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The City of Thousand Mausoleums


By: Shapur Shahbazi


Abstract: Paveh is a city in Kermanshah Province in western Iran.  It is believed that the name of the city has something to do with the past religion of the city, namely Zoroasterianism.  The language of the people of Paveh is Hourami which is said to be a remnant of the Pahlavi and Avesta languages. The people of Paveh are mainly engaged in agriculture and fruit gardening. The city has many interesting and tourist sites, including a number of caves and a fire temple.

The unrivaled staged (stair shaped) city of Paveh is located some 112 kilometers northwest of Kermanshah. The path to this city is filled with winding and curvy mountainous (Zagros chain) roads.   The route is filled with hills, springs and fountains, forests and farmlands located in the foothills, etc., which is quite beautiful and invigorating. Due to these wonderful natural sceneries as well as various caves, waterfalls and streams, Paveh has been nicknamed the "Bakhtaran (western) Paradise".

As soon as one enters the historically ancient city of Paveh that dates back to three thousand years ago, the person is awestruck and amazed at how the people who live in this area, have managed to so skillfully and orderly build their homes in the shape of many long and wide stairs within the foothills of the mountain. These structures have been built in such a way, that in most instances, the roof of a house that is built in a lower altitude is actually the patio (balcony) of the house built just a few meters above it.

Because of the similarities in the type of city construction and housing between Paveh and the city of Massouleh in northern Iran, Paveh is also known as the City of Thousand Maasoulehs. The thousand is meant to refer to the fact that Paveh is many times larger than Massouleh.

As to why the city is named Paveh, there are a number of tales and stories. However, the probable accurate account is that the city's name is inspired by the Zoroaster religion. The evidence pointing to this fact is that the second largest Zoroaster fire-temple is located in this city.

Moreover, Pierre Shaliar, one of the most distinguished, eminent and virtuous personalities of the religion lived in this area. His influence on the culture of the region was so deep and impact-full that even now some people in the Paveh area praise and admire him. Considering the above brief introduction, it can be concluded that the name of the city is somehow related to purity and that one of the principal pillars of that religion was virtue.

Based on another legend, the Sassanid era Emperor, Shahpour, had a son named "Pav". The famous Sasanid Emperor Ardeshir was Shahpour's uncle. As the story goes, Emperor Yazdgerd III sent Pav to this area to renew his religious Zoroastrian faith. Therefore, it is possible that the name of Paveh is derived from Pav.

The third theory that exists about the name of Paveh is on the account of its Hourami, a branch of the Kordi (Kurdish) language, meaning of the word, which is "standing on its own feet". Indeed Paveh is just the type of town that can be described as standing on its own, from feet, the style of its dwelling and city construction to the inner-strength of people.


Paveh with several water-flowing rivers named Sirvan, Leyleh, Markhil and Paveh-Rood is one of the most water-rich areas in western Iran.


Unfortunately however, these water resources are not being properly utilized or benefited from. These rivers form a 24 kilometer water-border with Iraq and enter that country without the slightest benefit to our own country even though a large number of farms and cultivated areas in the region are currently facing water shortages.



For instance, construction of a dam on the Sirvan River could play an important role in improving the agricultural situation, supply of cheap electricity and establishment of fish breeding farms in the region. Additional dams on the other rivers of the region would also be quite useful and beneficial but lamentably no concrete step or action has been taken toward this important endeavor.

In addition to the aforementioned rivers, the mountainous area of Paveh has several large and small waterfalls. The most famous of these waterfalls are named Boll and Ghahlooz. The Boll Waterfall is reported to have a mineral type of water with special medicinal characteristics and benefits. It is named after one of the Babylonian gods.

One only wishes that a water bottling facility could be opened next to the waterfall so not only this healing and therapeutic water could be enjoyed by the people of the world but also become a source of much-needed income for the people of the region.

The presence of water in the Paveh region is not limited to rivers, waterfalls and springs. The stone nature and penetrative waters of the area have created the largest water cave in Asia. The Ghoori Ghal'a cave is a remarkably deep cave and up to now some 3700 meters of its length has been identified and 500 meters of it is open to tourist visitors. Due to this cave being relatively unknown and obscure for both local and foreign tourists, it has not only prevented this attractive and wondrous natural marvel to produce a notable amount of revenue for the area but also has left the development of the cave incomplete.

Paveh has many other natural, historical and religious tourist attractions other than the Ghoori Ghal'a cave, which are briefly described hereunder:

Kavat Cave: Another beautiful water cave which supplies the drinking water needs for the city of Javanroud.

Dashas Cave: Located in Nodshe
Khaloo-Hussein Stone Cave: This cave is located to the south east of Paveh near the village of Baneh-Var. A one-legged person named Hussein armed with only a pick axe has built several rooms on the stone and therefore he is nicknamed Farhad II.

Paveh Fire-Temple overlooking the Fire-Temple Mount (height of 2464 meters): According to historians, this fire-temple had been lit some 750 years before Islam and is the second largest of its kind in Iran after the Azargashb Fire-Temple.

Mardouk: One of Assyrian and Babylonian gods. Its gigantic body trunk watched-over the Mardouk mountain. Unfortunately, due to dereliction, some profit-seeking and avaricious individuals destroyed this statue.

Seyed Abdullah (Kouseh Hajij) and Pir (Old) Ismaiel Memorial Shrines: These exalted individuals were brothers of the Eight Shia Imam, Imam Reza. Their shrines are located in the Hajij and Spreez villages.

Dokhan Mosque: A rare and exquisite hand-written copy of the Koran created in the 15th century is in this mosque. A person named "Maryam" apparently wrote this copy of the Quran.

Soltan Es-hagh Memorial: The tribe called "The Righteous" pray in this monument located in a majestic spot on the shores of the Sirvan River. The structure dates back to 8 centuries ago.

From the other notable attractions of Paveh, the Boll Waterfall, Key-Khosro Fortress, Ghal'a Fortress, Manav Fortress, the Seyed Mahmood Isfahani (a relative of Imam Mousa Kazem) Memorial can be specified.

The language spoken by the people of Paveh is called Hourami (Gooran), which is one of the most ancient and noble languages of Iran. It is a remnant of the Pahlavi and Avestaie languages, which is enhanced and complemented with different Hourami and Jafi dialects.

Everything in Paveh has an air of authenticity, including the people's clothing and costumes. The residents of this region are attired with exotic named clothing such as Chookheh-Varanak, Mizeh-Rah or Sarband, Ghagheeleh or hat and their footwear includes a foreleg-strap and Giveh (light cotton summer shoe).

Furthermore, they make all of their own clothing and footwear. Women also hand-make whatever clothing they wear. Their attire includes Fis (a kind of hat), Latte, Sakhme, Kova, Gaji, Cheh-Taghe, Lah-Chak, and Havadi.

Agriculture in Paveh mostly consists of fruit-gardens. The reason being that there are not enough land for cultivation due to the high-altitude and mountainous terrain. Most of the fruit-gardens of the area consist of mulberry, pomegranate, figs, grapes, walnut and peanut gardens. In addition, a tree-grown fruit called Van (from the pistachio family of fruits) grows in the majority of the forest areas of Paveh. Van is not as lucrative or in demand like pistachios but Persian turpentine is produced from its tree-sap.

According to agricultural experts, Van trees could be grafted for pistachio gardening. It is said that engrafted pistachio trees are one of the highest-quality pistachios. Regrettably Van-pistachio grafting has not yet been implemented or tried in the Paveh area. If undertaken it can stimulate and grow the economy of the region.

At the present time, only some women and girls of the area extract Persian turpentine from Van tree-roots as a side-job.




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