The Temple of Fire – Ateshgah – is an authentic Azerbaijani exotic. It is well-known practically all over the world. It is located 30 km from the center of Baku in the suburb of Surakhany. This territory is such unique natural phenomenon as burning natural gas outlets (underground gas coming onto surface contacts oxygen and lights up). The temple in its present state constructed in the 17th-18th centuries. Temple built by the Baku-based Hindu community related to Sikhs.
After the introduction of Islam, Zoroastrian temple destroyed. Many Zoroastrians left to India and continued their worship there. But in the 15th -17th centuries the Hindu-fire worshippers who came to Absheron with trading caravans began to make pilgrimages to Surakhany. The Indian merchants started erection of the temple. The earliest temple part dates to 1713. The latest – the central temple-altar built with the support of merchant Kanchangar in 1810. During the 18th century chapels, cells, a caravanserai added to the central part of the temple. One can find carved inscriptions in Indian lettering there.
In the early 19th century the Temple acquired its present-day appearance. Ateshgah is a pentagonal structure with a castellation and entrance portal. In the center of a yard the altar-sanctuary executed in the form of a stone bower on which angles some more centers are located. In the center of an altar – a well from which beat “eternally” burning gas.
Above the entrance portal is a traditional guest room or “balakhane”. Near the temple there is big pit where they used to burn bodies of dead Hindus in the sacred fire.
In the mid-19th century due to the movement of the surface the natural gas yield ceased. Pilgrims interpreted it as the punishment from the gods and left. Ateshgah as a place of worship existed until 1880. Today this ancient Zoroastrian temple opened for tourists attracting them with artificial fires.
Today, many tourists visit Ateshgah from different parts of the world. The attraction is very attractive for the tourists mainly coming from India.