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Oman : An Oasia Of Beauty (Part 1)

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Muscat is a delightfully beautiful city endowed with many natural and man-made wonders

Muscat is the starting point of any tour in Oman. It is a city of hills, forts, sands and beaches. Unlike in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the skyline here is not cluttered with skyscrapers competing with each other to touch the sky, but it is a beautiful picture of hills gently rising and falling. You catch a glimspe of them peeking out behind the city’s structures even as you look out of your hotel room. Wherever you go, they are there. There are sandstone and limestone hills in shades of light to dark stony brown that loom large behind white structures and artistic mosques with designer domes. It is a natural landscape that contrasts beautifully with modern day structures.

Description: The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is a lovely structure built in sandstone

The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is a lovely structure built in sandstone

Our exploration of Musat started with a visit to the corniche in Muttrah. Our hotel was located in Ruwi and we took a mini van for 100 baize per person [1000 baize = 1 Omani rial] to reach Muttrah. You can also call for a private taxi or try other modes of public trasport. Fifteen minutes later, when I first set my eyes on our destination, it reminded me of the Marine Drive of Mumbai.

Sea-side serenity

Description: The majestic entrance to the Muttrab souk

The majestic entrance to the Muttrab souk

Muttrah corniche is buzzing with leisurely activity. It has museums, mosques, shops, souks, public gardens and a 4km walkway along the sea. As you walk along it, you will come across locals taking a stroll, watching the liners on the sea while relaxing on the seats, chatting with friends, fishing or enjoying a snack. It feels serene to walk along the path, and watch as the sun goes down casting its light on the liners parked on the waters. The Muttrah fort atop a hill looks majestic. All the while the breeze blows on your face and the call for the evening praver stirs something inside you. At the end of the walkway, you are welcomed with fountains, hills and parks. You can climb up the little hill to see the symbolic incense burner built at the top. The hilltop offers a stunning view of the expanse around. You never get tired of taking pictures at the cornice.

On your way back, you will pass the Muttrah fort and might be tempted to go inside. Unfortunately, the fort is closed to public, but you can pose in front of it and take pictures. A little further ahead from the fort is the famed Muttrah souk. Its entrance is as attractive as the wares displayed inside. On either side of the narrow lanes of the bazaar are shops displaying curios, clothes, jewellery, spices, bags and perfumes. There is a vibrant energy about the place, which invigorates you as you amble along. Step into the shops to buy the traditional incense burner or the Omani sword. And go ahead and haggle all you want for the best price without hang-ups – haggling is not just allowed, it’s a way of life here in Oman as it is in other Arab countries.

Description: this place to buy souvenirs and silver jewellery or to simply experience the eclectic energy

this place to buy souvenirs and silver jewellery or to simply experience the eclectic energy

Foreign tourists flock this place to buy souvenirs and silver jewellery or to simply experience the eclectic energy. When you are done with shopping, rest your feet at a nearby café and enjoy a cup of coffee and some delicious Arabian snacks. And if you have some time left, you can also book yourself for a dhow ride from one of the shops. An evening ride on the traditional boat on the cool waters to spot dolphins is a must-have experience.

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