Jordan Holiday Packages from India
Places to see in Jordan
Jordan to the Kingdom, founded by King Abdullah I after World War I. It was ruled by his grandson, the late King Hussein, for 46 years until he died in 1999 when his son King Abdullah II assumed the throne. Jordan has grown into a modern nation that has enjoyed a remarkable measure of peace, stability and economic growth in recent decades. Images of the ancient Nabataean city of Petra, carved from the rock over two thousand years ago, have long been most people’s first impression of Jordan. While Petra is indeed one of the most stunning attractions in the Middle East, Jordan offers so much more for the modern traveller.
A well-travelled bridge between sea and desert, east and west, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a land of mesmerizing beauty and contrasts. From the Jordan Valley, fertile and ever-changing, to the remote desert canyons, immense and still, visitors can explore splendid desert castles, gaze in awe at the haunting wilderness of Wadi Rum, or bathe in the restful waters of the Red Sea. For adventure lovers, there is horse riding, 4×4 safaris, rock climbing, canyoning, and hiking. For pure relaxation, nothing on earth compares to the Dead Sea and its many spa facilities.
The Jordanian flag symbolizes the Kingdom’s roots in the Great Arab Revolt of 1916, as it is adapted from the revolt banner. The black, white and green bands represent the Arab Abbasid, Umayyad and Fatimid dynasties respectively, while the crimson triangle joining the bands represents the Hashemite dynasty. The seven-pointed Islamic star set in the centre of the crimson triangle represents the seven verses of Surat Al-Fatiha, the first sura in the Holy Qur’an.
Amman, the capital of Jordan
Amman, the capital of Jordan, is a fascinating city of contrasts – a unique blend of old and new, ideally situated on a hilly area between the desert and the fertile Jordan Valley. In the commercial heart of the city, ultra-modern buildings, hotels, restaurants, art galleries, and boutiques rub shoulders comfortably with traditional coffee shops and artisans’ workshops. There is evidence of the city’s much older past everywhere you turn. Due to the city’s modern-day prosperity and temperate climate, almost half of Jordan’s population is concentrated in the Amman area. The residential suburbs consist of mainly tree-lined streets and avenues flanked by elegant, almost uniformly white houses. The downtown area is much older and more traditional with smaller businesses producing and selling everything from intricate gold and silver jewellery to everyday household items.
The city offers its visitors plenty of lively nightlife, with everything from cultural and theatrical events to traditional Arabic entertainment, modern restaurants and clubs. The people of Amman are multi-cultural, well educated, and extremely hospitable. They welcome visitors and take pride in showing them around their fascinating and vibrant city. No more than four hours drive from anywhere in the country, Amman is also a perfect base for exploring further into Jordan the various landscapes it provides.
Historical Sites in Amman
The Citadel is a good place to begin a tour of the archaeological sites of the city. It is the site of ancient Rabbath-Ammon and excavations there have revealed numerous Roman, Byzantine, and early Islamic remains. Located on a mountain, it not only gives visitors a perspective of the city’s incredible history but also provides stunning views of the entire area.
Places of specific interest at the Citadel include:
• The Umayyad Palace complex, dating from 720-750 AD. The great monumental gateway with its cruciform shape and four vaulted niches leads to a courtyard and collonaded street, which runs through the complex with ruined buildings on either side.
• The Temple of Hercules, built during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD). • The Byzantine Church, is believed to date from the 6th or 7th century AD. Corinthian columns mark the site.
Places of interest downtown include:
• The restored Roman Theatre, which dates back to the 2nd century AD, is built into three sides of the hillside and seats approximately 6000 people. It is still used for performances today.
• The Roman Forum. A public square, bordered by the theatre and the Odeon, which was amongst the largest of the Empire (100 x 50 metres). The row of columns in front of the theatre is what remains of the colonnades which once flanked it.
• The Nymphaeum. Roman cities always contained ornamental gardens and public fountains. The main fountain is close to the theatre complex and dates back to the end of the 2nd century AD.
• The Grand Husseini Mosque. Just a short walk away is Decorated in pink and white stone, it was built by Emir Abdullah in 1924 on the site of a much older mosque from the Umayyad period. The restoration was carried out under the late King Hussein in 1987.
You should also know –
Kan Zaman, on a hilltop about 12 kilometres south of the city. A renovated complex of stables, storehouses and residential complex, which has become a major tourist attraction. Kan Zaman, which means “once upon a time” combines a turn-of-the-century atmosphere with some of the best food and crafts of Jordan. The paved courtyard is lined with shops selling handicrafts, jewellery and spices. Visitors can smoke a hubble-bubble at the coffee shop or enjoy excellent Arabic food at the traditional restaurant. Some unusual entertainment is also on the menu.
The Hejaz Railway
For a glimpse of recent history, take a ride on the Hejaz Railway. This famous train was repeatedly sabotaged by the Arab troops of Emir Faisal and Lawrence of Arabia to defeat the Ottomans. While the days of Lawrence are long gone, the railway retains its sentimental appeal.
What To See
•Jordan Archaeological Museum
•Jordan Folklore Museum
• Jordan Museum of Popular Traditions
• Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts
• Haya Centre
• Martyr’s Memorial and Military Museum
• The Royal Automobile Museum
Culture & Art
The English-language newspaper, The Jordan Times, publishes a list of cultural, sport and entertainment events every day.
Jordan has a rapidly developing fine arts scene, including an increasing number of female artists. Today, artists from various Arab countries find artistic freedom and inspiration in Jordan. The Royal Cultural Centre and various foreign cultural centres often organise exhibitions for foreign and Jordanian artists.
Theatres & Cinemas
Foreign-language films are shown with the original soundtrack and Arabic subtitles. Times are listed daily in The Jordan Times. Film shows are also often organised by the various cultural centres.
Sports Clubs & Fitness Centres Amman has numerous sports clubs and fitness centres. In most cases, one can pay per visit or take out a short-term membership. Some facilities are separated for males and females.
Shopping in Jordan for Indians
Shopping in Amman can be an exciting experience. Designer boutiques, particularly those in Sweifieh, Abdoun and Jabal al-Hussein, offer the latest in clothing and accessories. Amman also boasts a wide assortment of shopping centres such as Abdoun Mall, Amman Mall, Mecca Mall, and the Zara Shopping Centre. The Gold Souq, located in the downtown area, is famous for its dazzling array of very competitively priced handmade gold and silver work where one can still practice your bargaining skills. There are also a number of excellent shops selling beautiful traditional handicrafts, such as hand-woven rugs and cushions, pottery, and embroidered items, many of which now come in contemporary designs.
Supermarkets & Department Stores in Jordan for Indians
There are many supermarkets and grocery stores in Amman, and they are generally well stocked with local and imported foods
Accommodation in Jordan for Indians
Amman has many 5 and 4 star hotels, with gourmet restaurants, coffee shops, and boutiques. All the top hotels offer well-equipped conference and meetings facilities, fitness centres, spas and swimming pools. For those on a more modest budget, there are numerous small hotels ranging from 3 to 1-star ranks, especially in the downtown area. For more information about hotels and accommodation, throughout the Kingdom, log on to the Jordan Tourism Board website: www.VisitJordan.com.
Dining in Jordan fro Indians
Amman is a large cosmopolitan city and offers an extensive range of restaurants serving popular international cuisines. Dining is available for just about everything from American to Yemeni and everything in between. Visitors are highly encouraged to try the local food. There are a variety of delicious traditional restaurants to choose from, many of which also provide live entertainment.
An ancient town, As-Salt was once the most important settlement in the area between the Jordan Valley and the eastern desert. Because of its history as an important trading link between the eastern desert and the west, it was a significant place for the region’s many rulers. The Romans, Byzantines and Mamlukes all contributed to the growth of the town but it was at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, during Ottoman rule when As-Salt enjoyed its most prosperous period. It was at that time that the Ottomans established a regional administrative base in As-Salt and encouraged settlement from other parts of their empire. As the town’s status increased, many merchants arrived and, with their newly acquired wealth, built the fine houses that can still be admired in As-Salt today. These splendid yellow sandstone buildings incorporate a variety of local and European styles. Typically, they have domed roofs, interior courtyards and tall, arched windows. Perhaps the most beautiful is the Abu Jaber mansion, built between 1892 and 1906, which has frescoed ceilings, painted by Italian artists, and is reputed to be the finest example of a 19th-century merchant house in the region.
What To See for Indians
• As-Salt Archaeological Museum
• As-Salt Handicrafts Centre
• As-Salt Folklore Museum
• Shrine of Prophet Shu’ayb (Jethro)
• As-Salt Historical Museum (Abu Jaber House)
The quaint town of Fuheis features charming restaurants, galleries and a small complex of craft shops presenting ceramics, weaving, jewellery, antiques and other items. In the summer, theatre and musical performances can be enjoyed outdoors during the Fuheis festival.
Iraq Al-Amir is situated in a lush, secluded wadi 24km to the southwest of Amman. The area is generally known for Qasr Al-’Abd (Palace of the Slave), an impressive and unique building that dates from the first quarter of the 2nd century BC. Originally two stories high and constructed of megalithic stones weighing from 15-25 tons each, it is the most striking Hellenistic monument that has survived on either side of the Jordan River.
Madaba is one of the most memorable places in the Holy Land. Dubbed, “the City of Mosaics”, Madaba offers many sites to explore. Amongst them, the chief attraction – in the contemporary Greek Orthodox church of St. George – is a wonderfully vivid, 6th century Byzantine mosaic map showing Jerusalem and other holy sites. With two million pieces of coloured stone and a full 25×5 metres in its original state – most of which can still be seen today – the map depicts hills and valleys, villages and towns, as far away as the Nile Delta. This masterpiece is unrivalled in Jordan, but there are literally dozens of other mosaics from the 5th through the 7th centuries scattered throughout Madaba’s churches and homes. In line with Jordan’s commitment to restoring and preserving its mosaic masterpieces, Madaba’s extensive archaeological park and museum complex encompass the remains of several Byzantine churches, including the outstanding mosaics of the Church of the Virgin and the Hippolytus Hall, part of a 6th-century mansion. Close to the archaeological park is the Mosaic School of Madaba, which operates under the patronage of the Ministry of Tourism. The only project of its kind in the Middle East, the school trains artisans in the art of making, repairing and restoring mosaics
What To See for Indians
• St. George’s Church
• Madaba Archaeological Museum
• Madaba Folkloric Museum
• Madaba Archaeological Park
• Church of the Apostles
It is the place where Moses was buried and the most revered holy site in Jordan. When atop this mountain, one can see, as Moses did, the vast panorama that encompasses the Jordan River Valley, the Dead Sea, Jericho, and Jerusalem, often referred to as the Holy Land. It remains a place of pilgrimage for early Christians and Mount Nebo’s first church was built in the late 4th century to mark the site of Moses’ death.
What To See for Indians
Six tombs, from different periods, have been found hollowed out of the rock beneath the mosaic-covered floor of the church. In the present presbytery remnants of mosaics, the earliest of which is a panel with a braided cross can be seen. The Serpentine Cross, which stands just outside the sanctuary, is symbolic of the brass serpent taken by Moses into the desert and the cross upon which Jesus was crucified. The Moses Memorial Church at Mount Nebo displays a large number of beautiful mosaics.
Within an hour’s drive from Madaba along the picturesque King’s Highway, is Mukawir, the hilltop stronghold of Herod the Great. Upon Herod’s death, his son Herod Antipas inherited the fortress and it is from here that he ordered John the Baptist to be beheaded after Salome’s fateful dance of the seven veils.
The Old and New Testaments mention it, the Romans fortified it, and the local Christians were still embellishing it with Byzantine-style mosaics well over one hundred years after the beginning of Muslim rule: Kastron Mefaa, modern Umm arRasas, has a long history.
What To See for Indians
The rectangular walled city is mostly in ruins but still boasts several buildings, four churches and some beautiful stone arches. The main attraction is outside the city walls within the Church of St. Stephen, which contains a very large, perfectly preserved mosaic floor laid down in 718 AD. It portrays fifteen major cities of the Holy Land from both east and west of the River Jordan. This magnificent mosaic is second only to Madaba’s world-famous mosaic map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Less than 2km north of the fortified town, the highest standing ancient tower of Jordan puzzles the specialists: a 15 metre high, square tower with no door or inner staircase, now inhabited by birds
(Hot Springs) Since the days of Rome, people have come to the thermal mineral springs of Hammamat Ma’in or Zarqa Ma’in for thermal treatments – or simply to enjoy a hot soak. There is truly no better way to end a day immersed in history than in a wonderful, naturally warm bath. Situated in this exquisite spot is an excellent Spa and Resort offering a wide variety of professional services including mud wraps, hydro-jet baths and showers, underwater massages and much more.
Without a doubt, one of the world’s most amazing places, the Jordan Rift Valley is a dramatic, beautiful landscape. The lowest point on the face of the earth, this vast, stretch of water receives a number of incoming rivers, including the River Jordan. The Dead Sea is flanked by mountains to the east and the rolling hills of Jerusalem to the west, giving it an almost other-worldly beauty. The area is believed to have been home to five Biblical cities: Sodom, Gomorrah, Adman, Zeboiim and Zoar. The Jordanian east coast of the Dead Sea has evolved into both the religious and health & wellness tourism hub of the region. A series of good roads, excellent hotels with spa and fitness facilities, as well as archaeological and spiritual discoveries make this region as enticing to today’s international visitors as it was to kings, emperors, traders, prophets, and pilgrims in antiquity.
What To See for Indians
Visit the tombs of the Prophet Mohammad’s (Peace Be Upon Him) venerable companions and military leaders who fell in battle or became victims of the Great Plague (Amwas Plague) in the 18th year after the Hijra.
• Abu Ubeida Amer Bin Al-Jarrah
A relative of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and one of the first converts to Islam. His tomb, in the Central Jordan Valley, is a major Islamic centre with a mosque, library and cultural centre.
• Mo’ath Bin Jabal
One of the six men charged with the task of compiling the Holy Quran during the life of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). A modern building with five domes houses his tomb.
• Shurhabil Bin Hasanah
One of the early Muslims who fled to Abyssinia. He participated in the Battle of Yarmouk and the conquest of Jerusalem.
• Amir Bin Abi Waqqas
A maternal cousin of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and the eleventh man to convert to Islam. He migrated to Abyssinia and fought in the battle of Uhud.
• Derar Bin Al-Azwar
He was a poet and fierce warrior, who fought in the wars of Apostasy and took part in the conquest of Greater Syria. A victim of the Great Plague, he died in the 18th year after the Hijra. His tomb is located in a mosque superimposed by a dome, in the town of Deir ‘Alla.
BETHANY BEYOND THE JORDAN
The Jordan Valley has profound meaning for religious travellers. The area opposite Jericho has been identified for nearly two millennia as the area where Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist. Stunning archaeological discoveries between the Jordan River and Tell Al-Kharrar since 1996 have identified this area as biblical ‘Bethany Beyond the Jordan’, where John was living when he baptized Jesus. Two thousand years later, people from all over the world still come to this site to be baptized. The late Pope John Paul II also visited the site as part of his spiritual pilgrimage to the Holy Land at the start of the new millennium. Tell Al-Kharrar (St. Elijah’s Hill), is reminiscent of the Prophet Elijah. It is from this hill that he ascended to heaven in a chariot of fire.
What To See for Indians
St. Elijah’s Hill is now the focal point of the Baptism Site and is covered with the remains of a Byzantine monastery with churches, large baptism pools and a water storage system. Findings from the early
1st century AD confirms the site was inhabited during the lives of Jesus and John the Baptist. A 3rd-century building with a white mosaic pavement has been called an early Christian ‘prayer hall’, this may be one of the earliest Christian prayer facilities identified anywhere in the world. Also identified on Elijah’s Hill is the cave where, according to numerous Byzantine pilgrims’ texts, John the Baptist lived and baptized Jesus Christ. The Byzantine church was built around the cave, and a man-made water channel emerging from the cave has been excavated in the last few years and can be now visited. Closer to the Jordan River are four other Byzantine churches and large pools with an extensive water system. These facilities were mentioned in texts by Byzantine writers, who linked them with the tradition of Jesus’ baptism.
THE DEAD SEA
The Dead Sea has a historical and spiritual legacy of its own. It is believed to be the site of five biblical cities: Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim and Zoar (Bela). Today its eastern shore is sparsely populated and serenely quiet. With much of the landscape virtually unchanged since ancient times, this is a favourite spot for a holiday drive. Spend the day sunbathing, swimming, or dining. Relax in the gently lapping waters and be amazed that you can’t sink! Treat yourself to a soothing massage, or try the well-known healing powers of minerals from the sea’s muddy floor. If you’d like a more leisurely stay, spend the night at a comfortable hotel that looks across the sea to the western banks. This west-facing view affords visitors to the Dead Sea the unique treat of its spectacular sunsets.
Also read – Places to see near Dead sea
What To See for Indians
Lot’s Sanctuary, one of the most significant archaeological discoveries in Jordan is located near modern Safi. For decades, guided by the Madaba mosaic map of Palestine which pointed to the existence of such a site, archaeologists have searched for ancient Zoar. Here, Lot and his daughters are believed to have sought refuge in a cave after God destroyed the city of Sodom, according to the book of Genesis. The cave is on a hill near a tiny spring, overlooking the Dead Sea. A dried pillar of salt nearby is said to be the remains of Lot’s wife, who disobeyed God’s warning not to look back as she fled Sodom.
The Mujib Nature Reserve is located within the spectacular Wadi Mujib gorge, the Biblical Amon Valley, which enters the Dead Sea at 410 metres below sea level. The Amman Touristic Beach just south of the hotel and spa resorts is a great place for low budget travellers, it is also an ideal location for beach parties and events.
Shopping for Indians near Dead sea
No trip to the Dead Sea is complete without a visit to one of the many outlets located in the resorts selling world-famous Dead Sea products. These are reasonably priced, excellent quality, and make great gifts to take home. Directions Take the Airport Highway till you see the Dead Sea sign. Turn right and follow the signs. Lot’s Cave is around 1.5 hours south of the hotel and spa resorts.
Pella is a favourite of archaeologists as it is exceptionally rich in antiquities. Besides the excavated ruins from the Graeco-Roman period, including an Odeon (theatre), Pella offers visitors the opportunity to see the remains of a Chalcolithic settlement from the 4th millennium BC, the remains of Bronze and Iron Age walled cities, Byzantine churches and houses, an Early Islamic residential quarter, and a small medieval mosque.
What To See for Indians
Pella boasts many interesting sites, many of them still under excavation. Important are the 6th century West Church, 6th-century Civic Complex Church, 1st-century Odeon, Roman Nymphaeum and East Church.
A lonely reminder of former Crusader glory is Shawbak Castle, less than an hour north of Petra. Once called “Mont Real”, Shawbak dates from the same turbulent period as Karak. It is perched on the side of a mountain, with a grand sweep of fruit trees below. The castle’s exterior is impressive, with a forbidding gate and encircling triple wall. Despite the precautions of its builder, the fortress fell to Saladin only 75 years after it was raised. Inscriptions by his proud successors appear on the castle wall.
A close second to Petra on the list of favourite destinations in Jordan, the ancient city of Jerash boasts an unbroken chain of human occupation dating back more than 6 500 years. The city’s golden age came under Roman rule and the site is now generally acknowledged to be one of the best-preserved Roman provincial towns in the world. Hidden for centuries in the sand before being excavated and restored over the past 70 years, Jerash reveals a fine example of the grand, formal, provincial Roman urbanism that is found throughout the Middle East, comprising paved and collonaded streets, soaring hilltop temples, handsome theatres, spacious public squares and plazas, baths, fountains and city walls pierced by towers and gates. Beneath its external Greco-Roman veneer, Jerash also preserves a subtle blend of east and west. Its architecture, religion and languages reflect a process by which two powerful cultures meshed and coexisted, the Greco-Roman world of the Mediterranean basin and the ancient traditions of the Arab Orient.
The modern city of Jerash can be found to the east of the ruins. While the old and new share a city wall, careful preservation and planning have seen the city itself develop well away from the ruins. The Jerash Festival, held in July every year, transforms the ancient city into one of the world’s liveliest and most spectacular cultural events. The festival features folklore dances by local and international groups, ballet, concerts, plays, opera, and sales of traditional handicrafts, all in the brilliantly floodlit dramatic surroundings of the Jerash ruins. For more information about the Jerash Festival, visit www.jerashfestival.com.jo.
What To See
Guidebooks, maps and further information are readily available from the Visitors Centre near the South Gate. The ruins are extensive and impressive. Highlights include: • Hadrian’s Arch • Hippodrome • Colonnaded Street • Cathedral • North Theatre • South Theatre • Jerash Archaeological Museum
Directions Jerash is a great day trip from Amman. By car or taxi: From the Sport City interchange in Amman, head northwest past Jordan University; Jerash is 51km from Amman. By bus: Various companies offer regular trips in air-conditioned coaches from Amman. For more information, please visit www.VisitJordan.com
The marvels of nature and the genius of medieval Arab military architecture have given northern Jordan two of the most important ecological and historical attractions in the Middle East: the sprawling pine forests of the Ajlun-Dibeen area, and the towering Arab-Islamic castle at Ajlun, which aided in the defeat of the Crusaders eight centuries ago.
What To See
Ajlun Castle (Qal’at Ar-Rabad) was built by Saladin’s general in 1184 AD to control the iron mines of Ajlun, and to counter the progress of the Crusaders by dominating the three main routes leading to the Jordan valley and protecting the communication routes between Jordan and Syria. A fine example of Islamic architecture, the fortress dominates a wide stretch of the northern Jordan Valley. Close to Ajlun is Anjara, the town where Jesus Christ, his mother Mary and his disciples passed through and rested in a nearby cave now commemorated with the church of Our Lady of the Mountain. Just west of Ajlun is Tall Mar Elias, the site where the prophet Elijah is believed to have ascended to Heaven in a whirlwind on a chariot of fire. Both Tall Mar Elias and Anjara are Millenium 2000 Pilgrimage sites designated by the Vatican.
Accommodation for Indians
New hotels in the immediate vicinity of the castle make it easy for visitors to spend as long as they wish in this enchanting region. For more information about accommodation throughout the Kingdom, please visit www.VisitJordan.com.
Directions From Amman take the Zarqa-Mafraq highway north and follow the signs. A short journey west from Jerash, through pine forest and olive groves, brings you to the town of Ajlun.
Jordan’s second-largest city is a bustling community with a large university. Though not an important city for sightseeing, Irbid houses two worthwhile museums and makes a convenient base to explore the northern Jordan Valley or to start a trip to Syria.
What To See for Indians
• University Street
• Archaeological Museum / Department of Antiquities
• Museum of Jordanian Heritage
• The Yarmouk University Institute of Anthropology & Archaeology
Allow around one and a half hours to get from Amman to Pella or Umm Qays via Irbid. A good idea is to start by exploring Jerash and its magnificent ruins, and then continue north. By car or taxi: From the Sport City interchange in Amman, head northwest past Jordan University. By bus: There are regular bus services from Amman to Irbid. For more information, please visit www.VisitJordan.com
Umm al-Jimal, dubbed “Black Gem of the Desert” was once a town on the margins of the Decapolis. Rural and well to do, it is a fitting contrast to the surrounding busy cities. Its black basalt mansions and towers, some still standing three stories high, have long inspired poets. Directions Take the Irbid Highway to Mafraq, and then a tiny road will take you to Umm Al Jimal, 2 hours away from Amman.
The site of the famous miracle of the Gadarene swine, Gadara (known today as Umm Qays) was renowned in its time as a cultural centre. It was the home of several classical poets and philosophers, including Theodorus, founder of a rhetorical school in Rome; one poet called the city “a new Athens”. Perched on a splendid hilltop overlooking the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee, Umm Qays boasts an impressive collonaded terrace and the ruins of two theatres. Take in the sights and then dine on the magnificent terrace of a fine restaurant with a breathtaking view of three countries.
What To See for Indians
The main sights are the ruins of the Roman city, with its Western Theatre, collonaded street, mausoleum and baths. The Umm Qays Museum contains artefacts, mosaics and statues. Al-Himma’s therapeutic hot springs are located about 10km north of Umm Qays and were highly regarded by the Romans. There are two bathing facilities: a privately run, high-quality complex and a public bath complex with separate timetables for males and females.
Whether you approach Karak from the ancient Kings’ Highway to the east or from the Dead Sea to the west, the striking silhouette of this fortified town and castle will instantly make one understand why the fates of kings and nations were decided here for millennia. An ancient Crusader stronghold, Karak sits 900 metres above sea level and lies inside the walls of the old city. The city today continues to boast a number of restored 19th-century Ottoman buildings, restaurants, places to stay, and the like. But, it is undoubtedly Karak Castle that dominates. Karak’s most famous occupant was Reynald de Chatillon, whose reputation for treachery, betrayal and brutality is unsurpassed. When Baldwin II died, his son, a 13-year-old leper, pursued peace with Saladin. The Leper King, however, died without an heir, and in stepped Reynald, who succeeded in winning the hand of Stephanie, the wealthy widow of Karak’s assassinated regent. He promptly broke the truce with Saladin, who returned with a vast army, ready for war. Reynald and King Guy of Jerusalem led the Crusader forces and suffered a massive defeat. Islam’s first expansion beyond the Arabian Peninsula was northwards into Jordan. Here the first contact between Islam and the non-Arab/Byzantine world occurred. Consequently, several strategic 7th-century battles took place: the Battles of Muta, Yarmouk and Fahl (Pella). Many of Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) companions and military leaders were martyred and buried in Jordan, and their tombs and shrines today are important destinations for pious Muslims such as Al Mazar aj Janubi, just 25 minutes south of Karak.
The town of Karak is built on a triangular plateau, with the castle at its narrow southern tip. Throughout the castle, dark and roughly shaped Crusader masonry is easy to discern from the finely-crafted blocks of lighter and softer limestone used in later Arab work.
What To See fro Indians
Karak Castle is a dark maze of stone-vaulted halls and endless passageways. More imposing than beautiful, the castle is nevertheless an impressive insight into the architectural military genius of the Crusaders. • Karak Archaeological Museum • Mazar Islamic Museum
DESERT UMAYYAD CASTLES
Jordan’s desert castles, beautiful examples of both early Islamic art and architecture, stand testament to a fascinating era in the country’s rich history. Their fine mosaics, frescoes, stone and stucco carvings and illustrations, inspired by the best in Persian and Graeco – Roman traditions, tell countless stories of life as it was during the 8th century. Called castles because of their imposing stature, the desert complexes actually served various purposes as caravan stations, agriculture and trade centres, resort pavilions and outposts that helped distant rulers forge ties with local bedouins. Many of these remains are preserved compounds, all of which are clustered to the east and south of Amman.
Qusayr ‘Amra, one of the best-preserved monuments, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its interior walls and ceilings are covered with unique frescoes, and two of the rooms are paved with colourful mosaics. Qasr Mushatta, Qasr al – Kharrana, Qasr at – Tuba and Qasr al – Hallabat have been restored and are all in excellent condition. The black basalt fort at Azraq, in continuous use since Late Roman times, was the headquarters of Lawrence of Arabia during the Arab Revolt.
The Desert Castles tour:
Take the Airport Highway from Amman heading south and take the turning towards Azraq. You can visit Qasr alHallabat, Qasr al-Azraq, Qusayr ‘Amra and Qasr al-Kharrana, in this or the opposite sequence during a drive through the Eastern Desert. Qasr al-Mushatta is located near Queen Alia International Airport south of Amman and is well worth a trip. A good map is advisable and can be found from the local JTB office, the Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities or from the Jordan Tourism Board offices in Amman.
Often described as the eighth wonder of the ancient world, it is without doubt Jordan’s most valuable treasure and the greatest tourist attraction. It is a vast, unique city, carved into the sheer rock face by the Nabataeans, an industrious Arab civilization who settled here more than 2000 years ago, turning it into an important junction for the silk, spice and other trade routes that linked China, India, and southern Arabia with Egypt, Syria, Greece, and Rome. The Nabataean Kingdom existed for centuries, and Petra became widely admired for its refined culture, massive architecture and ingenious complex of dams and water channels. Ultimately, however, the Roman Emperor Trajan annexed the Kingdom. By the 14th century, Petra was completely lost to the West, and so it remained for almost 300 years. Then in 1812, a Swiss traveller, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt persuaded his guide to take him to the site of the rumoured lost city. Secretly making notes and sketches, he wrote, “It seems very probable that the ruins at Wadi Musa are those of the ancient Petra.” In order to preserve Petra, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, all tourists’ facilities have been located in the town of Wadi Musa, next to the entrance of the site.
What To See The main attraction of Petra is naturally the city itself. A one day visit is an absolute minimum, and a week will still leave many areas unexplored. Maps and excellent guidebooks are for sale at the entrance of the Petra site, and tour guides are available to take you through the ancient city. You can hire a horse or horse-drawn carriages to take you from the main entrance through the siq to the Treasury. For elderly and handicapped tourists, the Visitors Centre can issue a special permit for an extra fee, so that the carriages can go inside Petra itself to its main attractions. After you have passed the siq, once inside the actual city, hire a donkey or, for the more adventurous, be led on camelback – it is easier than you may think and surprisingly comfortable! Remember to use caution, as the Petra site is large and can involve some fairly steep climbs! Petra’s most famous monument, the Treasury or Al-Khazneh, appears dramatically at the end of the siq. Used in the final sequence of the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, this towering façade is only the first of Petra’s secrets.
Various walks and climbs reveal hundreds of rock-carved tombs and temple façades, funerary halls and rock reliefs – enough to keep you here for many days. You will find a 3000-seat theatre from the early 1st century AD, a Palace Tomb in the Roman style, and Qasr al-Bint, the only freestanding building that survived in this ancient city. A climb of over 900 rock-cut stairs will bring you to many visitors’ highlights – a gigantic 1st century Deir (Monastery). A modest shrine commemorating the death of Aaron, brother of Moses, was built in the 13th century by the Mameluke Sultan, high atop mount Aaron (Jabal Haroun) in the Sharah mountain range. These sights are at their best in the early morning and late afternoon, when the sun confers warm tones to the multicoloured stone and you can view the majesty of Petra as Burckhardt saw it in 1812. Another way to see Petra as well as to experience the Bedouin culture of the region is to attend the Petra by Night experience late after the sun has set. Another worthwhile site includes the Petra Archaeological Museum, inside the site, which houses a wide variety of finds from Petra and the Petra Nabataean Museum. More information on Petra and its other attractions are available from the Visitors Centre at the entrance to the site.
Accommodation In Petra for Indians
An extensive range of accommodation to suit all budgets is available in and around the town of Wadi Musa, just outside the site of Petra, including excellent 5 and 4-star hotels. It is always advisable to pre-book accommodation. Dining Local hotels have delicious international restaurants. Inside the town are several restaurants which serve traditional cuisine, as well as several fast food outlets.
Shopping in Petra for Indians
Apart from the artisan’s stalls inside the Petra site, there are many shops in Wadi Musa that sell local products, such as Nabataean-style pottery, silverware and beadwork jewellery. These are mainly produced locally by the Bedouin people. Just outside the centre of Wadi Musa is a silver workshop, where local women make a delightful array of silver jewellery pieces, which are sold in several local shops.
“Vast, echoing and God-like”. These are the words T. E. Lawrence used in describing Wadi Rum. The largest and most magnificent of Jordan’s desert landscapes, this is a stupendous, timeless place, virtually untouched by humans. A maze of monolithic rockscapes rises up from the desert floor to heights of 1,750 metres creating a natural challenge for serious mountaineers. Hikers can enjoy the tranquillity of the boundless empty spaces, explore the canyons and water holes to discover 4000-year-old rock drawings and the many other spectacular treasures this vast wilderness holds in store. Also known as ‘The Valley of the Moon, this is the place where Prince Faisal Bin Hussein and T.E. Lawrence based their headquarters during the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans in World War I, and their exploits are intrinsically woven into the history of this amazing area.
What To See in Wadi rum for Indians
First and foremost, come to Wadi Rum to experience the desert itself. Wadi Rum is the classic picture of a sandy desert, with sandstone jabals (mountains) rising sheer out of the valley floor. They tower over a small Bedouin village, which includes the Desert Patrol Fort (now a Badiya or desert police station). The men of the Desert Police are a spectacle in themselves, traditionally dressed in khaki uniform, many still riding camels. Wadi Rum Visitor’s Centre has a souvenir shop with handicraft products of excellent design placed in the historical train wagons next to the Rest House.
There are several options for exploring Wadi Rum. Visitors should head for the Visitors Centre where, apart from visitors’ facilities, they can hire a 4×4 vehicle, together with a driver/ guide, and then drive for two or three hours to explore some of the best-known sites. Alternatively, they can hire a camel and guide. The duration of the trip can be arranged beforehand through the Visitors’ Centre. Once transport has been arranged, there are various excursions available – for example, a trip to Burdah Rock Bridge, the highest in Wadi Rum, via the Seven Pillars of Wisdom and many other interesting sights, is a full day by car or an overnight trip by camel. There are many alternative routes. More information is available from your tour operator or from the Visitors’ Centre on-site.
Accommodation in Wadi rum for Indians
There are two types of accommodation available in the Wadi Rum area: camping and bed and breakfast. Campers can choose either the ‘wild campsites’, which are without facilities and visitors must bring their own tents and equipment, or alternatively, there are Bedouin-style campsites with all facilities and entertainment. Bed and breakfast facilities are available in Rum Village. Camping trips can be arranged by various travel agents in Amman, Petra or Aqaba, who can tailor your trip according to your requirements and the size of the group. They can also supply transport (4×4 vehicles), guides, camels, food and equipment. For more information please contact the Visitors’ Centre or visit our website at www.VisitJordan.com.
Dining in Wadi rum for Indians
Because Wadi Rum is a nature reserve, there are no facilities available within the site. However, there are shops and a restaurant at the Visitors’ Centre
Greatly prized as Jordan’s window to the sea, Aqaba brings a refreshing release from the rose-coloured desert to the north. Its sandy beaches and coral reefs are the most pristine on the Red Sea, and Jordanians continuously work hard to preserve it as such. Indigo-coloured deep water lies just offshore in Aqaba, offering kaleidoscopic marine life within easy reach. Exploring means a leisurely drive to a private spot and a short swim out to the reef. Unusual vertical currents and sea breezes make diving cool and pleasant, even in the heat of the summer. Aqaba’s reef is thriving, adorned with variety in its coral and fish. Common species are branch coral, fungia, and montipora, and the rare archelia, a black, tree-like specimen found at great depths and first discovered by the Late King Hussein himself. Darting through the reef are clownfish, Picasso triggerfish, goby, sea anemone, parrotfish, pipefish, and countless others. Two of the most intriguing are the harmless, plankton-eating whale shark, the largest fish in the world, and the willowy garden eel, almost invisible in the seagrass. Aside from some of the world’s best scuba diving, Hotels and other beachfront operators can organise other water sports for you. There is snorkelling, fishing and sailing to pass the time, or glass-bottomed boats for those who prefer to keep marine life at arm’s length.
There is a Mameluke Fort at the end of the corniche and, on an island in the middle of the Gulf, the castle of Saladin, foe of Richard the Lionheart and Reynald de Chatillon. In this century, Arab forces with T. E. Lawrence wrestled the port from the Ottomans in one of the most dramatic victories of the Arab Revolt. Aqaba basks in delightfully warm weather nine months of the year during winter, spring and autumn. Summer is hot, but you can pace your activities and adapt to the climate, slowing down in midday, and reviving in the cool of the evening.
What To See in Aqaba fro Indians
• Aqaba Marine Science Station • Aqaba Birds Observatory • Museum of Aqaba Antiquities • Aqaba Archaeological Museum • Mameluke Fort
Accommodation in Aqaba for Indians
Aqaba offers a wide range of accommodation, including excellent five, four and three-star hotels most of which are well-equipped with all facilities necessary for meetings and conferences. The top hotels are located alongside the beaches and offer a full range of water-sports and holiday activities, as well as tennis courts, spa and fitness centres, boutiques and beauty shops. More modest accommodation is also available within the town along with a campsite located on the beach. For more information on accommodation in Aqaba, please visit www.VisitJordan.com.
JORDAN’S NATURE RESERVES
Nature lovers will find lots to enjoy and discover in Jordan, with a number of major nature reserves now in place. Dana Nature Reserve Dana Nature Reserve covers 308 square kilometres and is a world of natural treasures. Managed by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN), it is composed of a chain of valleys and mountains which extend from the top of the Jordan Rift Valley down to the desert lowlands of Wadi Araba. The visitor to this area will be awed by the beauty of the Rummana Mountain, the mystery of the ancient archaeological ruins of Feynan, the timeless serenity of Dana Village and the grandeur of the red and white sandstone cliffs of Wadi Dana. The Reserve contains a remarkable diversity of landscapes, which range from wooded highlands to rocky slopes and from gravel plains to dunes of sand. Moreover, Dana supports diverse wildlife which includes a variety of rare species of plants and animals. Dana is home to about 600 species of plants, 37 species of mammals and 190 species of birds.
Azraq Wetland Reserve
Azraq is a unique wetland oasis located in the heart of the semiarid Jordanian eastern desert, one of several beautiful nature reserves managed by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN). Its attractions include several natural and ancient built pools, a seasonally flooded marshland, and a large mudflat known as Qa’a Al-Azraq. A wide variety of birds stop at the reserve each year for a rest during their arduous migration routes between Asia and Africa. Some stay for the winter or breed within the protected areas of the wetland.
Shamwari Wildlife Reserve
The Shamwari Reserve was created in 1975 by the RSCN as a breeding centre for endangered or locally extinct wildlife. Today, following breeding programmes from some of the world’s leading wildlife parks and zoos, this small, 22-square kilometre reserve is a thriving protected environment for some of the rarest species in the Middle East. Oryx, ostriches, gazelles and onagers are rebuilding their populations and reasserting their presence in this safe haven.
Mujib Nature Reserve
The Mujib Reserve is the lowest nature reserve in the world, with a spectacular array of scenery near the east coast of the Dead Sea. The reserve is located within the deep Wadi Mujib gorge, which enters the Dead Sea at 410 metres below sea level. The Reserve extends to the Karak and Madaba mountains to the north and south, reaching 900 metres above sea level in some places. This 1,300-metre variation in elevation, combined with the valley’s year-round water, means that Wadi Mujib enjoys a magnificent bio-diversity that is still being explored and documented today.
Dana Nature Reserve: Take the Kings’ Highway south from Amman and pass by Karak and Tafila. Over 20km from Tafila, between the villages of Rashadiyya and Qadisiyya, there are two signposted roads, one to Rummana Campsite and one to Dana village.
You can reach Feynan Campsite either by foot from Dana, or take the Dead Sea Highway from Amman, and then a side road to the village of Greigra. From there you can hire a 4X4 vehicle with a driver/guide to Feynan.
Azraq Wetland Reserve: Azraq is a one and a half-hour drive east of Amman. There are two major routes leading there: – The Desert Highway: From the Desert Highway, take the Madaba turn and head east. Follow the road signs to Azraq. – Zarqa Highway: In Amman, go east on King Abdullah Street, to join the Amman – Zarqa Highway. The road to Azraq branches off from the highway before you reach Zarqa. Shamwari Wildlife Reserve: Shamwari lies about 125 kilometres east of Amman, near Azraq Village, and can be reached by following the directions given for the Azraq Oasis.
Mujib Nature Reserve: Drive about 30km south of the Dead Sea hotel resort area, until you reach the Mujib Bridge, where a small reserve office is located.
Visa Requirement for Jordan
The cost of one entry visa for all nationalities is JD 10 (approximately $14) and for multiple entries, it is JD 20 (approximately $28). Groups of five persons or more arriving through a designated Jordanian tour operator are exempted from all visa charges. Departure taxes for non-Jordanians are JD5, approximately $7, from any border except airports. Certain nationalities require that an entry visa be obtained prior to travel. It is recommended that you check with the Jordanian diplomatic mission in your country prior to travel to ensure that you have all the necessary paperwork for travel or visit our website www.VisitJordan.com for more information.
Also read –Visa On Arrival countries for Indians