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Caravanserai: "Caravan Palaces"

Ancient caravanserai building with travellers and camels in foreground

Cara—what? Repeat slowly after me. Ca-ra-van-sa-rye. Caravanserai. You will immediately recognise the word ”caravan” in Caravanserai. The image of a caravan as a form of mobile accommodation of varying sizes that is towed by a vehicle powered by a large horsepower engine is a common sight on highways around Australia.

Caravans but not a traditional caravanserai

Traditionally, a caravanserai is not that type of caravan. A caravanserai does relate to travel and does refer to both people on a journey and the places they stay along their journey. The caravan parks located along the highways and byways of countries such as Australia provide caravan travellers a sense of community and camaraderie along their journeys. In that sense, caravans and caravanserais are distant cousins.

caravansarai (ˌkærəˈvænsəˌraɪ , -ˌreɪ ) or caravansary (ˌkærəˈvænsərɪ ) nounWord forms: plural -rais or -ries. (in some Asian countries & North Africa) a large inn enclosing a courtyard providing accommodation for caravans. Collins English Dictionary

Our contemporary caravan is not a wheel based mobile home towed by a massive ute. Nowadays, it’s a long tube with wings that travels 30,000 feet/10,000 meters above the ground. When we land at our first destination, Casablanca, we will transfer to a luxurious coach before entering comfortable and, at times, luxurious accommodation. We will also experience more traditional places to stay and rest between destinations on our road from Casablanca to Cairo in the spirit of ancient caravanserais.

…a place where you can rest and achieve an inner peace. That place is the caravanserai.” Carlos Santana

From Canberra to Casablanca to Cairo, join me as I explore medinas, don a fez, peak into pyramids, speak with pharaohs, & sail a felucca as we journey through the wonders of Morocco & Egypt. We will share conversations, laughter, accommodation, common sites and sights, amazing food and the anticipation of experiencing new places, varied cultures and a sense of calm that comes with travel. That sense of calm and connectedness with people provides a human spiritual connection, much like Carlos Santana’s epiphany when making his album Caravanserai.

Thank you for sharing the journey through my blog; thank you for being part of the journey in our caravanserai

Caravan Palaces

kārvānsarāy is the Persian compound word variant combining kārvān "caravan” with Caravn

sarāy "palace" or "building with enclosed courts". In this case, "caravan" means a group of traders, pilgrims or other travellers, engaged in long-distance travel. The word can also be written as caravansary, caravansaray, caravanseray, caravansara, and caravansarai.

It is often used as an umbrella term for commercial buildings similar to inns or hostels. However, the term was typically preferred for rural inns built along roads outside of city walls.

To read more information about caravanserais in the past through Asia and North Africa, check this article from National Geographic:


Caravanserai by Santana

The recording of the Caravanserai sessions document a band in transition while in search of a new purpose. The result is a spiritual blend of jazz, rock and Latin music. In the Near East the word Caravanserai means a large courtyard that provides accommodation for caravans, or simply a group of people travelling together.

But Carlos Santana found a different meaning for it when he was reading a text by Indian yogi and guru Paramahansa Yogananda:

“The caravan is the eternal cycle of reincarnation, every soul going into and out of life, from death to life and back again, until you arrive at a place where you can rest and achieve an inner peace. That place is the caravanserai.”

He could not come up with a better title for the album, as it represents not only his personal quest for spirituality at that time, but also the music that the band created for the album.


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