Sunday, January 23, 2011

Kheshti Bridge


Kheshti Bridge is an adobe bricks and mortar bridge located in Langerood, Gilan. It was the old route from Lahijan to Langerood and due to its strategic location is still heavily utilized by the locals. This bridge spans over the Langerood River which in turn is fed by Sepidrood. Kheshti Bidge is 37 meters long and has two arches supported by thick pillars and on average is about 10 meters above the river’s surface.


The Bridge consists of one flat middle section with two sloped side sections. The middle section spans 15 meters while each of the sloped parts are 11 meters long. The width of the Bridge is a little over 4 meters wide. The Bridge consists of two arches, tall and wide enough for each of them to allow the passing of a ship (although by today’s standards it may be a tight fit). The middle column of the Bridge, in between the two arches, spans 4 meters across and on both sides of the bridge are two wave-breakers to ease the pressure on the Bridge during rainy periods. Up the walls of its column are two window-like depressions. The arches are each adorned by a row of bricks along their perimeter 12 centimeters wide. The bridge has a small passageway and window (sandwiched between the two window-like depressions) completely passing through its middle column.


There is some ambiguity regarding its age. Some believe it was built by Haj Agha Bozorg Monajem Bashi during the reign of Fath Ali Shah Qajar. Others point out that up until the late 14th century only wooden bridges were utilized in Langerood and thus this bridge must have been constructed during the Timurid dynasty. Yet others consider it the work of the Ilkhanate or Safavid dynasty.


In 2007, in an effort to enhance Kheshti Bridge’s attraction for locals and tourists, renovations were carried out. As a result of this $120,000 project, lighting of the Bridge was greatly improved, thus adding to its already existing allure.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Mazichal Village





Mazichal is a scenic village with pleasant weather and verdant landscape 20 kilometers southeast of Kelardasht in Mazandaran. The small village lacks modern facilities such as electricity, tap water, asphalt roads or telephone, but offers a tranquil experience to visitors seeking an escape from the pollution and hubbub of city life. Estimates on the total number of families in Mazichal range from 50 to 120. Families residing in Mazichal, most of them farmers or cattle breeders, live in the Village during the warmer months and migrate in the winter.


Mazichal gets its name due to the vast number of chestnut trees it contains. In local dialect, mazi means chestnut and chal means valley. Thus the name Mazichal refers to the nature of the area, a valley peppered with chestnut trees.



Mazichal is situated 2,600 meters above sea level. Vehicles cannot maneuver easily on the Village’s roads, hence most visitors prefer to abandon their cars (SUVs being the most appropriate for this particular destination) and walk to the Village. It takes an hour to reach Mazichal from Kelardasht through a beautiful forest, which includes various trees such as chestnut and oak. As tourists approach the end of the forest’s path, the highlands of Mazichal appear. There is a barrier between the forest and Mazichal, possibly to deny wild animals access to the Village. During the summer months, the neighboring Abbas Abad Village utilizes Mazichal for feeding its farm animals. Thus at such times the sight of herds of sheep traveling the various dirt roads towards Mazichal through the forest is not uncommon.

 

The Village attracts many ecotourists every year. Within the course of a day, the weather can change drastically from sunny to a downpour. The unique characteristic of this Village is that when it rains, Mazichal seems to be floating above the clouds. The topography of the region and the presence of hills and mountains is such that during raining periods clouds will overtake the sky and ground as well, covering the Village and its surrounding area. While constantly morphing into different shapes the proximity of the clouds gives one the impression that the Village is floating in the sky which is one of Mazichal’s main claims to fame.



Mazichal is home to many therapeutic plants. Liliaceae flowers extend over a vast area covering Mazichal’s hills and mountains during summer. An annual festival in Mazichal attracts visitors flocking to view its natural landscape of flowers. The region is also famous for its mineral waters. In addition to its natural beauty, Mazichal enjoys a rich history with cemeteries belonging to Pre-Islamic era.



No modern construction is allowed in the Village. In 2010, following claims of ownership from Abbas Abad’s Town Hall, permits for the construction of over 100 buildings were issued. Aside from the negative effect such structures would have on the natural setting of Mazichal, as of the end of the year, the legality of such claims and permits were still being debated.