Roaming the Streets of Old Muharraq in Bahrain

It was a sunny winter morning in this wonderful island called Bahrain. I had no particular plan in mind, just maybe roam the streets of the old Muharraq and click some photographs while I learn how to take them on my new camera.

Bahrain is a cluster of islands, an archipelago, bang in the center of the Persian Gulf, hardly the same size as Singapore. Two of the main islands are Manama and Muharraq. Both very significant in the history of the region as a whole.

Bahrain on the map

Bahrain on the map © Google

Muharraq island used to host the rulers of Bahrain back in the day when it served as the capital until it got replaced by Manama. It is also considered the cultural heart of Bahrain. While a lot has changed around this island with yacht clubs, residential islands, super malls, even the airport, Muharraq still preserves a lot of its old Arab world charm. The entire island is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site apart from the Q’alat al Bahrain which is located in Manama.

entrance to old Muharraq

This man-made vertical garden serves as a small walking entrance to old Muharraq

I never got the chance to live on this island and was always in and around Manama. But I had heard that there was a lot of heritage intact in this place and it would be worth a visit. The government is also doing all they can to preserve this part of their cultural legacy.

So that morning, I set out to explore some of the narrow lanes and bylanes of this small little treasure island of Bahrain, and here’s what I came across.

Also read  A winter afternoon at the Bahrain Fort

It started with me noticing some beautifully carved doors, windows, and entrances to some centuries-old houses

Door in Bahrain

A lovely door to an old house in Muharraq

 

Door in Muharraq

A traditional Arabian door and an entrance to what looked like a nice looking house

 

Window of house in Muharraq

A window to one of the houses

 

Entrance to Bahraini home

The entrance to a Bahraini home

 

 

House in Muharraq

A refurbished house with traditional Arabian architecture still visible

 

Bahraini house in Muharraq

The sun and another traditional Bahraini home with a wind tower

 

Mosque in Muharraq

Minaret of a nearby mosque blends seamlessly with the mud-colored buildings and the blue skies

 

House in Muharraq, Bahrain

Remnants of traditional Bahraini architecture

 

As I walked further down the streets, I stumbled across a Khubz shop and ordered for some Khubz (traditional bread) stuffed with cheese, cooked in the traditional clay ovens.

Khubz shop in Bahrain

A Khubz shop in Muharraq

 

With the energy packed food done, I continued the walk and encountered an old coffee shop.

Retired men sit around these coffee shops to sip on the traditional Sulaimani tea. Sharing their woes, maybe some gossip and rekindling old friendships. Some even sit down for a board game or two. Even with the advent of technology and all the advances, it is truly remarkable to find places like these and people who are engaged with them.

The men happily invited me in for a nice cup of the Sulaimani tea and talked about the history of the place. The walls inside the coffee shop were covered with old photographs of the local men who come there. Large posters of all the named rulers from the G.C.C (Gulf Cooperation Council is a group of 6 countries mainly Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait) could be seen on the wall. A show of their loyalties to the rulers of the land. Surprisingly amongst them were also pictures of Saddam Hussein who some consider a huge figure.

Hearing stories of the past is definitely my cup of tea and so I sat there for a while and enjoyed their fantastic company.

With the fresh cup of tea done, I bid salaam to the gentlemen and continued my walk where until I discover an antique store.

 

A poster of the 1981 Bollywood movie Ghungroo Ki Awaaz

 

transom window in Bahrain

Looking through a transom window

Getting to Muharraq

The old town of Muharraq is located on the same island as the Bahrain International Airport which is about 3-4 km away. The Bahrain airport is serviced by flights from all GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) cities such as Riyadh, Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Dammam, etc. The national carrier of Bahrain, Gulf Air flies to 43 destinations in 23 countries.

 

Life was slow-paced in this part of Bahrain and with the winter breeze blowing that day it was a good photo walk indeed. It only reassured me that there is more to some places than what meets the eye and what comes on TV. Bahrain is truly a nation small in size but with a big heart.

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Roaming the Streets of Old Muharraq


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Travel Blogger from Kochi, India. An inspired traveler, a travel writer, a photographer, an aspiring mountaineer, a positive thinker and a minimalist.

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21 Comments

  1. I love how you casually say “It was a sunny winter morning…” yet I see no snow…so jealous. Here in Canada when its winter its freezing and cold!!! lol
    The pictures of the doors are absolutely stunning…sometimes I feel you can start a whole series of posts about doors and windows and bridges…The architecture is so different depending on where you are!!!

  2. An interesting write up on Muharraq. Never knew that it’s the erstwhile capital of Bahrain. In my life time I aim to cover the UNESCO sites as much as i can and hence now Muharraq is also in the list. Your photographs from new camera tell a story of a great old world which was glorious at its peak. Love the horizontal clay oven. And good to know that you found old bollywood poster. I would love to visit this part of Bahrain.

  3. Very cool post – I really didn’t know much about Bahrain – had heard of it as a destination / country, but wouldn’t have been able to tell you much more. So it was nice to read about a country which is totally new for me. I love that Muharraq island preserves a lot of its old Arab world charm – I’m a huge fan of visiting UNESCO sites, so this would be a great stop. When we were in Venice one of our favorite things to do was walk through the streets and alleyways and look at the beautifully carved doors – so your post reminded me a lot of that time. There are some stunning doorways and buildings here – what a fun place to get lost!

    I would love to visit this part of Bahrain.

  4. The doors and windows of the houses and buildings, have such great detail. I love the sound of the stories and the cup of tea, especially how life is slow paced out there. Interesting about the Bollywood poster, is it really that popular in Bahrain?

  5. I love Arabic architecture since I’m from Saudi Arabia! I only got to visit Manama whenever I’m in Bahrain. Will surely check this out next time I visit and definitely take pictures on those instagrammable doors!

  6. Lovely post. Amazing pictures. Sitting with strangers and enjoying their country drink can open up people and that’s a great moment for a traveler. Sulaimani tea is a great drink. Thankyou for sharing

  7. Bahrain is an offbeat destination, not so well known from the tourism angle. I love old souks and this walk down the streets would be something I’d absolutely love! Such great gorgeous frames from the daily life of Muharraq! Even without visiting I can vouch I would love this part of the country more than Manama! 🙂 great pictures of the vintage cameras and doors:)

  8. Enjoyed reading this. So little is known about Bahrain. Glad that you wrote about it. That Hindi Bollywood poster amused me. Didn’t know Hindi cinema is popular there. Khubz shop temptd me. Nice post.

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