The Land of Fire

Fire has always been mysterious. Even the very word itself, uttered with a short sigh, sounds sensuous. So when it appears on the hillside it’s apt to attract attention— tourist attention. Yanadar is an area about 30 km from Baku that’s blessed with natural gas resulting in flames that leap from the ground.

This was the first stop in our 3-stop private tour we booked at our hotel for USD 45 each. Quite steep but still cheaper than the USD 65 being offered at the conference.

A young lady gave us a short background about the site and even showed us a video on her mobile phone on how it looks at night (looks more interesting). She also showed us a photo of it during winter. Apparently, it never ceases to burn.

It’s actually quite underwhelming as only a small section of the hill side is in flames. You can go down from the viewing platform and get really close as it isn’t very hot.

There are steps that lead to the top of the small hill (more of a bump really) but the views are so-so. Just an empty expanse of land.

The site could have been better developed with large colored information boards.

Unless it’s part of a tour, I would give it a miss.

More interesting is Ashtenaga, the fire temple that attracted ancient Zoroasters and Hindus to cleanse themselves via its sacred flames.

The castle-like temple complex has interesting chambers that house some exhibits. You may not feel like Lara Croft in one of the Angkor temples but it’s still worth a visit. I could imagine how mystical this site would have been during its time when it was still surrounded by desert and you can see the fire burning from afar.

The cremation slab.

Across the temple are a few souvenir shops and some closed restaurants.

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