Konya’s Whirling Dervishes

It is pitilessly hot and dusty in summer. Freezing, slushy and cut with cruel, icy winds in winter. It’s inhabitants are clannish and conservative – the women bundled and head-to-toe covered, the men bearded and guarded. So why go to Konya? For Mevlana, is why. Rumi, as he’s known in the west, is a 14th century saint, writer of the most exquisite ecstatic verse, and the father of the Whirling Dervishes. His golden tomb is a place of pilgrimage and magic, where your thoughts and prayers come true.

Whirling Dervishes; courtesy of Kevin Gould

The municipality have got Mevalanamania and built a Vegas-style auditorium with nightly whirlings. It’s a marvellous,majestic human ballet, and worth the visit, but Konya’s special spice is to be found where you’re not looking. Stroll her medieval markets and Selcuk museums, and leave yourself open to the unexpected. That greengrocer or shoe-shine may be a sufi sheikh. A chance encounter may lead to an invite to a private whirling ceremony, where the rhythmic music and devotional dance will make your soul soar as it never did before.

By Kevin Gould. Kevin is a travel and food writer who doesn’t tweet, and rarely blogs. His favourite food is parsley.

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