Being located on the southern slope of the Alborz Range Shahroud has a pretty nature and completely is a four season city. With 157 mm annual rainfall and average maximum temperature about 42° C during summer and average minimum temperature about -14° C during winter Shahroud is a warm and dry city. As a matter of fact Shahroud is located in a tape between the mountain and desert. On the north of the city you can see Shahvar Peak with 4000 meter altitude and by passing less than twenty kilometers to the south you reach to the edge of low central desert of Iran. That's why it's been the Silk Road crossing throughout history. Monuments of ancient civilizations can be found in the hills and archaeological sites of the area.
In the south and at the desert, there are small villages with great distance. With 250 kilometer distance in the south east of shahroud, is Khar Turan Biosphere. One of the greatest National Park of Iran known as Touran wildlife refuge. Due to desert geography Turan is referred as Africa of Iran. Touran biosphere has a very high plant and animal diversity. Some of these species are rare and specific to Iran or do not exist anywhere else in the world. Some of the important mammals include; Asiatic Cheetah, Persian Onager (Persian Zebra), deer, Pallas cats, birds like; white Eyed Buzzard, Houbara and lots of reptiles such as; Horned snakes, desert monitor and many other that are habitats to this area. Asiatic Cheetah or Persian Cheetah is described as an endangered species with only a few remaining in Iran. According to 2017 censuses the number of Persian Cheetah was less than 50. Khar Turan Biosphere is unique due to the clear blue sky during the day and the starry night. Owing to low human density and silence suitable for relaxation and featuring the best natural and animal landscapes for professional photographers.
On the south of Shahroud there is another beautiful natural attraction, On the Alborz Mountains lays the beautiful Cloud Forest (Abr Forest) also there is a pretty village with the same name. The Alborz range is a water distribution line; accordingly two different geographic climates are visible at a short distance. In the northern part because of the Caspian Sea lies the Hircan rainforest. The humidity from the Caspian Sea in this part is accumulated as dense clouds behind the mountain and covers the whole forest. From the top of the mountain, the forest looks like a floating cloud. Exactly like a Dam the Alborz range prevents moisture entering southern part, so in less than 50 kilometer desert condition is visible.
Abr forest is a Wildlife refuge with a unique ecological characteristic. Climate variety in a limited geographical area caused this area to be a suitable place for tall forest trees and also, an appropriate habitat for herbivorous species like Red Deer, Roe Deer, Wild Sheep, wild Goat, Gazelle, Persian Wild Ass and carnivorous species like Brown Bear, North Persian Leopard, Wolf and different kinds of wildcats and birds.
The mountainous and forested area in the north of Shahroud has high potential for tourism activities, such as; mountaineering, rock climbing, caving, mountain and forest biking, forest trekking, wildlife watching, air sport like kiting and paragliding and one of the best landscape for photography.
Mausoleums of two great mystics have made Shahroud the center of mysticism. Rooted in Iranian culture Sufism integrated with Islamic meanings. Some scholars in the field of religion believe that Sufism reflects the aspirations and religious practices of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions and their successors who chose the hard ascetic life at a time when most of their contemporaries had chosen the softer life of the world; however some of the scholars deny this view. The great Tunisian historian of the Islamic world about Sufis wrote: Sufis represent asceticism, in fact retirement from the world and devotion to divine worship, they developed a particular kind of perception which comes about through ecstatic experience. They were most deeply concern with religion, whose soul were set on God and hardly tried to guard their hard from the disaster of heedlessness. In Persian language there is a word means Asceticism (Zohd), it equals with lots of meaning such as celibacy, poverty and retreat. The followers were marked by fear of God, fear of heedlessness, temptation and sin. Besides some of them were wishing for heaven and some of them were practicing unique doctrine; love of God. Some followers were called Dervish or Darvish, known as the people who have chosen material poverty. There are still some remnants of this thinking in Iran and Turkey. Bastam and Kharqan were two mystical centers on the route of Silk Road. And even today, many pilgrims visit the area for pilgrimage. Here is an overview of these two areas.
One of the famous attractions of Shahroud County is Bastam. With 6 kilometer distance and about 8000 populations Bastam is a small city. Bastam city is known with one of the highest mystical cognition and intuitions; Bayazid Bastami. Mystical figure with a bright character that has had unique worldview, in the unconscious, fanatical atmosphere of the eighth century, he has looked for reality.
Bayazid of Bastam, is known as one of the developers of Sufism, with a tendency towards the school of intoxication, converges with artistic vision into Sufism, turning divine Sufism and dry ash into romantic mysticism. His thoughts have had a great impact on later centuries of thinkers, especially the great poets of Iranian history. As it is later developed in the works of Sana'a, Attar, Mulavi (Rumi), Sa'di, and Hafez's romantic mysticism. Early Sufi who has been almost completely transformed from Asceticism to Mysticism. Prominent Sufi; Junayd of Baghdad about Bayazid Bastami had said: "He is amongst us like Gabriel amongst the angels". The highest love in the view of Bayazid Bastami is the love of God. Love for God has several signs and God does not grant it to everyone, accordingly, every human being who loves God has three characteristics: Generosity like the generosity of the sea, compassion like the compassion of the sun, and humility like the humility of the earth. Knowledge is greatly praises by Bayazid Bastami, he believes that human nature is more prone to ignorance than to knowledge, and while many things can be done easily with ignorance, but not a single step can be made easily with knowledge. Avoiding the objective world, sleeping with starves stomach and leaving the material world makes the doctrine of Dervish life, so some Sufis. Ultimate goal in this material life is dignity and then entering paradise, being criticizes by Bayazid Bastami. The man of God doesn't care to worldly and Hereafter life and will think of nothing but the truth, he believes. Love is being seen wherever and all the creature of God has this Love, According to mystical attitude of Bayazid Bastami.
Ancient traditions with symbolic elements continued in post-Islamic era, of course in a new form, one of these old traditions was Ayyarid rite. Mithraism religious and the trifurcations of Gods in the Indo-European traditions, in inside had Ayyarid concept. Followers of this thinking had certain characteristics, including: loyality, justice, courage, chastity, and defending the oppressed and fight against the oppressors. Being both soldiers and thieves, clashing with powerful and oppressors to return looted property to the oppressed was the principle of Ayyarid group. In post Islamic period this tradition was combined with the concepts of the new religion, called Fotowat; with the same function as before. By passing years in the post-Islamic era, it has little by little lost its fighting aspects and has become somewhat internalized and esoteric. Gradually asceticism, piety, sacrifice and service to others became more prominent in this attitude. Years after Bayazid Bastami death, in the Kharaqan village near to Bastam, another man was born who became one of the great Iranian mystic that was very influenced by Bayazid; Abul al-Hassan al-Kharaqani. The rule of Sheikh and devotee was ignored by Abu al-Hassan Kharaqani. He believes to walk the path of truth three important Items should be avoided: gathering devotee, collecting wealth and seeking praise from others. Abu al-Hassan Kharaqani has many followers in the surrounding countries that come to visit his grave as a pilgrim. The people of Afghanistan have great respect for him.
The famous mystic of Heart; Abdullah Ansari (11th century) known as Pir-i Heart (sage of Heart) was strongly influenced by the thoughts of Abu al-Hassan Kharqani. Unparalleled view and religious tolerance has made him a unique personality, without any fanatical and fundamentalist view towards other people beliefs. During his life his house had become a caravansary and a hostel for stranger, this continued after his death, according to Abu al-Hassan’s will. There is a beautiful statement on his grave that has been said by himself. One thousand years ago he has said: feed everyone who comes to this house and don’t ask about his faith and religion, whoever lives and worth living in the eyes of God, surely is valuable and can be guest at Abu al-Hassan’s house and deserved feeding.
In addition to the natural and mystical attractions, the monuments of Shahroud are also to be mentioned. Because of being located on the old Silk Road Shahroud has had particular importance in this direction. Numerous caravansaries from the post-Islamic era still remain in the area. More than any other period in the country's history on safavid era in Iran plateau caravanserais were being built. The evolution of Iranian architecture also referred to as Isfahani style of architecture, can be seen in the caravanserais of the Safavid period. Iran's largest caravanserai complex is located near Shahroud, is known as the Miyan-Dasht Caravansary. The complex consists of three Caravanserais of different courses that are interconnected. Two caravanserais belong to the Qajar period and one built during the reign of Shah Abbas I (Safavid era). Including Cisterns (water storage), baths, stables and accommodations for travelers on the pilgrimage to the holy shrine in Mashhad, the whole complex is twenty thousand square meters.
The caravansary’s history goes back to 500 years BC. At the time of the Achaedmenid Empire, to send letters from the center of government to other parts of the country, Darius the Great established the first postal system of the world. The King's letter was delivered to two riders and they were riding as fast as possible to the Chaparkhaneh. Chaparkhaneh was a station or a motel on the way for resting. They were built at intervals to reach the next station within a day, and provided fresh breath horses and needed services. The same system was used in the Parthian and Sassanid periods. In addition with the expansion of trade between East and West, the same system became a model for the Caravansary.
Caravansary is completely a Persian word; as a matter of fact it is a combination of two words; Caravan and Serai. In Persian a row of animals are called Caravan and Serai means house and palace of resting. This system was used in post-Islam and Seljuk periods as well. Iran was a bridge between the East and the Byzantine Empire. Most of the buildings of this era were destroyed by numerous wars, but the new Caravansary were rebuilt at exactly the same location. During the Safavid Era, due to the strong central government, security was established and trade flourished. Most of the remaining buildings in Iran belong to this period. Construction of Caravansary continues until the Qajar Era. As the Pahlavi Era begins in 1920 the Caravansary lost their former status. There were three types of Caravansary. Some were built by the state system and the king's order usually they had their own passengers. Some were built by the private sector and people's funds. The last category was made by ordinary people and with the money that people were donating. They were kind of nongovernmental organization for public interest. Accommodation in the first two categories was possible with a fee and the third category was completely free. This reflects the hospitality of the Iranian people over the past six centuries. The Caravansary is actually a miniature small town. It has a lounge, a market, a mosque, a bathroom and an animal shelter. This small town was designed to meet all the needs of travelers. Miyan-Dasht Caravansary near to Shahroud is one of the best examples to visit.
The most important attractions of Shahroud and Bastam include: Mausoleum Sheykh Abu al-Hasan Kharghani, Mausoleum Bayazid Bastami, Caravansary of Meyan-Dasht, Abr Village, Reza Abad Village, Khar Turan Biosphere, Shahroud Museum and Kashaneh Tower at Bastam.