The Wonders of Yazd

Time for some real Yazd exploration. I checked out and left the bag at the reception assuming the day could be wound up by noon and that Shiraz seemed a possibility to reach by night. Clearly, I was wrong.

under the wind catcher
Celine and I headed towards the mosque, she wanted to exchange currency. A friendly Kurd (can’t recollect his name) caught hold of us at the travel agency where we stopped to enquire and took us to the exchange shop. He was actually a guide educated in Iran, quite fluent in English and French. While the two engaged in some French talk, I slowed down like an obedient dog gathering nothing of what was going around and instead focused on breathing in the fresh air. Done with the exchange, he took us to a hotel nearby that had a cellar with tables and was topped by a wind catcher which made it pretty cool compared to the 40+ degrees outside. We spoke about ourselves over tea and he showed us some Kurdish dance moves – one where he holds hands with us and vibrates his body which feels like holding a ringing cell phone on vibration mode (I could have used another device to describe but no NSFW).
the hang out place in orient hotel
Proceeded for lunch thereafter at a nearby falafel shop, then back to the new crib we had discovered the previous day – Orient Hotel. This time, not in the terrace, no intentions of burning ourselves. We sat in the common area for tea + chilling and engaged in a conversation with 2 other French ladies (mom and daughter), both looked pretty old, 40s and 70s maybe but had this attractive aura of calmness around them. We found out that they too wanted to visit the Towers of Silence and had booked a cab too. So we tagged along, and rode with Abbas, a cabbie with one of the happiest smiles sans a couple of teeth joined by a barely 3 foot tall photocopy of his named, Milad. I sat in front while the ladies occupied the rear and little Milad wedged himself between myself and Abbas on the armrest.
Fortunately, the towers were open and we got in paying 80k (USD 2.5). Right after you enter, there is a tap that juts out of the wall, fill your bottle, the water is tasty and cold, especially in the scorching heat. The complex is massive and is occupied by 2 cliffs with a fortress-like structure atop each, on the ground are half a dozen structures ranging from a basic ceremonial hall to a well, etc. We scaled the shorter one first that was meant for burial of men. The climb was steep at certain points and the heat wears you down easily, so hitting the summit gives quite a satisfaction.
fire temple

This has not been in use since perhaps the 50s and the view from the top is killer. I engaged Abbas with some hindi words and his face shone like a north star when he figured there were words common with Farsi, try this with any local, they are bound to be astounded. Anyway, we walked down and scaled the other one, which was meant for women. Except this was easier to climb and had much higher walls, so there is no view. We chilled around till 630 and got back to the city for the famous fire temple, which shuts by 745. Reaching the place by 715, we got a ticket for IRR 80K (USD 2.5) while I couldn’t contain the excitement of visiting a fire temple. To those unfamiliar, these holy places allow access only to

the fire in the fire temple

Zoroastrians, which means I walk by every fire temple in India like a leper wanting to go in, alas. So, if you are in Yazd, DO NOT MISS THIS. The complex was beautiful with the temple facing an oval pond. The insides were adorned with verses from their holy book and the sanctum held the (hold-your-breath) holy fire!!!!! It is said that this fire has been burning since over 1500 years. This ranks the highest in order of the 9 great fire temples, 8 of which are in India. The complex also houses a museum that has figures dressed up like zoroastrians on display besides other household items, you can skip it. We spent some time relaxing here and proceeded to Amir Chaqmakh by 8 where we relieved Abbas for 300K (instead of 200K).

Next up was the Zurkhaneh (something like a gym) where locals work out, quite ritualistic. It is tucked in an alley to the west of the square, ask around or you may not be able to find it. Since the next show was at 830, so we got drunk on soda nearby and got in for 50K (USD 1.5). There is a depressed ring in the centre in which people work out while we sat in the perimeter above it. On the other side was an even higher elevation where a guy kept time, drummed and sang while the guys in the pit worked out with a host of equipments. The whole session lasted for 1 hour and at the end I could feel my body aching (no I wasnt part of the show).
Time for dinner and we went to a rooftop pizza + hookah bar in the same square joined by 4 French, all of whom spoke in pretty thick accent. After making all 5 of my dinner mates struggle through the session in English, we said our bye byes and were off. Adios
Stay: Kohan Hostel
Price: 10 USD / night
Type: Dorm
Places Visited:
Towers of Silence – IRR 80K (USD 2.5)
Fire temple – IRR 80K (USD 2.5)
Zurkhaneh – IRR 50K (USD 1.5)

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