Bahla Fort in Oman: A World You Might Not Be Aware Of

Bahla Fort, inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987, is only 30 minutes from the more well-known Nizwa Fort. It is flanked by a palm grove and mud-brick homes constructed around an old aflaj irrigation system.

The Banu Nebhan (Nabahina) tribe governed central Oman from the 12th century to the end of the 15th century and had Bahla as its historical capital. Its accomplishments are mainly unknown, although it is known to engage in a highly lucrative frankincense trade, and the Bahla Fort and its capital are evidence of the tribe’s wealth. 

The ancient Omani Imamates were based on Ibadism (a form of Islam), which is also claimed to have originated in Bahla. Its influence may be seen throughout Arabia, Africa, and beyond. It is a fantastic example of a mediaeval walled oasis village from the Islamic era, which helped the ruling tribes in Oman and the Arabian Peninsula develop during that period.

The fort, which is around eight square miles in size, displays proof of an excellent engineering design. The aflaj irrigation system and the castellated parapets on the defensive structures show that the farming was well-organized and sustained. Groundwater is brought in by this irrigation system using wells and submerged channels from far-off springs. The seasonal water flow was also carefully controlled to maintain the oasis watered throughout the year.

The remnants of a semi-enclosed souq (market), with narrow pathways flanked by one-story shops within an outer wall, exist nearby, as does a Friday mosque complete with the decoratively sculpted prayer niche (mihrab). 

The ruins of carved and decoratively etched timber doors, shelves, and window screens show that there was a lively craft culture in the area. The placement of the souq made it simple for the adjoining fort to conduct surveillance.

Best time to visit: The months of October through March are the ideal time to visit the Bahla Fort.


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