Pir-e-Sabz Fire Temple (Chak Chak) – Iran - Atlas Obscura

Pir-e-Sabz Fire Temple (Chak Chak)

This remote mountain shrine is one of the most sacred Zoroastrian temples remaining in the world. 

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Pir-e-Sabz is one of the most sacred Zoroastrian shrines left in the world. The temple is located in a hamlet by the name of Chak Chak, which literally translated means “drip drip,” in reference to the freshwater spring inside the temple. This temple is sometimes referred to as Chāhak-e Ardakān or simply Chak Chak. 

Pir-e-Sabz is perched on the steep cliff of a barren desert mountain, and it is surrounded by a handful of sun-scorched houses. All around these mountains is the desert that covers central Iran and extends all the way to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The view of the desert from Chak Chak is impressive—mysterious and ominous when visibility is low, and breath-taking and exhilarating when the air is clear of dust—and the view reveals how remote this location truly is.

Pir-e-Sabz Fire Temple consists of a man-made cavern with two large bronze doors at the entrance. The walls of the temple have been blackened by the fire that is kept burning in the temple at all times, as Zoroastrian tradition prescribes. On the walls is a panoply of Zoroastrian iconography, including portraits of Ahura Mazda, the highest deity of Zoroastrianism, and spear-clenching guardians similar to those found in Persepolis. In the center of the cavern, an intricate set of metal trays in the shape of a flower offers different types of incense to be burnt in honor of Ahura Mazda.

As mentioned above, Pir-e-Sabz Fire Temple is considered sacred by Zoroastrians. This is due to the legend that the Arab forces cornered Nikbanou, daughter of King Yazdegerd III, in this unforgiving corner of Persia. Nikbanou prayed to Ahura Mazda, and in response he created the cavern in which the temple is now located, providing sustenance in the form of tears that he shed upon witnessing Nikbanou’s predicament. Ahura Mazda’s tears took the form of a year-round dripping spring inside the temple.

Every year, from June 14–18, Zoroastrians from near and far gather at Pir-e-Sabz Fire Temple to pray and honor Ahura Mazda and Nikbanou. During this time, the temple is off limits for visitors.

Know Before You Go

The easiest way to visit Pir-e-Sabz is by organizing a trip from Yadz, which is about 100 km from Chak Chak.

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