Zahedan is the capital of Sistan & Baluchestan Province and is located 1605 km. south-east of Tehran, near the border with Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Zahedan’s name derives from the plural form of the word ‘Zahed’, meaning ‘pious’.
The demographics of Zahedan’s inhabitants are a mixture of majority ethnic Baloch who speak the Balochi language and minority of other Persian ethnicities.
Zahedan lies east of the Dasht-e Loot desert. The city was part of the historic region of Baluchestan, situated today in the border regions of Iran and Pakistan.
Zahedan and the area of Baluchestan has a very strong connection with Zoroastrianism and during Sassanid times Lake Hamun was one of two pilgrimage sites for followers of that religion. In Zoroastrian religion, the lake is the keeper of Zoroaster’s seed and just before the final renovation of the world, three maidens will enter the lake, each then giving birth to the saoshyants who will be the saviours of mankind at the final renovation of the world.
Zahedan is a centre for Sunni Muslims in Baluchistan. The Makki mosque and its madrasa play an important role in Baluchistan’s society. Shaikh Abdolhamid Ismaeelzahi is the main and most influential religious and Sunni and Baluch community leader in Iran that is heading Makki mosque and its institutions. Zahedan also has a Friday mosque for Shi’ite (Shia) and a Jame mosque, where many members of the community gather to worship on Fridays. A colourful bazaar, Rasouli Bazaar, can also be found in the city, where Baluchi and Pashtun traders intermingle. About 100 km) south of Zahedan is an intermittently active volcano, Taftan, which rises abruptly 4,042 m from the surrounding plain.
Before the rise of Reza Shah Pahlavi in 1923, the city of Zahedan was known as Dozz-aab. That name was in turn derived from the Baluchi Dozd-aap, literally meaning “water thief”. This is the name given to a sandy land formation that quickly swallows up any water that falls on it, be it rain or irrigation water.
The name was changed to Zahedan by the Iranian Academy of Culture, set up during the reign of Reza Shah Pahlavi in the 1930s, which changed a myriad of toponyms in Iran. improbably, that the current name, Zahedan (“Sages,” or “pious people” in Persian) was given to the city upon its visit by Reza Shah. It is believed that when Reza Shah visited the city he saw Sikhs in white robes living there and thus changed the name to Zahedan after the Sikhs who were considered Zahid (pious) by him.