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It was pitch dark! Me and my co travelers walked towards the Al Khazneh Treasury guided by the thousands of lamps lit in the pathway. I had yet not seen Petra in the daylight so it was even more exciting for me to see a Petra, veiled by darkness. The huge boulders and mountains seemed like monsters who would swallow you alive at the slightest of provocation. I imagined the life in 4th century B.C. when it became the capital of the Nabataeans. I imagined the caravans of camels which plied on these ‘roads’, bereft of fancy lamps. I imagined the sounds and smells of those times. I imagined what would it be like to walk the uneven path in the daylight the next day? The lamps gave a magical touch to the sometimes narrow, sometimes broad siq (passage). The natural gorges or siq lend a mysterious aura to the place.
When the siq finally ended at the treasury, the most recognizable feature of Petra, it made for an awe inspiring sight! Hundreds of lamps were lit in front of the treasury. The collective glow from the lamps bathed the treasury in yellow. We were made to sit on the mats on ground. Hot Jordanian tea warmed our palms as we sit with bated breath anticipating the next event.
Suddenly for me the novelty of the moment wore off. I decided to lie down on the mat for few minutes admiring the dark sky and the gorgeous head of the Treasury. The whispers of other tourists filled my ear. In the crowd, I found my ‘me time’. A soft feathery touch on my arm made me jolt out of my stupor. A cat had decided to make friends with me. I am not too fond of cats and have hardly touched any cats. But I liked the touch, soft as a fur ball, lighter than air, the cat won’t leave me. For me that moment was even more precious than viewing Petra by the night.
As soon as everybody settled on the mat, a man started playing Arabic music from behind a rock. He would do that for few minutes, sending the crowd in deep meditative silence. Then he emerged dramatically and continued playing the tunes, this time negotiating the narrow passages between the lamps. The act lasted for few more minutes and ended with the man narrating in imperfect English. It was followed by selfie sessions.
During the night, visitors are not allowed to move beyond this point. I spent some more time and decided to leave alone for my hotel, walking distance from Treasury. It was eerie and at times scary to walk in those dark pathways alone. I started to replay the ‘Petra by Night’ in my mind to distract myself from imagining the monsters who would eat me alive.
IS PETRA BY NIGHT WORTH IT?
It is no doubt that Petra By Night is a touristy frill. However, it might appeal to some and might not appeal to others. I would suggest if you have the money and time, do give a chance to Petra by Night. In case you have to choose (due to money or time issues) between Petra by Night and Petra in Day, go for the latter. Daylight gives you a better understanding of the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also, you can walk to the famous monastery and explore other tombs and ruins in the day time. Personally, I preferred Petra in daytime but if I had not seen Petra by night, it would have bothered me for a long time.
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NOTE: I was invited by Jordan Tourism Board to Jordan on a Press Trip
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