Azerbaijan is a country of natural wonders. There is a lot to see in this underrated country. Today, we will venture out a bit from the Baku city to see the prehistoric rock arts in Gobustan mountains, the mud volcanoes, the famous Fire temple used by Zoroastrians, and Hindus, and the Burning Mountain.
My travel today was booked with a local tour agency. I arrived at the tour agency office early in the morning for my trip. In the trip, I was joined by around five to six travelers from various countries. Our tour guide for today was a funny old Azerbaijani military veteran. The trip was on a Mercedes van.
Our first destination was the Gobusan rock art mountains. We covered over an hour drive on the highways of Azerbaijan, at a speed of over 100 kilometers per hour towards the south, through the dry empty lands which used to be the sea bed of Caspian Sea thousands of years ago.
Most of the Eastern region of Azerbaijan was under the sea in the past and this has blessed modern Azerbaijan with easy access to oil. In fact, the world’s first oil well was drilled near Baku in the year 1846. Soon, we reached the Gobustan rocks.
The landscape here is rather interesting. The giant Gobustan rocks overlooked the vast empty land that used to be under the sea thousands of years ago.
What makes Gobustan rocks interesting are the drawings done by the prehistoric people. You can see many rock drawings and stick figures,
depicting humans and animals.
At one part of the mountain, you can see holes which were used to collect drinking water. They used stones or something to dig them up by hand. After Gobustan rocks, we moved on to the regions with mud volcanoes.
Our guide warned us that the mud volcanoes can be very dangerous. He mentioned that a few Indian tourists, recently died drowning in the mud volcanoes.
The location of the mud volcanoes that we were taken to looked very odd. It was in the middle of nowhere. There was nothing indicating the presence
of a touristic attraction.
Anyways, the mud volcanoes were so interesting. It looked as if someone spilled cement and it dried out there. A number of small conical-shaped volcanoes kept spitting cement-like mud all over the place.
I took the liberty to touch and feel the mud volcano. It was warm, but it was not hot. It felt just like construction cement. There are a bunch of mud volcanoes here, and if you look at the ground it looks just like a construction cement. And, people in Azerbaijan actually use this clay for the construction of cement. And for this reason, cement is pretty cheap here in Azerbaijan.
I was so fascinated by this natural phenomenon. Azerbaijan is the only place in the world where you can find such natural mad volcanoes. There are hundreds of such mud volcanoes all over Azerbaijan.
Our next location was Atesgah – the fire temple of Baku. The word Atesgah literally means home of fire. Fire is an important element of Azerbaijani culture and its roots come from Zoroastrian religion. You can find symbols related to fire all over Azerbaijan.
The fire temple of Baku was a pilgrimage center used by Zoroastrians, Hindus, and Sikhs in the past. You can find the inscriptions in Persian and Sanskrit languages there.
This location used to be a natural source of gas and the flame here used to burn continuously until 1969. The fire eventually stopped burning because of the exhaustion of natural gas due to heavy exploitation of natural gas reserves in the region during Soviet rule.
The fire in Atesgah is now powered by gas from Baku city. After spending over an hour at Baku fire temple, we moved to our next destination, the Yanardag.
Yanardag literally means Burning Mountain. It is claimed that the fire started burning here only in the 1950s after a Shepherd accidentally lit it. The fire was never extinguished and continues till date even during the rains.
Our trip ended at the Hyder Aliyev Center. This building is famous for its unique architectural design. It houses an auditorium, an art gallery, and a museum about the former president Hyder Aliyev. Though, I didn’t get time to enter this building because it was already late, I got to enjoy the view from this place.
This place is very clean and beautifully maintained. I enjoyed the view of busy streets and life of Azerbaijanis in Baku.