Fire Temple of Baku
A castle-like religious Hindu temple in Surakhani, Azerbaijan.
The Baku Ateshgah often called the “Fire Temple of Baku” is a castle-like religious temple in Surakhani, a suburb in Baku, Azerbaijan. Based on Persian and Indian inscriptions, the temple was used as a Hindu and Zoroastrian place of worship. “Atash” (آتش) is the Persian word for fire. The pentagonal complex, which has a courtyard surrounded by cells for monks and a tetrapillar-altar in the middle, was built during the 17th and 18th centuries. It was abandoned after 1883 when oil and gas plants were established in the vicinity, ending the flow of natural gas to the temple and extinguishing the holy fire.
The Baku Ateshgah was a pilgrimage and philosophical center of Zoroastrians from Northwestern Indian Subcontinent, who were involved in trade with the Caspian area via the famous “Grand Trunk Road“. The four holy elements of their belief were: ateshi (fire), badi (air), abi (water), and heki (earth). The temple ceased to be a place of worship after 1883 with the installation of petroleum plants (industry) at Surakhany. The complex was turned into a museum in 1975. The annual number of visitors to the museum is 15,000.
The Temple of Fire “Ateshgah” was nominated for List of World Heritage Sites, UNESCO in 1998 by Gulnara Mehmandarova — president of Azerbaijan Committee of International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). It was also featured on an episode of Globe Trekker.
It was declared a state historical-architectural reserve by decree of the President of Azerbaijan on 19 December 2007.