On a recent work-trip to Jordan, I had a chance to visit Petra. Selected recently on the online poll as one of the 7 wonders of the new world does present a spectacular feast for the eyes and the mind. The drive from the capital Amman took us about 5 hours. The landscape was desert like with very little vegetation and a few nomadic villages. The terrain became mountain like as we reached our destination and we watched the rose red rocks come into the scene from afar. Even towards the end of October, the climate was hot and dry and I had to buy a hat from the little bazaar near the visitor's centre.
Then the walk began. Started off with the grand entrance, a wide path leading to the Siq ( the shaft ) where the famous Indiana Jones movie was shot. The entrance to the Siq was quite spectacular as you feel that you are staring at a huge rocky tube that formed naturally (albeit with a little opening on top).
The fact that Siq was once a waterway seems to be very elegantly portrayed by the shapes of the rockfaces on their side. The width of the Siq varied through out it's mile long journey, 3 metres wide only in some places. But the curves of it's walls indicated a water flow as if a river had turned into rock.
The colour of the rock curves was also startlingly different, bright pink in some places to blood red in some to deep brown in others. The walls of the Siq were very high, it felt like walking through a deep yet very narrow canyon.
The Siq led to a grand place where the Treasury stood. Carved into the sandstone, the Al Khazneh, this glorious façade is not just a façade. One can climb up to the entrance and glance into a square chamber that again displays the different hues of the scarlet pink to the deep brown sandstone colours. The guide had said that this place was also used for sacrifices.
From the right side of the Treasury another stone walled path leads to the centre of the ancient city. The apmhitheatre on one side and the Monastery on the other, this places gives you a fantastic view of the innumerable façades on all the cliffsides. There are also a number of tombs within view. There is one path on a side though that leads to the mountain top to the place of sacrifice.
For people who cannot walk the length of the entrance and the Siq ( about 3 kilometers ) in the scorching heat, there are horse drawn carts and horses themselves ( just like Indiana Jones ).
We spent about 4 hours there and were absolutely drained. The bedouin peddlars are everywhere selling everything from intricate sand art to "ancient stones" from the monuments. The heat came from everywhere, the ground, the air and the rocks. Yet staring at these ruins created by God knows who felt strangely calm and soothing.