When a visit to the Towers of Silence of Kerman didn't work out, I was determined to visit those of Yazd. When the first day is drawing to a close, I walk in the direction of the towers, and then find a tuk-tuk to the southwest of the city. I had hoped for clear skies and seeing sunset from the towers, but dark clouds are sailing in, covering the sky all over the city and its surroundings. It is highly unlikely I will see the sun again today. I get off where the city ends, and walk the last bit. I pass a wall behind which I know is the Zoroastrian cemetery, but there is no way to enter. A pity: I would have liked to see how they now bury their dead. After all, I am on the way to the place where they used to carry their dead, and offer them to birds of prey. I can see them in the distance, so I continue walking and pay my entrance fee.
Fortunately, I find several boards with information about the site. More than just the two towers, this was a sacred place where people carried their dead. For Zoroastrians, earth, fire and water are all sacred elements, and the body should not be mixed with any. That is the reason why they buried their dead on the top of the towers. Only a few appointed people were allowed to take them up the towers; for several days, the families stayed at the foot of the hills on which the towers were built. I find several buildings where they stayed, as well as a windcatcher which is connected to water storage below: it cooled the water. During my ramblings over the lower part of the complex, I meet an attractive, smart Iranian lady and have a very interesting talk - we will have a very nice lunch the next day. Then, it is time to climb the tower. Since everyone goes for the lower one, I decide to start with the higher tower. Instead of taking the trail, I walk up on the steep rock surface, straight to the top. The last part, I follow the stairs that lead to the entrance.
The tower is circular, and I see a few young people sitting on the wall, chatting. Once inside, I find an empty stone floor, with a big pit in the middle. I learn that men used to be on the outer circle, women in the middle one, and children in the smallest circle. When the birds of prey (mostly vultures) had eaten the flesh, the remains would be thrown into the pit, and mixed with chemicals. While the clouds seem to be descending on these towers of the dead, I also climb on the wall for better views of the surrounding, and the other tower below me. Just like before, in Tibet where I saw a sky burial site just after a ceremony took place, I take the time to think about the idea behind all this. About life and death. Just like before, I feel peace of mind, I feel like I understand the Zoroastrians, and wonder what I would prefer to happen to my body the day I die. The walk to the other tower is short. When I reach the entrance, a storm starts to blow, sending dust and sand through the air. I see a dense dust cloud descend over the city of Yazd until it is completely gone. The inside of the burial site is similar to the other tower. I walk around the tower, and then. heavy rain starts to fall when I am on my way down. By now, everyone has left, and these have become real towers of silence.
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Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Yazd Towers of Silence (Iran). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Yazd Towers of Silence. Read more about this site.