Thursday, June 14, 2012

TRAVELLING: To the Land of beautiful Horses and beyond... Part 3

           Egirdir and Konya...
   The next morning we left again very early in order to avoid the heat. Next stop: Egirdir.
We had already entered the vast area that is called Anatolian Plateau, which means that although we were moving on roads that were straight, the altitude was over 1000mt. We made a detour in order to visit a volcanic lake which was supposed to be great. And it was! A huge lake with green waters surrounded by mountains, and the sand was so white that it was looking like sugar. We had a nice swimming there, despite the cold water.
And then we continued our way. We passed some not so interesting places, and at late noon we reached Egirdir.
   Egirdir is the name of a small town (or a big village) that lies at the banks of a very big lake. In the middle of the lake there is a small island that is connected to the town with a very narrow road. Nice place. We found a room on the island, and after we swimmed in the lake we made some rounds to explore the place a bit.
The town is very good for an overnight stop, but has not so many things to offer. So we decided that the next morning we should continue our way towards Konya.
   On the way to Konya the ladscapes we were passing through were really very eiree and interesting. We passed some mountains, valleys, and the landscape was becoming all the more drier. After a couple of hours of driving we ascended on a hill at the side of a mountain and after a turn of the road to descend, Konya lay like a carpet of red tile roofs at the foot of the mountain.
It was a great view! Imagine a very big city spread all over the horizon.A city which is considered to be the center of the Muslim religion in Turkey.
We entered the city, found a descent hotel in the center, and it was time to explore around a bit.
   Konya is famous because of the unique green mosque which is also the shrine of Mevlana.
Mevlana was a philosopher of Muslim religion, the one who started the order of the whirling dervishes, and Konya is their hometown.
[Their order was called Mevlevi and their focus was on love as in their words: 'We love the creation through the creator.' The order was highly respected and later on became a branch of the Sufi sect. Mevlana is still considered to be one of the best religious poets and his sect was the most lenient sect in the entirety Islam. One of his most famous quotations was: 'Either be what you seem or seem to be what you are.'
The whirling dervishes are a part of the Mevlevi sect and their dance in whirling form is symbolic for the world's constant turning. Their clothes in white represent the white cloth the muslim cover their dead for burial, and the high hats stand for their gravestones. In a symbolic meaning it means as the world turns everything comes to meet their end in death but one thing that stands is the love we bear for the creator and the creation.]
  We visited the mosque (actually in a complex of mosques) that contains Mevlana's shrine and I must say it was very impressive. It was something between a temple and a museum, including the graves of many famous Dervishes from the past, and many objects dating from the Middle Ages and before.
Meanwhile, I was trying to see if it would be possible to see the Dervishes perform. (It is not so common). Luckily we found some invitations from our hotel and at night we headed to the place where we could see them. It was at the edge of the city in a place that looked like a monastery or something of that short. Had a big outside wall, and inside was dark, having only torches for lights. We entered into some corridors that lead us to the place of the ritual, and in the meantime we could hear their chants and smell the perfumes of burning essences all around. The place was a basement, rather small and dark. Except of us, 4-5 more people were there to watch it. Just perfect! On our right it was a small stage with 4-5 musicians and the center was empty for the Dervishes to perform. The moment they entered was very impressive and kind of spooky. They suddenly appeared out of nowhere (from a side door I'm guessing), and totally silent passed next to us and went to the center of the room. It was dark, and they were wearing these long white robes, and they really looked like ghosts!
Ok, I'm sorry but I am unable to express the feeling of seeing that performance in this place and from so close. I just can't! But believe me when I say that it was something I will remember for the rest of my life! It was just chilling!
   After that, there were not many things we could do as you can understand. So we headed to our hotel rooms to relax, because the next day we would be crossing a 140 km Desert in order to enter Kappadokia at last! The moment we were waiting and discussing to the whole trip so far, was finally ahead of us!
To be continued...
Pictures: In the top picture you see Egirdir. In the middle one you see a part of  Konya, and at the bottom picture you see the complex of mosques I wrote before. Mevlana's shrine lies under this green tower you see...

 Next, on part 4: Kappadokia...