Masjid al Haraam is currently undergoing expansion and construction. Of the many gates that could be used to enter the mosque, only a couple are being used at the moment. Note which gate you enter from. Try to make sure that there are landmarks that will help you remember it. This will help you keep track of how to get back to your accommodations as well. The last thing you want is to get lost. Make sure you have a specific plan of action in case you get separated from your group or partner.
While the building is being built, a temporary ring like structure consisting of two levels has been constructed in the courtyard of the mosque for tawaf.
I just want to give you an overview of what the area around Masjid Al Haram looks like.
If you are a very fortunate person, then you will be staying in one of the hotels in the Makkah Royal Clock Tower, or Abraj Al Bait, which is the third tallest building in the world, with the largest clock face in the world.
The point is to give you an idea of your bearings and the absolutely massive scale of construction around the Kaabah.
In the above photo, you’re looking at the Clock Tower from inside the mosque.
And just for fun, now you’re looking at the mosque from the highest point on the Clock Tower. This picture makes me dizzy and very scared. It’s also not an updated picture as you can see the mosque as it was before the renovation started.
Coming back to the ring structure around the Kaabah: there is one main walkway to reach the rings from the outside. The benefit is that it is a very small circle, so tawaf doesn’t take too long. There is no separate lane for wheelchairs.
Part of the mosque building is still there and can be used for prayers, but because part of it is broken, therefore it cannot be used for tawaf. Walkways lead from the rings to the mosque prayer area.
The saee area is also within the boundary of the mosque. It is easily visible and is on the eastern end of the mosque. It has three levels, and there are escalators and elevators for going up and down.
There are three ways of obtaining wheelchairs for tawaf:
1. You can rent the service at the office in the mosque for a few hundred riyals. An employee will push you for the entire length of the tawaf.
2. You can get one for free at an office under the clock tower, but you will have to give them your badge as security. Once you return the wheelchair, you will get your badge back as well.
3. You can buy a wheelchair at the mall.
You might want to carry an umbrella to shade yourself from the hot sun. Honestly, we tried to avoid doing tawaf at the peak of the day for this reason. It is only a hassle to carry an umbrella, try to avoid bumping into people and worry about not getting separated from your partner.
Coolers of water from the spring of Zamzam are available in the mosque. The water is available at room temperature as well as cold.