Fatin al Zadjali explores Harrat Nazar and Jarnan Cave with Y’s photographer Shaquel al Balushi, and experiences Oman’s true spirit of generosity.
If there is one word I could attribute to this trip it would be “generosity”. The reason I stress this noun is that if you were to go to any destination around Oman you’d be very likely to find the most generous, humble, and contented people you could wish to meet. And nowhere are these qualities more apparent than in Harrat Nazar and Jarnan Cave.
As an Omani national, exploring my own country is not something I do as often as I should.
We left Muscat at 4.30am. There was a cool breeze blowing and the sky was shimmering, on the cusp of night-time and dawn. Driving towards the north-eastern town of Izki all we could see were pink, dim, resplendent skies and commanding mountaintops. It’s a stunning image to behold as Oman’s vast beauty and landscape unfolds before you. The routes might complicate you but trust in your handy GPS. I also discovered that brown road sign boards indicate historical sights or monuments, so on our road trip we made sure to keep a clear look-out for them as the sun was rising.
As you reach Izki, the complex routes might just befuddle you. We got a bit bothered and bewildered, and just a little bit lost. We started to ask civilians for directions and at 6.30am we found a young Omani man ambling along on his morning walk. He said that taking a stroll was a great refresher, and served as a healthy reflection after Fajr (morning prayer).
He seemed affable enough, and we suggested he join our carpool to help take us to our destination. During that time, he explained that the harra (the village area where people used to live before the pre-Islamic era) was always populated with people and over time, the houses couldn’t withstand changes in the climate.
People sought better lives and so left the area. We reached the site, and our informative companion left us to visit his friends.
Jarnan Cave is set in between Harrat Nazar. It’s a short walk up the stone hill but travellers should be aware of loose rocks. The cave is a bewitching and compact structure; in front of it lies an exquisite plaque that explains the cave’s history. As written, it is said to have been formed by the changes in the earth’s structure over the course of hundreds of millions of years.
It was also said that when Islam came into existence, a golden calf was hidden deep inside the cave so that no one could reach it, and the calf is placed on the other side of the cave. After viewing this gem, we hiked the pathway up to the village. We saw elements of faded grandeur between the ruins.
Old hinged doors, houses made out of rocks and clay, and a deep man-made well that stretched farther than the eye could see.
People still live in the villages here. Behind the harra, you can witness elderly women meticulously sweeping the dust with coarse palm tree hairs and as you approach them they will warmly welcome you with “Salam Alaikum (Peace be upon you)”. As a young person, I now feel like exploring Muscat a whole lot more as there are enticing corners of scenic splendour to be found off the beaten track, and communities where the simple joy of living are palpable and practised by those who live there.
You don’t need an air ticket to explore the world. Start with your own country first, open your eyes and broaden your horizons, and I mean that in every possible way.
[styled_box title=”HOW TO GET THERE?” color=”black”]Take the road to Nizwa and continue driving for about two hours. Izki is well signposted along the route and is easy to find.
GPS coordinates: N24°20’16.6” E56°30’11.0”