Iran Day 2: Shiraz (2 Mar 11) – The City of Poets: A Visit to Sa’adi and Hafez Tombs

Flying From Tehran to Shiraz

We woke up in time to meet up with our driver at 4.30 am who drove us to the domestic airport. Tehran at this hour is very different from what we saw yesterday. It seems like the city is still in slumber, there are hardly any cars on the streets and the journey to the airport did not take too long. Our driver was very dedicated and responsible, ensuring we checked into the right counter and entered the right gate before the leaves us. At the X-ray machine, my Cyrus cylinder crate got quite a bit of attention. The staff at the x-ray machine was curious what it is, our driver spoke to them in Farsi, they gave us a blank look and then signal for us to proceed on. Time has come for us to board the aircraft. A bus drove us to the tarmac, at the tarmac while waiting to board the aircraft, we were happily snapping pictures. After taking some pictures, 2 Iranian told us discreetly that we are not allowed to take pictures in the airport and told us politely to put our cameras away before they get confiscated.  We quickly did what was advised and boarded the aircraft. The flight from Tehran to Shiraz took about 2 hours, the flight was uneventful but scenic. We flew past the Zagros Mountains, which runs North/South to the west of Iran.

A quiet domestic airport terminal in Tehran
At the tarmac waiting to board Air Iran towards Shiraz
Inside the cabin of Air Iran getting ready to fly
Breakfast is served
A glimpse of Zagros Mountain
The Zagros Mountains from the air

Public Bath of Shiraz

We touched down 2 hours later, collected our luggage and our guide is already waiting for us. He introduced himself and briefly told us the itinerary for the day. As we are not able to check-in at the time we arrived in Shiraz, our guide took us to some of the attractions in downtown Shiraz. Our first stop is the public bath. We were told back in those days, not all household will have tap water, as such people don’t shower every day. However they need to shower every time they enter a mosque for prayers, thus this bath was built beside the mosque. We entered the bath and the first room, which was rather large is the waiting room. There are some carvings on the ceiling of this room, which depicts some day-to-day life of the locals then. Once we passed the waiting room the rest of the bath is disappointing, as this bath has been converted into a carpet museum and an arts & craft centre. Only the waiting room still looks like what it was before, the other rooms like the changing and the washing room do not resemble a bath at all. We did not spend a lot of time in the bath as it was not worth spending a lot of time in. We headed next door for the mosque after exiting the bath.

Mosque in Shiraz while driving towards the Public Bath
Entrance to the Public Bath
The exquisite carvings on the ceilings of the bath
Persian Folklore carved on the ceiling of the bath
The main waiting room inside the bath
Inside the Public Bath
A relatively simpler carving inside the bath

The Illusive Vakil Mosque

From the outside, Vakil Mosque does not seem to impress me a lot, especially after the disappointment I got from the public bath next door. I wasn’t expecting anything great before entering the mosque. Once past the door, my viewpoint changed. Perhaps it has been a long time since I have seen so much space, the first impression I got from standing at the door looking into the courtyard of this mosque was it is so carefree, so tranquil, could be the result of the absence of tall buildings around which gave me a view of the cloudless sky and the nonthreatening sunbeams, which doesn’t feel as potent as that in Singapore in midst of the winter here. We were told that the need for such a large courtyard so that place in Shiraz can gather here. The Vakil Mosque not only function as a place of prayers, but it is also a place of education and socialisation. We then went further into the prayer halls, this felt like a set from Lord of the Rings in the Dwarven mines. The columns were neatly arranged to give a rather mystical feel to the area. Our guide went on to explain the different functions on the mosque, I did not pay a lot of attention to his introductions as I was captivated by the mysticism of this place. Truly stunning!

The entrance to Vakil Mosque
Persian Styled Entrance to the mosque
The courtyard of Vakil Mosque
Entrance to the prayer halls of the mosque
The facade of the prayer halls
Inside the prayer halls of Vakil Mosque
Even the columns are carved to elevated it of its dullness
The intriguing patterns on the ceilings of the prayer hall
Looks like a page out of the movies
Inside the prayer halls
We were told this is where the priest sits to address the devotees
Me in front of the prayer halls inside Vakil Mosque

The Place Where Shirazis Gathered – Vakil Bazaar

We headed for the Vakil Bazaar, which was right next door to the Vakil Mosque. Our guide had explained that the purpose of building the bazaar next to the Vakil Mosque so that people can do their marketing after their prayers. This bazaar was similar to that in Tehran, except that it is not as big. One can still find day-to-day necessities here as well as some handicraft shops and shops catering to the tourists selling souvenirs. The Vakil bazaar was interesting initially, but they turned out to be repetitive after a while. Perhaps they do not offer items that intrigue me, or maybe I am just not a good shopper. I was skimming through the bazaar-like a zombie after about 5 mins inside. I was kinda glad when we exited the bazaar as it started to feel like a waste of time.

The bazaar beside Vakil Mosque
They have stuff for the locals to do their weekly marketing
Inside a typical Persian Bazaar
Locals doing their marketing and preparing for the Persian New Year
This section sells clothing
The open area inside the bazaar
Inside a typical Persian Bazaar

Tomb of Sa’adi

We were driven to the Tomb of Sa’adi, one of the famous poets in Shiraz. After parking the car, our guide took us to this ice-creamy opposite the tomb. Before our trip to Iran, we have come to know that the Shirazi ice-cream is rather unique and it is a must-try. We got a cup each and started to eat the ice-cream. It is indeed very different from what we are used to, the ice-cream is rather starchy and is very tasty but the scooping part takes a bit more effort. Our guide told us that they used animal fat to make this ice-cream, and it is not healthy to eat every day. After savouring the ice-cream, we headed for the tomb.

The tomb of Sa’adi was at the end of a garden. We were told the initial design of this tomb does not have this big of a garden, it was subsequently added by the locals as a mark of respect to Sa’adi and his teachings. The building that housed the tomb looked like a pavilion with a dome-shaped roof. Inside the tomb was Farsi writings carved onto the wall, which was some of the poems that Sa’adi had written There is an extension to the left when you face it from the entrance. This is where the greatest fan of Sa’adi is buried, however, it is locked at the time we were there, can’t enter it. From the outside, I saw some pictures and an empty room, rather boring. We were then brought to this fish pond, which was built underground. The fascinating part about this pond is not the fishes but how and where the water for this pond came about. We were told that the water is irrigated from the nearby mountains some 6km away. This water was also channelled to a second fish pond nearer to the entrance of the Tomb. After visiting the tomb, we were ferried to our hotel to check-in and get some rest, as the next attraction is best seen nearer to sunset. After checking in, we did not rest, instead, we spent the afternoon walking around the neighbourhood. Nothing eventful happened though.

A typical Mosque in Shiraz
The Streets on Shiraz
Walking towards Tomb of Sa’adi
This modest building is where Sa’adi is buried
Tomb of Sa’adi
Under this stone is where Sa’adi – one of the greatest poets in Persia was buried
Teachings of Sa’adi engraved on the wall where he was buried
This entrance leads to where Sa’adi’s greatest fan is buried
Walking around the tomb of Sa’adi
The source of the water in this underground pond is from the nearest mountain some 6km away
Even the underground pond has very intriguing Persian patterns on it

Tomb of Hafez

3 hours later our guide picked us up. Our destination next is Eram gardens. This looks like any other garden to me, except that it has a building right in the centre of the garden. Perhaps it is winter, all the plants have yet to bloom, I find this garden rather dull and has nothing special. We did not spend a lot of time in this garden, after about 30 mins later (which felt like a lifetime), we headed to Hafez Tomb, where another poet was buried.

When we were about to enter the tomb grounds, there were 2 men at the entrance carrying a bird trying to get us to do some predictions. We ignored them and went into the tomb grounds. Like the Tomb of Sa’adi, there is a garden between the entrance to the tomb itself. As we were climbing up the stairs towards the tombs, we came across this structure, which closely resembles the roman pillars. Past this structure is where the Hafez tomb lies.  The single dome-roofed pavilion stood in the middle, our guide told us that in the centre is where Hafez was buried, under the pavilion. However, the land around the pavilion is where his followers were buried! As the sun was setting, the pavilion was lighted up. It was beautiful! We spend some time walking around the tomb of Hafez before heading for dinner. The dinner was rather uneventful and we headed back to the hotel to rest for the night.

Around Eram Gardens
Surroundings at Eram Gardens
A Bald tree in Eram Gardens
Nearby hill
Fountains are part of the Persian Garden feature
Eram Gardens
Walking towards Hafez Tomb
This is the spot where Hafez was buried
Greeneries in the compound of Hafez Tomb
Even the ceiling of the pavilion where Hafez was buried received some serious attention

Tomb of Hafez
Me at Hafez Tomb
Hafez Tomb at dusk
Night Lighting at Hafez Tomb
Hafez Tomb at night

                                                                     Night Lighting of Hafez Tomb

                                                                              Dinner Time

                                                     These 2 glasses contained non-alcoholic beer

                                                                   A feast for the night

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