The Bucketlist I : Petra- a rose-red city half as old as time

by Purnendu Singh


Sep 23, 2011


It seems no work of Man’s creative hand,

by labour wrought as wavering fancy planned;

But from the rock as if by magic grown,

eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!

Not virgin-white like that old Doric shrine,

where erst Athena held her rites divine;

Not saintly-grey, like many a minster fane,

that crowns the hill and consecrates the plain;

But rose-red as if the blush of dawn,

that first beheld them were not yet withdrawn;

The hues of youth upon a brow of woe,

which Man deemed old two thousand years ago,

match me such marvel save in Eastern clime,

a rose-red city half as old as time.

I have known this place for long. I was a kid when my uncle gave me a book named “Ripley’s Believe it or Not!”. It was there where I found this place for the first time, a forgotten city lost in the deserts of Jordan for centuries to be found again at the turn of the 20th Century.
Petra- Treasury
The Treasury

Time passed, the book was lost and so was the name of this lost city. But in my dreams to see the world, this city carved out of stone, would consistently feature as the first one. It was much later that I found about its name and where it was located, thanks to National Geographic. The more I read about it the more the urge to visit it once gets stronger.

Almost entirely cut out of mountain rocks, watered by a stream, the ancient city of Petra flourished as a major trade centre west to the Arabian Desert for centuries, reaching its zenith by around 40 AD.  The city was prosperous and had magnificent buildings the most remarkable of which are the Treasury, a massive theatre, and the tombs and churches. The city is accessible by a passageway through a steep gorge, so narrow that the rocks are touching each other at many places.

Described as “a rose-red city half as old as time” by John W Burgon, Petra is rated as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage.” It was chosen by BBC as one of “the 40 places you have to see before you die.” Well for me, it’s the Number One place to see before I die. Let’s see when the destiny gives me the chance to see this place with my own eyes, behind the camera lens.

Petra - Entrance

So that is all about Petra for now. All the pictures are taken from the public domain, for your viewing only. I will update this post once I manage to go there someday, with my own experience and photographs.


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