Oman: A honeymoon on the road less traveled

Raise a toast to your first outing together as newlyweds with a trip to Oman

Photo Courtesy: Social media
Photo Courtesy: Social media

Purnima Sharma

Lying barely three hours away from Delhi, the boomerang shaped country of Oman packs in a fascinating world for those on the lookout for an unusual honeymoon destination. Yes, Oman opens up a stunning panorama that spans from vast stretches of a stunning desertscape on one hand to majestic mountains and rugged, sawtooth fjords and unspoilt beaches on the other -- perfect for those ‘outdoorsy’ couples who will enjoy traversing the road less traveled.

The Omanese experience starts right from the moment the Oman Air flight lands in Muscat and the city opens out in welcome with a plethora of resorts equipped with comfortable, artistically spread out suites that the honeymooners are sure to love. And, of course, numerous other interesting delights -- both architectural as well as gastronomical.

Set the ball rolling in Oman with the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque that takes its inspiration from none other than the Taj Mahal. But, before venturing out towards its haloed environs, make sure that you are suitably attired, complete with your heads covered. The Mosque comprises a beautiful dome and five towers that represent the five pillars of Islam. As you stand in the prayer hall that can house over 20,000 people at a time, the guide here will point to the dexterously woven Persian carpet that was created by over 600 women over a period of four years.

Besides the National Museum that offers a peek into the many fascinating chapters of Omanese history, a visit to the Amouage Perfume Factory that harks back to the country's centuries-old perfumery heritage is also suggested. You can also watch the distillation process that goes into creating the perfumes. Amouage, incidentally, makes around 49 kinds of perfumes and produces more than 25,000 bottles a week.

Then there's the Royal Opera House, the interiors of which are sure to remind you of the grand music houses of Paris. Built in 2011 on the orders of Sultan Qaboos – who, incidentally, is regarded as the 'architect' of modern Oman -- this world-class structure has seen performances by famous artistes from across the world including our legendary musician L Subramanyam, who gave a violin recital here in 2013.

While glitzy malls here in Muscat are a delight, a visit to the Muttrah Cornish to soak in the traditional flavors of Oman is also suggested. Walk into the labyrinthine lanes of the souq and you are sure to be fascinated by the rows of quaint shops selling a variety of wares including the traditional knives and khanjars, artistic incense burners, beautiful paintings and lamps, etc.

Those couples looking for adventure can head for the vast expanse of the Sharqiya Sands that lies a few hours’ away from Muscat.  A must-do experience here is the wobbly, adrenaline-filled drive on the sand surface that’s sure to stay with you for a lifetime. As you sit firmly strapped in your 4D vehicle, the experienced driver will go racing, tearing one dune after another leaving behind a cloud of dust. And you are sure to enjoy the thrilling moments when the car will seem to just skirt over the edges of the sandy elevations while hurtling down steep inclines.

While options to camp on the dunes here are available, accommodation in places like the 1000 Nights Camp that offers an interesting mix of the Boudouin tribe’s tent-like rooms with some basic city comforts thrown in could also be tried out.

The desert bit done, the newlyweds can now pack in a taste of the sea and the mountains. An hour-long flight will take them to Khasab in the northwest Omani exclave of Musandam that is also known as the 'Norway of Arabia'. Views from the aircraft window offers a taste of what lies in store here -- sparse desert mountains boasting stunning patterns on their tall, rocky surfaces, a spectacular coastal route and, of course, artistic vistas of fjords with tall cliffs rising from the water surface.

Of course, you can get an up, close and personal view of these through a day-long dhow cruise with some dolphin sightings packed in for good measure. It’s fun watching these delightful creatures racing joyously alongside your dhow, offering perfect photo-ops. Carry your costume as options for swimming and snorkellig in the crystal-clear waters of the Strait of Hormuz are also available.

Khasab also houses Jebel Harim that stands at a height of 2,087 metres. A drive up will unveil ancient fossils and rock engravings that have been etched with time on the stone surfaces. Let your experience in Musandam be complete with a visit to the Khasab Fort built by the Portuguese that goes back to the 17th century. Later, as you relax in the sit-out of your hotel room, watch the fiery, tangerine hues of the setting sun spread their magic on the fjord waters..

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