The big day was finally here, Persepolis was going to be mine (I mean for my visit). As usual, I left things to the 11th hour and went around during breakfast asking if anyone was willing to accompany me when i realized the ride would burn quite a hole in my pockets.
After a lot of ‘we have already been there’, I stepped out and went to the Karendish Bus Station from Namazi Terminal (via bus no 97). There I got a minibus to the town of Marvdasht for about IRR 80K and reached in 45 mins. A friendly local, seeing my plight, helped me get a cab to Persepolis for IRR 50K, another 10-15 minutes.
The excitement was so much that I started speed walking like one of those folks that wear really tiny shorts and walk around jutting their elbows like a mother in law chasing the grandson. The entrance greeted me with medieval music playing to perhaps simulate what life must have been like back then. The ticket was IRR 200K and this time I was ready to pay with my a hand on my heart. Deposit the bag, fortunately not the camera, the grand long walk to Persepolis could possibly be amongst the most majestic ones I may ever come across. Enter and there are steps on either side, built short so as to allow people to climb up chatting and with grace. Once up, the city’s entrance is flanked by the guardians. As you proceed, many statues in a dilapidated state undergoing restoration would greet you. I started by climbed the rock near the tombs of Artaxerxes II and III from where even the most primitive camera would capture the most amazing view of the entire city, it is a phenomenal sight.
Then I made my way down to the 100 column hall whose remains are well maintained, including the relief works on the walls showing depicting war scenes. Up through the stairways, you reach the Apodana, a mighty area with tall columns at least 60 ft high each (makes you wonder how it must have felt like walking through the place back then). I reached the Tadara, a well preserved near the palace of Artaxerxes I, which you cant enter but certainly makes for good photos. There is souvenir shop right inside, bleeding expensive, dont get anything from there.
After possibly walking through every inch of the complex and having assured myself that no more photos were left to be taken, I left with like the Emperor himself and had lunch in the cafe outside like a tourist. My next stop got me even more excited, it was over 3 kms away and the heat was unbearable to think of going by foot, so I got a cab for IRR 50k to Naksh E Rustam, a 5-10 mins drive.
The winding roads lead you to cliffs ahead that seem nothing out of the ordinary but as you inch closer, the cross shaped entrance to the tombs begin to appear and if your jaw doesn’t drop, you certainly deserve a lonely and boring send-off. Cut into cliffs, some of the founding fathers of Persia are buried in this site. Even before I got the IRR 200K worth ticket, my camera had managed to fire away. The tombs are not accessible and are much larger than the photos portray; each tomb had a carving under it depicting a scene from the life of the kings. There is a temple in the same complex that is constructed below ground (something similar to the churches in Lalibela, Ethiopia), but again, you cant enter it. The complex houses 4 tombs, a temple and some rock cut works making it easy to spend not less than an hour here.
After I had convinced myself of the big tick off my bucket list, the concern about how to get back crept in. No taxis ply from this place, nor do buses. So i stood waiting to see if some other tourists / locals were heading back but no luck. So standing on the highway for 15 minutes bore fruit when a savaari (shared taxi) took me to the city for IRR 10K from where I got another shared taxi for IRR 40K back to Shiraz’s bus terminal. An amazing experience indeed and if you do plan to visit Persepolis and/or Naqsh e rustam, I would highly recommend public transport or savaari, much cheaper than hiring a car (even if shared). You must be wondering why I haven’t spoken of Pasargad, the place where Cyrus, the Great is buried…well, I just didn’t feel like it, let’s leave it at that.
Since my next day was scheduled for returning, I went to a travel agent near the citadel and got a ticket (IRR 1200K (USD 25) ) for a train that departs at 7pm. You will have to reserve at least a day in advance, as this is the most sought after mode of travel for those going North, so gets sold out easily. The other options being bus (tiring) and plane (expensive), both of which arent advised.
The last evening in Shiraz, I spent sitting in the garden outside the citadel eating corn and watching kids play. Just do it, the experience of watching these lovely people cannot be described in words. I then ended the day with a visit to Shah Cheragh mosque again, how lovely it was to listen to their prayer.
Stay: Niayesh Boutique Hotel
Price: 10 USD / night
Persepolis: IRR 200K
Naqsh e Rustam: IRR 200K