Umrah Journey

Flight to Jeddah:

We took the Saudi Airline flight to Jeddah on 4th April 2019. Wore my Ihram from home. I did read that the key requirement is to wear it just before Meqat (geographical points within which one should be wearing the Ihram), which would be about 30 minutes before reaching Jeddah airport, but thought it more convenient to just wear it from home in Dubai. Flight was comfortable. Had low expectation from Saudi airline; however, found the crew to be welcoming and helpful. Wouldn't mind travelling to other destinations via the 

The added plus was the fact that Saudi airline had a dedicated spacious prayer area, also showing the direction of Kaaba. Prayed Zuhr and combined Asr since it was during travel. 

The airline announced 30 minutes prior to Meqat crossing, and subsequently upon Meqat, the Niyat for Umrah was read out. 

Jeddah Airport:
Flight reached on time around 1pm. Immigration was fast and baggage came quickly. Possibly a low traffic time?! Either way, it was a good experience. 
Originally the travel agent was meant to travel with us from Dubai; however for some visa related issue he remained in Saudi and was to meet us at Jeddah airport. Was expecting that he would be there to receive us at the meeting point; however, after calling him he requested us to go to the right hand side of the terminal. Having asked someone he guided us to keep going further right where the buses are parked. It's a relatively small airport and there wasn't too much rush, made it to the bus stand. Upon reaching the bus the tour guide was not around. Called him again and he mentioned the bus company name. Put our bags in the undercarriage and got on the bus. In the mean time the tour guide brought the other people from the group onto the bus. Since we were first on the bus got to sit right in the front and got a nice view while on our way to Makkah. 

Since the group had people who could talk in Malyalam, Arabic and Urdu; the tour guide would talk in all three languages informing us about the itinerary and prayers that we should recite. it would have been nice if he would have given us a written itinerary and prayer book as well. 


Was a splendid sight to see the Makkah Clock tower building from a distance. Indicated how close we were to Kaaba. The bus dropped us at Dar Al Aiman Hotel from where we took a taxi to Hyatt Regency. Originally the travel agent had mentioned that we would get to stay in one of the Makkah Clock Tower Hotels; however, when i picked up the final bookings they mentioned Hyatt Regency. Being my first time felt a little unhappy since the key requirement was that it should have been as promised and as close to Kaaba as possible.

Turned out that it was quite close to Kaaba. In fact, from our ground floor exit we simply crossed the road to walk towards Gate 79, which is the King Fahad Gate and the only main gate which is open (others were closed due to expansion work). 

Hyatt Regency was a pleasant surprise. Nice room, lobby, staff, checkin process. On the ground floor (referred to as C1 in the lift) there was a shopping mall which has a food court, restaurant, grocery store and ATM. There were quite a few other shops as well, but the ones mentioned were of more interest and utility. The room even had the Adhan (Azan) played on the speakers within the room. 

We reached just after Asr prayers. After settling in, left for maghrib prayers. Key learning was that if you wanted to get to sit within the inner circle within Haram, you need to go at least 1 hour in advance. If you leave at the time of the prayer call, you're going get space in the upper or lower halls. And if you left at the time of Iqamah, you're going to get space right on the main road way outside the main mosque area. 

After Maghrib prayers my wife and I went inside for a first look at Kaaba in real life. Was an inspiring moment, having the opportunity in your life to see it up close. Made a short prayer and then headed back to the hotel to prepare for Isha. 


The tour guide had asked us to reach gate 79 (King Fahad Gate) after Isha prayers. Reached there on time. Once all members of the group reached we took off our shoes and placed them within our sling bags. Had heard too many stories to not leave your shoes behind in the shoe rack. 

We entered from gate 79 and upon seeing the Kaa'ba stopped for our Niyah and prayer for tawaf. 

Tawaf was a whole new experience! While the tour guide recited prayers out loud for us to repeat, it took a bit getting used to the pushing and shoving from all sides. My wife held onto one daughter while I to the other. It was a challenge being able to stick right next to each other. Someone or another would come in between. Realizing that people were from all corners of the world with varying backgrounds and ages it became acceptable after a few minutes. While there were differences in how intensely people were doing their tawaf; however everyone there seemed with similar dedication and purpose. 

2 Rakat after Tawaf:
Once the 7 Tawaf was completed we offered two Rakat Salah in the other area of the Kaa'ba floor. 

Post Tawaf we headed to perform Saee, which is the walk between Safaa and Marwa. A proper air conditioned path has been created which makes it quite comfortable. Since it was a little late and a lot of travelling that day, plus having walked during the tawaf, we had the girls sit on a wheelchair for the Saee. 

Wheelchairs have a separate lane. However, some people without being on a wheelchair are also walking on this path. A bit of a uphill when reaching towards Marwa, but it's not too much of a hill really. Around the 5 trip got smacked on the back foot (above the heel) by a wheelchair from behind. That was painful! The bruise remains after 5 days while i write this. But kept my mouth shut to saying anything to the person behind who did it. I am certain it was not intentional and plus i wasn't going to say anything mean to anyone during Umrah!

Post Saee we went to our hotel room. The girls and my wife clipped off a finger tip sized portion of their hair. i went down to the hotel mall area looking for a barber shop. Turned out it was very very close by. Got a full bold cut. Possibly after 25 years that i did such a thing. Alhamdulillah, this marked the completion of Umrah. I hope our prayers are accepted.

Next two days:
Subsequently next two days got the opportunity to offer all the prayers in Jamat at the Masjid al-Haram. Got to understand whereabouts of various gates and halls. Did some additional Nafal Tawaf as well. Didn't get to touch Hajr e Aswad. Was too much rush at all times and really didn't want to push or shove anyone. Just felt that any pushing or shoving would have me sinning at the holiest place in the world. 

Journey to Madina:
On 7th April morning we checked out at 8:30am. was one of the fastest check outs, simply went to the desk and the bell boy had already informed about my arrival for check out. He just said, it's done and we left. 

We gathered at the Dar al Aiman Hotel, placed our luggage in the bus, and on we went. As part of the tour we first went to Arafat, stayed for 10 minutes, passed via Mina and Muzdalifah. Was a sight to see so many tents. 

Was a sight to see Baboons while on the way to Madinah on the main highway!

In total it took us 8 hours to reach Madina; while generally it would take around 4 hours however, the de-tour and the stop for lunch added to the time. Plus the bus driver was driver at a slow pace; better late than never!

As you enter Madina you get the feeling of the city being more relaxed. We got off at Anwar Al Madinah Movenpick Hotel which is right next to the back gate number 15. It's really convenient for ladies as it's the closest gate for the ladies prayer hall; not to say at all that it's too much walk for men either. 

We reached around Maghrib prayer time. By the time got cleaned up the Jamat at the mosque was over so prayed at home. 

Got to visit the mosque at Isha time. Remained within the back row. After prayers my wife went to Gate 25 to see if she could enter the mosque to see if she can pray at Riadul Jannah. She came back that the timing was 1140pm for the ladies entry, which was 2 hours from that time, hence we returned to the hotel for dinner.

Visit to Riadul Jannah:
Next day i went 1 hour early for Dhur prayers. reached by around 1130am. Purpose was to see how i could reach Riadul Jannah. Got seated around 5 to 6 rows behind the Riadul Jannah area, on the right of Rawdah Mubarak (where Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, Hazrat Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) and Hazrat Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) are buried. 

Immediately after the prayer got up and headed forward to try and read Riadul Jannah and offer 2 Nafl. Alot of other people also joined in. It got a little cramped. The area had a cloth type barricade at the front. After around 5 minutes they started putting up the barricade on the right hand side. After around another 5 to 10 minutes they started putting up the barricade behind us. All this time kept wondering when they would open the front barricade to allow us in the Riadul Jannah area. During this time kept standing in the cramped space with other men. After this time, a elderly gentlemen so seemed a little frustrated poked me and pointed to the floor and mentioned, "Rowda, Rowda". i looked down and to my shock the carpet was green! Didn't realise all this time had been standing on Riadul Jannah. Immediately told the guy infront to make space and start praying since we were already there. Then the guy on the right prayed. Once they were done i got the opportunity to pray 2 Nafl as well. 

Since next day we were travelling, went back after Isha prayers and lined up for visiting Riadul Jannah. This time got the real feel of lining up. The security have created blocks of cloth barricade in which they pass around 50 to 60 people at a time. It takes two blocks before being able to reach Riad ul Jannah, and in total the wait time for 1 hour and 15 minutes. It was quite cramped with minimal praying space so took turns with the gentlemen on my sides to pray. Felt really good. Got the opportunity to really pray. 

The policemen there keep taping on people's shoulders to ask them to start moving out once time is up (around 5 to 10 minutes). Some people just keep going, in two cases saw the policemen pushing the men out while they continued to pray.

 Once i came out of the Riadul Jannah area, got in line to view the Rawdah Mubarak. You really can't see anything on the inside since it's dark (no lights on the inside). The policemen stops people from touching the wall or trying to get too close. One of them also stopped people from taking pictures. When i got out from there, i wanted to go back to the back hall to collect my shoes, however the hall had been closed for cleaning. Thought will collect the shoe at Fajr prayer since i did remember to shoe stand number. Walked back bare foot. Although at Fajr didn't get to find my shoe on the same rack. I guess they take off all the shoes to clean the stands as well. Didn't have time to go to Lost and Found since we were departing at 6am.

Reached back to the hotel at 530am and along with my wife and daughters we were on the ground floor waiting to board the bus. This was the 9th April.

Tour of Madinah:
On 8th April, after Dhur, met with a Pakistani taxi operator. Agreed with him for a tour around Madinah. Seemed like a nice chap. Took us to show the following places mentioning the significance of each place:

  • Masjid Ejaba - Where the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) made three prayers (duas).

  • Masjid Ghamama - Prophet Muhammad performed Eid Salah here and also prayed for rain

  • Masjid Omar
  • Masjid Ali
  • Masjid Abu Bakr
  • Land where Khaaq e shifa - Now has been covered with other sand
  • Masjid Jumma - where first Friday prayer was offered
  • Masjid Quba - Where 2 rakat in this mosque is equivalent to an Umrah
  • Medan-e-Uhad: Battleground for the battle of Uhad
  • Graveyard of Sahaba at Medan-e-Uhad
  • Masjid Qiblatain 
  • Ber e Usmani
  • Medan-e-Khandak: where the battle of Khandak (Trench) took place
  • Masjid Sabaq: area where horses were trained and Prophet Muhammad (SAW) also had two races with his wife Hazrat Aisha (AS) 

About Anwar Al Madinah Movenpick Hotel:
This hotel was just okay. A bit old school. Apart from the fact that it's right next to the Gate 15 of Majid e Nabwi, i wouldn't give it 5 stars. Needs a bit of renovation and uplifting. Inroom food is extremely expensive. Staff was good. There is a grocery store on the basement of the hotel. Breakfast was also just okay.

Madinah Airport:
Really liked the airport. Nice, clean and quite well organized. It's seems like it's relatively new. Baggage drop off was fast. Our tour guide picked up the Zamzam water bottles for us and we dropped it at a separate counter post checkin. You can't take your own Zamzam water, you get it from the airport. 1 bottle per passport, each costing SR 8.


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