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Prices for Tours

For a full day’s travelling to the ziarats around Mashhad you should not pay any more than £25/US$50. If you have kids then you may like to take them to some waterfalls near Mashhad / Nayshapour. 

We did this in 2007 and it was fun. 

History of Mashhad

193 AH / 809 CE Harun Rashid fell ill in a house at Sanabadh and died. His grave was dug in the garden of a country mansion.

about 10 years later al-Mamun spent a few days with his son-in-law Imam Ali al-Rida (a.s.), who died suddenly. 

428/1037. The Ghaznawid governor of Khursan erects defences around the town to protect the shrine.

809-50 / 1406-46 The first Timurid Shah Rukh and his pious wife Gauhar Shad are the biggest benefactors of the Shrine.

907-30 / 1501-24 The first Shah of the Safawid dynasty Ismail I established Shi'ism as the state religion.

913 / 1507 Mashhad suffers raids from the Ozbegs (Uzbeks). It is taken by the Shaybani Khan.

930-84 / 1524-76 Tahmasp I, Ismail's successor, repels the Uzbeks and stronger walls are built. 

951 / 1544 Uzbeks take the town again.

997 / 1589 The Shaybanid Abd al-Mumin lays siege to the town for four months and devastates the town  and the sacred area.

1006 / 1598 Shah Abbas I, takes the town back from the Uzbeks.

1138 / 1726 Persians retake Mashhad from the Afghan Abdali tribe.

1148-60 / 1736-47 Nadir Shah has a mausoleum built for himself in Mashhad.

1167/1753 The Afghan Shah Ahmad Durrani takes Mashhad after an 8 month siege. Leaves Shah Rukh as his vassal in charge of Mashhad, which becomes a buffer between the Persian state and the Afghans.

1210 / 1795 Agha Muhammad Khan founder of the Qajar dynasty ends the separation of Khurasan from the rest of Persia. 

1803 Fath Ali Shah retakes Mashhad from Nadir Mirza, the son of Shah Rukh.

1825 onwards there are attacks by Turkoman hordes.

1911 Yusuf Khan of Herat declares independence in Mashhad. Russians attack as a result and in 1912 bombard Mashhad.

Imamzadeh Mahruq (Nishapur)

Clavijo's Comments (Spanish Ambassador to Timur) 1404

In 1404 Clavijo, the Spanish ambassador to Tamerlane, passed through Meshed on his way to the conqueror's court at Samarqand. He found Meshed to be a large town and the principal place of pilgrimage in those parts; pilgrims, he said, came in immense numbers.

Lockhart, L. (1939) 'Famous Cities of Iran' (page 26). Walter Pearce & Co. Brentford.

Khorasan Tourist Leaflet

Khorasan Tourist Leaflet (reverse)

Ziarats around Mashhad


The ziarat of Imam Reza (a.s.) is in the centre of Mashhad. However in and around the city are a number of other ziarats of esteemed people.

Images and more text related to these ziarats are here. An overview of these ziarats follows below.

Khvaja Rabi'a

Rabi'a ibn Khothaym led 4,000 men to help Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and was visited by the 8th Imam (a.s.). The building that you see dates from the 17th century and was built by Shah Abbas. The shape is similar to the Hasht Behesht Palace in Esfahan. The inscriptions are the work of Ali Reza Abbasi, one of the most famous Perisan calligraphers of the Safavid period. This ziarat lies to the east of Mashhad.

The Imam Raza is said to have visited his tomb, and further to have stated that one advantage he derived from coming to Khurasan was his pilgrimage to the tomb of Khawaja Rabi. 

C. E. Yate (

1800). Khursan & Sistan. William Blackwood & Son.

An inscription reveals that restoration was undertaken by Mirza Sadr ad-Din in 1672. In this inscription, Mirza Sadr ad-Din claims responsibility for the actual construction of the structure. This is, of course, untrue, and there are earlier such inscriptions from Shah Abbas. Another restoration is dated 1707, at which point a neighborhood qanat (subterranean water channel) was also built. Its profits were used for the upkeep of the shrine.

According to Arthur Upham Pope, the form of the mausoleum may have been influenced in part by the design of ancient fire temples. Pope also suggests that the Mausoleum of Khwaja Rabi', with its two stories of open arcades, may have influenced the design of the Taj Mahal.

Hillenbrand (1994:305) says, 'The run-of-the-mill Safavid mausoleum - such as Qadmagah near Nishapur, the tomb of Muhammad Mahruq close by (1041/1631), the tomb of Khwaja Jibra'il Kalkhuran and the mausoleum of Khawaja Rabi'a outside Mashhad (1031/1622) are somewhat lesser versions of their Timurid predecessors. Nor did the post-Safavid centuries reverse this trend.

Khvaja Abbasalt and Khvaja Murad

Khvaja Abbasalt was said to have witnessed the death of Imam Reza (a.s.). Khvaja was a famous narrator of the events of Kerbala. This complex also has a nice picnic area. The ziarat is to the south of Mashhad. There is a steep hill and you may have to walk some of it. This ziarat lies 20km from Mashhad and is on the road to Nishapur.

This image is of the Khavaja Abbasalt shrine:

Khvaja Murad was a disciple of Imam Reza (a.s.). He died in 210 A.H. (825 A.D.). 

Imamzadeh Yahya 

He was the son of Zaid and the grandson of Imam Zain al-Abedin (a.s.). He was born in 107 A.H. (742 A.D.), his shrine is on the Sarakhs road, 50km from Mashhad and 1km from the village of Miami. The shrine dates from the 10th century Hijrah (sixteenth century A.D.).

Nishapur (Neishabour)

For most of us a trip to Nishapur is relatively quick and the only interest the city holds is for the Ziarats. It's quite easy not to appreciate the historical and cultural significance of the place. For this reason I have created a specific page dealing with these topics. Click the above link for a specific page dealing with the sights of Nishapur and its ceramics. 

The city has the ziarat of Imamzadeh Mahruq, the building is a 17th century Safavid construction. Leading up to it are various shops selling Nishapur turquoise. Nearby is the ziarat of Imamzadeh IbrahimOmar Khayyam's (1072-1092) tomb is in the gardens of Imamzadeh Mahruq's shrine. The Khayyam tomb is a 1934 construction. The image below is from the shrine of Imamzadeh Mahruq. The Ma'qeli Kufic style, composed only of straight lines. The blue tiles repeat the name of God ("Allah") to infinity (from

In a nearby park is the tomb of Farid od-Din Attar, a great Iranian Sufi poet (died around 1220). The mausoleum is an octagonal building, the mausoleum next to it is for Kemal ol-Molk, a modern painter.

Nishapur itself has a caravanserai, which is worth a 10 minute stop. There is also an expensive restaurant which serves very good Iranian cuisine. I have been taken there on two separate occasions (2002 and 2007) by two different drivers, so its reputation seems to be well established.

Nishapur has been the scene of some important archaeological excavations. Some of the objects that have been discovered are at the Metropolitan Museum New York.

There is a wooden mosque in Nishapur, visited mainly for touristic reasons because of this unique feature, but unless you are curious I would not really try too hard to visit it.

Bibi Shatiteh's ziarat is also in this city. In the Downloads section of this site there is a pdf copy of a book with more details about her. 

The background to her eminence is as follows. Muhammad b.Ali Neishabouri decided to go Medina to visited Imam Kazim (a.s.). The Shia of Neishabour gave him 30 thousand Dinar, 50 thousand Dirham and 3 thousand cloth to present them to Imam (a.s.). Shatiteh who was poor but a pious lady, gave him one Dirham and a Cloth which she had spun. Muhammad b. Ali arrived in Medina and visited Imam Kazim (a.s.). The Imam (A.S.) said, ‘give me Bibi Shatiteh’s presents, which are one Dirham and a cloth. Imam (a.s.) accepted only Shatiteh’s gifts and rejected the others and said, ‘give her my greetings and give her this bag which contains 40 Dirhams and this shroud and tell her that she will die 19 days after receiving these presents and I will pray by her grave. Muhammad b. Ali came back to Neishabour and did what Imam (a.s.) had ordered him. When he gave the gifts back to their owners, he understood that they converted to Fatahi religion except Bibi Shatiteh. Anyway 19 days afterwards she died and it is mentioned that Imam al-Kazim (a.s.) came from Medina to Neishabour to pray and participate in the burial ceremonies of Shatiteh who was sincere and devout Shi’a..

Qadamgah is 20km east of Nishapur. It has a small 17th century octagonal shrine, to honour a large black stone said to bear the imprint of Imam Reza's (a.s.) footsteps. There is also a chesm (well) which is said to have been struck by Imam Reza (a.s.). It can get very busy and you are advised to take a bottle with you to bring back the water. Anyone who is concerned about drinking water from a well - my family and I have all drunk it with no ill effects. The picture below shows the interior of the Qadamgah building.


You can also travel to Qilat-i-Naderi - it's 140km one way from Mashhad. Click the link to see some pictures taken in 2002 and further details. 

This day trip may well cost more than the standard price shown on this page and some drivers may refuse to go there, perhaps because of the time/distance involved.

On the right are images and links to videos of waterfalls, springs and other scenic sights around Mashhad.

All information provided in good faith, please check as appropriate before you travel (c) 2009