Omdurman Things to Do

  • tray ready to eat
    tray ready to eat
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    The Baladiya
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Best Rated Things to Do in Omdurman

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    Khalifa's House Museum

    by uglyscot Updated Mar 14, 2007

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    An Ansar, follower of the Mahdi
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    The house was built by Hamed AbdelNur under guidance from an Italian named Pietro. The main building was constructed 1887-8. The double storey house was built in 1891. Opposite is the Mahdi’s tomb built 1886-87.
    Of the old city wall built to enclose the dwellings of the Melazzmin ,nothing remains but the southern gate..

    The courtyard entrance was built of large stones originally from Khartoum. The hand-puddled bricks came from the Christian church at Soba East..

    The house of Um Kalthoum is a later edition. The water came from a well inside the house and an aqueduct was ingeniously built to allow the water to be fed to the tank by gravity. It was lifted up to the boiler with a furnace, and thence to the simple Turkish style bathtub. Water would have been carried up the outside stairs and poured down by servants into the tank. The taps of both the bath and sink are ‘gold’.
    There were later additions to the original building which was re-used by the British district Commissioner 1899-1921.

    The boiler for heating the water, and a channel for taking the waste water from the house to a well can be seem.
    A huge pair of millstones and the wooden post are also there.

    A visit is highly recommended and would not take more than an hour or two to see.

    The house itself is interesting as there is an enormous bath for which servants carried buckets of hot water . There is the first automobile used in the Sudan; a large angareb [bed] on which all the pupils of a khalwa slept- reminiscent of the Great bed of Ware in the UK.
    There are letters sent by General Gordon to his sisters, as well as lots of other memorabilia.

    It is open mornings until about 1pm except Fridays.
    Price of ticket 100SD

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    See the Nilain Mosque

    by uglyscot Updated Sep 8, 2008

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    the dome
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    This modern mosque [1980s] was built from the design of a student at the Faculty of Architecture.Its aluminium dome was produced from aluminium from the smelter at Invergordon in Scotland, near from where I come from.
    The mosque lies almost at the junction of the Blue and White Nile.The complex also contains libraries, teaching centres and administration buildings.
    The dome is unusual, and inside are fine mosaics, though , as a woman, I haven't been inside to see.However I have been inside the grounds to have a closer look from the back.

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    The Khalifa's house

    by mafi_moya Written Oct 30, 2003

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    The Khalifa's house

    The Khalifa was the Mahdi's second-in-command and eventual successor. Unlike the Mahdi's tomb, the Khalifa's house is open to all the public and is in fact a museum showing aspects of life in late 19th century Omdurman.

    There are plenty of photos, old letters, and the first ever car in Sudan is on exhibition here. There's usually a guide hanging around who speaks some English and can explain things. Wandering around the house and looking at the old water systems and things like that is very interesting.

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    The Mahdi's tomb

    by mafi_moya Updated Oct 30, 2003

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    The Mahdi's tomb

    The Mahdi was the 'saviour' of the Sudanese people at the end of the 19th century and led one of the world's most successful anti-colonial uprisings, against the Anglo-Egyptian forces aiming to control much of the Sudan. Gathering support from Kordofan and the West of Sudan, he united the country and even got the support of the Southern tribes by promising (falsely) to end slavery. Seen by some as a new prophet, he led his army to Khartoum (basing himself in Omdurman) and famously defeated General Gordon, who even more famously had his head chopped off (not by the Mahdi). Several years later the increasingly bloated Mahdi was succeeded by the Khalifa, before Lord Kitchener came up the Nile (slightly too late for Gordon!) to reclaim the city for Britain. Far from being the supposed civilised avengers, Kitchener massacred much of the opoosition in cold blood and desecrated the Mahdi's tomb and body.

    His tomb is one of those things that every visitor should make the effort to see but, to be honest, 'seeing it' is pretty much all you can do. The striking silver dome dominates the building and the surrounding skyline and you can wander around the grounds but it's highly unlikely non-Muslims will actually be allowed in. Some claim to have got in but most don't manage it - I guess it depends who's on the gate. You can generally take photos inside the grounds - although ask permission (which may or may not be given). Having never been inside it I can't really comment, but have a look at the outside anyway.

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    Hamed Al Nil - the Whirling Dervishes

    by mafi_moya Updated Oct 30, 2003

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    Friday nights at Hamed Al Nil

    The dervishes and followers meet at Hamed Al Nil mosque/cemetary every Friday night before sunset. Sufism is a mystical/spiritual side of Islam that many orthodox Sudanese Muslims distrust and in some cases are a bit wary of, but it has many followers in Sudan and there are always large crowds. Arriving at dusk with hundreds of people gathering in a cemetary adds to the spiritual experience and it can all get quite emotionally powerful and intense for the first time visitor.

    In a way the dervishes themselves are a bit disappointing. Generally quite old and not too mobile, they don't whirl much but just kind of dance around. Compared to dervishes in places like Turkey these are quite tame. But guys in multicoloured coats whip the crowd into a frenzy, many chanting and swaying themselves into a trance. The first time I went the guy next to me suddenly collapsed into a coma-like state, such was the emotional force of being involved. While the dervishes may be old the energy created by the crowd is incredible and a little scary. It's a not to be missed experience, particularly if you get right in the middle of the crowd.

    This is probably Omdurman's most famous 'tourist attraction' but this is not one of those traditional rituals performed purely for the benefit of rich tourists. Sudan has very few tourists and most weeks the people watching the dervishes are all Sudanese. Visitors are welcome but remember this is a serious religious event - start being too intrusive and waving your cameras all over the place and the crowd may not be so welcoming. It is friendly though so feel free to join in - I've been on the front row dancing with the rest of the crowd and had a fantastic time. Just be a bit respectful and it's probably best to go in small groups or ideally with Sudanese.

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    Abdel Gayoum Gate

    by maykal Written Oct 6, 2003

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    Abdel Guyoum Gate

    Omdurman used to be a walled city, but nowadays there is precious little evidence of it. All you will see is the main gate, Abdel Guyoum Gate, as you turn away from the Nile on the bus towards Shuhada. There is little to warrant getting off the bus here, but there are a couple of Nileside cafes (expensive) nearby, as well as the remains of Omdurman's fortifications.

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    The Whirling Dervishes of Hamd en-Nil

    by maykal Updated Sep 8, 2003

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    Hamd En-Nil Mosque

    On Fridays, take a bus to an area called Hamd en-Nil, and jump off when you reach a big cemetary. A couple of hours before sunset, members of a Sufi order gather together to sing, chant and whirl in the dust wearing colourful patchwork clothes. All the men stand in a huge circle, mostly wearing white jellabiyas, and sway to the chanting which gets faster and faster. In the middle of the circle are the darawish, those who have abandoned the modern way of living and dress in green-coloured rags. As the tempo increases, they begin to whirl, spin, jump, leap, roll...a spectacular sight. It is not uncommon for believers to suddenly become carried away with emotion and break into the circle for a whirl themselves.
    Now when I went, there was a largeish group of khawajas taking photos indiscreetly (actually, they got in the way on more than one occasion) and tempers flared slightly...this is not really a tourist attraction, although tourists are tolerated if they stay very much in the background.

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    The Mahdi's tomb

    by uglyscot Updated Mar 14, 2007

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    Although it is not possible to visit the Mahdi's tomb itself, it stands as a landmark with its silver dome. However, nearby is the Khalifa's House museum and a model of the dome is on display inside.
    The dome is visible from a long way off because of its 'silver' colour..
    The original tomb was destroyed at the time of the British occupation, by Kitchener's gunboats . The family were not given permission to rebuild it, but it was later rebuilt by the Mahdi's posthumous son Sayed Abdel Rahman el Mahdi at his own expense..

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    Cross Omdurman bridge

    by uglyscot Written Nov 20, 2006

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    on the bridge
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    The old metal bridge from Khartoum to Omdurman was brought by the British from India in about 1910. It once had trams as well as cars and people using it. Until the new Ingaz bridge was built by the Chinese it was the only way to cross the Nile. When I was teaching at the Faculty of Education the bridge had to stop bases and public transport because of the volume of traffic going to Khartoum. The bridge would have only one lane open from 9am -10.am and again at the afternoon rush hour.
    In the rainy season the islands under the bridge are drowned , but later after they dry out they are farms with vegetables growing.

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    Omdurman Park

    by mafi_moya Written Oct 30, 2003

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    After the dervishes, when the sun sets, the place to hang out on a Friday night in Omdurman is Omdurman Park. You won't be too surprised to find out that there's not really much here, but nonetheless it's one of the city's main nightspots. There are lots of people hanging about on the grass, talking and eating, or playing football, and there's also a fairground. There are bumper cars (dodgems), rides and even a rollercoaster. You can even buy candyfloss from the stalls - I wouldn't recommend eating it though! Entry costs (to the best of my memory) 500 pounds.

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    Visit Omdurman market

    by uglyscot Updated Nov 18, 2006

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    busy market
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    The market in Omdurman is basically an open air market though there are shops whose wares spill out onto the street. Some salesmen have their goods on a sheet of cardboard or plastic on the road. It is place full of colour and life, with a whole spectrum of people from all walks of life, ethnic groups and nationalities.
    There are some streets devoted to a certain commoditiy, but there are also overlaps.: Gold street, spice street, mattress street, clothes street etc/.

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    Old fortifications

    by uglyscot Updated Sep 7, 2008

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    fortifications by Nile
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    Beside the Nile in Omdurman near what was the gate to Omdurman, can be seen the mud-brick fortifications where the Mahdi's troops fired on the British steamers coming down the Nile from Egypt with messages and supplies for the British forces. These are one of the few historic remains still to be seen dating to the Mahdist era.

    Unfortunately quality of pictures not the best as taken from moving car.
    Update: As of Sept. 2008 I find the fortifications enclosed by railings and a new Night Family Park being constructed along side!

    In the Khalifa's house museum is a painting showing what the fortifications would have been like when in use.

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    Khalifa House Museum 2: Exhibits of vehicles

    by uglyscot Updated Mar 14, 2007

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    early carriages
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    Inside the entrance are some of the first wheeled vehicles to be used in the Sudan. They are made of wood. There are two horse drawn carriages and a third, a Victoria, which arrived from Cairo via the Darab el Arbain [the 40 day way] sent to Sultan Hussein of Darfur. It was found by Zubair Pasha at El Fasher. Later Ismail Ayoub, governor of Sudan [1875-1877] sent it to Khartoum. It was never used.
    The first motorised vehicle was the car belonging to Gen Wingate. it was made in Scotland.

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    see the Khalifa's belongings in museum

    by uglyscot Updated Mar 14, 2007

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    hats and  clothing of the Khalifa.
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    Among the items belonging to the Khalifa are:
    clothes which seem very thick and heavy for the climate of Sudan today, but maybe it was protective.
    His desk and stick, his bed made from Indian wood, drum and large gudda [ a wooden bowl for serving food from There are also brass ewers and other metal containers.,

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    see the boat building

    by uglyscot Written Feb 27, 2007

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    boat building

    Along the Nile in Omdurman there is the Mowrada where there is a fish market. Further along from that are all sorts of salesman, but what caught my eye was a small area where boats were being carved out of wood in the traditional way.

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