Friday, April 14, 2006

Alamut Castle Trip: This Is How It Ended

My situation was a little bit better than my friend’s because at least I had something to protect me from the cold but although he had everything on, he still was suffering. I finally slept for a short period of time and had a terrible nightmare! I remember that Indians were chasing me in the dream, pointing their bows toward me, aiming and firing! I suddenly woke up because of a noise, at dawn and noticed there is something behind us. I woke my friend up and turned my flash light on to find what it was. We both were a little scared. Then we saw a jackal or may be a fox in about 50 meters away from us trying to get close. I think it was hungry but also was not sure if we are big bites for it or not. We got more frightened and did not know what to do to. I had an AK-47 bayonet in my backpack but I didn’t even think of using it. I just took it out and hold it tight and waited. Then we decided to throw stones to the poor animal. It struggled with us for a few minutes and then left. It was almost the time that sun was about to shine so we packed and left but did not continue climbing the mountain. We climbed down and took the rood!
The guys got surprised when they saw us down there. We were asked what we were doing there and it was hard for them to believe that we failed climbing the mountain to reach the other side. They did not even believe that we spent the night up there.
We still were far from the castle and tired because of last night’s sleepless. So it looked to us that it would be longer than usual to get to the closest village to the castle, Ghazer Khan. After a considerable time of walking we reached Mo’alem Kelayeh which is the biggest town in that area and is kind of capital. We again encountered demonstrators there but there were easier than the ones we saw in Qazvin. May be because there were no police forces there to be clashed with or no major government building to be attacked! When we went to a grocery store to get refreshments, the owner asked us to go with him to the back of the store and hide there! He thought our lives would be in jeopardy if those demonstrators who were shouting slogans, demanding their autonomous province, saw us! I have no idea what made him think like that! We came out from our shelter(!) after they passed by and decided to have a ride. We got in one of the old noisy mini-buses like the one which we rode the day before and it took us all the way to Ghazer Khan.
We found a room to rent easily as that was the second time my friend visited the castle. He knew someone there from his previous trip and that made the last part of the journey a bit easier. We then headed toward our final destination after a short break.
Alamut means “The Nest of Eagle” and that is really what it is. The castle is built in 840 at the elevation of 2100 m (6890 ft).You can see everything around in a wide radius of tens of kilometers without being seen because the castle is built or better to say that is carved in the rocks. So even when the troops get close enough to be able to rush, they actually can not tell the castle from a big rock and just continue watching around. But that did not happened at the beginning when they were in the area because they were easily seen by the guards from tens of kilometers away and got killed before noticing where the castle is. Hulagu Khan, a grandson of Genghiz Khan was the Mongolian conqueror that discovered surrounded and then occupied Alamut in 1256.
There is no way to the inside but a very narrow hidden path which only one person can walk on and that is at the west flank of the castle. That takes you from the rear to the castle but if you are not careful enough, you will slip and fell down all the way to a wide deep valley-like hole, probably more than 100 meters. There are mountains and mountains behind the castle so there is no way in from behind as well. The residents of the castle which were all loyalist of Ismaili leader, Hassan Sabah were used to use tunnels to go to nearby villages and farms to supply food and ammunition while the castle was surrounded by Mongolian Empire troops from every direction. Fresh water was used to be received from springs and stored in huge stone bowls. The siege happened of course after years of searching, chasing and spying around.
I myself walked on that narrow path I mentioned earlier but did not dare to go all the way and enter the castle that day as I was extremely exhausted and did not want to fell down and get killed! I regret that today! My friend got in and then we took few photos and spent the night in the village. Tomorrow morning we got a ride and return to Qazvin.
(Photo: An AK-47 Bayonet. AK-47 assault rifle is the most popular rifle in the world, originally designed and manufactured in former USSR. Mostafa was a good friend of mine in the early years of Polytechnic. One of his brothers used to fight against Iraqis and that's where he took the bayonet. Mostafa gave it to me once I was invited to their house. He mentioned that it was better to keep this away from him because whenever he gets angry and fights with someone, tries to take the bayonet and use it!)

No comments: