Ganjnameh

Historic Site in Hamadan

Ganjnameh (literally 'Treasure Book') is so named because its cuneiform rock carvings were once thought to be cryptic clues leading to caches of Median treasure. These days it's selfie central as groups of locals pose next to the inscriptions or in front of a nearby waterfall. The site, 8km from Hamadan's centre, is the gateway to hikes up majestic Alvand Kuh. Take a savari (IR30,000) from Shari'ati St near the Tomb of Esther and Mordecai; dar baste will cost IR150,000.

Belatedly translated, the texts are in fact a hubris-laden suck-up to the Zoroastrian god Ahura Mazda from the Achaemenid monarch Xerxes (r 486–466 BC) for making him such a stellar king. To emphasise the point, the message is repeated in three languages (Old Persian, Elamite and neo-Babylonian) on rock faces some 2m high. A second panel similarly commemorates his father, Darius. All this is rather ironic considering the modern-day fetish for social-media immortality.

The 9m-high waterfall nearby becomes a popular ice-climbing spot in winter. At weekends the site gets crowded, but escape is possible on the hiking trails towards Alvand Kuh, whose 3580m summit can be reached as a day trip in summer. A narrow lane continues 4km from the car park to the Tarik Dare ski slopes and in summer a scenic road winds right across Alvand Kuh's lower slopes to Oshtoran near Tuyserkan.