Iran Life – Needles In Haystacks

This is a story that epitomises why J and I avoid group travel and prefer to wander off from any designated path or route – why exploring ‘off the beaten track’ is so much fun and far more enriching than following the person with the coloured flag or umbrella or t-shirt around the same old tired touristic sites!

umbrella tour

As I posted earlier, the flight to Mashad near the eastern border was a real disappointment. The 120km road trip to Neishabour in Khorassan-Razavi Province to the tomb and shrine of the great Omer Kayham and an adjacent shrine to yet another pious nonentity was a real non-event and all we wanted to do was get away from the place. Our guide was deeply concerned that this part of our tour was such a disappointment – ‘What can I do to make it better?’ I’d vaguely remembered a sign along the road that pointed off to a ‘wooden mosque’ – let’s go there I said. It took a bit of driving around in circles, but eventually we found the road and drove the 10km or so to the site.

It was a delight, especially after all the past (and still to come) disappointment surrounding Mashad. Named Choubin Village (choubin means wooden), the place is a large compound full of trees, flowers, running water and bird song – a haven. Scattered around were wooden or adobe constructions – all of them simple, home-spun and all of them a delight to the eye.

wooden mosque Choubin Village Iran

The wooden mosque and library, in particular, were a pleasure to be in and explore. The village is the brainchild of an engineer by the name of Mojtahedi and is said to be earthquake-proof. It is certainly  constructed using unique principles of web-like lattices. Compared with the wonders of Iranian construction and design; from amazing mosques and religious buildings to fabulous gardens, qanats, wind-towers and adobe palaces, Choubin Village is a very modest, under-stated affair. That said, in many ways, it out-shone many places for its quirkiness and the  peaceful atmosphere and beautiful birdsong.

wooden mosque Choubin Village Iran

Choubin Village Iran

the library

selfie Choubin Village Iran

a selfie

library Choubin Village Iran

library interior

farm and water tower Choubin Village Iran

farm buildings and water tower

adobe lodgings Choubin Village Iran

new adobe lodging places under construction

adobe construct Choubin Village Iran


farm house Choubin Village Iran

it’s a working farm as well

mosque interior

another glimpse of the delightful interior of the Wooden Mosque of Choubin Village

A few shining needles from the disappointing Mashad haystack!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

18 thoughts on “Iran Life – Needles In Haystacks

  1. I am not a fan of the group tours either but how wonderful the guide agreed to take a side route! And what a find – the wooden mosque and library. Well done!

  2. Alan, What a fabulous find! It’s such treat to be able to discover a treasure like this in the midst of a tourist stampede. We felt like that when we found the Jewish museum in Rhodes – it really saved our trip there. Thank heavens you had a guide so eager to help.

    1. someone’s dream made real and shared – now that really is something! As for our guide, he was just about getting used to us and our wandering ways.

  3. Not a huge fan of group tours as well. There are many places to be explored that is outside of this path. I say these things offer more experience than the quick crowded tours. That’s a very lovely mosque, I’m glad you guys were able to find it.

  4. What a find indeed!

    I normally detest organized group tours too! However, we took one in May in Paris to Versailles that was worth it. Our group was only 20 people and our tickets allowed us to skip the long lines waiting outside.

  5. What gorgeous wooden buildings. I love the interlaced wood on the inside of the library. A real treat to see. Oh yes, and I couldn’t agree more on the whole group tour thing. I work in the historic center in Rome and in this horrible July heat, every time I leave the office I see a bunch of sweaty tourists walking past our entrance, the tour guide with the umbrella. They all wear these special ear-phones now so the tour guide doesn’t have to shout and the tour guide is blabbing away and everyone else looks bored and fed up. I would be. What a horrible way to see Rome. The only thing that I think might be worse is going on a cruise. I have a number of friends who have sung the praises of going on cruises. I think being confined on a massive ship with 3 thousand people and entertainers trying to keep me busy all day would be enough to make me jump into the deep. I would take an off the beaten track tour with you and J any day!

    1. . . nice to know we are kindred spirits re: tours and especially cruises where you can’t get away from anyone – apart from death!

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