From Europe to the Himalayas along
THE HIPPY TRAIL
Part II covers the journey from Tehran to
New Delhi across Central and Southern Iran and into Pakistan's and India's Punjab regions.
During this part, especially, we discover that the "original" Hippy Trail was never a single thread across the Near Orient, but a web of selected routes.
Beyond Turkey and Iran, it would typically continue through Afghanistan or through the southern parts of Pakistan to reach the Himalayas in Kashmir, North India, or Nepal.
At that time it was all about dropping out of straight society and avoiding authorities, while using cheap transportation and living on local food.
We can confirm that it's still possible to press on via hitched rides, cheap buses, and slow trains. And, still, we managed to travel on almost no money.
We saw that the “hippies” on the hippy trail of today are not counter-culture-hipsters or beatniks, but rather hardcore travelers who spend anything between two months to one year to do the entire route.
Lations part II: Iran, Pakistan and India; the entire journey took +7 months
This is leg two on a longer journey on the fabled Hippy Trail, traveling overland from Europe to the Himalayas. The first leg covered Turkey and northern Iran until Tehran. On leg two of this journey we pick up the thread in Tehran from where we push through Iran via Qom, Kashan, Esfahan, Shahr-e Kord, Na'in, Tabas, Kharnaq, Yazd, Chak Chak, Meybod, Garmeh, Bandar Abbas, Minab and Zahedan. Along the way we explore key historic sites, including Ardalan, Kizerun, Bishapur, Persepolis and Parsargadae.
We spend lots of time in both the Dast-e Kavir desert and the Lut desert, Iran's two largest deserts, with charming oasis villages and sand castles. As it is summer time in Iran during our traverse, the climate is blistering hot and extremely dry, although most of the country on average is high altitude. For more in-depth coverage of Iran view our 'Persia' page or our climb of Mount Damavand in Iran. Our view our page on the Kurdish regions of Iran.
In Pakistan, we explore primarily the Punjab region around Lahore and Islamabad. Both places has an evocative mix of attractions from sublime shrines and mosques, serene Mughal architecture, excellent bazaars, and warm-hearted people. The sense of adventure is only enhanced by the fact that we cross path with very few other travelers, since Pakistan is a destination for only the truly intrepid. After months on the Hippy Tail, there are sublime backpacker haunts in both Lahore and Islamabad that are great places to relax and recharge our batteries and swap stories about Pakistan and beyond. If you want to explore more of Pakistan, then check out our wild travel along the Karakorum Highway or our mountaineering tours in the Hunza Valley in Pakistan.
Our second leg was finished by taking us across India's Punjab and Haryana regions down to New Delhi and the south part of Uttar Pradesh, and then further on, skirting Rajasthan and Gujarat to Mumbai. Some of the highlights along the way is Amritsar, Chandigarh, Delhi and Agra.
Continue to 'Hippy Trail III' for leg three on this journey through west and south India, Sri Lanka and back into North India and the Himalayas.
Selected pics from this part of the journey:
...on the Hippy Trail covers Iran and the Punjab regions of Pakistan and India.
Most visitors come away disappointed from their stay in Tehran. But after traveling more than a month in Iran, we found the capital very interesting - at least to obtain a more holistic understanding of Iran as a nation. The city as massive and has more people living there than Greater London.
Most women in Iran dress conservatively, but this young girl and her boyfriend were challenging "the system".
What used to be the complex for the US embassy is worth a look. The walls are home to a number of macabre drawings reiterating Iran's (well, not Iran but the fundamentalist Mullah's) stance against US.
Qom is Iran's holiest city after Mashhad and home to many hardline clerics and islamic schools. The genesis of the 1979 revolution can be credited to Qom, from where clerics railed against the shah's regime. Today, mullahs and religios students mix with a steady flow of pilgrims.
Qom's sleeping options are all in the budget range near the Haramnama area, and theres is a diverse range of eating options. Obvisously, we opted for the kababi shops
A great place to wander a couple of hours before lunch or in the late afternoon. Around Kashan are hundres of mudbrick-walls and old houses.
We love the Iranian bathhouses to wash of dirt from long days of dawn-to- dusk-traveling. The one in Kashan is a superb example of an Iranian bathhouse, build nearly 500 years ago.
If you only had to choose one place in all of Iran - go visit Esfahan. It is not only of the the jewels of the Islamic world, it is one of the most beautiful cities you will ever visit. Iran's masterpiece. View our Persia page for more of this city.
Esfan is one big maze of markets, bazaars and mosques. View our Persia site for an in-depth coverange of this magical city.
Nestled between mountain chains it is a prettly little village. There is basic lodging inside the town.
Na'in is a important transit point at the geographical centre of Iran. Many backpackers will get through here and decide whether to travel along the desert road towards Tabas and Mashas, to continue towards Yazd or pursue Shiraz.
At the edge of the great Dasht-e-Kavir desert overlooking the Andjir valley. We found that the desert around Yazd was a real 1001-night fairy tale desert with dunes, rocks, salt, quicksands, caravanserais, mud brick villages, forts, and camels
Tabas was once known as the jewel of the desert, and it is till the largest city in Iran's two vast deserts.
Wow! Almost virtually deserted yet alive, the crumbing mud-brick village of Kharanaq in the Dasht-e Lut desert is more than 1000 year old. It has a mosque and a caravanserai, and you can sleep in a dorm. Photographers will love it a dusk.
Perhaps the most charismatic city in Iran with widing lanes, forests of badgirs (wind-towers) and mud-brick houses. It has a magical relationsship with the desert and we spent several days here.
Easily the most important Zoroastrian pilgrimage site in Iran, Chak Chak lies deep in the desert inside a steep cliff. The dramatic climb make it worth the climb.
Legend has it that after the Arab invasion in AD 637 the Sassanians fled to this site,. Short of water the Sassanian princess threw her staff at the cliff and water began dripping out - chak chak means drip, drip. The brass door is embossed with the likeness of Zoroaster.
Chak chak attracts thousands of pilgrims every year.
Another mud-brick town is lovely Meybod. From the Narein mud-castle you can have a view across the town, oasis and desert. The town has an amazing qanat irrigation system and you can sample delicius camel kebabs in any of the kebabi joints (well, this is the desert, so don't be too picky).
The main sights of this beautiful town nestled between two mountain ranges are the two mosques: Atabakan and Imamzadeh Khatoon. There are several atmospheric tea houses in two where you can mingle with the locals.
Another ancient desert city.
These two fascianting ruins of two ancient cities lies just outside Shiraz.
Magnificent Persepolis is the greatest ancient site in all of Iran. View of Persia site for more coverange.