Iran Day 4: Yazd (4 Mar 11) – The Dessert Town: From Zoroastrain Temple to the Tower of Silence

Centre of Yazd – Jumeirah Mosque

Our first stop for the day is the Jumeirah Mosque in Yazd. As with Shiraz, this mosque used to be their gathering place for prayers and ceremonies. However, the difference in terms of structure is the height of the minarets of these mosques. Our guide told us that these minarets have another purpose other than calling for prayers, they are used as guidance for travellers in the old days. As Shiraz is surrounded by mountains, they have no use for tall minarets. Yazd, on the other hand, is in the desert, as such they have higher minarets to aid travellers finding this town. The other difference with the Jumeirah Mosque in Shiraz is that his mosque is no longer used for prayer purposes, it is used solely for ceremonial purposes. Nothing much was around here other than a reservoir across the street from this Mosque monument.

The facade of the hotel we slept last night
Traditional Iranian Building with wind tower
The reservoir opposite Jumeirah Mosque
Jumeirah Mosque
Part of the Jumeirah Mosque

The 7 Centuries Fire in Zoroastrian Temple

We headed for the Zoroastrian temple, where it housed the holy fire that was burning for more than 700 years. As we arrived, there was a group of school girls here for a field trip. We walked passed them and they were giggling at us. Out of a sudden, someone from that group shouted: “Hello”, then came the “Welcomes” at us. As the girls are finishing the tour they left the temple grounds, and tranquillity was restored once the girls cleared the temple. We entered into the temple and saw only one glass panel and a small corner selling Zoroastrian items and that’s it to the temple. A rather modest temple with such a significant purpose. Back to the fire, it is burning on a goblet behind this glass panel. Too bad the reflections of the glass makes taking pictures frustrating. We did not spend a lot of time in the temple, as it is really small and the purpose is to see the 700-year-old fire and we did that.

Zoroastrian Symbol
The holy fire that has been kept burning for 700 years
The Zoroastrian Temple

Tower of Death – The Tower of Silence

We headed for the next stop – The tower of Silence, which is located in the outskirts of Yazd. The tower of silence is an ancient burial method for the Zoroastrians, as they once believed that cremating the dead will pollute the air and earth burial will pollute the earth. Thus they built these towers on a couple of hills, brought the dead up to these towers and allow the vultures to clean the corpse. After the vultures had reduced the bodies to bones, these are swept into the big pit in the middle of the tower.  Once a tower is filled up, another tower on the nearby hill is built and the burial will be done there. We pulled up to the base of the Towers of Silence, there are a few mud clay houses at the base and a reservoir. We were told that in the olden days, the families will accompany the dead in those houses for 3 days to help them cross over to the other world. As the houses are of different sizes, the bigger houses will be used by the richer ones. Before us was 2 hills both with the towers of silence. As the shorter one is full of local students coming for their field trip, we opted to climb the taller ones. As we were walking towards the hill, our guide said something. It was rather inaudible to me so I just followed them. The climb was more direct, but tiring as it was steep. We did not take long to climb up the tower, as it is not that crowded and we took a faster route. The entrance to the tower was about 3m from the ground, so we had to climb up that last ledge to reach into the towers. Inside the tower was a huge pit, where they used to push the skeletons of the dead in. The walls of the tower were damaged at one side, however, this gave us a very good view of the mountains afar as well as the tower on the shorter hills. We also caught a glimpse of Yazd city from up here. The view is just stunning and picturesque. We took some pictures here, caught some rest and headed down towards the car. As we were descending, I saw this route that is easier to climb, the slope is gentler and it felt more like a walk than a climb, but the only thing is it is round the back of the hill. Our guide told us the hill we just been up to was about 300m.

Tower of Silence and accommodation for locals to put up during funerals for their loved ones
A reservoir at the base of the Tower of Silence
View on the way up the Tower of Silence
View on the way up the Tower of Silence 
Entrance to the Tower of Silence
View from the Tower of Silence
The pit in the Tower of Silence where the locals lay their loved ones to rest
View from the Tower of Silence
Me at the Tower of Silence 
View from the Tower of Silence
View from the Tower of Silence
Inside the accommodation at the base of the Tower of Silence
Accommodation at the base of the Tower of Silence

The Tallest Wind Tower in Yazd- Dowlatabad Garden

After leaving the Tower of Silence, we headed for the Dowlatabad Garden, which housed the tallest wind tower in Yazd. For the first time, I got to see what is inside the wind tower and felt the effect of the tower catching the wind. Standing beneath the tower is cooling as the wind just gashes down towards you. The garden has 2 parts, at the end where we were, is opened to the public; while the other end is private property. The garden looked rather unexciting to me, probably due to it being winter the plants are sleeping I guess. Our guide took us to this watchtower within the gardens. From here we can see the garden compounds and the area outside. Nothing else fascinates me here other than the wind tower. We left Yazd for Na’in shortly.

The wall around Dowlatabad Garden
Me at Dowlatabad Garden
The wall around Dowlatabad Garden
The tallest Wind Tower in Yazd
Inside the Wind Tower
The base of the Wind Tower
The building that the Wind Tower was housed
The building that the Wind Tower was housed
View of Dowlatabad Garden

An Ancient Mosque in Na’in

The drive to Na’in was scenic. This is the first time since my stay in Iran I have seen snow on the ground. As we approached Na’in, I was excited to see snow scattering all over the place. The purpose of driving to Na’in is for the Jame Mosque there. This Mosque, though not as big as the one in Shiraz, is decent in size. This is believed to be one of the oldest mosque in Iran, dating back to 8th century A.D. This mosque has only 1 minaret, which is rather tall and doubled up as guidance for travellers back then. Our guide pointed to some marble pieces on the ground and told us the significance of this marble is to illuminate the basement of this mosque, which was used during summer when it is hot to do prayers in the courtyard. We were lead to the basement, and it looked like a series of cave tunnels. We did not spend too much time around this mosque as it is rather small, plus we were more excited about playing with the snow outside the mosque then the mosque itself. Our guide led us to nearby ruins (about 2 mins walk from the mosque) and told us that this ruin was formerly a castle. I can still see the outline of the structure of the castle with some towers at the side, that is probably the watchtowers. As we were walking back to the car, I purposely walked on the snow and to play with it. We drove towards Isfahan, and on the way, the scenic snow mountain views never failed to captivate me. I was wondering to myself if I take this picture and not reveal the location to people, would they have thought this is Europe or Russia? As the snowy scenes zoomed past us, I would not have thought that I would see snow during this trip.

We saw snow on our way to Na’in
This mosque in Na’in is believed to be the oldest in Iran
Inside the mosque in Na’in
The ancient mosque in Na’in
Snow-capped minaret
Inside the mosque
The prayer room in the basement of the mosque 
A typical Persian Reservoir nearby the mosque
A castle ruin near the mosque in Na’in
View of the castle and the reservoir
Snow everywhere on our way to Isfahan
Some of the beautiful scenery on our way to Isfahan
Some of the beautiful scenery on our way to Isfahan
Some of the beautiful scenery on our way to Isfahan
Some of the beautiful scenery on our way to Isfahan
Some of the beautiful scenery on our way to Isfahan
Some of the beautiful scenery on our way to Isfahan
Some of the beautiful scenery on our way to Isfahan

Arrival in Isfahan

The drive from Na’in to Isfahan is not too long (about 2 hours), we checked into the hotel and got settled down. As the sun has not set yet, we decided to head for the Imam Square to take some pictures and to walk around. Imam Square was known as “Half of the World” the time it was built due to the diversity of people and religion that was found here. Today it became a favourite hang out for Iranians and tourists alike. As we were walking in the square, we get curious looks and the usual “Hellos” thrown at us. We met this girl (about 12, 13 years old) coming up to us with her dad and her brother and started to strike a conversation with us. I can see that she is trying to practice her English and we allowed her to do so. As her vocabulary is not very strong (I can tell by the repetitive words she used), we engaged her in simple English. She looked very nervous about engaging us. I applauded her willingness to learn and her wanting to seize any opportunity she can get to brush up on her English. Reminded me when I was learning Thai, till now I still don’t dare to approach a Thai and talk to them in Thai. After we bided the girl and her father farewell, we went around taking pictures of the square during sunset. We ran into this group of 5 guys, who wanted to take pictures with us in front of the fountain.  We chatted a little and they told us that they were from Persepolis. From our trip to Persepolis earlier on, I did not recall seeing a town nearby. I thought they are taking us for a ride (which later I checked with my guide, and there is indeed a town nearby Persepolis. These guys are not lying after all). After chatting, the guys wished us luck and walked in the other direction.

Arrival at Isfahan
Entrance to the hotel we will be putting up
Imam Square in Isfahan
Picture of me in Imam Square
Lady Mosque in Imam Square
Fountain in Imam Square with Imam Mosque in the background
Picture of me in Imam Square
Panoramic shot of  Imam Square
Ali Qapu Palace
Imam Square
Close up of the Lady’s Mosque
Around the bazaar in Imam Square
Imam Square
An alley behind Ali Qapu Palace
Shot of Ali Qapu Palace in Imam Square
Shot of Imam Mosque in Imam Square
Imam Mosque lighting up for the night
Ali Qapu Palace lighting up for the night
Lady’s Mosque lighting up fr=or the night
Imam Mosque at night
Panoramic shot of Imam Square at night

We felt a little tired and walked back to our hotel. As we were walking back, we met 2 French travellers. We found out that we were staying in the same hotel, and we chatted along the way. We spoke about the places we have been to and the places that we are going, our countries and what we felt about Iran and the Iranians. The 4 of us agreed that Iran is a nice country to visit and the people are simply fantastic! What a nice way to end the day.

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