Welcome to Muscat
Majestic forts, elegant mosques and labyrinthine markets will greet your arrival in Muscat. The capital city is a world of modern amenities which has retained its old world charm of Omani culture, hospitality and Islamic architecture. The city is also a gateway to the natural bounty that Oman has managed to stow away from prying eyes for many centuries. Today as this jewel unravels itself to the world, travelers are discovering its true worth. Lodged in the southeast corner of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman has disconnected from the ant trails that most popular destinations are a part of. Yet, it is a country that has beaches as unspoiled as those of Thailand, forts as majestic as those of Rajasthan and cliffs as awe-inspiring as those of the Grand Canyon and all of this is just a short drive away from the beautiful city of Muscat, a pearl in the oyster of this beautiful country.
Muscat city has enough of sights and sounds to keep you wide-eyed for days. AIE lists out some of the ‘must-see’ sights and sounds in and around Muscat:
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is the main perfect introduction to the city’s cultural and architectural heritage. MoThis glorious piece of modern Islamic architecture was a gift to the nation from the ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, to mark the 30th year of his reign and is the third largest mosque in the world. Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is built from 300,000 tons of Indian sandstone and boasts a 21-ton Persian prayer carpet which is the second largest carpet in the world as well as an 8-ton chandelier.
Jalali and Mirani Forts
Known better as the two grand sentinels of Muscat, the forts are perched atop the magnificent cliffs overlooking the city. Built by the Portuguese, the forts have witnessed every upheaval that history has subjected the country of Oman to. Today the forts bring forth their testimony in the two museums housed within them.
The word Corniche literally means ‘road by the sea’. As far as roads by the sea go, this one in Muscat should rank as one of the most spectacular in the world. The promenade, with the glow of the lights and the beautiful buildings reflecting off the water, makes for a sight that is singularly worth the trip to Muscat.
Beaches of Muscat
Muscat is home to over 1700kms of dreamy golden sand beaches hug the Omani coast. Palm fringed shores and still seas with placid waves make for an ethereal experience that only a few ever experience. Adventure-seekers can indulge in a range of activities such as diving, surfing, snorkeling and sail-boarding. The stunning Qurum beach is a favorite for partying and picnicking, while Bandar-al-Jissah provides a picturesque view of the rocky mountains.
About 140kms away from Muscat city is what is commonly known as Oman’s Grand Canyon. At 3000meters (10000ft) high, the Mountain of the Sun or Jebel Shams is not your average mountain, it is a mind-boggling crevasse of immense proportions. One of the most famous parts of the range is the Al Hajjar Mountain which can be reached by hiking through the canyon.
Al Hoota Caves
As one traverses along the Jebel Shams range, the biggest attraction you will come across is the Al Hoota cave system. The cave is over 5kms long and even features and underground river. The cave is a popular tourist attraction and includes a museum, restaurant and souvenir shops.
The Town of Sur
The journey to the coast ends in the town of Sur. This town, one of the many surprises hidden along the Omani coastline, is famous for a ship building art that turns out boats called the Boum, the Baghala, the Ganjha, the Battil and the Dhow. The maritime muesum within the city chronicles that city’s and Oman’s maritime contributions including that of Ahmed Bin Majeed. A lengendary seaman who helped the Portuguese navigate around the cape of Good Hope and find his way to India.
Go dune bashing by day and camp out in the middle of the dessert by night. Or if you prefer something more laid back, opt for camel rides and the hospitality of the many ‘bedouin‘ (nomadic arab) camps.
Wadi Bani Khalid
As far as the landscape changes go nothing is more drastic than the transformation one encounters on the drive from the Wahiba Sands to Wadi Bani Khalid. Replenished by the southwest monsoon and the many streams flowing down from the nothern mountains, the landscape burts into life as palm groves and fresh water pools take over from the sand dunes.
Air India Express flies daily to and from Muscat. Come explore Muscat with us!