Bollywood actor Shahid Kapoor’s OTT debut Farzi, that was released on Amazon Prime Video channel on February 10, hit many firsts, as the series takes audience through an off the beaten path outbound destination which is attracting much popularity in India lately, Jordan. Apart from domestic locales such as Mumbai, Goa, Alibaug and some shots in neighbouring Nepal, the extensive shooting around Jordan delivers the series very high on visuals and aesthetic appeal.
Jordan exhibits a stunning variety of landscape making it ideal for any kind of vacation, including a perfect adventurous getaway! Tourists can hike through canyons, descend stunning waterfalls in the middle of untouched nature, climb cliffs and mountains to reach breathtaking views, bike through the roads of history’s kings and emperors, and so much more.
The small nation that shares the Dead Sea with Israel and Palestine, flaunts historic cities, museums, and luxury beachside resorts with something to suit all interests. India Outbound takes its readers on a literary Jordan tour to this country of visual tapestry.
The best views come after the hardest climb. One can experience this age-old proverb come alive trekking to the top of the natural stone archway in Burdah Rock Bridge, the tallest natural arch in Wadi Rum. Or explore the “Rose City’s” hand-hewn caves, temples, and tombs sculpted in the dreary desert with blushing pink sandstones, telling the tales of civilizations lost in time. By the Jordan River, which is the sole perennial source of water for Dead Sea, this tranquil little Arab nation is enamoured with ancient ruins and treks, incredibly beautiful desert sites, unvarnished sea waves, and so much more.
Trailing through the desert castles
Jordan, they say, is full of surprises. “Desert castles” of Jordan are one of its greatest crowd magnets, with most of these archaic structures dating back to the early seventh century. So, while road tripping along the fortress of Azraq Castle, Qusayr Amra’s stunning frescoes, or Hammam al-Sarah’s bath-house ensemble, one can expect to be replete in a loop of sweet surprises. On about a 260 km round tour of desert castle loop east from Amman is a traditional trail of desert retreats. The Jordan desert is dotted with bewitching palaces, giant bath-houses, caravanserais and fortresses built by the Umayyad Princes way back in the 8th century. The red-rock wilderness provides an astounding glimpse into the historic remains of the Umayyad dynasty and the Crusades in the contemporary world.
Stargazing under the desert night sky
For the nomad hearts, one of the lesser known facts about Jordan is that the Dana Biosphere Reserve is one of the best places in the world in terms of astro-tourism. Explore the wild side of Jordan drowning in a serene stargazing night and unwinding in the blissfully cool, rustic and sleepy Dana village. Most of the villagers have moved further up the hill. So, a pleasant afternoon can be spent exploring this quiet and intriguing village. The valley walls of Dana are awash with flowers in spring whilst it is easier to spot the reserve’s endangered species, including the Nubian ibex and bird-hunting caracal, during the magnificent foliage brimming autumn roads.
Blushing-pink city of Petra
A long history of having been as a cardinal trade and religious centre for both Christianity and Islam distinguishes Jordan, giving it an extraordinary mix of cultural heritage in its modern cities carved out of ancient wonders. No less than what can only be called a ‘magical’ experience awaits visitors in the “Rose City” of Petra. One of the seven wonders of the world, Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, renowned for its sophisticated civilisation, expansive architecture, and ingenious system of dams and water channels.
The ‘Lost City’ of Petra was chiselled into the rock face by the prehistoric Nabateans, set amidst the magnificent mountains and canyons. Visitors marvel at the sprawling ombré ruby sandstone carvings as they traverse through the hidden pathways of the city in its numerous trails through the honeycomb of colonnaded ruins, ‘royal tombs’ and ‘street of facades’.
Visitors can also opt for the “Petra Night Show”, which offers an opportunity to explore the city after dark and with the aid of 1,500 lighted candles. The show runs every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and the entrance fee is JOD 17 (INR 2,000) only.
Maverick meandering in the “Mars on Earth”
Losing oneself in the expansive landscapes and horizon lines under an unimaginably picturesque escape of stars, sand, and sun is yet another exotic experience that awaits tourists here. Once inhabited by the Nabataeans of prehistoric times, human history in Wadi Rum dates back to the prehistoric times. A maze of monolithic rockscapes rises up from the desert floor to about 1,750m high, creating a natural challenge for serious mountaineers. Hikers can enjoy the tranquility of the boundless empty spaces and explore canyons to discover 4,000-year-old rock drawings and the many other spectacular treasures this vast wilderness holds in store. The “Mars on Earth” valley of Wadi Rum is home to dramatic sandstone mountains, and so popular a tourist getaway that it has been the backdrop of many a film like The Martian (2015), Aladdin (2019), Star Wars Rogue One (2016) and The Rise of Skywalker (2019), the more recently released, Dune (2021) and of course, the classic, Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Glamping in Wadi Rum is a relatively new activity in Jordan that enables visitors to fully experience the desert while tucked away in astoundingly decorated Bedouin and bubble tents.
Coral fairytales under the Red Sea
Jordan’s vibrant capital city of Amman, called the City of Seven Hills, is a merged experience of western influence in a bustling metropolis of Arabian heritage. The city stands in stark contrast to the rest of Jordan and visitors can explore many tourist spots nearby. Aqaba, a gorgeous beach city on the Red Sea, is located on the southernmost point of Jordan and is four hours’ drive from Amman. Aqaba welcomes visitors with its bright corals and immensely rich sea-life surrounded by majestic mountains, white-sandy beaches, and clear skies. The “Snorkelling for a Clean Sea Experience” in Aqaba involves swimming with coloured fish and exploring the waters of the Red Sea, all while protecting the environment and its inhabitants by picking up waste that has accumulated among the coral reefs. Visitors can feel satisfied knowing that they have enjoyed the colourful coral and sea life, while also sustaining it by helping to keep it clean. A treat for history buffs is the Roman Temple of Hercules, towering on one of the jebels of the Amman Citadel. And of course, no trip to the rustic desert life of Jordan is complete without a classic camel safari exploring the untapped, camouflaged crossroads around!