Kalat, a Natural Fortress

Kalat, a Natural FortressKalat, a Natural Fortress

The city of Kalat in Khorasan Razavi Province has been the center of attention throughout history for its geographical and historical peculiarities.

Kalat is also called Kalat-Naderi, for it has been attributed to King Nader of Afshar dynasty who commissioned the construction of Khorshid Palace where he kept his treasury, according to Fars News Agency.

Kalat, literally meaning an elevated fortified settlement, is situated on a high plateau in the mountains of Khorasan, some 150 km north of Mashhad. Edged with steep cliffs, it was a natural fortress almost inaccessible for King Nader’s enemies. It is located in the northeast of Hezar-Masjid mountains, and is now accessible through several routes including Darband-Jharf, Qaranlu, Arghavanshah, and Dehcheh.


Kalat has been mentioned several times in historical sources, including the renowned Shahnameh (Ferdowsi’s epic poem), in the story of Foroud, son of hero Siavash, as well as the history of Yamini, and the book of Mihman-Name of Bokhara by Fazlolah ibn Ruzbehan.

The town people are of different ethnic groups including Arabs, Kurds, Lurs, Turks, and Turkmens. These ethnic groups are mostly the ones who were forced out of their own dwelling places near the country’s borders during Nader Shah’s reign.

Kalat-e Naderi is blessed with various rivers stemming from the Hezar-Masjid mountains, watering fruit gardens and rice fields on their way. Also, among its seasonal rivers one can mention Laeen, Charmsou, Isiqsou, Ali-Boulagh-Jharf, and Qaleh-No.

The geological conditions yield good arable soil between the grassy plains of the banks. The wildlife is untouched, home to a rich biodiversity.

  Khorshid Palace

Kalat’s foremost sight is Nader Shah’s Khorshid Palace. It’s not really a palace, but a distinctively fluted circular tomb-tower, on an octagonal base set in beautifully manicured lawns.

The name Khorshid (literally ‘sun’) refers to one of Nader’s wives, not some arcane astronomical purpose. It was never finished, hence the odd proportions and lack of a dome. Intricate exterior panels include pineapple and pear motifs. These fruits were unknown in 18th-century Khorasan, suggesting that Nader Shah used foreign artisans he’d engaged or kidnapped during his Indian conquests.

The tower’s magnificent interior uses gilt and ample color to bring life to 16 stalactite-vaulted alcoves. Stairs beneath the rear terrace lead down into a gracious ethnological museum, graphically depicting the village life of Khorasan. The beautiful blue dome, easily spied from the museum steps, belongs to the otherwise modest Kabud Masjid.

Kabud Masjid ‘blue mosque’, which is known to be a Seljuk monument, had been partly built by Nader Shah. The dome of this monument is completely decorated by verses from the Holy Qur’an.

  Son of the Sword

Another historical site to note is the Katibe-Naderi ‘inscription of Nader’ which is situated at the entrance of Darband-e Arghun-Shah. It is an inscribed Turkish poem by court poet Golbon Afshar praising Nader Shah as the ‘Son of Sword’.

Next worth a mention is Akhtegan Mil, which is a brick tower belonging to the 14th-15th centuries, situated on north of Mashhad, in the way from Tuth to Pajh. The villagers call it Gur-e Dokhtar-e Hendi ‘tomb of the Hindi girl’. The tomb belongs to Goharshad Agha who was the sister of Goharshad, the builder of the Goharshad Mosque in Mashhad.

Other sites worth seeing are Naderi Towers; the several entrance gates; historical ab-anbars ‘water reservoirs’ in the Khesht village of Kabud Gonbad rural district, center of Kalat County; the 365 water ponds; the Dam of Naderi; and the stone pipes of Ab-Qarasu.