Meeting Shapur

Bishapur Travel Blog

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People I met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia), Mojtaba and Laleh (Iran)

08.00 may not sound like an early start to most, but as it was the umpteenth day in a row that we had to get up at this time, i really struggled to make it to the shower. After packing our bags we caught a taxi to Amir Kabir bus terminal, located in the South West of Shiraz. From here we weren't really sure of how to get to Bishapur, but this problem soon solved itself as we found a savari, or should i say a savari found us, that was heading there. The 140km journey only cost 25,000 Rial ($2.50) each and not only was it comfortable, but it also saved a lot of time from trying to get there by public transport.

Our taxi driver was a nice bloke who did his best to communicate with us, and when we arrived he drove around until he made sure that we were at the place where we wanted to be. Before leaving, he pointed up to a cave in the mountains and repeated 'Danger', then made gestures that if we went up there we were sure to be robbed. As if this wasn't worrying enough, he pointed at Julia and started saying 'Danger' and pointing up again. The cave in the hill was our main reason to be in Bishapur, so we decided that we would need to ask around before deciding whether to go there or not.

The first site that we decided to go and see in the area were six bas reliefs that were carved into the walls of two opposing mountains. Thankfully the ticket collector allowed us to leave our huge backpacks in his office, as it would have been too hot to lug them around.
Scenes on the walls depicted Shapur I in all his magnificence, after successfully defeating the Romans not once, not twice but thrice. To add to this glory, he was the only King to capture a Roman Emperor alive and Valerian's fate was to die by been force fed liquid gold. Nice. Horses, camels, warriors and the gents mentioned above could all be clearly made out, although some of the reliefs had suffered flood damage and also the tests of time.

Having seen this we crossed the road to look at Shapurs Palace and Anahita's Temple. From the road side it looked like the ruins were just a small brick wall, but as we passed beyond this, it became apparent that the place was far bigger. Crumbling buildings dotted the landscape for as far as the eye could see and we also got a glimpse of a ruined castle on a nearby hill.
Walking through the scattered remains we came across Anahita's Temple, which had housed an underground pool. Continuing from here we got to see two nice pillars that reminded me of Persepolis and it was here that we climbed a small mound and saw another large building in the distance. We ummed and arghed whether it was worth the effort of walking to and I'm really pleased that we did. Here was the large, derelict Shapurs Palace, with fallen pillars, bases of pillars and sections of wall still in tact. For me, this was the most impressive area of the site and to think that we almost didn't spot it!

Back at the entrance to the Palace grounds, we began chatting to the guy who worked in the Tourism Office and he told us to move our bags to his room as they would be safer, then his friend gave us a pomegranate to eat, which was nice! Having transferred the bags, we asked if it was safe to climb the mountain to see the cave and he said that it shouldn't be a problem, although it was getting rather late in the day.
He explained that it was a 5km walk along the road and then a vertical climb of 2kms, so 14kms to get there and back and it was already past 14.30. He suggested we try and charter a taxi, but this was going to be expensive and taxis only rarely passed by. I told him that we had best start walking and see if we could hitch hike. In other countries i wouldn't have taken this approach, but this is Iran, and after 30 seconds three guys from Tehran pulled up and took us to the foot of the mountain!

The hour long climb up was tiring, as we followed a trail that faded in and out, as it crossed large patches of boulders. Julia became so exhausted that she vomited, but bravely carried on at a pretty good pace.
Reaching the top of the mountain, we entered a large cave where a 7m statue of Shapur was waiting to greet us. The age and location of the statue impressed us as much as the actual carving, although this was also very nice. After 15 minutes looking around and catching our breath, we had to make a move back down to the road. Just outside the cave we met three Iranian men and gave them some water to drink and in return they insisted we take a pomegranate. Maybe the 'Danger' we had been warned of was been fed too many pomegranates! On the other hand, seeing a snake slithering under some rocks did prove that maybe everything here was not harmless! Coming down also took nearly an hour, but the second we stepped foot on the road, a car pulled over and gave us a lift back to the tourist information office.

Having thanked the man for looking after our bags, he explained how we needed to try and get a taxi to a nearby village and then connect with another taxi to Bushehr. We stood on the roadside for no more than a minute before a car pulled up containing a man, his wife and a small baby. The man asked where we wanted to go and after explaining to him, he said he could take us to the nearest village, where we could get a bus to Bushehr. Rearranging the picnic hampers and blankets into the boot, we jumped into the back seat with our backpacks on our laps and off we went.

The journey to the nearest town took 10 minutes and in this time we completed our introductions and found out that our new friends Mojtaba, Laleh and their six month old baby weren't even heading in the same direction, but had seen us on the roadside and it was 'their duty' to help us out! At the town we couldn't find a bus to Bushehr, so Mojtaba called a bus company to reserve us a seat, then drove us another 15 minutes down the road to a junction where we could connect with the bus.
They remained with us for another 20 minutes until our bus arrived, then called Pedram in Bushehr to get him to meet the incoming bus and finally gave us some food to take on our way! I've said this so many times, its starting to get repetitive, but only in Iran could we have experienced the kindness that we have been shown today - these people are genuinely the BEST in the World - DON'T BELIEVE YOUR GOVERNMENT!!!

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photo by: Deats