My book Why Religions Work explores religious tolerance issues. It could not be more relevant at the moment with the world in its present state.
This blog has concentrated recently on the wonderful pilgrimages I have been on - to the Holy Land and to Turkey and more recently to Holy Georgia , Greece "In the Steps of St Paul" , Ethiopia and most recently my experiences in Iran.

"If I was allowed another life I would go to all the places of God's Earth. What better way to worship God than to look on all his works?" from The Chains of Heaven: an Ethiopian Romance Philip Marsden

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Iran: A Persian Odyssey - home from Tehran via Ayatollah Khomeini Mausoleum

at the Ayatollah Khomeini Mausoleum Tehran
We are in Tehran and about to go home after a fantastic tour of Iran over the last 11 days - and how much we have seen - described in the last several blogs.
Smog is bad across the mountains this morning – by 9am they are practically obscured. We see on BBC World News that on the recent Day of Cyrus there was a huge disturbance at Pasargadae around his tomb - a nationalistic demonstration which we visited only the other day – all tour groups had to be kept away as 1000s converged and local guards couldn’t cope – but seemingly all went off without any obvious extreme violence. How lucky we were able to visit when we did.
The smog today has affected my chest badly and I cannot actually now wait to get out of the city. Before we left the hotel I went up to the 13th floor for the advertised view from the Chinese restaurant there but cannot get out of the lift lobby as the doors into the restaurant with the views is locked. 

inside the Ayatollah Khomeini Mausoleum Tehran
The hotel advertises a garden – this must be the public Laleh gardens just up the road to the left from the entrance. I stroll up there and it is quite a large area with map at entrance but I do not have the time to fully explore. Others said it was very pleasant and relaxing among trees once one was away from the rather urbanised entrance.  

Suitcases checked and loaded on the bus - we are soon on our way to the airport via the Ayatollah Khomeini Memorial. We pass by the American Embassy building – scene of the American hostage crisis when the Embassy staff were held hostage for 444 days from October 1979. It is now an exhibition hall and the Swiss embassy is responsible for the American Embassy at the moment. The British Embassy only opened quite recently – hence enabling our own visit.  
Driving through the streets it is noticeable that the many small shops on which the Iranians seem to very much depend are grouped by product – thus there are concentrations of shops selling shoes, brass ware, musical instruments, bread, meat, hardware, building materials, wheelbarrows and so on… 

Ayatollah Khomeini Mausoleum
At the Ayatollah Khomeini Memorial we girls all enter to the left – where we have to take off shoes at the edge of the carpet and put on chadors – it is very difficult to get the hang of these – the ladies there smilingly help us put them on, quite amused probably at our clumsiness. Cell phone cameras are allowed but not other cameras – it is difficult anyway to take a photo and hold on to the chador at the same time!! We meet the men inside, who have their own entrance to the right of the shrine – they are shoeless but no special dress otherwise required for them – they are amused by the ethereal group of white chador clad womenfolk drifting over towards them across the carpets.  

the blood fountain at Behesht-e Zahra (cemetery)
Once outside again we see the blood fountain - red water symbolising the death of the many soldiers who were killed in the Iran Iraq war as well as those killed in the 1978 demonstrations against the Pahlavi regime - and the campsite of tents for the many pilgrims who come here to pay their respects.  
Back on the bus we make our presentations to the driver and Ali – who have looked after us so very well throughout our trip. 

So to the airport – a train line is being built alongside the road to the airport from the city – this should go some way to relieve the traffic pressure on this extremely busy route.   

All in all it was a wonderful trip and I would love to go again to see so much more that we didn't have enough time for in 11 days.

Before taking a break for a while from posting here - until the next pilgrimage perhaps - I would like to thank Rachel and McCabe Pilgrimages for such a well organised trip, the Revd. Canon Adrian Slade who made such a good job of leading and spiritually guiding us, our excellent local guide Ali with his encyclopaedic knowledge of just about anything we wanted to know, and our driver who transported us safely and cheerfully throughout the journey, always there to meet us and look after us and give us another picnic! And thank you to all my fellow pilgrims for being such good company. 

So where shall I be going next? Any ideas welcome and I would love your comments on any of my blogs to date. 

I wish all my readers a very happy New Year. May there be more peace for everyone in 2017.


  1. Thank you for such a wonderful account of your trip. Such lovely photos too. You make me want to go and see it for myself! It's been an interesting journey for me reading it. It must have been truly amazing to be there. All the best.

    1. Thank you Heather and so glad you have enjoyed my ramblings. It really was an amazing and most enjoyable experience.