Visit Turkmen Sahra, the land of music and horses

July 3, 2021 - 17:29

TEHRAN – Turkmen Sahra is a heaven of traditional music and fantastic horses, which lies in the northeastern part of Iran. It offers breathtaking natural phenomena and a deep and eerie history that captivates any traveler.

Located in Golestan and North Khorasan provinces, Turkmen Sahra covers a large region. A number of cities are located in the area, including Gonbad-e Kavus, Bandar-e Turkmen, Kalaleh, and Aqqala.

It is bordered on the west and the north by the Caspian Sea, as well as the Republic of Turkmenistan. On the east are Bojnord and Dargaz, while on the south are hilly regions of Mount Alborz.

Due to its favorable geographical position, Turkmen Sahra boasts a variety of natural and historical attractions. From the millennium-old tower of UNESCO-registered Gonbad-e Qabus to natural phenomena called Hezar Darreh, a mysterious stone cemetery, and unique horses.

Turkmen Sahra can also take pride in the rich culture and traditional music of the Turkmen people. The sound of their special music is complemented by the color and design of the costumes of the locals, creating a magical combination.

Gonbad-e Qabus

The one-millennium-old UNESCO-registered Gonbad-e Qabus is of high architectural importance as an exemplar and innovative design of the early-Islamic-era architecture.

Also called Gonbad-e Kavus, the brick tower is located in a city of the same name.

The UNESCO comments that the tower bears testimony to the cultural exchange between Central Asian nomads and the ancient civilization of Iran.

The long-lasting structure capped by an eye-catching conical roof boasts intricate geometric principles and patterns which embellish parts of its load-bearing brickwork.

Narratives say the tower has influenced various subsequent designers of tomb towers and other cylindrical commemorative structures both in the region and beyond.

Two encircling inscriptions in Kufic calligraphy date the tower to 1006-7 CE while commemorating Qabus Ibn Voshmgir, Ziyarid ruler, and literati (reigned 978–1012).

The UNESCO also credits Gonbad-e Qabus as “an outstanding and technologically innovative example of Islamic architecture that influenced sacral building in Iran, Anatolia, and Central Asia.”

Khalid Nabi Holy Shrine

Historical records claim Khalid Bin Sinan, better known as Khalid Nabi, was one of the four prophets after Jesus and before Muhammad (S). He was originally from what is now called Yemen and migrated to Iran during the Sassanid era. There are different versions of the reason for his migration. He is highly respected among the people of Turkmen Sahra. Visitors to Khalid Nabi Shrine will find accommodations as well as a mosque next to his shrine.

Hezar Darreh

The Turkmen Sahara region is home to a very unique geological phenomenon known as Hezar Darreh (literally, Thousand Valleys), made up of loose sedimentary rocks. This area has no such vegetation, and water erosion and high water levels have led to a variety of ruptures in the range of the Hezar Darreh.

The Mysterious Khalid Nabi Cemetery

In the vicinity of the Khalid Nabi Shrine, there are various strange statues that may seem like they belong in a cemetery to the beholder. The strange-shaped gravestones have different stories behind them.

In some myths, these are people who were Khalid Nabi’s enemies and turned into stone as a result of their disobedience. Others believe they are Khalid Nabi and his followers who fled from their enemies and asked God to transform them into stone statues.

The significance of the place rests mainly on its historical significance, no matter what the tale behind it might be. The place has a thousand-year history and is a national heritage of Iran.

Turkmen horses

Three words would accurately describe Iran’s Turkmen horses: beauty, purity, and nobility. However, there’s a lot more to it. They are also known for their speed, endurance, and bravery.

Throughout history, Turkmens bred famous Turkmen horses, of which two, Yomud and Goklan, are only bred in Iran. The other breed, Akhal Teke is world known horse of Central Asia.

Turkmen horses are among the purest breeds in the world, especially considering that they are bred solely for racing.

Land of music

The language of the Turkmen people is their beautiful and original music. The music of this region reflects its rich history. Among the most original types of music in the world is the traditional music of the Turkmen Baghshies. Freedom, brotherhood, heroism, and solidarity are among the themes in this music.

Chegdermeh traditional food

Chegdermeh or Chekdermeh is a Turkmen traditional food and one of the tastiest and popular foods in this region. The main ingredients are rice, meat (usually mutton or lamb). They are cooked with a combination of tomato, onion, tomato paste, spices, and oil.

There are different types of this food depending on the type of meat used. Turkmen tribes cook Chegdermeh at home as a daily food or at rituals and ceremonies such as weddings, funerals, and Muharram.

The dish is usually served with local yogurt, pickles, and local doogh (yogurt-based beverage).

“Fire without Smoke”

"Fire without Smoke", a seven-volume novel by Iranian prominent author Nader Ebrahimi, has given Iranians an understanding of Turkmen Sahara while it has introduced Turkmen traditions and culture.

Within the first three volumes, the book tells the story of Galan, a hero of Turkmen, while describing the beauty of the Turkmen Sahara.

The next four volumes follow the story of Galan’s sons and grandchildren, who fought against the Shah during the Iranian Islamic Revolution, describing Turkmen rituals and traditions.


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