Alamut lies on the peak known as Alah Amut. Among suggested etymologies are "Eagle's Nest" and "Eagle's Teaching" was once a mountain fortress located in the central Alborz Mountains south of the Caspian Sea close to Gazor Khan near Qazvin Province, about 100 km from present-day Tehran in Iran. Only ruins remain of this fortress today.
According to Hamdollah Mostowfi, the first fortress was built in 840 at an elevation of 2100m. It was built in a way that had only one passable artificial entrance that wound its way around the cliff face (the one natural approach, a steep gravel slope, was too dangerous to use); thus making conquering the fortress extremely difficult. The fort had an unusual system of water supply. The top was extremely narrow and long — perhaps 400 meters long, and no more than 30 meters wide in any place and usually less.
In 1090 the fortress was infiltrated and occupied by the powerful Hashshashins, a faction of Nizâri Ismâ‘ilî Shî‘a Islam known to the West as "the Assassins", and was then fabled for its gardens and libraries. The ruins of 23 other fortresses remain in the vicinity.
The landscape of Gazor Khan (Alamut Castle) is spledid and the surrounding areas are so breathtaking. It is more than the ruin to visit. You need to hike up, may be around 30 mins one way. Lots of steps to go. Someone at the hill top to collect ticket price IR2,000 (May 2008).
It is a long way between Qazvin and Gazor Khan, but the road is not boring at all. The landscape is very beautiful with mountains and valleys. You should ask your driver to stop where you want to take photos. My driver sometimes asked me if I wanted to stop where he knew the view was great. I’m happy I didn’t go with a taxi driver in hurry or tried to sees in a visit to another castle on the same day.
Ovan Lake is situated in Qazvin province, about 75 km from Qazvin and near Alamut. The lake is 8 km from the Qazvin - Alamut road. The view over the lake and the surrounding mountains (Alborz Mountains) is beautiful and really worth the detour. In the area around the lake are four villages. The water in the lake comes from springs in the bottom. It covers about 90 000 sq m and is 325 metres long and 275 metres wide, and has a depth of 20 metres.
When the weather is nice Ovan Lake is a popular place for picnic on Fridays.
The car+driver was arranged by Hotel Iran in Qazvin. For 1 person 1 castle Gazor Khan (Alamut Castle) US$50 and 2 castles - both Gazor Khan (Alamut Castle) and Lamiasar US$65. Later in the night the hotel managed to arrange 3 more Swiss travellers to go together. At end, the car charges for 2 castles was US$90 for 4 people.
When we negotiated, the hotel and driver said we could visit the Lake Oven on the way, without saying there would be an extra charge. When we were there, we said we wanted to go, the driver didn't say anything. However, when we returned back to the hotel, the driver then started saying that because we went to the Lake Oven, we had to pay extra. The hotel manager said we should pay IR20,000 for each person. We were so unhappy and reasoned that the driver kept quiet all the way untill we returned back to the hotel. In fact the additional distance for reaching Lake Oven required 8km x 2 ways, so it does not worth IR80,000 for 16 km. At end we decided to pay only IR10,000.
So be careful with the hotel and the drvier. Agreed exactly where you want to go before the engine starts., despite this hotel Iran is highly recommended in LP guide book and the owner even named by the guide book. $$ is $$.
Coming to Qazvin I wanted to find out how to get to the Castles of Assassins, Gazor Khan (Alamut Castle) and Lamisar. At Iran Hotel they said it was IR 264 000 (almost 30 dollars) only to go to Gazor Khan and that was a full daytrip. I wanted to see both ruins and went to the Tourist Office to ask. A woman I spoke with on the phone told me to go to a place very early in the morning and from there take a taxi. She thought it would cost not much less than what they had said at Iran Hotel. I decided to go for the more convenient option, to be picked up from the hotel. The evening before going I paid for the tour at the hotel.
At the first sight of the car I got doubts about the tour, but it turned out to be very good. The driver/guide was very knowledgeable and stopped at many places along the road where he knew the scenery was great, we stopped for tea and arriving at Alamut we ate a lot of cherries by a house, just pass the bridge. From there we walked up to the castle (a longer road than the most easy one), a road I would not have taken coming with a taxi. And I also got a lot of information about Gazor Khan (Alamut Castle) and things along the way, which I would not have got from a taxi driver. On the way back from Alamut we also went to Lake Ovan.
The tour took more than eight hours, almost nine hours, and I realised seeing Lamisar (not in the same direction) would have made an absolutely too long day. I was very satisfied with the day even if I only saw Gazor Khan.