Pilgrim to Mecca and Medina
Mecca and Medina, two cities in Saudi Arabia are the holiest places for Muslims. Every Muslim strives for once a life journey to holy places in these cities. Our family was planning a trip for quite sometime and finally we were able to visit these places few weeks back. I decided not to take my camera due anticipated troubles that I might face with camera there, so i was all dependent on my camera phone using LightRoom camera app as my phone can't save raw/dng files. In first few days i ignored photography and then i finally downloaded LR application and started clicking, i also used ultra high res modes on my oppo phone and realized most of the modes and claims were only marketing.
There are two types of pilgrims, one is Hajj which is once a year grand gathering and lasts few days with many rituals, and the other is Umrah a scaled down Hajj which can be performed anytime of the year. Two main rituals of Umrah are seven rounds of Kaaba called "Tawaaf" and seven rounds of mount Saffa-Marwa called "Saee" while being in state of "Ehram"
State of Ehram: A specific clothing with certain conditions to follow, such as: wearing two pieces of unstiched cloths, wearing flipflops so ankle and back of feet is exposed, not cutting hair, no sexual activity, no perfume. Person coming for pilgrim has to enter state of ihram while entering the boundary of Mecca, boundary is called "Miqat". Miqat for foreigners is departing airport, bit challenging for first timers and travelling with kids.
A man in Ehram clothing
Holy Kaaba, was built by Prophet Abraham. Pilgrim start by 7 anti clockwise rounds of Kaaba. I noticed many people were live streaming to their loved ones back home. While crossing Hijr-e-Aswar
for females Ehram is usual clothing, face should remain uncovered. However, i saw few exceptions as well.
People wave at Hijr-e-Aswad, black stone from heavens
Not mandatory though, people try to kiss the Hijr-e-Aswad and touch the door of Kaaba. It is a big challenge due to number of people trying to make there way to the Stone and just remaining there.
closeup of the door
The golden enclosure houses a boulder with footprints of Prophet Abaraham, it is believed this boulder was used by Abraham to build the Kaaba, there were foot prints on the boulder, I couldn't take the photo.
after completing seven rounds of kaaba, pilgrims move towards Safa and Marwa for 7 rounds between two small hills, the ritual comes from account of Hajra (Hagar), Abrahim's wife. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safa_and_Marwa after Safa Marwa, umrah is concluded by shaving head off, for women about inch of hair is cut off and then person is free from obligations of "Ehram"
Green lights indicates the area where pilgrim has to run in a slow pace
We also went for sightseeing around the Mecca city
Mosque Qiblatain. Qibla means direction. Muslims pray in the direction of Kaaba where ever they are on earth. Previously Qibla was Jeuroslem, however while Muhammad was leading prayers in this mosque, a revelations came and he was ordered to change the direction towards Kaaba, ever since Kaaba is the Qibla for prayers.
Quba Mosque, first mosque of Islam
Mountain of Uhad, Battle of Uhad inflicted heavy losses to Muslims.
Next we went to Madina some 400km from Mecca. Most prominent landmark is Prophet's Mosque and Tomb of Muhammad. Most of the historic mosques i saw resemble archtecture commonly seen in Turkey, it is due to fact Ottomans brought their taste to Arabia while they ruled during the Ottoman reign over Arabia
Famous green tomb over the mosoleum of Muhammad.
Interior of Muhammad's mosoleum, a small portion of mosque is called "Riaz ul Jannah" door to heaven, this part of mosque was actual mosque that Muhammad build about 1400 years ago. The Prophet's mosque is quite huge and beautifully decorated.
The mosque went through many expansions in different reigns, mostly under Saudi times, and now it covers more than actual Medina city of old times.
Unusually it was raining most of the times we were in Medina.
Family argument amid rain It is interesting to see and observe people from different nations. Approx 7 million pilgrim visit these holy place every year.
Mosque is surrounded by shopping opportunities!
See full gallery and high res in here: https://awais.smugmug.com/Photography/Saudiarabia/