Amman is the capital city of Jordan and as per some old biblical dictionary it means a city perched atop 7 Hills. As I drove from the airport to my hostel in downtown, this fact became apparent as I came across several viewpoints which offered a panoramic view of the entire city. My stay was booked at The Boutique Hostel (nothing Boutique about it though) in downtown Amman. It was a small house managed by a helpful but shrewd Palestinian owner. The itinerary for the day was to visit the Roman Theater and the Citadel. Both nestled inside the city limits. I got my directions from the hostel manager and decided to walk (walking is the best way to explore any city).The entire downtown Amman is filled with shops that sell everything, from classy leather jackets and boots to the boring electronics to the much hyped dead sea cosmetics. People are warm and friendly. Infact, I was approached by many of them as they instantly recognized the traveler with a camera and the fact that he also looked Indian. Questions pertaining to Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Sachin Tendulkar, Mumbai, Delhi were asked and offers made to buy discounted products from their shops. I only asked further directions to the Roman Theater.Unfortunately, the Roman Theater was closed due to severe flooding that had taken place due to torrential rains (something that is least expected in a desert) and I also came to know that the next place I planned to visit was supposed to be closed for the day in the next 15 minutes. I immediately rushed to my next destination, not wanting to miss out and have nothing to speak about my first day as a solo traveler. Upon my arrival at the Citadel, several tour guides offered an extra hour of sight-seeing beyond the closing time so that I could see the entire place, for an extra 20 JD. Well, it was totally worth it. The majestic sun was calling it a day, the city was turning into a burning red rose and I was on top of one of the 7 hills of Amman surrounded by history and roman architecture.I walked back to my hostel (atleast 4-5 kms) and upon my return, I got to meet my room mates – an Indian, a friendly Taiwenese man and an aloof Japenese teenager. Pranav had arrived two days back in Amman and was still to explore the many tourist destinations of Jordan. Being Indians, we bonded quickly and even faster we made plans about the places to visit for the next day. Pranav and me had booked a tour guide who would pick up from our hostel and take us through the King’s Highway to visit the Moses Burial Ground, the Dead Sea, Panorama and the Ma’in Hot Springs. King’s Highway is the one of the oldest trade routes in the middle east, offering scenic spots of the entire country side of Jordan and connecting all the major tourist spots. Its runs like a snake carved through mountains and has no speed limits. Going up and down the hills, it offers some great sights for photography.
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5. Get high on spirituality – Mount Nebo (Central Jordan) which is just 10 minutes away from Madaba, is perhaps Jordan’s most revered spot. Reputed as the burial place of Moses, the proximity of the Madaba mosaic map of the Holy Land, inlaid on a church floor to Mount Nebo had always been controversial. Most believe that it represented the vision that Moses had of the Holy Land from the place of his death.6. Follow Biblical clues – Mukawir (South Jordan) is also close by and it falls on the picturesque King’s Highway en route to Madaba. Mukawir was Herod, the Great’s hilltop stronghold and it was here that John, the Baptist was beheaded after Salome performed her seductive dance. Lot’s Cave, where Abraham’s nephew took refuge after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is also nearby. The Biblical Baptism Sites (recently made famous by the Pope’s visit) of Elijah’s Hill and Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan ( South Jordan,where Martha and Mary lived and Jesus was baptized by John, the Baptist) fall on the way to the Dead Sea and is worth exploring too. Elijah’s Hill/Jabal Mar Elias is also nearby and according to Biblical legends this was where Elijah after parting waters of the Jordan River, walked across it with his successor Prophet Elisha before ascending to heaven on a chariot and horses of fire.
Memorial Church of Moses
Our final visit was a quick visit to Mt.Nebo and Madaba. Mount Nebo is where prophet Moses was given a view of the promised land that God was giving to the Israelites. Moses was buried on this mountain by God Himself, and his final resting place is unknown. Also it is believed that Prophet Jeremiah hid the tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant in a cave here. Our journey ended at Madaba which is home to the famous 6th century Mosaic Map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. The Madaba Map is part of a floor mosaic in the early Byzantine church of Saint George at Madaba, Jordan. The depiction of the mosaic map was the best way to end the pilgrimage as it was a recollection of sorts of all the places we had visited in the past week. We could relate and understand each of the significant pictures in the map. Finally the pilgrimage came to an end as we parted from the Queen Alia airport in Jordan for a six hour flight back to our homes.
Petra, the fabulous Jordan location, is an awe-inspiring and jaw-dropping experience by day. But to get a mysterious experience, take the Petra by Night tour. It is held on a handful of nights every week. A fascinating storyteller will bring to life historic tales as you walk along paths lit by candles.