Thursday, August 1, 2013

Nasir-almolk mosque

Considering lack of time, most of Shiraz visitors prefer to spend their time on Perspolis, Arg of Karim-khan , Eram garden, Shah cheragh mosque etc. but Shiraz has much more to offer. One of the unknown, extremely beautiful architecture masterpieces is Nasir-al-molk mosque located in Lotfali-khan street.
The mosque was built by Mohammad Hassan memar (Mohammad Hassan the architect) which took 12 years during Qajar era. Every corner is decorated by tiles with Islamic pattern tiles (Girih tiles), colorful glasses(Girih glasses), Muqarnas etc.
As is mentioned the mosque is located in Lotfali-khan street in Shiraz so it's like 10 minutes walking from Shah cheragh mosque and 15 minutes walking from Arg of Karim-khan. Winters are perfect for visiting and the best time is 9 AM because sun shines from better angle so light shines through windows and makes the floor and columns colorful.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Some local information

Here is some useful information that would be better to know them before you leave your country.

Important facts:

Please read these notes carefully:
  • Hijab is obligational for ladies(I'll write about definition and details in another post)
  • Bring your expenses in cash, there is NOT international banks/ATMs available.
  • Some websites including social networks are blocked
  • Showing affection in public places is not common
  • Any kind of liquor is strongly forbidden
  • It is not recommended to carry gambling stuff(even cards, yeah, regular cards!)

Phone numbers:

Police: 110 OR 911
Call based yellow pages: 118
Road information: 141

Cell phone operators:

Asking for your identity card or passport is obligational so possessing yours is a must. After taking the SIM, you need to activate it so follow the instructions on the package or ask the agent to do it for you. Keep the whole package with you because any further official request will be taking place just if you represent the package. You can also buy the SIM from cell phone shops but it is not recommended. For official purchase, some offices in the airport and some metro stations are giving services. 
Irancell Good customer service, Buy one SIM and get another as gift
MCI Low service prices
Rightel Good internet access


The official Iranian currency is Rials and notes are five, ten, twenty, fifty and hundred thousands Rials.  Sometimes you might get confused because of that much zeros on notes but the most confusing thing is calling them with one zero less and another currency name. For example, people call the ten thousand Rials, one thousand Toman. You should erase a zero and you get Toman.
10 thousand rials=1 thousand toman
20 thousand rial=2 thousand toman
50 thousand rial=5 thousand toman
The note is the same just people call it differently.


The Persian calendar is the official calendar of Iran. Dates in the Persian calendar start from the year when Islam’s prophet migrated from Mecca to Medina, which corresponds to 622 C.E. For example, the date March 21, 2012 C.E. corresponds to the first day of the month of Farvardeen in the year 1391. The Persian calendar is based on a solar year and is approximately 365 days long. The new year marks the first day of the month of Farvardeen, which is the first day of spring. Attention: Always dates are written in this pattern: yyyy/mm/dd
Weekend is Friday and most of offices are off on Thursday too. So please be careful about your cash money in Rials because exchanges do NOT work 24/7.
Safe trip, have fun

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Roodkhan castle

Enjoy watching rice fields along the road while driving about 20 km from Fooman to Roodkhan castle(Ghale-roodkhan). At the end of the road, there is a parking which you should leave your cars in and walk up the hills through forest. In the beginning you find restaurants, coffee-shops, Negrila (shisha), local cookies and cloths, corn, etc. Most of visitors wouldn’t make it up to the castle and please themselves around those facilities.
If you continue, it takes about 2 hours to go up the stairway which has about one thousand steps so carry enough water for a semi trekking adventure. Mineral water is also available to buy but of course twice more expensive comparing the printed price on the bottle. It’s also helpful if you find or buy a piece of wood as cane Because of the steps.
Trees are strange in this forest. Many trees have visible roots that make the forest so terrifying at night. Maybe the constant raining in whole year long is washing the soil and takes the roots out of ground. Some trees have multiple trunks grown on a base trunk. Many trees, because of the humid weather, are all covered by green leaves which makes the trunk invisible.

Keep walking up to the castle but don’t miss the splendid mountains view behind you covered with trees under the deep blue sky. When the castle gets uncovered in midst of thousands of trees, you can just see a small part of impenetrable walls so take the port and get inside. You’ll find yourself in such a vast, safe, cozy and artistic place.
Over there, drinkable water and toilets are available for free and peddlers are everywhere during weekends selling mineral water, ice-cream, non-alcoholic beer, etc. Considering that the whole plan takes about 5 hours, it would be better to start at early morning or a bit after lunch because there is not any restaurants up there. If you have plans to eat at the castle, you should bring your food.
Both Roodkhan castle and Masuleh village are close to Fooman therefore you can try to catch both of them one after another with least afford and expense.

Saturday, June 8, 2013


When it comes to visiting a village, you can't avoid mentioning Masuleh in Gilan province. This small village is like 50 km far from Rasht toward southwest. As we expect the north part of Iran, the village suppose to be surrounded by mountains and jungles. About 200 families live in there and nowadays tourism is the main income source for most of habitants.
You can take minibus from Fuman (A small city 10km far from Rasht) to Masuleh in a very cheap price that takes about 45 minutes. Shared taxis are also available in a reasonable price if you don't like to spend that much time and wait for minibus to get full. just remember to have some cookies in Fuman before leaving the city.

There is a nice hotel having the same name as the village easily findable at the entrance for about 15 to 20 USD for a room per night. If you like to spend nights in a local house, you can take one for like 35 to 50 USD per night in high seasons and Persian holidays. Local houses charge you in IRR so you should change before leaving Rasht.
The best itinerary would be spending at least 24 hours. For example if you arrive at noon you can see buildings, bazaar and fall in first day. Don't miss the beautiful foggy night in your room, go out and  spend the evening in tea houses in the bazaar or have a traditional dish for dinner in restaurants. Local cheese, butter and eggs are strongly recommended for breakfast so buy some before leaving the bazaar and the following day go grab some bread. Bakeries start at 8AM when streets are empty so don't leave your camera because it's the best time for taking some pictures.
In Masouleh bazaar they offer specific stuff and always, same as every city in Iran, bargain for discount. As souvenir you can buy handicrafts which are available everywhere in streets and bazaar shops in Persian simple, colorful styles. If you're a sour taste fan, try some "Lavashak" which is dried fruit made of different fruits like cherry, pomegranate, apple etc. Considering humid and foggy weather in north of Iran, garlic and olive are widely popular.
One of the best parts of every travel destination is local foods. In general north of Iran has some special foods and some of them are available in Masouleh. In most of them rice, eggplant, curd(kind of yogurt) and beans are used. Here comes some food names and a brief description:
Dizi: available everywhere in Iran. bowl of tomato paste water containing meat, pea and potato.
Kashk-e-baademjun: Smashed eggplant, garlic, vegtables and curd.
Mirza-ghasemi: Smashed eggplant, eggs, garlic and onion.
Ghezel-aalaa: A plate of rice with a salmon beside it normally served with some butter to grease your rice.
Bon apetite
One of the best things about north of Iran is feeling fresh, always, everywhere, everything is green, foggy, rainy and fresh.

And mysterious...

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Usually when I finish visiting a city before my schedule probably I should kill couple of houres somewhere quiet and just chill out. This time Kerman brang me to a small square that they call it "Moshtaq", people don't care if they prefer the name "Shohada". Despite all these I don't know why there is a statue of a lady with a bouquet in her hands.
I'm not alone here, I'm sorrounded by aged people who come together every morning and kill last houres, days and if they get lucky, years.
I'm thinking what comes to me in my life. Actually the reason I took this trip was to free my mind from quotidian and figure out where exactly I'm going to be in next decade of my life. But believe me, I hate facing it.
They say you should make your own future so when you get old and look behind just feel good about what you've done. Imagine me someday, somewhere, with bunch of old ugly guys sitting on a bench in a park and killing last houres, days and if we get lucky, years. Proud to or regret what I've done and all is about "memories".
Couple of days ago, just before coming to Kerman, I was on my way from Shiraz to Perspolis by a shared taxi. In a sudden an idea came to my head, "Why don't go visit Maharlu lake this afternoon and spend the sunset over there?" But did I have enough time to make it? I asked the guy next to me in the taxi: "How far is the lake?" He answered and moved me: "I had a crash last year, I don't remember anything like that."

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Damavand, the highest peak in Iran, is a potentially active volcano located in south of Mazandaran province aka north of Tehran. Alborz mountain range separates the Caspian sea and the green part of Iran in the north from rest of country.
In this post I'm writing about how to ascend the summit from southern route which I succeeded in ascending through, companying some friends, in September 2012. My aim is helping you to ascend this summit on your own without spending money on guide. All you need is general information about trekking such altitudes.

Damavand peak, southern route

The best time is from May to September, rest of the year is not recommended to amateur hikers. This is at least three days project and If you choose weekends or holidays the route would be full of hikers. Before you leave the town be sure that you have sleeping bag, tent, proper warm cloths, head lamp, enough food for couple of days, stove, dishes, tissues, Vitamins, curd(protein supply), whistle, water for one day and camera in your pack. Some of them are available to hire or buy but don't risk it. If you're ready let's start.

First part, First day

Three major sections make your trek, First section takes a whole day. The nearest city to Damavand is Polour with 70 km distance from Tehran. You can ask anybody for "Polour Mountainous Complex", last station for your car or taxi.

Around the complex ask for best price and bargain, no matter how much they ask for a ride to "Goosfand Saraa", where you start your trekking. If your team is less than 8 guys, it's better to get a vehicle with roof instead of pick-ups.

Before letting your ride leave, ask his phone number for your return. Drivers are generally honest guys and are normally on time but in case try to keep some money to make him come pick you up without any hypothetical problem. Goosfand-Saraa is a nice place to have your breakfast and get ready to start. If you leave Goosfand-Saraa at 10am and progress in a normal pace you will reach the "Bargah-e-sevvom" aka "Third station" at 4 pm in the same day. This place is where you set up your tent, having a light meal, enjoy the sunset and then go to a deep sleep after a tough day.
Important: Bargah-e-sevvom is about 4200m height so be careful about Altitude sickness.

Second part, Summit

It's better to start at 3 or 4 in the morning. As soon as you wake up, you're going to enjoy the splendid, dazzling sky with numerous sparkling stars. Everywhere is dark and quiet and you need your head lamps to find your way toward the summit. You'll find that the steep increases and breathing get more difficult so reduce your pace and manage your energy. That's why you should leave all your stuff at the Third station camp and just bring some light weight but strong nutrition, water and enough cloths. After couple of hours the sun coms up and you'll see the Icefall, frozen fall for all year long at 5100m height.
Every step you get closer to the peak, you smell more sulfur.
Continue, hit the peak. Smoke wouldn't let you spend more than half an hour up there. Take your photos, enjoy your accomplishment and feel the power of nature under your feet. When you're done, take the same way back to the camp. Be careful, that's possible you choose another route back and you get lost. so I insist, Take the same way back. You'll make it at 2 or 3 pm and you'll be back at the camp at 5 or 6 pm. Enjoy talking to people about your accomplishment and have a hot soup :D

Last part, Back to civilization

You've spent a night having a deep unbreakable sleep. It's time to leave, pack your stuff, call the driver and start heading Goosfand-saraa. When you arrive at Goosfand-saraa, driver is waiting for you. If you have your own car at the parking, you should take your car but if not, ask the driver to take you to a small village named "Rineh". You can spend another night there renting a villa in a reasonable price and enjoy natural remedial pools. 
I tried my best but please search and read more. Have fun.