Though rarely spoken of in the same breath as its more popular cousin Dubai and is often left out of rushed itineraries, the Sultanate of Oman is actually an overflowing bowl of beauty, tucked away on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula, shyly nursing its treasures, waiting for a chance to awe.
A kingdom where history still walks the roads. A land of bourgeoning economy. A magical place where old world charm and bustling modernity do not merge, but coexist side by side in a harmony that is a feast for the senses. Warm rolling fields of sand. Blue, blue, blue sea. Towering, majestic highlands. Exotic virgin beaches. Quaint mountain villages. Glittering malls. Talk about having it all!
Tourists who do end up in this beauty spot of the Middle East have been reported to be speechless for at least a few minutes at the first sight of Oman. And once they get their speech back, they apparently murmur, And I was thinking of giving this a miss! Oman is the stuff first loves are made of. It is exciting, inspiring, breathtaking, lovely and impossible to forget.
As a vehement couch-traveler, Oman has been near the top of my endless Travel Wishlist for as long as I remember, instigated by my uncle who used to work at this Faraway Fairytale Land. That’s exactly what it used to be for me, a five-year-old girl who was always ready to believe in magic. And on his trips back home, my bedtime stories used to be all handsome Bedouins, dazzling, blinding gold everywhere you looked, beautiful camels marching across endless stretches of sand… If he had told me he went to work in Aladdin’s Magic Carpet, I would have believed him in a heartbeat.
Well, the childhood dream, unfortunately, is still a dream. But it is a very concrete dream, researched for years on the internet till I could actually pretend to myself that I have been to these places. I can feel myself in these alluring spots when I close my eyes, and I hope that some day, when I open my eyes, they will actually be there in front of my eyes.
Attend Nature’s Magical Color Show At Jabel Al Akhdar
How easy is it to believe that the following two pictures are of the same mountains? Look again. They are! The Jabel Al Akhdar, also known as the Green Mountains, are, well, not green but grey and brown for most part of the year. Then, with the advent of Khareef (monsoon), something wonderful happens. The rains gently spread a breathtaking green veil on the mountain terraces, making it burst into life with wild roses in abundance.
Get Drunk On The Intoxicating Aroma Of Frankincense
I still remember the quaint little bottles of frankincense my uncle used to bring for us. Magic potion, I used to call them. I would like to scour the souks for a few bottles of this magic potion that has a heady, balsamic, warm, woody – Oh, I could go on and on, let’s just say heavenly – fragrance. So that, even if I don’t come back to Oman again, I would still have memories of it bottled up, in a deliciously tangible form that can be enjoyed any time.
Stay In A Mudbrick House in Misfat Al Abryeen
I would love to call ‘home’ a tiny mudbrick house amidst swinging date palms in the heart-wrenchingly pretty hilly village of Misfat. I don’t believe I will have trouble pretending to be a seasoned explorer in search of a new land as I meander up the steep, serpentine single lane up the mountain to reach home. I would also love to play ‘Maze’ in the jigsaw of twisted passages, roads, lanes and gateways down an unimposing side alley, to be rewarded at the end of the maze with a stunning falaj (water channel), flanked by lush greenery.
Drive To The End Of The World
Well, not quite, but that’s what it appears to be at first sight! The Wadi Bani Awf – the most splendid off-road drive in Oman, perhaps one of the most so in the world, but definitely not for the faint-hearted! The route, winding through rugged, steep mountain roads, offer a peek at the best views Oman has to offer – spectacular valleys, majestic mountains and some nerve-chilling drops.
This drive would instill in me the feeling that I am delving deep into the beautiful Oman, discovering hidden treasures, the ecstasy of which is so addictive that life itself takes a backseat.
Send A Picture Postcard Home From Sur
Sur, the little city perched pretty on the coast of the Gulf of Oman, is a piece of heaven simply waiting to make me fall in love with it. What better way to pretend that there is no worry left in the world than to sprawl out on this tranquil coast, overlooking a colorful cluster of villages, forts and ships, and a surreal lagoon. The only danger of this place is an overdose of prettiness and a staunch refusal to go back home.
Let My Jaw Drop At The Sultan Kaboos Grand Mosque
Usually agreed to be the most stunning piece of architecture in Oman, and thankfully, the only mosque in the country non-Muslims are allowed to enter. The breathtaking sprawling monument constructed out of Indian sandstone sits as if in a radiant halo, making it impossible not to admire it. I would like to walk down its prayer halls, gush at the world’s second largest hand-woven carpet and chandelier that it houses, marvel at the perfect curves of the dome and the minarets, and the beauty of the expansive courtyard.
Well, as they say, you can run out of days but you can never run out of things to admire in at Oman. You can run out of adjectives, but you cannot run out of beautiful sights. And I can write on and on, but never finish putting my dream into words. In short, I do not want to ‘go on a holiday in Oman’, or ‘take a quick trip to Oman’, or even ‘explore Oman’. I want to experience Oman. Live Oman. There is no other way of being in it.