Madain saleh(Al Hijr)If you have knack towards ancient archaeological things or want to experience historical essence of middle east, you must visit this place. Its a hidden gem amidst Saudi Arabia. Nearest landmark is Al Ula (15 km.) and 360 away from madeena al munawwara.
Madain Saleh is an ancient pre-Islamic archeological site in Saudi Arabia. It was the land of Thamud in the Wadi Al Qura, “Valley of Villages”, lying between Madina and Tabuk. Al Hijr is also known as Madain Saleh, the Saleh’s village. The site was mentioned in Torah (the old statement) of the Holy Bible, and the Holy Quran with reference to Prophet Saleh (PBUH). The Holy Quran stated that, the people of Thamud had met their doom because they refused the call of Prophet Saleh to obey God’s Will after they slaughtered the she-camel that was sent to them as a divine sign from God. So that Thamudis were punished by Allah for their practice of idol worship, being struck by an earthquake and lightning blasts. Thus, the site has earned a reputation as a cursed placeAccording to archeologists, Al Hijr (Madain saleh) was inhabited by Maeneans and Thamudians in the third millennium BC. Prior to them the place was occupied by the Lihyanite in the 9th century BC. Nabataeans invaded the state and subdued the Lihyanite, and used stone structure as their houses, temples and tombs. According to the found inscriptions, Nabataeans were the real builders of Al Hijr. Al Hijr contains a great deal of Maeneans and Lihyanites inscriptions that refer to Al Ula, Khoraiba and Hiania, as the oldest towns, dating back to around 1700 BC. Some of these places were destroyed by earthquakes according to the established literature. As for Al Hijr city’s antiquities, they belong to Maeneans and the early Thamud traders, who had moved into it from the south of Arabian Peninsula.
In 2008, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee (WHC) agreed on Madain Saleh site to join the World Heritage List. Thus, the site has become the first archeological site in Saudi Arabia to be enlisted by the WHC of the UNESCO.
Researchers believe that the Nabataeans were the first inhabitants who settled in Al Hijr, “Madain Saleh,” and hence were the original builders of it. Researchers also believe that the Nabataeans had originated from the Arabian PeninsulaI spent my Eid holidays in 2015 for exploring UNESCO World Heritage Site at Al Ula, the Madain Saleh with my brother, sister and cousin and other family members. It was a very long road trip 7-8 hours from Jeddah, but we drove first to madeena al munawwara the enlightened city of prophet muhammed(PBUH) then stayed there one day. Very next day morning we started our journey to this ancient place of Thamudi people during the days of prophet Saleh. but it was worth it when we reached the place. The road was a single track and very few vehicles also there. And also in some places there was camel crossing through the road. This was very dangerous so we drove to al-ula carefully and first time in my life I hit the speed to 170kmph. The driving was very amazing. The ancient tombs were still attractive even it was made and carved thousand years ago. God is so amazing for His wonderful creations and ancient Nabeteans people were creative too in carving those beautiful facades. I am a nature and historical places lover and so my eyes were fully satisfied. Every angle, every tomb, and everything in there I took a photo. There was information posted in some of the prominent toms.
I saw also the Old Turkish train, the ancient house, the deep well, the rock mountains with different formations. It was so hot when we went there but we boldly beat the heat and the beauty we saw in there cannot be compared though. I was really amazed with this place and how it was preserved from then on till now. When I was inside the place, I am imagining the life of the ancient people and how they carved those tombs as no technology being used before. How talented and artistic they were. I highly recommend this historical place. A must visit place. Note that you will enter the place and will pass through the gate with the security guards but it’s free admission. You can see a railway station when you enter inside this railway station it was a narrow-gauge railway that ran from Damascus to Medina, through the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia. One of the station was in madain saleh. During World War I, line was repeatedly damaged in fighting during the war, now there is a railway station only there is no train running on it.There was a lot of houses they built in this golden sandstone rocks some of them I write down to you here
Qasr al Farid was particularly impressive – principally for its size because the façade was relatively simple. A central door with a decorated pediment was the entry to the interior, where bodies would have been laid in recessed shelves along the walls. From Qasr al Farid, the views of the rock-hewn desert presented their own extraordinary drama. Golden sandstone outcrops rose from a flat sandy floor, sculpted into crooked spires and conical structures by centuries of wind and rain. And the silence was overwhelming. Looking out from a tomb interior, it was only our footprints and van tyre marks that disturbed the stillness.
Unlike Petra with its tourists, souvenir sellers and donkey rides, there were no other people here. According to Muslims believe, the site was cursed when the Nabatean’s refused to renounce their gods in favour of Islam, and tourist visas for non-Muslims to enter Saudi Arabia are notoriously difficult to obtain. (Even though very soon Saudi government will announce to issue tourist visa for foreigners). It’s the very absence of foot traffic, as well as Saudi Arabia’s dry desert climate, that’s has kept Madain Saleh so intact. While Petra’s facades are slowly disintegrating, these tombs are stunningly well preserved.