Tag Archive | fire temple

More adventures in Iran

I will soon be able to resurrect my other Blog “Persian Posts”  as we have now booked our tickets for our next visit to Iran. This time we are taking William with us and I am relieved that his Visa came through just this week so we can plan properly.

It will be an amazing experience for him especially as it is his first time in Iran but we will try and prepare him as best we can. Of course, nothing can prepare him fully for the different culture, food, weather, family, customs etc but there are certain things we do need to go through with him before we land in Esfahan.

William is looking forward to his trip, as am I, and I hope he loves the country and its people as much as I do. There are not many Western boys of his age that get this opportunity and we will try and show him as much of the country as is possible in the 3 weeks we are there and in temperatures up into the 90’s.

The good thing is that Feri’s nephew is exactly the same age and they will be housed together on the self-contained second floor-God help us! I have packed a spare English-Farsi vocabulary book so here’s hoping they manage to communicate! We will be there during the World Cup and as both love football I am sure that we will witness the evidence that football is a truly global language!

In the meantime, Will has his A Level exams to finish and his last school Prom to navigate so he is going to be busy. I have marked out a few things and places that I would like to see this year so look out for more Persian Posts coming soon!

 

 

 

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The colourful ladies of Abyaneh

I am by nature an early riser but it has to be something pretty special to coax me out of my bed at 4.00am and I was hoping that today wouldn’t disappoint as I rolled out of bed and into the shower this morning. We were off to Abyaneh, a famous Iranian “historic village” then skirting the central desert via Natanz to Kashan. I was not to be disappointed.

Abyaneh is a remote settlement nestled high in the Karkas mountains and it’s red. The houses are built from the red-ochre coloured mud which gives them their distinct appearance and they butt into the steep slopes so that there are no back gardens and the emphasis is very much on the house fronts. We didn’t get to see inside a house but apparently there are no stairs becuase they use the natural slope of the mountain to climb between stories.

Most of the original carved wooden doors remain intact and when you look closely you will see that most doors have two knockers-one for men the other for women. This enables the person indoors to tell by the knock whether the visitor is a man or a woman (rarely is the “wrong” knocker used).

Unusually for an Islamic community, women enjoy equal rights with men and traditionally this has meant that many have not married until they are at least thrity and no more than three children are born to a family. Perhaps this emancipation is why the ladies of Abyaneh are famous for their bright coloured clothes an unusual feature for Islamic women and something which the colourful ladies of Abyaneh have resisted despite several attempts by the government to change this.

Sadly most of the houses are deserted now and the younger villagers have moved away, many abroad. Tourists flock in droves to see the village and its remaining residents, especially the colourful ladies and whilst when we arrived at 7.30am there were few other visitors by the time we left at 10.30am hundreds more had arrived and there was nowhere to park.  It was clearly good planning to get up at 4.00am and I was pleased that we had done so.

Some of the ladies are more willing to be photographed than others and I always asked before taking a photo respecting those who did not want to be. I fully understand their reluctance. At best it’s a nuisance, but it can be invasive and inappropriate so asking first is a must even if you don’t like the answer. One particularly bright and bubbly lady happily posed for photographs and even insisted that we join her on some of our pictures.  Her enthusiasm became clear when she asked if we could send the pictures by email to her daughter who lives in Europe! I had to laugh but gladly we wrote down the email address and tonight I will be sending her pictures to someone, somewhere in Italy!

 Other attractions in the village include the Congregational Mosque with a fabulous inlaid door. Sadly the mosque was closed so I was unable to see the painted ceiling which I had read about. The mausoleum ( “Holly Shrine” per the road sign) is also worth a visit if only for the views across the mountains from the verandah and its blue mosaic cone roof also shines out amongst the mass of red.

Abyaneh is an interesting place to while away a few hours and I was surprised to learn that we had been there for three hours. I was sad to leave without seeing more of the buildings further up the hill but it was getting very busy and we had places to go and things to see in Kashan.

Fin Gardens.

Iran-Zorastranian Fire Temple

The two mountain ranges of Sala and Sofeh shelter the city of Esfahan which nestles in a verdant plain irrigated by the silver ribbon of the River Zayande-Rood winding its way through the district. The plain itself is fairly well developed. Clearly the city of Esfahan, described by Fitzgerald as “Half the World” because of its wonderfully varied history and culture, has been built up over many centuries and there are now signs that the smaller towns and villages are themselves becoming suburbs of Esfahan rather than remaining  individual settlements.

 Driving into Esfahan from Sede, however, you are suddenly faced with a rocky outcrop which appears from nowhere. There is no gradual build up to this 13th Century citadel, and it rises from the plain with a suddenness that takes you by surprise. This bastion includes the remains of a Sasanid Koh-Ateshgah Fire Temple right at the top, and once seen from the road below, the urge to climb the dusty, rocky mountain to sit in the Zorastranian temple becomes an irresistible challenge. I recommend an early start to ensure that you make the most of the cooler conditions and there are fewer people around to interrupt the peace, quiet and photography. The dry heat in October however does not sap your energy nearly as much as the humid damp that we experience in the UK and I found the climb, which rises to 1600m above sea level, much more comfortable than I anticipated.

The religious philosophy of Zorastranianism still exists today and some of its best known beliefs are those of living by the very humanitarian values of “Good thoughts, good words and good deeds”. Out of the three, I am perhaps best at the good deeds, whilst the good thoughts and good words sometimes need more work!

The views from the top of Koh-Ateshgah make the sometimes tricky and earthy scramble well worth the effort and there are plenty of flat rocks along the way where you can admire the ever-widening views, drink some water, enjoy the cooling breeze and catch your breath. It takes surprisingly little time to reach the top, whereas the trip down I found much more hazardous and time consuming. Mountain goats get my respect.

Altogether, a couple of hours well worth spending at this historic monument and all for 65p for the both of us. This must be the bargain of the day.