0637 GMT February 18, 2019
The central province of Yazd, with dry and warm weather, has been in need of water throughout the history. A large number of qanats are situated in various parts of the region including Qanat of Zarech, which is the longest in the world. The underground tunnel, extending 100km and 2,115 wells, is one of the oldest in the country dating back to 3,000 years.
The most beautiful part of the qanat is where its water pours into Vaziri Watermill in Koshk-e Nou District of Yazd city. Walking through water along qanat creates a different feeling for those who, for the first time, visit a watermill built below the earth surface.
The historical complex has recently been restored and renovated after many years and condition has been prepared for opening its door to the public. Numerous tourists are expected to visit the ancient structure in near future.
I found opportunity to visit the ancient qanat and Vaziri Watermill, along with Ebrahim Kazemnejad, manager of Zarech World Heritage Site.
While walking, I wondered how the well diggers dug several kilometers of earth and removed lots of soil from the earth with primitive pickaxe, small shovel and buckets in the ancient time.
Kazemnejad said Iran has 46,000 active and dried qanats, 5,000 of which are located in Yazd Province and 60 pass under the city of Yazd.
“Qanat of Zarech — transferring water from one plain to another — is the only qanat which has water now”, he said.
Kazemnejad, who is also the head of Archeology Section of Yazd Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Department, added long length is the most outstanding characteristic of qanats located in Yazd — for example, Zarech Qanat is 90km far from its source.
He noted that the starting point of Zarech and Hassan Abad qanats, with the length of more than 84km, is in the village of Fahraj.
“The mother wells of Fahraj are 94 to 100 meters deep”, he said.
He said that Qanat of Zarech passes through Yazd to reach Zarech Village, located 15km west of the city, adding it has three sub branches, namely Shoor, Shirin and Ebrahim Khavidaki, of which only Shoor Branch has water.
“The Shoor and Shirin branches of qanat — starting from Fahraj and Mohammad Abad respectively — connect to each other 30km underground which is considered as one of the unique features of Vaziri Watermill,” he said.
He said the watermill turbine and stone have been renovated to help it retain its function.
“Tourists who pass entrance ramp, with the length of 140 meters, can visit the watermill and its eddy, and even prepare flour themselves” he said.
The official noted that a traditional restaurant is expected to be inaugurated in the watermill, 30 meters below the earth surface.
“Tourists can wear long boots to walk through water from Vaziri Watermill to Koshk-e Nou District”, he said.
He noted that before the start of the renovation project, the water of qanat didn’t flow to Zarech city. Presently, more than 50 liters/hour of water run in the underground tunnel, he added.
“Renovation of qanat not only will lead to a development in tourism sector of the region but also helps farmers use traditional irrigation methods more easily,” he concluded.