Village on clouds

From CK Nayak

While Meghalaya is the abode of clouds with high rainfall, Yemen’s Al-Hutaib village never receives rain for which it is well-known and featured in Planet Earth documentaries.
It is an irony that this village is not in a desert. Rather, this is on a mountain slope high above the clouds. There is rain below but not in the village. Although the village is located at an altitude of up to 3,200 meters above the earth’s surface, the atmosphere is warm and moderate.
Strangely, the village has an Indian connection. The villagers here come from the Ismaili (Muslim) sect led by Muhammad Burhanuddin, who lived in Mumbai and visited the village every three years until his death in 2014.
Despite the sharp contrast to Cherrapunji, Al Hutaib has a striking similarity with the wettest place. There is severe water crisis since ground water is the main source and water has to be transported. But less rains in the other parts and continuing war has depleted the ground level water sources too.
Al-Hutaib is located in the San‘a’ Governorate in Jabal Haraz, a mountain region between Sana’a and Al-Hudaydah. The village of Hutaib is built on a platform of red sandstone, facing a panoramic view of terraced hills which host a score of villages.
Many tourists visit the place to enjoy spectacular views. There are many beautiful houses built on the top of the mountains here and clouds float below. The mausoleum of the third Dawoodi Bohra Da’i al-Mutlaq Hatim ibn Ibrahim is located in this village. It also has schools.
According to historical accounts, the village was once a stronghold of the al-Sulayhi tribe, who built the village in 11th century to protect themselves from enemy attacks. It served as a strategic point guarding the entire eastern region of Jabal Haraz.
Most of the people depend on cultivation on lands around the mountains while living above the clouds during the winter seasons. Visitors usually come to the village to admire the tops of the mountains where hundreds of houses have been built over the years.
Visitors to the village are often bedazzled by the sight of fog slowly crawling to embrace Hutaib as the houses hang on the chests of the mountains, making the scenery for one rare artistic masterpiece.
The village, which combines both ancient and modern architecture with rural and urban features, is now the stronghold of the ‘al-Bohras or Al-Mukarrama’ people, as they are called in the Yemeni community.

Photo: Pinterest

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