A few months ago, we had the blessing to find ourselves at the tomb of Mevlana Rumi. A place I have longed to visit after reading a book of Rumi’s poetry I bought in Waterstones many moons ago.
We boarded a high speed train at the newly built Ankara Rail Station for a 2 hour journey to Konya, the city in which the mausoleum of the world’s most read poet, Mevlana Rumi is located. A sufi, a mystic, a saint.
The weather was grey and foggy. The roads were paved with icy sludges of the remaining snow. The air was filled with a mystical energy.
Araf Hotel was our hotel choice via booking.com – I chose it mainly because it was available for a reasonable price, had good reviews, and was within walking distance of the Mevlana Museum, where Mevlana Rumi’s mausoleum is situated.
The food in Konya did not disappoint. We had Etli ekmek, which is a long, thin, roll-up pizza spread with delicately spiced mince, at Sufi Kebap opposite Mevlana Rumi’s tomb.
We sampled Anatolian cuisine at Lokmahane restaurant – a cold apricot and dried fruit soup (?), lamb that fell off the bone, and buttery bulgur. The customer service was lovely; we had the whole restaurant to ourselves. Our attentive waiter even went as far as feeding us each our first forkful – quite an experience!
During the cold winter nights, we found ourselves sipping hot drinks at a small coffee shop called Hi Coffee – fennel tea, hot chocolate, and brownie bites. It was surreal and amazing at the same time to be drinking coffee whilst facing Mevlana’s masouleum in a hippie space with crystals everywhere and Turkish translations of Sigmund Freud’s works on the shelves.
Last weekend, we were blessed enough to pay another visit to the home of Mevlana Rumi with the intention of joining a retreat from the U.K led (appropriately) by Rumi’s CaveRumi’s Cave, with Shaykh Babikir. The hotel of choice was Bera Mevlana – still within walking distance of the mausoleum of Jalauddin Rumi.
The hotel was spacious and so was the room. The package included breakfast and dinner – there was a plethora of healthy options and salads at dinner time, and breakfast was nice and simple.
The retreat was amazing, with lectures from a Professor on Rumi, a trip to the whirling dervish ceremony that takes place every Saturday at the Mevlana Culture Centre and also the opportunity to participate in an authentic Mevlevi dhikr.
Last weekend, tourists from every corner of the world flocked to visit the mausoleum, rubbing shoulders with locals from other parts of the country who were taking advantage of a national holiday. Young ladies could be seen snapping away selfies amongst the tulip-adorned gardens outside. Everything was a lot more busy and crowded than it was during our winter visit.
There are also many other historical sites to visit in Konya, including the mausoleum of Shams-e-Tabrizi, and the small but interesting Karatay Madressa Museum. Other springtime attractions include the Tulip festival and Butterfly Garden – both of which we didn’t have time to visit!