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Best Time: October – May Read More

Ideal duration: 1 day

Nearest Airport: Muscat International Airport Check Flights

"Heritage town of Oman!"

Bahla Tourism

The first ever Omani site to be declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Bahla is a small Oasis settlement situated in the Dakhliya region of Oman. Although the settlement is constituted of traditional vernacular houses (harats), the fortification wall, a small old market (souq), the Falaj system (irrigation) and a mosque, the Oasis of Bahla is most popular for its defensive complex, the Bahla fort. The fortress wall which is 12 kms long encloses the entire town. It is one of the oldest forts of Oman tracing back to the 13th century. The small town is also popular for its pottery and silver artefacts sold in the old souq. The Oasis settlement is found to be situated 40 kms from Nizwa and 200 kms from the country’s capital Muscat.

Bahla has been an interesting part of many Arabic legends. It is a popular belief that Bahla was where the birth of Jinn (black magic) took place. Although the residents deny any such connection, there are several legends about black magic being practiced here. Bahla is a fine example of a fortified oasis settlement of the medieval Islamic period. It’s a representation of a defensive architectural ensemble that enabled dominant tribes to achieve prosperity in the desert during medieval times. A spectacular view of the entire oasis settlement with palm groves can be caught from the Western side, near the Jabrin entrance. There is also a weekly sale of animals happening at the old souq where, everyone from the town gather to sell their cattle.

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Places to Visit in Bahla

1. Bahla Fort

Bahla Fort, Oman

Bahla fort is a fine example of a defensive complex engineered to enable the tribes settled there to survive, prosper and carry out their trade during the medieval Islamic period. It was built in the 13th century. The fort had come under the threat of losing its authenticity as many modern ways of restorations were being used. Now the fort is thriving more than ever and is the major attraction of the Bahla oasis settlement. It is also one of the largest forts in Oman. The fort has a reputation among the locals for hosting paranormal activities during the night time. This does not come as a shock as Bahla is believed to be the birthplace of Black Magic. The fort is open for visitors from 8:30am to 4 pm on Saturdays to Thursdays. On Fridays, it is open from 8 am to 11 am.

2. Jabrin Castle

Jabrin Castle, Bahla

The beautiful castle of Jabrin is located 5 kms to the southwest of Bahla. It was the residence of Imam Sultan bin Saif Al Ya'arubi during the late 15th century. It was also the centre for studying medicine, astrology and Islam. Insides of the castle are decorated with intricate carvings and painting on the ceilings. Paintings are usually of flowers. There are other ornamental flourishes decorating the interiors of the Jabrin Castle. The tomb of Imam Sultan bin Saif Al Ya'arubi is also enclosed within the fort.

3. Saint Mosques

Sultan Qaboos Mosque, Bahla, Oman

Located off highway 21 along a dirt road are three old mosques in an ancient cemetery marked by the tombs of ancient Sufi hermits.

4. Old Bahla Souq

Old Bahla Souq, Bahla, Oman

The old souq is right across the main road that leads to the fort. There are a number of shops here selling mostly pottery items, silver artefacts and other traditional handcrafted items.

History of Bahla

The Oasis settlement of Bahla was inhabited and prospered by the tribe Banu Nebhan from 12th century to 15th century. They were the ones controlling trade at that time in the area. Their trade was in frankincense, the aromatic gum which was once considered more precious than gold. Bahla was made their second capital after Nizwa during the first period of the dynasty, and then it was made the first capital during the second period. Bahla is also the birthplace of ‘Ibadism’ a branch of Islam.

Construction and Restoration of Bahla

The materials used in the original construction of the settlement are nothing but mud and unbaked bricks standing on a stone foundation. It is believed that the Bahla fort has undergone many restorations over the years as and when different tribes and rulers took over the town. In 1987, it was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. But soon in 1988 it was added to the danger list as the heritage site faced the threat of losing its authenticity due to the usage of modern materials and modern ways of restoration. In 2004, it was taken off the danger list following a restoration process that lasted for about 2 decades. The entire oasis is watered through the Falaj system.

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Culture enthusiasts, historians, heritage enthusiasts, archaeologists.

How To Reach Bahla

The nearest airport to Bahla is the Muscat International Airport which is 187 kms in distance. There are frequent buses from Muscat (Ruwi) for Ibri and Buriami that pass Nizwa and Bahla. It is best to hire a taxi or arrive on your own wheels. There are taxi services from Nizwa as well.

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