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Mashhad

Mashhad,often referred to as "Holy Mashhad" is home to one of the holiest pilgrim sites for Shia Muslims. The city,which draws millions of tourists every year,is a shopper’s paradise. Blessed with a rich heritage and old world charm,Mashhad holds the promise of a unique travel experience.




History

Mashhad,capital of Iran’s Khorasan Province and Iran’s second largest city,is known for the shrine of Imam Reza (A.S),the Eighth Imam of the Shia Muslims who follow Twelve Imams. Mashhad literally means "burial place of the martyr." The city started out as Sanabad,a stop-over for trade caravans traveling to and from Turkmenistan. It was only after the martyrdom of Imam Reza (A.S) at Tus in 818 and the construction of his shrine here that the city became a pilgrim site. The ruined city of Tus lies about 23 km from Mashhad.

 

Sightseeing in Mashhad

Imam Reza Shrine Complex

The complex is a city in itself and visitors are frisked by security at all gates. Women must observe shrine decorum and cover themselves with the chador,without which they will not be permitted to enter the complex. Apart from its religious significance,the complex is an architectural masterpiece decorated with intricate tiles,calligraphy,beautiful courtyards and porches. The complex also houses a museum,library and the very beautiful Masjid-e-Gohar Shaad of the Timurid period. Photography is not permitted within the complex.





Boq’eh-ye-Khajeh Rabi

The large structure with a blue dome was built to honor one of the apostles of the Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W). One of the most important sites for Muslim tourists it is frequented by pilgrims and local Iranian families and can get quite crowded on public holidays.

 




Mosques and Mausoleums

The 15th century 72 Martyrs Mosque located just outside the city is one of the many mosques in Mashhad. The Nadir (Nader) Shah Mosque and mausoleum is a monument dedicated to the founder of the Afshar dynasty,who was responsible for the development of Mashhad city and expansion of the Imam Reza Shrine complex. Ferdosi Park and mausoleum and Gombade Sabz mausoleum are some other mosques in the city.



Gardens and Pilgrim Sites in Neishabur

Neishabur,a two hour drive away from Mashhad is a picturesque location dotted with beautiful gardens which are ideal for an evening visit or an overnight camp. The area has complexes that house relics of Imam Reza (A.S).

 

Summer Resorts

Summer resorts at Torogh,Torghabeh,Aklomod,Zoshk and Shandiz are excellent weekend getaways.

 

Money

Money changers are available on the streets in shopping areas and most jewellery stores around the city. American Dollars,British Pounds,Euros and even Indian Rupees can be exchanged freely. Credit cards,debit cards and travelers checks are not accepted anywhere.

 

Shopping in Mashhad

Things to buy

Dry fruits,an assortment of salted nuts,saffron,Iranian sweets like Gez and Sohaan,precious stones like agates,turquoise,intricately designed silver jewellery studded with rubies and emeralds,eighteen carat gold jewellery,perfumes,religious souvenirs,trench coats,scarves, termeh, carpets and rugs are just a few of the delights on offer in the city’s shopping areas.

 

Shopping Complexes and Bazaars

Bazaar-e-Reza,located near the shrine of Imam Reza (A.S),has many stores selling all kinds of goods while Sara-ye- Bazaar-e-Reza is a textile and fabric market. Places like the Shargh-Zit Trade Centre, Kuwaiti Bazaar, Proma Trade Centre, Almas-e-Shargh, Zist Khavar and Bazaar-e-bozorgh-e-markazy are other shopping areas that offer both variety and value for money.

 

 

Food

Iranian food is light and non-spicy. Travelers to Mashhad should try chello kebab (rice and fried meat balls), chello murgh (rice and chicken) which are specialties of Iranian cuisine and are served in all eating places. An assortment of freshly baked breads at the city’s many bakeries is something that is peculiar to Iran,where people like their bread straight out of the oven. Ice-cream and mash melon milkshake are also worth a try.

Black tea sweetened with sugar cubes is a popular drink and those in search of an authentic hot cup of tea must visit Hezardestan Traditional Teahouse,one of Iran’s most famous tea houses. Furnished with Iranian antiques and rugs with live music playing in the background,it is the best place to savor the sights and sounds of life in the city.

 

Places to Stay

Spring and summer draw many visitors to Mashhad. Travelers are recommended to book accommodation in advance. Accommodations are available at five-star Pars Hotel (Tel: +98 51 3868 9201),Pardisan Hotel (+98 51 3879 1820),Homa Hotel (Tel: +98 51 3761 1001),Ghasr Talaee International Hotel (Tel: +98 51 38038),Darvishi Royal Hotel (Tel: 051 3855 4048) and Ghasr Hotel (051 38090).

Those looking for board and lodging within walking distance of the shrine of Imam Reza (A.S) can be assured of good options such as Hotel Sharif,Ghadir International Hotel and Khayyam Hotel.


 

Dress Code

The Islamic dress code is strictly enforced in Iran and Mashhad is no exception. Women usually wear trench coats with trousers and cover their heads with head scarves. A chador is a must while entering religious places. Men are not allowed to wear shorts.

A tourist city with accommodation options for all budgets,pleasant springs,mild summers,large beautiful parks,sites and summer resorts all make Mashhad a great place to visit.