Konya : 'The fundamental condition of our existence is to revolve'
Konya Travel Blog› entry 201 of 268 › view all entries
Okay, here we go. Nearly a year on The Road and here it comes. Finally and long overdue. Stevieâs first earnest attempt at hitchhiking. An idea toyed with on many occasions but always chickened or talked out of at the last minute so far. But Iâm ready for it now. Today. The bold, large pen blacked legend âKONYAâ lovingly scrawled with my needless perfectionistâs zeal on a cardboard, street-foraged palette the night before.
But stood under a mercilessly hot, cloudless sky in the middle of a dual carriageway on the only viable road from Egirdir - in fact the whole region - heading in the right direction (admittedly a 236 kilometre direction), two hours and lots of amused grins and waving from truck drivers later I am just a little more tanned, a lot more frustrated and not one inch closer to Konya.
âHey my friend, I tell you, you are one lucky man! You are really in luck!â. âI am?â. Uh oh. Backpackers are always wary of the sort of Luck that feels the need to announce itself loudly to you in the middle of the street whilst clapping its hands on their shoulders. It sets the internal travel alarm bells ringing.
Bags dumped and then out of politeness I briefly visit âthe second most important site in Konyaâ (the first of course being Hotel Honeybunch Iâm assured), this being the YĂ¶rĂŒk Hali Carpet Shop which Nazif also runs.
Konya is a centre of significant spiritual and philosophical importance to Turkish history, identity and culture. In the 13th Century it became the home and spiritual base of the Afghan born theologian, philosopher and Sufi Islamic teacher Celaleddin Rumi or âRumiâ. Later known as MevlĂąna ( âOur Guideâ ) as founder and head of the famous order of the whirling dervishes. This order of the dervishes instantly recognisable to visitors to Turkey by their large conical hats (representing the tomb stone of their egos) and white âskirtsâ ( their egoâs shroud) that twirl about them as they partake in the famous spinning dance of the âSemĂąâ or âRitual /Universal Movementâ.
To help you some ways to an understanding of the spiritual purpose of twirling like a human spinning top I refer you to the following sort-of explanation : âContemporary science definitely confirms that the fundamental condition of our existence is to revolve.
So in brief as they twirl and whirl around, a dervishâs right hand directed to the sky is âready to receive Godâs beneficenceâ and his left hand turned towards the Earth around which he is (and we are) forever pivoting as well as pivoting around our heart as the centre point of the movement.
Among other philosophic niceties a few of the seven principle âadvicesâ of MevlĂąna are as follows : âIn generosity and helping others be like a riverâ. âIn compassion and grace be like the sunâ. âIn modesty and humility be like the Earthâ and finally and more enigmatically âEither exist as you are or be as you lookâ. I look like a piece of sh*t now after a year on The Road so not wanting to âbe as a sh*tâ Iâll hope that last one lost a little in translation.
A visit to the small, cheap (2TL/ 40p) but occasionally very pretty and ornate interior and iconic turquoise-tile topped original Dervish Order Lodge (or âMevlĂąna Museumâ) where MevlĂąna is entombed is probably the top tourist draw/ site of pilgrimage in townâŠ so give it a whirl why donâtcha.
The heart of Konya is a good place to be for a day or maybe two. A real âreal peopleâ, âreal lifeâ city, if ya know what I mean. One you can reach in and feel the pulse of. Food is cheap. 1TL (40p) for yummy Tavuk DĂ¶ner (chicken kebap) with salad and chips on top or the same for a fresh boiled or roasted corn cob. I can also now confirm Konya as the successful winner of my âCheapest Ăay in Turkeyâ award with two cups coming in at 0.75TL (thatâs 15p a cup) at one particular Ăay Evi (Tea House).
It has a fantastic bazaar district. One of the best I see in the country. Ladies and gents squatting on buckets in the street sprawling their bright-gleaming vegetable and fruit wares onto the pavements. Horse ânâ carts cantering past. A rubber mat covered in hundreds of live fish that flap and bounce off into the roads as if wishing the novelty of âPedestrian Right of Wayâ laws into their lives.
An experimental step through a darkened corridor and suddenly opening up before me, like an aircraft hanger trying to conceal the presence of a captured rainbow, a spectacularly large undercover food market is revealed. I take to the upper galleries to get a better view. Beautiful spot lit piles of food stuffs and sacks of spices and herbs of every texture and hue. Lots of potent-as-heck looking mouldy cheeses a speciality of the region.
Some groovy mosques etc etc (Semilaye Camii near the MevlĂąna Museum in particular). I also paid a visit to the reopened Tile Museum (5TL / ÂŁ2), a building possessed of a beautiful interior (formerly The Karatay Madrasah dating from 1251) and small but informative displays of Selcuk tile work. Many with rare examples of figurative or representational Islamic art collected from the remains of the Kubad Abad Palace that sit besides Lake Beysehir near Egirdir.
The tile museum is found on the North flank of the orbit of Konyaâs geographical heart, the hillock mount know as Alaaddin Tepesi. This place whilst a site of historical import is also the social epicentre of Konya with nice cafes and restaurants dotted about its sides. Lots of fun to be had for kids and grassy areas for families to sit as the sun goes downâŠ for this is the finest place in town to see said event. [ Sadly, AGAIN - for itâs become a habit of late - I seem to have lost photos of this any many other of my favourite moments in Konya but I donât know how or where theyâve gone too! ]
âAbi, I had a dream last night, and in this dream you were buying a kilimâ. Iâm sat at breakfast on my one morning in Konya, Hotel Petek and poor Nazif has shown up clinging to the mere scrap of a half-hope of a carpet sale that I left cruelly dangling like a loose kilim thread in the air yesterday.
* Iâve since asked for a translation of the familiar greeting/ name âAbiâ and Buhran in Kars explains to me that it is âa respectful term usually used to refer to either a brother, cousin, elder or just generally elder person than oneself in greetingâ.
** Governorship of Konya Publications of Culture and Tourism Directorate