This experience is an immersion in both Sufism and the natural wonders of northeast Iran. It is designed to introduce you to the Persian Mysticism, following the footsteps of the most famous Persian Sufis, Bayazid Bastami and Sheikh Abul Hasan Kharaqani who deeply influenced the most famous Persian poets, such as Rumi. It's in the ancient Qumis region, now the Semnan province, that is located the spiritual city of Bastam, considered as city sister of Konya, the birthplace of Bayazid Bastami, and one of the main center of Sufism in the world. Throughout the centuries, people have come here for pilgrimage, and it's still nowadays a city full of shrines, monastery, and blue mosques, all passing down the spirit of Mysticism.
The region of Shahrud is a singular combination of desert and luxurious forests. It's a unique chance to explore the Kharturan National Park, home to a rich wildlife and habitat of many endangered species, such as the magnificent Asian Cheetah and Asiatic Wild Ass beside Persian ground jay. In this lush area, you can explore the Hyrcanian forests in vicinity of desert, a rare eco-system which came into existence millions of years ago. It's in this incredible environment and spiritual atmosphere that the mud-bricked village of Qaleh Bala is settled. Located in the heart of a protected National Park, this village is the earliest example of a successful eco-tourism transition in Iran. Its inhabitants are nowadays devoted to share and preserve their local culture and traditions while participating in the conservation of the wildlife.
Discovering the lives and teachings of Bayazid Bastami and Sheikh Abul Hasan Kharaqani, two major figure of Persian Sufism
Being introduced to the principles of Sufism in the city of Bastam, the center of Sufism in Iran
Visiting the Tarikhane mosque, the second oldest mosque in Iran
Plunge in the Bayazid Bastami complex and its blue-tiled monastery
Exploring the Neolithic archeological site of Sang-e Chakhmaq
Exploring the Hyrcanian forests, among the oldest forests in the world and a biosphere reserve listed by the UNESCO
Discovering the village of Abr, at the junction between forest and desert
Observing rare animals and species in the Kharturan National Park, such as the Asiatic Wild Ass
Sleeping in the heart of the National Park, into the traditional and eco-tourism village of QalehBala
Tasting the delicious local food and delights of the Shahrud region
The journey starts with visiting Tarikhaneh mosque, a prime Zoroastrian Fire Temple of Sassanid era. Continue east to the city of Shahrud to have various palatable Shahrudi foods for lunch. Before you forget the taste of delicious lunch we enter the center of Sufism in Iran was gathering many disciples, religious scholars, and pilgrims for centuries.
Bastam city as a National heritage has preserved many monuments dating back from Seljuk and Qajar eras. Leave every thought aside and get you immersed into the blue dreams of Bastam complex which is surrounding the tomb of Bayazid resting according to principles of Sufism in the heart. Bayazid Bastami had a great influence on Sufi mysticism. He is the very first mystic who spoke of the concept of divine love at the core of Sufism. Bastam complex resembles the image of Samarkand and Bukhara with its turquoise tiled constructions at each corner.
Don't miss the mud hillocks of the Neolithic archaeological site of Sang-e Chakhmaq. As the sun goes down, it's time to settle up at the beautiful Parvin Eco-lodge for the night. Enjoy some rest in this beautiful traditional house, and treat yourself with some sumptuous local dishes, with, by chance, traditional music played in the background.
The second day is an immersion into the magical wonders of nature. It starts with exploring the mother of world forests. Get your view from the location of Persian legends of Shahnameh in the Hyrcanian Abr forest. Abr forest recalls the cloud ocean panorama to every Iranian mind but it's not yet all to wait for us.
Walk under the canopy, between moss-covered trees. There, we reach the small village of Abr, standing at the edge of forests and desert! On the north side, the mountains have held captive the humid air from the Caspian Sea to create these amazing forests, facing south, it's the opposite, large areas of the desert are spreading at the horizon.
Let's find back the Sufi Mysticism, as returning to gardens village of Kharaghan and feel the calmness of Sheikh Abul Hasan Kharaqani's rest place.
“Anyone who comes to this house, give him food and do not ask about his faith.” This simple thought represents the spirit of Persian Sufism, as narrated by Sheikh Abul Hasan Kharaqani, one of the most famous Sufis, from the 10th century. Persian hospitality, which is a famous characteristic of Iranian people, is partly rooted in Sufism. Get familiar with this spiritualism in the Semnan region.
Under the mountain of Qa'le Bala at Northwest of Khar Turan National Park just above the central desert, the sloped village of Qal'e Bala settled inside the largest biosphere reserve of Iran. Reach the top of the village to have a wonderful view over the valley. In less than 10 years, the inhabitants succeed to change a lifestyle with harmful consequences on the lives of the park's wildlife by focusing on tourism and preserving their traditions with local festivals that we are going to know about them in time.
Enjoy a lunch break in this unique ambience, before wrapping for our wild epic in Delbar Environment Protection Site. Khar Turan hosts the largest flocks of critically endangered Asiatic Cheetah; the wildlife masterpiece, in addition, it has also the largest population of Persian wild ass and Persian ground jay, the only endemic bird to Iran. As the result, this precious ecosystem and is registered as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO. Let's count on luck for seeing any of these wonderful creatures to put a spell on us in Khar Turan.
Local dinner in Qa'le Bala style and sleeping in a beautiful Eco-lodge with the genuine decoration of Turan residence is the epilogue on today's fortuity.
On the last day wake up before the first lights to enjoy the sky turning red, while shadows are dancing over the sand dunes. After a toothsome homemade breakfast, hit the road one last time and say farewell to mysticism flavoured with nature.
Day 1: Tehran to the Bastam
Departure at 6:00 A.M, driving four hours with a private car or minibus to the city of Damghan in Semnan region. Visiting the ancient Tarikhane mosque, Heading toward the mystic city of Bastam to visit the Bayazid Bastami complex, with the incredible Bastam’s monastery. Staying overnight at Parvin eco-lodge
Day 2: From the forests to the desert
Enjoying a wonderful sunrise over the jungle, in Abr village. Visiting Sheikh Abul Hasan Kharaqani tomb in Kharaghan, then heading to the Eco-tourism village of Qal'eh Bala, located inside Khar Turan National Park. Visiting wild life of reserve, Staying overnight at Qal'eh Bala, in a local mud-bricked lodge.(B, L, D)
Day 3: QalehBala to Tehran
Having a local breakfast around 8 A.M, before the transfer to Shahrud for lunch and reaching Tehran in the early evening. (B, L)