Iran is filled with awe-inspiring mosques, and by the time you get to Mahan chances are you will have seen quite a few of them. The shrine of the revered Sufi mystic-poet Ne’mutallah Vali Kermani, however, has a more tranquil and spiritual atmosphere than most, which owes a great deal to the character of the saint himself, a charismatic dervish who lived in the late 14th century. Blending glorious Timurid mosaic tilework and elegant Safavid arches, the complex has the power to inspire even the most travel-weary visitor.
As, indeed, does Mahan’s other great attraction, the famous Qajaar Garden on the town’s outskirts, whose centrepiece is a beautiful Islamic pavilion where you can pause to enjoy tea and a water pipe in the most exotic of surroundings. Fountains dance amid ascending tiers of green water, flanked by rose gardens and stands of cypress that contrast vividly with the surrounding desert – a true wonder.
The official name of the walled compound is the ‘Shazdeh’ or ‘Prince’s Garden’. It was intended as a pleasure resort for royalty and high-ranking officials travelling between Kerman and Bam, and must have provided a welcome respite from the heat of the summer. Today, its beds of roses, marigolds and other fragrant blooms attract admirers from all over the world.