After a string of Destinations exploring wadis, beaches and forts, I felt it was high time to discover – or rather rediscover – a natural spring.
The one I had in mind was Ain Ghala, which, as you can tell by the name, is within Muscat’s city limits and offers a refreshing break from the hustle and bustle of urban life.
I remember going to the spring when we were kids, but that must have been at least 25 years ago.
Before we arrived, I tried to cast my mind back to when I last visited Ain Ghala (also known as Ayn Hamam as Sakhinah) with my family many years back, but found the memory to be a little blurry.
This blurriness extended to the spring’s exact location and so my friend and I spent a good while driving around in circles before we finally stumbled across a sign that pointed us in the right direction.
Prior to this, we kept hitting dead ends and with the internet not working on my phone, I couldn’t even bring up Google Maps to guide us on our way.
The track that leads there is extremely narrow and only has room for one car at a time. When you do get there though, everything widens out and there is plenty of parking. It wasn’t that busy when we arrived, with just a few passersby going about their business.
Looking around, the memories began to come back and I soon realised that a lot had changed. Everything seems more developed now, but this is not necessarily a negative thing. The spring now opens out into a wide pool and while the water was originally used to irrigate the surrounding palms for farming, there is now a purpose-built building in which you can dip your toes in the warm water and feel the soothing effect.
There is definitely more organisation, as if the authorities have realised the value of this location and invested some money into making it an attractive place to visit, but sadly one thing that is lacking somewhat is the actual water.
Don’t get me wrong. There is water, but the falaj that runs down from the mountain is almost dry.
Normally in a falaj you can see the water flowing, but here it is like a slow trickle. You can hear the sound of running water and just about see it with the naked eye, but my camera wasn’t really able to pick up the tiny details.
Another new addition is a shaded area for seating just across from the spring pool. Ain Ghala is very pleasant at this time of year, its close proximity to the mountains provide a constant gentle breeze and it’s a great place to sit and have lunch. I spotted a few families doing this and they looked relieved to be away from the noise of Muscat, relaxing in the peace and quiet with no one bothering them.
I think that Ain Ghala will be a good place to visit for another month or two before the temperatures get too hot again. We arrived in the afternoon and easily managed to kill a couple of hours there.
After investigating the spring thoroughly we took to scouting out the surrounding location and came across a few goats, along with the dried, twisted trunks of fallen trees.
I also noticed there was a steady stream of people laboriously making their way up one of the nearby mountains. After overhearing a conversation one family was having nearby, I learned that the spot at the top of the mountain is said to be the burial site of one of Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) grandsons, although this was the first of I’d heard of the story and I’ve lived in Oman all my life.
Whether it is true or not, I plan to challenge myself to climb this steep mountain someday soon, just for the sense of accomplishment it will give me more than anything.
Travel along Bawshar Street, turning right on to Way 61 before you reach Dolphin Village. Follow this road until it forks, head left and take the immediate right. This road should lead you all the way to the spring.
GPS location of Ain Ghala: N23° 31’ 45.293” E58° 23’ 0.547”