Hoqain: a paradise of historical heritage
Wadi Al Hoqain creates gentle cascades as
it courses through the village
other places in Oman are endowed with such a bountiful concentration
of mineral springs some gentle, burbling streams, others
a gushing torrent. Together with the splendid pools and waterfalls
characteristic of this remote settlement, they have made a little
oasis paradise of Al Hoqain amid the bleakness of the surrounding
larger of the two niyabats of Al Rostaq, the ancient town lies
a short distance from Rostaq town. It's a half-hour's drive from
Al Woshil, one of four routes leading to Al Hoqain (two other
routes originate from Suwaiq, and another from Al Hazm). Twenty
kilometres down this graded road, which cuts a swathe through
the arid, undulating terrain, Al Hoqain looms into view.
a spectacular sight indeed, with the crumbling ruins of Al Hoqain
fort dominating a landscape carpeted by sprawling date plantations.
One of its central attractions is the perennially flowing Wadi
Al Hoqain that courses through the main part of the village.
many places, the wadi scythes through granite rock and, at one
point, cascades down a height of 10 metres to form a natural 'waterfall'
and collects in refreshingly cool pools that are a popular attraction
with tourists and local townsfolk looking for a splashabout. Scores
of cool springs emerge mysteriously from the granite sub-strata
and join forces with the main stream along its course.
the upper ridges of the wadi flows the ancient Falaj al Siyadhi
nourishing date plantations, fodder crops and other vegetation.Leaving
the wadi, we venture deeper into the surprisingly verdant countryside
where grass grows rich and luxurious. Residents believe that much
of Al Hoqain sits on a shallow aquifer or myriad subterranean
is so plentiful that the villagers here once used to grow wheat
and three types of beans. It is no longer economically feasible
to grow these crops, but some villagers still grow sugarcane and
henna. There are thick groves of sidr growing here as well.In
this verdant growth can be found the famous 'blue' pools of Al
Khabah A'zarqa (actually green because of the underwater growth).
come here in 4-wheel drive vehicles for a spot of adventure driving
through the wadi, followed by a campout beside a crystal stream.Al
Hoqain's numerous mineral springs and aflaj all add to its rustic
niyabat has perhaps the largest number of such independent water
sources. Some say that the ancient town may have got its name
because of the sheer number of springs emerging from the rocky
sub-strata. Even in the peak of summer, some springs still yield
refreshingly cool water.
yield is especially bountiful after showers in the area.On a hillock
close to Umm Falaj al Bashman are the remains of an ancient settlement
that, according to local legend, was inhabited by a tribe renowned
for their strength. One night, the story goes, the menfolk slept
on the wadi bed as usual.
about their legendary strength, they shrugged off warnings that
the wadi had flooded upstream. Apparently, they were washed away
by the raging waters, leading to the eventual demise of the settlement,
it is believed. Throughout Al Hoqain are nuggets of antiquity,
the origin of which still baffle historians and archaeologists.
Wadi al Ma'aidin are examples of rock art featuring horsemen with
spears. It is believed that the paintings depict an ancient battle
that took place in Al Hoqain. Evidence of a thriving mining industry
in antiquity has also been found at A'Sraifina in Al Hoqain. Slag
heaps near ancient copper mines point to such activity dating
back to the period when the Persians had occupied Oman, it is
are steps descending into these mines, around which are several
small caves as well.At Harat al Ail near Tawi al Bedu lies one
of the oldest archaeological sites and the most fascinating of
Al Hoqain's historical heritage. There are pre-Islamic, oval-shaped
grave sites here of uncharacteristic length 4 metres.
lie close to a sprawling, ancient cemetery where the headstones
are simple pieces of stone neatly laid out in rows. Very little
is known about these people who lived here and now remain in eternal
repose in the shade of ancient summer trees. Elsewhere in Al Hoqain
are equally intriguing conical structures cobbled together with
loose stones, dating back to pre-Islamic times.
the outside, they look like plain piles of rock, but on the inside,
they have a beehive-like appearance.Archaeologists surmise the
structures are actually cleverly camouflaged observation posts
set up for the security of camel caravans that plied these trading
routes in antiquity.
Adapted from Oman Observer. Nizwa.NET is not responsible for contents.