Misfat Al Abriyeen: A Traditional Mountain Village With A Modern Twist Anywhere

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23 Jun 2019 Posted By Y Magazine

Overview

Swati Basu Das finds a unique mountain village whose residents aim to maintain traditions, with the occasional modern twist.

Every place we visit is unique in one way or another.

Be it the parched desert sands or more refreshing pastures, the high mountain ranges or the deep blue ocean, the cityscapes or the rustic milieus; they all boast their own elements of uniqueness.

Two hundred and forty kilometres away from Muscat, this location is perched a thousand metres above sea level.

Cradled in the lap of the rugged Al Hamra range, Misfat Al Abriyeen, with its craggy backdrop, is a mountain settlement nurtured by its lush plantations and entwined by the falaj system irrigating the terraced farms. But there is more than this that makes Misfat Al Abriyeen distinct.

As our car ascends along a meandering minor road, my companion and I feel the bliss of solitude. Reaching our destination, we witness high cliffs with massive boulders forming a rocky mountain trail.

The boulders maintain their natural balance by leaning on one another. Parking our car somewhere near one of those boulders, we step out and the panoramic view soaks us in its calm serenity.

Haitham Al Abri, a local guide and manager of Old House Misfah, says: “You have to walk down to witness the beauty of this village. Explore the place on foot or a donkey. For some nature lovers this is a hidden trekking route.”

Walking a few metres ahead, we reach the entrance to the village. More than 300 years old, the village porch has conquered time and stands upright despite its tattered looks. This enormous doorless gateway greets all and welcomes them to encounter a legacy as precious as time.

The roof above the entry path is hollow, and natural light gleams through, illuminating the alleyway. The lane meanders through a maze-like path where old mud homes stand embedded on either side of the cobbled steps.

A pedestrian-friendly location, Misfat Al Abriyeen is best explored at your own pace as you smell and inhale fresh earthy breezes. The aroma of the mud, the soft burbles of the aflaj streaming by, the soothing green shades of mango trees and date palms all contribute to beckoning every nostalgic soul.

As quaint as can be, Misfat Al Abriyeen takes you back into the past. Discovered 2000 years ago, Misfat Al Abriyeen is a unique mountain village. This well-maintained, age-old place showcases a charm that blends the rich traditionalism of Oman with a challenging mountain life made easier by its diligent denizens.

Haitham says: “It was the Al Abri tribe who discovered this land nearly two thousand ago. The village derives its name from the Al Abri tribe who settled here. Our ancestors came from the other side of the mountain in search of food and water.

“The fresh water from the mountains and the green oasis gave them their home. Since then there was no looking back.”

The paved, cobbled path winding up and down the whole territory leads to farmland. The healthy plants of Misfat Al Abriyeen yield mellow fruits in every corner of this village, which are then meticulously picked.  A sizeable open reservoir collects water before it is released into the aflaj every morning to irrigate the plantations. The water flows into it from a mountain spring, the origin of which is a well-kept secret.

When we asked about its source Haitham smiles: “It is somewhere in the mountains. Only the oldest men alive in this village know the source and its location. They never reveal it to anybody. Even we won’t query its location. We all respect this secrecy.”

Best known for its quirky mud architecture, both single and multi-storeyed houses here are made up of boulder stones, rocks, and clay soil sourced from the mountains.

All of these houses are perfectly melded into one another, making the whole landscape look seamless. Some mud homes have collapsed over time while others are still well maintained. A few windows have broken frames; others are tightly shut while some have clay pots lined up on their sill. The doors of each home are well-carved and brightly-painted. The open terrace of each house throws up a vista of an all-encompassing booming oasis.

While a few homes are left abandoned by their owners settling in new houses built nearby, some still retain their old charm and welcome guests, beckoning them to enjoy the traditional hospitality of the Al Abri tribes but with a modern twist.

Haitham says: “The Old House Misfah is a 450 year- old mud house. We want the heritage to bloom with time and not fade away. Rather than deserting this ancestral property, we have transformed it into a guesthouse. Each room now has air-conditioning and a satellite dish. Rest all is old-fashioned. People come here to stay and enjoy our traditional way of life.”

With all its well-kept but fertile secrets and its primal traditions blending evenly into the rough terrain, Misfat Al Abriyeen is sure to keep its enduring place in Oman’s heritage for many more centuries to come.


How to get there


Drive 200 kilometres from Muscat to Al Hamra following the main highway that connects Muscat to Nizwa and continue all the way Al Hamra via Bahla. Approximately six kilometres from Al Hamra, drive up till the village entrance. 

Coordinates:
23°06’60.00”N; 57°17’21.00”E

Location

Anywhere
Length:
Difficulty:
Dist. from Muscat:


GPS Location

23°06’60.00”N; 57°17’21.00”E


Known For

Adventure, Family Tour, Village


TRAVEL GUIDE

Drive 200 kilometres from Muscat to Al Hamra following the main highway that connects Muscat to Nizwa and continue all the way Al Hamra via Bahla. Approximately six kilometres from Al Hamra, drive up till the village entrance. 


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