Hajj Guide : Makkah – Part II
I performed hajj last year via government scheme, so some of the things are might not relevant for the people going through private tour operators.
Kindly read entire post & captions under each photo
- It is recommended to write down your ‘Will’ aka ‘Wasiyat’ before departing for Hajj and hand it over to someone responsible back home
- Take proper rest before heading out for your first Umrah after reaching Makkah. Freshen up with your non-fragrant toiletries and sleep
- Whether your SIM card is activated or not, after entering Harram decide a specific meeting place among your family members to reach and wait in case you get separated
- Decide a ‘wait duration’ as well. For e.g. if we get separated, anyone of us will reach this point and will wait maximum for an hour. If another person(s) doesn’t reach here within the decided duration, we will leave for our hotel/residence
- Exchange Saudi phone numbers with your roommates
- Install ‘IMO’ app for convenient video & audio calling. Skype & Whatsapp doesn’t support live calls in Saudia
Shuttle Stations near Harram
There are two shuttle/bus stations near Harram, designated for pilgrims coming via government schemes of their countries. Yours will be any one of them.
- One is 'Maskhoutah Parking' route. Its last drop is comparatively at a lesser walking distance from Harram, & you will reach Harram via two shuttles.
- Reference Photo 1: Satellite image shows Maskhoutah. Shuttles can be seen entering the tunnel. White small building near the tunnel entrance is the toilet area.
- First, you will board a country-specific numbered shuttle at your residence doorstep. This shuttle will take you to Maskhoutah. Here, after disembarking your route shuttle, you will sit in another common shuttle parked at the opposite side of countries-specific stand. It will cross the mountain tunnel and will drop you at the road leading towards Harram Bab-e-Fahad entrance.
- Since, all shuttles are continuously moving without delays and Maskhoutah is nearer to Azizia, this entire process takes approx 20 mins.
- 2nd station route is near the Marwa hill entrance. And it is a longer route.
Your country-specific numbered shuttle will take you from Azizia to this station in approx 20 mins. And after disembarking, you will need to walk for 10 – 15 mins to reach Harram through Marwa gates.
- Reference Photo 2: Red Arrow at extreme left corner is showing area where Pakistan buses will be parked. Pakistan bus stand is usually at the end of this parking area (which is not visible in the picture). Long red line is the way you will cover by foot to reach Harram by Marwa gates.
- Each country Flags are hoisted at the start of their bus stand. You can easily spot yours from a distance.
- If your shuttle assigned route is via Marwa gates and your hajj stay is for 40 days & above; near the end of the journey your shuttle route will be switched to Maskhoutah route.
Jumma & Other Prayers at Harram
- For Jumma prayer at Harram, leave right after breakfast from your residence.
- Harram gates start closing by 9:30 a.m. before Hajj. After hajj maximum time limit is 10:30 a.m.
- Finish your ablution etc. needs before this time. It is hard to go inside after these hours.
- All floors have ladies-specific prayer areas throughout the circular paths. Settle down there. Males sit in front of it. Settle down in the designated areas only.
- By the time Jumma time will approach, there won’t be an inch left to move and it will be a chaos around you.
- If you wish to perform Tawaf before Jumma, complete it max. by 10 a.m.
- Listen to male & female security officers and follow their instructions.
- Ladies please avoid sitting at ground floor on Jumma. It becomes congested and suffocated within minutes. Especially don’t take your elders and kids there. By the time help reaches at ladies sides of the ground floor, unfortunate mishaps happen.
- If you are present in the mosque since morning, males should also avoid sitting near sun direction at ground floor. Continuous sitting under sun can cause heat stroke.
- First floor & second floor are best to settle down on Friday.
- Avoid performing Tawaf at ground floor during rush hours. First & second floors are longer circular paths but they are comparatively less crowded.
- Take break before performing Sa’ee.
- Sa’ee floor is much colder at all times. Wheel-chair paths are separate at Sa’ee area.
- Say word ‘Tareeq’ in a clearly audible volume & in an Arabic accent while pushing a wheel-chair or to make way. It means ‘Raasta’.
- ‘Hajjah’ & ‘Hajji’ in Arabic accent are usually used to call out females & males respectively.
- Always watch your path while walking in Ahraam. Cleaners at Harram keep mopping floors with perfumed liquids & it will happen suddenly. Although they block about-to-be-cleaned part prior to pouring liquid, flowing liquid often doesn’t follow their barriers.
- Namaz-e-Janaza is offered daily, right after every farz jammat in Harram (Makkah & Madina both). Ladies, learn to pray it as well.
- All Harram gates are blocked near prayer time. Once you leave inside premises, you can only re-enter after the prayer. Especially during the hour between Maghrib & Esha, entrances are totally blocked.
- To pray Tahajjud & Fajar at Harram, leave around 2:30 a.m to 3:00 a.m from your Azizia residence.
- For hair trimming/shaving, numerous barber shops are located outside Harram gates & at Azizia.
Ablution & Washrooms:
- Multiple ‘Ablutions only’ areas are available under the stairs at ground floor within Harram premises.
- All washrooms are outside the gates of Harram at a walking distance.
- Washrooms at the clock tower side are significantly nearer to the Harram gates. They are under ground with multiple floors.
- Washrooms near the Marwa hill gate are at a distance. They are under a huge complex & also have multiple entrances. During rush hours, entrance is allowed from one side & exit from another; which are actually opposite sides of the complex.
- During rush hours, after entering washroom areas, approach stalls at the back to avoid crowds. Every side have first two stalls designated for wheel-chair bound people.
- Cleanliness is well-maintained at all times. You can even hang your belongings behind the stall doors. No need to carry soap etc. either.
- If your stay at Makkah is longer than 15 days: To reach Masjid Aisha Miqat, buses are available 24/7 at the shuttle station near Marwa Hill gates. (Refer Picture 2)
- Buses for this Miqat are usually parked at the entrance of the station and move after every 15 minutes. Confirm from the driver/conductor, ‘Masjid Aisha Miqat?’ before boarding. They charge SAR 5 – 10 for each person.
- Pakistani helpers at station can also guide you to spot these buses.
- While coming from Madina towards Makkah, start your journey with Ahraam niyat as you will cross another Miqat point during your journey.
- While taking a day time tour of Makkah city, your tour can also take you to another Miqat point; Masjid Al-Ji’ranah. Confirm before booking and then take your Ahraam with you.
- Another Miqat point is near the entrance of Ta’if city. City is usually closed for pilgrims visit during Hajj season. However, it is possible to visit it during a longer stay & only through a driver who has valid permission to enter the city. Before booking the tour, confirm the availability of permission with the cab driver or day-tour bus driver. Otherwise you can get stranded at city gates or get fined SAR 500 and above.
- Ta’if city is a hill station, just like Murree. Winds get cooler under shinning sun as you approach it and the journey can be nauseating due to a constant winding snake-like road.
- Fasting can be observed during non-ahraam, non-hajj days.
- A go-to meal for Sehri could be a plain/bran bread sandwich filled with cheese, tomatoes & cucumber slices. Saved in-flight seasonings (salt & pepper) & a boiled egg in a kettle will enhance it. Cheese comes in pocket sized packs, as well as milk tins. None of the shops sells tea milk powders.
- OR you can buy any meal from the nearby restaurants before midnight.
- While fasting, it’s better to avoid sunny hours & spend time in Harram from Asar to Esha prayers.
- To break fast in Harrem, keep only portable eatables with you. And keep them in your male companion's sling bag. Ladies bags are strictly checked. Males’ bag doesn’t.
- Lady Officers only spare the dates and juices but throw away every other eatable.
Makkah Tour & Other Activities:
- Information about the day-tour operators is usually posted at reception walls or notice boards at your residence.
- Tour buses charge for each person, depart around 7:30 a.m. & follow strict timelines.
- Pick & drop point is your regular residence bus stop.
- Take your umbrellas, water bottles & sunglasses.
Perform Ablution/Wuzzu before heading out for tours.
- While boarding your bus, take photo of the front of your bus, where its number & vehicle numbers are displayed.
- Follow the operator’s time duration instructions & get back to the bus. A little delay can delay the entire tour & then operators cancel the next stops in order to reach at destination before Zuhr prayer.
- Makkah day tour will take you around Makkah city, Jabl-e-Noor, Jabl-e-Soor, Minna, Arafat & Muzdalifa, etc.
- It will show Jabl-e-Noor & Jabl-e-Soor from a distance. If you want to trek these mountains, plan a separate day for this purpose. And start your trek around evening. Males & Females both can attempt this trek.
- When tour bus will reach Arafat, the operator will allow you approx only 20 mins to visit Arafat mount. Remember the way you take to reach the mount from your bus. If you are fast enough to reach the top & come back within the given time, attempt it. Otherwise, sit at a significant height & say your prayers. This is might be the only time you will be able to reach & touch the mount Arafat during the entire journey.
- Operator will ask Umrah willing people to change bus at Arafat stop for Masjid Al-Ji’ranah visit. Rest will be taken back to their pick up point.
- To visit museums, Maktaba Makkah al-Mukarramah, the factory of Kiswah etc., inquire from residence reception about their operational timings.
- For shopping; clock tower and adjacent malls offer variety of options from high-end brands to the street purchases. Main arteries at Azizia are also laced with shopping complexes. Prices at Makkah & Madina are significantly higher from rest of the country. All business halts at prayer times.
Withstanding excessive Walking, Exhaustion & Flu
As much as it sounds like a real big deal related to Hajj journey, it really isn’t if precautions are taken regularly.
- Your body will take approx. a week to 10 days to get habitual of new regime. By the time main hajj days will approach, walking will become a second nature.
- From day one, after reaching back to your residence & before going to bed, massage your legs & feet with olive oil whether you feel pain or not. If you are using pain-relief creams than use crepe bandage to cover legs as rooms are air-conditioned at all times. Take pain-relief medicine, if need arises.
- Since males & females will be staying in separate rooms, it’s wise to pack all such stuff individually to avoid daily hassle of exchanging bottles & tubes in a fatigued state.
- In a week or two you won’t need to repeat this bed-time routine daily.
- Keep yourself hydrated throughout the day.
- Take Joshanda or Green Tea regularly.
- Avoid filling your tummy to the brim. Eat mindfully.
- Take breaks.
Small Talks; Big Impacts!
I didn’t want to jot it down but then I realized sometimes we desi(s) need reminders.
- No personal questions. No gossips.
- Last person to leave the room must lock room & submit keys to the reception counter. Always confirm presence of your room keys at the counter before heading upstairs.
- Always Pack/Zip/Lock/Clear your stuff before heading out. Don’t leave a mess behind.
Your female is not obliged to enter a common room & pick a wet towel from your bed.
- While entering your room, close the door behind you. If a lady is working in the hallway area & she has fully or partially closed the main door of the flat, do the same while entering.
- While calling your female companion from their room; Knock, call their name & than wait. Repeat if necessary. If there’s no answer than leave.
- Knocking only is not enough as there are more than one females staying in the same room. Also, trying to open the door after no answer is highly un-ethical. Your companion will answer you asap; she has not flown to Pakistan.
- Males; avoid loud laughs & inappropriate jokes in your room especially in the middle of the night. You can be clearly heard in the next two rooms.
- If a young couple is staying with you, avoid being jealous??! Making fun of the guy on his back when he helps in chores, or reminding the lady about short-lived bliss is ….. !
- Refrain from judgments & un-called proposal advises, if a single girl is staying with you. And may be avoid eyeing her from head to toe as well?
- Bring or buy your own stuff. People carry stuff in the same luggage weight limit as of yours. Asking nicely works wonders. Repeating regularly; “We were advised to pack light; now please lend me your brush, oil, iron, tea bags, utensils, etc. etc.” is highly inappropriate. Don’t leave your wisdom back home in the pursuit of light packing.
- No-smoking in the room or toilet. As A.Cs are running all the time.
- Flush the toilet after every use.
- In case of hair fall, pick your hair before leaving after every bath.
- Take baths within the suitable time limit.
- Refrain from engaging washrooms for longer period just before the prayer times.
- Usually only two or three ropes can be tied within one flat. If any member doing their laundry one day, than plan yours for tomorrow.
- Avoid removing already hung wet clothes from line-dry & throwing on people’s beds in their absence so you can hang yours.
- Your relationships equation & general habits will be practically at display to others for more than a month. Sometimes anger happens due to fatigue & exhaustion. Try to control it.
- If you are an angry male, kindly refrain from cursing your wife on petty issues.
Basically don’t hurt anyone. Praying is not exclusive to Harram area or observing Ahraam only. It is ethics as well. So kindly be mindful of your actions especially during this sacred journey.
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