Caravanserai’s were the hostels of the Silk Road hundreds of years ago.
The Zein-o-din Caravanserai is a special place in the middle of the desert in Yazd Province. This one was one of two which is circular since most were square. Some visitors take day trips here and others treat themselves to an overnight stay. My husband, Mahmoud, his friend and I were surprisingly the only occupants that night. We were joined for dinner by a group of Spanish women and their guide who were staying in Yazd. They had only come to enjoy a fabulous meal, watch some traditional Baluchi martial arts performance and talk about where they were going to go shopping the next day. They didn’t realize my husband speaks spanish.
When they took off, it was just us. The moon was full that night and the stars were the brightest I had seen in weeks. We don’t get much stargazing opportunities at home in NYC. We had the run of the place and it was such a beautiful night. We all ended up sitting on the roof, enjoying the views, tea and a few hits of shisha. Life was good.
There were once 999 working caravanserai or khan along the royal road which extended 2500 km from the ancient capital Susa to Sardis. Shah Abbasi the Great wanted to provide travelers in Persia a safe route of passage and resting places along the way. Each stop is 30-50 km from the next which allowed them to only have to travel a day between each. The Shah chose 999 because it was a number that could simply be remembered. There construction spanned over 10 decades are still found along the highways and desert plans of the Silk Road territories. Some caravanserai in Iran are still in use in some way or another and many have been neglected. Some function as storage houses for farmers and other lucky ones are once again resting places for travelers like the Zein-o-din.
It took the current owners took 3 years to renovate and they did a fine job. The rooms are separated by heavy curtains and simply furnished with soft sleeping mattresses on top of wool rugs. I had the most restful sleep here and the bathrooms were fabulous. I wish I could have spent one more night but the visa clock was ticking. Still much to see ahead to see and no time to dilly dally. There’s always next time.