Everlasting flame: How Azerbaijan turned the ‘Land of Fire’
(Information) — “This fireplace has burned 4,000 years and hardly ever stopped,” claims Aliyeva Rahila. “Even the rain coming listed here, snow, wind — it by no means stops burning.”
Ahead, tall flames dance restlessly across a 10-meter extend of hillside, producing a scorching day even hotter.
A facet impact of the country’s abundant all-natural gasoline reserves, which at times leak to the surface area, Yanar Dag is one of quite a few spontaneously occurring fires to have fascinated and frightened travelers to Azerbaijan in excess of the millennia.
It is really why the state acquired the moniker the “land of fireplace.”
This kind of fires have been at the time plentiful in Azerbaijan, but mainly because they led to a reduction of fuel force underground, interfering with industrial gasoline extraction, most have been snuffed out.
Yanar Dag is a single of the few remaining examples, and maybe the most extraordinary.
At just one time they performed a vital job in the historical Zoroastrian religion, which was started in Iran and flourished in Azerbaijan in the to start with millennium BCE.
People head to Ateshgah Fireplace Temple and the burning mountainside of Yanar Dag to witness Azerbaijan’s historical marriage with the power of fireplace
For Zoroastrians, fire is a hyperlink among people and the supernatural environment, and a medium through which non secular perception and knowledge can be received. It really is purifying, daily life-sustaining and a crucial section of worship.
Currently, most visitors who get there at the no-frills Yanar Dag visitors’ centre come for the spectacle relatively than religious fulfillment.
The expertise is most remarkable at night, or in winter season. When snow falls, the flakes dissolve in the air with no ever touching the ground, suggests Rahila.
In spite of the claimed antiquity of the Yanar Dag flames — some argue that this individual fireplace may well only have been ignited in the 1950s — it’s a extended 30-moment push north from the heart of Baku just to see it. The middle delivers only a tiny cafe and you can find not substantially else in the space.
Ateshgah Fireplace Temple
For a deeper insight into Azerbaijan’s historical past of fire worship, visitors should head east of Baku to Ateshgah Fire Temple.
“Since ancient situations, they think that [their] god is listed here,” suggests our guidebook, as we enter the pentagonal advanced which was developed in the 17th and 18th century by Indian settlers in Baku.
Fireplace rituals at this web page date back to the 10th century or previously. The identify Ateshgah comes from the Persian for “home of fireplace” and the centerpiece of the complicated is a cupola-topped altar shrine, designed on a all-natural gasoline vent.
A pure, eternal flame burned here on the central altar right up until 1969, but these days the fire is fed from Baku’s major gas source and is only lit for people.
The temple is associated with Zoroastrianism but it truly is as a Hindu area of worship that its background is much better documented.
Merchants and ascetics
Crafted like a caravanserai-fashion travelers’ inn, the advanced has a walled courtyard surrounded by 24 cells and rooms.
These were being variously applied by pilgrims, passing retailers (whose donations were being a crucial resource of profits) and resident ascetics, some of whom submitted them selves to ordeals these types of as lying on caustic quicklime, sporting hefty chains, or maintaining an arm in a single posture for years on finish.
The temple fell out of use as a location of worship in the late 19th century, at a time when the development of the bordering oil fields meant that veneration of Mammon was gaining a more robust hold.
The complicated became a museum in 1975, was nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998, and these days welcomes around 15,000 visitors a calendar year.