Posted by: David Stewart | June 13, 2013

Turkey’s conservative heartland: Konya, home to Rumi

This is part of a series of posts about our Spring 2013 trip

Egirdir, Turkey

Egirdir, Turkey

Monday, April 22

The next morning, we started for Konya. But we decided to drive through the Lake District rather than take the coast road. Most of the morning was spent in rolling country roads, a very nice drive. At some point, we were in a natural “park” between hills, and Susan said “this looks like South Park,” which had occurred to me as well. By mid morning, we drove into Isparta, which immediately reminded us of Boulder, Colorado. Partly this was due to the setting against high mountains and the residential high rises which looked like the high rise dorms at the University of Colorado. We decided to make a coffee stop, and had noticed signs for several miles for a place called “Kippa Extra.” This turned out to be a really huge “big box” store like Fred Meyer or Wallmart, brand new, playing American pop music on the sound system, totally empty. I bought some extra socks to wear with my shorts, and we got various items before we took off.

About an hour later, we arrived at Lake Egirdir in dramatic fashion. The road crests a rise and then you are presented with the panorama of this vast lake. The little of town of Egirdir (pronounced like “Err-dir”) sits on the lake with a narrow strip of land out to a little island. We lunched in the main town and then walked out to the island to have desert and coffee before getting on the road again.

The drive to Konya would take us looping around Lake Egirdir and another vast lake and over some pretty good roads. Konya itself is quite religiously conservative. It is the place where the Sufi mystic Rumi is burried in an elaborate tomb, in the Melvana Museum, about a block from Hotel Rumi, where we stayed. We got a reasonable rate at the Hotel Rumi, but the entire place smelled like smoke, and was really a problem for my sister who has an asthma issue. That night, we had dinner in a restaurant just a block from the hotel, a place which we thought might have a whirling Dervish ceremony. Unfortunately, no whirling, but we had a very nice dinner anyway. No alcohol, there really are no venues which serve any kind of booze. But reportedly the city has a pretty bad alcohol abuse problem.

Konya, Turkey

Mevlana Museum, where Rumi is burried

Tuesday, April 23

The Melvana Museum is probably the most interesting thing to see in Konya. We walked through a number of small cells, where various parts of the Dervish life is described, including the three days of silence that a novice must practice before being accepted into training, then 1000 days of training before being accepted as a Dervish, which is then followed by a solitary retreat in a cell for many days. Also in the museum is a former mosque, which contains the tombs of Rumi and a number of his family members and followers. The tombs were like mammoth mounds of white stone capped by a stone which looks like a Dervish hat and a scarf. Also in this building is a Koran reading room and a box which contains some of the hairs of Mohammed’s beard. There are holes in the box where you can sniff the air coming from them, which is supposed to smell like cinnamon.

Konya, Turkey

Alaaddin Mosque

On our way out of Konya, we also visited the Alaaddin Mosque, which was really talked up by Lonely Planet because of its tile work and history. We could have probably given it a miss.


For more photos from Konya and Egirdir, check out this Flickr set


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