The tomb of Sheikh Hamid-i Vali – better known by his sobriquet "Somuncu Baba" – is housed in a 14th-century complex in Darende, in Turkey's eastern province of Malatya.
The greater complex is expansive enough to host the tomb of its eponymous Sufi teacher alongside that of Hulusi Efendi, the Somuncu Baba Museum, the Sheikh Hamid-i Veli Library, Hamidiye Bazaar, the Fish Well, Tohma Canyon and various other extensions.
The historical site is being flocked to once again by visitors from all corners of the country after a 2 1/2-month lull due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Like many other tourist sites around the country, the complex is now welcoming visitors only in line with the strictest mask-wearing, social distancing and hygienic regulations as part of the country's normalization process.
Located among the steep cliffs and around Tohma Creek, the Somunu Baba Complex offers visitors a spiritual atmosphere, peace and natural beauty all in one place. The center, which hosts stone, wood and water art, has much to offer in terms of history, culture and faith tourism.
One of the most important natural tourist attractions in the city, the complex hosted more than 800,000 tourists last year and is impressive in terms of its design aesthetic and the fresh air it offers those seeking to escape the city.
Visitors are reminded of disinfecting and hygiene rules upon entry, asked to wear a mask and are provided with disposable prayer rugs and headscarves. Their body temperatures are also taken upon arrival.
Ayşe Çeliktaş, who came to visit the complex from Kayseri province, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that there were various problems at home during the pandemic and that she had come to the complex to find some spiritual peace with her son.
Noting that this was her first visit, Çeliktaş said: “I have never seen such an atmosphere where I live. The weather and the natural environment in this place are so different. You can feel the joy and comfort that Somuncu Baba offered. I have been to the Black Sea and never seen such beauty. I even thought about moving here. We stayed at home during the pandemic, and we went through a lot of difficulties, so this place has been very good for me. I have come to visit today, as it has a very different spirituality. I visited the tomb, I worshipped and it was very good for me to listen to the Quran. I recommend this place to everyone. They will feel very relaxed, spiritually and physically.”
Ayşegül Alp, a visitor from Sivas province who came to see the complex with her family after a dream, said the place had a unique atmosphere.
Alp noted that it had been very good for her to take in such a spiritual atmosphere after a long stay at home, adding: “I am a tradeswoman. I closed my business for two months and stayed home with my kids. It has been a difficult process for us, as for everyone. Now, life is returning to normal. Today, we visited Somuncu Baba as a family. As soon as I walked into the courtyard of the complex, I was very impressed. It is very peaceful and spiritual. And it's been so good for us to come here after we were confined in the house for so long."
She continued to note the place's effect on her spiritually, saying: "This is the first time I have been here. I had seen it in a dream. On the way here, I was thinking that I would see a tomb in a small place. I've been to umrah. I've been to Mevlana, but the atmosphere here is very different. God has gifted us this place. Everything is beautiful. I advise everyone to come.”
Şeyma Yetiş, another visitor, stated that the area around the complex was a natural wonder, adding: “This is a place of fascinating canyons with lush green hills. You are in the rose gardens, and you are listening to the Quran being read. When you come here, it will leave an impression on you. We also need prayers during the pandemic. It means a lot to be here and pray in these difficult times."