I (Amir Sina) always try to refer to different sources from Google to books and even friends to find information about a city prior to traveling there with Shahin. When we decided to go to Sirjan in Kerman Province I found out about the extraordinary Bagh-e Sangi or Stone Garden.
After an approximately 40-kilometer drive on the Sirjan-Baft road we reached Balvard Village. This village does not have breathtaking nature or ancient ruins to offer. Its attraction is a garden, a massive art installation created over half a century.
This art installation is a garden but one with no living plants, flowers or fruit trees. The trees of the garden are all dead and bear fruits of stone that hang from their lifeless branches and perform an eerie death dance in the wind.
What is known about the history of this garden is that it was created by a man named Darvish Khan Esfandiarpour who lost most of his lands during the Land Reforms of 1963 in the Pahlavi era (1925-1979). He lost his remaining garden to drought. As he was deaf and mute and could not protest using words, he dedicated the remainder of his life to creating this morbid conceptual work of art.
For over 50 years, Darvish Khan single-handedly transported mammoth pieces of stone that would pose a challenge to even people with physical strength from nearby mountains and valleys to the garden and used everything from telegraph cables to bicycle chains to hang them from the branches of his dead trees. Locals say Darvish Khan transported most of the dead trees in this garden from elsewhere and planted them in the ground to create his artwork.
When you see the size of these stones you can feel the depth of Darvish Khan’s rage at the injustice he suffered. Darvish Khan passed away in 2007 at the age of 90. Nearly eight years on and one can still sense his rage reverberating through the garden.
We reached the garden around 2 pm. The sun was perfect for taking photos. We took pictures for four hours but Shahin was not satisfied with the result as the magnitude of the garden could not be captured in any frame. Tired and frustrated we laid down on the ground.
That’s when we found the best angle to photograph the garden and its massive scale. Shahin and I both got down on our backs in one corner of the garden and began taking pictures.
If you ever decide to visit Kerman Province, its endless deserts and Shahdad Kalouts (yardangs) do not hesitate to take the road to Bagh-e Sangi. Eerie as it may be, this garden is an attraction you should not miss.