Shaquel al Balushi digs deep into the memory bank in a mosque that reminds him of home during his unexpected visit to the Bait Al Ghesham museum, in Barka.
There’s a saying that goes like this: “The best trips happen when they are unplanned”, and that’s one proverb that I always go by. Why? Because, if I had a baisa for every time somebody cancelled a trip on me, let’s just say that I would be quite wealthy by now.
So when I took the wheel of my trusty Jeep at the crack of dawn (5am), I had no idea where I would be heading or whom I would be heading with. But graciously, my buddy Imran offered to join me in my endeavour for the day. It had been a while since he accompanied me for a Destination and I was quite relieved not to be travelling alone.
In any case, we decided to head towards the Rustaq side and perhaps do a bit of exploring around the Barka region beforehand. But, because both of us were aware of the consequences of not being prepared beforehand, we decided to enquire with a few friends and contacts about interesting places to visit in the region.
Soon, Imran and I had a location, and with the right CD in the music player, and the GPS preloaded with our destination, we were on our way.
The drive was the usual: plenty of banter, mirth and a lot of changing CDs in the car. Things always get heated when Imran is in the car but I’m not complaining. Travelling with him is incredibly fun and once again it set the tone straight for the day that lay ahead.
The best part about starting off this early, especially in winter, is the fact that you get to experience the cool weather and also catch the sun rising from behind the hills to paint the sky in an almost orangey hue. It’s absolutely gorgeous.
Our point of interest for the day was Bait Al Ghesham, which translates to “The House of Ghesham”. And after about an hour-and-a-half or so of driving, we saw the house stretching across the horizon.
It was quite a massive structure and seemed to be in very good shape. You really cannot miss this building.
Getting closer to the edifice, however, we realised that it was not a house any longer but actually a museum.
We also noticed that it was still under renovation, which is why some parts of the building looked newer than others. And just as we were getting ready to take a few pictures, a guard approached us and explained to us that the museum was due to be opening only on November 28, the day before this issue of Y went to press.
Kindly enough, the guard let us explore the interior. But we were still left mesmerised by the tall, traditional-looking exterior. The structure radiates true Omani architecture, something that we were extremely proud to behold. However, we soon realised that the inside hadn’t been completed yet, and that it would not have been fair to have shot the interior of a museum that wasn’t yet functional.
Next, we headed out to capture some of the surrounding areas. Not so long after, we stumbled upon a beautiful mosque. Call it love at first sight, but something about the mosque called out to me. Surprisingly, it is also one of the few mosques in Oman that still has a running falaj system underneath for us to wash our hands and feet, just like in the olden days. I felt like I was back in my early days as a young boy.
In all, it was a day well spent. By the time we finished, it was already afternoon, and it was time for us to head out for a spot of lunch. So we packed up our gear to head back home.
There are some areas in the Sultanate that do not seem to have a lot of historical importance but a lot of them are still unique, and Bait Al Ghesham and its mosque is one of them.
Take the Muscat Expressway and when you reach Route 13, take the exit to the Nakhal Road. Then head towards Barka and turn when you see the sign for Bait Al Ghesham.