Ateshgah [video]

27 May

The Ateshgah, the fire temple, is 30 kilometers from Baku, in Surakhani on the Absheron peninsula. Ateshgah sprang up in the 17th-18th centuries at the places where permanent fires burned. These fires had been honoured since the times of the fire worsshippers, the followers of  Zoroaster. Throughout the 18th century-rooms, monastic cells and caravanserais were built. At the beginning of the 19th century the Ateshgah at Surakhani looked as it does now. The temple is a pentagonal building with an outer wall and portal entrance. A quadrangular rotunda marks the main temple altar in the middle of the yard. There is a traditional guest-room for Apsheron, a balakhane, over the portel entrance. Built according to local architectural traditions, the Ateshgah is a combination of fire-temple features. The earliest building of the temple is the (1713). The most recent are the central temple-altar, built with the funds of merchat Kanchagar in 1866 in the Indian system of chronology, or 1810, according to inscriptions.

There are many inscriptions, carved in Indian calligraphy, in the cells. Sixteen inscriptions, formulas, poems and phrases, were carved in the ancient language, Sanskrit. The temple was attended until 1880, when the last Indian man left for home. Just for the record, apart from the temple there is also a Multan caravanseria built in the 15th century.

Restored in 1975, this temple is now open for visitors. It is part of the State Historical-Architectural Reserve Museum, the Shirvanshahs’ Palace Complex.


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