telouet – glaoui – pasha and lord of the Atlas

June 12, 2011

Michel suggested that we take the small ‘recently  tarmac’ road from Taddert to Ouarzazate. Mmmm, well  fine in a 4×4 but quite scary in a small Peugeot. Heavy rain had caused minor rock slides and thick ginger soil to cover and disguise the surface. Dry river beds were swollen again with flowing water and some had to be crossed in a rather gingerly fashion.  Michel was right about the beauty of the surrounding landscape –  quite diverse – straight through small settlements, climbing up to beyond the tree line and dropping down into well farmed and irrigated land with kasbahs strategically placed along this old route – the 20 km to Telouet takes a long time. On arrival, guides and the rest are keen to invite/lure/strongly suggest/slightly harass visitors into all the facilities  – cafes, eating houses, very small shops – in this neglected, but once important, small town. The locals are proud of their kasbah.

Al-T’hami el – Glaoui, the last pasha of Marrakech and lord of the Atlas lived here. He served the sultan but got too friendly with the French in early 1900’s and was branded a traitor. When he died his family were exiled and his possessions dispersed including the famous canon. Hence the ruinous state of the kasbah and neglected town. Financial help has enabled partial repair of the kasbah and the subsequent  influx of visitors. In the courtyards, performances and trials were held.  Ali, our guide,  had a story about films stars and the famous, including Winston Churchill, being entertained here. Click here for more detailed history.

And inside some good repair in the main reception rooms . . .

. . and zellij – fairly recent I think.

The view to the mellah – The Jewish part of the town.

The returning stork and a pair of photogenic doves. . . .

. . and fantastic landscapes again on the brand new road to Äit-Benhaddou. A relief to be able to look around and enjoy the views rather than watching out for pot holes! No complaints of course – I love this country.

(“Un jour Ali passait.”)

[XIII, Nov. 8, 1828.]
Ali came riding by–the highest head
Bent to the dust, o’ercharged with dread,
Whilst “God be praised!” all cried;
But through the throng one dervish pressed,
Aged and bent, who dared arrest
The pasha in his pride.

“Ali Tepelini, light of all light,
Who hold’st the Divan’s upper seat by right,
Whose fame Fame’s trump hath burst–
Thou art the master of unnumbered hosts,
Shade of the Sultan–yet he only boasts
Inthee a dog accurst!

“An unseen tomb-torch flickers on thy path,
Whilst, as from vial full, thy spare-naught wrath
Splashes this trembling race:
These are thy grass as thou their trenchant scythes
Cleaving their neck as ’twere a willow withe–
Their blood none can efface.

“But ends thy tether! for Janina makes
A grave for thee where every turret quakes,
And thou shalt drop below
To where the spirits, to a tree enchained,
Will clutch thee, there to be ‘mid them retained
For all to-come in woe!

“Or if, by happy chance, thy soul might flee
Thy victims, after, thou shouldst surely see
And hear thy crimes relate;
Streaked with the guileless gore drained from their veins,
Greater in number than the reigns on reigns
Thou hopedst for thy state.

“This so will be! and neither fleet nor fort
Can stay or aid thee as the deathly port
Receives thy harried frame!
Though, like the cunning Hebrew knave of old,
To cheat the angel black, thou didst enfold
In altered guise thy name.”

Ali deemed anchorite or saint a pawn–
The crater of his blunderbuss did yawn,
Sword, dagger hung at ease:
But he had let the holy man revile,
Though clouds o’erswept his brow; then, with a smile,
He tossed him his pelisse. Victor Hugo  The Pasha and the Dervish

2 Responses to “telouet – glaoui – pasha and lord of the Atlas”

  1. Cloudier Says:

    Marvellous, a place of dreams. I want one.

  2. julia fogg Says:

    It is a place of dreams – quite surreal – the main function of all habitations is to keep out the heat with any openings minimal. On stepping outside, the beauty of the landscape, both arid and lush in irrigated areas, reveals itself is in 360 degrees. I find that amazing to look at horizons that must have appeared the same hundreds of years ago – the odd pylon and many mobile phone masts permitting. More posts coming on kasbahs and ksars soon!


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