Aneesha Singh | NT BUZZ
This monsoon get out of your homes and enjoy nature at its verdant best, not here in Goa, but in the Middle East !
Salalah, in south Oman, is a place that transforms into an oasis when the drizzle begins turning the city into a green attraction.
The second largest city in the country, Salalah is the capital city of the governorate of Dhofar in the South of Oman, and Khareef, the season of monsoon, transforms the brown landscape of Salalah to lush green. The rain is always light, and the onset of monsoons marks the Khareef season which last from July to September. It is also the ‘Salalah Tourism Festival’ month that sees tourists from all over Gulf come down to enjoy the beautiful weather of Salalah.
Some places to visit in Salalah during Khareef are:
Mughsayl beach: One of the most popular beaches of Salalah, it is a half-hour to forty-five minute drive from the city. Once you reach the destination, the view of the sea is amazing. The rugged mountains and steep cliffs just add to the beauty.
Partially collapsed caves at Mughsayl have created wonderful blowholes. Early morning and late evening, when high tide hits the naturally formed blowholes, plumes of water spurt several metres upwards accompanied with a thundering sound.
A twenty-minute drive from Mughsayl will bring you to a very peaceful place called ‘View Point of the Hidden Beach’.
30 kilometres west of Mughsayl is another beach called the Al Fazayeh Beach. During Khareef the green mountains make the drive more delightful.
So, if you want to spend some alone time, go ahead and visit this place! Hasik, another beach, is a popular picnic spot at a three-hour drive from the city of Salalah. The last hour and half of the drive is amazing. Hadbin Rock on the way to Hasik is known as ‘The Photogenic Rock’ and is in Dhofar. Wadi Darbat is a big tourist attraction. Rain makes the landscape here greener and fertile. The cliff marks the entrance to Wadi Darbat. Here the river flows to the sea at Khor Rawri.
The Darbat area is full of surprises. As soon as you turn towards Darbat a huge waterfall greets you. A total of three waterfalls come to life here during the monsoons. There is a lake at the top of the mountain where you can indulge in boat rides and swimming. From the car park to the top of the waterfall is a 10-minute walk. Seasonal rock pools form here during the Khareef season.
The best view of the waterfall is from a small unsigned road on the left off the coastal highway, about 100 m before the signed turn off. Do look out for the road.
Al Baleed Archaeological Site is the location the Al Balid site. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Either walk to the site or take a ride on a golf cart. The entry ticket costs OMR 2 per person. And OMR 0.5 per person for golf cart. It can be considered an educational trip, with information provided all over the site.
Here is also a museum called Frankincense Land Museum that displays various artefacts discovered in Al Balid and Sumharam ruins. There is also a whole section covering Omani maritime history including beautiful models of Omani ships past and present.
The Sultan Qaboos Mosque lies in the heart of the city. It is a single dome structure flanked by two minarets, with beautiful Arabic calligraphy inscriptions within. The architecture of the mosque is very similar to that of the largest mosque in Muscat. The mosque in total has four entrances. On Friday, the mosque is crowded with hundreds of people chanting their Jumma prayers. It is open to public (non Muslim) from 8 a.m. to 11a.m. every day except on Thursday and Friday.
There is also a mela organised here during the Khareef season for which people from all over the Gulf attend. Sellers from Thailand come to vend different types of stone studded silver jewellery. Traders from Turkey sell Turkish jewelleries. The obsession for these jewelleries can be seen in the crowds of women surrounding these shops. Materials sold by Pakistanis is another attraction here. Iraqis sell masalas while Yemenis sell old silver coins.