Wheeling our Way to Whirling Dervishes

Trip Start Oct 20, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Konya Dervish Otel
Read my review - 4/5 stars
What I did

Flag of Turkey  , Konya,
Saturday, September 15, 2012

After sadly devouring our last Vinyard Cave Hotel breakfast and saying goodbye to Hasan (owner) and Osman (son), we hung around the bus stop with some of our new friends, Laine and Jaime, who were joining us on the bus ride to Konya.  

After a 4.5 hour trip, it was fun to try to act like locals and take the city's tram from the bus station to the center of town.  We didn't do it quite right, because we couldn't figure out how to pay and the tram driver just waved us on, but there we were, semi-blocking the aisles with our big bags and being gawked at.  Konya is on the more conservative side, seeing far less travelers than other spots on our trip, but residents were still welcoming.  

Also, surprising to us, Konya is a veeerrrry large city, the 7th largest in the county, and just full to the gills with people, new buildings, lots of activity.  It's the center of regional economic boom.  It took us a while to find our B&B (made worse by lugging our bags around crowded streets in the heat) but we eventually found the newly opened Dervish Otel.  The directions that the Dervish Otel management gave us were funny -- they involved looking signs of other hotels and restaurants and following them down to the hotel.

After checking in and freshening up, we wandered about (purchasing some items, scoping out the bazaar) and then ate at an authentic Turkish restaurant behind the Mevlana Museum (more on that later) before meeting up with Laine and Jaime.  We then walked over to the Cultural Center to see the Sufi Whirling Dervishes service called the Sema.  

Information is not always readily available -- i.e., there is no website to learn about the Sema and many of our different hotel proprietors were hazy on the details, so we landed at the Cultural Center a couple hours before it was actually set to begin.  The Center is quite close by to a fancy Hilton Garden Inn, so what originated as a bathroom break turned into having a couple beers in the garden courtyard before we returned at 9pm to see the Dervishes in their worship service. 

We witnessed a 'band' (crude description) open the ceremony by playing traditional Turkish instruments and singing praise to Allah and Prophet Muhammad.  This prompted the entrance of 20+ dervishes (wearing tall woolen hats, black robes and long white gowns beneath them) who commenced the Sema ceremony.  The entire ceremony is a meditative and methodical act of worship that begins very slowly (slower than we expected) and eventually reaches a fever pitch with the dervishes whirling and the color of the lighting changing with each new phase of the ceremony.  All in all, it was a fascinating and moving experience albeit a bit difficult to understand and slow than we may have expected.  We're very glad we went.
Afterward, we parted ways with Jaime and Laine before having some tea/chai/cay with in the Dervish Otel salon with Muammer (one of the managers).
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My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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