments are also equipped with secret shafts, false doors, and traps.
But because we arrive a little late, the power is shut down and it became virtually impossible for us to roam around. We suppose to head out but our curiosity impeded us when we notice a huge and thick circular walls soaring above the ground. Instantly, we get into the opening door.
The fort’s door are inches deep where over the beam of each are holes called “murder point” through which boiling oil or date syrup could be poured over the raiding enemies and kill them before they can enter the fort.
The stairs inside the fort are narrow and meandering wherein each turn has several traps, or deep holes, which enemies will fall down to the metal spikes. But today, those deep hollows are covered with metal frames and thick glasses with illuminated lights to guide the tourists.
The fort’s top is a 50 feet flat area that incorporates great engineering deception. On the walls are steep stairs that reach to the peeping holes in every side of the fort and giving a view to the surrounding valleys for easy recognition of enemies’ movements.
There are four cannons found on the tower’s summit which once served as the fort’s main firepower. We climbed above and saw the magnificent look of the whole Nizwa town below. Before getting down, we take several snapshots.
Nizwa fort is a remarkable man-made mega structure that stand the test of time. With its modern museum, this is a must-visit destination in Oman.
I love to come back here again and perhaps, stay quite longer to get a good grasp of its rich history and amazing stories.