Kampala – Home to the Seven Hills of Uganda
Before becoming the capital city of Uganda, Kampala used to be the former King Mustafa I’s favourite hunting area. From the famous Impalas (through which the region got its name) to antelopes, this region was a breeding ground for a variety of different species due to the presence of surrounding hills and wetlands and hence formed a famous hunting ground for many.
The city soon became the capital city and has seen a massive amount of growth since then. Let’s go ahead and check out some of the most famous hotspots of this city.
Kampala’s Uganda Museum is a beautiful amalgamation of Uganda’s traditional culture, archaeology, history, science and natural history. The place exhibits the true, raw and colourful past of the country and the awe-inspiring cultural history. The museum was founded in 1908 and holds collections of musical instruments & weaponaries of great importance.
The highlights of the museum include contemporary musical instruments (you can use them to perform as well) and fossil remnants of a Napak rhino, a creature that died 8 million years ago. Just outside the museum, is a cultural village showcasing the true culture of the Ugandans through a live museum offering the visitors with an overall experience of Uganda’s past and present along with traditional and modern.
Being the main attraction of the city, you cannot afford to miss out on visiting this remarkable site which is located on the old Kampala hill, 5kms from the city centre.
Situated on the Kasubi hills of Kampala is a true site of architectural masterpiece defined as the most remarkable building in Africa, not just by its visitors but also by the UNESCO world heritage site organization in 2001. The mere fact that it holds the buried bodies of four of the most important kings of Uganda and their descendants, not only makes it royally salient but also showcases the original use of vegetal materials to make up the entire region. The authenticity of the place is reflected through the ongoing practices and rituals associated with the site that are carried out by the locals of the city.
Hence, the tombs are significant to the people of Uganda and great spiritual importance, linking the great history to the country’s present.
The time taken to reach the site from the city centre is approximately 15mins and the cost to visit the place is 5 dollars or 10,000 Uganda shillings. After paying the entrance fee, a guide is assigned to you to show you around the place.
Built-in 1885, the Mengo (Lubiri) Palace is the official historical residence of the Buganda king. The palace has remained empty since 1966 when the coup against Mutesa II, then president of Uganda was forced into exile by Idi Amin. The Palace was then converted into army barracks with the adjacent transforming into a torture chamber where millions of Ugandas were mercilessly electrocuted and tortured till their last breath. The horrors of the events are still alive in forms of marks and ruins left by the prisoners visible on the walls of the dark & concrete tunnels.
Some important points to remember while visiting the palace are-
- Even though the main palace is not open to visitors, they are welcome to explore the grounds and visit the torture chambers.
- Women are offered wraps at the reception wearing shorts and trousers.
- There is an admission charge to be paid to visit the palace.
Uganda National Mosque
One of the most stunning architectural sites in Uganda is Uganda’s National Mosque popularly known as the Gaddafi Mosque. The mosque was initiated by Idi Amin in the year 1972 but was only completed recently in the year 2007 when a donation by Colonel Gaddafi was made. The mosque is situated on the Old Kampala Hill and you cannot miss out on the view that comes with this beautiful piece of architecture. Upon climbing the tower/Minaret, you will be overwhelmed with the 360 degrees, picturesque view of the entire city and the famous seven hills in their original form. Aside from the view, look out for the historical facts that are related to the very ground on which this mosque was built.
On entering the mosque, you will be asked to pay an entrance fee at the inquiry desk and the women will be veiled due to the Islamic tradition but regardless of your caste, gender, religion, etc. you will be welcomed with open arms to take a tour of the place and marvel at its beauty (as long as you respect the Islamic rules, norms and values).
A tomb of a king who wasn’t only the first king to welcome foreigners in the country but was also a man with approximately 218 children and 148 wives and this is just the start of some of the most interesting stories that revolve around this famous kabaka but what’s the fun in giving it all away before you visit this place!
Wamala Tombs was a former palace to the Kabaka Suuna II who ruled Uganda from 1836 to 1856. Now a tomb, the hut was where the king was put to rest with his jaw removed (as believed by the people of Uganda, the spirit of the person is restored in the jaw) and kept in a royal sanctum. The place is an extremely religious and sacred spot for the royal dignities and the followers of the kings to perform various ceremonies through which they stay in touch with their ancestors.
A 30mins drive from the main city, the place is open for visits with safari bookings available. It’s also recommended to leave any sharp objects at your place of stay before visiting this place.
The largest man-made lake in Uganda, Kabaka Lake was built upon the demand of Kabaka (king) Mwanga I. The king wanted to have his artificial lake for fishing and swimming purpose, connecting his palace to Lake Victoria and also to keep it as a potential escape route to use it when in need. Unfortunately, the construction of this lake was stopped in the year 1888 and was never completed. The lake is the largest artificial lake and is now used by the locals to visit and spend their Sunday mornings staring into the peacefulness and stillness of the lake. If you are a fan of birds, you will marvel at the different types of birds that reside near the lake.
An interesting fact about the lake is that it does not have a substantial supply of water but remains full throughout the year due to the underground springs.
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