By Seyed Hossein Hosseiniseddiq

Shahroud, the land of five climates

June 1, 2020 - 18:41

Shahroud is the city of my ancestors and the summer city, where most of my childhood and adolescence summers were spent. A city where forests, mountains, and deserts meet. This feature has given the city a special tourist status, called the “small continent”. In this article, I will introduce some of the tourist attractions of this small continent.

Historical background

The historical settlement of the Shahroud region dates back to a thousand years before the birth of Christ, according to archaeologists and excavations. Based on the available historical evidence, the formation of the primary core of Shahroud city was built on the slopes of the northern and western mountains of Shahroud due to the defense of the invaders on the low hills and gradually grew and developed along with security at the site.

Based on some historical references in the texts and some archaeological and architectural evidence inside and outside the current city, caravans of the Silk Road passed through Shahroud as it was a main passage of caravans. At the same time, the presence of an ancient post office or Chaparkhaneh and a caravanserai in the city made it one of the most important monogamous centers in the region.

Geographical features

Shahroud city, as one of the largest cities in Iran in terms of area, 400 km northeast of Tehran, and different geographical climates, has the largest wildlife havens and protected areas. And including the no-hunting zones, it is famous for its small continent and the land of the five climates.

One of the important advantages of this city is the diversity of climate. The southern part, which is located near the desert, has a relatively warm and dry climate, the central part and the eastern parts of Shahroud have a temperate climate, and the northern parts are mountainous with a relatively cold and dry climate.

This climatic diversity is so obvious that the shortest distance from the desert to the forest is in this city. With a short distance of about 45 km from Shahroud to the north, you can visit the world's oldest forest - the Hyrcanian cloud (Abr) forest with the most beautiful view.

And through this distance to the south, we reach the desert and the beauties of Chah Jam region and finally to Toroud village and its palm groves where the people of that region are engaged in keeping camels.

This diversity of climate along with different ethnic and linguistic ethnic groups has determined the characteristics and capabilities of tourism development in this city.

Shahroud is one of the centers of ecotourism in Iran, being located between the Tehran-Mashhad routes and adjacent to the central and northern provinces of the country. The city has unique capabilities in various aspects of tourism, including historical, mystical and natural tourism.

There are winding forest transportation routes from Shahroud to different cities of Golestan province, each of which has its beauty:

1. Asphalt road from Shahroud - Tash village - Tuskastan forest and then Gorgan, the capital of Golestan province.

2. International road from Shahroud - Khosh Yeylaq ghaut - Nodeh forest and then Azadshahr city.

3. Rural road from Shahroud, Abar village to Zarrin Gol forest, and then Aliabad Katoul city.

4. Rural road from Shahroud - Olang forest and then Ramyan city.

The passage of millions of Imam Reza pilgrims from Shahroud city, the existence of an active airport, the center of the Northeastern railway, and the passenger terminal in this city are among the tools of tourism development.

Handicrafts

Felting of Abarsej village, weaving kilim, Glich and Choqa (a kind of woolen fabrics) in Mojen city, wood carving, making traditional instruments, curving semi-precious stones, ceramic art, pottery, wall carpet, mosaic tile, woodturning, and traditional embroidery are known as active fields in Shahroud and its other rural areas.

Other handicrafts of the city include traditional handicrafts of Kalateh Khij city, very colorful and illustrated Jajim of Kalpoosh region, women's sweeping of Toroud village, and black embroidery of women of Tash village and needlework of Khartouran desert region.

Shahroud souvenirs

Apart from handicrafts, the most important souvenirs of Shahroud are dried apricots or Qeysi, which contain their kernels, and grape products. Due to the quality and variety, it is not only considered by travelers, but also its export is remarkable.

Another unique souvenir of Shahroud is the salted apricot kernel or Shahroudi pistachio made in the mountainous village of Tash. Because the apricot kernels are poured into a large copper container after complete washing and placed in the yard on cold winter nights, the kernels are half open due to the extreme cold.

If you travel to Shahroud, you can spend a few hours in the recreational area of the waterfall and in the middle of a beautiful nature to relax to forget about traveling on a desert road. The Desert Bride is not just a name, but a combination of lush nature, historical and mystical places, and hospitable people.

Good places for urban tourism

Urban tourism in the city center of Shahroud is a fun program. One of the places you can go for a walk in the heart of history is Shahroud Bazaar. The architecture of Shahroud Bazaar is like many traditional markets in Iran. Works such as Sheikh Ali Akbar Mosque, castle or Qaleh seminary, public bathhouse, cistern, Aqa Mosque, and its Bazaar Tekyeh or chapel are spectacular.

Shahroud Bazaar has been renovated in recent years and has become a tourist attraction for the travelers.

Following the city tour in Shahroud, you can visit the Shahroud Museum on Ferdowsi Street. In the past, the building of Shahroud Museum was a municipality and the governorate and after rehabilitation, it has been turned into a city museum, which has two sections: anthropology and archeology.

Bazaar

Shahroud Bazaar is one of the historical and large bazaars of the province, which is located in the center of Shahroud city. This Bazaar dates back to the Qajar period.

In addition to the main corridor, Shahroud Bazaar has three side corridors with many shops and several caravanserais, cistern, public bath, and seminary, and has a special economic status in Shahroud.

Sheikh Ali Akbar Mosque

This mosque, which belongs to the Qajar period, was built by the late Sheikh Ali Akbar Mujtahed, one of the Ayatollahs and high-ranking clerics of the city. This 170-year-old building is one of the most beautiful and complete mosques in Shahroud.

The area of this building is about 750 square meters and its infrastructure is 500 square meters and it includes spaces such as Dome, nave, dormitories, and cistern. The mosque has two entrances, one connected to Shahid Sadouqi Street and the other to Sheikh Ali Akbar Mosque Alley. This building has been inscribed on Iran’s National Heritage list.

The house of Yaghmaeis

This house, which is a remnant of the beautiful houses of old Shahroud, is located on 8th Shahrivar Street (Bahram) and was built in the early Pahlavi period.

This building is unique in terms of traditional architectural features in the city. The form of the plan is in the form of a central courtyard, the entrance to the house in the southern part is connected to the courtyard by a corridor. The attic is located on the corridor and can be reached by a spiral staircase from the corridor.

In the western part of the courtyard, there is a windbreak and a little pool and guest rooms, a veranda, and a cistern. On the north side, there are the winter rooms. Among the features of this house, there is the city's only windbreak and the pool's skylight, the symmetries in the plan, and the facade, as well as the brick decorations of the plinths around the yard.

Bayazid Bastami collection

This large complex is located only six kilometers from Shahroud, in the city of Bastam. It includes works from the Seljuk period onwards, and next to it, the shrine and monastery belonging to Bayazid Bastami, one of the famous mystics of Iran in the third century AH.

The shrine itself is nothing more than a simple tomb in the south corner, adjacent to the dome and porch of Ghazan Khan.

 Bayazid Bastami Complex includes: 1. Bayazid Monastery 2. Safavid Porch 3. Bastam Minaret 4. Bayazid Bastami Mosque 5. Bastam Mosque 6. Imamzadeh Mohammad mausoleum 7. Kashaneh Tower 8. Ghazan Khan Dome 9. Shahrokhieh Seminary

Tomb of Sheikh Abolhassan Kharaqani

The mausoleum of this famous mystic of the fourth and fifth centuries AH is located 34 km north of Shahroud city and in Qaleh Now- Kharqan town.

The beautiful altar of this building, which belongs to the Ilkhanid period, is one of the most important parts of the current building of the tomb.

Waterfall Tangeh Dastan

The city of Mojen is located 35 km northwest of Shahroud in a mountainous area. The famous Strait (Dastan) is located 10 km from the city of Mojen and 45 km from Shahroud. Due to its location in a mountainous area and at an altitude of about 2000 meters above sea level, the climate of the region is favorable for tourists in spring, summer and early autumn.

Farahzad Tash and Haft Rang Spring (Seven colors spring)

Farahzad Tash area and Haft Rang spring are located in the protected area of Shahroud city and the central Alborz mountain range in the foothills of Shahvar Peak.

Due to the abundance of water and lush pastures, and also Pir-e-Mishi fountain, agriculture, and animal husbandry are the main occupations of the people. Haft Rang spring has been considered by the locals for its beauty and healing properties in the past. Farahzad's name is due to the greenery of the fields and gardens of the region, and the name of Haft Rang spring is also due to the springs that are seen in different colors by passing through various minerals.

Qale Bala, a mountain village in the heart of the desert

Qale Bala is one of the tourist destinations in Shahroud County. Due to the mountainous nature of this village, a special area has been created in the heart of the desert, which is spectacular. Residential buildings, farmland, and village gardens are built-in steps. This, along with the use of traditional and indigenous materials in the construction of houses with a mountainous climate over the desert, has created a beautiful landscape that is currently considered by tourists as an eco-tourism village.

Adjacent to the village is the Turan Wildlife havens. Adjacent to Turan National Park and the presence of wild animals and birds such as the Asian cheetah, the Asian zebra, and the golden raven, etc. attract many tourists and nature lovers to this village.

Cloud Forest (Abr Forest)

A forest where clouds and trees meet, and walking through the clouds become an achievable dream. This is where mountains and clouds come together. The Shahroud Cloud Forest is part of the oldest and most beautiful Hyrcanian forests, with rare plant and animal species that still live in the forest.

The cloud forest is one of the most beautiful places in Iran. The reason for naming this forest is that it is often surrounded by an ocean of clouds. In this forest, the clouds are so close to the trees that it seems that the forest is riding on clouds and can be traversed among the clouds.

Many mountaineers and tourists believe that the Clouds Forest is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Iran. So don't miss the opportunity to see this rare phenomenon in the world.

As a good ending, I close this article with this statement: During his visit to Shahroud, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei described it as a tranquil city with a purity of people. Religion is one of the prominent cultural and moral characteristics of the people of this city, which in addition to the residents, is also felt by non-native students and tourists.

(Dr. Seyed Hossein Hosseiniseddiq is a faculty member at the Islamic Azad University)

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