A'Shan, Al Mudhaibi
bin Falah fort in spectacular ruin. cannon and large quantities
of cannon shot can be found within Al Akhdar's tower (right)
Pictures by Abdullah Ibrahim al Shuhi
niyabat of Samad A'Shan (Wilayat of Al Mudhaibi) has a rustic
appeal that sits oddly with the bleakness of the surrounding mountainous
date palm groves dotted with fruit orchards, all nourished by
bountiful streams, add a rich verdancy to an otherwise lacklustre
a stroll through its tranquil, canopied gardens can be assuredly
therapeutic.Natural splendour apart, the niyabat's many villages
are also rich in antiquity. These
villages lie along the fringes of the mighty wadi Samad that runs
several hundred kilometres before emptying into the Arabian Sea
the best known of the niyabat's towns is Al Akhdar, so called
because of the luxuriant date palm growth around.It
has the ambience of a tranquil oasis hamlet, yet it harbours a
rich history evident in the number of picturesque mud houses and
crumbling fortified mansions scattered through the town.Standing
forlorn in the midst of the old quarter of the village lies what
remains of the famous Al Akhdar fort.It
was once a splendid edifice, with a formidable tower of stone
and limestone plaster, and a total of 17 rooms.Local
residents who have studied the fort's antiquity say it was built
by Khalfan bin Mohammed bin Abdullah al Busaidy, one of two brothers
who came from Adam, some 261 years ago. Over
the decades, control of the fort passed into the hands of a succession
of tribal chieftains.It continued to be in use until 1975 when
the ravages of time and nature began to take their toll.
of the fortified mansion gradually collapsed and, one night,
four years ago, an upper chunk of the main tower came crashing
down as well, villagers say.Today,
Al Akhdar fort lies in picturesque ruin, standing incongruously
amid the modern concrete houses that have sprung in its shadow.
mud houses that once formed part of a prosperous neighbourhood
in the heyday of the fort still stand cheek-by-jowl with modern
of the mud wall that once ringed this thriving neighbourhood
still remain. So
does the old Islamic-style portal which guarded access into
the odd tourist, these days only children venture into the
structure's crumbling precincts.
orchards and burbling falaj offer much tranquillity in Al
of its precarious condition, only the intrepid with the nimbleness
and surefootedness of a mountain goat should consider it prudent
to venture into the tower.Inside
the structure, the tower's rich antiquity is plainly evident. A
splendid domed room on the first floor yields an ancient cannon
lying amid heaps of cannon balls.
Hus'n A'Rowdah fort, a splendid edifice in Samad A'Shan
the domed ceiling is an inscription in a non-Arabic script.
Motifs and geometrical designs along the rim of the ceiling
also point to the tower's rich history.
spiral staircase built into the wall of the tower leads one
to its battlemented summit which overlooks the expanse of
also offers views of resplendent sunsets or striking vistas
of the Samad A'Shan plain, sitting in the bosom of the mountains.
amid the debris on the summit is a cannon apparently made
in 1803 and inscribed with the British royal insignia.
is said that a large cache of cannon shot lies hidden away
in giant pots on the tower's summit.
ports and turrets ensured total defence of the structure in
the face of any enemy onslaught.
to a local resident, a secret well built beneath the fort, was covered
by a false floor to entrap enemy attackers.Falaj
al Akhdar, once pivotal to the ancient neighbourhood's existence,
still courses through the surrounding village. Skirting past the
ruined fort, it nourishes scores of glorious date orchards and mango
and lemon gardens.
the last 65 years, the falaj has been in full flow, say
residents, after an earlier four-year drought which all
but killed Al Akhdar's date farms.
three kilometres from Al Akhdar lies the picturesque oasis
town of A'Rowdah.
most famous landmark, Bait Hus'n al Rowdah fort, rises majestically
above the verdant countryside.
dirt track snaking along the bed of a dry wadi brings one
to the imposing edifice at the entrance to A'Rowdah town.
Akhdar fort's main tower
elegant structure built atop a rocky outcrop, the fort was renovated
by the Ministry of National Heritage and Culture in 1988. Its
caretaker says the fort was built in the 1900's at the end of
the reign of the Nabhani dynasty.It
was built by the citizens of A'Rowdah. Down the years, it underwent
major structural changes and lost the original number of towers
as well. Today, the fort has two watchtowers, the taller of which
stands independent of the rest of the structure, but, from afar,
looks part of it.Each
tower has three rooms. The main structure is made up of six rooms
and a storeroom. Standing sentinel on rocky hills nearby are several
other smaller watchtowers. For
foreign tourists and local visitors alike, Bait Hus'n A'Rowdah
is one of Al Mudhaibi's better-known tourist attractions. A visitors'
book maintained at the fort is a testament to the number of tourists
who come here, among them, members of the diplomatic corps accredited
to the Sultanate.Elsewhere
around Samad A'Shan are many other gems of antiquity. Vying for
attention on another rocky outcrop in the distance is another
impressive edifice called Bait Awlad A'Thaneen.It
was built by local residents around the same time as Bait Hus'n
A'Rowdah. One of its two towers has since collapsed.Samad village
also has its share of historical treasures.Overlooking
the sprawling date tree plantations is Samad fort, otherwise called
Husn al Khubaib. Although not of great antiquity, it was built
on the debris of early fortifications. It
was used by the presiding wali well into the 1970s and thereafter
went into ruin.Deeper into the village stands the Hozam bin Falah
fort, billed as the biggest and oldest of all forts in Samad A'Shan.
in a state of spectacular ruin, this once grandiose structure,
was two-storey high with four towers and seven water wells. It
began collapsing some 65 years ago, it is learnt.Part of Samad
A'Shan's rich historical heritage, say local officials, is linked
to the rule of the Nabhani family which governed Samad A'Shan
for a period. Tribal conflict begot the rest.
Adapted from Oman Observer. Nizwa.NET is not responsible for contents.