Manah 2009



Manah 2009

The walled city of Manah has been a regular part of the ENHG Nizwa weekend for several years. The abandoned collection of houses, shops and mosques is now being carefully restored.

The University of Liverpool has been studying the city's streetscape for several years; a publication of its research is expected later in 2009.

Each house in the city -- and there are approximately 65 houses -- has its own well. Navigating around the city includes walking along impressive streets and through arched passageways.

A small section inside the walled city was reserved for agriculture; the remains of the well, reservoir and falaj system are still visible. In a corner of this section of the city workers are preparing the mud bricks used in the reconstruction work.

The main entranceway to the city is marked by a spectacular square tower while other corners of the complex are marked by stone towers plastered with mud.

In many of the houses, there are blankets, storage boxes and the remains of pottery vessels. In addition, along the interior walls of most houses are small alcoves, the roof of which is still covered with soot, evidence these once held small oil lamps. The interior rooms are decidedly dark though cool. Most of the houses are at least two stories tall.

Several mosques are also being restored. These are decorated with spectacular wall engravings.

The Ministry of Tourism's booklet on the Dhakiliya district notes that the walled city we visit is actually Harrat Al Bilad; Manah is the Wilyat that is composed of 10 villages with a total population of approximately 10,000 residents.

"The most interesting part of Manah is in the old area of Harrat Al Bilad. A visit here is like stepping back in time," the brochure states. "The entire abandoned village, walled up for defence, still stands in all its past glory. Now deserted, many of its mud and rock houses are deteriorating, but you can wander through its arched alleyways, peep through the doorways, and imagine life here in the not-so-distant past."


One of the original gates


The side streets
between the houses


Ahead, one of the
coverage passageways


There are no windows
onto the streets


Some of the houses
have collapsed


A grinding stone


Inside one house, door
leaning against the wall


Shelving on a second-
storey wall


Houses bridged over
pedestrian walkways


Doors were still
attached in many doorways


Door bell


One of the
covered passageways


The timber ceiling framing
is visible


Many such passageways
remain in Manah


Mud plaster covers
the walls


Detail of the
ceiling construction


A narrow passageway


Restoration work began
last year


The original mud bricks and
date palm timbers visible


One of the more
spectacular arched streets


This passageway separates
the two exterior walls


The ends of timbers
visible above the arch


Some arches were peaked,
some rounded


Remains of a house that
once existed above


Blanket hanging from peg


Rubble spilled over
into the street


Metal drainpipe (right, above)
 suggests recent occupation


Second storey building
collapsed


This house remains sealed


Light and shadows


The doors are gone but
the lock remains


Some houses are in
very poor condition


Second storey view


Pegs and alcove


The alcove once held
an oil lamp


Interior of one of
the mosques


Koranic inscription


Porcelain plate encased
in the wall


Detail


The farming area


View from the fields towards
the houses


View in farming area


Pottery in abundance


Falaj, reservoir and supports
of lifting device


Detail of the lifting device


Detail of reservoir


View from reservoir


Cement was used to construct
some of the aflaj


New mud bricks drying in
the sun


Traditional building
materials being used


The mud is cured before
the bricks are formed


Ruins of one house


Mud and straw mix


Arches alone remain


Sun breaking through
the collapsed roof


One of the decorated
ceiling supports


Door still in situ


Normal color tones


An interior corridor


An interior corridor


Corridor showing debris


Houses were very dark


Broken pot at bottom
of stairs to rooms above


Detail


Another staircase


Barasti roof material


Notice the timbers and use
of barasti


Peaked interior arch


Restoration work will take
several years to complete

 


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