Saturday, July 1, 2017

Bahla Fort in the middle of the afternoon, dragging three sleepy, thirsty, over-heated kids;)

While I have visited Bahla fort before, I have actually never been inside. I always miss the open hours, or it was under restoration, or something. I've spent quite a bit of time outside the fort. The walls and outer towers are quite impressive anyways.

Over the Eid weekend, on our way to Jabrin to take pics of the kids in their Eid outfits, we saw that Bahla Fort was open, and dragged the kids (eight month old, two year old, and 6 year old) through Bahla Fort instead.

This was probably a mistake. It was the middle of the afternoon, and to see a fort in Oman is hard with toddler-age kids. Not all stairways are safe. Most don't have railings. Some iron over well openings are not secured. There are defensive places in the forts' structures meant for dropping stuff, like rocks and oil, or shooting arrows, down them, and kids can fall down these if they are skinny or small enough.

For example, when my oldest was three she tried to slide down a chute that is meant for pouring hot oil on invaders at Rustaq castle...which would have been a drop to the death if we hadn't caught her in the nick of time. If she hadn't gleefully shouted "slide!!!!" before she'd gone for the chute, we might not have had the notice to do so. We never saw the chute until she was almost scooting down it.

Even me, I've nearly fallen out of a tower or two in my day, when the less restored ladders fell apart while I was still on a wrung, etc...

So with little kids, seeing any Forts but Nizwa and Jabrin can be a major challenge.

My husband swore though, that he was willing to take on the challenge of seeing Bahla fort (briefly) on. Briefly is funny, because Bahla fort is huge. I was being a grouch so he was trying to make me happy. Forts, ruins, and castles, usually make me happy.
Most places at the start of exploring Bahla Fort were pretty safe. Only outer wall rooms. towers, castle ramparts, and one well, were at all iffy, and my husband dragged all the kids up the highest tower staircase anyway, and asked me to respect the abilities of our eldest. He let her walk the ramparts, and biting my nails, I watched her start to enjoy the fort.
In terms of interiors, generally Jabrin is more impressive for decoration, but when it comes to architecture, Bahla Fort is easily the most impressive fort in all of Oman.
When it comes to the scale of the rooms, and the height of the towers, and some of the masonry methods used, Bahla Fort is unique for what it is. You won't find arches constructed like this, or rooms this height, pretty much anywhere else in Oman, certainly not on this scale.
I enjoyed the tallest-tower end of Bahla Fort the best. Some of the stone areas, I am going to assume are the remains of archaeological grave excavations? I could be wrong. I need to read more about Bahla Fort in general.
 This area of the fort reminds one of castles in Syria:
Anyways, my kids were super thirsty, and very hot and sweaty, so after seeing the highest tower, we kind of left. There was a lot more to see, but another time, when we don't have to hold hands and carry bottles;).
And of course, I still need to see Bahla's famous mosque.

I didn't yet. I either didn't find it, or the building that people insisted it was, was locked. I'll read and double check before I go back. That building, I have to see.

The GPS location of Bahla Fort according to Y magazine is N22º 57’ 52.141 E57º 18’ 2.236 . 

The hours for the fort (non-holiday or Ramadan timings) is (supposedly, I can't confirm) weekdays Sat-Thurs, 8am-4pm, and Fridays 8am-11am. 

It was Eid weekend, and a Wednesday, when I was there, and the 8am-4pm hours seemed to be in effect. I think they've improved the opening hours a lot from days past. Ramadan hours were posted but I forget what these were. Still reasonable, a later start time I think but I can't recall with accuracy. In the past, the fort being closed, was probably because the opening of it to the public was only a soft opening in 2014i-sh, and the official full opening was only last year I believe?

...People still seemed not to know where the entrance to the Fort was, (it is from the front off the main road) but you can't park here. You have to go park to the side (near that Mosque and walk up a bit to the front). Tourism Ministry, as ever, fix your signage!

My Omani husband was directing a bunch of Indian expat tourists who couldn't find the way to get into the fort.

Admission costs for Omanis and expats (this one is unique to Oman) is 500 baisas per person. I am not sure if they charged for my kids. I think they did for the six year old, but not the others.

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