A travel guide to Makkah Al Mukarramah City, Saudi Arabia
Makkah is an incredibly famous Pilgrimage centre located in Saudi Arabia. Legend has it that the descendants of Prophet Ismail played a major role in building the city of Makkah. Being the holiest city in Islam, it is home to Masjid Al-Haram. The Holy Prophet (saw) spread the message of Islam in Makkah about 1400 years ago. Today the religion has reached to every corner of the world. The city was a trading hub and an influential political center, which played a crucial role in the early history of Islam. Until 1924, it was ruled by the Ottomans. Now it is under the control of the House of Saud’s. Under their governance, Makkah has witnessed and undergone huge expansions in size and infrastructure.
At present, it is the Capital city of Saudi Arabia’s Makkah Province. The Muslims pray in the direction of Kaaba. It is an ancient stone structure built by the Prophet Abraham in the early 2000 BC. The tawaf is a ritual wherein the Muslims are required to circle around the Kaaba in anticlockwise direction.
The Muslims regard Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque) as the holiest site in Makkah and Islam. It is the largest mosque in the world, the vast expanse of it can easily accommodate nearly 2 million pilgrims at a time. The mosque was in the process of continuous expansion and it is still going through major renovation work. The mosque is the cynosure for Muslims to perform Hajj and Umrah.
The Zamzam well was a divinely blessing to Hagar, mother of Prophet Ismail. They were provided with the water of Zamzam amidst hot and extremely harsh conditions of Makkah. It is known to quench thirst and at the same time satisfy hungriness. It is also helpful in curing illnesses and other diseases. The Holy water of Zamzam is served to the pilgrims using state of the art coolers installed in various places at the Masjid al-Haram and also at the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina. The pilgrims never miss any chance to drink of this Holy water.
A valid visa is required to enter Makkah al-Mukarramah. The nationals of Saudi Arabia or the citizens from GCC countries (Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates) are an exemption. Special visas are arranged and issued to the pilgrims under the authority of Diplomatic Missions of Saudi Arabia. The government takes preliminary measures to ensure hassle free travel and accommodation. Every year millions of pilgrims travel to the Holy city of Makkah. They can either apply for Hajj or Umrah visas. Local travel agencies are preferred by the pilgrims to take care of documentations. As per the Islamic law, a woman is required to travel with a Mahram (male guardian). In the absence of a Mahram, she is required to travel with a group. Utmost care and security is provided to the pilgrims.
The city has ultra modern transportation system and the road connectivity to other major cities is of world class standards. The means of transportation within the city limits is inexpensive. The commuters can easily travel to every corner of the city with round the clock availability of taxis, buses and micros buses. The city now has the world class Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro transportation system. Built in the year 2010, its main purpose is to carry the pilgrims to religious sites. The length of the Metro is 18 km. It has already become very popular with the pilgrims.
Makkah is the religious capital of Islam and hence every Muslim desires to visit this Holy place once in his lifetime.