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Tomb of the Mahdi

If Khartoum was almost like an immense village, Omdurman is really it. This city has not even got that downtown area. But Omdurman is perhaps even more than Khartoum worth the visit, as it is a short cut into rural Sudan. If your stay in Sudan is lasting only short time, or if you have just arrived, and feeling uncertain on where to go next, Omdurman is like a living museum.
The market of Omdurman is counted as one of the very best of the country. It is not aiming at tourists, and have a wide range of products. Most things here, you don't want to buy, but the area is a gem for spectators. If you decide to start shopping, you should have a fair chance on paying "local" prices. Within walking distance, north of the market, you find the camel market. This is genuine, and thrives on the persistent lack of good infrastructure in Sudan.
The distinct architecture of the tomb of the Mahdi, who died here in 1885, has made it into the most photographed motive in Sudan. It's out of reach for foreigners planning to enter, but the building seen from the outside is the main attraction anyway. The dome of it has the shape of hornets' nest.
Whirling Dervishes, as Westerners call them, adds to Omdurman's attractions. These men are Sufis are following the teachings of shaykh Hamdu Niil, and the dancing is only the act of dhikr. Dhikr is a ritual, where several forms of techniques are used between Sufis, used to bring participants out of the ordinary life, and into a sphere of existence where the truths of reality can be experienced, and closer contact with God is made possible. Even if this is a strange ritual, and a spectacular show for foreigners, it has not more to do with madness, nor backwardness, than rituals found in all other religions.

Eat and Sleep
Simple food, sleeping is something you do in Khartoum, just across the river.

Connected with bridges to Khartoum Bahri (northern side of the Blue Nile) and Khartoum.

Going Next
Across the river: Khartoum

By Tore Kjeilen