One of the unique things about Mashhad is that it’s surrounded by fascinating landscape, only minutes outside the city. The stark landscape north of Mashhad is dotted with endless hills, lonely villages and gorgeous rocky outcrops. The area is known for its wild cherries. Winters are relatively mild in the plains. The snow stays on..
All posts related to travel and touring in Iran.
Bagh-e (Garden of) Akbarieh (or Akbariyeh), ancient home to the rulers of the area, today is the site of two museums, in Birjand, the capital of South Khorasan province, in northeast Iran. The garden is one of nine in UNESCO’s “Persian Garden” collection. Ali Torkzadeh with Saeideh AjilchiAli & Saeideh plan their Iran roadtrips from..
The morning after our rat-or-snake-infested stay in the village of Naiband, Saeideh wanted to just drive away and not pay for the room. I said we owe ourselves the experience of complaining and seeing where it takes us.
We arrived at the home of the village chief Gholamreza Hassankhani and his wife Zahra in the new Naiband, a modern village down the mountain from the ancient Naiband village we stayed the night before.
The Hassankhanis had rented to us a room in a vacant home in the 1,000-year-old village. The rustling in the wooden ceiling kept Saeideh up all night who suspected rats or snakes.
Her anger rose again when we pulled up in front of the Hassankhani home.
The tourist wants authenticity, but not the discomforts of authenticity. So the tourist gets angry when she experiences the reality of village life in Iran. This is the lesson we learned in the village of Naiband (also spelled Nayband, Nay Band), after we fell in love with its architecture and the children who guided us..
The unprepared visitor who glances up at the cliff dwellings of Naiband is prone to spit out a bunch of superlatives. “Ali, it’s so beautiful. It’s just like those Moroccan towns in the movies,” Saeideh exclaimed as we pulled up from the highway to Kerman, tired and thirsty after hours of driving along the edge..
Mohammadreza Hassankhani, 36, is one of seven rangers in charge of protecting the 1.5 million hectare Naybandan (NAI-ban-don) Wildlife Refuge that sits on the edge of the infamous Dashte-Lut Desert in central Iran, known for being one of the hottest places on Earth. The park is home to at least 177 types of plants; dozens of..
Marzieh Avari, 59, is the sole resident of the abandoned village of Aliabad (ALI-awe-bawd), inside the Naybandan (nai-ban-DON) Wildlife Refuge in central Iran. The nearest population is in Naiband (NAI-band), 35km away by road or 15 km on foot through the wilderness. Her home sits in the shadow of a disintegrating 400-year-old caravanserai and the..
Where on earth do you find an abandoned caravanserai by the roadside – wide open for your personal inspection? Here in Iran. For Saeideh and I it’s turning into a habit. It’s past sunset and I’m driving a 4WD in central Iran, just past Ravar toward Tabas. From the corner of an eye I see..
Today we were again reminded that Iran’s appeal is not limited to what the travel guidebooks pitch. There’s awe-inspiring beauty in many of Iran’s small towns, sans the traffic and expense of the touristy hotspots. Gonabad (go-NAW-bawd) is 288 km south of Mashhad in northeast Iran. It’s not even on the primary route from Mashhad to the..
Swimming on a hot day is good. Swimming under the desert in a 2,500-year-old canal is extra special. I am 15 meters below ground, inside one of the world’s oldest qanats – the system of underground canals Persians invented to transport water from mountains to the desert. The Ghasabe (a.k.a.Qasabeh) Qanats of the town of Gonabad, in..
For 2,500 years Zoroastrians left their dead outside to be consumed by carrion birds. The idea was to avoid contaminating the soil and the fire, both of which are considered sacred. The place they ceremonially laid out the bodies is called dakhmeh, consisting of a perfectly symmetrical flat-topped stone tower, where the bodies were laid..
To millions of Iranians it’s a symbol of purity. To its conservatives it represents the critical bulwark against indulgence, and to a lot of Westerners it epitomizes misogyny. I can’t think of a piece of clothing more controversial, misunderstood and misrepresented (particularly by non-Iranians who judge without knowing the social and historical context) than the chador (CHAW-door)…