Wonders and mysteries of Azerbaijan. Ateshgah - Temple of Fire

AteshgahTemple of Eternal Fire

Ateshgah – Temple of Eternal Fire, which means “House of fire”, “Place of fire” is the real Azerbaijani exotics. It is known practically all over the world. The Temple is located 30 km far from Baku center on the outskirts of Surakhani settlement. The territory is known thanks to such a unique nature phenomenon as ever burning outburst of natural gas (bursting out gas contacts wit oxygen and catches fire). The Temple, as it looks today, was built in the 17th – 18th centuries. It was constructed by Hindu community living in Baku and relating to Sikh caste. 

However the history of Temple is far more ancient. From time immemorial a sanctuary of Zoroastrian fire-worshipers (approximately - the beginning of Common Era) was located in this territory. They attached mystical significance to fire and came here to worship the shrine.

After accepting Islam, the Zoroastrian temple was destroyed. Many Zoroastrians left for India and continued their religion there. But in the 15th – 17th centuries Hindu fire-worshipers coming to Absheron Peninsula together with trade caravans started to accomplish pilgrimage to Surakhani. But Indian merchants started to erect constructions in the place of ancient Temple again. The earliest construction of the Temple dates from 1713, bur the latest – central temple–chancel was built, as the inscription says, on the means of merchant Kanchanagara in 1810. During the 18th century chapels, cells and caravanserai raised next to each other around the sanctuary. The cells of monument have carved in stone inscriptions performed with Indian writing fonts.   

At the beginning of 19th century the Temple already had its today’s shape. Ateshgah is a pentagonal structure with toothed outer wall and entrance portal. Several more hearths are placed in the corners of temple – chancel fulfilled in the form of a stone pavilion standing in the center of courtyard. In the center of chancel there is the well from where “ever” burning gas shot out.    

The traditional in Absheron guest room – “balakhane” is settled above the entrance portal. Near the temple there is a large hole where the bodies of dead Hindus were formerly burned on the sacred fire. 

In mid 19th century the outburst of natural gas in this place ended in connection with the earth surface movements. Pilgrims interpreted it as punishment of gods and started leaving the sacred place away. Ateshgah existed as a worship place until 1880.

However today the Zoroastrian Temple is open again for visiting, but now it attracts tourists already by its artificial fires. 


 Burning mountain 

Chapel of fire-worshipers

Sleping fire-worshiper 

Prepared by R.Hasanli