Ateshgah Zoroastrian Fire Temple

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Overview

The Baku Ateshgah (Fire Temple of Baku) is a religious temple at Surakhani town in Baku, Azerbaijan. This castle-like temple with Persian and Indian inscription was a holy place for Hindu and Zoroastrians. Atash means 'Fire' in Persian and ‘Gah’ means the bed. So, it is the bed of fire 30 kilometers from Baku.

It was a place of sacrifice above a natural gas vent in the Abseron Peninsula. Fire rituals date back to at least the 10th century. The structure is akin to the caravanserais (travelers' inns) where pentagonal walls hem in a courtyard. An altar in the middle of this courtyard is the centerpiece where fire rituals were performed.

Natural gas burning outlets abound in the temple. The gas comes out of the earth's crust and lights up in the presence of oxygen.

Four small flames on the rooftop corners of the pavilion and a large flame in the middle ignite. Small cells surrounding the temple altar used to have the ascetic worshippers and pilgrims. The altar is right at a natural gas vent.

The structure exhibits architectural elements from both Zoroastrian and Hindu faiths. It gives rise to the moot point of whether it was built as a Hindu or Zoroastrian place of worship. The most established theory upholds the temple in the Zoroastrian tradition. Over time, it developed into a Hindu place of worship.

Due to the dwindling Indian population in Azerbaijan, this place was forsaken in the late 19th century. The temple acquired its present look in the 17th and 18th centuries. Hindu community of Baku Sikhs built it originally.

The flamed exhausted in 1969 due to massive exploitation of the natural gas reserves on the peninsula. Baku's main gas supply feeds the flames now.

Temple of Eternal Fire is another name of Ateshgah.  In 1975, authorities converted the complex into a museum, and it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998. The Fire Temple Baku stands out as the main mystical attraction at Baku in Azerbaijan.

 

History

The history is long and fascinating. In ancient times, Zoroastrians used to worship the fire at this place. This inextinguishable fire holds a mystical significance for them, and that's why they came here to worship fire.

After the advent of Islam, the Muslims demolished Zoroastrian temples. Most Zoroastrians left Baku and found asylum in India. Again during the 15th and 17th centuries, Parsis came back to Absheron for trading.

They started rebuilding the first part of the temple in 1713. Later, famous merchant Kanchangar supported to build the central part in 1810. Chapels, cells, and caravanserai were constructed during the 18th century.

The temple acquired its present look in the 19th century. In the 19th century, natural gas ceased due to movement of the surface and overexploitation. The Hindus considered it a punishment that their God had left. 

Ateshgah remained a place of worship until 1880. Now, this Zoroastrian Temple is a tourist attraction with artificial fires.

 

Architecture

Its pentagonal structure has castellation and the entrance portal. The temple yard has an attar-sanctuary (in the form of the stone bower) and towers in the center. A well in the middle of the attar emanates, burning gas that lights up.

Apart from the traditional guest room, a big pit was the cremation ground for Hindu to burn the expired Hindus' dead bodies.

The Ateshgah portrays two Punjabi, one Persian, and fourteen Sanskrit inscriptions. Two Sanskrit inscriptions belong to Lord Ganesh, and Jwala Ji and Lord Shiva inscription bear Swastika and motifs of the Sun. As per Abraham Valentine Williams Jackson, the inscriptions' carving took place between 1668 and 1816 AD (After Death).

Work is still in progress, and many rooms have been constructed to enjoy ancient traditions.

 

Amazing Facts

  • Natural gas comes out of the earth's surface from many holes and burns in contact with the temple's oxygen.
  • Many historians, including the Anania Shirakastsi, the Armenian Geographer, visited this holy place.
  • Zoroastrians were the first worshippers of fire in the whole region of the Persian Empire.
  • The Zoroastrian vanished after the region came under Islamic influence. The Geographer Abu Ishaq Ibrahim recounted in the 10th century that the Parsis lived not so far from the Ateshgah. They did not disappear from the place.
  • Once again, the Hindus, Zoroastrians, and the Sikhs began trading caravan in Baku in the 18th
  • This region falls on one of the most famous trading routes that connect the Indian Sub-continent to the West through Central Asia.
  • Gas pipeline comes from Baku to fuel the fire.

 

Timings

  • Sunday : 10:00 am to 06:00 pm
  • Monday : 10:00 am to 06:00 pm
  • Tuesday : 10:00 am to 06:00 pm
  • Wednesday : 10:00 am to 06:00 pm
  • Thursday : 10:00 am to 06:00 pm
  • Friday : 10:00 am to 06:00 pm
  • Saturday : 10:00 am to 06:00 pm

Timings are subject to change. You will be automatically booked into a time slot as part of the check out process. Please visit the official website to confirm the time slot before your visit.

 

How to Reach

  • Public Transport : You can board the bus no. 184 from Koroglu metro station till the last stop. The fire temple is a maximum of 2 minutes' walk from here.
  • Taxi/Cab : You can hire a taxi from Baku to reach the fire temple.

 

Ticket Pricing

  • Everyone : US$2.35(172.46 INR)

Address

Atashgah Zoroastrian Fire Temple, Baku, Azerbaijan

Rating & Reviews

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Bee mirza
Bee mirza
03/31/2020 14:10
Amazing Historic place and journy of Spiritual heritage. And they way they described it reflecting all History culture and tradition, religious values and healing peocedure. One of the most astonishing place to Visit. Limited Parking. Ticket required to visit. No public washroom. Strongly recommended for tourist visitors ans viewers.
Yonathan Stein
Yonathan Stein
01/07/2020 13:13
The place is important in Baku and about history so you should visit it. I believe you can spend 1h there, is enough to see everything and take pictures. The entrance was 1 Manat for students. They didn't even ask for a card. The fire Temple is super old and there is small rooms like a museum inside it and you also can find some kiosks with food next to the entrance. The atmosphere is cool and very touristic with also souvenir stores.
Julia Boechat
Julia Boechat
06/22/2020 17:26
Historic, really great visit.
Elshan Gasimov
Elshan Gasimov
07/19/2020 16:12
If your are interested in the history of different religions this place is must visit for you.
Soghomon
Soghomon
02/14/2020 10:30
Well maintained grounds and an informative little museum. My only complaint - which is mostly personal in nature - is that there were already tour busses full of tourists when I arrived, well, if not barefoot, at least on foot and by self sustained locomotion - I short, a great place, I only wish I had it to myself

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FAQs

Yanar Dag is a natural gas fire that burns continuously on a hillside on the Absheron Peninsula on the Caspian Sea near Baku. Yanar Dag means “burning mountain” in Azerbaijani. Baku is the capital of Azerbaijan.
The place of worship for Zoroastrians is the fire temple. Agiyari(Gujarati) and dar-e mehr(Persian) are other names of fire temple. As per Zoroastrian belief, fire(atar) and clean water(aban) are ritual purity agents....
Zoroastrians perform prayers several times a day. Kusti is a cord knotted three times to remember the maxim, 'Good Words, Good Thoughts, Good Deeds.' They wind kusti around sudreh, which is a long, white cotton shirt. ...
Though Avestan is their native language, Parsis speak English or Gujarati in India. Prophet Zoroaster founded Zoroastrianism around 3500 years ago in Iran. The primary collection of religious texts is the Avesta for Zoroastrianism....
The Parsis settled at Hormuz on the Persian Gulf initially, but the persecution persisted. So, they began voyage for India in the 8th century. The exact date is unknown, but the migration may have taken place as late as the 10th century. They first came to Navsari in the Gujarat region..
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