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Konya: Home of Rumi & The Whirling Dervishes

Seventeen days. That’s how long it took to get myself writing about our 2-day trip to Konya, Turkey. I almost did not want to because…well, I still suck at travel blogging. I get so caught up with being a tourist that I forget to write down important information or take beautiful photos that I could share to my readers.  What convinced me though were the words of Prof. Clarita Carlos a few days ago when she gave a talk at the Middle East Technical University here in Ankara. Prior to her talk, she was convincing the University President to keep a journal of his travels and experiences – “You should write it down. One of these days, you won’t be able to remember.” 

Thanks to Prof. Carlos, I’m writing this now before my memory betrays me.

Day 1

We left for Konya on October 3 at 8:50 AM via train at the Ankara Central Railway Station. I’m sure you’ve heard about the bombing there last October 10. Yes, we were at that same place. Thank God and our angels in heaven, our trip was set a week prior to the terror. That being said, I hope you could offer a little prayer for all the victims of the bombing and for the restoration of peace in this beautiful country.

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Train tickets at TL 22, one-way (PHP 352)

The train was high speed, had comfortable seats, and neat interiors.It even had train attendants who offered snacks and drinks for some cost. It was a good ride. All I could think of while we were travelling was how wonderful it would be if Philippines had similar trains too. I seriously felt a tinge of sadness. The Philippines is wealthy, it has incredible potential yet Filipinos are stuck with terrible traffic and transportation facilities. Can Grace Poe solve that? I really don’t know.

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Konya Train Station

We arrived at Konya after one and a half hours and headed directly to the hotel so we could check-in our stuff first. We stayed at Dedeman Konya Hotel & Convention Center which had this beautiful room, free breakfast, and rain shower head (a plus for me!). Except for the poor air conditioning that night, our Dedeman room spelled comfort.

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Dedeman Hotel – Konya, our home for a day

About half an hour past noon, our service bus -courtesy of our gracious host Necmettin Erbakan Universitesi, came to pick us up and we had a sumptuous lunch at the university. Since I’ve not had the opportunity to visit the best places here serving Turkish food, I must say theirs were one of the best I’ve had so far.

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1) some appetizer consisting of spicy ground beef and sliced vegetables. this is served together with bread; 2) rice, beef, and grilled vegetables; 3) etli ekmek – i loved this! much like a spicy beef wrap; 4) bamya yemeği – another winner for me! i’d best describe it as a tomato soup with beef and mini okras; and 5) turkish semolina halva, not really sure if i got the name right but it was delish.
the bus which took us everywhere
The bus which took us everywhere. I was actually capturing the old couple holding hands. #baemayforever

After getting our energy up, we headed to downtown Konya for some city tour. Our guide must have wanted us to see the entire city so we walked for about an hour, burning all the calories along the way. The place was packed with people and the streets were mostly made of bricks, making it a challenge for my teeny tiny heels. The guide pointed here and there, explaining the significance of the structures but I did not have the luxury of listening as I fell behind those who walked a lot faster than I did.

Walking the busy streets of Konya on a Saturday
Walking the busy streets of Konya on a Saturday
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Ince Minare Museum
Selimiye Mosque, just outside the Mevlana Mosque & Museum. You can see the men doing their prayer/praise.
Selimiye Mosque, just outside the Mevlana Mosque & Museum. You can see the men doing their prayer/praise.
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Taking a breather with some of my husband’s officemates

But the real highlights of our Day 1 were Mevlana Museum (mausoleum of famous poet/philosopher, Rumi) and Mevlana Cultural Center where we witnessed the Mevlevi Order  or Whirling Dervishes do their Sema Ceremony. I never really knew Rumi before the trip but after researching about him, I learned that I’ve missed out a lot of beautiful poetry!

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Some of Rumi’s poetry and wisdom
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Mevlana Rumi’s mausoleum. I couldn’t get a good view since the best spots were taken over by tall people.
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They were kissing and praying over the thing inside the glass which I couldn’t see. When I asked the translator, she said it was Muhammad’s beard.
I just had to take a photo of this ancient book stand used by Rumi. I love book stands but wow, books were large those days!
I just had to take a photo of this ancient book stand used by Rumi. I love book stands but wow, books were large those days!
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Whirling Dervishes. Just looking at them made me a little dizzy. The devotion of these men are really commendable!     Photo by Mr. Ceferino Caldez
Day 2

We still had half a day to explore Konya so we went to Aya Eleni, an old Greek Church in Sille – ancient village in Konya. It was extremely sunny but the place was too beautiful it would be a sin not to see. Armed with a scarf, I braved the heat.

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Aya Eleni Church and Museum. Photo by Sean Cruz
Some photos inside the church. The ceiling art was really nice.
Some photos inside the church. The ceiling art was really nice.

Before heading back to Ankara, we had lunch at a restaurant called Kandil (candle) where we were served basically the same food as in our Day 1. Call it gastronomically boring or whatever but I still enjoyed the bamya yemeği and etli ekmek.

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It felt like we were in an ancient village.

I need to say this again, Turkey is such a beautiful place. The Philippines has begun building stronger relations with this country and it’s brightened opportunities for trade, education, and cultural exchange. I just hope that all these security scare goes away fast. It sounds beauty queen-ish but, yes, let’s pray for world peace.

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