Marrakesh Magic by Nausheen Tareen

Marrakesh is a vivacious combination of Old and New Morocco. Nausheen Tareen tells you how to best enjoy this magical experience...



The economic and political center of the country, Marrakesh is also a vivacious combination of old and new Morocco. While on the one hand, it has a well-developed and truly cosmopolitan new part of town, Gueliz, on the other it has the medina with its old-world charm. The medina in Marrakesh attracts visitors from all over with its array of stalls and shops selling food, spices, handicrafts, clothes and perfumes.


Riad, the Arabian Pad

Don't miss: Terrace dinner at your riad to enjoy an unmatched view of the old city.

Since we were a group of girls out to experience the Moroccan life, we were told to stay at one of the riads - a traditional Moroccan house with a sprawling central courtyard. Riads are one of the most common stay options for tourists in this part of the world. Some of them are located inside such narrow alleys that you have to let go of your cab and walk the distance with your luggage. But once you are inside... it all seems worth the effort. These riads or 'havelis' that were home to the affluent, have a majestic setting with an 'aangan', walls decked with colourful rugs, traditional seating arrangements and even fountains and pools. Most of these houses have now been converted into hotels and are actually among the most expensive stay options in the older parts of the city.

Marrakesh Binge

Don't miss: Date milkshake, camel burger, fried brinjal and charmoula kebabs. Cous cous, orange juice and mint tea are among the most popular picks.

Most of us are familiar with harissa, the North African red chilli paste and tasted pastille or Moroccan meat pie and tagine - a dish cooked in traditional earthenware pots across the world. But the ones dished out at medina are unparalleled. The place is full of eateries with some being run by all-women teams serving traditional Moroccan feasts. Post Maghreb namaaz, the main city square turns into a bustling food zone with hundreds of stalls. It is important to ask for lamb meat filling though, since our pastille was stuffed with pigeon meat without our knowledge!

Souk in the Culture



A stroll down the shopping district of medina is akin to a journey to Puraani Dilli where one road leads to various shopping streets or souks. A shopping and haggling spree awaits you here. Medina has its very own carpet market, spice market and slipper markets. Each of these souks are also dotted with shops selling knick-knacks and souvenirs. Our favourite souks were the ones lined with babouche or colourful Moroccan slippers and beautiful pottery.
Don't miss: If you can brave the strong smell and sights, do try the guided tannery region tour to see leather being prepared for top designers of the world.

Morocco Manual
  • Stick to full sleeves and full-length lowers. Women are best advised to ignore random comments.
  • Older part of the city does have some 'speakeasy' bars but it's best to avoid bars and clubs outside your hotel. Belly dancing shows are a better bet for a nightout.
  • Historically, the purpose of medinas was to keep out invading armies. Each medina around the world has its own unique story to tell.
  • Koutoubia Mosque, Ali Ben Youssef Madrasa, Bahia Palace and Saadian Tombs are the most prominent historical landmarks.

This article appeared in Times Life, The Times of India. To read, click here

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