Being Women

Jerash – Echoes from the Past

This month, Rishita take us to the ruins of Jerash, Jordan.

Are they as curious as I am? Wondering what lies above as I wonder what lies below. Perhaps someday we will know, or perhaps we will never.

Ignoring the rain, with the umbrella resting on my right shoulder, which gave me a bit of shelter from the constant pounding of the shower, I continued walking amongst the ruins, of which over 50% or more remain undiscovered. They are the ruins of Jerash, Jordan.

Since morning, the dark clouds have been teasing the entire city of Amman. By the time we arrived at Jerash, which is about 48 kilometres from Amman, they had lodged a complete assault. Even though it was nearly the end of March, the sudden gush of rain did little to dampen my spirit.

‘Rain, rain go away… Come again some other day.’ Whilst some of us love the rain, some distaste it, but imagine a full-blown shower when one is on vacation! One is bound to feel devastated, isn’t it? Well, thankfully, I never do. Rain or no rain, the traveller spirit inside me always nudges me to look at the brighter side of my travels.

Traversing along the undulating terrain, what remains of old Jerash, the city plays strange hide-and-seek with all. As if it wants to show you its full glory, yet it is shy and chooses to remain hidden beneath the lush green grassland sprinkled with brightly hued wildflowers. Scattered amongst the ruins, what can be seen is enough to draw out amazement right from your soul.

The old and new Jerash behind it

Known as the ‘Pompeii of the Middle East’, Jerash is one of the best-preserved sites of Roman architecture in the world outside of Italy. The city has been a silent witness to the rise and fall of historical periods since its first settlement during the Neolithic era around 7500 BC. From the Greeks to the Hellenistic, from the Romans to the Byzantine, or even during the Crusader period, Jerash has flourished and continues to evoke wonder in all those who pay homage here.

Your visit to Jerash will transport you to the time when the clip-clop sound of the horses mounted by mighty soldiers resonated in the air, when the strong smell of the spices wafting from the shops lining both sides of the street mingled with the hawker’s cries and tried to draw the attention of the locals, and when the chanting of the high priests from the majestic temples could be heard echoing against the gigantic pillars only to spill out into the ears of the passersby.

In the past, Jerash was not just a city. In the present, Jerash is not just a ruin. Jerash will forever be an emotion that has been passed down for centuries. With the Oval Plaza, Southern and Northern Theatres, Temple of Zeus and Temple of Artemis, and many more, Jerash seems to have been closely guarding the secret of the past as the modern city of Jerash flourished around it. The ruins of Jerash are a perfect time capsule. Here, the past and present are intricately woven into each other, and you can never separate the two.

Temple of Artemis

By now, the shower had reduced to a drizzle. With my sneakers squishing around the cobbled streets, I tried taking it all in. Sprawling over 200 acres, the remains of the beige stone

Oval Plaza

structures glistened under the fresh spell. The surrounding emerald turf received a new lease on life.

Although the clouds adamantly denied retreating any time soon, I had what remained of Jerash much to myself as fewer tourists hounded the otherwise crowded attraction of Jordan. I wandered around not once but twice, realising every stone structure I saw had a story of its own.

The South Theatre

It is the part of not knowing that attracts us, and with Jerash, much is left unknown. As I was walking out of the ruin’s sight, I knew the drizzle would clean any footprints that I might have left behind, but they would forever be one with those who walked this blessed place because Jerash would be serving humanity beyond time. Turning back for one last time, yearningly to myself, I wondered, Will I ever know what still lies below in this lifetime?


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