Iran-tea

Tea first reached Iran by caravans traveling the Silk Road 450 years before the modern Christian era. Residents were largely coffee drinkers until the seventeenth century but now consume four times the world average for tea.

The beverage is served hot at almost all social occasions and family gatherings.

Every morning, in houses all over Iran, a gas burner flickers to life under a kettle that will continue to boil all day. It boils through morning prayers, lunches of rice and kebabs, afternoon conversation and late into the evening meal, sustaining talk of politics, gossip and news well into the night.

The kettle contains tea, one of the most important cornerstones of Iranian culture, and the tea house is its centuries-old keeper.

culture

culture

 

Tea production is a major industry in the Caspian Sea area and a large part of its economy. Before 1900, there was no tea production in Iran, but in 1895, an Iranian diplomat named Kashef Al Saltaneh decided to change that.

At the time the English had a strict monopoly of tea production in India, with rigid rules against non-Europeans engaging in this trade. Kashef Al Saltaneh, who had studied in Paris as a young man and was fluent in French, went to India, posed as a French businessman, learned the trade and smuggled some tea saplings and seeds to Iran.

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After six years of experimentation, he introduced his first product to the market, and started the industry that revolutionalized the economy of two northern states, Gilan and Mazandaran, and made Iranians avid tea drinkers.

He is known today as the father of Iranian Tea, and his mausoleum, in the city of Lahijan, houses the tea museum.

kashefolsaltane

Further reading reveals that Kashef Al Saltaneh’s other honorable titles include Prince Mohammad Mirza, Iranian ambassador to India, and first mayor of Tehran.  Moreover, the stash that commenced the tea plantation might have actually been 3,000 saplings!

Tea houses, or chaikhanehs, have been in existence since the Persian Empire. They gained prominence after the 15th century, when coffee was abandoned in favour of tea leaves that were easier to come by through China’s Silk Road.

Though once the purview of men, chaikhanehs have increasingly become frequented by all members of society, and especially by Iran’s large youth population.

kerman tea house by travfotos

Iranian tea comes in a variety of subtle flavours, but its defining characteristic is its deep reddish-brown colour, which tea-drinkers can choose to dilute with water depending on their preference. Despite its cultivation in the country’s northern provinces, other teas from Sri Lanka and India are also widely consumed as the country imports a majority of its tea in order to meet the large demand.

tea-party

 

Most chaikhanehs will serve tea on the stronger side unless otherwise indicated by the drinker. The stronger the tea, the higher the concentration of tannin and caffeine, so a good cup of tea is like a good cup of coffee for those who take it straight. Because of its bitterness, many prefer to have sugar with their tea. The traditional way to do this is to take a sugar cube and place it between your teeth. You then sip the tea and allow the sugar to melt. Iranians, especially in colder regions of the country, find this a convenient way to drink multiple cups. Crystal, or rock sugar, can be found throughout the country and bought in spice shops for this specific purpose.

 

The taking of tea is a ritual unto itself: most meetings or formal occasions will begin with the offering of tea, and most meals will end with it. Some chaikhanehs have takhts, or low-rise platforms covered in rugs and pillows that you may recline on. Remove your shoes before doing so; most meals are served on a tablecloth laid at your feet.

Traditionally, tea is served from a samovar, a heating vessel originally imported into Persia from Russia. Literally meaning “self-boiler”, the samovar is used to keep water hot for prolonged periods of time through a fuel-filled pipe in the middle of the structure that heats the contents surrounding it. Made from copper, brass, silver or gold, the samovar is still used throughout Russia, central Asia and Iran, and ornate versions from the -Qajar dynasty may still be found in use.

Chaikhanehs come in all shapes and forms, from the simple kitchen-turned-tea room in villages to ornate venues in urban centres, and from underground venues to popular tourist destinations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Azari Tea House in Tehran is one of the most famous chaikhanehs known to tourists and locals, with its detailed architecture and traditional decoration. In existence since the 14th century, this chaikhaneh on Vali Asr street contains one of the more interesting embellishments to emerge from tea house culture: teahouse painting.

travel trip adventure pictures photographer fotografo fotografia viajes periodismo periodista aventura viaje oliver munoz phototempus retrato portrait muñoz tehran isfahan yazd farsi khaju iran persa iman jomeini shahrekord bakhtiari Naqsh-e Jahan hakim kashan abyaneh kurdistan garmeh zurkhaneh shiraz Mashhad Shah Cheragh Nasir al-Mulk qeshm howraman uraman marivan palangan sanandaj bandar abbas Paiposht Laft minab

 

Reaching Nisf Jahan with limited time and unlimited wishes, setting aside all worries of this or that world, fully living in those moments

Treasure remains hidden in distant lands. I can’t exactly describe how and when the idea got stuck in my imagination. I feel a curious combination of mysteriousness and sacredness associated with the wordtreasure. Things like vessels, gold pots, jars, stones, carpets and never-deciphered writings do not come to my mind when I think of the word treasure. Instead, whenever I come to imagine some distant land, a vague yet strongly moving idea of ‘holy mystery’ weighs in on me.

Isfahan-Iran-tourism

 

Isfahan epitomised that distant land for me. So when a few years back, I sat in the bus destined to Isfahan from Tehran, I was under the spell of the idea of a treasure that was going to be uncovered in the next few hours. I looked through the window and wondered at Isfahan Nisf Jahan (half the world) and the half-hidden sun.

I dropped the curtain abruptly. Secrets should not be revealed so fast.

It took us almost six hours to reach Isfahan, a city of 17th century Safavids, capital of Persia in the 16th and 17th centuries, city of Hasht Bahisht, Maidan e Naqsh-e-Jahan, Imam Mosque, Chehel Satoon, Chahar Bagh Boulevard, mosques, bridges and of Zinda Rood (Zayanderood).

In Isfahan, one strongly notices Iranians’ unwavering love for their ancient culture. They have preserved, maintained and promoted old texts, monuments and even rituals.

As I was about to reach Isfahan, I tried to unpack the meaning of Nisf Jahan. People have put this single city against the rest of the world because of its sheer splendid beauty. I too had read and listened about the unmatched beauty, the splendour of its gardens, palaces, mosques, historical buildings, bazaars etc. Suddenly, an idea flashed into my mind: this mundane and the world hereafter both makeJahan-e Mukkamal (the whole world). This particular Islamic interpretation seemed more valid. Muslim Kings have been in pursuit of emulating and creating the Heavenly Paradise as it has been described in the Holy Scripture. Isfahan might have been a copy of Bahisht, the other yet complementing half of the Jahan.

As I got out of the bus, I felt tired, as were the seniors accompanying me. Contrary to my expectations, first impression of Isfahan was more of an ordinary city. The first people who ‘warmly’ welcomed us in the ‘paradise’ were not Hoors or Ghilman but taxi drivers, not speaking Arabic or our mother tongue but Persian. They were looking for good fortune among foreign people while we too were in search of a treasure in a foreign land. A clash of interest was apparent.

Imam Mosque.

Imam Mosque.

Airports, railway stations and bus stands of all major cities of the world offer a unique opportunity to understand how two strands of worldliness (on the part of taxi drivers) and disinterestedness (on the part of travellers) collide as well as cooperate. Anyhow, we did hire a taxi and arrived at a hotel. It is a long story how we shopped for hotels, bargaining and finally succeeding in getting a room in a comparatively low-rent hotel.

After having a cup of black tea, we left the hotel. I must admit how much I loved the ‘black tea’ in Iran. I couldn’t enjoy Doogh-e-Goshfil and Burgers. Chulo Kababs were delicious but, unfortunately, weren’t for me since I am allergic to rice.

We had limited time — we had to leave for Tehran the next evening — but wishes unlimited. We decided to see all what we could on foot. We started our journey from the main tree-lined boulevard that wasn’t not too far from our hotel. I was reminded of Agar Firdos Bar Roo e Zameen Ast/ Hameen Ast o Hameen Ast Hameen Ast.

It was May which is not hot in Isfahan. It was as mildly cold as Lahore is in February. Cool shadows of breezy trees standing in a symmetrical order along both sides of the wide metallic main road were soothing. Chirping of birds deluded us into a world that is discoloured by globalisation. There were shops on both sides of the boulevard but the bustle of big cities was absent.

 

Si-o-Seh Pul.

Si-o-Seh Pul.

The markets on both sides of the road made it seem like a western city. Most people wore western clothes, except perhaps the headscarf which has been made compulsory after Inqilab for women in Iran. Iranian women seem to have carved a way to assert their freedom by putting on tight jeans and shirts and with an unflinching love for cosmetics.

In Isfahan, one strongly notices Iranians’ unwavering love for their ancient culture. They have preserved, maintained and promoted old texts, monuments and even rituals. They have also incorporated ancient cultural values and ‘world-view’ in their ‘new’ architecture. This we observed while visiting Hasht Bahisht, Maidan e Naqsh-e-Jahan, its adjacent bazaars, Imam Masjid, Chehel Satoon, bridges of Zinda Rood and reliquaries.

Converting to Islam has not made them skeptical, disdainful or disrespectful to their earlier history and its texts and heroes. We in Pakistan need to learn from Iran in this regard.

The most exciting experience was visiting the three red bridges — Pol-e-Khaju, Si-o-Seh Pul, Pol-e-Chobi — built in 17th century by the Safavids on Zinda Rood. They seem to redefine the meaning and purpose of bridging the brinks. If you really want to connect the two shores, you will have to create a kind of ambience that could make the act of crossing a true, deep experience of bridging two different worlds and diverse perspectives.

Crossing Si-o-Seh Pul (bridge having 30 arches) was a marvellous experience. We literally stopped at every step, praising the wonders of architecture.

In the evening, we spent an hour at a café built under a bridge. I could never forget the moments while sipping black tea, listening to the whispering of slow waters of Rood mixed with the twitter of evening birds and radiant faces of Iranian people. In those moments, I was able to set aside all kinds of worries of this or that world, fully living in those moments. I felt fortunate to have finally grasped the ‘holy mystery’ of Isfahan.

 

Nishapur meaning “New City of Shapur” is one of the oldest city of Persia dating back to Sassanid Dynasty. It has been the home of great thinkers of Persia. Though Nishapur was demolished and burnt to ground in Mongol Invasion, it raised from ashes again after a while and became an important city in Islamic era. Tourists should not miss visiting Nishapur Highlights while they are passing this beautiful city. Here are some:

A Gem Garden of Nishapur

A Gem Garden of Nishapur

 

Mausoleum of Attar Neyshaburi

The Mausoleum of Attar Neyshaburi, the great mystic poet Attar (1150-1220), also known as the Martyr Poet, is a small octagonal monument covered by a turquoise dome. Born and raised in Nishapur, he dedicated his life to study mathematics, poetry and hagiography. Nevertheless, the Mongols, unfortunately murdered the famous Persian Poet who has a heavy influence on Hafez Shirazi, in 1220. He is known for his masterpiece The Conference of the Birds (or Dialogue of the Birds), written in the form of an allegory. Groups of birds are in search of search of divine wisdom, called Simorgh, literally means “Thirty Birds”. In the end, only thirty birds succeeded in finishing the journey and surprisingly they found out that they themselves are Simorgh.  Here is a piece of The Conference of Birds:

 

If Simorgh unveils its face to you, you will find

that all the birds, be they thirty or forty or more,

are but the shadows cast by that unveiling.

What shadow is ever separated from its maker?

Do you see?

The shadow and its maker are one and the same,

so get over surfaces and delve into mysteries

(The Conference of the Birds by Attar, translated by Sholeh Wolpe)

Mausoleum of Attar Neyshaburi

Mausoleum of Attar Neyshaburi

 

Mausoleum of Omar Khayyam

Born in 1048, Omar Khayyam was a great Persian philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and poet who wrote his poetry in four lines known as Rubaiyats.

He was born in a small village near Nishapur and passed his early education in there. Then he headed to Samarkand, another province of Persia then. His genius in astronomy, physics, mathematics and Poetry made him famous all over the Persian Empire quickly. But his world fame came to him in the middle of the 19th century, when his poetry was translated into English by Edward FitzGerald, an English poet and writer. His mausoleum was designed by Hooshang Seyhoun, a well-known Iranian architect, in Mohammad Reza Pahlavi Period.

 

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

(The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, translated by Edward FitzGerald in 1889)

Mausoleum of Omar Khayyam

Mausoleum of Omar Khayyam

 

 

Kamal al Molk Tomb

Known as Kamal-ol-Molk, Mohammad Ghaffari, one fo the greatest painter of Iran, born in Kashan in an affluent family of Ghaffari in 1848. In his teens, he decided to move to Tehran to further his education, enrolled in Dar-ul-Funun, and got the attention of Naser al-Din Shah Qajar who invited him to his court and because of his mastery titled him as Kamol-al molk (Perfection of Land). His paintings mostly includes portraits of courts men, landscapes, royal camps and hunting grounds, and different parts of royal palaces.  Kamal-ol-Molk died in Nishapur, Iran, in 1940 and buried next to Attar.

Kamal al Molk Tomb

Kamal al Molk Tomb

Mirror Hall

Mirror Hall, which he believed to be his best work. He painted it over a five-year period

Although the majority of Iranian are Muslims and follow Islamic practices, one can find a mysterious ritual practice  too.

Zar Ceremony

Zar Ceremony

 

What is Zar?

In southern coastal regions of Iran such as Qeshm Island, people believe in the existence of winds that can be either vicious or peaceful, believer (Muslim) or non-believer (infidel). The latter are considered more dangerous than the former and Zar belongs to this group of winds. Most types of Zar are very dangerous and cause disease, discomfort, and at times serious illnesses for the victim. Everyone is subject to the action of the Zar, but the poor and the deprived seem to be the most common victims. These beliefs are common to many areas in south and southwest Iran, including Baluchistan where harmful winds are usually called Gowat (wind or air).

Zar Ritual

Zar Ritual

 

Zar is a disease?

Special ceremonies are held to calm down the Zar and lessen the patient’s symptoms. These ceremonies, called by a leader, bring together the patient and those previously afflicted by the Zar and involve incense, music, and movement. Based on records regarding the Zar ceremony in Qeshm Island, roughly two phases in the ritual can be recognized: separation and incorporation. Preparations for the Zar constitute the separation phase. This phase begins with a person complaining from feelings of disease and discomfort to cult leaders (the male Baba Zar or the female Mama Zar). As some cult leaders have already been possessed by Zars and have managed to control them, they can help others in controlling their Zars.

Zar Dancing and Drumming

Zar Dancing and Drumming

Baba Zar & Mama Zar

Having opted for a remedy from Baba or Mama Zar, the patient will prepare to stay in isolation for up to seven days. During this period, only Baba Zar or Mama Zar can visit the patient and use specific treatments such as rubbing a combination of aromatic herbs, such as Guraku and Gešt, and spices on the patient’s body. After the separation phase ends, the patient’s body is cleaned and washed, and preparations are made for the incorporation phase. Members of the cult inform everyone about the upcoming ceremony and, as it is considered a sin not to attend a ceremony, every member of the cult attends.

Mysterious Ritual

Mysterious Ritual

How is it done?

Everyone gathers in a circle with the patient in the center while a piece of cloth, with eggs, dates, confetti, and aromatic herbs, is spread on the floor. After the patient’s head is covered with a piece of white cloth to keep him/her from the glances of strangers, a tray holding aromatic herbs on charcoal is passed around and the patient and the participants are frequently incensed with the smoke from the mixture. The Zar leader takes the lead on music (drums) and is followed by musicians and others present. The leader usually knows the name of the Zars and the music (specific beat of drums) that goes with them. Baba or Mama Zars also sing and the participants respond in turn. During the singing of the incantations, which can be in different languages or dialects or pure melodic sounds containing no discernible words, a Zar makes itself known by means of a sign that is recognized by the possessed person, who then feels a strong inner urge to move. Every piece of music goes with a specific spirit; with each type of music, some members of the cult may start moving and shaking. If there is no reaction from the patient, musicians change the tune until they see a reaction that helps the healer identify the spirit who has taken over the afflicted. The reaction is usually expressed as a swinging of the upper body, vertical movements of the head, and the shaking of the shoulders. When the Zar is identified, the healer starts a conversation where she/he tries to find out what the spirit wants in exchange for leaving the patient alone. Mama Zar or Baba Zar speak with the spirit through the patient and ask the Zar about the reasons behind the affliction as well as its demands for leaving the patient alone.

The belief among the cult is that if the Zar’s wishes are not granted, the Zar will return and create more problems for the patient. If the demands of the Zar can be easily obtained, they are quickly attended to through the initiation of a ceremony with music, food, and the offering that the Zar has demanded. Otherwise, the demands will be met at a later time in a similar ceremony. For example, if the Zar asks for a sacrifice or blood, there will be a ceremony where the sacrificial animal is brought in (with the patient riding it) and slaughtered, after which the blood is drunk by the leader and the patient. At this point, the incorporation phase is completed, the patient becomes a member of the cult and is expected to participate in all future ceremonies. These ceremonies may take up to seven days beyond the separation phase. Members of the cult must follow certain rules regarding their outfits (clean and white) and must adhere to prohibitions on the touching of corpses (animal or human), the drinking of alcohol, sex with unlawful partners Selling or letting go of the object the Zar has asked for is prohibited as well; if the Zar has asked for an outfit or an accessory, the patient must have that particular outfit/accessory on in all future ceremonies. It is believed that if these rules are broken, the Zars will rise again, thus necessitating another ceremony to appease them.

 

 

Mesr Desert

The Mesr Desert is located in the far east of Isfahan province in central Iran, 420 km far from Isfahan, and 371 km far from Yazd. Mesr is a desert and also an oasis in the central desert of Iran, Dashte-Kavir.

Mesr Desert

Mesr Desert

 

Reaching the Mesr Desert is easy, although you need to change directions several times from the major cities of Iran, around 250 kilometers drive onto the Naein-Tabas road from Isfahan west to east. After passing Farokhi and Nasrabad villages, there is a sign showing off-road direction:” Toward Mesr.” Upon 43 kilometers drive from the sign across the sand hills, three green spots will appear from far, similar to three emeralds next to each other.

Mesr Desert

Mesr Desert

A few moments later, while the absolute silence of desert is your only company, you will find yourself in the first emerald land, Amirabad. The road is totally flat which is considered as one of the wonders of Iran’s central desert and surprises every Eco-tourist. The sand hills around the village are known as “thrones” since strong wind has shaped the surface, forming strange and attractive figures. Amirabad is a vast and prosperous farm with a deep well. Mesr’s residents are the owners of Amirabad, where even a drop of water is as precious as gold; the well provides drinking and agricultural water for Mesr.

Mesr Desert

Mesr Desert

By exploring Amirabad, for a moment, you completely forget that you are in the center of a desert. As if you are walking in a village in northern Iran: The weather is pleasant and cool and the wheat and barley farms are green, specially in the spring. In Amirabad, the road is split and the left road goes across the golden sand hills to Jandagh, a city on the Na’in-Tabas-Damghan main road. The right path directly goes to the second emerald, the center of Mesr.

Nain Attraction Spots

Jomeh Mosque

Jomeh Mosque

Nain lies 170 km north of Yazd, and 140 km east of Isfahan. With an area of almost 35,000 km², Nain lies at an altitude of 1545 m above sea level. Like much of the Iranian plateau, it has a desert climate, with a maximum temperature of 41 °C in summer, and a minimum of -9 °C in winter.

More than 3,000 years ago, Persians learned how to construct aqueducts underground to bring water from the mountains to the plains. In the 1960s, this ancient system provided more than 70 percent of the water used in Iran. Nain is one of the best places in the whole world to see these qanats functioning.

Unique to Nain are some of the most outstanding monuments of Iran: the Jame Mosque, one of the first four mosques built in Iran after the Arab invasion; the Pre-Islamic Narej Fortress; a Pirnia traditional house; the Old Bazaar; Rigareh, a qanat-based watermill; and a Zurkhaneh (a place for traditional sport).

Besides its magnificent monuments, Nain is also famous for high-quality carpets and wool textile and home- made pastry called “copachoo.” Some linguists believe the word “Nain” may have been derived from the name of one of the descendants of the prophet Noah, who was called “Naen”. Many local people speak an ancient Sasani Pahlavi dialect, the same dialect spoken by the Zoroastrians in Yazd today. Other linguists state that the word Nain is derived from the word “Nei” (“straw” in English) which is a marsh plant.

Nain Congregational Mosque

Nain’s congregational mosque is one of the oldest mosques in Iran. But it still has its original architecture and is in use and protected by Iran’s Cultural Heritage Organization. According to the French professor, Arthur Pops, the mosque’s foundation dates back to the 9th century. It has a very simple plan, but very beautiful. The mosque contains a central rectangular courtyard that is surrounded by hypostyles on three sides. At one of these hypostyles, the mihrab of the mosque is located. It is a niche on the wall that shows the direction of “Qebleh” in Mecca, the holy city that Moslems pray toward five times a day. This mihrab has an amazing stucco work decoration, probably created during the 9th or the 10th century. Beside it, there is a wooden altar with delicate wooden inlay work. The Mosque also has a 28-meter-high minaret belonging to the Seljuk Era, the 10th century.

Nain Jame Mosque Iran

Nain Jame Mosque Iran

 

Pirnia Traditional House

Pirnia traditional house and ethnology museum is situated opposite the congregational mosque. A typical example of this region’s desert houses, in terms of architecture and art, belonging to the Safavid Period. The house consists of an exterior, an interior, a deep garden, a silo room and all the facilities of a lord’s house. When you enter the house and pass the first corridor, you reach an octagonal room called “hashti”, a waiting room for visitors. Beautiful paintings, amazing plasterwork of Qur’an stories, a book of famous poems and calligraphy frames decorate the living room. First, the judge of Nain lived there. Then, during the Qajar Period, the governor of Nain lived in this house. Just a few decades ago, the house was purchased by the Ministry of Culture and Art. After renovation in 1994, the house was converted into the desert ethnology museum.

Pirnia traditional house

Pirnia traditional house

 

Nain’s Mosallah edifice

Nain’s Mosallah edifice is another must-see. Its vast garden was a popular recreational area until recently. The mausoleum inside the Mosallah was a pilgrimage site for visitors. There is a water reservoir (ab-anbar) on one side of the garden, which can be accessed through a stairway. Water in this reservoir got cooled by two wind towers. It was in use until a few years ago. The architectural style of Mosallah has the characteristics of Qajar dynasty, and a number of literary, political and religious figures are buried at this site. “Mosallah” is an Arabic word for a place of prayer, but no one knows if any praying was ever done at this location. Mosallah is an octagonal mausoleum of dervishes and Qajar and Pahlavi political figures. It’s encompassed by a military fort from Qajar era, with a high wall. The pistachio trees around the turquoise-domed mausoleum and two tall wind towers make the complex really photogenic.

Nain’s Mosallah edifice

Nain’s Mosallah edifice

 

Narin Ghale

Narin Ghal’e is one of the most important monuments of the province dating back to the period before the advent of Islam in Iran, and has been recorded as one of the national buildings. This ancient castle has been constructed on top of Galeen hill and overlooks the city. It seems that upper floors of the building have been reconstructed and belong to the Islamic era. One part of the building was destroyed in the course of road construction during the reign of Pahlavi II.

is one of the most important monuments of the province dating back to the period before the advent of Islam in Iran, and has been recorded as one of the national buildings. This ancient castle has been constructed on top of Galeen hill and overlooks the city. It seems that upper floors of the building have been reconstructed and belong to the Islamic era. One part of the building was destroyed in the course of road construction during the reign of Pahlavi II.

Narin Ghale

Narin Ghale

 

Nain’s bazaar

Nain’s bazaar is a remarkable historical attraction. It extends 340 m from the Gate of Chehel Dokhtaran to Khajeh Khezr mosque, and is connected by main alleys, and tributary passages, to various neighbourhood centers. The bazaar has two main crossroads (chahar su). Parts of it have been renovated, and its many varied stalls were active until a few years ago. However, at present, the bazaar is almost deserted, since the retailers have moved to the city’s street shops. Some important monuments, such as the Sheikh Maghrebi mosque, Khajeh mosque, and Chehel Dokhtaran’s Hosseinieh are nearby.

Nain’s bazaar

Nain’s bazaar

 

Fatemi House

Fatemi House is the largest traditional house in Nain. It’s opposite Narin Castle, beside the old bazaar. The house belonged to a very influential family in Nain. It consists of a large number of sections, each with a different function: summer and winter living rooms, resting rooms, stable, silos, corridors, dining rooms for guests, and other facilities. Most of the rooms are furnished with stained glass windows, inlaid wooden doors, and plasterwork. The house belongs to the Cultural Heritage Organization.

Fatemi House

Fatemi House

Kharanaq is another town in Yazd district. The word Kharanaq means “the Sun’s place of birth”.

Kharanaq View

Kharanaq View

Geography of Kharanaq

This deserted and crumbling mud-brick village is situated in a remote valley about 70km north of Yazd in central Iran. The site has been occupied for approximately 4,000 years, while the dilapidated adobe buildings that draw foreigners from around the world dating back to 1,000 years ago. This crumbling mud brick city has been occupied by humans for over 4,000 years. There’s a new town situated 2km from the old one where the remaining residents of Karanaq live. Mostly 400 people save for a few elderly people who refuse to leave, but it is the old town that attracts the attention of visitors and photographers. It is a fascinating place to walk through with its winding and decaying alleys, tunnels and spaces, placed in a picturesque valley.

Kharanaq Old Texture

Kharanaq Old Texture

 

Kharanaq Texture

Kharanaq is divided into two parts – the old town and the new town. The old town is almost completely deserted, and the new town is where about 130 families continue to live. The old town was constructed with sun-baked mud bricks, forming one of the largest collections of adobe buildings in Iran. The abandoned town is a photographer’s dream with a labyrinth of streets, tunnels, passageways, and rooms, as well as more impressive buildings such as a tiny mosque, a shaking minaret, and an old caravanserai that welcomed merchants and pilgrims centuries ago. It was once a prosperous farming village, but when water supplies dried up the inhabitants left, leaving the town to turn to ruins. In recent years, a new town was constructed within 2km of the ancient town with government-supplied water and electricity. There have existed cities whose population declined. There are the obvious reasons like war and famine, but what else can cause a once vibrant place to decline in population to such an extent that it becomes practically uninhabited? This is a question that rises while exploring the ruins of the abandoned ghost town of Kharanaq.

Kharanaq Bridge

Kharanaq Bridge

Less populated & Less known

The reason that Kharanaq was abandoned may have been drought. Once possessing drinking water and fertile farmland, the city lost the entire lifeblood, and people gradually moved to seek opportunities either in Yazd or the mines nearby. Most people started to leave Kharanaq in the 1940s. Until the 1970s there were still some residents who believed the city was worth saving but even those determined stragglers eventually gave up on Kharanaq. Most of the remaining residents are those who are too old and poor to move about. One of the most eye-catching monuments in the city, and one of the few restored buildings is the 15- metre- tall Shaking Minaret of Kharanaq, dating back to the 17th century, frequently vibrating. Nobody knows why. Visitors to Kharanaq quickly learn that the words “watch your step” are very important, as the city is literally crumbling away and many of the surfaces are less than stable. I’m sure that once Iran becomes the popular tourist destination it deserves to be, lots of tourists will go to Kharanaq to see the ancient ghost town, there’s nobody around and you’re free to go wherever you want in the city.

 

Garmeh

 

Top View of Garmeh

Top View of Garmeh

 

Dreamland in desert

If you have the dream of going to a real oasis in the desert, you shouldn’t miss Garmeh, a palm tree clad village with an abundance of water and crops, in the middle of sand plains. A place where you can sit by a well in the shadow of a tree in comlete silence and watch the occasional heard of sheep pass by. That’s exactly what Garmeh is like. Somewhere in Iran’s central desert, Dashte- kavir, lies this tiny village irrigated by a small mountain spring. Garmeh has been welcoming travelers from all over the world for hundreds of years as it used to be one of the rest spots on the famous silk road.

Hidden Oasis

Garmeh is the capital of Garmeh County in  North Khorasan province. One of the most important monuments of this city is Jalaleddin fortress, which is inherited from Khwarazmian Dynasty. The fortress was established by the command of Jalaleddin Kharazmshah in order to defend it against the Moguls’ attack in the seventh Hijri century. It was built on the top of a hill with a hexagonal foundation. A well exists inside the fortress which seems to be natural. The other monument of this city is Bagh-e-Mazar tomb.

Mud Texture Structure

Mud Texture Structure

What to do in Garmeh?

During your stay in Garmeh, depending on your time, you can go for a walk among palm trees, relax in a spring or climb the nearest mountain or hill to enjoy the surrounding sceneries.You can also visit other villages nearby like Ordib, Iraj and Dadkin with gardens and mountains, Bayazeh and its castle, Abgarm and its thermal spring.80kms from Garmeh, on the way to Tabas, there’s a salt lake, and 80km from Garmeh to Jandaq you will find Mesr and Farahzad villages and the sand dunes surrounding you.

Salt

Salt

History of Garmeh

The documented history of human settlement in the area dates back to 4000 years ago, but there exists some relatively reliable evidence that suggests human habitation as far back as 7000 years. From about 2000 years ago, the oasis was placed on the Silk Road and therefore, on the main trading route between China and Europe. As a result, many travelers have passed through this area. A famous Persian poet, philosopher and explorer, Naser Khosrow passed through the area about 950 years ago and has mentioned this area in his travel diary. As for well-known European travelers of the recent centuries, we can mention Seven Hedin and Alfonse Gabriel, who visited Garmeh in the last century.

The town’s only water source, close to the heart of the village, is the only source of life for the gardens and Date Palm orchards that make this oasis such a special place. The main activity for the natives during this incredibly long period had been some form of agriculture and animal husbandry in unforgiving conditions that are the reality of this land.

Garmeh Desert

Garmeh Desert

Don’t miss photography!

This picturesque village also has many attractions which makes it a popular spot for so many tourists from all over the world. There are beautiful palm trees in the southern flank of the village. The weather is great in spring, fall and winter. There is an old four-floor citadel in Garmeh which dates back to the Sassanid period and has been attracting so many archeologists.

The eye-catching alleys of Garmeh which are decorated with beautiful Sabbats attract so many filmmakers to Garmeh. Garmeh lakes are the habitat for ducks in spring and winter and the hills are home to partridges.

Palm Tree

Palm Tree

There is a natural spring which has been flowing for thousands of years and creates a good ecosystem for different types of small fish. There are elephant-like mountains around with red soil containing iron. Its pleasant silence and the starry nights, along with the sound of water and the movement of palm trees, attract lots of tourists from all over the world to this area.

Handicrafts of Garmeh are mostly created out of palm leaves which is a good souvenir for international tourists. The residents of Garmeh speak Pahlavi language which is the oldest language in Iran. The Mesr Desert, near Garmeh, attracts lots of tourists every year. There is also a thermal spring near Garmeh which has many therapeutic benefits and is useful in treating Arthritis.

Chak Chak, the Zoroastrian Fire Temple

 

Not far from Yazd is the Zoroastrian sanctuary of Chak-Chak. Although Zoroastrianism arose in eastern Iran, now followers number only about. 10,000 people and Muslims call them infidels. Most of the temples were destroyed, but those that remained, are of great interest to tourists.

Chak Chak Road

Chak Chak Road

 

Short History Zoroastrianism 

Zoroastrianism, or Mazdeism, a religion founded in the 8th or 7th c. BC. reformer of an ancient Iranian religion called Zarathustra. The religion of Zoroastrianism continues to exist until today. In Iran, its followers total only approx. 10,000 people and Muslims call them gabaras (“infidels”). Today, the community of Zoroastrians (zartoshti) is mainly parses of India and the United States. Small communities are scattered all over the world – Iran, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Canada, Turkey, Afghanistan.

Chak Chak

Chak Chak

 

Chak Chak Location

Although on the maps Chak-Chak is marked as a village, nobody really lives there, except the guard and rare pilgrims on ordinary days. Only during religious holidays, many Zoroastrians from all over the world come here. Located Chak-Chak in 43 kilometers from Ardakan – a small historical town, located on the road Yazd-Tehran. Getting to the sanctuary is not very simple – the flow of cars there is extremely small, most often there are taxis carrying local and foreign tourists. Near Ardakan, you can also see the Zoroastrian towers of silence.

chak chak Mountain

chak chak Mountain

 

Zoroastrian Temple

To the temple of Pir-e Sabz, cut down in the thickness of the mountain, there are 320 steps. In Pir-e Sabz, the fire burns and the holy spring beats. According to legend, the appearance of a spring in this place is connected with the escape from the Arab invasion of the Sassanid princess Nikban. Thirsting in the desert, Nikbana followed the order of Ahura Mazda and threw her staff to the ground. Where she did this, she scored a stream. By the way, the name of the Chak-Chak complex came from the sound of drops falling to the floor.

In Zoroastrian temples, called Persian “atashkade” (lit. house of fire), an unquenchable fire burns, the ministers of the church watch around the clock, so it does not go out. There are temples in which fire burns for many centuries. The family of the mobs, to whom the sacred fire belongs, fully carries all the costs of maintaining the fire and its protection and does not materially depend on the help of the bekhdins. The decision to establish a new fire is taken only if the necessary funds are available.

Chak Chak Inside

Chak Chak Inside

 

The Moors are guardians of sacred lights and are obliged to protect them in all accessible ways, including with weapons in their hands. This probably explains the fact that after the Islamic conquest Zoroastrianism quickly declined. Many of the mobs were killed defending the lights.

Zoroastrians attach great importance to rituals and ceremonies. The main feature of the Zoroastrian rituals is the struggle against any impurity, material and spiritual. The sacred fire plays an extremely important role in Zoroastrianism, for this reason the Zoroastrians were often called “fire worshipers”, although the Zoroastrians themselves consider this name insulting. They claim that fire is only the image of God on earth.

The Zoroastrian holiday Navruz is still a national holiday in Kazakhstan (Nauryz), Azerbaijan (Novruz), Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and the Russian Federation.

 

Written by: Ebrahim Barzegar

 

8 reasons for Rafting in Iran
Rafting is one of the new sports in Iran that has found many enthusiasts in recent years and the regular boat ride program is provided by the tourist agencies.
Although Iran is a country that is located in a desert and dry area,but the special geographic location and the high mountain range of Iran have led to the creation of rivers in various parts of Iran.
If you are looking for adventures during your trip to Iran, Rafting in Iran is one of the best options available. In addition to all tourist activities, Rafting in Iran gives you the opportunity to have a real thrill. It is one of the popular water sports in Iran.The months of April, May, and June are considered the best times to take part in Rafting in Iran. There are many rivers that are ideal for rafting in Iran.

8 reasons for Rafting in Iran

There are several reasons why the program of Rafting in Iran turns into one of the attractions of traveling to Iran

Iran is cheap
According to the latest World Economic Organization, Iran ranked first in the world’s cheapest among 144 countries.
According to this report, Iran ranked 66.6, has the most suitable competitive position with other countries.So Iran is one of the cheapest destinations for tourists.

Is it  safe to visit  Iran?

All headlines on news and media are very different from what travelers face and experience in Iran. The US government and most Western countries have a long travel warning for Iran. Although I do not advise you to ignore this warning, I advise you to balance it with direct accounts of Americans and many other travelers who have recently visited the country. The country is beautiful, the story is rich and people are eager to demonstrate their almost sacred commitment to hospitality.
The best way to get the answer is to ask travelers who have visited Iran, we encourage you to visit and join our face book page, LinkedIn, twitter.

8 reasons for Rafting in Iran

Excitement and history Simultaneous  with each other
Some rivers for rafting are located in the provinces and historic cities of Iran, with many historical and ancient features such as Zayanderoud river in Isfahan province or Cesar river in Kurdistan province.
In these areas, you will not only enjoy water sports but also visit the historical monuments of these cities like historical mosques,Palaces, Castles, Caravansaries and other sights with hundreds of years of history.

Pristine landscapes along the riverside
There are several Rafting rivers in Iran, Parts of these rivers flow through woody and mountainous areas which have created unique features for tourists and athletes.
Sections of the northern rivers flow through the 4,000,000-year-old Hirkani forests, also, the western rivers of Iran pass through the Alborz Mountains, that beautiful mountainous scenery is very attractive.Also, the rivers of the Central Plateau of Iran in the province of Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari not only provide you beautiful nature, but the ancient history is also attached to this part of Iran.

8 reasons for Rafting in Iran

Different rivers with various classification

Although Iran is located in a desert region, the presence of different mountains in the north and west of Iran has created a different face of them.
In these areas, roaring permanent rivers have provided special conditions for those who like these sports.There are different rivers for rafting and riding in Iran, but among them, 14 rivers have rafting conditions.They range from class 1 to 5.

Dispersion of the river in Iran
In some countries, certain areas are specified for rafting.But due to the special geographic features in Iran, various areas throughout Iran are suitable for rafting, White water rafting, Canoeing and etc.
So you can take a boat ride on the whole northern part of Iran or from the East to the West in the Alborz Mountains as well as from north to south-east of Iran along the Zagros Mountains.

8 reasons for Rafting in Iran

Modern facilities
Rowing programs are regularly carried out in the rivers of Iran, which increases the youth’s attention to this sport.Accordingly, the facilities and equipment needed for this are prepared, which is part of the necessity of these programs by the agencies.
These equipment are divided into two categories: Individual and group
Individual travels or Day Trip, are single or families traveler to these areas, and their facilities included: experienced guides, Water Cag, Life Jacket, Helmet, Neoprene Boots & Wetsuit.But the groups or Expedition, and the tourist who come for some days rafting have more as like as:Paddle Raft, Cargo Raft,Slalom,Sprint,Downriver, Kayak,Rescue/Safety Kayak,Race Kayak,Different Tent,First Aid,Canopy,Mobile kitchen,4WD Off-road cars,and more.

Professional Agencies
There are a large number of reputable agencies in the field of nature tours and White Water Rafting that offer the best types of tourist services and amenities required by travelers.