Baku. 22 February. REPORT.AZ/ There are not many fire worshipers in the world, but you will certainly meet them in Yazd (Iran) and Munbai (India). Up to now, only two temples of fire worshipers remained intact - in Northern India and Azerbaijan. The most revered temple of fire worshipers is Ateshgah of Baku in Surakhani. Report’s employees visited temple to shoot a reportage about this unique historical monument.
Two buildings in the territory of Ateshgah date back to 1713, and in 1810 the central altar temple was erected. In 1883, the last fire worshiper left the Temple.
Since 1975 Ateshgah became a museum. Currently, the Temple is open for visits, a large number of tourists flock there annually. It is a genuine open-air museum, announced by the order of the President of Azerbaijan State Historical and Architectural Reserve. In 1998, Ateshgah was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. On the initiative of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, since September 2012, the lands adjacent to the Temple have been landscaped, auxiliary rooms have been built.
During the archaeological excavations, valuable exhibits were found, shedding light on the history of the Temple. Ateshgah has a well and stone tunnels. Currently, 21 people work in Temple.
24 cells and inscriptions in Sanskrit
There are 24 cells in Temple for pilgrims.In the center of the courtyard there is quadrangular main temple – altar, which was the place of pilgrimage of fire worshipers.
Since the Zoroastrians led an ascetic lifestyle, many cells were empty.
The places of natural gas output and special chimneys were provided in the cells for heating. Now they are heated by the combi system, surveillance cameras are installed. Now, archaeological finds are exhibited in the rooms. The most ancient object stored in the cells belongs to the XVII century. BC.
There are figures of Zoroastrians-Indians in the cells. One of them depicts the figure of a Hindu fire-worshiper hitting himself with chains, the other - stretched out on burning lime, the third - starving himself.They believed that by subjecting their bodies to torture, they purify the soul.
In one of the cells there is a symbol of the Shiva
Zoroastrians of the XXI century
Rarely, but the Temple is still visited by fire worshipers. In order to avoid the hustle and bustle, the administration of the reserve tries to make it so that the time of visiting the Temple by tourists did not coincide with the presence of fire-worshipers in it.
There is no sacrifice for fire
Zoroastrians have their own rituals of fire worship. For example, they do not sacrifice for what they worship.They say, however, that among the Hindus there are Zoroastrians, who sacrifice fruit to the fire.The fire for the Zoroastrians is so sacred that when they approach to it they put on masks, in order to not to contact fire with breath.The mask is part of their ritual clothing. A distinctive feature of fire worshipers is the fact that they wear special ritual clothing only inside the Temple.
Compared to 2016, the number of tourists visiting the Temple last year was 15-16% higher.According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, last year the Temple of Fire-worshipers in Ateshgah of Baku in Surakhani was visited by 30 thousand 751 people, 25 thousand 346 people of them were tourists. In 2017, Russians and Arabs prevailed among them.
Visitors army men
According to the director of the historical-architectural reserve Fuad Nuriyev, Azerbaijanis visit Ateshgah most of all through local tourist companies.The entrance fee for Azerbaijani citizens is 2 AZN, for foreigners 4 AZN. For some visitors the entrance is free: soldiers, cadets, children from boarding schools, and etc.