0708 GMT September 18, 2021
Kharanaq is a historical village located in the mountainous areas of Ardakan, the central province of Yazd.
An old castle, over an area of more than one hectare, is the most important historical site of the village. One of the largest in Iran, the castle was built in ancient times by local people in order to be safe from the attack of thieves and bandits.
In an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Mohammad Abulqasemi, a member of Kharanaq Village’s Islamic Council, said the castle and the village are estimated to date back 2,500 to 4,000 years.
He added that a hosseinieh (a place where Shi’a Muslims gather to observe religious ceremonies), a Jaame mosque and two water mills are among the most important sections of the castle.
He said that the village has a bridge which dates back 1,700 years, to the Sassanid Period.
“The castle’s mosque has a single minaret that served as a place of call to prayer and a watchtower. The minaret was in fact a beacon, above which a fire was lit, so as to guide caravans coming from afar.
“Inside the castle, apart from the public sections, there are about 80 privately owned houses. We have planned to purchase the houses and hand over their management to the dehyari (rural management council) of the village. But because the houses have been inherited by villagers, we have to negotiate with a large number of people, which makes the task very difficult,” he said.
He noted that to preserve and restore the castle, the Islamic Council of Kharanaq Village proposed that a cooperative unit be set up by the owners of the houses, and people become its shareholders, because a house may have 30 to 60 owners.
“Once formed, the share of each owner would be determined, and this can help prepare the condition for renovating the castle,” Abulqasemi said.
He continued that a large part of the castle, which has been abandoned for many years, is worn out. A permit was received from the Islamic Council of Kharanaq Village for selling tickets to tourists visiting the castle.
“Income earned this way was spent on the restoration of the worn-out walls of the castle, however, this sum has not been adequate for complete renovation of the castle,” he said.
Abulqasemi put the population of the village at 500, most of whom are elderly people who chose to live there in retirement. They are active in the fields of agriculture and livestock breeding.
He said that the traditional cultivation practices by the locals as well as the architecture of the castle, ancient bathhouse and the caravanserai of the village are very attractive for foreign tourists. Seventy-five percent of visitors arriving in the village are from overseas countries.
He believes that attracting more Iranian and foreign tourists to the village will help improve the livelihood of local people and generate jobs in the region.
“An ecotourism residence has been established in the village; a restaurant and tourist accommodation center are in the old caravanserai of Kharanaq Village,” he concluded.