Bandar Abbas is a bustling port city that was founded by Shah Abbas I. Located strategically; this city is the capital of Hormozgan Province and overlooks the Strait of Hormoz. Though its market is one of the main attractions, you will find many other natural attractions in the vicinity of the city.
Located along the southern coast of Iran, bang on the Persian Gulf, Bandar Abbas is home to the Iranian Navy. It is situated on flat ground, at an altitude of just 30 feet above sea level. However, don’t worry as you can still access the mountains and hills like Mt. Geno, which is 17 km north of Bandar Abbas, and Mt. Pooladi, which is about 16 km northwest of Bandar Abbas. The nearest river is River Shoor, which originates in Mt. Geno and empties out into the Persian Gulf.
Bandar Abbas has a hot desert climate and summers can really be unpleasant, especially if temperatures soar up to 49 deg Celsius. However, on an average, temperatures in summer range from 27 deg Celsius to 30 deg Celsius. In winter, the temperatures can dip down to 5 deg Celsius. As this town is located along the Persian Gulf, you can expect high humidity levels, around 65 per cent on an average. Thanks to the high humidity, it takes the bite out of the hot summers.
The earliest mention of Bandar Abbas dates back to the reign of Darius the Great, who ruled from 522 to 486 BCE. His commander, Silicus, made his way to India from Bandar Abbas. After Alexander conquered the Persian Empire, Bandar Abbas was called Hormirzad.
Under the rules of the Persian Bandar Abbas was called Kamrun. However, in 1565, one European navigators called the city Bandel Gombrich, which roughly translates to customhouse port. He claimed this name was Persian and Turkish.
When the Portuguese capture Bandar Abbas in 1514, they renamed the city as Comoro, since its shores were replete with lobsters and crabs. They used the port to carry out trade with India. A century later, in 1614, the Portuguese had to relinquish Bandar Abbas as King Abbas the Great captured it. He renamed the city Bandar-e-Abbas and developed it into a huge port with the help of the British.
However, it was under the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, that Bandar Abbas turned into a strategic port with world-class infrastructure. Today, the port city attracts thousands of visitors, who use it as a transit point to visit the islands of Hormuz and Qeshm.
As a port city, Bandar Abbas has become home to people from all over Iran. According to an estimate of 2011, the city’s population is about 450,000.
The original inhabitants of the city are called Banderas, and they speak a dialect of Persian called Bandari. However, this language incorporates words from Arabic, Balochi, Persian and even a few European languages.
As Bandar Abbas is a port city, it is famous for its fresh seafood. This is the best place to savor Ghalyeh Maygoo, which is a spicy and tangy seafood stew made from tamarind, garlic, prawns, coriander leaves, and red chili. The best stew is served close to the fish market as the vendors use the fresh catch to make it.
Havari is another dish that you should try when visiting Bandar Abbas. This wholesome rice and coriander dish is made using shrimp, rice, saffron, garlic, coriander, fenugreek leaves, tomato paste, onions and hordes of other spices. It is delicious, spicy and filling.
While there are not too many landmarks in Bandar Abbas, it is a wonderful place to set up camp and visit some of the natural wonders in the region. However, do spend some time at the central fish market and bazaar to pick fresh seafood and local produce. You will love the vibrant ambience and the friendly locals and vendors.
When you come to Bandar Abbas, make a trip to Genoa Thermal Spring and Tourist Compound. It is about 34 km from the city and is an idyllic retreat with swaying date palms and thermal springs, which is at about 45 deg Centigrade. The spring has separate pools for men and women, and there are pavilions surrounding the spring to rest and relax. You can even purchase snacks from one of the many stalls. The Tourist Compound offers numerous facilities and amenities, like cycling path, restaurant, hotel and playground for children.
Bandar Abbas is home to the Hindu Temple, which was constructed in 1892, during the reign of Mohammad Hassan Khan Saad Molk who was the governor of the city. It is a fine depiction of Indian architectural style and it also houses Anthropological Museum of Bandar Abbas. It is believed that the temple was constructed for the Hindu Brahmin sect that used to live in the city. The temple was dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
A visit to Hormoz Island is a must when you come to Bandar Abbas. It is merely 8 km from the city and here, you can see a true miracle of nature – a salt dome. The dome can be seen during low tide, when the water level is low. However, while you wait for low tide, explore the island, which is perfect for bird-watching, as it is home to the Egyptian vulture, Larus and Terns.
Qeshm is another island that you can visit. It has the distinction of being the biggest island in the Persian Gulf. And is located about 28 km from Bandar Abbas. It is replete with verdant natural beauty. This place is also a home to 20 species of mammals, 30 species of reptiles and 220 avian species. Qeshm is also home to the white-toothed pygmy shrew, which is the smallest mammal in the world. If you are lucky, you will be able to spot the world’s largest mammal as well – the blue whale – swimming majestically in the waters of the Persian Gulf. Qeshm is also a great place to go dolphin watching as there are several pods that enjoy swimming close to the island.
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