Sunday, 27 September 2009
BY ANDREW IRO OKUNGBOWA
Kano is one of the cities in the three northern states scheduled to host the world during the FIFA under-17 football tournament begin next month. The others are Kaduna and Bauchi. The city may lack the sophistication and colours of other hosting cities; however, visitors would have a lot to savour in one of the oldest cities in the country. Expect to be treated to its historicity and histrionics as well as its rural appeal. Once famous for its pyramids and commercial influence being then a centre of trade, it remains a treasure home to a number of captivating sceneries. There is a lot of fun to catch in the city, especially within the Sabon Gari section, which actually is the melting pot for leisure and entertainment. Nighttime is when activities peaked here. As you sample this section and other appealing spots in the city however, note that Sharia law governs the state. So be moderate and abide by the prevailing rule. With the right tour guide by your side, you would not run foul of the law.
Checklist of tourist attractions
Dala hills: It is one where the first inhabitants of the city settled. Traces of this historical fact are evident as you meander through the area where many of the buildings still retain their rural appeal. Standing atop Dala hill affords one a bird eye’s view of the sprawling city. It is a good location for picnic; relaxation and photo shoot with the condition greatly improved over the years to make it conducive place for tourists. At the bottom of the hill is a complex for shopping and other activities. The last time I was there, the complex was yet to be completed but it is hoped that it would have been made over by now so as to give visitors something to cherish at the centre. Besides Dala Hill, there are other historical sites that give better perspective to the city’s landscape as well. Some of these include Goron Dutse, which is about two kilometers walk from Dala Hill. Others are Magwan in Nasarawa area, Panisau around the Kano airport and the famous Bompai. Accessing them is very easy as there are inbuilt stairways from the base to the top. On the flip side, such buildings as Gidan Murtala, Ado Bayero House, Fire Brigade House and the former Bank of the North building (Unity Bank) are also vantage locations to view the cityscape. These are high rising and tower buildings within the city.
Tourist Village: Located in Bompai road, the tourist village is one of the foremost tourist locations in the city. It houses among others accommodation of different types, restaurant, playground, shop, bureau de change and camping ground. Expect to witness a lot of fun filled activities at the village, which used to be popular with overland tourists from Europe.
Gidan Makama House: Gidan Makama House, once served as the palace of the emir of Kano but now houses a museum with wide spectrum and array of art, craft and artifact representing the history, political and religious heritage of the people.
Kano City Wall/Gates: The city walls and gates are landmarks that also open a window to the past existence of the people. Although the original outlook of most of the city walls and have been destroyed what now stand are replicas of the preserved walls. Numbering about 15, the city walls once served as defensive facilities with gate and also demarcated the abode of the indigenes from those of the strangers. The surviving city walls include those located at the Bayero University old campus road; where you come across Sabuwar Kofar, Dan Agundi, Kabuga, Dukawuya and Gadon Kaya. Other sites are Goron hill and Kofar Ruwa while that of Kofar Nasarawa road presents a picture of the renovated wall.
Gidan Rumfa: This is what the present palace of the emir is known by and it is an enchanting edifice on expansive landscape. Historically, the palace was built during the reign of Emir Muhammadu Rumfa in the 13th Century. It is a vast complex and rich in splendour with a touch of aristocracy. It houses different sections and facilities as well as a mosque. Kano
Central Mosque: Located in the emir’s palace vicinity is Kano Central Mosque, which is another captivating landmark of the city. Built around the 15th Century, it has over the years undergone different phases of re-engineering. It has a masterpiece architectural design and façade with a blend of Arabic flavour.
Kurmi Market : Located within the city centre, it remains one of the commercial nerve centres of the city, which over the years was famed for Trans – Sahara trade. It is an expansive market that a visitor would find intriguing exploring. Other markets to visit for souvenirs and other items include Rimi market; Gidan Makama Museum shop; Coral necklace mart; Pilgrims camp bazaar and Sabon gari market as well as Wambai market. Others are Dubai bazaar and Kwari international textile market.
Tiga Dam/Rock Castle: Tiga dam is one of the biggest creations in Kano state. Located outside of the city, it is one of the tourist sites with an attractive ambience. Boat cruise and spot fishing are some of the water related activities that anyone visiting can enjoy. At the base of the dam is Rock Castle Hotel, which was built in the heydays of the state to house Queen Elizabeth and her entourage during her visit to Nigeria years back.
British Council Building: Located near Gidan Makama, the building, which is about 400 years old was once used by a former emir of Kano, Muhammadu Rumfa.
Rumfa College (Kano Middle School): Named after the founding emir of Kano, the ivy school was established around 1927 and is one of the oldest and famous institutions in the city. It is reputed for producing a number of prominent Nigerians of northern extraction. The list include two former heads of state – late General Murtala Muhammed and Sani Abacha.
The First Church Building: Built by the Catholic Church in 1924, the church, which is situated in Fagge, is still in use till date.
Kano Zoological Garden: For a feel of wildlife experience, the place to visit is the Kano Zoological Garden.
Audu Bako Botanical and Zoological Garden: This is also located within the city and offers visitors a rich bouquet of theme park and wilderness experience.
Falgore Game Reserve: This is another wildlife enclave to savour the best of nature. It is located few kilometers away from the city and offers visitors a lot of captivating sceneries and safari experience. Rurum and Dansoshiya forest reserve are two of the other green zones to visit although they are located out of the city confines.
Kano Dying Pit: Is one of the renowned spots in the city to watch local artisans at work as they turn out clothe materials of different designs from the dying pit, which is believed to be as one as the city itself.
Koroso Dancers: This is one of the most entertaining troupes one can find in the city. It is a well - known group with international acclaim for its enchanting performances. The group is expected to be on duty during the competition to entertain guests at the different leisure spots within the city.
Leisure Spots/Parks: A blend of leisure spots and parks exist within the city and its outskirts where visitors can also harvest fun . The list include Rurum Tourist Resort, which is outside of Kano city but is easily accessible. It is a good spot for holiday makers to catch fun and excitement. It is some kilometers away from Tiga dam. Minikari Resort is another leisure site within the Tiga and Rurum axis. Interestingly, most of the spots within this location provide enduring natural ambience for visitors. Hills and Valleys are found within the Kano metropolis and offer array of leisure activities with a touch of wilderness experience. Criss-crossing the city’s landscape are a number of green park spots where visitors can sample different activities with a lot to eat and drink. The list include Sharia square park at Kofar Nasarawa; Emir’s palace road park; State road park; Railway Park; Audu Bako park, Zaria road park and Ahmadu Bello Way park. Sani Abacha Youth Centre Amusement Park is another leisure-dedicated site to visit in the city.
Despite the Sharia law, visitors can still enjoy moderate and tempered nightlife as most of the eateries and leisure spots come alive during night hours. cinema halls, restaurants and bars, kebab, suya and kilishi spots could be found in the Sabon Gari section of the city. Clubs Kano also boasts a number of clubs where visitors are treated to different levels of leisure activities. They include Kano club, Mingles, Le Cercle and Lebanon while Royal Tropicana Hotel host one of the most popular nightclubs in the city. For those interested in clubbing and nightlife a visit to the club is recommended.
Prince Hotel, Royal Tropicana Hotel and Tahir Guest Hotel as well as Na’Maan Guest House are some of the plush hotels in the city.
To sample most of the city’s leisure offerings, a visit to the Kano State Tourism Board on Bompai road near the Tourist Village would be of advantage as the board has tour packages on sale and offers guides that could help you ease your move