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Sistan va Baluchestan

Sistan va Baluchestan

05/19/13

Geography and History

The said province covers an area of 181,785 sq. km. and is located to the east of Iran. The various townships of this province are, Iran Shahr, Chabahar, Khash, Zabol, Zahedan, Saravan, and Nik Shahr. Zahedan is the center of this province. The province comprises of two sectors, ‘Sistan’ in the north and ‘Baluchestan’ in the south. In the east it has common borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan. In the south is the Oman, to the north and northwest is Khorassan province and to the west stand Kerman and Hormozgan provinces.In the year 2006, the province had a population of approximately 2,405,740 of which 49.59 % resided in the urban areas, 50.15 % in the rural areas and the rest accounted as non-residents.According to the natural relief, the formation of this area relates to the late Cenozoic period, and due to the tectonic movements, the mountains have been segregated from the sea. Thence, calcareous sedimentation from the sea, in addition to other comparatively large and soft sediments, have piled up on each other. The southern part of the province known as Mokran, is gradually subsiding due to the thickness of the clay or sandy sedimentation of the Cenozoic period. The altitudes of the province belong to the Mezozoic and Cenozoic periods and are composed mainly of limestone and gypsum.Some of the mountains of this province, for example Taftan volcano, are of the late Cenozoic and early Quaternary periods. The altitudes or heights of Sistan Va Baluchestan are part of the central mountain ranges of Iran, and comprise of the uneven lands of the eastern sector of the Challeh Loot and the elevations of the eastern and southern walls of the Challeh Jazmoorian. These mountainous walls stretch out from north to south, and reach a maximum in the area between Iran Shahr and Koohak. These irregularities form both distinctive sections of the mountains of Sistan Va Baluchestan.

Climate

With regards to the geographical location of this province, Sistan Va Baluchestan comes under the influence of various air currents and also high pressure of medium latitudes. The most prominent climatological phenomenon of the region being the heat. Besides which the strong seasonal winds, sand storms, torrential showers a high percentage of humidity and morning fog are other factors to be considered. Basically this province experiences long, hot summers and short winters, the coldest city being Zahedan and the warmest Iran Shahr. Whereas the coastal region of the Oman Sea has warm weather coupled with a higher percentage of humidity.Sistan Va Baluchestan province accounts for one of the driest regions of the country with an increase in rainfall from east to west, and an obvious rise in humidity in the coastal regions. The province is subject to seasonal winds from different directions, the most important of which are, the 120-day wind of Sistan known as Levar, the Qousse wind, the seventh (Gavkosh) wind, the Nambi or south wind, the Hooshak wind, the humid and seasonal winds of the Indian Ocean, the North or (Gurich) wind and the western (Gard) wind.

History and Culture

The province is comprised of two distinct segments from the point of view of its natural characteristics and habitation. Namely being Sistan and Baluchestan. The current Sistan is situated in the north of the province, and due to its strategic position and geographical location, has been considered an important region throughout history. In the epigraphs of Bistoon and Persepolis (Tahkht-e-Jamshid), Sistan has been mentioned as one of the eastern territories of Darius (Dariyoosh). The name Sistan is derived from ‘Seka’ one of the Aryan tribes that had taken control over this area in the year 128 BC. From the Sassanide period till the early Islamic period, Sistan flourished considerably.During the reign of Ardeshir Babakan, Sistan came under the jurisdiction of the Sassanids, and in the year 23 AH., the Arab moslems gained access to this territory. Such that during the rule of Moaviyeh, this region was completely under his domain. The primal governor of this region was the renounced Yaqoob Lais Saffari, whose descendants dominated this area for many centuries. Other dynasties such as the Saffarian, Samanides or (Samani), Qaznavid, and Saljuqi also ruled over this territory for a period. But the region witnessed heavy damage during the Mongol assault.In the year 914 AH., Shah Esmail Safavid conquered Sistan, and in the reign of Nader Shah due to internal discrepancies, the region saw damages too. The ancient name of Baluchestan was ‘Moka’ and through the passage of time it changed to Mokran, which is known as the southern sector of Baluchestan. This territory came to be known as Baluchestan from the time that the Baluch tribes settled here. According to the relics discovered in the hillocks of Baluchestan, the history of this region dates back to the 3000 BC.During the reign of the second caliph, this territory was conquered by the Arabs and an Arab commander was assigned as governor. In the year 304 AH., Baluchestan was conquered by the Daylamians and thereafter the Saljuqis, when it became a part of Kerman. After the reign of Nader Shah, Baluchestan was formally, a part of Iran, but devoid of a local self-rule. Mohammad Shah Qajar beseiged the territory of Iran Shahr and gradually the coastal region of Baluchestan came under the rule of the central government.
Generally speaking, the inhabitants of the province of Sistan Va Baluchestan embrace their own norms and traditions, and this region can be accounted as one of the sight-seeing areas in the country. Two of the important tribes, named as ‘Barahuie’ and ‘Baluch’ reside in Sistan Va Baluchestan province. Their means of livelihood, life-style, mode of dwelling, customs, traditions and tribal paths all form a cultural background worth seeing. A group of scholars, orators and literary personalities have sprung up from this part of the country, amongst which are the reputed Farrokhi Sistani, Yaqoob Lais and Rostam.

Sistan Va Baluchestan Province Townships

Chabahar, Iran Shahr, Khash, Nik Shahr, Saravan, Zabol, Zahedan.

Chabahar

This township is located in the south of the province and to the west of which are the provinces of Kerman and Hormozgan. To its south runs the coastal region of the province and to the east is the neighborhood of Pakistan. Bandar Chabahar is the center of this township and is situated at a distance of 2,382 km. from Tehran.This area experiences a tropical climate, and its southern segments are humid due to the sea. In olden times it was known as ‘Bandar Tees’ which was held in high esteem, and was one of the trading centers in the Oman Sea. After the Islamic revolution Chabahar gained more importance due to many factors besides the war. Today this region is a strategic vicinity and is considered as a free trade zone area of the country.

Iran Shahr

The township of Iran Shahr is the largest township of the province, located in the central and western portion of the province. To the north of this township are the townships of Zahedan, Saravan and Khash. In the eastern sector, it lies within the limits of Saravan. To south east it has common borders with Pakistan, and to the south of Iran Shahr is Chabahar. In the west lies the province of Kerman. This city is located 1,987 km. from Tehran, and has a variable climate depending on the altitude. But in general, experiences hot summers.Iran Shahr is one of the most ancient cities of Iran which was formerly known as ‘Fahraj’. During the conquests of Alexander it was a prospering and verdant vicinity and later too was an inhabited region. During the reign of Naseredin Shah Qajar, the governor of Baluchestan constructed a few castles here and from that time onwards it gradually developed, becoming a new city.

Khash

The township of Khash is in the neighborhood of the township of Zahedan which stands to the north, and to its west and south is Iran Shahr. Due to its high altitude, that is in respect to the other townships and the ‘Taftan’ peak, which is located to the north, accounts as one of the most pleasant regions of the province climatically. Khash is one of the most ancient vicinities of Sistan Va Baluchestan, and dates back to times before that of Nader Shah. Before the reign of Nader, this region was prone to insecurity because of the high-way pirates, and thereby held no importance. But Nader Shah put an end to these conditions, thus peace prevailed. A few castles were then constructed in the region causing it to flourish. On the assassination of Nader, the British government entered this area and were responsible for the constructions there. Thus the place took the face of a city in the course of time.

Nik Shahr

Nik Shahr was formerly a part of the township of Chabahar, and in the recent years has become a township. The said area has special facets from the natural and geographical point of view, and is famous for its citrus orchards. To its north and northeast is Iran Shahr, to the south stands Chabahar and in its western sector are the provinces of Hormozgan and Kerman. The most important historical relic of this newly founded township is the ancient castle of Chehel Dokhtar.

Saravan

The above mentioned township is located to the east of the province. In its northern and western limits are the townships of Khash and Iran Shahr respectively, and to the east and south has common borders with Pakistan. Its central city is Saravan and is located 1,974 km. from Tehran. The said township has a tropical climate and comprises of mountainous and plain regions. Past evidences reveal that this area has a historical background with an ancient civilization, and till before 1926 was known as ‘Shastoon’. Gradually this vicinity expanded and was called Saravan.

Zabol

The township of Zabol is situated to the north of the province and from the north and east is neighboring Afghanistan. The border of Doost Mohammad Khan is the point of transit of passengers and cargo between Iran and Afghanistan. This township is in the west of Khorassan province, and the city of Zabol is located 1,828 km. far from Tehran.This township has a warm climate, and was formerly called Sistan (Sagestan) and Neemrooz. But in the year 1935 it was renamed Zabol on cabinet approval and a year later became the center of Sistan. On its southern slopes are the ruins of some monuments of the Parthian era, which in its own time spelt glory. Zabol today is comparatively developed and offers required services to the inhabitants.

Zahedan

The township of Zahedan, is the neighborhood of Khorassan province in the north, the province of Kerman in the west, and in the south is within the limits of the townships of Iran Shahr and Khash. To its east are the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The city of Zahedan is the center of the province, and lies at a distance of 1,605 km. from Tehran.Zahedan experiences a tropical type of climate in the south, but to the north it is comparatively moderate. In the early period of the reign of Fathali Shah Qajar, there was a well in the vicinity of Zahedan which was used by highway robbers. But in the year 1315 AH., a subterranean canal (Qanat) was dug by one of the inhabitants which caused the formation of a small village named ‘Dozdab’. After the Belgians entered in this area, in order to install a customs office, it gradually developed and thereby its population increased. The name Dozdab was renamed Zahedan in the year 1935, after which it rapidly expanded and became the center of the province.

Historical Monuments

Shahr-e-Sookhteh (Burnt City), Zabol

This ancient city is located at a distance of 60 km. from Zabol and 6 km. from the Rostam Castle, and is comprised of hillocks with a maximum elevation of 50 m. This vicinity was one of the vital centers of Asian civilization in the bronze age, and dates to the 4th and 3rd millennium BC. Archaeological and scientific discoveries, have revealed a rectangular structure, with square chambers, a corridor, staircase and walls to the thickness of 3 m. to the rear of this archaic structure, that show the signs of a vast fire.

 

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Another vestige of the Achaemenian period, discovered in the excavations in hillocks of this area, is a bronze statue of a woman carrying an urn on the head. Colored earthenware found in Shahr-e-Sookhteh are related to the 4th, 3rd and 2nd millennium BC. and are similar to the civilizations of Mesopotamia and India.Furthermore, in these excavations a number of graves have been discovered too. The same are of various forms such as “simple hollows or pits” which outwardly are not consistent in shape. These are square, or right angular, and even at times being close to a sphere. The same have been used once, rarely twice and sometimes two corpses have been burried together.There are pits ( containing a layer of gravel ) and are in two sections, which have been separated from one another by a partition made of one or to the maximum five bricks. The most interesting of these graves are the catacombs or crypts of this burnt city. These are oval in shape and have been dug on one side, and are to a depth of 180 cm. whereas the other side is only 120 cm. deep. The entrance to this part of the grave is blocked by a brick wall, whereas the other section remains empty. At times these tombs were used twice for burial.

 

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Another type of grave is similar to a crypt or is a sort of false catacomb. Here a pit was dug, and to one side a brick chamber was constructed, the walls of which were covered with a horizontal brick. These crypts have been constructed with a double row of bricks, and have encrusted walls.

Chehel Dokhtaran Castle, Nik Shahr  

In the upper Sookhteh Valley and in the wide bed of the Hamoon, to the southwest of Nik Shahr is the ruins of a structure reputedly known as ‘Chehel Dokhtaran’. The same comprises of a tall castle and a minaret on the entrance which faces the east. The form of this minaret reveals that on each side of the entrance two chambers were present, and this (minaret) may be related to the minarets of ‘Sar-o-Tar’ and ‘Chehel Borj’.The Chehel Dokhtaran structure has been constructed on a platform comprising of large slabs, cemented together with clay. There are a row of light sutures on the upper portion which have aided in the protection of the stone walls.

 

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Iran Shahr Old Castle, Iran Shahr

The said castle was a seat of power or command in the past in Baluchestan. It is a brick construction, built during the reign of Naseredin Shah by Firooz Mirza in the year 1264 AH.

 

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Karkooy Fire Temple, Zabol

This fire-temple is located in Karkooy in Sistan. Its special features and architectural design reveal the fact that the same is related to the Sassanide era.

 

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Teimoor Castle, Zahedan

The same is a relic of the Mongol and Safavid eras. The structure is located to the southwest of the old city of Zahedan and in the Posht Ab vicinity of Zabol.

 

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Other castles in Sistan Va Baluchestan province are as follows: Zaboli Castle related to the Qajar period, and located within a distance of 125 km. from Saravan; The ancient castles of Peesheen, Daman, Espidej and Saeid Abad in Iran Shahr, the ancient Qadami Castle at a distance of 153 km. of Chabahar – Nik Shahr, the ancient Qasr-e-Qand Castle within 34 km. of Chabahar, Peep Castle 142 km. of Iran Shahr, Mian Kolangi Castle in north Zabol, Doost Mohammad Khan in north east Zabol, Seh Kooheh Castle in the district of Sheeb Ab Zabol, Firooz Abad Castle Rasak, 190 km. south of Iran Shahr, Chanof and Bampour Castles in Bampour, Namrud Castle in south of Zabol, Haridook castle 130 km. of Iran Shahr, Bazman Castle on the Iran Shahr – Bazman Road, Zahak Castle and the Seeb Castle 47 km. of Saravan. Heydar Abad Castle in Khash.

 

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Heydar Abad Castle, Khash

 

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Zahak Castle, Saravan

 

Religious Monuments

Imamzadeh Qolam Rasooli, Chabahar

This tall and domed structure is located on the fringes of the eastern sector of Chabahar. The construction is related to the Teimoorid period. The Imamzadeh is to the western side of the courtyard and has been built on a platform. Its entrance is also on this side and has plaster adornments on the walls and arched ceilings. Its architectural effects show that the structure dates to the Teimoorid and Saljuqi eras, though the wall paintings are of the Safavid period.

 

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the pilgrimage site of Baba Jami on the Saravan-Hitook Road and Qadam Gah-e-Hazrat Ali (AS) on the common borders of Iran and Afghanistan, Imamzadeh Bibidoost in Zabol, Imamzadeh Zahak in Saravan.

 

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Imamzadeh Bibidoost, Zabol

 

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Imamzadeh Zahak, Saravan

 

Shah Ali Mosque, Zabol

The said mosque was constructed under the orders of Malek Shamseddin Ali, in the year 847 AH. In this mosque two epigraphs can be noted. One displays the name of the founder of the mosque, by the name of Shah Ali and one of the Mulok family of Sistan. The second engraving is in commemoration Amir Qiasseddin Mohammad Kiani also another member of this household. Other Old Mosques in Sistan Va Baluchestan are Zahedan Jame’ Mosque, Zahedan Shi’ite Jame’ Mosque, Hakim and Sharifi Mosques of Zabol, the ancient Saravan Mosque and Dar-ol-Oloum of Saravan, Tohidiyeh Jame’ Mosque in  Zahedan.

 

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Tohidiyeh Jame’ Mosque, Zahedan

 

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Tohidiyeh Jame’ Mosque, Zahedan

 

Natural Attractions

Loot Plain, Zahedan

The plain of Loot is the largest hollow or pit in the plateau of Iran and a part of which is located between Sistan Va Baluchestan. This plain is one of the hottest and driest in the world with a minimum trace of water. To the west of this plain, is another area of wilderness called Namakzar, which is impenetrable in the rainy seasons. The eastern half of the plain is covered by moving sands, but a part of its southern sector is penetrable.Due to the hot sun and strong winds, heavy masses of sand move to the south and the southeast, forming a chain of sandy hillocks.

 

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Hamoon Lake, Zabol

This lake is valued for its natural phenomena both from the national and international point of view. This region holds its own in respect to being a habitat for rare animal and plant species. Besides being an axis for the food chain of the vast desert region, having economic values and providing a habitat for the refuge and breeding of a number of birds both endemic and migrant. Moreover, the vegetation coverage in this vicinity offers a camouflage for some of the birds, mammals and other aquatic species. The aquatic species of this lake together with the rush-brakes play an important role in securing the requirements of the wildlife.

 

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Persian Gulf and Oman Sea Coasts, Chabahar

In the southern sector of Sistan Va Baluchestan is the coastal area of the Oman Sea. Due to the prominent position it enjoys regarding access to the free waters, in addition to other aspects such as trade, commerce and navigation this province holds specific location. The winter months can be best for water sports and recreation.

 

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Fishing Quay of Chabahar City

 

On the coast of the sea, particularly in the southern region of Chabahar is a rocky coastal area with a beautiful landscape, specially during sunset. Parts of the shores of the Oman Sea is greatly valued for its recreational areas and those concerning the safe swimming zones, canoeing, water skiing and other such sports.The Oman Sea contains various minerals and a variety of water species, in particular algae and plankton. These have a positive affect on the human body.

 

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Chabahar Sea Shore

 

Taftan Summit, Khash

The mountainous area and Taftan peak is located in the southeast of Iran, and within a distance of 50 km. southeast of Khash city. This mountain embraces the Taftan volcano and is the tallest mountain of Baluchestan, with several peaks. Its famous volcanic summit known as ‘Chehel Tan’ lies 380 km. north of the Oman Sea. This summit has two main branches, the northern one is the highest and called ‘Ziarat’, whereas the southern one is known as ‘Madar Kooh’. From the northeastern direction this peak is known as ‘Sobh Kooh’ and in the west is called ‘Lor Kooh’.

 

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The other mountains of the province are, Malek Siyah Mountains along the Zahedan – Zabol Road, and on the borders of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Bamdasht Mountains, between Saravan and Chabahar, Ahooran Mountain Ranges that separate Chabahar and Iran Shahr from each other. Also the famous ‘Sorkheh’ Pass is located here.

Culture and Art

Zahedan Museum, Zahedan

This exhibition area, forms a section of the main museum of Zahedan, and comprises of two sections named as , the Archaeological and the Anthropological sectors. Discoveries made on excavations in this territory are on display in the former and articles and implements to do with the regional lifestyle is on exhibit in the latter. From the year 1990 there are also photographs on permanent display, depicting the livelihood and general mode of life of the inhabitants of this province.

Universities

The Governmental universities in Sistan va Baluchestan province

University of Sistan va Baluchestan, Chabahar Maritime University, Zabol University, Zahedan University of Medical Sciences, Zabol University of Medical Sciences, International University of Chabahar, Iran shar University.

The Islamic Azad universities in Sistan va Baluchestan province

Islamic Azad University of Iran shahr, Islamic Azad University of Zahedan.

Handicrafts and Souvenirs

In Sistan Va Baluchestan province and specially in the former territory, majority of the inhabitants are employed in this field. Handicrafts of the province can be said to be the following: Kilim weaving (or a kind of coarse carpet), carpet and rug weaving, embroidery including other needle art works, pottery making and jewelry making can be mentioned as the handicrafts of this province.

 

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Local and Regional Foods

The traditional array of food in this region of Iran, intermingles with that of the food habits of its tribal and rural areas. Thereby most of the dishes prepared are similar in the cities of Sistan Va Baluchestan. Most of these are sea food dishes, such as fish.

Local Music and Dances

The local music and folklore of this regions holds its own, in that it depicts the life-style of the inhabitants. Music plays an important role in wedding and other festivities such as the Eid-e-Fitr ceremony which is a celebration after the fasting month of Ramadan. Musical instruments such as the drum and a local string instrument called ‘Geychak’ (considered as one of the traditional musical instruments of this region), accompanies the songs and folklore.

 

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Musical Insrtument