THE ROUTE OF THE THOUSAND KASBAHS
4th step: from Tinghir to Tinejdad through Gheris gorges
Much more interesting than the national road, this route goes through beautiful mountain scenery, several gorges and villages with their Kasbahs.
After the Todra Gorge, for 18 km the road runs inside a canyon. The valley opens again reaching Tamtatoucht. In this high mountain village we find nine Kasbahs built during the first half of the twentieth century and inhabited for the most part, or at least used to stock the crops.
Beyond Tamtatoucht, the road arrives to Ait Hani, where are also many Kasbahs distributed among the various villages that form this administrative center. In Ait Hani we leave at left the road going to Imilchil. Around this village, the Assif Melloul valley has also a nice soil architecture.
Worth stopping in Assoul, a village surrounded by apple orchards. There stand the Zaouia Sidi Bou Yacoub (31º 56,867’ N - 5º 12,456’ W), and a beautiful Kasbah. Then we go through the Imider gorges and there we see several picturesque villages; one of them, named Ifri, is placed in a rock cavity (32º 00,783' N - 05º 03,973' W).
In Amellaghou we go right to continue down the Gheris valley, passing near many Ksour, as Timezguit and Ighrem Amokrane, also known as Tighremt n'Ighrane.
A track that starts in Tadighoust leads in two kilemeters to the Ksar Mo, nice for its location on top of a rock, but very neglected. At the foot of the hill is one of the most active pottery centers in this region.
Beyond appears the curious Ksar Magamane (31º 42,726’ N - 4º 58,638’ W), that includes a barn of the Sultan dated in the eighteenth century. Unfortunately, it is all in ruins.
And the last Ksar we find in this route, before Goulmima, is Ait Yahia Ou Othmane (31º 42,043' N - 4º 58,283' W), one of the largest in the region and still largely inhabited. Its two monumental entrances are magnificent and the mosque has a high adobe minaret.
Goulmima is a modern town born around the very important Ksar Igoulmimen (31º 41,487' N - 4º 56,527' W); important for its size, for its antiquity, for the tall towers that protect its gate and for its former trade activity, including a great Jewish quarter.
Nevertheless, in 2010 this Ksar has been restored with very dubious criteria; the beautiful mosque has been thrown down to build a new one with cement, the famous gate towers have been rebuilt with a concrete structure, losing its former aesthetic value, and even the secondary gate giving access to the Ksar through the old Jewish quarter lost its excellent decor.
Tinejdad is only twenty kilometers away from Goulmima. The road runs through a desert country in which is no construction of any kind and the small palm-groves that we can see in the distance have not examples of traditional architecture noteworthy.
GUESTHOUSE EL KHORBAT
The Ferkla oasis (Tinejdad)
The most interesting site in the Ferkla oasis is the Ksar El Khorbat Oujdid (31º 29,693' N - 5º 05,206' W), build in the middle nineteenth century and that is being restored by a local association with the help from international institutions and private investors.
This Ksar was the political capital of the Ait Mergad tribe until the 1930's and has a very special artistic value because of the structure of its covered streets, absolutely rectangular, with shafts of light at intersections.
The association established its premises inside the Ksar, conducting in them various activities that tend to boost economic and cultural life of its inhabitants: female crafts, preschool courses, literacy courses for women, art exhibitions...
More information about this project: www.elkhorbat.com/en.association.htm
Inside the Ksar El Khorbat Oujdid, the Oasis Museum includes twenty halls where the visitor discover the different facets of the traditional life in the region, explained by antiques, photos, maps, drawings, texts and models.
Next to El Khorbat Oujdid stands another Ksar named El Khorbat Akedim, that may be built in the fifteenth century and has a confusing structure, as belongs to its antiquity. Its conservation state is quite bad. The association made some works for the restoration of its monumental gate and its wall is still hard, but inside a lot of houses are in ruins and other has been substituted by new concrete constructions that break the set aesthetics.
The Ksar Asrir (31º 30,570' N - 5º 04,422’ W) was the former trade capital of the oasis and it was divided in seven quarters separated by walls; some of them were destroyed by inundations, but other are still inhabited. In one of them there is a mosque with a tall earth minaret; it may be founded in the Almoravit period.
Excursions around Tinejdad
Among the interesting excursions to make around Tinejdad, we will mention the Ksar Taghia, accessible by a paved road from the Tinejdad town center, and the new road to Aghbalou n'Kerdous. This one passes through many mountain oasis with their Ksour, as Taghia n'Ifegh and Igoudamène.