Exploring the Heritage of Abha: A Quick Guide

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In my previous post (Here), I had spoken about how I got a lucky break to travel to the city of Abha, situated in Saudi Arabia. It was indeed a special trip because it gave me deep insight into the culture and the people there. I stayed there with my colleagues for 2 nights and 2 days. Keeping up with my role as the planner, I had to prioritise the list of things we could do there within the limited amount of time we had in our hands. Following are the few things we managed to do in Abha:

The Green Mountain:

Right in the middle of the city, there lies a huge mountain covered in bright green grass, surrounded by bob wire and green tube lights as night lights. They call this massive structure, places within the ‘Green Mountain’ and the origin of the name is connected to its physical appearance. Just like other high peaks and places within the city, the Green Mountain is connected with a system of cable cars.

There are a restaurant and a café located at the peak, where one can enjoy a stunning view of Abha from the outdoor terrace. We tried the mint tea and sheesha while enjoying the sunset and a cool breeze at the terrace. An excellent souvenir shop can be found on the way up the Green Mountain. Souvenir shops are not a common sight in Saudi Arabia, so we found it quite interesting. There’s also a tiny restaurant located in the basement of the souvenir shop which is decorated like a traditional Asiri mud house.

Habala, the Hanging Village:

The most thrilling part of our trip was our cable car journey from the top of the Habala Mountain into the valley, to visit the Hanging Village of Habala. We reached there at prayer time, so we had some free time in hand. We decided to spend it by enjoying some classic Arabic coffee, overlooking one of the most scenic sights I have ever seen. The pictures below will give you a better idea of how amazing it was!

We took a cable car to visit the ancient village of Habala. It was built halfway down a cliff face and used to be accessible only by ropes. It’s believed that the villagers fled the Ottomans to live in isolation, completely self-sufficiently. This was until a Saudi army helicopter re-discovered them. The site is an exceptional piece of Saudi history. Unfortunately, the village has become a much commercialised place within the last few years but I’d still say that it is worth a visit.

The Famous ‘Jabal Sawda’:

Famously known as the highest peak of Saudi Arabia, Jabal Sawda tops the list of things to do in Saudi Arabia. Welcomed by a jaw-dropping scenery in Soudah, the tourists always marvels at the beauty of the highest mountains in Saudi Arabia (including the tallest peak, Jebel Soudah rising to 2910 mts). The mountains are famous for the mist covering their peaks, which makes the atmosphere look mystical. It’s always cold and impeccably serene up there. We enjoyed cups of Lebanese tea and Arabic coffee, overlooking the incredible mountains. There is a paragliding spot there but it wasn’t operating while we were there.

We spent most of our time sitting at the edge of the mountain, enjoying the silence in the atmosphere. It isn’t much of a populated area, so the peacefulness of the area was clearly the best part of the experience. Do keep in mind that it is hard to find the exact place as there are no proper sign boards on the main road to point the travellers in the right direction. Thankfully, our navigation techniques worked and we got there on time.

Rejal Alma Heritage Village:

From a dose of scenic beauty to lessons in culture and history of Abha, we got the taste of it all within our trip. The Rejal Alma Heritage village is exactly what the name describes it to be. There are two ways that one can reach there; drive through the curvy roads of the mountains or take a direct cable car from Mount Soudah to the Rijal Al Ma’a mud brick village.

The village is basically a mix of a museum and a library, offering insight to Saudi’s history and lifestyles back in the olden times. The place seems to take you back in time. Even though I am not someone who enjoys a lot of history lessons, it was a fun learning experience. The only sad part of it was that there were no English guides available. There are a lot of local restaurants located in the village, which offer a variety of mouth-watering dishes that are worth trying.

Apart from the places mentioned above, we had a few other things on our list that we couldn’t explore due to our time restrictions.

  • Asir National Park
  • New Abha resort
  • The Abha Lake Dam
  • Shallal Al-Dahna and Tanumah
  • Basket Souq

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