YERU EBUEN -
A few kilometres away from Nakhal fort is a lush village protected by thick groves of date palms. From Muscat, Nakhal is about 150 kilometres away, a good one-and-a-half-hour drive but on a lazy week day, reaching it after two hours is still fine. The road that leads to Ain Al Thowarah is narrow. And unexpectedly, even on a Tuesday, the street is dominated by visitors wet from a day of frolicking into the spring’s warm water.
In Oman, the spring has adopted many names. Nakhal Spring being the easiest to remember and Al Thowarah the closest to its official name I think. I heard of a few others.
The term ‘hot spring’ is also being debated since the water may be warm but it is far from boiling. ‘Thowarah’ after all is an Arabic word that is used to describe boiling water.
At 6pm, the spring is still filled with people. The lampposts lining the road heading to the main water source gave out morose red orange light and at an early evening, felt rustic and homey.
On holidays, the whole area is filled with people who bring along with them picnic baskets. On some special days, you’d witness the dramatic drum performances of some Zanzibaris who’ve grown quite fond of this oasis.
But if you find yourself lost here on a Tuesday, vendors selling mangoes and other fruits are your best source of information.
A favourite destination for a quick dip
On our visit, we noted four families each picking their own spot around the spring water source. There were several picnic tables scattered all over. The spring itself, as aptly described by one online blogger, is just a ‘small rectangular concrete pool fed by warm water by a natural spring water.”
Although the dipping pool is small, it managed to accommodate 15 people. Not much swimming can be done as not only was it crowded but there was barely any room to spread your arms to swim.
The water flows into a river which was a site for foot fish spa and much further down, washing cars.
One of the visitors, an elderly woman who was accompanied by her grandkids, believed that the spring water has curing powers.
“The spring water can cure some forms of diseases. The warm water is also good for aching joints and muscles. We come here several times a year. Even just dipping your feet into the water can revive you,” she said.
For the mother who have trouble getting her kids off the water, she found it a good place to spend the afternoon.
“We live nearby and since there are not many places to hang out here, this spring offers the kid some form of fun. They enjoy this activity and we always hear them asking that we drop by,” Shamika, a mother of 2, shared.
A good escape from the city
For travelers John and Mary Adams, they said they were there by accident.
“We only have Nakhal Fort in our itinerary but a guy we met said that there is a good spring for us to see not very far from the fort. Since we are already here, we decided to give it a visit,” John shared.
“We really liked so many of the things we see in Nakhal Fort. It was not only historical but it’s fascinating architecture. This detour offered us a better understanding of why the fort was placed there. This spring would have been a great source of water,” he added.
For Mary, she fell in love with the date plantations and the oasis.
“There are so much to see here. I mean just walking around already offers you an insight as to how people are living in this part of the country. They live simple lives. The spring is definitely something they enjoy visiting,” she noted.
The couple wished though that the spring can be developed more.
“There’s a lot of things that can be done about this area. What we loved about Oman is that it always takes into consideration the lifestyle, culture and tradition of its people in its march towards development. I think with smart, sustainable development, Al Thowarah can definitely become a great destination.”