My next stop after Shiraz was the city of Yazd to see among other things, the town of Kharanaq. Shiraz had been my favourite spot so far in Iran, primarily due to the amazing Pink Mosque and Shah Cheragh shrine. Yazd was up against it if it wanted to unseat Shiraz at the top of my list. I must say, things got of to a really good start. I checked into my accommodation, the Orient Hotel, and went straight to the rooftop to catch the sunset.
If these were the views from the hostel rooftop, it must get even better once I venture out and do some exploring? With that in mind, the following day I was off to visit Kharanaq, a 4,000 year old abandoned town 70 km from Yazd.
The drive out to Kharanaq was just a pleasant as every other road journey in Iran that I had taken so far. Lots of mountains towering over the desert landscape. I was informed my the driver that this area of Iran reaches peak temperatures over 50°C in summer! So if you are thinking of coming this way in summer… well… don’t. The perfect time to visit this area of Iran is definitely now, early spring.
Kharanaq is a city built entirely out of mud brick’s. While the town has been inhabited for 4,000 years, the mud brick buildings you see in these images date back around 1,000 years.
Some of the structures within the town are obviously built from materials that are more weather resistant than others. Generally speaking, Kharanaq is a city that is slowly weathering away. The mud brick buildings deteriorate a little more each year. The only reason the town still exists at all is because the rainfall in this region is so low.
Some details about the this day tour. It was organised through the Silk Road Hotel in Yazd. The cost for the tour was 500,000 IRR (about 12.5€) per person. I was particularly lucky as there were only three other people on the tour with me. Having only a small tour group made the day really enjoyable. This tour, like most of the day tours out of Yazd, included stops in Chak Chak and Meybod as well. It’s a fairly length day of sightseeing. We gathered at 8am in the Silk Road lobby and didn’t arrive back until mid afternoon. But definitely one of the best day tours I have been on in Iran.
This image above is taken from the same spot as a picture that I had found during my planning for this Iran trip. When I found the picture during planning I added Kharanaq to my itinerary. I liked the picture so much that I used it as the header image for my Iran planning post. So to finally get to this exact spot and take in the view was incredibly rewarding. It was a sudden realisation that the planning and execution of this trip, was becoming successful.
Here is one more of me enjoying the view.
I took this photo to highlight exactly what is meant by mud-brick construction. Here you can see a mud brick cladding. It is essentially mud mixed with dried grasses and applied as a coating to the structure and allowed to sun dry. You can see the grass fibres binding the cladding together. As you can imagine water erodes this cladding relatively quickly.
Lastly, a couple of photos of some of the structures around Kharanaq. The mosque is I believe still in use by the 400 or so people who live in the new part of Kharanaq. The bridge, while looking bridge like, is actually an old aqueduct used to transport water. The river and therefore source of water for Kharanaq as well as this aqueduct, has mostly dried up now. It is the loss of this water source that caused the abandonment of Kharanaq.