Fall colors along the river running through the Valley of Purple (Valley of Arghawan) near Mashhad, Razavi Khorsan province, Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, Escapefromtehran.com

Mashhad Day Trip: Purple Valley

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One of the beauties of living in Mashhad is that the countryside is always within minutes of our home.

Today at 6 am, right out of the blue, we decided to check out the fall colors in an area known as the Purple Valley, known locally as Valley of Arghawan. Persian: purple. It’s one of countless valleys among the peaks surrounding Mashhad.

The Binalud Mountains of Khorasan, Iran

The western side of Mashhad is covered with high hills and mountains known as the Binalud Mountain Range. Here, there are countless peaks and valleys and villages to explore, connected via many dirt roads, many not yet mapped.

Just now, after years of living in Mashhad on and off, I’m realizing what a treasure trove sits within minutes of my home. I had forgotten what an amazing time we had a year ago just an hour away sleeping on the floor.

The drive through the Binalud area is always thrilling.

First your slowly leave the settled areas as the road turns steep:

The road through the Binalud Moutain Range area, west of Mashhad, Razavi Khorsan Province, Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, Escapefromtehran.com
The road through the Binalud Moutain Range area, west of Mashhad, Razavi Khorsan Province, Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, Escapefromtehran.com
The road through the Binalud Moutain Range area, west of Mashhad, Razavi Khorsan Province, Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, Escapefromtehran.com
The road through the Binalud Moutain Range area, west of Mashhad, Razavi Khorsan Province, Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, Escapefromtehran.com

Up and down mostly rocky landscape …

The road through the Binalud Moutain Range area, west of Mashhad, Razavi Khorsan Province, Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, Escapefromtehran.com
The road through the Binalud Moutain Range area, west of Mashhad, Razavi Khorsan Province, Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, Escapefromtehran.com

… which is usually dotted with trees in the valleys, along the streams being fed by the peaks.

Fall scenery of Binalud Moutain Range area, west of Mashhad, Razavi Khorsan Province, Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, Escapefromtehran.com
Fall scenery of Binalud Moutain Range area, west of Mashhad, Razavi Khorsan Province, Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, Escapefromtehran.com

In the gorges, there are many rest areas, along rivers, or along manmade pools, like the one with found here.

Ducks and pool at outdoor restaurant in  Binalud Moutain Range area, west of Mashhad, Razavi Khorsan Province, Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, Escapefromtehran.com
Ducks and pool at outdoor restaurant in Binalud Moutain Range area, west of Mashhad, Razavi Khorsan Province, Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, Escapefromtehran.com

Beauty of Fall scenery east of Mashhad

The picture below is what draws people to the Binalud area east of Mashhad. In mid-November the fall colors reach their peak.

Fall scene in northeast Iran. Purple valley, aka Arghawan Valley, east of Mashhad, Razavi Khorasan Province, Iran, copyright Ali Torkzadeh EscapefromTehran.com
Fall scene in northeast Iran. Purple valley, aka Arghawan Valley, east of Mashhad, Razavi Khorasan Province, Iran, copyright Ali Torkzadeh EscapefromTehran.com

Most people picnic here by the river. We came unprepared. So ended up eating at one of the few restaurants along the river.

Breakfast was, what else, but the quintessential Iranian breakfast, the omelet and fresh bread and raw onions.

Breakfast of omelette and Persian bread at an outdoor restaurant in the Binalud Moutain Range area, west of Mashhad, Razavi Khorsan Province, Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, Escapefromtehran.com
Breakfast of omelet and Persian bread at an outdoor restaurant in the Binalud Moutain Range area, west of Mashhad, Razavi Khorsan Province, Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, Escapefromtehran.com

A river runs through Purple Valley, along which people picnic.

Fall colors along the river running through the Valley of Purple (Valley of Arghawan) near Mashhad, Razavi Khorsan province, Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, Escapefromtehran.com
Fall colors along the river running through the Valley of Purple (Valley of Arghawan) near Mashhad, Razavi Khorasan province, Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, Escapefromtehran.com

And, of course, whereever people are eating, there are stray dogs waiting for handouts. These two guys ate all the bread we were taking back home.

Stray dogs along the river running through the Valley of Purple (Valley of Arghawan) near Mashhad, Razavi Khorsasan province, Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, Escapefromtehran.com
Stray dogs along the river running through the Valley of Purple (Valley of Arghawan) near Mashhad, Razavi Khorsasan province, Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, Escapefromtehran.com

More about the Purple Valley aka Arghawan Valley

The valley is named “purple” because of the purple flowers of the the Judas trees (Cercis siliquastrum) native to the area.

The leaves on the plant turn yellow in the fall season.

The Judas trees (Cercis siliquastrum) native to the area known as the Purple Valley, east of Mashhad, northeast Iran. copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com
The Judas trees (Cercis siliquastrum) native to the area known as the Purple Valley, east of Mashhad, northeast Iran. copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com
The Judas trees (Cercis siliquastrum) native to the area known as the Purple Valley, east of Mashhad, northeast Iran. copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com
The Judas trees (Cercis siliquastrum) native to the area known as the Purple Valley, east of Mashhad, northeast Iran. copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com

But in spring, Judas trees flowers are bright purple, hence the name of the valley. This is what the place looks like in the spring:

Valley of Purple, or Valley of Arghawan in the spring. Near Mashhad.
Photo of Valley of Purple, or Valley of Arghawan in the spring. Image taken from utravs.com.

The woody plant is used to weave baskets and other household goods, a local art that is, sadly, dying out. The plant itself is also endangered.

Basket made out Judas trees (Cercis siliquastrum) wood, for sale in Torghabe near Mashhad, Razavi Khorsasan province, Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, Escapefromtehran.com
Basket made out Judas trees (Cercis siliquastrum) wood, for sale in Torghabe near Mashhad, Razavi Khorsasan province, Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, Escapefromtehran.com
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