Opened to the public in 2001 the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, the main mosque in Oman was built over a period of almost six and half years. A prayer hall that can hold 6,500 worshippers, a main dome and minaret rising 90 meters into the sky and four other minarets reaching heights of 45.5 meters each, makes it the most visible and impressive building in Muscat and one of the city’s chief attractions. It is the only mosque in the country where visitors of all religions are allowed.
While the exterior of the mosque made from 300,000 tons of Indian sandstone is certainly impressive what grabs everyone’s attention are the interior details of the mosque. The paneling in dark grey and off white marble is a perfect foil for the elaborate interior decoration. The main prayer lobby is the centerpiece of the whole complex and the most impressive interior features are found here. A border of Quranic verses and a gilded ceramic surround, a huge latticed dome made from engraved stained glass triangles supported by marble columns, a gold plated Swarovski crystal chandelier of 600,000 crystals and 1,100 bulbs hanging down 14 meters, ceilings inspired by the country’s forts and castles are among the eye catching features. Niches in glowing colours sporting Islamic calligraphy, vases, flower motifs and patterns of stars reminiscent of Persian and Savafid designs also provide points of interest. However the most extraordinary feature has to be the second largest hand knotted Persian carpet in the world weighing 21 tons, made in several pieces and assemble at site. Apparently 600 Iranian women crafts persons toiled over it for four years.
Persian inspired gardens with water channels, grassy lawns, cone shaped trees, neatly clipped bushes, multi coloured flower beds, and ‘bottlebrush’ trees with red flowers provide a lovely setting for the mosque. Visitors can also enjoy several niches with beautiful tile work found along the corridors outside the main buildings of the mosque. The best time to enjoy the interior of the mosque and its gardens is early in the morning. However nighttime provides some beautiful views as it is perfectly lit to throw into focus architectural details while contrasting sharply with its dark surroundings.
Stay at the Millennium Resort Mussanah to enjoy a private beach and a range of very special features particular to this Muscat hotel. While spacious, well appointed guest rooms and suites with panoramic ocean views are the norm here, fully furnished apartments and a range of water based recreational activities are its special features. Amongst the other plus points at this Oman Muscat Hotel is a delectable selection of Arabian inspired cuisines and access to a range of facilities and amenities that can only make a stay here luxuriously comfortable.
Uditha Dharmawardhane is a travel writer who writes under the pen name Roland Lefevre. He specializes in creating features on leisure as well as business travel destinations across the globe.