Travelogue to Turkey- Part X- Ankara and Ataturk's mausoleum
It has been quite sometimes I stop updating my travelogue. Ok, I will try this time to continue after long break for Ramadhan,Syawal and now it's already entering Muharram. Hopefully, I'm able to complete my travelogue to Turkey. The momentum become slower and slower. Just pray that I have the courage to continue writing...😄
Travelogue to Turkey- Part X- Ankara and Ataturk's mausoleum
D7- 27th March 2015
After 2 days in Cappadocia, it's time to move on. It's going to be another long journey. From Cappadocia to Ankara, it would take about 5 hours. We would visit some places in Ankara (which is the capital city of Turkey) and from there we'll continue our journey to Bolu. It will take another 3 hours from Ankara to Bolu. We will stay overnight there in Bolu before complete the circle back to Istanbul the following day.
We left Ramadha hotel, Cappadocia at ~ 8 am. As usual Bro Anas recited a du'a upon starting our journey. Hoped that we will get barakah from this journey. It rained on and off during our journey making the temperature colder than it's supposed to be. In a way we were lucky, if the weather was like this yesterday...I wouldn't have a chance to fly with the hot air balloon. So in the bus, some of us were just chit chatting, some will take the opportunity to admire the scenery along the way from Cappadocia to Ankara, while the others dozed off especially with the welcoming weather.
We stopped for toilet break half way of our journey. Some of us rushed to the toilet. With the cold weather like this definitely it will make people feel the sense of urgency to go to toilet. Fauzan came back to bus happily announced that he bought 'roti canai'. Hehee...at last he found a dish which looked like roti canai. I would agree with him, it did look like roti canai from outside anyway...😄. Who knew that ultimately he found roti canai here.
We reached Ankara around lunch time. On and off we can see the statue of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk standing tall in the city of Ankara. Symbolised the modern Turkey. Ankara is the capital of Turkey, replacing Istanbul. It's been the capital of Turkey since 1923, following the fall of Ottoman Empire. It's considered the second largest city in Turkey after Istanbul. Compared to other city in Turkey we could see some areas with shantytown. Could be due to high cost burden for those who stay in city centre, and have no choice but to stay in the shanty houses.
Roughly about 1 pm, we stopped for lunch. It was still drizzling. We had to walk uphill, before reached the restaurant. It was quite cozy and warm. The restaurant mainly occupied by our group. Partly, could be because it was Friday and it's time for Friday prayer when we had our lunch. Overall menu...I would say almost the same everywhere. The only thing, they served the item which looked like 'Roti canai' which Fauzan bought this morning. It's more like 'murtabak' I would say, but inside it contained cheese. Ok...la, for a change of taste. But, hmmm...I definitely prefer our local murtabak or roti canai.
We took our wudhu in the restaurant itself and heading to the local mosque which located within a walking distance from the restaurant. By the time we reached there, it's already empty. We took sometimes tried to figure out how to open the antique door. Thought it was locked. After few attempts we managed to 'unlock' it. It was relatively small mosque. The female section was located upstairs which was quite a small compartment... May be can occupy only two safs for jamaah prayer. Since it was quite empty, some of the female went down to pray downstairs joining their male family members.
After prayer, we continued our visit to Anatolian Civilisation Museum. It was located uphill, so we had to walk up a bit before reaching the museum. Finar passed the ticket as we went in, somehow we were called back...I had no idea why, but seemed that we needed to change to a new ticket. We took some photos with the headless statues in the compound outside the museum. Some of the areas behind us actually were graveyard. I only realised it later, after took some photos with the headless statues...😜
Anatolian Civilisation Museum was opened during Ataturk era. It has a number of exhibits of Anatolian archeology from different era and phases. I was not really paid attention that much...nothing interesting. It's just another museums filled with all the stones and statues collected from the era of Paleolithic , Neolithic, early bronze, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman periods. Not my type of place to visit...😂
We left the museum and went to the next destination... It was Ataturk Mausoleum or the Mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Let's learn a little bit on who is Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Ataturk had Mustafa as his name at birth (means the chosen one). Young Mustafa studied at the military junior high school in Salonica, where his mathematics teacher gave him the additional name Kemal (means perfection or maturity) because of his academic excellence. Therefore, he became known as "Mustafa Kemal". In later years, it would be required that all Turkish citizens were to take a surname, the surname "Ataturk", which means "Father of Turks", was given to Mustafa Kemal by the Turkish people in accordance with his reforms and his success. This was granted to him in 1934 and forbidden to any other person by the Turkish parliament.
Ataturk was a military officer during World War I. Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, he led the Turkish National Movement in the Turkish War of Independence. Having established a provisional government in Ankara, he defeated the forces sent by the Allies ( French Republic, British empire and Russian empire). His military campaigns led to victory in the Turkish War of Independence. He became the first president of Turkey and ruled for 15 years (1923-1938). Ataturk then embarked upon a program of political, economic, and cultural reforms, seeking to transform the former Ottoman Empire into a modern and secular nation-state. Under his leadership, thousands of new schools were built, primary education was made free and compulsory, and women were given equal civil and political rights, while the burden of taxation on peasants was reduced. His government also carried out an extensive policy of Turkification. The principles of Ataturk's reforms, upon which modern Turkey was established, are referred to as "Kemalism".
Sounds good yaa...So why Muslims disagree with his ideology?
During his era, he implemented reforms that rapidly secularised and westernised the country. Under his leadership, the role of Islam in public had shrank drastically. European-style law codes came into being, the office of the Sultan was abolished and new language and dress requirements were mandated. Although the country was nominally democratic, Ataturk at times stifled opposition with an authoritarian hard.
Kemalist ideology, questioned the value of religion and held that the religion was not compatible with modern science and secularism was very important for modernity. Thus Ataturk regime began step by step to implement the Kemalist ideology with a radical reformation of the Turkish society with the aim of modernising Turkey from the remnants of its Ottoman past. To achieve this, he closed all religious courts and schools, prohibited the wearing of headscarves among public sector employees, abolished the ministry of shariah law and pious foundations, lifted a ban on alcohol, adopted the Gregorian calendar in place of the Islamic calendar, made Sunday a day of rest instead of Friday, changed Turkish alphabet from Arabic letters to Roman ones, mandated that the call for prayer be in Turkish rather than Arabic and even forbade the wearing of fez hats (tarbush). These are the reasons why most of Muslims don't agree with him.
In addition Ataturk took over the country's 70 000 mosques and restricted the building of new mosques. Muftis and imams were appointed and regulated by the government, and religious instructions were taken over by the Ministry of National Education. Mosques were to preach according to the Ataturk dictates and were used to spread the Kemalist ideology.
For Sufi Muslims, Ataturk confiscated Sufi lodges, monasteries, meeting places and outlawed their rituals and meetings.
His religious belief is questionable. According to his book 'Nutuk' (Speech), he was a Muslim, and some natives sources claim he was a sincere believer. However, according to some researchers Mustafa Kemal himself was an agnostic or non-doctrinaire deist, or according to others, an atheist.
His lifestyle had always been strenuous. Alcohol consumption during dinner discussion, smoking, long hours of hard work, very little sleep, and working on his projects and dreams had been his way of life. As the historian Will Durant had said, "men devoted to war, politics, and public life wear out fast, and all three had been the passion of Ataturk.".
Ataturk died at the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul in 1938, at the age of 57. It's thought that he died of liver cirrhosis. His remains were originally laid to rest in the Enthography Museum of Ankara and then transferred in 1953 (15 years later) to the current mausoleum.
After Ataturk death, some of his preposterous laws were revoked by his successors due to their harshness and the fact that Islam was always a strong force at the popular level despite the suppression. Since then there have been occasional calls for a return to Islam. But the secular governments and military true to the Kemalist ideology have managed to suppress them. Amidst this environment in the 1980s a new generation of educated, articulate and religiously motivated leaders emerged to challenge the dominance of the Kemalist political ruling elite. By their own example of piety, prayer, and political activism, they have helped to spark a revival of Islamic observance in Turkey. But Turkish military and the state bureaucracy are infiltrated with Kemalist (secularists) and act as the guardianship of Kemalism and weakened Islam. This situation has gradually led to a polarisation of the Turkish society and today it remains as a 'torn society'. Today 98% of Turkey's population is officially Muslim but the proportion of practicing Muslims is as low as 20%. May be now Turkey has changed to more Islamic country under a new leadership of pro-Islamic party and we hope the situation maintain this way. We hope that Turkey will come back to be like what it was before during its peaked success in Ottoman Empire....InsyaAllah.
That's briefly about Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, especially for those who love to know about history. You can make your own judgement on his personality or his vision. For Turkish people, he was a hero who reformed and modernised Turkey. But if you ask most of the Muslims, it was a very sad day when we see the fall of caliphate system and Ottoman Empire which was one of the Muslim empires that we are proud of. Within 15 years of his reign, Ataturk has in a way brainwashed the Turkish people and able to change Turkey into secular country. For me....that was his biggest crime. Those who believe and pro secular or liberal might argue with me and support Kemalism ideology. In fact this so called 'Kemalism' ideology is not foreign even in some elite or pro-liberals groups in our own country.
Our driver parked the bus quite a distance from the mausoleum, so we had to walk quite a bit to reach the mausoleum. We had to climb the stair to the reach the entrance. At the entrance, stood guards who stand still...just like guards at Buckingham palace. I could not understand how a person can stand still like robots for hours..😉. Anyway those guards were handsome young Turkish men... Some with blue eyes. My friend said it...not me...hahahaa😆. There will have a change shift ceremony at 4 o'clock (if I remember correctly). So we went straight to Ataturk mausoleum.
It was a big compound and the mausoleum located further uphill in which we had to climb the stairs some more. There were several delegates from other countries came at the same time and we had to wait until those delegates finished giving the respect to the 'Ataturk'. Turkish national anthem song was played. All other visitors just waited outside the rim till those delegates finished. The mausoleum was a rectangular and surrounded by columns on all four sides. It's another tomb anyway... and personally I don't kind of like visiting tombs. Ataturk sarcophagus rest in front of the open space at the end of the hall of honour. On the front of the mausoleum there's Ataturk's speech inscribed on the wall. On the way out, I tried to recap back what Finar told us about Ataturk in the bus earlier...whether Ataturk reign was 15 years or 50 years (at that time I've not read its history yet). Asked Ida about it...and at last we came to conclusion...it doesn't matter how long he became the president of Turkey...😜. What we knew he had destroyed the previous Ottoman Empire and managed to change Turkey into a secular state within a short period of time during his reign.
Once we were out from the mausoleum, Ida and I decided to go to the gallery @ museum located on the left side of the mausoleum as we went out. We thought it was only a small museum, because from outside it looked like just a short stretch. When we were in, we were stuck with a lot of other visitors from other countries...especially when they came in a big group with a tour leader explaining what's inside it. As for us it's just like making a 'tawaf' tried to find a way out from the gallery. Inside the gallery, there were a lot of history of war and names of people who involved in World War I and contributed to the independent of Turkey. I didn't pay attention that much because so content to find a way out from this place. It took sometimes for us to find a way out...feels like in a maze.
At last we found our way out, just on time...to see the changing guard ceremony. They marched like German army marching😂...before entering the guard's booth.
We went back to the bus and that was the end of our tour today. From Ankara, we traveled another 3 hours to Bolu. Because of long journey, most of us already tired by then and slept. On the way there we can see some of the areas still covered with thin cap of snow.
We reached Bolu roughly about 7.30pm and headed for dinner after checked in. We stayed overnight in hotel Koru and tomorrow we will continue our journey back to Istanbul. One thing which I didn't quite like in this hotel...lack of power point supply, especially to charge my phones and iPad...😓. Otherwise...ok la. We sleep early. Tomorrow we will have another long journey.
Good nite everybody...😴