The province of Sistan and Baluchestan is larger than the United Kingdom and twice as large as Portugal and South Korea! If you fancy a trip to Zahedan, then to Chabahar, you must be prepared for a 653 KM journey!
Once upon a time, Sistan was a large region with world-known culture and civilization, now, a forgotten land with huge tourism potential.
The vastness and beautiful scenery of Sistan stretch from Oman (Makran) Sea to Hamun Lake and bring a pleasant variety in different seasons.
Earthen but strong castles, green nature with soaring palm trees, pristine sea beaches, and the high volcanic Mount Taftan, are ready to make memorable moments for travelers and tourists.
One of the famous attractions of Sistan which is important not only nationally but also internationally is the short-snout crocodile. In Iran, the locals call it Gando. Gando is a Baluchi word meaning to walk on the abdomen. This crocodile is mentioned in the “Iran Wildlife” blog.
An old belief says that Sistan (with Zahedan as its capital) is the eleventh land created by Ahura Mazda. This ancient land had different names in different periods such as Sistan, Sakestan, Arya Polis, Drangiana, Zarang, and Nimruz. The last one is a time in a day, it means “noon”.
For those who have read the Shahnameh, Sistan is the birthplace of Rostam, the most famous hero of the Iranian epic era.
Zahedan is the capital of Sistan and one of the metropolises of Iran. Before the outbreak of World War II, this city was a small and remote village called Dozdab. The reason for this naming was the existence of aqueducts and water springs around Zahedan.
In the northern part of Zahedan, there were castles that according to the documents were the residence of people.
After World War II, Zahedan received more attention, due to the sensitive border situation of this city and its proximity to Afghanistan and Pakistan, the then government decided to develop this area.
Until finally, in 1929, during the reign of Reza Shah, its name was changed to Zahedan and government offices and buildings were established there.
Zahedan has a hot and dry climate on most days of the year and 120-day winds have a great impact on its temperature, although on summer nights the climate of Zahedan cools down. Snowfall in Zahedan is a very rare phenomenon.
Many Indian, Mashhadi, Yazdi, and Birjandi merchants migrated from their cities to Zahedan to take advantage of the economic prosperity in this area. During this period, many Yazdi merchants competed with Indians in product supply.
The economic situation of Zahedan is a transit and tourist situation due to its location on the roads of Pakistan, India, Khorasan province, and Kerman province.
Zahedan was one of the first cities to be piped. The pipeline first went to the railway station and the workers’ house and then reached the whole city.
To get acquainted with the local culture and customs of this region, it is not bad to visit the Anthropology Museum on Shahid Motahari Boulevard in Zahedan.
Among the tourist attractions of Zahedan, we can mention Sarposh Bazaar, Old Justice Building, Queen’s Warehouse, Ayoubi House, Nusrat Abad Caravanserai, Zaranj Mosque of Zahedan, Shah Ali Mosque, Museum of Southeastern Iran, and Post and Communication Museum.
We could go on and on about historical places, which by the way you don’t go to Zahedan for that, but what a traveler mostly looks for is the essence of a destination.
For the people of Zahedan, this essence could be found in music, food, and handicrafts.
Residents of Zahedan have a strong appeal to music. It’s like the people of this region are born with music.
Folk music and folk songs of the people of Zahedan have a special elegance. This tenderness may seem a little unusual due to the harsh nature and the hard way of living in this province. All the same, it expresses lovely feelings. You could also understand the pain and suffering they must have endured and alongside it, the most exhilarating love and epic stories they have heard from their ancestors.
The local songs of Zahedan are a perfect window to get to know the people. Because they represent their daily life as well as their spiritual beliefs. Most of these songs are directly related to the natural environment, lifestyle, and religious rituals.
Mango is one of the tropical fruits of this region which is considered as the main agricultural product due to Zahedan’s climatic conditions. In addition to edible consumption, mango fruit is used in cooking as a flavoring, coloring, and aroma. Fruits such as pomegranate and citrus are other main fruits of this region.
Spices in Zahedan, play an important role in cooking. Zahedan, due to its proximity to Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as having a port that hosts ships of Eastern merchants such as the Indians, has developed a special food culture in which spices are an important and game-changing factor.
The “Achar Goosht” spice, named after the same spice in India and Pakistan, is one of the unique spices of the region. This spice is made from fenugreek seeds, red pepper, turmeric, salt, coriander seeds, and black cumin seed, which people use in most of their foods.
Owjyzak (Zahedanian Abgoosht) and Tanuri are two famous dishes of Zahedan that are specially prepared with this spice.
Tanuri or Tanurcheh is one of the dishes that is mainly cooked for luxurious gatherings and it is to skewer a whole carcass of red meat. Then they put it in the oven.
By taking a walk in the traditional bazaars of Zahedan, you can see containers full of tea, which tempts everyone to buy, and yes it tastes great. This tea is one of the local products of and has a good quality.
In addition to black tea, green tea and red tea are also available for purchase. White tea is also available in Zahedan. White tea is rare and expensive. In terms of appearance, it also has long leaves.
Brewed white tea is similar to green tea and has more anti-cancer properties. Zahedan’s tea is very popular and has many fans, therefore, it is a good souvenir from Zahedan.
The most well-known handicraft of Zahedan is Embroidery. The art of decorating simple textiles and creating a beautiful costume. The traditional costume of the people who live in Sistan and Baluchestan province differs from region to region.
However, this Embroidery could be found in Zahedan too. It’s a colorful design for textiles, making patterns with silk yarn and needles. This handicraft, which has been passed from grandmother to mother to daughter, dates back to when Sistan was Drangiana in Achaemenid time.
Farah Pahlavi, Iran’s last Queen, ordered a set of dresses decorated with Embroidery and thereby, made this art immortal.
In recent years, the growth of the tourism industry in this region has given the lifestyle of these warm-hearted people of Sistan (Zahedan), a new shade.
The hope is that, with the tourism industry, this forgotten land once again restores its greatness.