Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Madain Saleh - The World Heritage Site

After Al-Ula sight seeing, it was now time for Madain Saleh. Entering Madain Saleh archeological site required a special permit from Department of Antiquities and Museums of the Ministry of Education. We went to their 'Museum of Archeology and Ethnography' in Al-Ula and requested the permission. The officer, who spoke good English, declined it demanding the permit letter from our Umrah agent as we were on Umrah visa. Getting that letter now was out of question and I pleaded to him asking to keep our passports in custody. The more I pleaded, the more stubborn he was and we dropped the idea of getting the permit and enjoyed artifacts displayed in the museum. It had a good collection of antiquities and a wealth of information on the history of this place.

Later, we decided to try our luck at the entrance gate of Madain Saleh and took another Keralite guy working in Al-Ula with us. The police officer at the gate insisted for the permit but finally after a lot of pleading by our new friend, allowed us to enter the site, off the records.

The site initially looked like just another group of rocky hills but as we reached nearer, small rectangular holes on them were visible. Further close, we could see the neatly etched facades around these holes. They were the monumental tombs of Nabataean civilization that lived here from first century BC to first century AD. Some of the inscriptions here dated back to the first millennium BC. We entered these tombs through those doors like openings and the feeling of being in a place where our ancestors lived thousands of years before was amazing. The awesomeness of this place is more explained through the photos than words. Look at the size of people near them to get an idea of the huge size of these rocks and tombs.

The site also had a not so old (1906 AD) railway station used by people from Turkey for coming to Makkah for pilgrimage. It is now getting renovated. We spent hours inside this area but covering more than hundred such tombs in that scorching heat was impossible. Most of the tomb decorations looked similar but the rock they were carved into were different in size and shape giving it a unique look.

We drove back to Madinah after sun set and had a police officer verified our passports only at one place, where he easily let us go after a few questions.


  1. ithrayokke eyudi pidippicha ninne sammadikkanam............... Eni arenkilum idu muzhuvan vazhichal avaneyum sammadhikkanam :)

    Nee karuthu poyalloda sameere .............. ini adikam veyilu kollenda .............

  2. Sir, the pics are really kool :). hope u r having a very gr8 time with ur family. send some more pics in which i can c u along with ur family :)

    convey ma regards to ur family. njoy the vacation.

  3. superb location as well as the snaps u framed here!! wow..u should start a travalogue to print out soon...