The rain falls constantly outside, hiding the sounds of nature and people that have been forced to take refuge to the uncomfortable weather. But this absence of sounds brings a moment of calm to the spirit, a form of introspection.
With the slow rain, return the cock crowing, the tweeting of the birds and the chattering of people coming from the valley and going up the hill, through trees that are losing leaves spreading a brown- yellowed robe all over the ground, reminding us of the arrival of autumn.
Masuleh is a small village situated in slopes of Mount Talesh, in Gilan Province, about 380 km from Tehran, where the typical Iran landscape, desert and dry, give rise to covered forest green, in a rural setting which is a balm to those who live in big cities or those arriving by Tehran. The houses, uniformly colored clay, are arranged along the hillside, separated by narrow streets and staircases, where neither car nor bikes have access, making it the most calm and relaxing environment. An ingenious architecture, the roofs of houses, built on a way to create a flat surface where, what appears to be just a street or a sidewalk is at the same time the roof of the house situated on the street below.
Here, despite the low altitude just over 1000 meters, the weather changes a lot compared to the more plain and low areas visited before, clearly feeling it is the onset of winter, not only by the fog and rain that were a constant for these two days, but also the temperatures that drop at night demanding for adequate winter clothing, even in early October.
Masuleh, with its small population not much more than 500 inhabitants, don’t have special attractions beyond the original and unusual mosque and walk through the bazaar streets, with shops offering local products from handicrafts, tea and medicinal herbs.
But the slow pace of village life and the contact with nature made the short stay at this village a pleasant memory.
Although there are some hotels, the most common solution is to rent a place to stay to local people, following the sign or just ask to someone in the streets that for sure will point a place to ask or even call someone to help you. Prices are negotiable but it is difficult to get a room for two people for less than 600,000 rials (with toilet and kitchen), with the more frequent prices between 800,000 and 1.000,000 rials for a double room. Prices vary depending on the greater or less demand, so week ends and summer are the busiest periods where Masuleh attracts visitors, many coming Tehran, running away from pollution and seeking refuge in the fresh mountain air.
Where to eat:
There are many choices in this small village, almost all serving kebab in the chicken and beef variants.
Alternatively it is possible to find ash soup, made of vegetables and noodles, which is a comforting option for the fresh mountain air.
The mirza ghasemi, is a typical dish of Guillain region made of roasted eggplant, that is smashed and cooked with tomatoes and onions, that along with the ash are two of the vegetarian dishes of Iranian cuisine that are easier to find in restaurants.
Passing through Fouman makes the obligatory stop at one of dozens or even hundreds of shops that produce and sell a traditional sweet of this region, the Koloocheh, cookie filled with a sugary paste. And it is undoubtedly the main reason that so many people stop at Fouman. It is worth asking for the best factory of these cakes, which according to the taxi driver who brought us, is located in one of the city’s roundabouts and where people line while waiting for the Koloocheh come out of the oven.
Masuleh situated about 380 km from Tehran is easily accessible by bus, and there are, however, two possible itineraries:
Coming from Tabriz: Tabriz – Qazvin – Rasht – Masuleh
Coming from Tehran: Tehran – Fouman – Masuleh
From Tehran to Fouman is about 5h by bus, costing 150,000 rials in a normal bus. Buses begin service early in the morning, and still late in the evenings, at least until 11 pm.
From Fouman to Masuleh, there are two options: minibus 17,000 rials or shared-taxi, 350,000 rials (price for 4 people), both options have the values posted on board outside of Masuleh, although the value inscribed in western numbers is not actualized.
It is possible that the bus does not stop at Fouman bus station, leaving passengers on the main road, where some taxis waiting. Hence it is necessary to use the taxi to get to the Fouman Bus Terminal, that distance no more than 3 km; the price must be negotiated, and if possible use a shared-taxi.
If the driver insists on going directly to Masuleh, arguing that there is no mini-buses, insist on the minibus because the price difference is significant and the buses run all year except in winter when snow blocks the road.