Retracing Oman’s Frankincense Trail

This is the month that we remember the Magi, the three wise ancients who are believed to have made gifts to the infant born in Bethlehem. Of those gifts, frankincense intrigued me the most. I have written before of Oman’s Frankincense Trail in The Hindu magazine. A more detailed story begged to be told and even then the words and printed pages seem insufficient to encompass the panoply of experiences that regale the traveller in southern Oman.

Salalah, swept by the khareef rains from June to early September, smacks of antiquity. But that is true of deserts anyway. They conceal secrets, aged not just by years but geological time. And the human imprint on this tapestry is but a smidgen. I remember how much I had thirsted for this journey when I read the story of frankincense. The legends surrounding it, peopled by tall biblical characters, were fragrant in themselves. That quest came full circle in August of 2014 when I stood in the yard of The Museum of the Frankincense Land near Salalah. Besides admiring the trove of antiques and relics exhibited in the museum, I took the greatest joy in appreciating a specimen of Boswellia sacra, the tree that yields precious frankincense.

While the tree itself is nothing to write home about, its presence here summarises a history that warrants exploration. In August 2014 I was fortunate to travel to southern Oman, specifically Salalah, to discover facets of this history for myself. I allowed experience to seep in, to marinate for a while, to be seasoned with focused reading, before I put finger to keyboard and tapped away.

Here’s a copy of my story that appeared this December in Outlook Traveller. Go get a copy of the magazine while it’s still on the stands. It helps to support travel writers ever hungry for more adventure. 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Retracing Oman’s Frankincense Trail

    1. bijoy Post author

      Deserts are ancient places. And always, they contain the remnants of some prehistoric sea. Reminiscent of these lyrics from ‘Horse With No Name’:
      The ocean is a desert with it’s life underground
      And a perfect disguise above

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