Friday, 13 February 2015

Road trip: Fanja Village

It started with a pair of shoes. After visiting Wadi Bani Khalid we decided that we needed 'adventure shoes' suitable for exploring. So we each treated ourselves to a pair and then didn't go on any road trips for over a month and we wanted to remedy that.

We saw an article in the Times of Oman about Fanja village, a mostly abandoned village about 20-minutes drive out of Muscat, and decided to make this our destination.

The place is a little tricky to find. You follow the signs for Fanja after getting on the highway that goes to Nizwa/Salalah from the Clock Tower roundabout. Eventually, you pass a very small souq area and in the distance can see the village and the mud watch towers higher up on the mountain, at this point it is just a case of driving towards that direction and choosing the appropriate roads to drive up. It was one of the journey's where I felt the four-by-four was a disadvantage since there are a lot of narrow, winding roads leading to the village entrance, which is marked by a portrait of the Sultan.

As you travel up to the village, before you reach the entrance and pass through the old wooden doors, the houses you see are rather typical by Omani standards, but once you go through the door it is quite different. Very much a lost time. There are blocks of ruined mud houses, and if you are brave enough to take a peek inside you can get a hint of how life might have been lived.

As you walk further in you end up at a high point on the mountain overlooking the wadi and the rest of Fanja. There are more ruined houses here and you can see that there were a few people that would have had a fantastic view from their bedroom windows.

A little further along you reach the cannons overlooking the wadi, which according to the article, would have protected the town from rival incursions. Legend has it that the cannons fired plenty of shots against people who tried to invade the territory.
As I mentioned previously, there are still a few who live in the village but in refurbished houses. The juxtaposition between the old and new is quite amazing. Like the village we found at the base of Jebel Akhdar the houses are made of mud and stone, but that village had evidence of two-storeys. The article suggested that the site be protected with heritage status making it more of a tourist attraction, I say, if you can, go along and explore it now while you can have it to yourself.