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Gobustan tour



  • Breakfast time
  • Leaving for a tour in Absheron peninsula. The day will be spent primarily within the Greater Baku, where you will be taken to main sites on the Absheron Peninsula: Ateshgah, the Fire Worshippers' Temple is located in the village of Surakhany (9 miles from Baku).
    It was built on land where natural gas burned eternally by Zoroastrian believers who travelled from the province of Multan in India to worship. These ancient fires are believed to have given Azerbaijan its name, which is thought by some researchers to mean the 'Land of Fires'. 
    The historical roots of the monument go back to the days when Azerbaijan statehood was only taking shape and establishing itself, and Zoroastrianism, the central part in whose ritual is played by fire, was the dominant religion in the country. People worshipped fire, seeking its protection against adversity and oppression and begging it for happiness and well being. These ancient fires are believed to have given Azerbaijan its name, which is thought by some researchers to mean 'a land of fires'. Medieval Azerbaijan carried on trade and exchanged cultural values with many countries; one of them was India. Thus it happened that these structures were built one after another for a century and a half, from the late 17th to the mid-19th century. That is why the Ateshgyakh Temple looks not unlike a regular town caravansary - a kind of inn with a large central court, where caravans stopped for the night. As distinct from caravansaries, however, the temple has the altar in its center with tiny cells for the temple's attendants ? Indian ascetics who devoted them to the cult of fire ? and for pilgrims lining the walls.

    The inscriptions on stones set in the walls, made in Sanskrit and Hindi, testify to the Indian origin of the fire-worshippers? temple at Surakhany. In the course of time, the ?eternal fires? of Absheron ceased to be viewed as divine. The heat they give has been placed at the service of the people, and today gas serves people economic and every day needs. And only the place where the fires used to burn still remains in the memory of the people under the name of Ateshgyakh (home of fire). Today the temple is a unique monument of world culture.

  •         Travel 30 miles south-west of Baku along the Caspian shore to the volcanic desert, where rocks covered with drawings stand amidst a chaos of stones and mountains. Gobustan is an open-air museum littered with neolithic rock drawings. Just  65km (40mi) south of Baku, Gobustan has some 4000 inscriptions that go back 12,000 years (with some 2000 year old Latin graffiti to boot). They depict the customs of ancient tribes, hunting scenes and dances, the way they filled the ground, their everyday life. The range of themes is wide and the vividness with which they are executed can well evoke envy in a modern artist. Near Mt. Beyukshad there is a large, stone-enclosed circular plot with an altar in the center, where ritual ceremonies were held. Not far away on the mountainside is a Latin inscription carved more than 2,000 years ago. Stone Age folks sporting loin cloths pose hunt and boogie down. Their dances are thought to have been accompanied by the melodious strains of the Gaval-Dashy (Tambourine Stone) - a rock that has a deep, resonating tone when struck.

    more information and pictures on Gobustan here.

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