Thursday, 28 April 2016

Kissing The Sun

The highest points in the Gulf, the place where the sun meets the earth. This is what Jabel Shams is all about. Jabel Shams translated as the sun mountain due to the fact that Oman sees its dusk and dawn on this peak first is the highest peak in the Middle East standing at 3009 m at its summit. It stood with pride among the Hajar range and looked splendorous.

We started off at dawn from Muscat reaching Nizwa through the beautiful way covering small and large Rocky Mountains and we could see the Hajar range basking in glory. We reached Nizwa and had breakfast and set off for the mountains. The town of Nizwa was a historic one. Elected as the Islamic cultural capital of Oman, it lives the Omani tradition. The Nizwa fort and Souq showed the old architecture and the walled city in it. We moved forward to reach near Bahla to proceed towards the Hamra-Jabel Shams road. Soon we reached Hamra and moved towards Jabel Shams. The track was winding and we could see the mountain range closing towards us. We were surrounded by mountains, blue grey and brown with spots of green Date Palms and farm fields. Soon we reached Nakhur were the ancient ruins of Persians still survived. The road started the ascend. It was picturesque and with the usual Omani shades of brown. This land is amazing and mystical. An aura of mystique surrounds you while you travel to the interiors of Oman and we felt it here as well.
The climb was winding and we could see the below villages getting smaller and smaller. The Date Palms and green fields got tinier as the weather got colder. The air was much crispier. Soon the terrain got grayer and steeper until we saw a mesmerizing view of the below land. It was Hamra I suppose but I could see the white buildings at the horizon and a curtain of haze on it. Soon the tar track ended and the muddy brown tracks appeared. We travelled long along the dusty rugged terrain until we reached the view point. It was breath taking. The massive high peaks formed narrow deep chasms into the ground down below. The place was at around 2400m and it looked boisterous.
The mountain formed gorges and crevasses into the land below. It was as though the piece was cut out of the mountains. We moved ahead towards the village of khitaym to take our trekking pass. The grand canyon of Oman as it is called lay in front of us. This large natural wonder is simply breathtaking. It is said to be the second largest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon in the US and is named the Grand Canyon of Oman. It lays at a height of 3009m at the summit( varies from 2980m to 3009m) and the canyon dives in to the deep. The gorge beneath is known as Wadi Ghul. The entire canyon can be circumvented through the trekking pass of W6 which is a balcony walk around the canyon.

The weather was cool at 16c and it helped during the trek. It was a really splendid journey. As we got down to the pass, we could see the majestic cliff in its brown rising up from the gorge beneath. A few date palms and shrubs were seen below. Jabel Shams is famous for its juniper trees. The hills and the mountains that we passed by were spotted with twirling barks of the juniper trees. At one of the valleys nearing the summit, there were numerous of them.  It looked as though an old frail man was looking at us with his hands resting on his chin. I thought of it as a time teller, who stayed there from time immemorial saying stories of the past. Some of the juniper trees were really old. The main flora of this place is its beautiful juniper trees with their dusty green canopy and the wild olives that grew here and there. Apart from these there were the usual thorny shrubs of the semi-arid terrain. The trail that we took was also the same with junipers and the thorny shrubs. As we walked down , we could see the mountain goats at sides chewing shrubs and leaves standing at the edge. I wondered how they could do this with their hoofs. It was fascinating. The goats were beautiful with their silky hairs and wide eyes yet looked sturdy with pride. They were better climbers than us and I wondered at them. Some clung onto the rocks and were walking upwards. Soon we reached the middle of our climb down. The village of sab stood there at the edge.

This view was breathtaking. The ancient village of Sab Bani Khamis and its ruins were found at the edge of this cliff. The mud bricked houses and a store stood there vertical onto the cliff and was a piece of early engineering marvel. The houses are said to have outlets towards to the lower areas and stay there clinging onto the edge. They brown and seen as though inserted into the cliff walls. They are said to be the village of the khamsamsah tribe who have shifted to Hamra and other villages below. Soon we reached the terrace cultivation lands created at the edge of this cliff. It was dry and abandoned but looked splendor. At the end of this pass was the tower overlooking the Grand Canyon. We climbed up and were greeted with a beautiful view. The entire land ahead was visible. We could see the Hamra with haze on it.

We climbed down and proceeded further. The rocks were large and boulder-like. We climbed them with little bit of difficulty since we weren’t prepared much for this trip. We had our water bottles and they were almost empty. As we climbed we could see the edge of the pool. This was one breathtaking view. Soon after the climb, tucked inside the edge of the cliff lie a shallow but large pool. The water dropped down from the rocks above and the pool looked emerald. It was cool, a soothing coolness. This was balcony view. We climbed down and sat beside the pool. It was a nature pool tucked into the edge of the bowl.

After lying down in the pool enjoying the coolness of the water we returned back. We saw slithery salamanders on the way. Grey dull ones slithered along the rocks. The return was tougher since we had no water with us. The temperature dipped to 8c and was really cool. The walk across the edge of the canyon was a tip-toe when seen from far. When we looked back at the route we took, we didn’t seen one. It looked plain edge all the way down the 2400 meters.
Soon we reached the starting point. The mountain stood behind us grand and pride. The shadows went deep down forming brown and grey together. It was majestic and the sun was dipping down behind the mountains. It was as though the sun rested on a throne or a royal chalice. It was indeed the mountain of the sun with the orange and crimson behind the cliff of brown and blue….

We kissed him, we kissed the sun.