Sunday, October 17, 2010

Landmarks and Parks of Tehran

I stopped short of discussing landmarks and the beautiful parks of Iran in my last post as it was getting out of my hand. I never wanted to prolong it any further, lest the interest of the readers was lost.

At that time, the best landmark of Tehran was the Azadi Square (top right in the photo). Actually its name was Shahyad Tower, when it was built to commemorate the 2,500th anniversary of the once great Persian Empire in the Shah of Iran’s reign. After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, its name was changed to Azadi (freedom) Tower. Beautifully lit at night, it can be seen from miles apart. Whenever driving at night, it always served as beacon for direction keeping. Now I hear that another impressive tower by the name of Milad Tower has been added to Tehran’s skyline, which overshadows the Azadi Tower to an extent. But I really cannot comment on it any further as I haven’t seen it except in photographs, in which it looks impressive and pragmatic.

Apart from this, there are many museums and cultural centers. A number of erstwhile royal palaces have now been converted into tourists sites (though expensive items, paintings and furniture has been removed) and are centre of attraction of anyone visiting Tehran, and so for us as well. These palaces included the Golestan Palace, Niavran Palace and Saadabad Palace. The famous Peacock Throne of the kings is placed in the Golestan Palace. We also “roamed” in the vast green lawns of Niavran Palace, where once tourists like us could not even dream of entering. Beside palaces, there are a number of museums that include the Carpet Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Quran Museum and Painting Museum. Carpets are the specialty of Iran and one can see the most expensive, exotic, minutely woven and ultra big carpets displayed in the Carpet Museum, which was closer to the Park-e-Laleh. The Art Museum had some masterpieces from Picasso and Van Gogh, said to have been chosen by Empress Farah Deeba.

Teheran has wide roads and “Utu-baans – a Persian translation of the German Autobahn.” Beside many others, there were two that would interest us Pakistanis. These were the Bozarg Rah-e-Muhammad Ali Jinnah (Muhammad Ali Jinnah Expressway – the founder of Pakistan), and Iqbal Lahori Street in Eastern Tehran (the national poet of Pakistan Dr Allama Muhammad Iqbal had his initial poetic work written in Persian and is still revered as a great poet in Iran and his poetry is taught in schools and colleges. Although born in city of Sialkot, he had his higher education from Government College Lahore, where he was on the faculty later on as well. Perhaps for this association, he is known as Iqbal Lahori in Iran).

If I am allowed to say that Tehran is nothing without its parks, I may not be very wrong. Besides Park-e-Laleh (that I mentioned in my previous post) there are more than 800 small, medium and large scale parks spread all over Tehran, of which Park-e-Millat, Park-e-Niavran and Jamshediah Park are the major ones. I along with my family was a regular visitor of Park-e-Laleh and Park-e-Millat.

Almost on every Sunday, like most of the Tehranites, I would also take my family to either of these two parks to spend the day. And the best thing was that despite being visited by thousands of visitors, there would be no litter left behind by anyone. That’s something unbelievable. There were some fine restaurants in these parks where one could enjoy the traditional Iranian cuisines. Park-e-Millat is the largest of all parks in Tehran. In the imperial times, Park-e-Millat was known as the Shahansahi Park (the Imperial Park). There is a big lake which looks majestic at sun sets, with the reflection of Alborz Mountains. There were boats to enjoy the lake rides. The park has elaborate amusement facilities for the visitors which includes skating lanes, snack bars and coffee shops and a small area with birds in cages. There also is a horseracing club adjacent to the park. I am told that the park has now home to the first musical fountains in Tehran, established in 2008, like that of the Dubai Mall.

Closer to Park-e-Millat is located the Tehran international Fair grounds, where exhibitions of international level are held. I once went with a friend, a geologist from Pakistan who later died in a helicopter crash in Iran, to a book fair and was fascinated to see the interest shown by the Iranians in the books and other AV equipment and aids.

Sandwiched between the Carpet and Contemporary art Museums, Park-e-Laleh (pictured top and bottom left above) was more frequented by us as it was closer to our house. We would walk down to the place in the evenings to enjoy the lush green park with a huge fountain in its centre. There was a Kangaroo at one of its entrances, which is centre of attraction of my sons. No sooner it started to become visible, both of them would leave us and rush towards it and sit in its lap. Chalo Kababs used to be our favourite dinner, followed by delicious coffee ice-cream. On our first snow fall, we rushed to the park and enjoyed the snow fall right there in the open. I would never forget that (though on our way back we found our car to be covered with a heavy sheet of snow and took quite a while to remove it and drive back home).

Well, that’s all for now – but my description of Tehran is far from over. I would write more about people of Tehran in particular and that of Iran in general besides describing the Shehr-e-Baazi (the Sports City) in my next post.

Related Reading:
Isphahan - Nisf-e-Jehan

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Shirazi said...

Iran has very deep association with Pakistan.

Shirazi said...

Iran has very deep association with Pakistan.