Mystery of Madinah Magnetic Hill Explained

Updated on July 11, 2018
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As an engineer, Mazlan had the opportunity to travel and work abroad. He has traveled to over 30 countries.

On my recent trip to Madinah, Saudi Arabia, the tour guide informed us that we would be taken to this mysterious spot where water can flow uphill. Even a vehicle put in neutral can travel uphill.

I had never seen these before and it sounded exciting. The basic laws of science and gravity that I know do not support these claims, so I looked forward to the trip.

I found out later, phenomena like this are not only unique to Madinah, Saudi Arabia, but in many places all over the world (see the listing below). They are also known by various names: Magnet Hill, Magnetic Hill, Magnet Mountain, Gravity Hill, Mysterious Spot and Mystery Hill.

Panoramic view of Wadi al Jinn, the Magnetic Hill in Madinah
Panoramic view of Wadi al Jinn, the Magnetic Hill in Madinah | Source

Where It Is

The Magnet or Gravity Hill of Madinah is located at Wadi al Jinn (also known as Wadi-E-Baida, Wadi-e-Al-Baida or Jabal Baida or Baida mountains or Baida wild park ), North West of Madinah and is about 37 miles (60 km) from the city center with coordinates 24°43'21"N 39°26'35"E.

The exact location, however, is not listed on Google Maps. The following map shows only the location of Madinah in relation to Jeddah, the second largest city in Saudi Arabia and the main gateway to the holy city of Makkah.

Note: Correct Spelling for Madinah

Many have misspelled Madinah as Medina or Madina. The correct name and spelling for this holy city is Madinah Al-Munawarrah or Madinah for short. For this article, I will be using Madinah.

A
Madinah:
Medina Saudi Arabia

get directions

B
Jeddah:
Jeddah Saudi Arabia

get directions

Getting There

The ride to Wadi al Jinn took us about 30 minutes. It was a beautiful ride in early February and the weather was a cool 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius). The initial leg of the journey was scenes of date palm plantations on both sides of the road. Later the scenery changed to rugged but beautiful mountains.

Rugged but beautiful mountains at Wadi al Jinn in Madinah Magnetic Hills
Rugged but beautiful mountains at Wadi al Jinn in Madinah Magnetic Hills | Source

We passed through what used to be a big lake, now dry except for a tiny patch of water. It is a shame to see this happening as otherwise it could have been a perfect spot for a picnic. The guide told us that in the old days, the lake was the water supply source for the city.

This area is also a popular place for recreation for Saudi families. On weekends, it is packed with families from the neighboring area and from other towns. They bring tents, camping gear, and barbecue sets. On weekdays, it is quiet and empty. A big contrast!

The guide constantly reminded us that we would soon be experiencing the magnetic forces that will pull our bus uphill. Hence, I was a bit worried that these magnetic forces might create havoc to my electronic gear: my smartphone, watch, and camera. I was reassured that this would not happen. Strange answer, but I have to believe him as he too, had a smartphone.

The journey to Wadi al Jinn, Madinah's Magnetic Hill are full of date palm plantations, on both sides of the road.
The journey to Wadi al Jinn, Madinah's Magnetic Hill are full of date palm plantations, on both sides of the road. | Source

Magnetic Hill Illusion

As we drove along one stretch of the road, the bus driver told us that we were now passing through "a magnetic field area" and he would stop the bus and put it in neutral. He will not be pressing the accelerator pedal, but will hold the steering wheel to control the bus movement.

Suddenly, as if by magic, the bus moved and started to gain speed, as it moved on. This was while moving up a hilly road and not downhill. The guide reminded us that the magnetic power of the surrounding mountain is pulling the bus uphill. The bus gained speed and it even reached as fast as 75 miles/hr (120 km/hr).

We believed him and were amazed when we saw puddle of water moving uphill. This reminded me of my favorite magician, David Copperfield and his creative and fantastic illusions.

The driver demonstrated this act on another stretch of road, on our way back to Madinah.

Unfortunately, I did not take photo of the speedometer nor took video of the ride as I was too engrossed in the occurrence and forgot to "document this experience."

Mountainous terrain and few trees make the horizon difficult to judge if the road is going up or downhill at Jabar Baido or Wadi al Jinn, the Magnet Mountain of Madinah
Mountainous terrain and few trees make the horizon difficult to judge if the road is going up or downhill at Jabar Baido or Wadi al Jinn, the Magnet Mountain of Madinah | Source

The Illusion Explained

Despite being an engineer, I must confess that I was completely taken in by the tour guide's "magnetic forces" explanation. The numerous science fiction books and films that I have read and watched may have blurred my mind.

When I got home, I decided to Google for more information and lo and behold, my good friend Wikipedia came to the rescue!

It seems that the areas where these "magnetic forces" are strong are actually optical illusions. The topography of the surrounding area gave an impression that the slight downhill slope seems to be an uphill slope.

The illusion or rather confusion is caused by the surrounding landscape. The mountain, rock outcrop, or trees and embankments blend with the horizon and are positioned in a way to trick your mind and eye.

Hence, water that seems to be moving uphill is, in reality, moving downhill. Likewise, the bus that we were on was moving downhill and was gaining speed as it moved further down the hill! Silly me! I should have known better.

This was proven by several studies including the award-winning study by the Japanese scientist Kokichi Sugihara, from Meiji Institute for Advanced Study of Mathematical Sciences.

This explained why such "strong magnetic forces that can pull buses uphill" would not damage my electronic gear. There are no magnetic disturbances at all!

We can also dismiss the marketing catchphrase "gravity forces do not apply in this area" as the "no-gravity" should also work on anything in that area including us, if we happen to be standing there.

Magnetic Hill in Madinah Was Closed to Heavy Vechicles

A freak accident where a pedestrian was killed by a moving bus in Madinah's Magnetic Hill, prompted the authorities to ban all heavy vehicles including buses to enter the area. This happened when the driver was demonstrating the "powerful effect of the magnetic forces." It was only recently opened again to tour buses in 2010.

Do remember that it can be dangerous to stop or reverse your vehicle while in these "magnetic roads." Always have the engine running and do not switch off the engine as it will be easier to control your car when the engine is on.

Madinah Magnetic Hill site has beautiful mountains and some are stand alone while some are in contiguous terrain
Madinah Magnetic Hill site has beautiful mountains and some are stand alone while some are in contiguous terrain | Source

Madinah Magnetic Hill Explained

The phenomenon of Madinah Magnetic Hill is also an optical illusion of what seems to be an uphill slope is actually a gentle downhill slope.

Sarfraz Khan proved this in his blog where he did a detail study of the distance and slope from Madinah to Al-Khulail Dam. In his study, he proved that the road inclined at a maximum 7% and gradually drops to 0.9% towards Madinah. See the illustration below showing the gradual change in gradient, taken from Sarfraz Khan’s blog.

You cannot see the slope as the total distance is about 8.7 miles (14 km) and on both sides of the road are mountain terrains. There is no horizon to give you a good reference to see the slope.

Your Take on Gravity Hills

Have these Mystery Spots and Gravity Hills fooled You before?

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In his study, Sarfraz Khan confirmed that the Madinah Magnetic Hill is an optical illusion where a downhill slope seems to appear as an uphill slope.
In his study, Sarfraz Khan confirmed that the Madinah Magnetic Hill is an optical illusion where a downhill slope seems to appear as an uphill slope. | Source

Magnetic Hill Location Around the World

As I had mentioned earlier, magnetic hills phenomena are in several places all over the world and not just in Madinah, Saudi Arabia.

If you Google "magnetic hill," you will find several websites including Wikipedia. Many of these websites are designed and written to a specific hill site.

For a full listing of the various magnetic or gravity hill sites around the world, visit Wikipedia for a comprehensive guide.

The listing shows 29 countries with these gravity hill sites. The USA alone has a grand total of 40 gravity hill sites spread over 23 states.

Canada came second with six sites and Australia, Ireland, and the UK tied for the third place with four sites each. Next is Italy with three sites and the rest of the countries with one site each.

Magnetic or Gravity Hill Explained

Questions & Answers

    © 2013 Mazlan

    Comments

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      • profile image

        Shamim 

        2 months ago

        This is a visual illustration.

        The listing shows 29 countries with these gravity hill sites. The USA alone has a grand total of 40 gravity hill sites spread over 23 states.

        Canada came second with six sites and Australia, Ireland, and the UK tied for the third place with four sites each. Next is Italy with three sites and the rest of the countries with one site each.

      • profile image

        the slave of Allah 

        4 months ago

        excuseme its not a magnetic ,its called as wade e jinn..the car is moving on its own with pressure but how could this all miracle be written in Al qura’an before years so its not the pressure or something els its just Allah’s fire creature jinn’s action to prove that Allah is the one true god..*ALL PRAISE TO ALLAH THE AL MIGHTY*

      • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

        Mazlan 

        5 months ago from Malaysia

        Abdullah, thanks for sharing your experience at this 'Jinn Valley'. Yes, the scenery is great and it is worth the trip actually.

      • profile image

        Abdullah Al Masud 

        5 months ago

        It is interesting how people may fall prey to paranormal stories. I was in Madinah in 2011 and I was told by fellow travelers who visited the jinn valley that the acceleration was caused by some force of jinn. I was pretty excited to see the place by myself and the next day I went there. The tour guide told us the same story that a miracle force causes the bus to move despite the engine being stopped. However when our bus started moving itself, I felt we were going downhill and the slope is causing the bus to move and gain acceleration. It was pretty disappointing how people bought into the jinn story. Nevertheless, the site is a beautiful landscape.

      • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

        Mazlan 

        7 months ago from Malaysia

        Hi, thanks for the input and will correct it.

      • profile image

        from Madinah 

        7 months ago

        correction : Jabal Baida or Baida mountains or Baida wild park

      • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

        Mazlan 

        8 months ago from Malaysia

        Hey, Qazi Sohel Ahmad I am glad you managed to visit Madinah Magnetic Hill and thanks for sharing your experience here.

        Yes, you are right, the place is awesome and it is a great visit and outing for anyone.

      • profile image

        Qazi Sohel Ahmad 

        8 months ago

        Last week I had been to this mysterious place! When I was travelling from Makkah to Madinah I was discussing about it with our driver and he suspected that it is the slope causing the speed effect. I took it in consideration and while I was visiting wadi al Jinn I was pretty sure there was no magnetic field seeing a lot of standing cars, ice cream van (remain unaffected/ not moving). At an specific point driver started the magic (switched off power of car). So i understand probably that was the start point of slop. But with naked eye it was impossible to prove. Hence, my car mates disregarded 'slop concept rather treated it as paranormal activity. Well, I got confused too. After reading this article now I understand the mystery. Thanks for eye opening article.

        Regardless it was a great visit...enjoyable...

      • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

        Mazlan 

        9 months ago from Malaysia

        Mushfiq Majumder, thanks for sharing these additional facts, which gives clearer reasons why we observed such illusions that we tend to call as magnetic hills etc.

      • profile image

        Mushfiq Majumder (Silchar, India) 

        10 months ago

        The frame of reference used by the brain to determine the amount of slope (of a road etc.) is the horizon. But in a hilly terrain where the horizon is not visible the task becomes difficult for it. It comes in the grip of a confusion which gives a wrong interpretation of the matter. The result is the visual illusion which makes us see a thing different from what it actually is. The processing power of the brain is limited and confusion takes over when this limit is crossed. Anti gravity hill is the extreme example of this confusion.

        GREL(gravity related eye level el) is the plane at the eye level of the observer which is perpendicular to the line joining the eye and the Centre of the earth. In a level area the horizon and the GREL coincide making the task of finding the slope for the brain easy. It is not so in a hilly terrain where the GREL and horizon are two different planes.

        It has been observed that due to the nature of the surroundings the GREL bends down towards the horizon by an amount exceeding 50%. It can be proved geometrically that this bending will cause a reduction in the slope of a road. This can make a road with a small slope appear almost parallel to the horizon. A a road having a still smaller slope can attain a slope in the opposite direction thus making a downhill slope into an uphill one.

        In hilly areas the horizon goes over the surrounding hills. The higher the horizon the lesser the slope. This again can make a slope appear in the opposite direction.

        This optical illusion happens so swiftly in the visual cortex of the brain that the higher parts of the brain cannot get to know it and the mistake remains as it is.

        In Bedford County in Pennsylvania a stretch of road 416ft long has its "lower" end lying above the "upper" end, the difference in heights being 13ft. A stream in California travels "upward" to be united with a lake named Lloyd.

        When you visit such a place a strange mix of fear and reverence will grip you even though you know the reason behind the mystery.

      • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

        Mazlan 

        11 months ago from Malaysia

        Hi, Abdul Sattar. Yes, it does feel scary especially with the rocky landscape at Wadi e Jinn. Thanks for sharing your experience.

      • profile image

        Abdul Sattar 

        11 months ago

        In December 2017 I visited Wadi e Jinn. At bottom of slope driver halt car and switched off engine in neutral while we were sitting inside a car. Within few seconds car moved in reverse uphill slowly and gradually speed increased and I asked driver to apply break to stop car to avoid any mishap. It was really amazing. Surrounding hill were of medium size and road was wide and enough away from hills.

      • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

        Mazlan 

        19 months ago from Malaysia

        Thanks Ehtesham

      • profile image

        Mohammed Ehtesham Ansari 

        19 months ago

        Greetings Mr Mazlan,

        Welcome Sir.

        I appreciate your work in this subject, which created basics for others in this direction and overcome such belief.

        Cheers,

        Ehtesham.

      • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

        Mazlan 

        19 months ago from Malaysia

        Mohammed Ehtesham Ansari, thank you for affirming what I had written.

      • profile image

        Mohammed Ehtesham Ansari 

        19 months ago

        Greetings,

        After learning that this sort of place exist in Madinah Munawwara, I asked Islamic scholar whether it has any historical connection, answer was No. Then I was sure it has got something with magnetism and / or gravity and / or illusion.

        After visiting the place, came to following conclusions:

        1. There's No Magnetic Anomaly i.e. Normal magnetic field exists as the gadgets were not affected nor did it attract my freely hanging iron bars nor did it deflect the magnetic needle.

        2. Water (non - magnetic object) was going uphill, which assures magnetic field is normal.

        3. Vehicle gradually accelerates, that is to say the momentum increases as the velocity increases.

        4. This increase in velocity is due to slope of the road, which is confirmed by referring to one the blogs which beautifully explains altitude at various levels along the road.

        5. Additionally, horizon is obscured due to which one can not create a reference level of the slope with that of nearby land.

        6. Finally, power of Jinn has No role in this acceleration.

        It is Optical Illusion which creates a false sense of uphill acceleration, and not the Power of Jinn.

        Allah knows best.

      • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

        Mazlan 

        2 years ago from Malaysia

        Abdul Rasheed, you are right. Good to hear that you went to this 'Madinah Magnetic Hill' and thanks for sharing.

      • profile image

        Abdul Rasheed 

        2 years ago

        Very nice article. I have visited the place. As mentioned vehicle on return speed up with engine off. It is because of gravity. When you go to that place, your car need a lot of acceleration as you are going up. Passengers in the vehicle will be able to feel it from the sound of the vehicle. Obviously when you are coming back, it is down the hill and need no power. There is no Jinn effect or magnetic effect.

      • manumohanan83 profile image

        manumohanan83 

        2 years ago

        Its is not optical illusion , it's caused by earth curvature,

      • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

        Mazlan 

        3 years ago from Malaysia

        Hi Aladdins Cave, it's part of the overall travel package inclusive of our airfare, hotels etc. Thanks for dropping by.

      • Aladdins Cave profile image

        Aladdins Cave 

        3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

        Thank you for that interesting Hub page

        I hope they did not charge to much money for that tour :)

        Cheers from DOWNUNDER

      • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

        Mazlan 

        4 years ago from Malaysia

        Hi Md Towhidul Islam, you are right. However, in areas where there's the illusion of the slope going uphill instead of downhill, it may be difficult to see it. I suppose you will have to go to a similar site nearest to you to 'feel' this 'magnetic hill' illusion.

      • profile image

        Md Towhidul Islam 

        4 years ago

        I am not used to the explanation here. Is it not possible to say whether I am standing on a slope or the direction of the slope whatever may be the landscape? I think I can say anywhere whether the land under my feet is slant or not. I have seen that some people do not have sense of north, south,east or west. I always had the sense and can not understand how some people can go without such sense.

      • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

        Mazlan 

        4 years ago from Malaysia

        Lindsey Nobles, Do you know that in the USA there's a total of 40 gravity hill sites and that includes the Gravity Hills in Pennsylvania. Thanks for sharing and for dropping by.

      • Lindsey Nobles profile image

        Lindsey N 

        4 years ago from Western New York

        There is a hill like this in Pennsylvania. I believe it is named "Gravity Hill" It's an optical illusion, it appears you are going uphill when in fact you aren't. Great article. :)

      • Kalmiya profile image

        Kalmiya 

        4 years ago from North America

        This is so interesting! There is a similar 'zona magica' at Colima, Mexico where your car will go uphill backwards! Amazing and curious things found in our world.

      • profile image

        Ar mukul 

        4 years ago

        Nice

      • profile image

        sohail 

        5 years ago

        madaina is a very nice

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 

        5 years ago

        Fascinating article and so well written. I love the optical illusion of this hill.

      • rajan jolly profile image

        Rajan Singh Jolly 

        5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

        Very interesting! I remember having read about one of these magnetic hills earlier and also viewed a video that showed cans and bottles moving uphill including the puddle of water.

        Voted up.

      • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

        Mazlan 

        5 years ago from Malaysia

        @vibesites . Thanks for the votes and the compliments. Everything about Saudi Arabia is an adventure from learning and knowing their cultures, foods, places of interests, religious sites, fishing & diving in the red sea etc. To me, the worst adventure or experience in Saudi Arabia is driving- it is a nightmare! Yeah, if you have a chance, give the country a peek; like their magnet hill! You, however need to have a business visa, as there is no tourist visa like in other countries.

      • vibesites profile image

        vibesites 

        5 years ago from United States

        Yeah, I've heard that petroleum is cheaper there than water, as it is an arid country. Beautiful scenery, thanks for the pictures you provided. I want to go there and experience some sort of adventure (thanks for the advice for us females). Voted up and useful, interesting, awesome. :)

      • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR

        Mazlan 

        5 years ago from Malaysia

        Hi Sarah

        Thanks for dropping by. Getting around Saudi Arabia is easy if you have a guide, otherwise it can be tough esp. if you female (in which case you MUST travel with a male, related to you) I was working there before so it was a lot easier for me as I understand the culture, the people and things that I can do and cannot to do. It is a beautiful country and despite the vast desert area the country has fantastic landscape and the food is good. Petrol, of course is CHEAP and driving big cars over long distance is not going to burn your wallet.

      • sarahshuihan profile image

        Sarah 

        5 years ago from USA

        Sounds like you had a great time in Saudi Arabia! Was is easy to travel around?

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