Muscat : Oman, Places,Travel,Food

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          Beautifully Adorned in Shades of Blue,White & Gold: The Al Alam Royal Palace,Muscat

It is sometimes, a chance that we miss becomes the chance that the life owes to you. A year and a half back when I was backpacking Maldives, it was my heart’s secret desire to watch the Dolphins wild in the open. But it was such that even though we saw the most beautiful Sunset in the coast of Maldives and then made several rounds in the middle of the sea where my boatman said those jumping cutie Dolphins come every day but today the sea is rough, the chances are less. I still kept pondering on that little left hope I had, but no signs of Dolphins anywhere. Maldives then complimented it with great Food, Dance with the locals at local Maafushi island (which is also a Dolphin island), staying in a sandbank with no trees and be so happy about it that almost forgetting that it was the Dolphins I wanted to see, but couldn't.

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      No wonder why the Dolphins chose the Gulf of Oman as their Home.It's rugged and mysterious,may be that's why,they couldn't find a better home :)

Muscat bought light to my suppressed desire to watch Dolphins .Aha! They were there, they were everywhere, 100's of them flipping in and out and why so, it is said that there are Salmons in the sea which they feed on and hence they come every day spinning turning tossing in search of their very own Food and Sunshine.

Dolphin Watching in Muscat: Marina Bandar Al Rowda

                                           When the sun has set, no candle can replace it 


The word "Bandar" means place where we park small boats. The Marina is located between warm blue waters of the Gulf of Oman and craggy Hajar Mountains.



No member ship is required to use the facilities of the restaurant or the bar(in Oman you need License to drink) and the pools which are opened to all. Usually spotted every day, the presence of Dolphins cannot be guaranteed in the vast Gulf of Oman. The types of Dolphins seen here are Spinner Dolphins(They spin like in Phish Concerts we saw few of them too, and it is said that if you spot a spinner Dolphin spin right in front of you, you are lucky!),Common Dolphins and Bottlenose Dolphins.Apart from the Dolphins galore, we saw a Cat island resembling ears of a cat with the face which our guide said look look at that! Doesn't it resemble the cat and when we did turn our heads we saw us tracing our way through the gap between the limestone and voila! It felt like that Bollywood moment when the whole boat was filled up with sounds of numerous shutter clicks.


 Surrounding the Marina Bandar are the villages of the fishermen and their kids are smart enough to take their speedboats to the city. Dhow cruises are arranged in the evening after the sunset for that very relaxed trip to the sea. We could even spot our hotel “Al Bustan Palace” from the sea and we shouted “That’s where we are,yo!”

Diving Alternative:Semi-Submersible Bandar Al Khayran Muscat

For those who want to go for an underwater tour but are not comfortable with diving, can take a tour to Oman's first semi-submersible vessels  for that incredible tour of the coral reefs of Bandar Al Khayran. Semi Submersibles partly dives in water and remains partly on surface.

Royal Opera House Muscat: Musically Yours


                                      Opera is really fun with music,acting and singing.

Opened in 2011,the Royal Opera House is the first structure of its kind in Arabian Peninsula where the calendar features classical music, jazz, symphony. When we were there from March 19-21, the story of Romeo and Juliet was for the first time being showcased which had Vinncenzo Bellini's opera amd co-produced by Arena Di Verona and La Fenice from Italy. The musical chores during opera were played by the crew which was one visible layer below the stage and the performances carried out on the stage with the beautiful Juliet and his beloved Romeo acting it with perfection.


 The Hall inside is grand and elegant - It reminded me of Europe or how I have the vision of Europe to be - Juliet clad in White Gown and Romeo dressed as a soldier. Sadly, photography was not allowed inside the hall or else I could have enlightened you with pictures, loads and loads of them.

Amouage Perfume Factory,Muscat

Amouage is Arabic means wave and is also the world's most valuable perfume with finely crafted fragrances such as exotic ingredients like Frankincense. Today, it has a fan following around the world including Royals, global leaders and some of the most celebrated names in film, television, fashion, sport and music. You can visit the place, watch how the lovely ladies make the perfumes and know the process and sample some testers. The perfumes smell divine.



Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque,Muscat


“The crystals glinted under the glare of the chandelier and they looked like a thousand shining lights”

Opened in 2001,to mark the 30th anniversary of Sultan Qaboos ascension to the Throne, the Mosque can accommodate 20,000 worshippers. Built from 300,000 tonnes of white sandstone from India (they came as solid blocks and are cut and machine carved),Grand Mosque is open from Monday - Thursday from 9:00 am - 11:00 am. There are separate Praying rooms in the Mosque for ladies and men as in the olden days the women and men came to the mosque and the section was divided with a fabric so they can't see each other. Since the ladies can still pray at home and men are supposed to be at the mosque there are 600 ladies who can come here. In the ladies prayer room,the carvings here on the door are Burmese and the carpet is from Scotland. Step ahead to the main Mosque and you would get to witness the second largest single weave carpet in the world made by 600 weavers, Swarovski Chandelier consisting of 1200 lamps weighing 8 tonnes, windows from France, Tiles and mosaic from Turkey and Marble from Italy. Very structurally arranged were 3 black Quran books and small chapters in smaller textbooks. The 5 Minarets means the 5 Islamic pillars and 5 praying times in Islam. As opulent it sounds, as opulent it is. To know more the fundamentals of Islam ,Nasa from the Islamic Center, Mosque quoted " It is a place where you get general information on anyone who just want to  understand what are the fundamentals of Islam" of course over a cup of Omani Coffee and yet again Dates!

Bait Al Zubair Museum

                               The Arabian Oryx Exhibits in front of Bait Al Zubair Museum


The real Arabian Oryx in Arabian Oryx Santuary
Image by WildLifeExtra>

Painted in bold and Solid colors at the front of Bait Al Zubair Museum was the exhibits of the Arabian Oryx held in Muscat. Arabian Oryx is the national animal of Oman. Bait Al Zubair is a private museum showcasing history and culture of Oman and was opened to public in 1998 by its founder of Zubair family who were private advisor of Sultan Qaboos. Interesting things to note are the Omani rituals for marriage which are similar to ours (Engagement - Khotba,Dowry - Mahr Jalw Day,Al  Ghaffan - Henna and Milka-Marriage contract),the colorful dresses and the traditional Omani Jewelry and various stories on how caps(Kumma) came into Oman after Turbans(Musaar) and the significance of Tassel around Dishdashas(white long dress for men) and Salwar and  Kaftan for Women.To buy authentic Omani handicrafts,do make a visit to Oman Heritage Gallery.

Burj Al Sahwa(Wake Up Tower ; Sahwa - Awakening , Burj - Tower)

Situated on the juncture of roads from Muscat - Nizwa,Muscat - Sur stands the Awakening Tower(or the wake up tower),the tower which symbolizes the development of the country. The tower which was built in 1985 after 15 years of development and the pictures show the before and after. It is also to make people time and again virtually remind of their responsibilities as a citizen.

Al Alam Royal Palace:Muscat

Built by Sultan Qaboos for official purpose, it is a place of stunning architecture where gold shines through with hues of blue and white .It also has a guesthouse for special dignitaries like the president of Iran or Queen of England or Netherlands. You can visit the place anytime, but inside the palace,entry is forbidden for visitors.

Muttrah Souk:Muscat


A beautiful 3 kms long beach road called Muttrah Corniche has this very interesting and old Muttrah Souk where it is said that even now the goods sold for trade are displayed. However for us, in spite of admiring the display of various caps and dresses we couldn't shop as much. The souk at Nizwa was better. I got a cap for 1 Rial and one of my friends got a Dishdasha for 5 Rial. It is also a great place to buy Frankincense and Kohl. The Souk is best for caps ,shawls and clothes whereas the one in Nizwa(Nizwa Souk) is best for souvenirs. Do haggle when you buy, in the same lines we do here in India (The price quoted are often higher than its value )





Muttrah Corniche and Al Qurum Beach

Al Qurum Public Beach is very Popular among Omanis.The Muttrah Corniche starts near old Muscat Gate. Until 1970's these gates were closed at Sunset with the Gate dividing the old Muscat from New. Looking to the left to the harbor, you will see dhow boats and a huge statue of Frankincense Burner ahead.

Adventure and Festivals in Muscat

Royal Opera House,September Till May
Muscat Festival,End Jan - End Feb
Tour of Oman,February(Cycling Fest)
Muscat Fashion Week
Red Bull Extreme Sailing Competition Muscat
Camping Shatti Qantab in Muscat Governorate
Old Muscat Diving

Food in Muscat

                                      Omanis live by Fwala - Omani Coffee and Dates!

"Order a cool mint lemon drink -They always seem to taste better in Oman than anywhere else".5 Things Omanis love in their food are Rice,Fish,Dates and Omani Halwa,Omani Coffee and Lemon Mint Drink.Do not forget to store Baklawas/Fresh sweets from the Muscat Bakery/Modern Bakery which is a chain of Bakery everywhere in Oman.We saw two in Sur,one in Nizwa and  two in Muscat.We got boxes of yummilicous Baklawas to back home in India and I ate up all in a week.The Assortment of Baklawas come for 1.5 Rial per box(Buy it on the last day,as it is to be best had before 10 days)


For non-vegetarians, there are plenty of options as it is for vegetarians. When in Oman, indulge in traditional Omani Shuwa - An Omani Dish where a lamb is marinated and wrapped in banana leaves and they cook the lamp in an underground oven in the flame of charcoal for more than 12 hours. This is served with Omani rice and rice dish. Kargeen Cafe in Oman serves the traditional Oman food like Fresh lemon and mint,Hummus/Moutabel,Kargeen Special bread made of Cheese Olive Tomato,Falafel Plate,Yemeni Akda and Traditional Omani Shuwa. When in Oman, do not forget to try the Hamour Fish.

Some of the other best restaurants in the city are Turkish House(Turkish Dishes at Reasonable prices),Ubhar(Omani Restaurant),Al Mandoos(By renowned Chef Issa),Mumtaz Mahal(Indian Restaurant),Left Bank(Tapas),Kurkum(Indian and Arabic Fusion).Saravana Bhavan opposite the budgeted Ruby Hotel is an excellent choice as Indian Veg Restaurant.

Public Conveyance

Check the top 25 interesting facts to know about Taxis in Oman. Big Bus Tours is an hop on hop off bus tour which takes through 10 stops of interest and has free headphones on board. The cost for such bus tours for whole day would be OMR 20.Alternatively you can also book your package through Zahara Tours who were very reliable.Oman Air operates Domestic flight from Muscat to Salalah and Khasab.The Oman National Transport Company operates comfortable coaches to Muscat,Salalah,Sohar and Sur.

Dress Code In Oman

Dress Code in #Oman while visiting Mosque / Old Areas

Modest, conservative, loose fitting clothing; long sleeves, long skirts and trousers
No transparent (see-through) clothing
No shorts for men
For Women, no shorts and  skirts must be ankle length
No tight clothing, no swimwear and no beachwear.
Shoes will be removed before entering the mosque, so we recommend slip off shoes
Headscarf for ladies is essential (these can be provided when you arrive)
Intimate behavior; i.e. holding hands or kissing is not acceptable in a Muslim place of worship
For respect to worshipers, visitors should always stay with the guide.
Smoking and food are not allowed in the mosque area

Dress Code in #Oman in general

Oman is a Muslim country and it is important that, as guests of the country, everyone should respect the local customs. It is recommended that women not wear strappy sundresses, miniskirts, shorts or low necked dresses in public places (e.g. offices, souks, town and shopping areas). The most suitable wear in public is shoulders covered and below knee length skirts with a top that is appropriately long (below the hip) is also acceptable.

Men should wear shirts and long trousers. Shorts or beachwear should not be worn except at the beach or pool area.

Hotels to Choose From


                                                   Me having that great time at Al Bustan Palace
Al Bustan Palace

Set on a private beach with acres of lush gardens, and 3 or more swimming pools, this just took my breath away. It is a place where opulence is seamlessly blended with Royalty, you truly feel you are part of a place where you can indulge in a swim of the infinity pool viewing the sea or have your gourmet breakfast and lunch or admire the high domed atrium lobby.

Medium Budget
Crowne Plaza - Muscat
Park Inn by Radisson Muscat
Radisson Blue

Budget
Al Falaj Hotel
Holiday Inn,Muscat
Ibis Muscat

Guys,I am so sorry for the videos,my computer is almost on the verge of crash,and I have no money to replace.It takes forever to first run a video and then edit.I am still trying to get it all back and running so there might be delays in editing.Once again,apologies!And fingers crossed for Oman Video,hopefully it'll be uploaded by this week's end.Do not forget to watch to know :) 


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11 Comments

  1. Great post! Loved pics at no. 2,3 and 7:)...not that the others are any less:)

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  2. Your pictures make me want to visit Muscat. :) Looks like a charming place.

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  3. Interesting and detailed post. If you love watching dolphins go to Dapoli in Maharashtra, there are hundreds out there.

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  4. Beautiful shots of place and there is lot of variety.

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  5. Great and detailed post, and I am delighted that you enjoyed your trip to beautiful Muscat and finally got to see jumping dolphins :)
    Just a note thought, the carpet in the Grand Mosque is definitely not from Scotland! It was woven in Iran and brought in large portions that were knotted together inside the mosque! Also I am pretty sure the door carvings are not Burmese.

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  6. @AmitAag: This place is indeed very picturesque :) Great that you liked the pictures I captured,I love your blog(the pictures there are just awesome!)

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  7. @Renuka:Thanks Renuka,it is a place if you have been once,you would want to go again and again(literally),its diverse,its wild yet sophisticated

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  8. @Chaitali:Hey Chaitali,Thank you so much,never knew we could see dolphins in India mainland,next time for sure,I am heading to Maharashtra,love the dolphins yeah!

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  9. @Rajesh:Yes Rajesh,its all all in one.You have got the latest everything and then the rugged everything else on the other side...

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  10. @Ali:Dear Ali,thanks for pointing it out,it was a typo on my end.The ladies section of the mosque has a carpet from Scotland,not the main hall.Are you from Oman?If yes,you have got to be lucky,its a beautiful place

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  11. Beautiful post Anki, all of these destinations are beautiful. I have got some really great ideas from your blog for my trip. Your blog is really interesting and informative with amazing pictures. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

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