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Eleven Wonders of the Central East of Iran

South Khorasan

The South Khorasan (South Khorasun) amazed me. I wished I had been on the last day of my trip flying back to Tehran, when I was in the plane flying to Birjand. The South Khorasan certainly wasn’t among my first 25 choices to travel between the Iranian 31 provinces. I undertook this journey as a necessity for perfectly visiting Iran and I was unfamiliar with the curious approaching land. South Khorasan demonstrated some things to me that made me salute and praise it numerously.
If the provinces such as Fars, Isfahan, Yazd, Khorasun Razavi, Kerman, Gilan, Mazandaran, Hormozgan, Kermanshah, Azerbaijan, etc, have not let you notice South Khorasan up to now, I am going to provide you with 11 wonders and guides for traveling to the third most extensive province of Iran to set the hesitation aside and not to repeat my mistake to postpone visiting this lovely province. I only managed to explore these 11 wonders on this trip but I have no doubt that South Khorasan has got much more hidden wonders and attractions. However, even a couple of the items which I mention are enough for making the decision to go…

11Wonders of South-Khorasan

1- Martian Mountains

It’s incredible. You will suddenly become reveted by a surprising scenery while moving from Nehbandan to Kerman. The Martian or Miniature mountains are so beautiful that leave all visitors admiring and gazing at them. These mountains are 25 km wide and they have already been inscribed on the national heritage list for years. Some areas of these erosion made mountains, are climbable and you can simply have a memorable view from a high point

Martian Mountains’ introduction sign
Martian Mountains near Nehbandan
Martian Mountains near Nehbandan
Martian Mountains near Nehbandan
Martian Mountains near Nehbandan
Martian Mountains near Nehbandan

2- Loot Desert and the Hot Spring

South Khorasan is one of the three provinces with the Loot Desert within it’s territory. Let it suffice to say about the beauties of the unique terrains of the Loot Desert that this desert is inscribed as Iran’s first natural site in The UNESCO’s World Heritage List. There are two major options to visit the most beautiful terrains of the Loot Desert, you have to go through Kerman and Shahdad to get to it’s heart or you can take the way of South Khorasan to touch Loot. However, the Hot Spring with some unique curative qualities which is a treatment for many physical pains, is the factor to make South Khorasan’s route, special. In spite of not being as famous as the other hot springs in Iran, like in Sarein, the tests have proven considerable curative qualitie’s in this water. In addition to the observation of the Loot Desert’s terrains like Kalut’s and Nebeca’s by going through South Khorasan, you will be able to take the hot spring’s water in the night time and spend the night under the stars in the residence nearby.

A view of one of the terrains of the Loot Desert
The Loot Desert in the beginning of the night
Sun set in the Loot Desert
The sun is presumably bowling on the desert
Loot Desert’s terrain

3- Makhonic Village

Some people know this village as the dwarfs’ or Li Li Poots’ village. Some other people recognise it among one of the five fascinating villages around the world. Whatever it is, Makhonic is an exotic village. Apart from the unbearable heat and poverty of it’s people, Makhonic has got unique architecture. Homes with quiet low height and extremely short doors which make it difficult for normal height people to pass through. Apparently, previous generations of the inhabitants had shorter height. However, as another reason for the small doors and considering the sheer poverty in the village, people weren’t able to afford wood to make doors so they made the small entrance for their homes to be able to block it by any means and prevent the cold and heat to enter their living place. One of the residents of the village has currently converted one of these house’s into a museum which can be known as the smallest museum of the world.

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One of the remainders of the Li Li Poot generation in front of her home.
Makhonic behind one of it’s short wall’s.
Kids of Makhonic village.
Short and exotic home’s.
Makhonic’s unique architecture.
View of Makhonic.
View of Makhonic.
An example of the entrance of the Makhonic home’s.
This man has established the smallest museum of the world.
The founder of the Makhonic museum in his museum.
The founder of the Makhonic museum in his museum.
The big short curator.

4- Akbarie Garden

Be sure that you haven’t seen a remarkable trait of the Iranian Gardens, if you had not visited the Akbarie Garden. Even if we don’t consider this Garden more beautiful than Shazde garden in Mahan, Eram garden in Shiraz, Fin garden in Kashan and Hasht Behesht garden in Isfahan, it’s not less charming than them. Tall and eye catching pine trees and a brick made manison and a big pond in the middle that are pleasantly parading it’s Qajar glory and prosperity. The anthropology museum which is established inside the main manison, is perfectly explaining the customs and traditions and qualities of the local people and provides a good view about Birjand and South Khorasan for the tourists. The Russian heater which is inside one of the walls of the manison, is a notable example of the heating instruments that used to be state-of-the-art in those times and the manison residents were experiencing a smokeless warmth by it. The gardens Prospect is truly engaging and reminiscent whether you look from the manison to the pine trees or from the pine trees to the manison.

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A view of the manison in the Akbarie Garden.
A view of the beautiful pine trees of the Akbarie Garden.

5- The City of Khusf

The cities of Yazd, Kerman and some other smaller cities around them are the only ones to be known as the cardinal cities with the historical fabric in Iran. However, visiting the spectacular city of Khusf will totally change this impression. You have to visit Khusf to understand this hidden gem in South Khorasan. A city with an unspoiled, intact and truly conventional architecture which takes it’s tourist to the previous decades and describes an image of the old times of Iran. This city has got numerous vintage houses which are mostly kept with the same antiquated appliances. Many of these houses are still inhabited by the descendants of its original residents and they have still kept many of the primitive customs and traditions in these houses. Khusf smells like nobility, history and tradition.

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A view of Khusf.
One of the alleys in the historical fabric.
A reconciling (very narrow) alley in the historical fabric of Khusf.
One of the main streets of the city.
A view to the historical fabric.
The famous shrine of Khusf.
Bina family house in Khusf, the childhood house of Sima Bina (a famous Iranian singer).
A very beautiful and scenic house in the historical fabric of Khusf.
The historical kitchen of Bina family.
The kitchen of one of the historical houses.
An inner view of one of the historical houses.

6- Ghorot Benjo

If you think Ghorot Benjo is the name of a historical monument or a city or a picturesque site, you’re making a mistake. Ghorot Benjo or Ghorot Bademjan is the name of a delicious dish from South Khorasan. Although, if you think Ghorot Benjo is identical to Kashke Bademjan, you are Mistaken again. Even though the South Khorasuni people use the word Ghorot, instead of Kashk (dried whey), Ghorot Bademjan is dissimilar to Kashke Bademjan. When you order Ghorot Benjo, an special bowl for soaking, composed of dried whey (something like Bouillon) but in a different color (some times violet) will be brought for you and it will be served by a separate dish off fried aubergine. First you should soak the bread into the bowl, then you should put the aubergines on the soaked breads and finally you can enjoy the meal. Ghorot Benjo is delicious indeed and it can be a sufficient reason for your trip to South Khorasan, if you are interested in tasting appealing dishes.

Soaking bowl
Plate of aubergine
Ghorot Benjo, ready to serve

7- Tajmir Dolls

On the east of Birjand, a bit to the south, there is a village around Sarbishe called Tajmir that it’s dolls are so spectacular and famed. Gol Bi Bi and Khadije are two villager ladies who have been fabricating the dolls which are made of impracticable clothes and goat’s fur and sheep’s wool Andy look approximates their own simplicity and good heart. However these dolls have a special trait to distinguish them from the other ones and that’s the background of each of them. When you buy each of these dolls you will find a piece of clothing on it, on which the story of that doll is simply handwritten. These short unadorned stories are so pleasant and believable that you can envision them quite easily and accept their fiction background story easier than the real world. And the doll’s storyteller is Elyas, son of Gol Bi Bi, who has got an Innovative mind and completes the cycle of this family business. These dolls are inscribed in the national heritage list.

Tajmir dolls.
One of the echo friendly dolls of Tajmir.
An example of the Tajmir dolls’ stories.
The introduction sign for the dolls production site.

8- Windmills

By talking about the windmills, horizontal axis structures which look like standing fans are the first pictures to shape in our minds. The modern national examples of these windmills can be seen around Manjil and the older ones in various cities in the southeastern provinces of Iran and the proverbial International examples in Amsterdam. But, the creative people of South Khorasan have Innovated amazingly by constructing windmills with horizontal axis and unique and distinct structures during Qajar era. In order to see these beautiful and Innovative windmills, you have to go to Nehbandan to see a few remainings of them in the village of Khansharaf. The vanes that are put around the vertical axis of these structures move them by the power of wind and the milestone consequently starts to rotate and The weat becomes grinded. There are some examples of these windmills in different villages around Nehbandan but do not doubt that the Khansharaf’s windmills are prior to the other ones.

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General view of the windmills and the separating walls between them.
The separating walls between the windmills.
An example of the windmills that it’s structures vertical axis and it’s surrounding vanes are noticeable.

9- Shokatie School

It’s may seem a bit weird to have the Shokatie School on this list, if we just consider it a school. However we will recognize it’s exclusive place and importance in the Iranian culture when we learn the traits of this school. When Shokat Al Molk transformed the hoseinie (a place where the martyrdom of Imam Hossein is mourned for) into a school around 110 years ago, the Dar Al Fonon school in Tehran and Roshdie school in Tabriz were the only schools in Iran and he established the third one. This institution of him succeeded to the foundation of the first girls school in Birjand and Iran, a bit later. Shokat Al Molk employed many local and international teachers and supplied many initiatives for studying in the school and continuing it abroad and he contrived the training of the individuals who shaped a new identity for Birjand and turn to the Iranian elites in different sciences and arts in the next years. This evolution was so Titanic that teacher is considered as the most vital souvenir of Birjand nowadays; videlicet, Birjand has trained so many teachers and sent them to the different spots of the country that has converted them to the souvenirs of the city. Accordingly, when you step in the Shokatie School and walk in it’s rooms and yard, you will sense a whimsical feeling and a deep breath comes out of your heart as a sign of happiness and you smile contentedly. However, the preceding items are there with the architectural beauty of the Shokatie School’s building which is extremely handsome and eye catching and is one of the richest architectural Iranian monuments.

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The Shokatie School’s yard.
The facial and the entrance view of the Shokatie School.

10- Dehsalm Desert

Sand deserts can be found in a few locations in Iran. That which is located near the beautiful village of Dehsalm, is undoubtedly one of the most engrossing and unique examples of the sand desert in Iran. You should go towards Kerman from Nehbandan, in order to reach this desert. Before leaving South Khorasan’s territory, you will get to the village of Dehsalm where has got an utterly beautiful palm-grove. Therefrom you should go for dozens of kilometers towards the center of the desert through the detour to get to a point where the dancing convex lines above the dunes present a profound Tranquility to it’s visitors and demonstrate a view that it’s impact will keep in your mind for months.

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A view of the Dehsalm Desert.
The same explanation.
The same explanation.
Sun set in the Dehsalm Desert.
A view of the Dehsalm Desert.
Dancing lines on the dunes.
Beautiful desert waves.

11- Ancient Castle

The castle located at the heart of the city of Birjand, is perfectly special and scenic. The building’s design and engineering and architectural plans and beauties on one hand, and the view to the city from the top of the castle on the other hand have made a different experience in visiting this castle. Birjand is famous to be the city of the pine trees and you can see the tall presence of these green high trees all over the city. If you stand on top of this beautiful castle just before the dark, the castle’s yard and it’s surrounding rooms will appear daintily on one side, and the old houses and the city lights and the pine street trees will bewitch on the other. When you look from the top of this Safavid castle to the city, Birjand will not madly fetch your heart so that you would like to view every single feet of the city and perceive it heartily. Thinking about this Village being affluent during Sasanids with it’s passionate and talented residents supporting their government, makes you stay longer in it and the breeze will touch your proud face more.
Castle’s yard and the view of Birjand.
One of the castle’s walls and a view of the city.
The entrance of the castle.
One of the inner walls with the roomgates and their windows.
And More Wonders…
Believe me, there are much more wonders waiting for you in South Khorasan. The traditional dance and local music of South Khorasan are the experiences that you can only enjoy in here. You can see many unique monuments in Birjand and Kolah Farangi manison, Pardeli house, the Old Post Office, Rahim Abad garden, Shokat Abad garden, etc are only a few of them. And they are apart from the beauties waiting for you in Ghaen, Ferdows, Tabas and the other cities. You should consider jujube and saffron of their fertile soil and delicious foods like Gosht Dagh (Ghorme Khorasuni) to make this experience more special. I am counting down to go back to this province…

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A view from the city of Birjand and the green of it’s pine trees which can be seen among the houses.
A view from Birjand at night.
Kolah Farangi manison of Birjand.
One of the local dances from South Khorasan.
Another type of the dances.
Trey dance.
Looking at the dance from the castle’s hatch.
Stick dance which is another type of the local dances in South Khorasan.
Trey dance.
Gosht Dagh or Gheime Khorasani.
A tree inside one of the houses in the historical fabric of Khusf.
The Old Post Office of Birjand.


I went on this journey due to the invitation of the representative of Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Birjand and I would like to greatly appreciate Mr. Hossein Ebrahimi the honorable representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in this city.


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