Thursday, April 5: Today, I go to Bahla to see the Sultan Qaboos Mosque, built in 1996, Bahla Fort and the remains of old Bahla. Bahla is about 40km west of Nizwa and is famous for its huge fort as well as being the hangout for devilish jinn and other mystical phenomenon.
I walk around the perimeter of the mosque taking pictures of the beautiful building and the gardens of petunias and marigolds.
After leaving the mosque, I go to see the Bahla Fort, which I can only view from the outside. This is one of Oman’s biggest forts with huge walls and irregular towers, bastions and crenelated walls. The fort is believed to be pre-Islamic, although the present structure was mostly rebuilt during the 17th century. The fort fell into disrepair during the 20th century and was actually near total collapse when it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. At this time, it was closed for a huge renovation project, which continues to this day, 25 years on.
Rumor has it that the local jinn (ghosts, spirits, even possibly witches) are at fault. Omanis believe that black magic or alchemy abound in this area. It is said that every time part of the fort is renovated, the jinn come in during the night and undo whatever repairs have been done. Another legend has it that Indian laborers went in to do repair work and disappeared. Of course I’m skeptical about the truth of these tales.
After my walk around the fort, I wander into old Bahla, a cluster of mudbrick houses in various states of dilapidation, protected by old gateways, walls and towers. The village has been largely abandoned but it is very picturesque nonetheless.
We climb to heaven most often on the ruins of our cherished plans, finding our failures were successes. ~ Amos Bronson Alcott