Childhood memories and a fascination with a formidable fort prompt Alvin Thomas to head to Suhar.
There’s something eerily cool about Suhar. It has neither the fancy malls of Muscat nor the gaudiness of a city like Dubai. However, with its lush farmlands, tall coconut trees and stunning green backdrop, it’s way up on my list of favourite places in Oman.
Suhar reminds me of my earlier life in Kerala, India. My first visit there (then called Sohar) was in 2007. I was 14 and my family and I headed to a farm run by our relatives. I still remember the excitement, or possibly fear, as I saw some rather raging (and menacing) bulls snort at me.
That was also the first time I had ever picked mangoes, bananas and even lemons.
But it had been over a year since I had visited Suhar, and I headed there last weekend.
Joining me was my best friend Fawas. We initially planned to head out early in the morning but we only managed to get up and running by 10am.
The road to Suhar is very smooth-going but can be quite unpredictable, thanks to traffic. The best time to head there is in the early hours of the morning. Evenings are usually crowded with cars and trucks heading to the UAE. Trust me; you do not want to be stuck in traffic for 200-odd kilometres.
En route, we warbled along to our favourite driving anthems and chewed the fat on the latest in gadgets and cars. We ate up the kilometres quickly and had already hit the city centre by 12.30pm.
Sadly, there were road works in the heart of the city so getting to our usual hangout spot – Suhar Beach – was quite a daunting task. We got lost countless times, and even had to resort to using Google Maps.
By the time we were at Suhar Beach, it was already 3pm, and the sun was beating down hard. The humidity levels didn’t help, either. Thanks to the heat, the beach was deserted, as most people wouldn’t even think about heading there on a day with almost 70 per cent humidity. Even my camera lens misted up while I clicked away.
Nevertheless, we clocked two young kids (siblings, I presumed) trying to wrestle with a crab (yes, you heard me right). They agitated the crab by running over its nest and then ran around in circles as the crab followed them. In a few minutes, however, the younger sibling got tired and gave up. Subsequently, the elder brother gave up and left, too.
I don’t know why we stood there watching this but it could have been because I was reminiscing about that part of my childhood, when I didn’t care about what I did and the consequences of indulging in such irresponsible behaviour.
In any case, we proceeded to the nearby fort of Suhar. It is one of the most rustic, yet pre-eminent forts in the country. It is also considered one of the most important in the Al Batinah North Governorate as it had a vital role in the formation of the Sultanate.
Sadly, however, we were left disappointed as the fort was still under renovation when we stopped by. It has been under renovation for the past two years.
There was something very forlorn about the way construction was proceeding, too. There was layer of dust over the equipment, meaning that it was possible no work had occurred for a few days.
The imposing cannons that once defended the fort are still standing loftily on the premises but are now draped in an orange tarpaulin-like material to keep them safe from the elements. I have to admit, it did look like a scene from Apocalypse Now (the movie).
To get away from all the gloominess, we headed towards the trees that shielded the entire fort. Their voluminous and expansive foliage provided ample shelter. Fawas quickly told me that one resembled a banyan tree.
By now, we were tired and decided to call it quits on our (dawdling) adventure.
It is a pity that we couldn’t explore the fort entirely but I will make sure to head to Suhar for another recce of the fort once it is up and running.
How to get there:
Take Route 1 north all the way to Suhar, exiting at the Badr Al Samaa Polyclinic. Continue straight, turning right at the roundabout after Grand Hypermaket and the beach will be on your right side.
GPS location of Suhar Fort: