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Wednesday, 20 February, 2019, 16 : 14 PM [IST]

Enticingly,Bahrain - A Mélange of Contemporary & Medieval

The Kingdom of Bahrain, an island country tucked between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is a promising destination for all kinds of adventure-seekers. Be it holiday or a business trip, travellers can have an itinerary for an ebullient week and more. Ambarin Chougle unfolds what this destination has to offer.
The Amwaj Island

With the development in the Middle-East countries, their cities are always bustling with life rumbling through. A fast-pacing city life always misses out on calm and peaceful ambience. With 33 islands to its name in the Arabian Gulf, Bahrain is a portmanteau of culture, tradition and architecture and topology one can descry. This archipelago has picturesque vistas to behold in and around the city. The country has a population of 1.5 million people, out of 60% are non-Bahraini and only 40% are of Bahrain origin.

Renovated houses at Al Muharraq

Unravel Travel
Any traveller is filled with excitement only to kill it with early morning flights. Having to pass through the long queue to clear the immigration process followed by a long wait to board the flight, brought down our enthusiasm levels. However, the warm welcome by Gulf Air with comfortable recliner seats and an entertainment screen brought us to ease. The in-flight services, the fresh menu made and on-time landing made our travel hassle- free. The smooth journey to the hotel filled me with vim and vigour while I stared the scenic city, ready to explore. Our sojourn at the Wyndham Garden, Manama was a splendid one. With courteous staff and exemplary service, we were greeted with an overwhelming view from our rooms, of the city, with the Grand Al-Fateh Mosque in the front and the sea beyond.

Bahrain International Circuit

Al Fateh Grand Mosque

Old meets New
Bahrain was a dominating trader of pearls and pearl diving was one of their key professions. Like an oyster, Bahrain is also calloused on the exteriors and takes efforts to be explored, but it is totally worth it. With a past of Dilmun civilisation, Bahrain has a history to boast about.

Bahrain National Museum

Qal’at al-Bahrain, also called as the Bahrain Fort, has archaeological remains showing the location of trading. This UNESCO World Heritage site displays a dramatic play of light and shadow with the setting sun to the visitors. The fort has light and sound show every Tuesday & Thursday that portrays the history of Bahrain. A record of the Dilmun civilisation has been preserved in the Bahrain National Museum. Other than pearl diving, Bahrain has various vocations in its trade practice. The Al Jasra Handicraft Centre has a collection of these artefacts and skilled workers keeping the tradition alive.

Bab al Bahrain

The country is an amalgamation of the old and the new contexts of architecture. The place displays a side of medieval times and another of the contemporary. While Al- Bahrain shows the medieval settlements, Manama is a modern set-up with a majority of the expat population, one of the reasons why you will find many hotels in this part of the Kingdom. Among the popular hotels here, one will find Four Seasons, Wyndham Garden, Sofitel, etc standing tall at the Bahrain Bay. While taking a tour of the Sofitel Hotel, we came across the beautiful themed suites and replica of a traditional Bahraini house. With over 262 rooms, the hotel gives every occupant a similar mesmerising view of the ocean. The hotel has also been a destination wedding location for seven big fat Indian weddings till date.


The Prestige
Out of the 33 islands, the most famous one being the disappearing island, the Jarada Island is at a distance of approximately 45 minutes with a speed boat from the Marina. This disappears with high tide by the evening. People are often found having barbeque lunches out here. Other must-visit islands here would be The Amwaj Islands, a group of man-made islands, closest to the Al Muharraq. In the heart of Amwaj is the lagoon where cafes, multi-cuisine restaurants, shops and boutiques are open till late evenings. This island is dominated by the azure waters and active life of the expatriates. This island also has options for 5-star hotel and is a favourite among the expats.

The Tree of Life, approximately 10 km far from Aksar, is unique for its survival on the dry sand for 400 years with no source of water.

Another renowned offering in Bahrain are the renovated houses in Muharraq that retain the essence of its old traditional architecture and interiors. The alleys were used by pearl divers to reach the port.

AL Marrassi Beach

Adventure & Leisure
Bahrain has several adventures and activities in its pockets. One can have a relaxed evening at the Al Marrassi Beach or enjoy jet skiing in the water. The Bahrain International Circuit is well recognised for its F1 Grand Prix races. The centre also gives an opportunity to experience 4x4 Land Rover off-roading experience and go-karting. For the swashbucklers, one can visit Gravity and experience Indoor Sky-diving. One can even proceed to the Equestrian Centre for Hacking tours on the Arabian Horses nurtured at this centre.

Gastronomical Affair
Bahrain has a variety of delectable platter. One can indulge in the scrumptious traditional Bahraini meal at Emmawash or rush to Block 338, a hip district with a row of restaurants and art galleries emitting an energetic party vibe. People with a non-vegetarian appetite can relish a Bahraini breakfast at Haji’s Cafe 1950 in the Manama Souq or head to Saffron in Muharraq for the authentic dishes like Balaleet, Shakshuka, Saffron drink or Karak (masala chai).

For a souvenir, one can proceed to the Manama Souq, at the Bab-Al-Bahrain, to shop the local food or other items.
Qal’at Al Bahrain

After traversing Bahrain for almost a week, we still fell short of time to explore this country which is bustling through the day and calmer in the evenings. With a new perception of this liberal Islamic country, we set off for our hometown. The return journey with Gulf Air was as relaxed as the onward.
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