Is our home, which will also be your home when you visit us. Ale and I designed and built it when we came to Iran in 2003.
Khoonegeli was built using traditional building method of this region (wattle and daub) with natural material such as wood, mud and hey. Approximately half of the wood used in the building was recovered old timber from other such houses which had been knocked down to make way for new brick and cement building blocks in Tonekabon. The roof is old, used, handmade clay tiles, some of which are over 150 years old. The chief builder, who happens to have built all other subsequent buildings in the farm, is Usta (meaning master) Mohammad Galesh Hosseini, an illiterate but highly technically minded local carpenter and brick layer with decades of experience in such buildings; he is like a big brother to me and an epitome of men of his generation in this region. When he was young he used to be the caretaker of a holy shrine called Chaak where his ancestors are buried. He also followed sheep and goats in these mountains as a shepherd before learning his trade as an apprentice by the late Usta Ahmad, who I had the honour of meeting before he passed away.
Khoonegeli is set in an orangery which used to be a tea farm belonging to my paternal grandfather Rajabali Malaki. My uncles and father worked the land since Reza Shah Pahlavi, the 1st reign, in the 1920s and when we took over, we planted the citrus trees after spending much money and time renewing the thus abandoned plantation, only to come to the conclusion that sadly tea was not economically viable.
In the orangery there are Thompson, Hamlin, Page, Clementine, and Persian Lime, sanguine Thompson, Washingtonian and sanguine Washingtonian, Yunesi, Seville and Valencian varieties. There are also kakis (persimmons), lychees, figs, wild apples, plums and pears, quince plus eucalyptus and some Hyrcanian forest trees such as beech and Caspian oak. The land measures some six and a half thousand square meters. It is in a semi-rural area between two small villages called Chelasar and Jal-e-Chelasar, belonging to Tonekabon municipality and a few hundred meters from the foothills of Western Central Alborz Mountains. The distance to the Caspian Sea is a mere 15 kilometres.
Khoonegeli has 2 floors. Downstairs there is an open kitchen, a 20 m2 bedroom plus a shower room and squat toilet. Wooden stairs communicate the downstairs with the upstairs room that is larger and via a wooden door leads onto a south facing veranda of about 24 m2. We have set the capacity to 10 people at a time, but only 2 groups are accommodated at a time, so you will always have your private room for sleeping; there are no dorms. There is internet and a car park.
Elsewhere in the garden there are also: a cabin containing two toilets (one non squat) and a shower room; a tree house, plus a swing for kids; a bamboo hut including sofas and table for afternoon teas and gatherings; plus a separate bedroom called Ariyaan’s room, located some 15 m from the washrooms, which is suitable for solo travellers or couples who want more privacy (it has no electricity, an oil lamp is provided).
Kolbeye Shams, another wattle and daub building with old wooden shingles, is a few meters from the main house and is where at the moment we the hosts reside. It has a traditional bread oven or tanoor which we have fired up for larger groups in the past.
The yoga and meditation hall is suitable for 15 people. We welcome groups who wish to use the space. We may, given sufficient notice, be able to provide yoga and meditation workshops.