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Hormuz Island

By: Sarah Arjmandi Basmenj

Hormuz Island, located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, in southern Iran, boasts immense tourism potential with its scenic coastlines, historical landmarks, and unique natural wonders. It is known for its colorful landscapes and historical sites, it offers visitors a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage.

I) Attractions

Red beach

Photo by Sarah Arjmandi Basmenj - Red beach area and the local vendors

The mountain’s presence along the shoreline creates a striking view, with its uniquely red beach and crimson waves. Additionally, strolling along the coast reveals sections where the sand sparkles due to metal compounds, offering a particularly enchanting experience during sunrise or sunset.

Hormuz Island has a mountain rich in red oxide soil, called “Gelack”, which is not just a valuable mineral for industrial purposes, but the locals use it as an spice in their cuisine, such as sauces, jams, etc

Indigenous people of Hormuz Island have developed a unique culinary tradition. They utilize the abundant fresh fish from their local waters, including sardines, kilka, and a variety of fish known as “momagh”. After cleaning the fish, they marinate them in a mixture of sour orange peel and a special sauce, then allow them to ferment in the sun for two days. This process transforms the fish into a delectable dish known as “suragh.” Renowned for its appetizing flavor and vibrant color, suragh has become a favorite among both Iranian and international tourists. Rarely does a visitor to Hormuz Island depart without indulging in this memorable culinary experience.

suragh dish

The colorful soil found on the island is an essential ingredient in its local cuisine, including a bread known as “Tomshi.” Named after the Farsi phrase “Tou Moshti,” meaning handful.

To make “Tomshi,” locals spread a thin layer of dough on a tray, then add eggs, cheese, and a sauce made from the island’s soil. Finally, they top it off with a touch of fish sauce for added flavor.

Tomshi bread

Rainbow Mountains

Rainbow Valley is like a dream for geologists and a source of inspiration for artists and nature enthusiasts. Picture a narrow valley filled with colorful earth and sand, surrounded by mountains painted in shades of red, purple, yellow, ochre, and blue. These colors were formed by the cooling of molten rock. Everywhere you look, you’ll see patches of bright colors forming geometric patterns. This stunning natural sight looks its best in the late afternoon when the sunlight brings out its beauty.

Colorful soil of the Hormuz Island

Valley of statues

This incredibly picturesque natural area is known as the ‘Valley of the Statues’ (also called the Valley of Sculptures, Valley of Imagination, or Darreye Tandis-ha). Here, towering rocks have been sculpted into peculiar shapes by the elements. With a little imagination, you can spot many animal-like cliffs, such as dragons, birds, and mythical creatures. Perched on a bluff, this site offers breathtaking views of the coastline.

The unique shapes of the rocks reveal the gradual emergence of Hormuz Island from the water over thousands of years, shaped by the process of erosion. The entire valley path is covered in sparkling sands. What adds to the charm of this place is the serene silence that envelops it.

It’s worth noting that there are no guide rails, and without a guide, it can be challenging to find this hidden gem.

natural statue-shaped rocks of the valley

Saffron plain

Zaferani Plain is like a golden carpet amid the colorful mountains of Hormuz Island, captivating every visitor with its beauty. Here, you can witness the magic of colors as the yellow plain flows between the mountains, creating a stunning scene. Beneath the surface, salt crystal cavities add to the uniqueness of the landscape. It is because as the water flows, it mixes with the salty soil, creating salt crystals. As the soil is orange and saffron-colored, it makes the crystals turn saffron-colored too.

Photo by Sarah Arjmandi Basmenj
Natural saffron-colored crystals and the golden color river

Goddess of Salt

Goddess of Salt is a salt mountain showcasing vibrant textures sculpted by nature’s hand. Over time, this natural wonder has been beautifully carved, offering visitors a glimpse into the island’s geological history. The name “Goddess of salt” stems from how it looks from far away like a goddess made of salt.

Photo by Sarah Arjmandi Basmenj - Goddess-shaped salt mountain

II) Anthropology

Traditional Dress

The inhabitants of Hormuz Island commonly dress in traditional garments that symbolize their cultural background. Men typically opt for loose trousers and long-sleeved shirts, often fashioned from light materials to suit the island’s weather. Women, on the other hand, often don colorful dresses adorned with detailed embroidery, paired with headscarves or veils. This traditional attire serves as a representation of the islanders’ cultural heritage.

traditional dress
Traditional clothes of people of Hormuz
Traditional clothes of people of Hormuz

Indigenous occupation

The indigenous occupations of the people of Hormuz include agriculture, aquaculture, production of seafood, local handicrafts such as mat weaving and traditional clothing tailoring, as well as tourism services and traditional trade. These occupations typically rely on local resources and the indigenous culture of the island, playing a significant role in providing income and sustaining the local economy of the region.

Photo by Sarah Arjmandi Basmenj - Local vendors

Hidden side of the island; ghosts and spirits

*Warning: This section contains descriptions of ghosts and terrifying creatures that may disturb or unsettle some readers. Reading this section is not recommended for individuals who are highly sensitive to scary topics or feeling vulnerable at the moment. Please proceed with caution.*

The islanders of Hormuz have a deeply rooted belief in supernatural forces, particularly in the form of spirits and jinn. They hold sacred ceremonies known as “Zargiri,” during which they believe malevolent spirits possessing individuals are expelled through special rituals.

The people of Hormuz believe that illnesses which can be cured through conventional treatments and medical care do not require Zargiri rituals. However, if someone falls ill and conventional treatments prove ineffective, they believe supernatural forces are at play. Therefore, they resort to Zargiri ceremonies to expel malevolent spirits and jinn that have possessed the afflicted individual’s soul, forcibly removing them from their body.

These malevolent spirits, believed to be brought by powerful winds known as “bads,” are considered responsible for causing various illnesses and afflictions. The islanders distinguish between different types of winds, some benevolent and others malicious, each capable of inflicting harm on humans.

During the Zargiri ceremony, individuals afflicted by malevolent spirits are isolated for seven days, during which special oils and medicines are used to prepare them for the ritual. The ceremony involves chants and music played on traditional instruments, with skilled musicians controlling the rhythm and pace to induce a trance-like state in the afflicted individuals.

At the climax of the ceremony, the main ritual involves the performance of the “Zar” music, played only by authorized individuals. The music, featuring a variety of instruments, including the tambourine, aims to drive out the malevolent spirits from the afflicted individuals, restoring them to health.

This deeply ingrained belief in supernatural forces and the rituals associated with them reflect the unique cultural heritage of the people of Hormuz Island.

Zār ceremony in Hormuz Island

III) basic rights of indigenous people

Local residents of Hormuz Island have access to basic amenities such as schools, healthcare centers, and supermarkets, but their lifestyle differs significantly from urban Iranians, posing unique challenges. For example, water is supplied during limited hours of the day, necessitating the storage of water for later use, and the absence of city gas requires the use of gas capsules for cooking and household tasks. Additionally, the island’s healthcare infrastructure faces limitations, including inadequate equipment in healthcare centers. For instance, during a visit to the island, I experienced heat exhaustion and required intravenous therapy, but unfortunately, it was not available at the island’s healthcare center, and we had to resort to alternative treatment methods. These challenges underscore the necessity of infrastructure improvements to enhance the quality of life for residents in this unique environment.

A man distributing gas capsules for daily usage by people

In conclusion, Hormuz Island stands out as a natural wonder of Iran, drawing in tourists with its diverse attractions such as stunning coastlines, pristine waters, and abundant historical landmarks. However, what truly distinguishes this island is the warm hospitality and friendliness of its inhabitants. With a culture deeply rooted in hospitality and a serene way of life, the people of Hormuz create an unforgettable experience for visitors. Thus, for those seeking to immerse themselves in culture and nature, Hormuz Island undoubtedly deserves a top spot on their travel itinerary.

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