Today, Isfahan is the third largest city in Iran, but was once known as “Half the Earth” (Naqsh-e Jahan). I arrive in Isfahan on the night of October 5, the second day of my Iran trip. The next morning took a taxi to the famous Nakshe Jahan Square. Nakshe Jahan is right next to the room. We reached there within 10 minutes. Nakshe Jahan is a large square. It was built by the Safavid ruler Shah Abbas in the early 1600s. Shah Abbas Mosque on one side. Then Luthfullah Mosque and Ali Kapoo Palace faced each other in the middle. And on the other side is the Kaisaria Gate. I entered the Shah Abbas Mosque through the massive iwan. Abbasi Mosque is a very large mosque.
Ancient white tanks can still be seen there. Then Luthfullah went to the mosque. It was a small church. One thing that attracted me there was the window. There was a special beauty to the light coming in through it. From there I entered the Ali Kapoo Palace. Ali Kapoo Palace is a pavilion where the ruler receives visitors. If you climb on top of it, you will get a good view of Nakshe Jahan. Then he went straight to Caesarea Gate. If you go inside it is Isfahan Bazaar. I crossed the Kaisaria Gate and walked towards the bazaar.
Kaisaria Gate and Bazaar are of great historical importance. This bazaar has been operating since the time of the Safavids in the 1600s. Business is still doing well here. It takes a special skill to walk through the bazaar. Scooters zip past and behind people walking. Even small autos are going. People here are used to this, so they are walking without paying any attention to it. But for first-timers, it will be a surprise to see all this. There are various business establishments here. Cloth shops, spice shops, carpet shops, jewelry shops, and saffron shops and it was fun to walk through the bazaar.
I don’t know how far I must have walked and after passing hundreds of shops, I finally arrived at another square. Imam Ali Square. It was built during the Seljuk Dynasty in the 11th century. But it doesn’t have the size or grandeur of Nakshe Jahan. He left there and walked to the nearby Jamia Mosque. It is a very ancient church. Its importance was realized when we learned that it was first built in AD 772. It was later expanded over several periods to form what we see today. Friday prayers are still held here. There were few European tourists there. European tourists were mostly seen in Iran. Iranians call them Farangis. It is from this that we probably got the word parangis.
There are some ice cream shops outside the Jamia Masjid. Seeing children, youths, and women all eating ice cream made me crave. I went to a shop and bought ice cream. Saffron ice cream. It had good taste. I sipped my ice cream and took in the sights and continued walking. Now we have to go to a palace called Chahel Sutun. It is right next to Nakshe Jahan. I had to walk a long way back, so I took a taxi and went there.
It was also built by the Safavid ruler Shah Abbas himself. There are gardens around the palace and a large water pool in front. I went inside and looked. The walls are full of pictures. Each film is based on various historical events. What attracted me was that some of the pictures were related to India. One is about the refuge of the Indian emperor Humayun in Persia. Another film is about the war between Persia and India. In 1739, the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah was defeated in the battle of Karnal.
Historians have suggested that it was this failure of the Mughal Empire that later prompted Britain to come to India. Realizing that the Mughal Empire had weakened, the British realized that it would be easier to establish power in India. It seems that such images were prepared to convince the Persian rulers of the power of Persia.
It is almost two o’clock. Something to eat. I walked to nearby Chahar Bagh Street. Chahar Bagh is a well-laid-out walking street. Full of shade trees, benches to sit on, various fast food outlets on both sides, and all the ingredients to make the street lively. Students, officers, women, families, and people from all walks of life gather here. They are sitting eating and saying sora. I also went into a shop and bought a sandwich. Then sat on a bench and started eating while watching the view. I was getting the taste of traveling alone. This is the first time to do a trip like this alone.
Although there is a lack of family or friends, the eagerness to see new worlds and the thought that Patachon is with us at any time drives us forward. When I saw a park nearby, I thought I could rest there for a while. After praying, I lay down on that lawn for some time. I did not know that I fell asleep lying with my eyes fixed on the blue sky. After a while, he fell asleep. It seems like I have got some relief now. I got out of the park and continued walking down the street. The street ends at the Sio Si Paul Bridge. It was built by the Safavis themselves in the 17th century. Seo Si means thirty-three. It is called Sio Si Pole because of its thirty-three arches. I continued walking from there to Kaju Bridge which was a short distance away.
After walking I reached Kaju Bridge. By then it was five o’clock. Kaju Bridge is a place with a positive vibe. Some people are singing songs together. Elsewhere some people recite something like a longing poem out loud. And there is a special event going on somewhere else. It is a traditional program. A man is singing something with tambourines and bells. According to its rhythm, some people are doing various types of exercises from around. Even so, the scene is fattened by performing some exercises and spinning at speed. It was fun to watch.
After six o’clock I returned to the room. My journey in Isfahan ends here. Now we have to go to Tehran by bus at eleven o’clock at night. I continued walking to the room with my heart full of sights of Isfahan.