There is a fire temple 21 km east of Baku, with permanent natural gas flowing from under the ground. The temple was built by Indian merchants in the 18th century. After Discovering the source of gas, the Hindus from the Ganges started visiting the site to pray. As the merchants praised the place, the number of visitors increased. According to historian Sara Ashurbayli, the Ateshgah fire temple was built on an ancient fire worshipping site. Ateshgah resembles like a small fortress. There are cells inside the stoned – fenced courtyard, while the shine is in the centre. Fire Worshippers led an ascetic lifestyle here.
Expecting nothing from the material world, people confined themselves to the cells. Ateshgah fire temple has always attracted travellers and writers. The most detailed account of it is encountered by Alexander Duma’s book «Caucasus trip» written in 1858. Tourists don’t leave Baku without visiting this place.
Ateshgah of Baku consists of a temple, Indian monastic cells and visitor areas. The exterior blank wall that embraces all the Ateshgah’s cells and houses provide it with an old Persian caravanserai appearance. Ateshgah seems to have been built by local masters working on a plan by the Indians who funded this monument.
After İslam came to Azerbaijan some of the fire-worshippers refused to acknowledge Islam and were eventually compelled back to India, where the fire-religion legacy continued. After Islam was introduced, the majority of the Caucasus population stayed fire-worshippers. At the 10th century, fire-worshippers lived not far from Baku.
The fireplace is located natural gas ventilation in the centre, igniting a massive fire in the middle and four smaller fires on the pavilion’s rooftop corners. A number of small cells circling the Temple Fireplace contained ascetic believers and pilgrims.
The discussion continues as to whether this temple was built as a Zoroastrian or Hindu place of worship, because the structure combines architectural features of both religions, without either adhering completely to it. The most popular hypothesis brings the temple is in the style of Zoroastrian, However that it has changed over time into a primarily Hindu religious building.
In 1902 the natural flames were put our because a gas well drilled in the vicinity led to the blowout. Fifteen LEDs had to be drilled and a pipeline laid, which led to Ateshgah losing its uniqueness. In 1975 it was turned into a museum.
On 30 September 1998, the Ateshgah fire temple was listed on the official list of UNESCO World Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding and was given “improved protection” approval.
In 2007 by the act of the President of Azerbaijan, the temple was proclaimed a state historical-architectural reserve.
How to get Ateshgah Fire Temple
It is unlikely to go to Ateshgah, which is far from the city centre, but you can reach the minibuses from various parts of the city to Ateshgah. It will cost around 10-15 AZN by taxi from the city centre. If you prefer to go there by bus you Get:
- Bus No 191, 113, 213 from Gara Garayev metro station;
- Bus No 184 from Koroglu metro station;
- Bus No 104 from Hazi Aslanov metro station;
- Entrance tickets: 4 AZN (2.50 USD) for adults. Combine ticket for both Yanardagh and Ateshgah Temple is 11 AZN ( 6.50 USD). It’s free for ages between 0-7 years
- Opening Hours: Every day from 10 AM to 6 PM
Book group or private Gobustan & Absheron tour and get a chance to visit this mystique place.