Rainbow Mountains, Tabriz, Iran – are there rainbows? or is it all a sham? 2


‘Rainbow Mountains? Is that what you said?’

Ami nods.

‘You mean the mountains have rainbow colours?’

Another nod.

‘That’s got to be a sham.’

‘No, it’s real. Look!’ Ami’s fingers clatter on the laptop keyboard. She swivels the screen around to show me the results of her search. ‘See!’

I gaze at a selection of photos of hyper-real, intensely-coloured, rainbow-striped mountains. The pictures have been photoshopped to within an inch of their lives; they’ve been colour-saturated to Willy Wonka levels. I’m not convinced.

‘But you know the mountains won’t be anywhere near that colourful in reality,’ I say.

Amrita looks at the screen again. She purses her lips.

‘Remember Pozo Azul?’

I’m referring to a blue pool we visited outside of Villa de Leyva, Colombia. Similarly tricked-up photos persuaded us to visit a fairly average farm dam which, we discovered, had just the vaguest tint of blue to it when viewing it in person. We’d had to pay for an entry ticket too. Ami was fuming mad afterwards.

‘Alright, forget the Rainbow Mountains.’ Ami says sadly. ‘Let’s go to Babak Castle instead.’

A decision to which I happily agree.


The Rainbow Mountains

Ami’s yearning to see the Rainbow Mountains of Tabriz, Iran, didn’t go entirely unfulfilled. The road to Babak Castle passes through the middle of theΒ Rainbow Mountains.

Unfortunately we had an early start and Ami fell asleep in the back of the taxi and snoozed through the journey. I stayed awake. This is what I saw.

Typical landscape in northern Iran, Rainbow Mountains, Iran

The landscape of northern Iran. Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit

The landscape of northern Iran is fairly well represented by the photo above: a vast treeless plateau, distant snow-capped peaks, eroded hillsides, grey skies.

Dramatic, but overwhelmingly bleak.

Rainbow Mountains, Iran

The beginning of the Rainbow Mountains. Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit

Then, amongst the eroded barren hills, the odd splash of colour catches your eye; a streak of burgundy, a run of chalk white, a patch of burnt umber, a dash of copper.

Rainbow Mountains, Iran

Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit

The mountains remain predominately brown and grey, but amongst the slopes are hints of red, yellow, and orange.

Rainbow Mountains, Iran

Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit

It’s no rainbow, but as far as mountains go, they are undeniably colourful. And the patterning is quite appealing, rather like that of a tie-dyed t-shirt.

Rainbow Mountains, Iran

Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit

In summary, the Internet photos are bogus. Do not come here expecting to see mountains lit up with all the colours of the rainbow. But, that being said, the Rainbow Mountains are actually quite attractive.

It’s a shame Ami slept through the whole thing. πŸ™

Lucky for her we had to drive through them again on the way back to Tabriz, and this time I made sure she stayed awake. πŸ™‚

Rainbow Mountains, Iran

Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit


Practical information:

The Rainbow Mountains lie just outside the city of Tabriz in northern Iran. They can be reached by taxi within 30 minutes or so. The mountains seen in this post are on the Tabriz – Ahar Highway.


More on northern Iran:

Babak Castle – windswept mountaintop stronghold of Azeri rebel leader

Takht-e Soleyman – royal Zoroastrian sanctuary and fire temple

Kandovan – it’s Cappadocia minus the tourists


Posts on western Iran:

The Historic Hydraulic System of Shushtar

Bisotun – cliff inscription of Darius the Great

Chogha Zanbil – the original ziggurat


Posts on Iran:

Naqsh-e Rustam – unearthly cliff tombs of the Achaemenid emperors

Tomb of Cyrus the Great, Pasargadae

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