Every now and then we like to get lost.
No, it has nothing to do with people getting fed up with us and sending us away unceremoniously, it is mostly an activity that we tend to indulge into on a lazy weekend day when we have nothing to do and are uninspired by the “known”. We wander aimlessly, without a specific target and try to get lost in a place that we think we know so well.
When you do that, you see places that you know in a different light and often you notice things that you had never paid attention to before. Sometimes you may even discover corners that you would have never considered venturing into. It is a great feeling.
Just after Christmas we had a couple of rainy days and a very cloudy day. We didn’t know what to do with our time so once again we found ourselves wandering aimlessly around Muscat and ended up in the back streets of Bowsher. Here we discovered an old site that I had never seen before and that I have never seen mentioned on any travel book.
The site was part of an old mud village at the feet of the mountains that provide the beautiful backdrop to the Muscat skyline. The actual site does not look maintained, apart from a sign talking about the Bowsher Marble (describing the magnificent mountain behind) but it had some interesting features. The main building looked like a small fort because of the presence of a tower though it could have also been the villa of a powerful family, not sure. The falaj next to it looked well maintained and it is probably still being used to irrigate the nearby palm plantations in the “modern” village. I have seen forts refurbished around Oman and in my opinion through the refurbishment process they lose a lot of character as the works concentrate too much on making them look perfect as if they had been built yesterday so I really liked the atmosphere at this site. It really felt old and traditional. Walking around really felt like peeking into the past. It was interesting to see the old and new next to each other though it was also sad to see how little interest there seemed to be in the actual site and how a corner of the land next to it had been used as a dump. An apartment block is being built almost on top of it!
As rain and weather will quickly consume the mud buildings I doubt there will be much left in the years to come if nothing is done to preserve it.
After visiting the site we wandered around the village surrounding the site. There were some fine examples of “modern” Omani architecture with gargantuan villas decorated in ways that we would never dream of.
Narrow roads from a past without 4x4s made us feel as if we were miles away from Muscat and in a village stuck way back in time, yet the modern sprawling capital was just around the corner.
Oman is beautiful for this kind of contrast.
Additional info and links about Bowsher Marble:
Bowher Marble on the Oman Tourism Website