Difference between revisions of "Mashhad"
Revision as of 16:04, 26 September 2008
Interactive map of Mashhad (OpenStreetMap)
Almost everything about Mashhad relates to its role as the holiest city in Iran, even its name (literally: burial place of the martyr). As the capital of Iran's Khorasan province, Mashhad's year-round cool temperatures and fascinating insights into the Shi'ite heartland have much to offer visitors.
Mashhad started life out as Sanabad, a village pitstop for trade caravans headed towards Turkmenistan. But in the ninth century, the eighth Shi'ite Imam Ali Bin Moosa Al Reza, the great grand son of Imam Ali who was the cousin & son in law of Prophet Mohammad was poisoned by the jealous caliph of the time. Imam Reza was buried in Mashhad, and his shrine became one of the holiest sites to the shi'ite muslims after the Holy Kaaba in Saudi Arabia and Karbala in Iraq.
Over the next thousand years, the shrine complex was levelled, ransacked and rebuilt a number of times depending on the ruling army of the day. Today the Shrine is the most important place in the city and in the whole of Iran.
The love & respect for the Imam in this city is so immense that every person, taxidriver, shopkeeper, whoever he is, will go out of the way and help any newcomer who wants to visit the holy Shrine and is seeking any assistance.
Also keep in mind that city is very conservative by western standard in so many ways. Dress code for women is very strict and a self encompassing chador is a must for any lady. In the vicinity of the shrine even men with shorts, if there are any, will get stern looks from the locals. Respect the dress code and then be assured of any help if required.
Photography inside the holy Shrine is not permissible as all visitors will be frisked at the various gates leading to the Shrine. There are separate entry gates for ladies and gents.
One of the route to reach Mashhad is from Kish Island. Kish Air flies three times per week from Kish Island to Mashhad. The flight takes around 2 hours, the planes Tupolev TU-154M & McDonnell MD 83 are quite old, and gives a scary feeling. But the plane crew is decent and converse in good english.The return ticket will cost USD 120 can be bought from travel agencies in Kish (Near Kish Air head office)
The is Air flies from all the cities which has airport to Mashhad. The large cities like Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz has flies everyday maybe more than 2~3 times a day.
There is train to Mashhad from Tehran. There are more than 3 different trains in different prices and qualities every day (mostly they leave afternoon or evening). Its about 10~14 hours way.
There is mostly night buses to Mashhad from other important cities.
Mashhad has three large bazaars. Interesting things to buy include Khorassan crafts, fur-cloak, jewelry, perfume, saffron, and religious souvenirs.
Iranian cuisine is one of the best in the world. They do not eat spicy food but even then their food is very tasty. Chello Kebab is a very popular dish as well as Bakhtiari Kebab. Their are also different kinds of breads available. So eating will be a assured good and affordable experience in Mashhad
Mashhad attracts huge number of visitors specially during the summer months, so be sure to make travel reservations in advance. Mashhad can also be very cold during winters, hence heavy woolens are required during winters. Even in summers nights are pretty cold and requires light woolens.
Five-star hotels in the city are: Pars Hotel , Homa Hotel and Pardisan Hotel. There are also couple of good hotels near the Imam Ali Bin Moosa Al Reza Shrine, namely Khayyam Hotel, Ghadir International to name a few. The Shrine is 10 min. walk from the Khayyam Hotel and the rent for double bedroom with attached bath is around 35-40 USD.