Fuman to Masale. Rudkhan Castle to Masule
Day 230 21 September 2017
After our easy walking day yesterday – today a more challenging but absolutely worthwhile climb up to Rudkhan (Roodkhan) castle. It remains my favourite of the castles we visited.
Climbing up a beautiful lush wooded and stepped path – up, up, and ever up till knees were quivering and brows were sweating. Around 1200 steps and there you are at the castle.
A quick summary – the castle itself magnificent, the walk was entertaining. The steps were made a little easier given the path was lined with shops, food stalls and tea stops. And of course, the ever generous, ever friendly Iranian people made it all fun.
Unusually for us the ticket office was not at the base but about 900 steps up the mountain! Please don’t be closed!!!
It seemed that for Iranians it was a family day out. Whole families with varying levels of fitness huffed and puffed their way up the hill along with our own huffing and puffing. We soon realised what Leila had meant when she explained that we needed time to climb and time for the people – photo opps at every turn. It was maybe a little experience of Paparazzi except this was so much for fun – endless requests for photographs with us gave us endless opportunity to chat with people.
Finally we reached the top and yes the ticket office was open!
The castle itself was extensive (50,000m2). A magnificent sight as its battlements wound 1500 meters along a ridge with over 40 watchtowers for protection along the length.
Such a beauty to explore, and so entranced were we with our magical castle, that we found ourselves clambering up massive stones to a corner of wall with a beautiful view across the castle. It also had us realise we had just come up the climb we were warned was beautiful but difficult and too time consuming! Don’t go there – too late we were already.
At one point we came to a standstill unable to haul ourselves up the steep battlements until two helpful and very friendly Iranian men came along and hauled us effectively if in-elegantly up the rocks. After which we all paused for photos together and on we went.
After crawling over the foundations and walls exploring nooks and crannies we reluctantly headed back down to one of the many tea stalls for a cuppa. Note to self – if we are lucky enough to be back at the caste again allow a day to enjoy every last nook and cranny.
As we descended, the mountain-side had come alive – not only with teashops but vendors selling all kinds of merchandise. Honey sellers, spice vendors, soup stalls, vibrantly coloured toys, photographic shops offering dress-up family photos. Add to this what appeared to be hundreds of people of all ages, dress and fitness heading upwards. Complete fun and pandemonium. “Where are you from?” “What do you think of Iran?” “I have an Uncle / Aunt / Sister / Brother in Australia” Can I take your photograph?” A truly wonderful experience.
Sadly time to get back on the bus.
On we drive to Masule (Masouleh / Masuleh) – a famous adobe village of about 600 inhabitants and thousands of tourist visitors. The houses cascade down the hillside and the roof of the house below you is your verandah. It felt strange walking on someone’s roof but it is just accepted.
A small bazaar snaked along the terraces with restaurants, shops selling local handicrafts and all kinds of wares, dress up shops and of course tea houses. We walked to the top of the town, where along the upper rooves were groups of young boys beating drums and waving flags for Ashura. Soon groups of boys struck up on other rooves over different parts of town, a kind of call and response ensued – or was it competition?
Although a popular destination it seemed that most of the tourists were Iranian and with only a handful of foreigners we got lots of attention “Welcome to our country”. We lost Chris for a time and spied him in the middle of an animated group having a long conversation with a young man who was eager to know what he thought of Iran. The young man explained that he believed learning English was the key to better employment when he left school and enjoyed the practice.
It was fascinating to see familiar faces from our group scattered up and down the many levels of the town. We settled in a lovely tea house for tea and biscuits with Carol and Judy.
Wandering up through the town to dinner at dusk allowed us to see Masule lit up with the Mosque being the focus with its dome lit and visible from many vantage points. The night lights made a lovely sight stretched out against the mountainside. A lovely day completed with a delicious local black sesame Halva bought from a small local stall as we headed to our room. Again the generosity astounded us – the stallowner wielding a very large knife sliced off pieces of Halva for the children passing by and anyone else who wanted a taste.