Trans Eurasia travel

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Reminiscent of Cappadocia (in Turkey), remarkable Kandovan (Chandovan) is a photogenic settlement of troglodyte homes and storage barns carved out of curiously eroded rocks. These sit above a newer lower village like a conference of stone ice-cream cones. Scrambling along steep, narrow paths between them gives you ample idea of the place within a few minutes. However, staying overnight allows you to 'feel' the village without its crowds of local tourists.

Kandovan exemplifies manmade cliff dwellings which are still inhabited. The troglodyte homes, excavated inside volcanic rocks and tuffs similar to dwellings in the Turkish region of Cappadocia, are locally called "Karaan". Karaans were cut into the Lahars (volcanic mudflow or debris flow) of Mount Sahand. The cone form of the houses is the result of lahar flow consisting of porous round and angular pumice together with other volcanic particles that were positioned in a grey acidic matrix. After the eruption of Sahand these materials were naturally moved and formed the rocks of Kandovan. Around the village the thickness of this formation exceeds 100 m and with time due to water erosion the cone shaped cliffs were formed. At the 2006 census, the village population was 601, in 168 families.

Beyond Kandovan, smooth steep foothills mask a full view of Mt Sahand whose hidden volcanic summit rises to 3707m. David Rohl's book Legend suggests that Sahand was the Bible's 'Mountain of God'. If true that would place Kandovan slap bang in the original Garden of Eden. But today it's honey rather than apples that tempt a tasting.