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.
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.
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.
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.