Last year I performed hajj via government scheme, therefore, some information is might not relevant for the people going through private tour operators.
Kindly read entire post & captions under each photo
- There’s no need to carry your mini Quran & a foldable prayer chair within Harram (Masjid Al-Haram & Masjid Al-Nabwi). As
- Both items are easily available inside the Harram premises.
- Blue colored binding Qurans are divided via Sipara names.
- Green colored binding Qurans are divided via Surahs names.
Stay in Madina
- Government pilgrims residence in Madina will be hardly at a 5 minutes walking distance from Masjid Al-Nabwi.
- It will be a hotel suite.
- Each suite will have 2 or 3 rooms.
- 3 rooms big suite will have a dining area as well.
- 2 rooms small suite will not have a dining area.
- Each room will have an LCD, a cupboard, a dressing table & a chair and a room refrigerator.
- Kitchen area will be locked in all suites. No electric kettles will be provided.
- A 2 bedrooms suite will have only one washroom for everybody’s use.
- Cleanliness will be maintained daily by hotel staff. Still it comes to personal hygiene habits when using a common washroom.
- Washrooms will not have any laundry related items like tubs, buckets or washer.
- Food will be either served at Mezzanine floor. Or it will be served in a big empty suite space at each floor.
- Each room will have a single 2 pin socket.
- Although hotel lifts are pretty spacious, they will get super crowded during rush hours. I.e. an hour before & after every prayer.
- Stairs are better to use during crowded hours. Due to stairs’ spacious design, they are good to climb even 14 floors except for elderly people.
What to Pack for Madina
- If you are visiting Madina in the middle of your journey i.e. after your arrival at Jeddah & before Hajj; you will be asked to pack your belongings in a small or a single bag. And rest of the luggage will be left behind at your Azizia residence.
- It’s up to you; whether you want to carry clothes for each day or carry fewer clothes and manage laundry once or twice during entire stay.
- What I packed in clothing: Our Madina stay took place after our Makkah stay & before Hajj.
Since we were 3 persons (1 male & 2 females), we packed Ahraam, 2 shalwar qameez suits for each person, 2 abayas & scarves set for each female, a pair of sandals for everyone, handkerchiefs & a few pairs of socks.
- Other than clothing, I packed: 3 Travel prayer mats, travel kettle, travel iron, 2 washing powder sachets, a line-dry rope, a few tea whitener sachet & tea bags, joshanda, 3 plates, 1 knife, 3 spoons, 2 umbrellas, 2 mini spray bottles, multi plug extension wire, necessary toiletries, necessary meds, towels, a single bed sized bed sheet & a foldable portable prayer chair. Also, tapes & permanent markers.
This all stuff was packed in 2 small bags. Clothing was packed in a sling bag (similar to one showed in my packing guide post).
And all the other stuff was packed in a small hand carry bag. (purple bag showed in my Makkah guide I)
And all the other stuff was packed in a small hand carry bag. (purple bag showed in my Makkah guide I)
- We managed laundry once during our stay, through the strong plastic bag washing hack.
Best time to do laundry is after Fajar & breakfast, when either suite rooms will be empty or mostly roommates will be sleeping.
- Since it’s not allowed to tie ropes in suites hallway, we tied the rope within the ladies room along the walking area of the room, far from the beds.
- Our own plates etc. & tea stuff helped us in keeping fasts.
- Bed sheet was handy while ironing.
- Our meals were used to serve at our floor & since our suite was the small one, we used to eat our meals in our rooms alongside the dressing table–room fridge space.
Our folding portable chair helped us during meal times & while managing ironing within room.
- Extension cord was handy while charging gadgets, using kettle & iron while keeping the room fridge running through the single available socket in our room.
- Tapes & markers where handy while packing dates cartons.
Arrival at Madina
- Pilgrims stay in Madina takes place in three periods. Some land in Madina & stay here before Hajj days. Some stay here after spending some time in Makkah & some visit Madina after the hajj.
- If you are visiting Madina before Hajj, or right after landing, or in the middle of your journey, you will experience the lesser crowded environment everywhere in the city. Crowds here reach its peak after Hajj.
- Stay duration for all pilgrims is 7 to 8 days.
- Pilgrims are moved within cities as per their arrival flight numbers. One flight pilgrims are moved together for their Madina stay.
- Since new bullet trains have been started from this year between Madina to Makkah, it is most likely that government scheme pilgrims will be provided with this facility while travelling between these cities.
- In case the train facility is not provided, pilgrims will be taken via buses.
- It’s a 6 to 7 hours journey via buses from Makkah to Madina and vice versa.
- For departure via buses from Azizia before Hajj; pilgrims will be informed by their building staff and lists of departing passengers with the date of departure will be pasted at your reception area. List will display the assigned bus number, number & names of passenger boarding that particular bus, & their passport numbers.
- If you have left Makkah around 4 P.M, you will reach Madina around midnight. Bus will make two stops during the journey for Maghrib & Esha prayers.
- After arrival, Pakistani helpers will take your identification cards and rooms will be assigned to you.
- Take the hotel card from reception for every member of your family & keep it with you at all times. Capture a photo of your hotel from a distance.
- Pakistan Medical Center (PMC) is also operational at Madina 24/7.
- In case of need, you can ask the hotel reception for ambulance & it will pick & drop you from PMC after consultation.
Prayers & Fasts
- Since your stay will be at a walking distance from Harram, you can reach the masjid premises right before the azaan time as well.
- Namaz-e-Janaza is offered here also after Farz of every prayer.
- It’s up to one’s own choice (both males & females) whether they want to be a part of Janaza Jamaaat or not.
- Although open area of masjid premises is covered with huge umbrellas & sprinklers, during day hours the floors will be burning hot. Offering namaz in open area without your own prayer mat & covered feet will be very inconvenient.
- Fasts can be observed just like Makkah here. Usually people prefer fasting on Monday & Thursday.
- Ladies bags are strictly checked by lady officers at all gates.
- All five prayers are offered at a distance from Riyaz-ul-Jannah from the women side. (I have no idea about the men side)
- Wooden intricate gates within the building complex divide the area near Riyaz-ul-Jannah from rest of the masjid.
- From women side, huge LCDs are mounted above these wooden gates, informing the Dos & Don’ts of visiting inner most premises in major languages. (Arabic, English, French, Urdu, Turkish etc.)
- You need to reach this LCDs area and settle down here before Azaan time, to visit innermost premises.
- All entrances to inner premises are opened after an hour of finished regular prayers.
- Please sit down after the prayers. Standing up is useless & tiresome for lady officers.
- South Asians (Pakistan, India & Bangladesh citizens) are allowed last to enter the inner premises.
- Ladies; you won’t be able to actually see the gates of Roza or Mimber etc. because all will be blocked from white colored tents. They are just behind the white stretched tents.
- They are blocked from white tents to prevent kissing, excessive touch & thread binding kind of rituals.
- Green colored carpet in the inner premises is the Riyaz-ul-Jannah.
- Offering only 2 Nawafils at a time at Riyaz-ul-Jannah is sufficient
- Wheel chair bound pilgrims & only 1 attendant with them will be lined separately to enter Riyaz-ul-Jannah.
- Kindly do not enter the premises while running after gates opening.
- If you have elders with you who are not wheel chair bound, do not sit near the wooden gates with them. No matter how many lady officers request for ethics & how many male officers will be standing by the gates; ladies sitting by the gates run ruthlessly inside right after gates opening and there is a significant chance of becoming a victim of a stampede.
- This running is disrespectful & very disappointing at a prayer place.
- Kindly refrain from wailing & crying loudly in the entire Roza premises.
- For Women: Best time to visit Riyaz-ul-Jannah is after Zuhr prayer.
- After Zuhr, only a limited number of people are allowed to visit Riyaz-ul-Jannah. And In order to visit at this time, you will need to plan your stay within the premises.
- If the Zuhr namaz timing is around 12:30 p.m., reach the inside premises max by 11:15 a.m. Because only who sits within the LCDs area will be allowed to move further after Zuhr.
During Zuhr prayer, another set of wooden gates mounted in between the entire hall will be closed. Whoever will remain on the other side won’t be allowed to move further after prayer. This process limits the number of people & crowd after Zuhr.
- Gate Number 29 is the only gate from women side that provides a direct access to the LCDs area. This gate is at a significant walking distance as comparatively to other gates.
- Second best time to visit Riyaz-ul-Jannah is after the Fajar prayer.
- The least convenient time is right after Esha prayers. When the crowd reach its peak.
- This is how I visited after Zuhr:
After entering the inner premises, I sat near the Roza entrance & prayed nawafils and recited a portion of Quran. After noticing a lesser crowd at the Roza enterance, I entered the Roza premises and offered nawafils near the Roza. Then I slowly moved towards Green carpet and offered nawafils at Riyaz-ul-Jannah at 2 different spots & prayed Dua by the white tent. Then I slowly drifted away from the crowded premises, found a secluded corner by a pillar near the Roza & prayed a few more Nawafils. Then I sat down around the exit path of Roza & recited the remaining portion of Quran.
This way I was able to spend around 1.5 hours within the Roza premises and prayed at a relaxed pace. And due to limited number of people, offering more than 2 Nawafils was possible at Riyaz-ul-Jannah without receiving any objection from lady officers.
- Kindly listen to the lady officers.
- If you haven’t been able to secure a chance to offer Nawafils at Riyaz-ul-Jannah after entering the Roza premises and a lady officer forcefully try to take you towards the exit, explain her politely. They will listen to you & will make way for you.
Sometimes, by mistake, and due to excessive influx of people, lady officers forcefully start removing people. If one remains polite & firm; they listen.
Ablutions & Washrooms
- There is no ablution-only facility within the Harram inside premises.
- All washrooms are at a little walking distance from the mosque building within the main gates of open premises, laced around the complex.
- Washrooms are multi floored & are underground.
Tours in Madina
- Although the hotel management here is Arabs, Pakistani helpers as per your Maktab Number will be available around reception area, at all times.
- You can ask Pakistani helpers about the day tours & they will connect you with the operators.
- Day tours leave around 7:30 a.m. sharp after breakfast.
- Perform Wuzzu before heading out & take your sunglasses, water bottles & umbrellas with you on day tours.
- Take the picture of your bus front where vehicle numbers are visible & keep it handy.
- Day tour will take you around Madina, Date gardens, Mount Uhud, around the Trench Battle area, and to the significant mosques like Masjid Quba & Masjid Qiblatain etc.
- Around half hour time will be given to you to perform Nawafils at each mosque stops.
- Since many pilgrims from around the world are visiting mosques at the same time, this can get crowded. Just do not settle around the gates of each masjid. Always move towards the inner premises & offer Nawafils in a relaxed environment.
- Entrances for males & females will separate at all mosques.
- Always remember the path to your bus after disembarking at stops to reach back within the allotted time.
Our Madina tour was delayed for an hour because one of the lady got separated from her male at a mosque stop & she had no phone on her.
- A double decker bus night city tour is also operating in Madina. One of its main booking spots is near the Harram gates number 22, 23, 24 & 25; right in front of the pigeon round about.
- This night city tour operates from evening hours till 12:00 A.M & is a little costly per person.
- Night city tour buses are equipped with audio guide systems and hands free are provided to every individual on board to plug in around their arm rests.
- Audio guide is multi lingual
Shopping & Other Activities
- To visit the Masjid al Nabwi library situated within Harram, ask the security officers for directions during non-rush hours.
- All security officers within Harram are not Arabs. They belong to various ethnicity and can guide you in your language upon inquiry.
- All hotels around the gates of Harram have shopping complexes at their ground & underground floors. They remain open until mid night.
- Oberoi Hotel situated right in front of gate numbers 25 & 26, contain many global eateries & shopping brands at its ground & first floor; like Starbucks, H&M, Bath & Body Works, Sephora, Claire’s etc.
- Some of the global brands run discount promotions for pilgrims during Hajj season.
- Hotel in front & at the right side of gate numbers 22 & 23 have Bin Dawood retail store at its underground floor.
- City is also filled with many shopping malls and they come to life during cooler hours.
- It is safe to roam around Madina for single women. I spotted many women only 2 or more individual groups (Pilgrims & Arabs) roaming around the city at night, while taking a night bus tour.
- I also shopped & roamed alone around the region of my hotel during the evening hours. Once, I & my friend went for a coffee after Esha prayers & by the time we returned to our separate hotels, it was past midnight.
Point is; like any other city in the world, take your precautions. And if you are returning alone even from Harram past midnight on considerably deserted roads, just don’t panic.
- Mostly pilgrims buy dates from a dates market in Madina.
- You can either buy dates cartons from here, pack & label them properly and take these along with your luggage via your return flight.
- Or you can buy & properly pack dates cartons and book them for delivery in Pakistan right at the dates market. This is known as ‘Bilti Booking’. And for such freight booking, many counters are operating within the main date market.
- They will deliver your cartons in Pakistan within next 15 days of your journey at the given address in a safe & sound condition.
- One of our roommates used this method for delivery at a residential address in Islamabad & it was delivered before their return flight.
Departure from Madina
- You will return to Makkah if your stay at Madina is in the middle of your Hajj journey.
- If you are departing Madina via buses, your bus will stop at Miqat point ‘Dhu'l-Hulayfah’ , en-route to Makkah.
- Pack male’s Ahraam in a readily accessible bag (which can be placed on bus over head rails) before departing for Makkah.
- Pray Umrah niyyat nawafils before departing.
Kindly follow the instructions of male & female security officers within Harram.
Kindly remain polite & listen to the lift operators at your hotel.
Always remain polite with the cleaning & kitchen staff of your hotel.
#Hajj #HajjGuide #HajjTravel #Madina #MasjidNabwi