The Place: Konya, Turkey.
The Route: Turkish Airlines flies four times daily from Istanbul to Konya, which is situated 460 kilometers to the southeast in the plateau country of central Anatolia. Turkeyâ€™s seventh largest city is also connected to Ankara via high-speed train, a journey of less than two hours.
Why Now? Konya is the home of the whirling dervishes, or Mevlevis, a Sufi order founded by the 13th-century Persian mystic and poet Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi. With their billowing robes and tall camel-hair hats, the dervishes are best known for the trance-like spinning ritual that they believe brings them closer to God. Though they perform the sacred dance regularly throughout the year, thereâ€™s no better time to witness their rapture than during the Mevlana Festival, a 10-day commemoration of Rumi that will climax on December 17 (the 741st anniversary of his death) with especially ecstatic whirling.
What Else? The dervishesâ€™ original lodge is now the Mevlana Museum, a complex that includes Rumiâ€™s tomb and its magnificent turquoise-domed mausoleum. Another must-see is Ă‡atalhĂ¶yĂĽk, a 45-minute drive from town, where the ongoing excavations of a Neolithic town dating back nearly 10,000 years provide a fascinating glimpse into the ancient past.
Where to Stay: Just across the street from the Mevlana Museum, the Hich Hotel Konya (90-332/353-4424; doubles from US$192) inhabits a 200-year-old building whose 13 stylish guest rooms feature hand-knotted Anatolian rugs and wrought-iron beds. â€“Tina Sindukusumo
This article originally appeared in theÂ December/JanuaryÂ print issue of DestinAsian magazine (â€śSpin Cityâ€ť)