Sultanate of mountains And World’s only Hindu Sheikh

Usha Shinde
Mountains ….. Mysterious, multicoloured and multi mineral mountains! That is Oman. My first glimpse to Oman was when I visited a border city called Al-Ain in U.A.E. in 2002. I could see the rocky land ahead at Al-Buraimi . The land was full of various shapes of mountains. It was a contrast to the sandy land of U.A.E. That time I never knew that next eight years I will be visiting Oman many a times. 

Mountains of Oman invited me many a times! In my first visit in 2003 December, I was thrilled while landing as the horizon was full of blue mountains. Previous night it had rained and the small streams were rushing towards the Wadis. Weather was cool, romantic and full of life. From home, I could see mountains. From kitchen window mountains were visible and near. A range of mountains was so close to our villa that you could come out of a compound and touch them. They were giving me constant company and support. I drove extensively in Oman but the mountains never left me alone.

While going towards Nizwa , the mountains were just along with us till Al Hoota. The road led us within colourful and serious looking mountains .The deposits of copper, zinc, bauxite have made them very rich looking.  The mountains were looking as if some Rishis are in their deep meditative stage! At Nizwa, the mountains were guarding the Nizwa fort from opposite side just few meters away. The entire town is at the base of them.

At Al-Hoota , it is difficult to describe the mystery ! Millions of years old naturally formed caves take you inside to the womb of earth to show its wealth. When the door of the cave is closed, you are cut off from outside world and the  guide takes you to the different shapes of rocks . Fortunately guide speaks both English and Arabic. He makes you walk five kilometres inside the natural cavity of Al Hoota mountains  without your knowledge. The caves are maintained with a very aesthetic remote control light arrangement. As soon as the tourists are out of cave, the guide switches off the lights .

These caves are at the foot of Jabel  Shams .They are estimated over two million years old! These caves have kept a very rich ecosystem that includes two lakes. The main lake is  maximum 15meters  of depth. Finally you are led to this lake where rarest blind fish are quietly managing their life since ages. Blind fish is the attraction of these caves. (garra barrreimaie)

A documentary film is shown to tourists before entering into the cave. .This film shows a small boy who gets a dream about these caves and then he takes a lantern and finds out these caves along with the villagers who take their goats for grazing. A small train leaves us near the caves. This is a place where we are totally isolated from rest of the world.

At Mutrah , mountains are not ready to leave the friendship with the sea. They go parallel with sea  and make the sea to take the shape as the mountain takes the turn. Blue mountains along the blue sea is something amazing to the eyes. Any camera in the world fails to capture the beauty of this location. Oman has never spoilt the ecological balance and its horizon. Ancient port of Mutrah takes us back in history of trade, commerce and fragrance of frankestines.  Since Oman is exactly opposite  to Gujrat, tradition of trade dates back to 5000years! A ship called “Magan” sunk while going to Oman from Gujrat .Hence in olden days Oman was called as “Magan”. The variation of the word called “Majan” is still there as many shops and hotels still carry that name. Port Mutrah and the Souk  take us back to trading days between India and Oman when we move through the narrow lanes and various shops.  Certain things which were found at Mohen jo daro excavation, same things were found at Al Salut, specially coins .It is proved that there was lot of trading activities between two places. Mainly copper was imported from Oman.

At Al Khuwair, one day I heard mountains calling me as many clouds had landed on them. These mountains were hardly few meters away from the road. I went in light drizzle singing to myself a Hindi song “ Parvaton se aaj mai takara gayee . Tumane di awaj lo mai aa gayee”. (“ I have collided with mountains today.You called me hence I am here.”) Many evenings I walked  alongside the mountains alone. I enjoyed the total closeness to nature . Clouds took rest on the mountains and while moving forward they showered some blessings of rains and moved towards Sohar to make it more green. I  have spent hours together with these wet mountains. By the way Omanis claim that Sindabad , the famous voyager is from Sohar.

My every evening walk was towards mountains.I was eager to see them and talk to them.They became part of my life and I couldn’t do without them. The flyovers of Oman do not spoil the view of any mountains. Modernity is in harmony with the nature.

Hindu Sheikh

It will not be inappropriate if I mention His Highness Sultan Qaboos bin said al said  of  Oman. He is truly “Father of modern Oman”, who has brought tremendous modernity to Oman. He is an architect of modern Oman. He is a visionary who has brought country on world map due to strong economy. Sultan has studied in India at Pune and then Royal Military Academy at  Sandhurst   in U.K. He has not forgotten Hindi and Marathi! He has made is sure that the skyline of mountains is not spoiled by high rise buildings.  Sultan himself is born in lush green mountains of Salallah- Dophar , a southern province of Oman.  Another aspect which can be called as a rare gesture from this noble and global sultan. Official religion of Oman is Islam .They all are mainly “ Ibadati” muslims who are very broad minded and not at all fanatic. Last year Sultan called 30 priests from Udupi- Karnataka to perform a “Homa” at his palace for his heath and well being. Entire royal family was present for this “Yadnya” for three days..  I was touched by his views towards other faith. Needless to tell, that Sultan has very friendly relations with India.

World’s only Hindu Sheikh is in Oman ! Nearly 150 years back Khimji family came from Gujrat to do business and trading in Oman and in due course they became one of the biggest business tycoons of Oman. Ramdas Khimji Corporation is world famous business house. They contributed so much in the nation building and development in Oman , that they were awarded citizenship. They started the first  Engish Indian School in Oman. They got permission to have a temple which is visited by all Indians . They brought Indian culture, tolerance, ethical practices of business. They  generated employment for Omanis and Indians.  They are philanthropists and sports lover.They literally brought two countries together. Like Tatas in India, Khimjis are in everything! Convinced by their honesty and dedication to Oman, Sultan Qaboos –Al- Said conferred the title of Sheikh to  Kanakasi Khimji. The rarest rare and highest honour in Islamic world! A thing of pride to India and every Indian.

The present head of the family Kanakasi Khimji is a Gujrati Vaishnav, born in Muscat and completed  Matriculation in Mumbai. Pure vegetarian and a devotee of Lard Krishna .The great consideration towards Hindus in Oman is due to Khimjis , who have great say in various Ministries.

All men of Khimji family wear Omani  traditional dress and a typical turban. Nobody can recognise them as Indians! Another pleasant thing is that in such a scenario an Indo- Omani alliance took place. Rishi Khimji married to Sayyida Tania , a daughter of the founder  of Tawoof Group. What a international, inter faith understanding!

Coming back to south Oman’s scenic beauty ,this region is full of green mountains like a hill station as it gets good rains. These mountains are full of orchards. It is a land of peace and prosperity with zero crime. People who go to Oman are usually reluctant to leave the country. Less population, high standard of living, warm and friendly Omanis is the main attraction. Every corner of the country is very beautiful.

At Al- Nakhal you can soak in hot water springs at the base of mountains. Jabel means a mountain in Arabic. Jabel Akhdar is place everybody must visit. After reaching to the base, we have to hire Govt.’s vehicle and a guide. We are taken on the mountain which is a amazing part of this earth.

There are deep and difficult valleys. Small houses are scattered on very sharp cliffs. Biggest cultivation of pomegranates is done there by terrace cultivation fashion.

Anybody will wonder that why these people chose this place to build houses and cultivation. These fruits are as big as coconuts and have very thin skin , deep red inside and taste of a nectar !Many other products of this fruit are sold on a small street market. Jabel –Al- Shams ( mountain of Sun) is the highest peak of Oman.

While going towards the town called Amirate , the mountains are cut in such a way that the road has saved long distance and hardships of the people of that town. The zigzag road leaves us thirsty as we can not be satisfied with the beauty of that Hijar!
Dear friends, you are an identity of Oman !