Taqah-Salalah < OMAN EXPLORER

 

Taqah’s scenic hamlets

 
The wilayat of Taqah exudes a gripping appeal intertwining historical and scenic attractions dating back to thousands of years. The powerful port city of Sumharam, which controlled the maritime trade of frankincense, the dazzling Darbat waterfalls and ancient mountain villages are but a few of the well-known historical and scenic landmarks in the Governorate of Dhofar thronged by visitors during the khareef season. 

The remains of the stone houses of Khabrart village — Pictures by Abdullah Ibrahim al Shuhi

  A visit to the countryside of Taqah offers the opportunity to explore magnificent locales which retain their original self, large mountainous areas untouched by the pressures of habitation and left on their own to nurture environmental enigmas. 

Fortunately, these well protected scenic lands on the lap of the huge mountain range of Jabal Samhan are accessible for visitors. As you ascend the mountain road to Madinat al Haq, magnificent greenery comes alive in contrast to the plains below running into the sea. 

To start with, Aram village could be chosen to step into the lands which are the epitome of environmental conservation. The unique attraction of Aram village is the ancient trees which have become a rarity in other areas. 

The mountain village is still intact with a number of trees that have been growing there, for thousands of years. Notable among them are Al Mitan tree which was earlier used, in the construction of houses, especially for roofing. 

 

The farmhouse of Ali bin Issa al Mashani and the cucumber crop

    The tree possesses high resistance against termites and other pests. Earlier, the local residents also used the branches of Al Mitan tree to make arrows for hunting and other purposes. 

Breathtaking views of the sea and mountains attired in fine greenery make the heights of Aram village ideal for camping. Another tree locally known as kilet was used for making wooden cutlery, including large spoons. 

These trees, however, have declined in number over the years due to their felling for house construction and other needs. In some areas of Aram village, the well-preserved woodlands on the mountain slopes appear like forests. 

In Shihait village, closer to the main road, farming activities are seen. During the monsoon season, a variety of vegetables are grown by local residents. Ali bin Issa al Mashani was spotted at his modest farm planted with cucumber, corn and beans. 

The three different crops were ideal during the monsoon season, Al Mashani said. A month before the advent of the monsoon rains, the land was ploughed and readied for sowing. 

With the arrival of the rains, sowing was done and within one and a half months, cucumber was ready for harvest, Al Mashani said. 

Cucumber was an ideal crop during the monsoon season as it yielded immediately compared to corn and beans, Al Mashani said.

 

AL Mitan tree which was used extensively for 

house construction stands in Aram village.

 

 

While corn required three months for ripening, beans required two months. Al Mashani, who is advanced in age, said that due to some illness he could not farm his, entire land this year. In the previous years, he utilised the land in full and the cucumber and beans crops fetched him about R0 600 in the last season. 

An oval-shaped hut made of logs and sticks, covered with tarpaulin, is used by Al Mashani to rest after his work in the farm. Large water tanks are also kept in the farm as standby for use in the event of poor rains. 

Shihait village is also notable for a sink hole, which the local residents believe was caused by a meteor. The crater-like formation has been cordoned off in an enclosure as it gapes open dangerously. 

 

 

 

The large mouth of the sink hole is encircled by a rich growth of plants and trees. The bottom of the hole also abounds in creeper plants and trees. Birds flutter in and out of the sink hole which creates a chilling effect with its dangerous setting. 

One has to be very careful while viewing this place, especially trying to get a glimpse of the bottom of the hole, as a wrong step would prove a fatal plunge into the depths of about 200 feet, Thick grass grows around the hole while ancient trees with long hanging roots stand on its ridges.

The highlight of the visit to these areas is the quaint Khabrart village, which is indeed out of this world. At the entrance to the village, modern residential quarters, school, health centre and government buildings reveal the area has been inhabited for long. 

 

 

 

 

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The villagers earlier lived in another area deep within the mountains and only recently shifted closer to the main road. Beyond the new dwellings, one can drive ahead on the mountain which unravels stunning scenic views. 

The drive could continue for long, taking you through the area where the old village stood. The remains of the stone houses still stand on the edge of mountains with creeper plants making beautiful patterns on them, overlooking the scenic pasturelands. 

The mountains and meadows bedecked in green finery are ideal for a retreat that offers peace and quiet complemented with the refreshing fresh air and the green spectacle that soothe your senses. 

The visual delights are unending at Khabrart where you are in a world of your, own, only to be reminded of the outside world as you are contacted on pager or GSM. The stunning mountain lands of Khabrart offer a delectable experience. 

The mountain slopes are home to a variety of mushrooms that are collected by the local residents during the monsoon season. Two types of mushrooms abound, one opening up like a large flower and the other which matures without opening up.

Young boys of the village set out in the morning to collect mushrooms which grow far from the new dwellings. Three boys were spotted on their return journey after collecting the mushrooms. They left in the morning at 10 am and spent three hours searching for the mushrooms. 

A part of their daily collection would be cooked and consumed at home while the rest would be sold in the local market as it is in great demand among tourists and fetches good price, the three boys, Said, Masoud and Salem, said. 

A white flowering plant which grows in these areas is also used by the local residents for its edible root. Ain Nakhar is another interesting place to visit in Khabrart. The spring which originates from the mountains is well protected with the construction of a huge tank into which the water flows in. The water flow is regulated from the tank for its effective use. Notable also are eagles which soar above the magnificent mountains draped in fine greenery.

 

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