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In the late afternoon, the weathered mountains with their sandstone rocks radiating black, purple and innumerable other hues cast their shadows on the white and pinkish sand. Standing like foreboding sentinels, the desert-mountains are stunning in their natural beauty. One can easily see why this part of the desert so intrigued Lawrence that he often mentioned it in his writings and why much of David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" was filmed in its enchanting atmosphere. Here, modern day visitors can still feel the romance of the Arabian Desert, stunning in its natural beauty.

 

On the other hand, climbers are attracted to Wadi Rum because of its sheer granite and sandstone cliffs. For climbers, scaling these geologic wonders of nature is an inviting challenge. Hikers are drawn by the valley's vast open spaces and towering rock faces. The silence and grandeur of the sweeping vistas are best experienced on foot and camping. A night under the dazzling bright stars in this land of tranquility is a thrill a camping hiker will always treasure.

 

The best time to travel to Wadi Rum is during spring when some 2,000 species of flowers bloom, covering the landscape with a carpet of colours. However, no matter when one travels to this awe-inspiring Valley, the journey is worthwhile.

 

 

According to the Jordanians, the landscape at Wadi Rum is the most mesmerizing desert scene in the world. All around in the emptiness and silence and magnificent dessert scenery, man is dwarfed to insignificance. In this epitome of captivating moonlike landscape where Lawrence once hid his men, a visitor can truly visualize this remarkable British officer coming alive from the pages of history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jordan - Wadi rum:

 

Rum the magnificent... vast echoing and Godlike... a processional way greater than imagination... the crimson sunset burned on its stupendous cliffs and slanted ladders of hazy fire down its walled avenue..."

 These words written by T.E. Lawrence in his "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" truly describe Wadi Rum, made famous by the exploits of this legendary British officer and the setting of a memorable film that carried his name.

 Only a three-hour drive from Amman, Jordan's capital, Wadi Rum, deriving its name from the Arabic wadi (valley or dried riverbed) and Iram (high point), came to the attention of the world through the writings of the enigmatic Lawrence, who made it his base during the Great Arab Revolt of 1917--1918. Here, Lawrence became the legendary advisor to Feisal bin Hussein who, as head of the Arab forces, led them from this magical valley on to victory. Subsequently, and perhaps in grateful memory of his help, Lawrence's name and Wadi Rum have become almost synonymous.

 Visitors traveling to Wadi Rum, one of Jordan's main attractions, turn off the Amman to Aqaba desert highway near Al Quwayra and drive for some 30 minutes to the large and attractive Visitors' Center that has just been opened for the administration of the Protected Area of Wadi Rum and the neighboring locale, the heart of all activities in the Wadi.

 From here travellers can hire a guide, tents for the night, find good meals, rent a four-wheel drive jeep with a Bedouin driver and guide for touring the Valley, and hire camels for short excursions or a desert trip to Aqaba, a two-day camel ride away.

 From the Visitors' Center, edged by seven naturally formed pillars of sandstone begin the fantastically shaped hills, overshadowing the Wadi from both sides. As may be noted in the title photograph, two of the seven pillars are badly eroded. Throughout the wadi, the contours have been sculpted by weather and time into unbelievable shapes and colors, and their sheer nakedness gives them a unique type of majesty.

Archaeologists believe that the Wadi resulted from a great crack in the surface of the earth caused by an enormous upheaval that shattered mammoth pieces of granite and sandstone ridges from the mountains of the Afro-Arabian Shield.

 The Valley is a starkly beautiful world of silence, timelessness and enchantment. Stunning in its natural beauty, it lives in the heart of every Jordanian and epitomizes the romance of the dessert. As they drive through, travelers are reminded that they are hemmed in by a lunar panorama with strangely shaped towering sandstone mountains rising out of the rose-red desert. The rock formations of Wadi Rum, Jordan's answer to the Grand Canyon in the U.S.A., are undoubtedly the largest and most magnificent in the country's landscape.

 Humans have lived in the Valley since the pre-historic era. Excavations have uncovered a Caleolithic settlement dating back to 4,500 B.C. Subsequently, it became the home of a number of Arab tribes, chief of which were 'Ad, Thamud, Lihyan, Main and later the Nabataeans, the builders of ancient Petra, an hour's drive away.

 From the Visitors' Center, the paved road ends at the small village of Rum about 5 km (3 miles) from the Visitors' Center. This modest village is framed by the enormous Wall of Rum, a dramatic background of sheer cliffs that attract climbers from all over the world. The only town in the area, it has a population of some 2,000, consisting of the Arab tribes Mznah and Huwaitat of "Lawrence of Arabia" fame. Some, still semi-nomadic, live in goat-hair tents, others in concrete houses. Noted for their hospitality, they live off their animals and the visitors who come following the trail of Lawrence. The village has a school, a few shops and, above all, it is noted as being the headquarters of Jordan's famous Desert Patrol.

 The Desert Patrol was organized by the British and handed over to Jordan when they left. Rami G. Khouri, formerly managing editor of the Jordan Times explains in his essay, The Last Patrol, "Today, Jordan's Desert Patrol spends more time in jeeps and helicopters than on camels. They are much more likely to receive calls for help from stranded motorists or be sent to help a family needing medical assistance."

 For a visitor lucky enough to be invited by the Bedouin to share a cup of coffee in their black tents under the clear star-lit sky, it will be an experience not easily forgotten. However, a visitor will not run into the gentleman pictured on the right. He is Hadji Attayak bin Eid of the Zilabia tribe.

 Is it any wonder that these people of the desert are the heart and soul of Jordan and are highly esteemed by the ruling authorities?

 At the foot of Jebel Rum, the second highest mountain in Jordan, just a 10 minute walk from town, lies the Allat Temple, Allat the name of a goddess in pre-monotheistic times, originally built by the 'Ad tribe. The Nabataeans rebuilt it as well as a nearby village in the first century B.C. Thamudic inscriptions on the temple confirm the pre-Islamic involvement in the construction of the sanctuary.

 A short walk up the hillside from the Temple is 'Ain-Shallaleh' also known as "Lawrence Spring" from which gushes pure drinkable water. Lawrence who, played an important advisory role in the cause of Arab independence, became a legendary figure among the Arabs. Among the Bedouin Arabs his aura was so strong that to this day folktales are related about his exploits.

 The best way that travellers can see the Wadi is to rent a four-wheel drive jeep with a guide and spend a day or two roaming through the Valley. All around are captivating vistas of ancient valleys and towering, weathered mountains overlooking the mostly and pink coloured sands.