Descending the stunning Majlis al Jinn, Oman, UAE
By Dian Hasan | September 18, 2009
There are sights of nature that defy logic, and our ability to grasp their scale. Such is the Majils al Jinn, in the Sultanate of Oman. Truly a sight to behold. To fully appreciate the sheer size of the cavernous space which is the second largest known chamber in the world after Sarawak Chamber in Mulu, East Malaysia. Majlis al Jinn means “meeting room of the spirits”, which gives it a rather eerie reputation.
Discovered only in 1984, the when American Don Davison descended to find this masterpiece of nature. To this day, its location in Selma Plateau is notoriously difficult to get to, which adds to its allure as a the authentic Indy Jones-type of adventure.
It is the second-largest subterranean chamber in the world – big enough to fit 10 jumbo jets into the floor space (also it is gigantic enough that the great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt would just about fit inside). Located in a remote area of the Selma Plateau at 1,380 m above sea level in the Sultanate of Oman, Majlis al Jinn is a single chamber that measures around 340m long and 228m wide, with a domed ceiling 120 m high. The deepest part of the cave is 178 m. The volume of the chamber is approximately 4,000,000 m³ and covering an area of around 60,000 sqm.
This is an extremely difficult cave to negotiate, and it is important that the expedition is not undertaken lightly and without professional guidance and specialist equipment. This is an amazing cave that can be accessed through a fissure in the ground with a rope. To enter the cave, one must initially be lowered down on a free-hanging rappel. There are two drops into the chamber: one of over 150m and the other of almost 120m.
Cheryl’s drop, the hole where most people descend is called Cheryl’s drop (Khoshilat Minqod), the smallest of 3 entry points. Named after Cheryl Jones, wife of Don Davison who’s credited for discovering the cave, and reportedly used it during his first descend.
The dimensions of Majlis al-Jinn are staggering. Some 340 meters (1115 feet) long and 228 meters (738 feet) wide, with a ceiling height of 120 meters (389 feet), it is roomy enough to hold more than a dozen Boeing 747’s parked wingtip to wingtip. It is the second largest known cave chamber in the world after the Sarawak Chamber in Mulu, Sarawak (Borneo).
The local name of the cave is Khoslilat Maqandeli. A qandilah is a rock-overhang that forms a natural shelter for goats, which is the main landmark close to the entrances to the cave.