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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Yazd: Of Wind Towers, Zoroastrianism and a Sweet Tooth

One of the three cities (the others are Isfahan and Shiraz) on the famous triangle tourist trail of Iran, Yazd is pretty different from the other two. In fact, it stands out as a different destination in the whole of Iran and that is what makes this city special. It’s desert like environment, its wind towers (or wind catchers), its deep rooted history with Zoroastrianism, its importance on the ancient silk route, its affinity for sweets, its mud buildings and narrow alleys, its beautiful architecture and/or its friendly people, Yazd is truly special and that is why it is one of my favorite cities of Iran.

Muslim ladies walking through the narrow alleys of Yazd old town

The first thing that one notices as soon as they enter Yazd are its wind catchers. Apparently, these wind catchers are an architectural creation of Iran’s desert land to keep the buildings cool in the dry desert heat. And they are so effective that the interiors of the buildings feel like an air-conditioned environment even when  there are no fans or air-conditioners.

Amir Chakhmakh Complex, Yazd, Iran

It is because of these ancient windcatchers that Yazd gets its name of Shahr-e-Badgirha or city of windcatchers.

The famous wind towers of Yazd, Iran

Unlike Isfahan, Tehran and Shiraz, which have a busy bustle to it, Yazd is more laidback and you can feel that vibe when you strike a conversation with any of its cheerful denizens. The people here seem to enjoy life and want to share their joie-de-vivre with everyone.

Beautiful work on the walls of the Jame Mosque, Yazd, Iran

The more time I spent conversing with its people in bazaars, in front of sweet shops, at restaurants, at mosques and even in the narrow alley ways, the more I came to understand their happy nature.

Iranian Women finishing their prayers at Masjid e-Jame, Yazd, Iran

The cheerful nature of the people and the rich Persian architecture make for a fabulous combination and one that every visitor is bound to enjoy.  From the fine Persian mosaics of the Masjid-e-Jame to the Zoroastrian Fire Temple and the Yazd Tower of Silence, from the beautiful Amir Chakhmakh complex to the histocial Khan e-Lari and from the Madrasse-e-Kamalieh to the carved domes of the Grand Bazaar, there is lot of history and architecture to appreciate in Yazd.

Beautiful Masjid e-Jame of Yazd, Iran

And it is not just the architecture, but the handiwork too is quite special in this town. Be it textiles, silk weaving, silk carpets, coppersmith artisans, silversmith artisans or jewellery design, one can see it all unfold right in front of your eyes.

Yazd Coppersmith artisan at work

And if you wish to take some of these items back home as souvenirs, you can pick them up from the grand bazaar.

Beautiful Yazd architecture

One of the other things that I really like about Yazd is its food, especially its desserts. Their kahlifehs dish out amazing desserts such as baklava, pashmak, gaz, ghotab and so much more that I spend most of my time in Yazd with high blood sugar. I would definitely recommend that you try these amazing desserts.

The famous sugary desserts of Yazd, Iran

There is a famous confectionery in Yazd whose name I can’t recall, but this shop is right in the middle of the town, is fairly big, draws a lot of local crowd and is very well known in the community. So, if you wish to locate this place, ask your hotel or a local Iranian.

Atashkadeh - the Zoroastrian Fire Temple at Yazd, Iran

If you are tracing the Zoroastrianism trail of Iran, then there is no better place than Yazd as there are people who still practice this ancient religion. The fire temple, the temple of silence and the nearby hub of Chak Chak are great places to get closer to this religion.

The top of Yazd's Mosques

I know that a lot of people from the Parsi community of India are interested in tracing their ancient routes. If you are one of them, Yazd, Shiraz and Abyaneh are three of your top destinations in Iran.

A yazd rooftop view

There are many people from the yester Zoroastrian community who speak the ancient language and follow some of their ancient cultures in spite of converting to Islam. I met one such family at Abyaneh and I am pretty sure that one can find more such families in Yazd, which is a pretty good hub for this religion.

The minarets of one of Yazd's beautiful looking mosques

Whether you visit Yazd for its desserts, rich Persian architecture, its deep-rooted history with Zoroastrianism, its desert landscape or its cheerful people, you are bound to fall in love with this easy going city. And while you there, don’t miss the opportunity to lose yourself in its narrow alleyways with mud buildings and wind catchers.



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