Sometimes taking a wrong turn can lead to the best adventures, as Shaquel al Balushi found when he stumbled across a great example of Omani history and heritage at al Musalha
After visiting several beaches over recent weeks, I was in search of something a bit different and decided to stick to dry land this time. Trying to think of a good destination to venture to, I remembered a time nearly 10 years ago when I was driving close to Nizwa and stumbled across a great place with some fantastic photo opportunities and my initial thought was to return there. However, fate intervened and I don’t know if I took a wrong turn somewhere, but I found a sign directing me to Qala’at al Musalha. It was one of the brown road signs that denote a place of interest and as I’d never been to this one before, I thought I might as well have a look.
It was about 9am on a weekday when I arrived and I passed some local villagers working on their farms as I drove through. One of the first things that caught my attention was a man in his 50s who was tending his crop of dates by clearing away some dead branches. I asked him if I could take his picture and he agreed on the condition that I sampled some of his hospitality. After I’d got the shots I needed, he came to greet me properly and we took a small walk to his farm where he offered me dates and coffee.
Once I’d had my fill and thanked my new friend several times, I moved on to the ruins of the fort and the old settlement. What I absolutely loved about this place was the contrasting colours. The blue of the sky contrasted with the green of the trees, which in turn contrasted with the dusty yellow of the ancient mud walls. The sky in itself was a photographer’s dream. It was such a clean blue and so clear that it didn’t even require the slightest bit of editing.
Walking around the ruins of this historical settlement I found the intricate details of the workmanship fascinating. The attention to detail on the doors was incredible and the different colours used to stain the wood had retained their vibrancy, even after all this time. What I found most impressive was that despite all the weathering over the years, these structures were still standing as proud as ever.
The only thing that upset me about my visit was the piles of rubbish I found strewn about the ruins. This is our heritage and we need to preserve the beauty of places such as this.
I climbed a hill to get an overview of the settlement and from this vantage point, I was able to see the old buildings mixing in with some of the newer developments that had sprung up as the village grew. Old and new had merged in perfect harmony.
I lost track of time and before I knew it I had been wondering around for a number of hours.
Although I had never heard of this place before and I stumbled across it by accident, it was, in my opinion, a beautiful accident and I may well return in the future to use the setting as a backdrop for another one of my shoots.
How to get there:
From Muscat, take road 15 to Nizwa. Once you get to Nizwa airport, change to road 31 briefly before joining road 21. Drive through Nizwa towards the Al Hoota Cave. A few kilometres after the turning for the cave, there will be a signposted left turn to Qala’at al Musalha.
N 23° 04’ 57” E 57° 17’ 51”