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Tanzania: Kunduchi ruins

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Kunduchi ruins | Tanzania | Africa

[Visited: November 2016]

As a surprise, a driver presents himself to us in Dar es Salaam, showing us a print of a page of the Lonely Planet of our destination: the ruins of Kunduchi. After a short negotiation, we are on our way towards the north. Without any traffic jams, we arrive in Kunduchi, and the guy parks the car next to a small mosque, and points inside. We take off our shoes, and see a tomb, covered by a cloth. This definitely is not what we are looking for, and when I say "magofu", Swahili for ruins, he looks with a blank stare. A local guy passes by, gets a seat in the car, and guides us back to the main road to Bagamoyo, and after turning left, we drive through an open field with a well where men are washing themselves, to a shack. Our driver parks under a tree, and we get off.

Picture of Kunduchi ruins (Tanzania): Baobab tree dominating the graveyard of Kunduchi

When we walk towards a gigantic baobab, we are summoned back. An older man comes, is introduced as father, and we are told to pay an entrance fee - obviously without any receipt. Our company now has doubled: the driver, guide and the father now follow us on a walk through the ruins of Kunduchi. There is an array of different graves, made of coral stone, all greyish. Some are just outlines of graves, others are entire structures with a roof. Walking around with a keen eye, we spot plaques with Arabic inscriptions. One grave is noticeably larger than the others; it is a dual resting place (for a couple?) with a pillar. Some white plaster is still in place, and there are several Chinese bowls on display. The top of the pillar looks like a turban. It is definitely the most impressive tomb of the graveyard.

Picture of Kunduchi ruins (Tanzania): Peculiar grave at the cemetery of Kunduchi

We walk through a patch of land where much newer graves are, even of this same year. None of our Tanzanian friends are able to give some information on what we are seeing: they first claim the graves are German, but the Arabic inscriptions clearly indicate that they must be from Middle East traders; probably Omanis, since they once had a lively (slave) trade with the east coast of Africa. We reach the ruins of a mosque, supposedly built in the 15th or 16th century. The front wall with arched entrance is still standing, as are two rows of columns and the mihrab. Our driver takes a lot of pictures with his phone: he has never been to these ruins of Kunduchi before himself. We realize he didn't even know where he was going when we left in the morning. We walk back towards the graveyard, and admire the enormous baobab tree in the middle. According to our Tanzanian friends, the tree is 250 years old, but its size suggests it might even be much older than that. After our visit, we go to a nearby beach to play in the surf, enjoy the sun on the beach, and have lunch, before we go back to Dar es Salaam after a nice day out.

Picture of Kunduchi ruins (Tanzania): Ruins of the ancient mosque of Kunduchi
Picture of Kunduchi ruins (Tanzania): White plaster and Chinese bowls in a pillared tomb
Picture of Kunduchi ruins (Tanzania): Tomb and baobab tree at the ruins of Kunduchi
Picture of Kunduchi ruins (Tanzania): Arabic inscription at one of the graves of Kunduchi
Picture of Kunduchi ruins (Tanzania): Pillared tomb at the graveyard of Kunduchi
Picture of Kunduchi ruins (Tanzania): The entrance of the ancient mosque at the ruins of Kunduchi
Picture of Kunduchi ruins (Tanzania): The centuries-old baobab tree in the middle of the graveyard of Kunduchi
Picture of Kunduchi ruins (Tanzania): Circular embellishment on one of the graves at Kunduchi
Picture of Kunduchi ruins (Tanzania): Graveyard with coral-stone graves at Kunduchi graveyard

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