Just wrapping up a 2-night – 3-day trip to Kashan and some of its surrounding villages. Kashan is only about an hour’s drive away from Qom and is a great place to go for an outing if you have a spare day or two and as well as if you are on a tight budget. The city is one of the most ancient cities of the world with some sites dating back almost 9,000 years, notably the Sialk Ziggurat. Kashan has many other historical sites, dating back to the Seljuk, Safavid and Qajar dynasty.
Around the city, you will come across houses of historical nature that belonged to famous and powerful families of the city. We stayed at one of those historical houses which has now been turned into a guesthouse called the Manochehri House (dates back to the Safavid time). Below is a list of a few important sights to see within Kashan:
- Garden of Fin
- Bathhouse of Sultan Amir
- House of Tabatabaee Family
- House of Borujerdi Family
- House of Ameri Family
- House of Abbasian
- Sialk Ziggurat
- And many, many Imamzadehs (individuals from the lineage of the Imams)
Besides Kashan, there are a few historical villages and sights to see around Kashan – the farthest we went to was the village of Abyaneh (around 75 km from Kashan). The people here dress very differently than the rest of the women in Iran. They wear a flowered white scarf and a dress underneath and the men also wear a Pakistani type Shalwaar. You won’t see (m)any young people here, as most of them move to Tehran or other cities; therefore the whole village is mostly just old people. There is an ancient Zorastrian fire temple as well from the Sassanid period located there. The Jameh Mosque of Abyaneh (located within the village) was constructed in the 11th century. This was a village worth the visit.
We also went to a village called Niasar, around 35 km from Kashan, known for an observatory constructed during the Sassanid dynasty and there is also a nice waterfall located there. Besides that, there is also a cave there which is known to be the world’s largest man-made cave (which they believe actually served as a temple).
After Niasar, we went to a city called Nushabad, just 10 km from Kashan. This city is famous for its (accidental and relatively recent) discovery of an underground city of Ouyi, which is anywhere from 4 to 18 metres deep. Here are a few pictures and some more information about the underground city.
If any foreign travellers are wondering how much budget is required for a trip like this; I initially estimated around a $200-$250 expense, however I was able to complete the whole trip within a budget of $150-$170. Please do note that right now the exchange rate gives you a lot of Tomans for a Dollar, which is why it may seem a bit low (comparatively speaking to travelling in the West or elsewhere). This includes the 2 night stay at the hotel (which was naturally the greatest expense), eating, sightseeing (you have to pay for most, if not all, of the sights that have some sort of an entrance to them) and travelling. Just a side note, they tend to have different prices for Iranians and different prices for Foreigners at most locations like museums and historical houses etc. and there is generally a massive difference between them. For examples, for an Iranian it may be 2000 Tomans per person, but for a foreigner it will be around 10,000 Tomans per person.
Two biggest expenses are the hotels and travelling, although traveling from Qom to Kashan itself isn’t expensive, what was a bit higher is the cost of the driver that will take you to the near-by villages. We were out with him for literally 8 hours. From a Dollar perspective, we did 8 hours of travelling, which included 3 cities, stops, ate, prayed all for around $20 [just the cost of the driver for the whole 8 hours]. Make sure you have all your costs & expenses of travelling with such a driver clear-cut before you head out to any journey. The hotel I stayed helped a lot with arranging the driver, and he was not bad at all, and didn’t try to rip us off or anything. I gave him a bit extra at the end, because he helped out a lot as a tour guide (though we didn’t ask for one, since it is extra cost, but he helped out for free anyways) and also because I spoke Farsi with him for literally 8 hours straight (which compensated for my missed day at school!). The guy also seemed to have connections – he got a few things opened for us that were closed. Like the underground city – which was closed, but he managed to get the key from his friend, who runs the place and opened it up. He did the same for us at Abyaneh (the museum was closed, but he said he had been there hundreds of time and knows people; he eventually got it opened for us). Overall it was a pretty good experience.