The Lost Paradise of Ardabil, Iran
Located on the bank of the Aras river and home to one of the oldest nomadic tribes of Iran, Mugan plain offers some of the most scenic landscapes of the country.
The northwestern part of Iran has still remained relatively unknown to many travelers. Yet, the region has some of the most beautiful natural countrysides of the country. Thanks to the many natural resources such as springs, rivers, mountains and valleys, this part of Iran offers a lot to those who love to explore intact natural attractions.
Mugan Plain(Also known as Moghan) is one of those attractions which, due to its unique location on the bank of Aras river, has some of the most picturesque landscapes of Iran. Covering more than 300-350 thousand hectares, one-third of this vast plain is situated in Iran, while the rest in Azerbaijan. Actually, the plain is a part of Ardabil province, which shares borders with Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea and is divided into three cities: Bilehayar, Garmi, and Parsabad. Because of its fertile soil and suitable climate, Mugan is considered to be one of the most important livestock and agricultural fields of the region and even the whole country.
Since ancient times, Mugan plain was an area where many Azeri people inhabited in. Excavations done in this region revealed some evidence dating back to 5000 BC, related to the ancient settlement of Alikemek-Tepesi (Alikemektepesi). Building mud-brick circular and oval and semi-oval architecture were typical for people of this culture. A style which still is preserved by nomads of the region. Some of the remaining of this settlement such as ancient potteries can be seen today in museums, revealing their rich history.
It’s not just the favorable weather of the plain with mild winters and cool summers that seem attractive to the visitors. The rich history of Mugan and being home to one of the oldest Iranian tribes, Shahsavan can be another reason for the popularity of the region. Seeing the tribal lifestyle of Shahsavan people and their day-to-day life can turn a trip to Mugan to an unforgettable memory.
The word Shahsavan means the protector of the king. During the Safavid era, the tribe was formed to protect the king from the rebellious tribes in the west. The Shahsavan nomads have traditionally pursued a nomadic pastoral way of life for centuries. They migrate between winter pastures near the Caspian Sea in Mugan plain and summer quarters, 100-200 km to the south on the Sabalan and neighboring regions, in the districts of Ardabil, Meshkin, and Sarab.
Although the history of Shahsavan nomads is recorded since the early 18th century, they reached the heyday of their power and influence in the first decades of the 20th century, when they were involved in various important events during the Constitutional Revolution and the years before the rise of Reza Shah.
Today, this tribe is most famous because of producing some of the most beautiful hand-woven rugs of Iran. Shahsavan women produce colorful flat-woven rugs, storage bags, and blankets with unique, wonderful patterns. Selling rugs is an important source of income for Shahsavan tribe and many of their products are exported to the foreign market, helping them to preserve their nomadic lifestyle.
As mentioned earlier, Mugan is situated on the bank of the Aras river, which provides it with sufficient water for agriculture and fresh grasses for livestock. If you travel to Mugan during the spring, what you see will be miles and miles of green lands, stretched in a vast area. You’ll also have the chance to meet Shahsavan people and escape from the hustle and bustle of the city life by spending a few days in this magnificent land with them.