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Sudan: Khatmiyah

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Khatmiyah | Sudan | Africa

[Visited: March 2014]

When we wake up on our first morning in Kessala, the first thing we do is to spot the Taka Mountains. We have arrived the evening before, and are curious to see them for real. Spotting them is easy: they are just a few kilometres Kessala, and are high enough to dominate the city. Their rounded tops and steep towers give them a unique appearance, and it is obvious that we will visit them. In the end, we have so many conversations on the first day, that visiting the mountains no longer makes sense, and we postpone it to the next day. Instead, we walk towards the mountains, and when we reach a football field, have good views of the Taka Mountains.

Picture of Khatmiyah (Sudan): Tomb of Hassan al Mighrani and mosque of Khatmiyah with the Taka Mountains in the background

The next afternoon, we spend so much time on the markets of Kessala that we decide to take a taxi instead of walking to Khatmiyah. The driver takes us directly to the entrance of a small park, but we want to visit the mosque, whose minaret is clearly visible, and in walking distance. After a call with someone who speaks English, the driver comes back to us, picks us up from the street, and drops us in front of the old mosque of Khatmiyah. It is built with the dark brown colours of the earth, and thus blends in well with its surroundings. The mosque is quite big, but the ceiling has gone, and people walk around the open space, under the arches that once supported the roof. Next to the mosque is a dome, whose ceiling is also missing; it is said that whenever it rains, the tomb of Hassan al Mighrani inside remains dry. The mosque is surrounded by sand, and at the western side, a row of stones marks the area where you are supposed to take your shoes off. We walk around, talk to people, and then, go inside, leaving our shoes in the sand.

Picture of Khatmiyah (Sudan): View of the Taka Mountains at the end of the day

There is a call to prayer; I decide to climb the rocks behind the mosque. This is the start of the Taka Mountains: the mosque is built right at the foot of them. When I look back, I see the imam, outside the mosque, leading the prayer. Behind him, a row of men dressed in white robes, spanning the entire width of the mosque, following the imam whenever he kneels, bends forward, and stands again. With the backdrop of the mountains and the old mosque, it is a great sight. After prayer, I am not allowed inside the tomb; "only for Muslims". When the light on the mountains is getting warmer, we climb up the rocks behind the mosque, and find a good spot to watch the mosque of Khatmiyah below us, and the sunset. The rounded tops of the mountains look always more pretty, the lower the sun gets. The only dissonant is a small group of boys; it is the first, and only, time in Sudan that anyone disturbs us. Otherwise, the view of the sun setting behind the dome of the tomb, and the octagonal minaret completes our visit here.

Picture of Khatmiyah (Sudan): The ceiling has gone, but the arches and columns are still there at the mosque of Khatmiyah
Picture of Khatmiyah (Sudan): Tomb with dome next to the mosque of Khatmiyah
Picture of Khatmiyah (Sudan): Side view of the mosque of Khatmiyah with the octagonal minaret in the background
Picture of Khatmiyah (Sudan): Praying men outside the mosque of Khatmiyah
Picture of Khatmiyah (Sudan): Praying woman at the tomb of Hassan al Mirghani
Picture of Khatmiyah (Sudan): Kids on the boulders with Taka Mountains in the background
Picture of Khatmiyah (Sudan): View of Taka Mountains from Kassala
Picture of Khatmiyah (Sudan): The cupola of the tomb of Hassan al Mirghani at sunset
Picture of Khatmiyah (Sudan): Taka Mountains at sunrise

Around the World in 80 Clicks

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