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1 Bismilla hirahman irahim SAFAR NAMAH-E-IRAN by Dr Muhammad Younas Associate Professor DEPARTMENT OF LIVESTOCK MANAGEMENT UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURE FAISALABAD, PAKISTAN February 8, 2001

Iran 2000 2001 Safar Namah e Iran

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Bismilla hirahman irahim

SAFAR NAMAH-E-IRAN

by

Dr Muhammad Younas

Associate Professor

DEPARTMENT OF LIVESTOCK MANAGEMENT UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURE

FAISALABAD, PAKISTAN

February 8, 2001

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Bismilla hirahman irahimError! Bookmark not defined.

SAFAR NAMAH-E-IRAN

Written and submitted

by

Dr Muhammad Younas

Associate Professor, Department of Livestock Management University of Agriculture, Faisalabad-38040, PAKISTAN

Tel:+(041)-622690 (O), E-mail: <[email protected]> ________________________________________________________________ Before I embark on writing few words, I want to thank Allah Almighty who gave me the capacity and strength to take part and conduct this journey. As He is the Creator of all creatures, He is the Master of all masters, He is the Giver of all givers and He created His best people on the earth for our guidance and leadership. In this endeavor, as in all things, I thank Him for giving me chance, strength and inspiration to proceed for a very informative, wonderful, marvelous and eye-opener road excursion to our neighboring, brethren and an Islamic country, the Islamic Republic of Iran. All high ups, officials from the Embassy and Consulate and our guides from Iran deserve my great appreciation and felicitations who very kindly granted the permission to me & my group and facilitated our journey in Iran. PREAMBLE It has been my immense desire to see the history rich brethren countries like Iran and Turkey which have been the saddle of many civilizations in the past. Suddenly a program emerged in which I, alongwith other colleagues, at the University, were invited to attend an 2nd International Agroenviron Symposium 2000 at Trakya University, Turkey in October 2000. I could have looked for any sponsor to fly to Turkey but I never wanted to miss any chance of visiting my first neighbor and brethren country, the Islamic Republic of Iran. Having convinced by the Islamic revolution, brought by Hazrat Ayatollah Ruhullah Khomeini (1900-1989) in Iran, it was my earnest desire to avail any chance to see Iran. So I decided to proceed and visit Iran first, before I can think of visiting Turkey.

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Keeping this in mind, I floated this idea to make a sizable group to first visit the Islamic Republic of Iran before I can think to enter into Turkey. I discussed this idea with one of my best colleague and a close friend, Dr Syed Sadaqat Mehdi, at Campus. He was already looking to harvest such valuable chance. The idea was sold like a hot cake and many people agreed to proceed by road to Iran to visit its holy places, shrines, history rich civilization and other spiritual attractions. For the purpose a group was imagined and like mind friends and students were asked rather convinced to make use of this opportunity to visit Iran. My experience dictated me that in a group you not only see many places but enjoyment is augmented many folds. It was June/July 2000 when I conceived this idea and in September 2000, I was heading about 35 people who were ready to take off by road to Iran’s visit. VISA FORMALITIES I could never imagine that Turkey will give a hard time to us due to its changed regulation relating to immigration (especially for Pakistanis) and she will hesitate to allow us to enter by Road. But as our commitment was strong to visit the Iran so we left no stone unturned to convince the Turkish Embassy and as well as their Interior Ministry in Turkey to convince them for allowing us and then enter by road via Bazurgan and Garbulock boarder so that we visit Iran first. We submitted the paper to Turkish Embassy (August 2000) and started praying to Allah to bring our dreams to reality. However, after a long deal of hastle, correspondence, telephones, e-mails, etc. the Turkish Embassy was kind enough to allow us for road entry making our dream of Iran’s visit true. But we were very much squeezed in time and only three days were left for our Railway Booking to Quetta. However, the Iranian Consulate at Lahore were so kind and helpful to us that they managed to get us visa in a three days time and a day before our departure and the happiness and joy of our group touched no bounds to hear that we have been granted Iranian visa on Oct 3, 2000. It is my prime duty to mention here that Mr Jafar Khosraviani, the Second Secretary at Islamabad Embassy, Mr Agha Numaishi, the Deputy Counselor and Mr Ali Majidi Soraky, the Visa Councilor at Lahore Consulate were so gracious, helpful and so quick that they managed to get all formalities done within no time, which was beyond my expectations. For their superb cooperation we thanked them all and returned back to Faisalabad to get packed for the journey. TOUR MANAGEMENT All of our group members managed to get prepared and packed in two days time and we were at Railway station on Oct 6, 2000 at 6 am to catch the Abaseen

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Express for Quetta. Many people dreamed about this tour, few tried very hard to get ready, few even deposited the money, but we were 19 people who could proceed for this wonderful, marvelous and excited tour to Iran. During the inland journey and for overseas, for management purposes three (3) committees comprising on budget (Imran et al), food (Usman et al), stay (Ghafoor et al) were made to do the different chores during the journey. Our group comprised of three (3) teachers, three (3) girl students and thirteen (13) boys from the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad. Mr Imran took the responsibility of making a movie of the group throughout the journey. KNOWING AROUND US Before writing the Safar Namah-e-Iran (a brief account of this journey), the following information in the form of a comparative look is presented to enlighten our readers to appraise them about the countries around us so that we can guess the magnitude of their being big or small, their area and populations, etc. as of 2001 with respect to each other. COUNTRY OFFICIAL NAME AREA POPULATION PAKISTAN Islami Jamhuriya-e-Pakistan 803,950 sq km (310,403 sq mi) 140 million IRAN Jomhori-e-Islami-e-Iran 1,648,000 sq km (636,296 sq mi) 70 million TURKEY Republic of Turkey 814,578 sq km (314,508 sq mi) 64 million CHINA People’s Republic of China 9,571,300 sq km (3,695,500 sq mi) 1,250 million (Zhonghua Renmin Gonghe-guo) INDIA Bharat 3,287,590 sq km (1,269,350 sq mi) 780 million CURRENCY: (approx) CHINA Rs 6-8 = 1 Yuan IRAN Rs 1 = 13-14 Tuman (130-140 Iranian Riyal) TURKEY Rs 100 = 1 million Turkish Lira INDIA Rs 100 = 80-90 Indian Rupee

CROSSING THE BORDER Our hosts in Quetta were waiting for us on Oct 7, 2000 and we touched the Quetta Railway Station at 7 am. Our friends took us to their home and we had a rest after a long and tiring journey by Pakistani Railway. Train journey is considered much safer than bus but railway bogies are not dust proof if someone is looking for economy class. Money is always short with teachers and students, so our group was not exception to this. Few meals were sponsored by our group members like train lunch was provided by Mr Allah Nawaz at Multan, dinner by Miss Saadia Akram at Sadiqabad. Taking a half-day rest at Quetta, we booked ourselves for

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Taftan on the same evening. It was a very pleasant night with shining moon and we enjoyed traveling to Taftan even in packed and overloaded bus. Having reached at Fajr time at Taftan, we offered prayer and then looked for some currency changers. After the breakfast, we went through the custom and immigration formalities at Pakistani side. There was a great rush at the border and we have to be in a que to get clearance from Pakistani part. Big hoarding and pictures of Dr Allama Muhammad Iqbal, the great poet of the country and Mr Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Quaid–e-Azam the great, were seeing us off and on the other side of the wall were looking on two big pictures of Hazrat Ayatollah Khomeni, the Great Imam, and Mr Ayatollah Ali Khomeni, a religious guardian, were welcoming us to Iran. It was about 11 am when we entered in the boundary of Iran after crossing the gate and were standing in the vestibule where we have to get clearance from the Iranian custom and get the entry stamped on our passports. The staff at the border was very polite and they welcomed us with a smiling face. When we introduced ourselves to them that our is the group of teachers and students from a great Alma Mater of the country they gave us a great respect and cleared us within a very short period of time. PROCEED FOR ZAHIDAN On the other side of the building, we were asked to get on the vehicle to be shifted at the bus stop that was about a mile away from the Mir Javeh border terminal. We rented a mini bus at that side to go to Zahidan (80 km away from the borders). Having got on the mini bus, it took us an hour to get Zahidan, the first main city of Sistan & Balochistan Province of Iran. It was a wide spread city with a combination of mud and steel enforced buildings. Everything here looked very neat and clean, roads were very wide with ample directions mentioned on them. We reached at the terminal and then our committee looked for any restaurant to take our lunch. The food committee managed to get a hotel where we ate chelo kabak, tomato and noshabah. Having taken our lunch we roamed about in the city for a while and then decided to go for Yazd. Booking was made on the bus by the respective committee and they announced to enjoy for a free hour and see the various bazaars and shops in the city.

Photo

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Soon after Asr prayer, our journey started in a very beautiful Volvo bus. The driver made a break in the journey for prayers and an extended stop at Kerman, a city in the next province, for Isha prayer and dinner. Ultimately we reached at Yazd after praying Fajr in the way on Oct 9, 2000. The bus terminal of the Yazd was very beautiful and spacious. There was no big rush like Pakistan. Due to the safe roads, people travel at night to save their time. Toilets were very clean and spaciously made. We landed at the terminal and used the washrooms. The committee made a Recky visit for us and reported back to me the time and schedule of the buses to Tehran. Buses usually leave to Tehran at evening if we miss the today’s bus then we will be able to catch the bus on coming evening. Having discussed with my colleagues, we decided to visit Yazd all day and get booked for Tehran tonight. Pragmatically we got tickets for Tehran for the coach leaving at night and then decided to see and visit the historical and holy places in Yazd. The city of Yazd was very beautiful and made similar to Zahidan and Kerman. With capacious bus terminal, lot of taxis, very clean and beautiful shops of souvenirs and coffee etc. at the terminal. We happened to meet a person namely Mr Musharraf who knew Urdu, he guided us very nicely and offered us a storage godon for our bags and belongings for the day time at cheaper rates so that we can freely roam around in the city and can see the places we want. PLACES VISITED AT YAZD We find Yazd as an old and a typical desert city. The Iranian handicrafts of Yazd are very secure, desirable and social conditions are very famous and attractive. It is a city with narrow streets with wide and open avenues. We visited a nearby Park with beautiful fountains near the Railway Station. We hired a mini bus to curtail our time and enhance our efficiency for the day. Mini bus took us to the Tomb of Imam Zadah and we offered fatiha at that place. After visiting the Bargah Imam Zadah, we went to nearby fruit market and bought a big cartoon of Pomegranates and we walked to the park of Darwaza-e-Quran to enjoy the fruit party. After having a fruit lunch, we cleaned the spot and left for a famous attraction of the city, the Jomeh Mosque of Yazd (built in 8th Century) called as the Mosque of Amir Chakmagh, near by Musafir Khana was visited, Rig shops/factories, Phart and mausoleum of the Twelve Imams, Alexander Prison, Gul-e-Sook and Haji Khalifa Sweet shop, etc. were seen there. We had our lunch with an old man from Delhi in Maidan-e-Azadi, we hired taxies for the Yazdan Ateshkadah. By this time the hustle and bustle in the streets have returned as the people came out of their functions and celebrations. We could visit half of them as in this week all Iranian people at Yazd were busy in celebrating the birthday of Hazrat Ali (RTA). We missed the Dowlat-abad Garden, the Khan

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Garden and Bazar-e-Maskari as we were running short of time to catch our bus this evening. Here we learnt more about the Iran’s climate and topography. Generally Iran has a dry climate. Being situated inside a dry belt of the globe, and because of the check imposed by the Alborz and Zagros Ranges on the damp Caspian and Mediterranean air currents, which keep them from reaching the interior, the plateau has a dry desert peculiarity. It is situated in between 25 and 40 degree geographical latitude. The average annual temperatures increase from the northwest towards southeast (from 10 C in Azerbayjan to 25-30C in the South and southeast. Rainfall varies from 2000 mm in Gilan to more or less 100 mm in the central region with average being 275 mm. Our journey from Yazd started from the bus terminal at 8 pm (Oct 9, 2000) and reached at Tehran in the next morning (Oct 10). Before entering to Tehran on the right side of the motorway we saw a great sample of Iranian architect with beautiful enlightened minarets where Imam Khomeini (RTA) is resting. Sign of Bahisht-e-Zuhra was also on our right side. AT TEHRAN We reached Tehran terminal at 7 am. We were feeling cold as we have traveled in air-conditioned bus and it was a fine and windy morning too. Lot of roads, highways and traffic was seen in the suburbs of Tehran, it looked like that everybody was rushing to his/her job place. We saw some slumps very beautifully covered behind the walls and suddenly emerged very beautiful buildings and sky rises encircling the Airport and bus terminal. Just after reaching at the terminal, I called our hosts at Tehran University who were waiting for our call. They directed us to catch mini bus to reach Tehran University. At this time everybody looked me tired and wanted to stretch his legs and use washroom, so I took Mr Usman with me to hunt for a mini bus to get there. It was a rush hour at Maidan-e-Azadi and all buses were operating on service routes. It took us very long to wait and convince a person to help us to find a mini bus. Although Iranians are very well educated but all of them especially drivers don’t know English. One Irani brother helped us to get our point accrossed to a driver who agreed but at extended charges. When we reached back with mini-bus, everybody was ready and looking fresh. We boarded at the bus and reached at Khyaban-e-Kargir Shumali at Amirabad, the location of Danish-gah-e-Tehran (Tehran University) where our hosts were waiting for us. They gave us a very warm welcome and took us to the Campus in

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the rooms reserved for us in the International Hostel of the Tehran University. We took our lunch at Cafe (Boofah) and I asked everybody to take rest and join for a meeting at dinner time. At dinner we had a detailed meeting and introduction with our hosts and chalked out our program to spend our three days in Tehran. One day was reserved for Tehran and second day for Isfahan and Qom. The last day for left over places, to get pack and leave for our next destination. On Oct 11, 2000, our hosts Messers Sherazi and Kazmi accompanied us, hired a mini-bus for the group and we left to see the holy places and shrines in the city and its suburbs. First of all we had a detailed visit of Bargah-e-Imam, also called as Marqad-e-Imam. This building was a marvelous architectural masterpiece and was erected in a very organized and beautiful manner. This building can house thousands of people at a time in all weathers. Next to the grave of the great Imam, we saw the grave of Hazrat Imam Tabatabai, a great spiritual scholar and writer. Here we were not allowed to take video camera, only pictures of some areas were allowed. Another Danish Gah (an University) is under construction near the Bargah-e-Imam for the children of martyrs which was the desire of Hazrat Imam that the education of all children of martyrs should be taken care by the State. Having prayed fatiha and salam, we left for next visit place called Bahisht-e-Zuhra. We visited Bahisht-Zuhra in detail, which is actually a historical graveyard where all martyrs of Islamic Revolution and Iran-Iraq War are resting. It reminded me that Iranians never forget their elders and martyrs and they continue remembering their sacrifices for a noble cause. We saw the place where Imam Khomeni (RTA) landed directly from the airport to address his followers and to pay tribute to the martyrs of the Islamic Revolution. Another interesting place was seen, the graves of the 72 people who were martyred by a bomb blast by Munafiqeen. They were the cream of the nation and members of a first elected cabinet (National Assembly) after the revolution. We were very much impressed to see the Bahisht-e-Zuhra maintained in a very clean and like a beautiful garden (like Jannat Nazeer). It was so organized, rather computerized, that it takes a command to find the location of any grave of a martyr with its complete history. As I mentioned before, it gave me an impression that Iranian never forget their departed souls, rather they remember them in all thick and thin and usually come to pay homage and tribute to them especially during the holidays and Islamic festivals.

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VISIT OF REY, THE OLD CAPITAL Then we went to Rey city where the shrine of Shah Abdul Azeem bin Hazrat Imam Hassan and other sagas like Hazrat Saleh bin Musa Kazim, Hamza bin Sadiq, Tahir bin Musa Kazim (RTA), are resting. Before entering the Bazar-e-Buzurg we saw Judo and Karate being played by the Iranian youth. Everybody had few snacks, dry fruits or burgers which were very cheap and delicious. Our participants (especially girls) had a period of window shopping there. We reached back to down town of the city, Maidan-e-Azadi (Azadi Chowk) and took a few pictures at a place what we have been looking for years in the sceneries. The grassy plots were very beautiful and had no match in giving an attractive and beautiful look. Cleanliness in the parks was excellent and no garbage or rubbish materials were seen at these public places.

Photo INTERESTING EPISODE After this we thought to see a glimpse of the journey of newly built subway train of Tehran. We saw here double-decker train which runs in Tehran and extends upto Karaj, a home of one of the biggest Agricultural University of Iran. While we were entering to subway station one of our member Mr Rashid Idris left for Dasht shoi (wash room) without telling/informing us. We usually counted our chicks at all times and on all occasions, but this time we were confident that everybody is excited to see the subway and must be following us. But who knows that when is the time to answer the nature’s call, if it is emergent then you got to break all rules. We bought the tickets and went down stairs to catch subway. Few snaps were taken at that under ground station and everybody was astonished to see the beautiful and colored marbles, subway routes, colored matching, attractive hoarding in the subway, etc. As soon as the train arrived, we got on to go for our

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destination. Our missing member could not estimate which way we were heading and he found him lost. He went back in the mini-bus and sat with the driver. Mis-communication between the driver and Mr Rashid was soon converted to mis-understanding and they had no choice except to go to the police station. The driver of our rented mini-bus was asked to come to the next stop by our guide but the only company of him, Mr Rashid was insisting him that the group will come back to the place from where they had left. When we reached at the destination (the final subway station) we were waiting for the driver to come as told to him by our guide. Driver instead of reporting to us was busy in debating/quarreling with Mr Rashid who was insisting him to stay where he was. We had to wait for a long at that station. What could be done was a great question for us and for our guide? The group wanted to eat also but I wanted to weep not only for loosing the rented vehicle but a group member who left for dusht shoi without telling us. Our guide was also confused and he tried to look at the place where we left them but they were not there as they had already left for a nearby police station. After a long detail and discussion, the driver convinced Mr Rashid to go to the next subway stop but the situation was stand still. After a great hassle at last, our guide found then at a police station, brought them to us and made us to have an easy breath. Having joined the missing members and the driver at last, we had our lunch very close to the dinner time at a very beautifully erected new cafeteria in the subway station. We observed here food was great, place was clean and the service was excellent. After filling our tanks, we moved towards Valenjik. We didn’t waste any moment without seeing the culture and people, roads and highways, buildings and sky rises while touring the city. Few apartments were seen while heading to Valenjik which were beautifully built giving the look of a word Allah. Various arenas of international Expo were in vicinity on our right. Few Colleges and University Campuses were also seen from the road. We passed by a grand Hall where OIC met few years back. We have to park our old vehicle way back from Valenjik as it refused to climb on the height. It was a good time to test our knees while going at the top of the hill. This was a picturesque view just like Daman-e-Koh in Islamabad where we can peep into whole city. It was almost sunset when we were there but it was very hard to see the city clearly as Tehran is not only a one of the biggest and beautiful city of the world, unfortunately one of the polluted cities of the world too. Our guide mentioned us that there are approximately 4 lakh taxis in the city. Sometime Government has to regulate their entry in the city by announcing that

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odd or even numbers will be allowed to come on the road to help control the pollution. MORE ABOUT TEHRAN Here at the top of the hill, we learnt more about Tehran being a capital city with population of about 10.5 million. The name Tehran has been derived from two words “Teh” (hot) and “Ran” (place), mean a “hot place” as it used to be. Initially it was a village on the suburb of Rey. After the demolition of Rey by Mongols (in 1220 Hijri), Agha Mohammad Khan of the Qajar (Qachar) dynasty (18th Century) selected this city as capital. It used to be a walled (8 km) city (like Lahore) with twelve (12) gates. Safavids made a cantonement in this city. Lot of museums like Museum of jewels (Daraye-Noor) in the Bank Melli, Museum of Anthropology, Carpet Museum, Reza Abbasi Museum, Abgineh Museum and Museum of Decorative Arts, Bazar of Tehran, Golestan Palace, Palaces of Niavaran and Sa’ed-Abad, Mosque of Imam, Mottahari’s Mosque and College of Religion (Sepahsalar), are some of the attractions in the city. The last item of today’s long and hectic day was to visit the lake at Park-e-Millat. The members spent there some time and enjoy the beautiful scenes of children playing, skating, boating, a beautiful waterfall encircled with the monuments of the great philosophers, thinkers and scholars of the Muslim Ummah. Some musicians were playing their organs. Shopping plazas were also in the vicinity. Next day (Oct 12, 2000), we had planned for Qom and Isfahan (called as Nisf Jehan). Our bus left the University in the morning at 7 am and reached at Qom at 11 am. Today we were accompanied by Mr Naqvi, presently a local resident of that city. We were looking for any money changer to get some Irani Riyals. It took us long to get a good deal and to visit the Madrissah Faizia and the attached shrines of Hazrat Bibi Masoomah and Imam Zadgan (RTA). Having taken our lunch with Abe gosht, it was almost Zuhr time. Now we had a divided opinion about to proceed for Isfahan or stay at Qom. We consulted all group members to reach to a valid conclusion and ultimately it was resolved that due to the paucity of time, we should spend rest of the time in Qom instead of proceeding to Isfahan. Then our guide took us to Masjid Jamkran few miles away from Qom. We went there, offered a special prayer usually linked with this mosque, offered the Asr prayer and returned to Qom. We gave one hour to the group members as free time for window shopping, look around and visit the places of their own choice. SPIRITUAL CENTER OF IRAN

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Islamic values and vestiges (signs) existing in Iran are numerous. Qom being the pilgrimage center provides a refuge and place of retirement for divine communion to the pilgrims from all corners of the Iran and neighboring countries. Qom is the spiritual center of Iran and hosts a great Islamic Center called Madrissah Faizia. Some great Imam Zadgan are resting in this city in the suburb of the Shrine of Hazrat Masooma bibi (the sister of Imam Reza, RAT). A great Islamic museum lies adjacent to the Madrissah. Masjid Jamkaran is also few miles away from this city. Learning more about the Qom was very much interesting and fun too. We spent this time in acquiring more information about this religious heritage. Near sunset we left for Tehran. Reached Tehran at 9 pm and took our dinner at a hotel with a special Irani Dish called Ash gosht. Everybody then enjoyed his/her free time and was asked to reach the Campus back for a meeting that night to decide about the next schedule. LEAVING FOR ISTANBUL Our seats have been booked by the courtesy of our hosts for the next destination and next morning we got packed and left Tehran Terminal to catch the International bus leaving to Istanbul (Turkey) at 2 pm on Oct 13, 2000. In the way we enjoyed looking the mountain ranges we had started seeing them since we entered in Iran. At night we passed Tabriz and we prayed Isha prayer at perhaps Sufyan. We reached the border at early morning and have to wait for the offices to open for clearance and custom formalities. It was morning of Oct 14, 2000 when we left Iran and entered Turkey. BACK TO IRAN AGAIN Having left Istanbul on Oct 21, 2000, we reached Iran border again on Oct 22, 2000. While coming back clearance at the border was very easy and it took us less time to cross the line. We took our brunch at Bazurgan and again got on the bus. After a night long journey, we reached at Tehran in the morning of Oct 22, 2000. Our previous hosts at Tehran forced us to join them again but this time we wanted to take another route to go to Mashhad Muqaddas. We have to change the terminal and go to South Terminal to catch the bus for Mashhad. Our hosts at Tehran have already informed few friends at Mashhad to take care of us. We traveled all-day and reached Mashhad late night. Our guides were very kind enough to attend us at the terminal and they managed to send us at

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an appropriate hotel. The musafir khana Hussainia Aal-e-Imran was near by Mashhad Hotel and very close to main spiritual attractions and shopping centers. We passed by the Nishaboor (Nishapoor) which was 110 km before Mashhad towards Sabzevar road which is considered as another important city of IRAN. In 5th century it was the capital of Seljug dynasty. The tomb of Hakim Omar Khayam Neishaboori, who’s known throughout the world, is located here. There are also the tombs of other famous men of Iran, namely Sheikh Attar and great painter Kamal-o-Molk. MASHHAD MUQADDAS During our brief stay at Mashhad, we got lot of information regarding this city. Few of them are that the old name of this city was Sanabad until 9th century AD, came to be called holy Mashhad in memory of the place where Imam Reza (RTA) was martyred (in 817 Hijri). The shrine of Imam Reza (RTA, the 8th Imam) is one of the most important and precious example of Islamic Architecture in Iran. Its beautiful dome is made of Gold sided by beautiful minarets. The city is 987 m high from the sea level with a population of more than 12 lakh and is the capital of Khurasan province. The traditional bazaar of Mashhad with its irresistible variety and magnificence of goods, is a place not to be missed. The new market, named the Reza Bazaar, offers a colorful mosaic of local handicrafts and artistic products of Khorassan to its Buyers. The handicrafts, carpets, payer mats, beads and za’fran, etc are worth buying. As we were running short of time, next morning we asked the Sarai manager to arrange a mini-bus for us to give a quick round of all important places. The mini bus came at 9 am and everybody from us was ready and waiting at the road. The Bahisht-e-Reza and shrines of Abdus Salam bin Saleh (commonly known as Khawaja Aba Salt Harvi), Harsama bin Aeen (commonly known as Khawaja Murad) near the foothill, and Imam zadgan Nasir & Yasir in the vicinity of the city were seen. Bahisht-e-Reza was visited in detail and Fatiha was offered for all resting people. Lot of martyrs are buried at this graveyard. Our guide showed us the place where new airport of Mashhad is proposed in this side of the city. Other attractions around this city included were like Mazar of Nadir Shah, Khawaja Rabi, the maser/tomb of Firdousi and Wakilabad, which we missed because of the time crunch. While coming back to hotel, we had a stop at the bus terminal to make our bus reservation for the evening time and then went to the Holy Shrine of Imam Raza. Stayed there for a while and offered Fatiha and prayer. A Pakistani restaurant is this area was very famous for Pakistani foods, which we visited for our lunch.

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Shopping was also made by many people who wanted to finish the Tumans (Irani Riyals). Bus time was inching very close and everybody was supposed to be in the hotel at 4 pm to checkout from the Musafir-Khana. Few taxis were hired to get to the bus stop where the bus was ready at the terminal. We tried to board on the bus but the drivers asked the charges of the luggage. We tried to convince them but they forcefully charged our baggage. Most of the drivers saw our luggage and asked for the extra payment. But very few people realized that we were in a group of nineteen people. On Oct 24, 2000, we reached at Zahidan at 10 am. After hiring the double cabs we rushed to the border to get cleared before lunch break. The immigration people were very kind to stamp our passports even in the lunch break. We thanked them and left the Iranian boundary to get back to our country. Border formalities were completed and we left at 4 pm from Taftan to reach Quetta at Fajr time next day (Oct 25, 2000). We dumped our luggage at a friends place, took showers, stretched our backs and last minute shopping at Quetta before the Abaseen leaves at 6:30 pm for Faisalabad. EPILOGUE I thank Allah Almighty that in this three wks (21 d) journey no mishap happened and everybody remained hail & hearty and returned home safe & sound. Cooperation of all group members, especially teachers and girls students, made this Safar (tour) extremely useful, productive fruitful, enjoyable and lifelong memory. A lot of thanks to Iranian Government, their high ups and officials at Lahore, Islamabad and especially at Istanbul (where we have to get return visa on Oct 16, 2000). In the end, I have no reservation in saying that Iranian people belong to a great nation and are hard working and good patriots. Over the years by virtue of their Islamic revolution and a strong commitment of their leadership, they have leant “TO LIVE LIKE ALI AND DIE LIKE HUSSAIN”. Khuda Hafiz. Pakistan-Iran Dosti Zindabad.

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APPENDIX

WHY? Other than site seeing, people, roads, deserts, ranges, prairies and landscape, learning more about our brethren country was one of my objective of this journey to Iran. Only some memories have been presented in the above pages, some additional information from my diary and notes are presented below for the common readers and who want to increase their awareness about the country. Some of this material (not all of this) could not be digested in the text of the Safar Namah due to the paucity of time. (Time and money permitting, I will like to convert these pages into a book, Inshaallah). Border city of PAKISTAN Taftan (459 Miles from Quetta) Border city of IRAN Mir Javeh (88 Km before Zahidan) IRAN - A RICH TEARURER OF THE HISTORY Iran in one of the oldest countries of the world. It’s people were once Zoroastrian, but now the official religion is Jafri faith of the twelve Imams. About 98.5 % of the population is Muslim, most of whom belong to Shi’a sect. Other religious Islamic sects are Hanafi, Shafe’i, Maleki, Hanbali and Zeidi, all of which are respected and enjoy perfect freedom. Shi’ism places emphasis on the Imamate of Imam Ali-ebne-Abi Talib and his eleven descendents as successors to the Holy Prophet, and believes in proper social and political obligations for its followers, while it also forbids indifference towards public and social affairs. The philosophy of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, too has been inspired by the same dynamic quality. Until 1935, Iran was called Faris (Persia). First Muslim dynasty ruled the country was of Umayyads based on Damascus in Syria. Their successors Abbasids moved the capital to Baghdad. Mongols invasion took place on Iran in 13th century. Art and culture alongwith the Shia sect was strengthened by Safavids. The Qajar dynasty became the ruler in 18th century who shifted the capital from Isfahan to Tehran. Reza Khan Pehlvi (1877-1944) took over the power deposing Qajars in 1925 and he became Shah as Reza I. The new ruler Muhammad Mussadiq overthrew and toppled the Shah’s monarchy in 1953. Mohammad Reza II (1919-80) regained the power again with the western influence and US backing. But this monarchy offended the people and was overthrown in 1979 replacing it by Fundamentalist Islamic Republic inspired by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1900-1989). Mr Khomeini died in 1989 but the Islamic Revolution brought by

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him is prospering day by day and has brought lot of changes in the lifestyle of the Iranian People. LAND FRONTIERS OF IRAN Iran have joint frontiers approximately 1741 km with Soviet Union, 1281 km with Iraq, 470 km with Turkey, 830 km with Pakistan, 850 km with Afghanistan which amount to 5171 km of total land frontiers and 2500 km of total Sea frontiers. Mountain Ranges: Alborz Ranges in the north, Zagross Ranges in the west Main Desserts: Dasht-e-Kavir (200,000 sq km) and Dast-e-Lut

(166,000 sq km) Most important Peak: Damavand (5678 m) in northeast of Tehran in Alborz Range Area: IRAN has a total area of 160 MH, out of which 20.7 % desert and unsusceptible land 54.9 % natural pastures 7.6 % forest land 14.4 % potentially arable land 1.6 MH under cultivation. Northern Caspian Sea (Bahira-e-Khazar) shores are lush green land covered with forests, and the land is 28 m below the level of open world sea. Southern coastal plains of Khuzestan are rich-oil extraction, refinery and lading Average rainfall: Annual rainfall is about 275 mm PEOPLE OF IRAN A variety of racial groups are found in Iran, the most distinctive groups are the Turamans, the heirs of Oughuz, living in Turkman plain, N of Khorasan. The Azari Turks, live in Azarbayjan; the Ghashghal tribes, who are of Turkish origin live in the central regions. The Arab races live mainly in Khuzestan or are scattered along the shores of Persian Gulf. Remaining groups are Farsis, Kurds, Lors, Taleshis, Bakhtiaris and Baluchis. My point of view is that overall people of Iran are beautiful and healthy that reflects that they eat good food and exercise well. Women are healthy, active and participate in all walk of life and share the burden of bread and butter with men. Education level and facilities are ample for all genders. I have not seen any class distinction among the people and to me it looked like that they all belong to one country, and one nation.

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People: Persian (Farsis) 65%, Azari (25%), Arab (4%), Lors (2%), Turkmen (2%), Kurdish, Armenian, Jewish.

Provinces: Administratively the country is divided in 25 provinces. Iranian Dishes: Chelow Kabab, Ab-gousht, Fessenjan, Pomegranate paste,

Dolmeh and Doogh. Spiritual leader: Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei SOME ATTRACTIONS IN TEHRAN Maidan-e-Azadi Yadgar-e-Imam (Marqad-e-Imam) & Allama Taba Tabai Bahisht-e-Zahra Shrines of (i) Shah Abdol-Azim, (ii) Hamzah-ebne-Mussa Kazem, (iii) Saleh-ebne-Mussa Kazem, (iv) Hazrat Tahir Bazar-e-Buzurg

Newly built Tehran Subway Expo Arenas Park-e-Millat Valenjik viewpoint Pakistani Hotel: Our stay was at Pakistani Restaurant, Musafir Khana-e-Punjtan, Khayban Imam, Reza, Koochah Eidgah, Mashhad. Tel: + ( )-356979.

Photo

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OTHER ATTRACTIONS OF IRAN WHICH WE MISSED

Shrine of Ahmed-ebne-Mussa-ebne Jafar, known as Shah-e-Cheragh, in Shiraz Mausoleum of Sayed Jalaleddin Ashraf-ebne-Mussa-e-Kazem, in Astaneh Ashrafia,

Gilan Tomb of the prophet Hazrat Danial, in Shush (Shoosh) Jomeh Mosque, Imam square, Masjed-e-Shah, Ali Ghapu, Chehel-Sotoon Palace, 3

bridges (Khaju, Sio-She and Shahrestan bridges) and Bazar of Isfahan. Shiraz being the center of Fars province is famous for Takht-e-Jamshid (Persepolis),

Naghshe-Rostam and Pazargad, Shrine of Shah-e-Cheragh, Darvazeh Quran, the Tombs of Sa’di and Hafiz (RTA).

PILGRIMAGE CENTERS

Qom, Mashhad, Shiraz, Rey, Mahan, Shush, Ghomsheh and Astneh Ashrafia, etc. CULTURAL HERITAGES

Many cultural heritages and historical monuments which have remained from this era can be seen at Takht-e-Jamshid, Pazargad, Shush, Shoushtar, Hamadan, Firuz-abad, Naghsh-e-Rostam, Tagh-e-Bostan, Sarvestan and Neishaboor, all of which are well worth visiting.

OLDER CIVILIZATIONS

Belong to such places as Rey, Hamadan, Isfahan, Takht-e-Jamshid (Persepolis), Sad Darvazeh (near Damghan).