Sunday, November 15, 2009
Kandovan is a tourist village near Osku and Tabriz, located on the steep mountain flank of Sabalan, northwest of Iran, 60 kilometers away from Tabriz. Some say it gets its name from the plural of “kandoo” which means beehive. Others explain that the name Kandovan comes from the old term "Kandou jan"; "Kand" meaning village and "Jan" meaning life. Its fame is due to its special houses which are carved inside rocks. Some of the houses are at least 700 years old and are still being inhabited. Other estimates dates this village back 3,000 years. At last count, Kandovan was home to 670 people whose main occupations are agriculture and animal raising; selling dairy products, meat, wool, honey, handcrafts and dried vegetables.
A river flowing down Sahand peaks passes through the valley, creating a number of natural springs. Its mineral water is also popular by visitors and was traditionally used to treat various ailments including for liver and kidney diseases.
The extraordinary form of the rocks was formed as a result of Sahand's volcanic eruptions from the early tertiary period to the early quaternary period. Eroded by flowing waters, the stones have turned into cones.
Legend has it that the first inhabitants of Kandovan moved there to escape from the invading Mongols, They dug hideouts in the volcanic rock and ultimately ended up transforming them into permanent houses. The troglodyte homes, carved into the rocks have between two, three or four floors. The ground floor is used as a stable, the second and third floors as living areas and the fourth floor as a warehouse. Most houses face southward so their inhabitants can enjoy sunlight during the day. The troglodyte homes have the reputation of being very energy efficient, remaining cool in summer and warm in winter. The cave homes require minimal supplemental heat during the long cold season, making for comfortable year round habitation.
Kandovan also has scenic beauty. It is now one of Iran’s most popular tourist destinations and the rock-houses rival the famous Cappadocia Hotel. It’s a popular resort and there are hotels and restaurants there to serve tourists. Laleh Kandovan Hotel, the first cliff hotel in the country and a five-star hotel in its own right, opened in 2007.