Shaquel al Balushi finds himself in unfamiliar territory as he explores the beautiful surroundings of one of the Sultanate’s most famous landmarks- the Bidbid Castle.
I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve driven to Nizwa and always missed the turn-off for Bidbid. It’s a place I’d never explored before so I was excited to be heading there for this week’s Destination.
As always, I set off early. This time, it was a 4.30am start as Bidbid is just 40km or so from Muscat. Still, I wanted to get there before the sun started to rise as this is one of the best times of the day, in terms of light, for me to take photos.
I was travelling solo this time around as my friend, Imran, couldn’t make it. Even better, I didn’t get lost, although I needed help from a patient and friendly policeman, who gave me detailed directions on how to get there.
The first sign you see for Bidbid Castle is a little misleading – it says the turn-off is 3km away. However, it was less than 500 metres up the road, which took me by surprise. I didn’t have time to use my signal to indicate that I was turning right.
This is how I met the policeman, who was driving a short distance behind me and noticed my slip. He was quite stern at first but once I explained what I was doing and why I was there, he was very helpful. And I have to say that without his directions, it would have taken me quite a long time to figure out exactly how to find Bidbid Castle, which dates back to the 16th century.
When I reached the castle, I was a little underwhelmed by what I saw, which was a small watchtower. But after parking my car, I walked over a slight rise and was met with an incredible sight. Thick, high walls surrounded the castle and as I followed them around to the front I could see two cannons standing guard and our renowned ancient falaj system snaking its way around the side. There was an oasis of date palm trees, which would provide some much-needed shade for visitors during the hottest part of the day. A short walk away, I could see a wadi.
The castle, which has been restored, was closed, so I couldn’t enter to explore further. But I have to say that it is one of the most amazing buildings I have ever seen.
Because I arrived just before sunrise, it was very quiet. Pale rays from the rising sun were peeking through the leaves of the date palm trees and I quickly got my camera out and started shooting.
High above the castle was an Oman flag, standing tall and proud against the lightening sky. The sound of the water in the falaj was tranquil. And while there was no breeze, it was still cool enough for me to explore and capture the stunning details of colourful flowers.
What stood out the most for me on this visit was a combination of things: the wadi, the green grove of palms and the castle and its strong ramparts towering over the scene.
I was impressed by the landscape, especially when the looming edifice came out of the shadows and took on the glow of the rising sun. It’s nestled in a tranquil spot and is a great place to spend an afternoon with family and friends for a picnic and perhaps even a cooling swim in the wadi.
Hopefully, the castle will be open the next time I visit.