Our few days in Yazd had allowed us to cover most of the main attractions within the city. Considering we were staying right in the heart of the old town, everything was at a walking distance. A decision we were extremely happy about.
The day before our departure we had lunch in a lovely place and went to Haj Khalifeh Rahbar to buy souvenirs. If you didn’t know, that’s the most legit place to buy some delicacies from Yazd. They’ve got a branch close to Mir Chakhmaq square where you’re likely to pass. As we were doing the shopping we saw a mini bus parked right in front of the shop which was apparently taking a bunch of students on a field trip. One of the boys suggested we should hire him to take us on a day trip the following day. Our train would leave in the evening so we had plenty of time. Just before we know it, he went over and talked to the driver, negotiated the price and set the time. And we were off.
There are quite a few day trip options from Yazd. However we were all drawn to visiting Chak Chak, the famous pilgrimage site of the Zoroastrian faith and if we got up super early we would be able to fit in a stop at Meybod in the itinerary as well. Sure we did!
What’s so special about Chak Chak?
Chak chak is an extremely sacred place for Zoroastrians. Every year between june 14th-18th devoted Zoroastrians from all over Iran and even abroad find their way here to pay their respect. It’s told that Nikbanou, the daughter of Yazdgerd III, the last Sassanid ruler was cornered by the Arabs here. During the Arab invasion of Persia, Yazdgerd III was killed and so his family separated from each other and ran away from Yazd to find safety elsewhere. Somehow Nikbanou got to Chak Chak and since there was nothing but mountains and deserts to be seen, she weeped and prayed to Ahura Mazda for safety. Her prayers were answered and the mountain miraculously opened up to shelter her. Today there’s an ever-dripping spring inside the site. You will see that the water is carefully collected and is considered a holy drink. Legends say these are tears of grief the mountain sheds for Nikbanou’s pain.
The interior of the Chak Chak temple is rather simple. There’s the dripping water, a painting of Ahura Mazda and of course the eternal flame, a none separable part of any Zoroastrianism holy place. There’s also a huge tree outside the temple known as Nikbanou’s cane. Other than that it’s really the spirit and back story that attracts visitors. Not to mention, the views from above the temple and the pin-drop silence of the desert is just divine!
After Chak Chak our next stop would be Meybod, where we intended to have a late lunch in the Abbasi Caravanserai which dates back to the Safavid era. Little did we know that without reservations we’d have to wait for ages for food to arrive. It was friday, the city had basically closed down and there was nothing but a tiny fast-food place where we could have lunch. We were too hungry to object!
Next stop was the one of the most ancient castles of Iran, Narin Qal’el. Different sources set different dates for this castle or fort, from 2000 years ago to 7000. Studies are still being conducted but what’s clear is that the castle dates back to the pre-Islamic era and probably as early as the Parthians. The castle was built on a hill and adjusted to accommodate 3 levels of people. The lowest for common people, the second for the business men and clerics and the top for royals. They even had a huge balcony with a 360º view of the whole city.
The castle is extremely rich in its architecture and security measures and urban planning. It’s a great sample of government controlled towns of old Persia and is known to be the first actual city constructed in Yazd province.
If I were to suggest visiting Meybod to anyone, I’d say don’t do it on a friday. Friday is the weekend in Iran but it’s not really taken that seriously in big cities. Here it’s blackout! We drove every road there was in town to find a place to have tea or ice cream. Nothing was to be found! Luckily the famous avenue filled with pottery workshops and shops was open. We spent a while looking for tea cups and flower pots. It was an unsuccessful mission. Though there’s a huge variety, I wasn’t really sold to the high prices set for the not so delicately painted pieces.
Yazd has a lot to see itself. It’s definitely a must for anyone visiting Iran and I’ve wrote long on my love affair with it. However if you’ve got the extra day, planning a day trip is also a good option.
If you’d like to read about another of my favourite places close-by Yazd, check out my post on the Caravanserai of Zeinoddin.
Want to know more of Yazd? check out these links: