Exploring Yazd

The Dolat Abad Gardens didn’t seem like much when we first entered. The area of greenery looked pretty autumn-like and austere. It was virtually impossible to find any plant or bush that wasn’t, well, a shade of green. I think this was the only exception.

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However, when we reached the extended fountain area in front of the world’s tallest windcatcher (33 metres), it was another story.

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It’s definitely worth visiting this park, whatever time of year you visit Yazd.

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The pavilion next to the windcatcher has some gorgeous stained-glass windows.

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And the dome looks great from the inside.

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Though it’s probably the 33-metre high windcatcher that is the most eye-catching structure in these grounds.

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The best time to visit the Amir Chakhmaq Complex is after dark.

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All the alcoves are lit up, and the fountain in front makes this area of central Yazd a good place to get your camera out and get some great shots.

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As we were walking around the fountain area, this loud drumming started nearby. It sounded like it could be a party of some sort, but my guide Hamed explained that this was a form of athletics combined with prayer. That sounded too interesting to miss, so we paid the entrance fee and entered the gymnasium. It had a 1 metre deep round pit in the middle of the floor.

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The gymnasium is called the Zoorkhaneh, and the training taking place there goes under the term varzesh-e bastani. Bastani rituals have pre-Islamic roots and go back to around 100BC.

My guide told me the athletes start off with calling down blessings on the Prophet Mohamed and his family, and then they start their athletic rituals, accompanied by chanting and drumming.

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The athletes swing around these jumbo-sized baseball bats called mils, but sometimes an individual athlete would start spinning around like a whirling dervish and the others would cheer that person on.

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I’ve never really seen anything like this before. The drumming was intense and there was a lot of positivity around the place. It seemed to me that individual athletes would take centre-stage from time to time and the others would clap, cheer and praise their efforts. A great team spirit and lots of encouragement in other words.

As we left the Zoorkhaneh and walked back towards the hotel, we could hear the drumming fade away in the distance.

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