INSTC drives through Iran discovering the ancient city of Shiraz and the ruins of Persepolis

INSTC drives through Iran discovering the ancient city of Shiraz and the ruins of Persepolis

INSTC passes through ancient cities of Iran

If Shiraz reminds you of your favourite wine you’re on the money because this city in Iran is where the grape originated. Wine was a symbol of the prosperity of the Persian empire – a sign of such abundance that you they no longer needed it to fill their stomach instead stomping on it to make a drink to make merry with. Ironic then that there’s no alcohol in Iran. A cold beer after a long day’s drive would have been very welcome.

So anyway since we lost a day due to the delay in getting our cars out of customs we have to squeeze in Shiraz and Persepolis in one day – a crazy task. Shiraz is the land of poets, Hafez and Sa’di are her two most famous sons, so our convoy heads for Hafez’s tomb to get our first glimpse of Persian architecture and their obsession with gardens. A very healthy obsession that! Unlike Bandar Abbas that is a dry, arid, port city Shiraz is beautiful, green, peppered with parks and Hafez’s tomb is also a park that is beautifully laid out with the gardens in full bloom and roses as big as footballs!

INSTC heads to Persepolis

My god it’s magnificent, the ruins of Persepolis. Built on an elevated terrace and accessed by a broad avenue you can see the pillars of the Gate of All Nations as you walk towards the terrace, a raised platform (varying in height from 16 to 43 feet) and spread over 125,000 square metres on which the main part of the city is constructed. You climb up via a dual stairway of 111 steps, short steps so that royalty ascending the steps would not run out of breath and could hold a conversation while walking up. And then your breath gets taken away when you reach the top of the stairs and soak in the ruins of Persepolis.

“Hafez’s tomb is also a park that is beautifully laid out with the gardens in full bloom and roses as big as footballs!”

Sacked by Alexander the Great as a revenge for the Persian destruction of Athens 150 years prior, it leaves you in no doubt of claims that this was the greatest city of the greatest civilisation of the world. It is said that a fire started in the king’s private residence spread through the city but how they managed to hack off the massive stone columns in the days before explosives is just beyond me. Giant pieces of pillars, figurines, all lie all over the place, beautifully preserved now. The main assembly hall is said to have had 100 pillars of which only half a dozen remain and your imagination runs wild piecing together how awe-inspiring that hall must have been. The pillars, walls, all are carved with figures and figurines that look familiar from all the Zoroastrian books and texts my grand mum showed me (my mother’s side is Parsi) – bearded men, winged horses, massive bulls, griffins. This is where the religion took root before dying out with the Muslim invasion.

Persepolis takes at least a day to explore but we have a schedule to maintain and onwards it is for Isfahan.

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