The first leg of our trip in Tehran was just an initial peek into the ancient and rich heritage of this misunderstood country. As much as we wanted to see more of the capital city, it was time for us to move on. We left Tehran for Shiraz via a domestic flight with Qeshm Airlines, flight duration of 1 hour and 20 minutes.
The flight was fine but I was knackered. I was tired from the massive traffic jam to the airport in Tehran; another 3 hours waiting at the airport; the warm weather (sometimes it was uncomfortable because I was wearing a head scarf – we should have been there during autumn!); and eating too much. How can one get tired from eating?! Well, we might have indulged more than we should when we first arrived because we found Persian food absolutely delicious but the portions were huge. By the time we were up in the air that night, I couldn’t eat anymore. The flight attendant was slightly taken aback when I declined their sandwiches. It might have been her first time coming across a passenger who chose not to eat on flights!
As soon as we landed in Shiraz around 10pm, a comedy of errors happened that night. Our driver didn’t show up at the airport. Apparently, he had met with an accident while on his way to the airport 🙁 While speaking to our travel agent on the phone, she advised us to take a taxi to the hotel and promised to have our tour guide reimbursed the fare to us the next day.
Check-in at the hotel was left somewhat wanting. The young receptionist looked as if he badly needed some sleep. Guests kept coming to the reception counter with complaints. Iranians are generally soft-spoken people, and I assumed these guests were not too happy about something from the unhappy tones of their voices. And the receptionist brushed us off when we asked questions about the registration form. We weren’t peeved by that – perhaps we were just too tired to make a fuss – all we wanted was our room key.
Just when we were about to settle down in our room, I plugged in my adapter and phone charger, the lights in the room went off! The corridor was still lit so we knew the problem was our room. We had to get dressed again; my sister went to the reception to ask for help while I waited outside our room. The maintenance guy came up but he had to leave again because he didn’t bring a torch light (duh!) Later, he came up again with the torch light, did the necessary checks in the room, found the fuse box and voila, the lights came back on!
By the time, we went to bed, it was 12.30am.
Groggily, we went to the hotel restaurant for breakfast, and what perked us was not coffee but this view of Shiraz city from the restaurant windows.
We met our guide, Nargis, at the lobby and the first site we went to was Nasir al Mulk Mosque. Built during the Qajar era, this mosque is particularly unique because of the effects of the morning light streaming through the stained glass windows in its facade and the pink coloured tiles for its interior design. The result is multi-coloured hues of red, pink, green, blue, yellow – such vibrant colours -all of which happened to be my favourite colours too.
Apart from being colourful, the Nasir al Mulk mosque displays other elements such as panj kaseh-i (five concaves) in its design.
Shiraz is the sixth largest city in Iran and is one of the oldest cities of ancient Persia. It was the centre of Persian culture for more than 2000 years ago, thus the city is a cultural capital of Iran and a city of poets and gardens. Shiraz is very proud of their poets especially Sa’adi and Hafez, and I was very happy to have visited their mausoleums, one of the major attractions of Shiraz.
The first mausoleum we went to was the Tomb of Sa’adi. Sa’adi grew up in Shiraz and his famous literary works were Boostan (The Orchard) and Golestan (The Rose Garden). Enthusiasts of Persian literature also enjoyed his other works that were in forms of lyric ghazals and odes.
The mausoleum of Sa’adi is located inside a garden of flowers and cypress trees. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the architecture of the mausoleum but the garden landscape was beautiful against the back drop of the rugged Zagros Mountains. Like an oasis in the desert.
The mausoleum which I was very keen to visit was the Tomb of Hafez. Hafez’s poems are highly regarded in Persian literature and Iranians learn his poems by heart using them in proverbs, traditional music, visual art and calligraphy. Also, it is said that every Iranian home has a collection of some sort on Hafez’s works.
Similar to Sa’adi, the Mausoleum of Hafez is situated inside a garden of flowers and trees. However, the tomb is placed under a pavilion consisting of 8 columns (10 metres tall) supporting a copper dome in the shape of a dervish’s hat. The pavilion is amongst rose gardens, orange trees and water channels. Apparently, his tomb is often crowded with visitors singing and reciting their favourite Hafez poems but I didn’t see any of that except many people busy taking photos!
I have read a few Hafez’s poems before and enjoyed reading them, thus I was eager to purchase a book of his poems in Shiraz provided I was able to find a translated version of it. Luckily, the bookshop in the mausoleum sold the Divan of Hafez in which the first half every page is written in Farsi followed by English translation on the second half. I was also informed that many Iranians would open the Divan to a random page and read the poem on it when they get together during the Nowruz holidays as they believe that the Divan foretells the future. I bought the Divan and once in a while I, too, would open the book to a random page and read the poem but didn’t seem like it was predicting a future for me! 🙂
*Linking with #Citytripping and #TheWeeklyPostcard.