if you know your history, you’ve surely heard of Ilam, maybe of its ancient form, Elam, part of the once great Elamite empire, a bright cradle of civilization for so many centuries.
Today Ilam is full of remnants of that and other eras throughout which it has always stayed an important Geopolitical locale. You can find layers of antiquity all over Iran’s territorial expanses but Ilam is also unique for its unbelievably diverse ecology, one of the jewels on the crown of Iran’s nature.
Ilam, The land of green mountains and serene valleys, where is it?
Ilam Province is located in the western part of Iran, sharing 425 kilometers of border with Iraq, and also bordering on the provinces of Kermanshah, Lorestan, and Khuzestan. The provincial capital is the city of Ilam. Other prominent cities considerable for touring include Abdanan, Mehran, Dehloran, Darreh Shahr.
ilam on map
How and when to travel to Ilam?
Ilam’s international airport is the second most busy airport in the west of the country. So you can book a flight to Ilam from several major cities in Iran, including Tehran and Isfahan. The flight from Tehran to Ilam takes about 75 minutes.
You can also travel there on land using buses heading for the city of Ilam. These buses you can find in almost all the major cities in Iran. Almost 700KMs of road divided Tehran and Ilam. So expect an 8 to 10 hours drive.
One thing you must know about Iran’s geography is that it’s never one uniform terrain and Ilam is one of the most obvious manifestations of this feature. The geography of the province gives it some varied seasons and climates. The deserts in the south are extremely dry and hot with low annual precipitations.
The mountainous regions of the east like Abdanan and Darreh Shahr are milder and receive higher precipitations, mostly in form of rain, although snow is not rare, and The northern region of Ilam and Eyvan, experiences cold winters and mild summers and receive the highest amount of precipitation in the province. The variety of land is one of the main reasons nomads are prevalent in the area. So you can, like the Nomads, choose your destination according to your whims and go to Ilam in whatever season that suits you. But generally, a spring tour is agreeable to most travelers.
Despite its very rich history, Ilam today one of the most deprived regions of Iran. This brings many different results for the foreign traveler. One of them is that if you’re looking for a budget tour in Iran, Ilam is the place. So many beauties and historicity await you there. But one other consequence is the limited options in terms of accommodations and hotels. Some of the best are:
Zagros Hotel – the city of Ilam
Address: Choghasabz forest park, Imam Hossein square
Khalash Hotel – Ilam
Address: Keshvari square, Ayatollah Heydari street.
Dalahoo Hotel – Ilam
Address: At the corner of Vaseti avenue -Ferdowsi street
But hospitality that one receives from Ilam’s warm-blooded people is something to be cherished above all that hotels can offer.
In Iran’s nature and natural sites, Ilam has a special place. Abundance of great mountains, rivers, waterfalls, protected mountainous areas, and vast and fertile plains have made the province a destination for nature tourists. Also ruins left behind from antiquity and tens of historic sites such as castles and fire temples beckon to you if you’re particularly interested in fallen civilizations and the past of an ancient realm, a terrain that has been the lush end of the “Fertile Crescent”.
Therefore what attractions you can find here are mostly outside the cities in the open. Let’s go through some of them together and we tell you a little more about Iran’s geography in this beautiful and generous region:
Tang-e-Razianeh (Strait of Razianeh), a hauntingly beautiful scar:
On the roadside when you go from the city of Ilam to Darreh-Shahr, passing the village of Chenarbashi, you can see one of the most important phenomena in Iran’s geography, called Tang-e-Razianeh, which is a strait left behind by a river origination from the Sarab-e-Gero, its cliffs reach 30 meters in highest points.
The area around the strait provides a great habitat for various forms of wild lives, and the vegetation is one of the medical and aromatic plants, among them a plant named fennel, which in Farsi is called Razianeh. Ecotouristic capabilities of Tang-e-Razianeh make it an ideal place for travelers who seek unique environments.
If you plan to go there, we recommend the early springtime. You can reach the strait by going 57km to the east from the city of Ilam on the ancient road of Badreh-Abhar.
Tang-E-Kafrin, is this an African paradise?
Ilam, being host to many small rivers and monsoon fluxes is engraved all over its land with straits and mountain cliffs. But there is one strait that really stands out in terms that its natural beauty is so spectacular that it leaves you speechless. You can almost say if you’re planning to go to a strait in Africa but have financial limitations, choose instead this somehow budget tour to Iran and one of its most popular natural sites.
In addition to the natural beauties, one can find some ancient ruins near the strait. These architectural remains should not be missed. But this ancient territory, in which the first signs of civilization dating back to five thousand years ago, is today renovated as a tourist attraction. So the necessary facilities are provided and amenities are abundant, for example, locals sail frequently on the river into the strait and take travelers aboard with them for an incredible experience.
At the same time, you’ll find another group, fishing in the Samira River, and of course, the biggest attraction for anyone is the dreamy and breathtaking view of the river crossing the strait. Other amusements include the vast oak forests and various animal species such as the Iranian squirrel that lives there.
Tar Spring of Dehloran, The Dragon’s blood:
One of the most unique things about Iran’s geography is the way natural resources blend with the beauty of nature. For example, this Tar Spring located just 7km outside the city of Dehloran.
As you pass through the forest gardens of Ab-e-Garm you’ll come upon a completely deserted area, any sign of life suddenly disappears, and then two or three hundred meters into this area, there lays a boiling spring of tar, a horrific yet beautiful phenomenon that brings all kind of interested travelers to this site at the time of Nowruz celebrations. The locals used to call this spring the Blood of the Dragon, i.e the dragon that Sepandyar (Esfandiar), one of ancient Iran’s heroic figures, had slain in pre-historic days.
But if you decided to visit this place, don’t forget two other nearby attractions: the mineral springs at the outskirt of Dehloran, and a cave famous for being the nest to innumerable Bats.
Shekaft-e-Golgol (Golgolcave), The Assyrian were here before you and they too fell in love with Kabir-Kuh:
25km outside the city of Ilam, on the mountain range of Kabir-Kuh (literally “the great mountain”, one of the longest ranges of the Zagros Mountains) there is a cuneiform inscription carved into the eternal stone depicting the conquer of Elamite Empire by Ashurbanipal, the great king of ancient Ashur.
One of the main parts of any traveling in Iran would always be visiting these kinds of historic sites, but here at the foot of the Kabir-Kuh, you can also enjoy some incredible natural sites. Kabir-Kuh, the mountainous twin of Seimareh River (they run along each other for tens of kilometers) is home various species and unmatched wildlife on its western ranges that coincide with Ilam Province. Iran’s nature rarely gets this beautiful, so don’t miss it.
Darreh-Shahr, the ancient capital of Elamites:
So, while we’re talking about the fall of the Elamites, let’s mention their capital. The Elamite Kingdom had three important cities: Susa, Hidali and Madaktu. It is believed that Darreh-Shahr was once Madaktu.
The city was destroyed and its inhabitants executed by Ashurbanipal. In the Sassanid era, the city revived and Nowadays, the ruins of Madaktu is abounded with artifacts from that era, most of which are in display in Darreh Shahr Museum. Also Due to the abundance and diversity of the castles in the city, it is most commonly called “the city of castles”. The world’s largest geopark is also located in this city. You can call Darreh-Shahr the capital of tourism in Ilam these days.
Abdanan, an Asphalt road to heaven:
There is all those attraction above mentioned, and then there is Abdanan. A region laden with water and fertility, the road to which is one of the most beautiful roads in all Iran’s geography. The area around the city defines pristine nature. For example, we can mention one of the most wonderful phenomena located in Ilam province: The twin lakes of Siah Gave. They are called twin lakes because they are connected by a natural canal to each other. Their pure and lucid water is heavenly, resembles a fish-filled aquarium when you look at it.
But apart from the natural resources, Abdanan is also seat to many ancient relics, to name a few we can refer to Zhulio, an ancient city probably remnant of a tie when emperor Julian had some adventure inside Sassanid Empire.
Another relic from Sassanid era is Hezar-Dar castle, which means the castle of a thousand doors. The main facade of this building has crescent-shaped arches all around it and the “Doors” refer to this feature. The architectural structure of the fortress suggests that this was probably a castle or military garrison.
Ilam’s mouthwatering cuisine:
So you thought the diversity of Ilam is about its nature and history. But you must try their food to know better. Food in Ilam is one of its main attractions. While there give these a try:
Torkhineh (tarkhine): a local food made of a local vegetable Shalam. pomegranate juice is also a main ingredient. This traditional food is usually cooked in warm seasons.
Rumen Kofta: a local version of Kofta, the great food of middle-east. Ingredients of this food include rumen, onion, fragrant vegetables (thymes, tarragon, mint), salt, a type of local additive and oil.
Qaleh Masowa: a most delicious stew specific to nomads of Ilam. It is cooked in cold seasons.
Makash: the most popular food among people of Ilam themselves. This food includes ingredients such as rice, local oil, fried onion, prune, turmeric, raisin, pepper, salt, and additives.
Souvenirs of Ilam:
Who doesn’t want to bring some souvenir from Iran with them? In the case of Ilam, we recommend these: pastries like Bezhy Bar Saq, Kaleh Konji, Begol Halva. Also animal oil and mountain honey.