After Yazd my next destination was Shiraz. Therefore I started off to south through a snowy mountainous area. Before Shiraz there were two points on the road that was worth to visit; Abarkuh and Persepolis.
The reason I visited Abarkuh was an old cypress tree. It is quite extraordinary to stop by somewhere because of a tree, right? But this particular tree is so exceptional because it is one of the most ancient living creatures on earth. Its age is estimated as around 4500 years and said that it is the 3rd oldest tree in the world.
It’s forbidden to stay near the tree more than couple of minutes. This was quite disappointing at first as I was dreaming to spend quality time and meditate around the tree. But then I understood why this jewel has to be protected so deliberately. Nevertheless I was lucky, the caretaker let me stay more, after he saw my state and prayers.
Its twisted body and the marks on its swirling branches were showing its elderliness. This reminded me of the wrinkled faces of old people. Imagine you have been living on earth for 4500 years! Imagine how wise it would be. I hugged the tree, closed my eyes and opened myself fully to its healing powers, to whatever it resonated out to the life. Taking its elder energy in, I prayed for its well being.
There is a term called “interbeing”; the underlying interrelatedness of all life, that everything is connected. Go find a tree and hug it. Follow your breath consciously like you would in meditation. Right there in the moment, feel how the tree is inhaling your exhale, how you are inhaling its exhale. By this way feel your physical presence in contact with its physical presence. Focuse with the knowledge of the reality of this inter-relationship. Hugging a tree is embracing mother nature with a big ‘thank you’, with deep gratitude and respect.
I am glad that I remembered to take one of its cones to carry its wisdom with me. The worthy things I carry has become the seeds, stones or little gifts from dear fellows. All the rest are just temporary materials that come and go as possessions.
Abarkuh is a desert town. We see some typical traditional elements in the architecture such as sun dried mud bricks and dome shaped roofs. Abarkuh has these adobe ice houses, yakhcals (below, right) that are old but very smart designs in the desert climate. They were used to store ice and food throughout the year. The mid picture below shows the memorial structure called Dome of Ali and it is the oldest strcuture of the town that dates back to 11th century. And on the left below, we see a view from the wild life here. That donkey looking animals are Persian zebras.
Departing from Abarkuh, my next destination was Persepolis. The desert look was dominant all the way long. Having the blessings of the old tree with me, carrying the energies I accumulated through the recent Khorasan days, when I was sitting at the front seat of the bus I shed tears with deep gratitude. It must have effected the bus driver that in order to comfort me he kept on offering me some tea and snacks.
I love to visit big archeological sites therefore I couldn’t miss to visit the great old capital Persepolis which is situated just 60 km northeast of Shiraz.
Persepolis (Takht-e Jamshid) was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire that dates back to 500 BC. It was built as a capital to show world the empire’s wealth, power and greatness. It was also used as a complex for celebrating Nowruz, the Persian New Year, held at the spring equinox.
Above is the spectacular view of Persepolis during the sunset.
The whole city includes residential and official palaces, audience halls, treasury and graves of the kings. These spaces are partly artificially constructed and partly cut out of the mountain.
Monumental sculptures carved from huge stones are so impressive. When you approach closer you see the great details of epictions of almost hundres of different people, soldiers, farmers, shepherds, horses, camels, sheeps (below). They carry many different kinds of gifts to offer to the great king. Cypress trees were used to divide up the different tableaux that show people each distinguished by their ethnicity. One of the outstanding sculpture is the depiction of lion and bull (below).
Walking on the 2500 year old site in between gigantic columns, arches, gates presented me the life at the times of this great empire and the kings. It was like a travel in time.
Nevertheless I know the timelessness of the reality.