Kordestan
75 DAYS ROAD TRIP Exploring the Enchanting Tapestry of Kurdistan: Baneh-Marivan-Sanandaj Adventure

Exploring the Enchanting Tapestry of Kurdistan: Baneh-Marivan-Sanandaj Adventure

Baneh

Early in the morning, before the sun had risen, we departed from the city of Urmia towards Baneh. Upon entering the small city of Baneh, we found ourselves in the vast region of Iranian Kurdistan.

Baneh itself is not a particularly remarkable city; it serves as a border town between Iran and Iraq, offering the best opportunities for purchasing whatever one might need. As novice Iranian travelers embarking on our first 75-day camping expedition, we were at the beginning of a long journey. We needed more equipment, and Baneh was the city where we acquired the best at the most reasonable prices.

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A larger sleeping tent, hiking boots, a sturdy backpack, and everything necessary to spend the night in the heart of nature. Baneh is not an ideal city for accommodation; it’s a border town where an incident could catch you off guard at any moment. Therefore, as the sun set, we left the city towards Marivan. However, this decision presented a significant challenge for us.

The route from Baneh to Marivan was a challenging mountainous path, and the darkness of the night made it several times more difficult and perilous. What should have taken three and a half hours ended up taking us over five hours. The entire route was a dirt road within the bosom of the mountain, devoid of any lights, road signs, or even guardrails along the edge of the cliff. A slight mistake could have resulted in an irreparable tragedy.

Marivan

We reached the city of Marivan around 11 PM, and due to the stress and exhaustion, every part of our bodies ached. We had neither the time nor the energy to find a suitable camping location, so we spent the night in a hotel.

The Kurdistan region in Iran boasts natural attractions, but you won’t find many historical structures or grand mansions there. In the city of Marivan, we visited the Tafi Valley and Zarivar Lake.

Tafi Valley is nestled within a village where storks have built their homes, and every spring, they migrate there. Although our journey did not coincide with their migration season, seeing their empty wooden nests was still a delight.

Boating on Zarivar Lake and relaxing in its serene surroundings proved to be a good choice for rejuvenating our tired minds and bodies. We enjoyed grilled fish by the lake for lunch, preparing ourselves for camping in the heart of the Kurdish mountains.

Marivan

Uraman Takht

After lunch, we headed towards the village of Uraman Takht, a peculiar settlement in the heart of the Kurdish mountains. Stone houses within the mountain’s embrace, descending into a large valley, where each house’s yard serves as the roof for the lower one.

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I didn’t want to stay in one of these houses and gaze out at the valley through its small windows. I wanted a panoramic view of this stepped village; I wanted it all. I hadn’t embarked on this long and challenging journey just to revisit repetitive frames and old stories. I began this journey to capture new frames and create new stories.

In the valley opposite, near a river, we set up camp. In our new sleeping tent with more professional equipment, we had learned to make a fire, cook over it, and spend the night under our makeshift cotton bed while watching the stars.

But tonight, we had two starry skies before us. With the darkness of the night and the lights of the houses, it seemed like a galaxy had fallen from the sky onto the mountain, and this frame was something I wanted to etch into my mind and soul. The most beautiful frames of Iran are always captivating.

On this night, the seventeenth of Mehr in the year 1399, the unparalleled master of Iranian music, Mohammad Reza Shajarian, passed away, adding a luminous star to the sky above me.

Sanandaj

We woke up to a slightly frosty morning, and with the warmth of the fire we had lit the night before, we enjoyed a hot cup of tea and set off towards the city of Sanandaj. It was a beautiful mountainous route, accompanied by the melodies of Iranian music, particularly those of the legendary Mohammad Reza Shajarian.

It was Saturday, and the city was closed. Not far from the city center, we found an equestrian club in a mountainous area and spent the entire day watching genuine Iranian horses and horsemanship.

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We spent the night in the clay houses of the same club and set off towards the historical monuments in Sanandaj the next morning.

Asef Vaziri Monument

This beautiful mansion, constructed at various times, has now been transformed into the Folklore Museum of the Kurdish People. Its architecture and decorations, like any other Iranian work, bewitch you with ingenuity. The intricacies of plasterwork and mirror mosaics, alongside the simplicity of its adobe walls, do not tire your eyes.

More than any other part, the architecture and tiling of the bath in this mansion won my heart.

Khosro Abad Mansion

A magnificent mansion built by the governor of Kurdistan, Amanullah Khan Ardalan, served as the government headquarters and the reception site for kings. However, the most beautiful night in this mansion was the wedding ceremony of Fath Ali Shah Qajar’s daughter to Amanullah Khan’s son.

The day I visited this historical mansion, it was under construction. Despite its seemingly abandoned and dusty appearance, I could see the hustle and bustle of celebrations, feasts, and the grandeur that once took place in this mansion.

Sanandaj Museum

Our farewell to the city of Sanandaj included a visit to the Salar Saeed or Habibi Mansion, a historic building that now houses the Sanandaj Museum.

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Let’s not overlook its Qajar-era architectural masterpiece—the Orsi windows with colorful glasses, a unique art form of Sanandaj craftsmen that leaves an indelible impression on your mind. This presented us with the most beautiful image of Sanandaj.

This was the last structure I saw in the city of Sanandaj, and in the afternoon, we left this city for Hamadan and the Ali Sadr Cave.

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Kordestan

Kurdistan, also known as Kordestan province, is among the 31 provinces in Iran. Covering an area of 28,817 km², its principal city is Sanandaj. The province encompasses various counties, each featuring significant cities such as Saqqez, Baneh, Marivan, Qorveh, Bijar, Kamyaran, Dehgolan, Diwandarreh, and Sarvabad.

Parastoo Souezi
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