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Lahijan

The small town of Lahijan, set at the foot of the mountains and famous for its tea, is a Caspian sea resort in and the capital of Lahijan County, Gilan Province. It has succeeded in preserving some of the old wooden houses with their open-work galleries and sloping tiled roofs.

The word "Lahijan" is originated from the economic stance the city had during its historical periods. "Lahijan" is formed by two words: Lah, means silk and "Jan or Gan" means a place where something is done. Therefore, by compounding these two parts, the word "Lahijan or lahigan" was made, which means "a place to obtain silk fiber".

Professor Bahram Farah'vashi who is an Iranian expert in ancient languages says that in the Middle Persian Language; Lah refers to silk, and in Decisive Argument; Lah means the red silk. Therefore, Lahygan (today, Lahijan) is an area where silk is obtained.

Lahijan was a place where the young Ismail of the Safavids was brought up secretly for five years, to protect him from further imprisonment and possible assassination by the Aq Qoyunlu.

The resort Lahijan has both traditional and modern architecture. The town, which has an Iranian-European urban structure, lies on the northern slope of the Alborz mountains. Its culture and climatic favorable condition have made Lahijan a major tourist hub in northern Iran. The city is basically founded on the sediments remaining from big rivers in Gilan, including the Sefid-Rud (White River). Historically, the city was the major business center and of course the capital of East Gilan during the time of special rulers. Lahijan has also been a tourism hub of the Islamic world during different eras in Iran's history.

In its thriving western bazaar area is the Masjid-i Chahar Padishah ('Four Kings'), more correctly called Chahar Oleyeh and better described as a mausoleum, built in the same style as the local houses. Despite the name, only three cenotaphs of the family Sadat-i Keyeh are housed here in two main rooms under a low gabled roof. It has been suggested that the mausoleum dates from the early Mongol times but nothing about the building suggests that.

Lahijan - Zahed Gilani TombAbout 3km outside the town stands a small but attractive mausoleum Boghiyeh Shaykh Zahid Gilani, built in 1419 for Shaykh Zahed, spiritual adviser to Shaikh Safi, founder of the Safavid dynasty. Its unusual pyramid-shaped roof, decorated with turquoise and yellow tiles, is visible from the road.

The mystic Taj Al-Din Ebrahim Al-Kordi Al-Sanjani (1216 - 1301), titled Sheikh Zahed Gilani, was Grandmaster of the famed Zahediyeh Sufi Order at Lahijan. Since the mid 13th century, Sheikh Zahed is revered as a spiritual authority and his tomb near Lahijan in Iran's Gilan Province, on the shores of the Caspian Sea, draws numerous pilgrims to the picturesque village of Sheikhanvar. His ancestors hailed from the ancient city of Sanjan in Greater Khorasan in northeastern Iran. Fleeing the Seljuq invasion that would eventually conquer large parts of Persia, his ancestors settled in Gilan in the late 11th century. Sheikh Zahed Gilani was able to attain cultural and religious influence on the Ilkhanid rulers (1256-1353), descendants of Genghis Khan, who followed Seljuq rule. The Sheikh's most notable disciple was Sheikh Safi Al-Din Ardebili (1252-1334), the Eponym of the Safavid Dynasty (1501-1722). He wed Sheikh Zahed's daughter Bibi Fatemeh and, overgoing the interest of Shaikh Zahed's firstborn son, was entrusted with the Grand Master's Zahediyeh Sufi Order, which he transformed into his own, the Safaviyeh (Safavid) Order. Some 170 years after Sheikh Safi Al-Din's death, the Safaviyeh had gained sufficient political and military power to claim the Throne of (Northern) Iran for the Safavid Heir, Shah Ismail I Safavi. The Sheikh's second-born son wed Sheikh Safi Al-Din's daughter from a previous marriage. The two families were to be intertwined for many centuries to come, by blood as well as mutual spiritual causes. The Sil-silat-al-nasab-e Safaviyeh or Genealogy of the Safavids, was written by Sheikh Pir Hossein Abdul Zahedi, a 17th century descendant of Sheikh Zahed Gilani. This hagiography in praise of the Safavid forebearers, was devoted to the genealogy of the Safavid Sufi masters.

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