A few days ago, I got on a road trip to Ilorin with one of my friends named Bola. As you may already know, I love incorporating enthusiastic and tourism-orientated friends in my travel plans and trips. Bola happens to be one of such friends willing and ready to know more about tourism in Nigeria. Incidentally, she's a tourism student and trips like this widen the scope of her knowledge of tourism in particular and life in general.
We got on the road to the ancient city of Ilorin, which is the capital of Kwara State. There are many untapped tourist attractions in Ilorin which are sadly, not known to many people. Those who know them don't seem to appreciate them as places of tourism interest.
On arriving Ilorin, we visited one of the most beautiful lake resorts in the ancient city- the Unilorin Lake Resort located inside the University of Ilorin. The resort is actually still under construction, but it's a very good place for boat riding and picnic or party.
From the resort, we moved down to the palace of the Emir of Ilorin. The Emir's palace is one of the most beautiful palaces I have visited in Nigeria. At the palace, my travel buddy and I learned a lot including the history and culture of Ilorin as well as that of the Emirate.
The Ilorin palace is known to house smaller palaces meant for other Emirs from other parts of Nigeria because of the Emir's cordial relationship with them. There are Royal suites that can accommodate the Emirs as well as their entourage at the same time. Call them guest palaces, and you would be right. There is, for instance, a house named after the Emir of Sokoto where the Sultan of Sokoto normally stays when he's in town. There's a also a house for the Shehu of Borno.
The Emir of Ilorin palace is also one of the most visited and most attractive tourist destinations in Ilorin. If you're interested in history and education, the palace of the Emir of Ilorin is a very good place to acquire knowledge and understanding of the rich history of Ilorin.
Within the palace, there are places of interest such as the Central Mosque which is the oldest Mosque in the ancient city of Ilorin. According to our Tour Guide, the palace Mosque is older than Nigeria and the palace itself, having been built in 1351 Islamic year (1932 in Christian calendar). The Mosque is very significant in that all Emirs, including past and present, were all turbaned in the mosque. The ceremony for a new Emir starts from the Mosque, it's also an important place for the chiefs to visit before they can be turbaned.
We also visited the National Museum in Ilorin. It is one of the best and loveliest Museums I've visited in Nigeria. By the way, it's the 12th Museum I have visited in Nigeria. The Museum Guide told us the museum was established in 1945. I remember telling her that Jos Museum was also established in 1945 and that I've known Jos museum as the first and oldest museum in Nigeria. But she explained that although Jos Museum was truly established in 1945, it was not commissioned. In the other hand, Ilorin Museum was opened and commissioned in 1945, making it officially older than Jo's Museum and all other Museums in Nigeria.
Ilorin Museum has archaeological, ethnographic and craft shops. The Museum Guide gave us a little lecture on the clay that was used during the early days to mold the structures before being brought to the Museum. However, they're no longer called clay but rather Terracotta.
The Museum kitchen is where traditional food of different tribes are being prepared and sold. We actually ordered some food but unfortunately it was not available at the moment. We were disappointed, but we enjoyed taking some drinks.
Sadly, Ilorin is not one of the well known or popular cities in Nigeria, but it's actually one of the most interesting cities in Nigeria. There's a lot to see and there's a lot of knowledge to acquire in the Kwara State capital. You should make some effort and visit this ancient city. When you've made up your mind to visit Ilorin, here is a list of the places you might want to visit while in Ilorin:
1 The Emir of Ilorin Palace
2 The Lake Resort, Ilorin
3. The popular Oja Oba market
4. The National museum
5. The Palms Mall
6. Dada Pottery
You will definitely enjoy your time while in Ilorin.
Bolaji Seun is a Nigerian tourist, and travel blogger who is passionate about explorative tourism. He has visited 33 states in Nigeria, many tourist attractions in Nigeria and outside Nigeria including Ghana, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Bolaji is a guest blogger on www.afritraveller.com. You can follow him on Social media: Facebook:@Bolaji Seun Tourist, Instagram: @trbolajiseun, WhatsApp:+2348063513525.