Lots of Persian myths were said to happen in this enchanting mount, Damavand. In Zoroastrian texts, there was a three-headed dragon named Azi Dahaka. It was chained in the same Mount, which will be imprisoned there till the end of the world. Ferdosi, the great poet of 10th century narrates another version of the legend in Shahnameh. Zahak was a king, who met the devil and listened to his evil ideas. Once the devil asked to kiss his shoulders.
After some time two snakes grew on his shoulders, which trouble him more and more every day. He started to sacrifice two persons each day for feeding the snakes, people were extremely suffered by his cruelty. After lots of ups and downs, a hero called Fereydoon punished Zahak in the same mount Damavand. “He brought Zahhak like a horse to mount Damavand, And tied him at the peak tight and bound”. All people get free and live in peace.
The mount plays a vital role Shahnameh’s stories. It was also named in Arash the archer’s legend. When the hero stands on top of Damavand, shot his arrow to specify the border of Iran and Turan. Another well-known Iranian poet, Mohammad Taqi Bahar, describes the mount: “O white giant with feet in chains, O dome of the world, O Damavand”. So, it has a special place in Persian folklore and literature.
Mount Damavand is not only a natural attraction but a national symbol of glory, firmness and freedom. In the recent century, we can find the mount’s picture over some official Iranian money. This shows the importance and outstanding place of Damavand in whole Iran.
Damavand is placed in foothills of Alborz Mountain Range, in a city called Amol, Mazandraran Province. In other words, it’s located in North of Iran and South of the Caspian Sea. Damavand is 5610 meters high. It’s considered as the highest mount of Iran and also the highest volcano in Asia and the Middle East. When the sky is sunny and clear the magnificent Damavand peak is visible in cities of Tehran, Varamin, Qom and Southern beach of the Caspian Sea.
The first time Damavand had volcano activity dates back to 1.78 million years ago in the Pleistocene, but the formation of Damavand refers to the most severe eruption 10000 years ago. Nowadays there’s still a chance that this stratovolcano gets activated. The crater’s diameter is 400 meters and at the moment it’s all covered by snow. Maybe, that’s why it used to be called Dabavand that means smoke and stream. The existence of several mineral hot springs are true testimonies for being half active. The most important ones are placed in the area of Larijan, Lar Valley. The water of these springs can heal acute wounds and skin disease. So, public baths with pools have already built near springs.
The wind blows from West and North West. At times, it gets so speedy even over 150 km/h. The mount temperature can vary from minus 60 degrees centigrade in winters to minus 2 degrees centigrade in summers. So, it’s a must for mountaineers, who go on a Damavand Tour, to check weather forecast beforehand. National Geographic has placed Damavand as the 10th most dangerous peaks of the world to climb. The strong wind, high elevation and coldness can be very problematic while climbing. Damavand peak gets 1400 mm rain in the year, which turns into snow at the highest point.
The area flora is rich as various herbal plants can be found. On the Southern hills, lots of pistachio trees have grown. Along rivers, Salix trees like willow and oleaster can be observed. Wild oak, beech and hazel trees exist in the northern slopes as there’s more humidity. The area’s fauna holds a wide range as well. Different animals like goats, dogs, rabbits, foxes, wolves and boars and different birds like owls and golden eagles live in the mount. In addition, Damavand’s rivers are proper habitats for brown trout.
Many springs and rivers are flowing through this mount. The most striking ones are Tineh River in North, Lar and Div Asiab Rivers in West, Haraz River in South and Panj Ab in Eastern side of the mount. There’s a unique frozen waterfall in the south of Damavand, called Abshar Yakhi in Persian. It means icefall and the ice never melts. The waterfall is around 12 meters tall with 3 meter diameter. The elevation of 5100 meters has made it the highest waterfall in the Middle East. Unfortunately, the glorious nature of Damavand is threatened by excessive grazing and road instruction. In springs, the mount foothills will be covered by anemones and the birds’ songs can be heard.
There are four main routes to climb Damavand Peak includes North, East North, West and South Routes. Among these, the easiest way is going through Southern side, where the icefall located on the way, The toughest one is Northern route. Except the West Route, rest have shelters on the way as being located near villages.
Beside being the highest mount in Iran and the Middle East, Mount Damavand has a very high position in Persian mythology. It’s the symbol of strength and freedom, where goodness overcome evil. Regarding to this imposing notion, there’s a national day (4th November) named of Damavand. On this day every year, People hold the celebration in Mazandaran Province, where the mount is located.