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Tiny, Warm Gulf Country

March 28, 2017 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

Kingdom of Bahrain stands out as a friendly, cosmopolitan country with a long history. The ancient land of Bahrain has been known by many names since millennia. Maher Zayan, our local guide mentioned Dilmun, Awal and Tylos as popular among those.Our first visit in capital Manama was to the national museum, where professor Zayan, who had doubled up as a guide, was taking us back to a far off history in proudly introducing his homeland.

Bahrain National Museum on the shores between Manama and Muharraq is a good way to understand the roots of the country. Bahrain’s recorded history dates back to 5000 years. Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia (now Iraq) had etched Epic of Gilgamesh in Dilmun alongside the tales of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. According to the epic, a combination of the sweet water that gushed up from the springs underneath the sea surrounding Dilmun and the sea water formed the secret of eternal life. Hence the name Bahrain where bahr means sea and thnain means two.

An ancient artifact inside Bahrain National Museum

Dilmun people were the first settlers on the island rich in pearls and fish 4,500 years ago. Nine major halls inside the museum go on to vividly explain classic heritage and subsequent eras till the present day Kingdom of Bahrain. Satellite image of the archipelago on the floor is intriguing. An interesting exhibit is a reconstructed ancient burial mound dating back to 2800 BC. There’s reference to the late Danish Thomas Geoffrey Bibby, a pioneer of Arabian archaeology, who had led the first expedition to Bahrain in 1953, in search of Dilmun. The rich capital of an independent kingdom was a strategic trading port between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley (India).

National Theater of Bahrain

The landmark modern structure next to the museum on the Al Fateh Corniche is the National Theatre of Bahrain. The Theatres structure inspired by the intersection of the land with the sea has a magnificent auditorium depicting a golden shell secured to the earth. Its canopied foyer floats over the water. Sitting in this thousand capacity hall watching a live modern or a traditional performance of a deep rooted civilization must be an experience, which we would love to go back to. The world class venue has a list of events to help enthusiasts pick their choice.

Breakfast at Haji’s

Our next stop, Al Fateh Grand Mosque had a huge courtyard befitting the Grand monument of astonishing aesthetics. Beautiful Islamic patterns here were sights to behold and formed elegant backdrops for pictures. We returned to our Downtown Rotana Hotel with memorable pictures of the grand mosque coming alive with lights after the sunset.

After tasting bits from a huge spread of traditional breakfast at Haji’s, we head to the main market of Manama. Strange it seemed, to start the day from a market, but Bab Al Bahrain depicts the local way of life.  The walk through different sections of the well laid out Manama Souq is indeed rewarding to a tourist. The gold market glittered like a dialogue in the popular Hollywood film Mackenna’s Gold; ‘there’s gold, gold and gold everywhere’. Colourful spice market next was indeed mouth watering but, we quenched our taste buds with traditional Bahraini halwa further on, which many tourists bought as a souvenir to take back home.  Had the home taste of halwa set the music rolling in our heads? Na, the music was coming from the sacred chantings at the 200 year old Shree Krishna temple nearby. We walked closer and found many devotees praying with devotional hymns and songs. The guide surprised us further by saying that there was a Jewish Synagogue in Bahrain. “There is freedom in our country for all communities to practice his or her religion.” He said.

Al Jasra Handicraft Centre, Bahrain

Al Jasra Handicrafts Center is another attraction for visitors to understand local art and craft and to purchase local souvenirs and watch craftsmen engrossed in creativity. Its location in the middle of a garden in Jasra village makes it a pleasant place.  Sami Al Malood, the artist who was selling beautiful paintings also turned out to be a popular Bahraini band singer, alongside stringing on ‘Oud‘, a traditional instrument similar to guitar.

Lunch at one of the restaurants at Block 338 was sumptuous. Bahrain’s charming dining district is a pedestrian quarter housing many restaurants serving world cuisine and also has boutique shops and art galleries.

Qal’at al Bahrain

Visit to Qalat al Bahrain transformed us back into history.  Also known as the Bahrain fort, this Portugal fort has made it to the UNESCO World Heritage site list for its archaeological importance and its beautiful panoramic view, magnificent archways and excavation findings.  It’s supposed to have hosted various occupants since 2300 BC until 18th century makes for an interesting study on the growth of civilisation in the region.  The once capital of the ancient Dilmun civilization is a photographer’s paradise.

We moved onto the Pearling Path. The second UNESCO World Heritage site of Bahrain is a reminder of the region’s popularity for precious pearls since long history. The 3.5 kms pathway located in Muharraq was used by pearl divers until 1930s till the pearl market crashed. The same path now is reminiscent of the bygone era and is home to 17 restored heritage buildings and includes three offshore oyster beds and part of the seashore and Bu Mahir Fort. A walk along the lane is impressive.

It’s possible for visitors go Pearl diving with professional PADI trained divers. Every pearl sold, at any shop in Bahrain is testified by the government and is testified authentic.

Last attraction on our itinerary was modern Bahrain International Circuit, an attraction for both locals and tourists alike. The entry ticket of just 7 Bahraini Dinars makes the international racing venue an Oasis in the Sakhir desert.  The view of the entire circuit from the eighth floor of the Sakhir Tower was breathtaking. Umair Tahir, Corporate Sales Manager at the circuit’s office said that top of the line facilities has made the venue a perfect place for all kind of events. One can even hire the entire track. A wedding arrangement by the superfast track anyone?

Written by Anand & Madhura Katti

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Ram Bhat says:

    Interesting article. It makes feel like you’re in Bahrain. Keep going with more such travelogues. Good luck

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