Zahedan is capital of desolate Sistan va Baluchestan province about 100 kilometres (62 miles) away from the Pakistani border. It's a flat, dusty, featureless town that used to be known as Dozdab ('Water thieves') until Reza Shah generously changed the name to Zahedan, which means 'ascetics'. There is little reason to come here unless you are heading into Pakistan, and security issues make it even less inviting.
It is here that the train from Quetta (Pakistan) arrives. The frontier post is located at Taftan (Pakistani side) and Mirjaveh (Iranian side). There are also bus services between Zahedan and Mirjaveh, and between Taftan and Quetta. At Zahedan it is possible to get visas both for India and Pakistan at the consulates of those countries (the Pakistani Consulate is on Shahid Moqadam Avenue; and the Indian Consulate is on Imam Khomeini Avenue). If you come, taxis are plentiful for trips to and from the bus terminal (3km west of the centre) and the airport (3km east).
Although Zahedan is not yet linked to the Iranian railway system - which begins only at Kerman, 541 kilometres (336 miles) away - it does have an airport with regular flights to other cities in Iran, including Tehran, Esfahan and Mashhad. These might prove useful to those travellers who want to avoid crossing the desert by road.
Zahedan can feel like one huge marketplace and, appropriately, Bazar-e Ruz is the centre of town.