If you want ot see what the very first industries looked like, then visit Yazd Henna Mill.
A giant millstone crushes the henna and leaves the workers covered in dust.
Henna is a greyish-green powder, which, when water is added to it, turns red. It's used as a carpet dye and also to colour old men's beards and young women's hands.
As I was wandering around the adobe alleyways of the old city of Yazd, a lady smiled at me from her doorway and invited me into her home.
Her name was Erani. She served me tea from a samovar, introduced me to her family, including her son, daughter, daughter-in-law and grandchild and then took me to meet her neighbour, who invited me into his home too!
If you go to the old city, just say, "Salam aleikum", to whoever you meet and they might invite you into their home too.
The Zoroastrians towers of silence, called Dakhmeh, are a must see in Yazd - they are located in a desert area not far from the city boundaries. There are two hills surmounted with a tower, and they are the place where Zoroastrians would bring the dead bodies of their followers, leaving them exposed, to rot away and to be eaten by birds. This happened because they believed that dead bodies would contaminate the Earth, if buried. This custom was outlawed in 1970, so now the community buries bodies in tombs made of concrete, so as not to touch the soil.
There are two towers near Yazd, and each is divided into three concentric rings: the outer ring was for the bodies of men , the second ring for the bodies of women, and the third and inner ring for the bodies of children. At the foot of the hills there are some old mud buildings that look stright out of a Star Trek movie: in the past a small community of Zoroastrians lived there, and in some buildings the bodies of the dead were prepared, before being transported up to the towers.
The two towers are located south of Yazd - as there is no public transportation, you'll need a taxi to get there.
Chak Chak is the most important pilgrimage site in Iran hidden in between the arid mountains 72km NW of Yazd. It can be visited as part of a day trip from Yazd As soon as you reach the place you get disappointed for getting there as all the buildings on the top of the cliff are modern and ugly.
Even though you find yourself climbing up to the shrine breathless due to the heat of the day, the Pir-e-Sabz fire temple is interesting enough to see. First you have to look for the old-aged guard of the temple to open the shrine for you (remember a tip is well appreciated) You enter through a heavy wonderfully carved brass door to the temple which is cut into the cliff side. The views from the shrine are dramatic over the dessert and the bare mountains.
Chak chak means drip, drip and as the legend says a princess chased by Arab invaders, came here for rescue. Because there was no water she threw her staffat at the cliff and then water started dripping out.
Chak Chak celebrates its annual festival in mid June, so thousands of Zoroastrians arrive here and accommodate themselves in the temple grounds.
Though most part of the road from Shiraz to yazd is dessert just before reaching Yazd you cross Mount Sir. The arid mountains (with some snow left on their top in spring) get impressive colors especially at sunset and the villages on the way is a great sight under these massive rock formations (additional photo). In particular our driver showed us a specific rock formation which looks like an eagle ready to take off (additional photo)
A favorite stop on the way from Shiraz to Yazd is the historic if not uninspiring town of Abarqu. Most visitors come here to see the 4000+ years old cypress tree (which is really tall and wide). Just before entering the city you can visit an ice house (additional photos) Ice houses are domed mud brick structures built to store ice through the hot summertime.
The back door steps.
I hope that you don't feel I'm being patronising, because, although it was simple, for me Erani's home was one of the nicest I've ever visited, and I wanted to share the experience with you.
You can make a full day trip around Yazd to visit some interesting places. This is better arranged through an agency or you can hire a taxi yourself. In our case we booked it through our hotel and cost IR300,000 for all 3 of us. We visited Kharanaq deserted village, Chak Chak Zoroastrian pilgrimage site, Meybod and we had a stop in Ardakan to taste camel kebab.
Abarqu is a small town located few hours away from Yazd in direction to Shiraz. There are many interesting sights in Abarqu. I stopped there for a very short time. So, I was able to see well preserved ice house, 4500 years old cypress tree and very old (I was told it is built in 8th century, but I am not sure if it is right) madraseh ruins.
The mill workers are covered in henna dust. If they shower or take a bath, it will turn red and stain their skin.