Traditional Nizwa & Bahla
In our circular trip, the last stop was around Nizwa area before we head back to Muscat.
Breakfast was to be on the go, so not finding a cafe, we stopped at another South Indian shop we ordered eggs & parathas (bread). Once we were on our way, I opened the foil to find that the guy had literally wrapped eggs in foil, despite us having waited nearly 30 mins and on reminder we found out he had forgotten our order. There was no roti/naan/paratha/bread with it which we then got from another South Indian shop 15 km down the highway.
The entrance to Nizwa Souq (souq = traditional market) is pretty grand:
Nizwa Souq is a well maintained walled traditional bazaar with goats, fruits and vegetables, fish, spices, potter, antiques, souvenirs etc; it is a market in self contained building. Goats auctions takes place on Thursdays.
The number of houseflies that seemed to be enjoying the fish was not a very hygienic sight, however the culture we witnessed there with the clash of tourists trying to take pictures was very interesting.
Traditional way to keep water cool and sweet is to keep it in one of these and then keep in shade:
The fort just behind the market gives good views of the surrounding as well as an idea of why the popular 80s “Prince of Persia” had to make running leaps to avoid falling into the spikes. It’s worth a short trip. Nizwa Fort is one of the oldest forts in Oman, It is enormous and two canons guard the entrance.
Part of the castle is a huge round tower that rises between 24 to 30 metres above ground and hosts awesome views of the city with many palm trees and more cannons at the top.
Another interesting aspect we learnt about the fort was the hidden 3/4 trap steps/landings on the steps leading up to the tower, where in times of battles the people used this tactic to keep the enemy from getting to the tower top. There are some more tricks of defence in the tower.
In the non-battle times of today, the Nizwa fort harbours a calm, peaceful and serene array about it. The inside is not as grand as some castles, however shows the rich cultural aspect of how people lived in those times including ablution rooms, shawi rooms, beautiful courtyard and tower-top.
We wanted to see the mosque behind the Fort which is named like many other mosques “Sultan Qaboos”.
When we tried to enter, a caretaker came up and said something about rules outside, then asked if I was a muslim even though I had a pinned up hijab and abaya. He seemed to be dirty eyeing my camera hench I said i will pack it away, even though the rules on the door stated no pics to be taken during prayer hours. He eventually changed his mind and let us in to see the mosque. It was not as grand as it appeared from the outside, and we left soon after due to being uncomfortable from the initial encounter of the guard who kept following us.
There was also a small museum in the castle which showed some interesting Omani culture. This model shows the whole Souq, Fort and Mosque;
Next we went to the UNESCO site – Bahla Fort. Unfortunately, it only opens twice a week for few hours. It doesn’t make sense. All the other places are open 6-7 days a week, but this important site is just open on certain days? We persuaded the guard to let us take some photos if he could let us stand just inside the entrance door, but we could only peek through the door and were told to leave soon after.