One day during our stay in Makah, we went to visit Mina, Muzdalfa and Arafat with family friends. We left soon after Fajr, so that we could return to our hotel in time for the Zuhr prayer.
Our first stop was Mina. We saw the Jamarat. There are 3 pillars that are stoned by all the pilgrims during Haj. This act is a symbol of stoning the Satan. The pillar are now housed in 4 floor buildings, that allow thousands of people to perform the act of stoning the Devil at one time. It also ensures that accidents due to the huge crowd is avoided.
Next we saw the tent city in Mina, established for the pilgrims, when they have to stay in Mina, as part of the Hajj. There are more than 77,000 tents permanently installed in Mina. These tents are made of fireproof material to avoid fire hazards. Every tent has a desert cooler installed in the tent. The sides walls of tents are rolled up during the year, and are let down during Hajj to form a closed tent. During Hajj, telecom services provide wi-fi services for the pilgrims.
The start and end of the limits of Mina are marked clearly. Some tents are put up outside the limits of Mina. Of a pilgrim does not stay in Mina during Hajj, the Hajj is not completed. Theses tents are marked with rows of green hooded tents. All the tents between the green hooded tents are not in the limits of Mina, and pilgrims should take care not to stay in those tents even if allocated.
There is a royal palace in Mina, for the royal family members or any foreign dignitaries performing Hajj.
One part of Hajj includes staying in Muzdalfa. There is a big beautiful mosque in Muzdalfa where pilgrims perform prayers. It is the Masharul Haram mosque.
We saw restrooms being built in Muzdulfa as part of Hajj preparations. These include painting the male restrooms blue and the female ones pink, so that they are easily recognizable. Previously, even though there were restrooms built for women, but they were few and far.
On the way to Arafat, we saw the Nehr-e-Zubaida , which is the architectural wonder of its time. This canal was built when Queen Zubaida saw that pilgrims faced serious water problems on her Hajj trip. This canal starts from the Valley of Hunnain and was extended till Arafat, Muzdalfa and Mina. This canal served the water needs of the pilgrims for centuries.
In Arafat, there is Masjid-e-Namra, where the yearly Hajj sermon is delivered.
Behind Masjid-e-Nimra is a marker that indicates the position of a well that Prophet (P.B.U.H) used for water. The well is not functional now.
Last of all, we saw Jabl-e-Rehmat. In normal days people come here to see Arafat and Jabl-e-Rehmat. There were street food vendors at the foot of the mountain. After some 20 years, I had an icecream from the icecream van. In the picture, part of Nehr-e-Zubaida can be seen along Jabl-e-Rehmat.
On the way back to our hotel, we saw the Ummul Qura university campus, and some buldings near Arafat that serve as offices during Hajj for the people who are managing the Hajj arrangements.