23 September 2010: The historical past and progressive present can be seen in many parts of the Sultanate of Oman. As the capital city Muscat has been developing as a modern city with broad roads and cluster of fine buildings, the past monuments such as palaces and forts are well maintained. In the outskirts and even beyond the capital city there are places which remind tourist the rich historical legacy and progressive future of the Sultanate of Oman.
The ostrich farm was started in 1993 when ostrich eggs were imported from South Africa. It is said that around ten years ago there were more than 300 ostriches whose number went on dwindling year after year. Presently, there are only around 30 ostriches left in the farm. Besides a flock of ostriches the farm also has a crocodile pond, horses, camels, geese, ducks, peacocks and even cattle presenting a picture of a mini zoo. This ostrich farm has been also used as an agricultural unit where different verities of agricultural plants are scientifically developed. We could see a vast stretch of land with little plants being artificially irrigated by moving sprinklers.
Nakhal fort located at the edge of the Jebel Akhdar Mountains in Northwest Oman that has been considered as one of the most spectacular forts in the world. The Nakhal fort takes its name from the ‘nakheel’ that means ‘date palms’ as the vast area between the fort and the Jebel Akhdar Mountain has been covered with date palms. The location for this fort must have been chosen with all the specifications of the time being fully met – security, safety and abundant quantities of water.
The Nakhal fort is 350 years old, probably the latest of fortifications in Nakhal. It was the headquarters of the Ya’aruba tribe who founded the Ya’aruba dynasty of Imams in the 17th and 18th centuries. The fort is built on a platform rock which gives it characteristic and feature of beauty. The outer door and towers were built during the rule of Imam Said bin Sultan in the 1834. In 1995, the fort was repaired and many handicraft items were added in it in order to attract more tourists.
As one enters the fort, the military quarter and the mosque are seen in the first courtyard. The fort consists of two concentric walls and courtyards which provided shelter to surrounding tribes in troubled times. A number of stairways lead to several terraces and the living rooms. The rooms on the first level were used during winter and the ones above during summer. There were separate rooms for children and women. One can also see the Wali’s room, guest room, private discussion room, dates storage room, a room used as a jail with fetters and the usual watch towers. Each room contains the things that were used during those times. A few antique small arms, lanterns and other few items on the walls as well as cannons pointing in different directions also could be seen within the fort.
Nakhal Fort is unique for its high position, solid building and huge exterior. The fort also includes number of towers, particularly the Eastern Tower which is also called the Wind Tower, the Middle Tower and the Western Tower. Two water wells also could be seen within the fort. The fort commands a 360-degree view of verdant palm plantations and the surrounding countryside which has been gradually developed into a city.
Not far from the Nakhal fort is the Al Thowrah hot springs. The word ‘Al Thowrah’ means ‘boiling’. Though the water of the spring is not boiling hot, it is pleasantly warm all the year round. The last stretch of road from the Nakhal fort to the springs runs through lush date palm plantations and farm dwellings. Some of the houses have retained the traditional style of the past whereas a number of houses have adopted modern style that is indicative of the changes that have come into Oman.
People of Nakhal Wilayat are proud of their hot spring. The spring originates in Jabel Nakhal and flows into a pool at the site. From here it flows into a stream which provides sustenance to the village. On holidays, picnickers make this spot their home and enjoy the cool and shady surroundings after sitting in the pond of warm water. These picnickers in groups cook food, play music and relax for the entire day.