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.

 

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

Glorious Day for Historical City of Yazd   

Marco Polo described Yazd as “a good and noble city” with “a great amount of trade”. This noble city now stands a chance to become another UNESCO cultural and architectural site in Iran.

THE 40th UNESCO World Heritage Committee begins to review 34 global nominations in Krakow, Poland, including Iran’s candidate, the historical texture of Yazd. The 21 members of the committee are to discuss the tentative list from all corners of the world in 10 days to reach a verdict which to some are really important such as the Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore, Pakistan, Historic Centre of Vienna, Austria, Cerrado ecoregion in Brazil.

It has been 9 years since the registration of Historic city of Yazd in the tentative list; however, due to several ill-matched and uncommon constructions which unbalance the historical texture of Yazd, it is still on a lengthy waiting list of Iran. The UNESCO International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) finds a number of defects in the texture of the city which look somewhat incongruous to the homogeneous clay structure of the area. According to the World Heritage Site website “The historical structure of Yazd is a collection of public-religious architecture in a very large scope comprising of different Islamic architectural elements of different periods in a harmonious combination with climatic conditions.”

For the past two years, Iranian officials of the Cultural Heritage Organization cooperating with the locals and authorities of Yazd by arranging and conducting workshops and meetings, has been doing its best to pave the way for the 22nd UNESCO World Heritage Site in Iran and today finally Yazd joined in the World Heritage List of Iran.