We finally left on our first tour which was to the Petroglyphs etc. we travelled in a 12-seater bus. When we arrived, we found a small museum which explained the origins of the Petroglyphs and the local human population at that time.

From the museum we went to the actual Petroglyphs location, about 200M/Yds from the museum.

The Caspian Sea coastline behind.

Gobustan Rock Art represents flora and fauna, hunting, lifestyles, and culture of pre-historic and medieval periods of time. The carvings on the rocks illustrates primitive men, ritual dances, men with lances in their hands, animals, bull fights, camel caravans, and pictures of the sun and stars. The date of these carvings goes back to 5.000 – 20.000 years before present. (Wikipedia)

The bus drove us to a nearby location where we were picked-up by local taxis, the drivers here all use old Russian Lada’s, the drivers then proceeded to drive off-road to our next location, ‘Mud Volcanoes’. The Blue Lada was owned by our driver.

Azerbaijan has the most Mud-volcanos of any country, spread broadly across the country. 350 of the 700 volcanoes of the world are in the Azerbaijani Republic. Local people call them “yanardagh” (burning mountain), “pilpila” (terrace), “gaynacha” (boiling water) and “bozdag” (grey mountain) alongside its geographical name – mud volcanoes. (Wikipedia)

Next up was the Burning Mountain, this mountain has been burning steadily since 1950 when discovered.

Yanar Dagh Azerbaijani launguge: Yanar Dağ, meaning “burning mountain” is a Natural gas fire which blazes continuously on a hillside on the Absheron Peninsular on the Caspian Sea near Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan (a country which itself is known as “The Land of Fire”. Flames jet into the air 3 metres (9.8 ft) from a thin, porous sandstone layer. Administratively, Yanar Dagh belongs to Absheron District of Azerbaijan.

Unlike “Mud Volcano”, the Yanar Dagh flame burns fairly steadily, as it involves a steady seep of gas from the subsurface. It is claimed that the Yanar Dagh flame was only noted when accidentally lit by a shepherd in the 1950s. There is no seepage of mud or liquid, which distinguishes it from the nearby mud volcanoes of “Lokbatan Mud Volcano” or Gobustan State Historical and Cultural Reserve.

On the territory of Yanar Dagh, the State Historical-Cultural and Natural Reserve was established by the presidential decree dated 2 May 2007 which operates under the control of State Tourism Agency of Azerbaijan. After major overhaul between 2017 and 2019, Yanar dagh Museum and Yanar dagh Cromlech Stone Exhibition were launched in the area of the Reserve.

In the first millennium BCE, the fire played a role in the Zoroastrianism religion, as the link between humans and the supernatural spheres. (Wikipedia)

Last location to visit on our trip was a Temple.

The Ateshgah of Baku from Persian Language: آتشگاه, Ātashgāh, Azerbaijani language: Atəşgah, often called the “Fire Temple of Baku“, is a castle-like religious temple in Suraxani (town), or Suraxani raion, Ateshgah a suburb of Baku, Azerbaijan.

Based on Persian and Indian inscriptions, the temple was used as a Hindu, or Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism place of worship. “Ātash” (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 in the late 19th century, probably due to the dwindling of the Indian population in the area. The natural Eternal Flame went out in 1969, after nearly a century of exploitation of petroleum and gas in the area, but is now lit by gas piped from the nearby city. Ateshgah of Baku.

The Baku Ateshgah was a pilgrimage and philosophical centre 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 World Heritage Sites, or UNESCO in 1998 by Gulnara Mehmandarova. Ateshgah or Baku on December 19, 2007, it was declared a state historical-architectural reserve by decree of the President or Azerbaijan. (Wikipedia)

It was early evening when we returned to Baku, just in time for dinner.

Next: The Main Event

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