Iran’s Maranjab: A Scenic Pit Stop on Ancient Silk Road - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Iran’s Maranjab: A Scenic Pit Stop on Ancient Silk Road

Leaping high on the salt desert of Maranjab, Iran

It is one of the most beautiful desert areas of Iran with a stunning combination of massive sand dunes and long stretches of salt flats. It was an integral part of the ancient silk road and is home to a 415 year old caravanserai that used to host traders and travelers during their long and arduous journey in the years gone by. I am talking about the Maranjab desert and the Maranjab caravanserai that all visitors can experience during their Iran holiday and re-live some of the ancient silk road moments.

Rolling sand dunes of Maranjab Desert, Iran

Even after 415 years, the Maranjab caravanserai and its fortified brick walls and watchtowers still exist in all its ancient glory. May be, Maranjab, which is absolutely in the middle of the wide desert corridor of Iran, was chosen as a location for a caravanserai in order to provide food and shelter to the tired travelers and their animals and thus keep the trade on the silk road alive and kicking. Watchtowers and fortifications were built around the caravanserai to protect the travelers from bandits. In simple words, it was an important pit stop on the ancient silk road.

What is truly awesome about the Maranjab caravanserai is that travelers can get food and shelter here even today. The facilities are simple and basic (bedding is basic and water is salty), but the experiences are priceless as the caravanserai has not seen a lot of modernization. During the day, you can go about dune surfing and off-roading in the desert, while in the cold night, you can huddle around a fire drinking tea and watching the absolutely magnificent starlit desert sky. In simple words, you can literally transport yourself 400 years back and visualize yourself as a traveler traveling on the ancient silk road and stopping at this caravanserai for some well deserved in this tough desert terrain.

Stunning Blue Mosque near Kashan, Iran

Some of the top highlights of this Maranjab desert tour experience are the rolling sand dunes of Maranjab desert, the shiny white Dasht-e-Kavir salt lake (similar to White Rann of the Great Rann Of Kutch in Gujarat, India and Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia), the gorgeous shrine of Hilal Ibn Ali, the Nooshabad underground city (though it located closer to Kashan and not to Maranjab) and staying at the caravanserai. Each of these top attractions of Maranjab are located about 30 to 90 minutes from each other and can only be accessed through a 4 wheel drive and a knowledgeable local guide or driver.

Desert sky during sunset at Maranjab, Iran

If you wish to pack desert adventure and ancient history together, then Maranjab is your place. It’s amazing natural habitat of sand dunes, salt deserts and shrub forests, a 400 year old caravanserai, its importance on the ancient silk road and its beautiful traditional villages on its frills are enough and more reason for a fabulous desert holiday to Iran’s Maranjab. I would recommend this place with many thumbs up!

Walking carefully on the salt flats of Maranjab, Iran

How to reach here:

Maranjab is located right in the middle of Qom and Kashan, though it is closer to Kashan than Qom. It is located about a few hours north of Kashan, though it takes a much longer while to explore the different attractions in this desert.

The nearest airport would be Tehran. From Tehran, you can either take a bus, train or drive to Kashan. From Kashan, you can either rent a car with a driver or go with an authorized local tour operator.

Pink Maranjab Sky

Where to stay here:

If you want a taste of history and rustic life, I would recommend staying at the Maranjab caravanserai itself. Stay is basic, but you can be in the thick of things. If you crave luxury, but wish for a caravanserai experience, then you should stay at Abouzeidabad Caravanserai hotel

If you prefer homestays, Abyaneh, Na’in and Verzaneh would have plenty of options.

If you want something more upmarket and comfortable, it is best that you stay either at Kashan or Isfahan and make day trips from there.

Entering the blue mosque near Maranjab, Iran

Important things to keep in mind:

1) Maranjab has typical desert weather. So expect it to be hot during the day and cold during the night. Make sure you carry a good pair of sunglasses, enough water with you at all times and clothes that can allow you to handle the temperature extremes.

2) Phone and GPS connectivity can be non-existent in some parts of the desert and since there is a high scope of losing your way here, it is best to go in the company of a knowledgeable local guide and also have a local desert map handy just to know your bearings.

3) Usually SUVs and 4 wheel drives are preferred on this desert terrain. Do ensure that the vehicle that you use is in decent condition and has a spare tyre for emergencies.

The salt desert highway of Maranjab, Iran

Nearby Tourist Attractions:

1) Verzaneh sand dunes, one of the tallest sand dunes in Iran

2) Kashan, an architectural beauty

3) The mountain village of Abyaneh, where time stands still

4) Isfahan, Iran’s most culturally rich city

5) Na’in, a beautiful city located by the desert

6) Dasht-e-Kavir, a beautiful salt desert

7) Kharanaq, a photogenic mud brick village

8) Yazd, an ancient city known for its wind towers, Zoroastrianism roots and desserts

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