Friday, November 8, 2013

Turkmenistan | Darwaza | Portal to Hell

One of my main objectives while in Turkmenistan was visiting the ruins of Urgench, which had been trashed by the sons of Chingis Khan back in 1221. Urgench is 290 miles north of the capital of Ashgabat. It is possible to drive from the capital to Urgench in one day, but most tourists like myself prefer to drive to the Darwaza Crater, 150 miles north of Ashagabat, spend the night there, and then continue on to Urgench the next day.

The Darwaza Crater is widely touted as the Portal to Hell. Indeed, the word darwaza reportedly means “portal” in the Turkmani language. The portal is not, however, a natural phenomenon. It was created in 1971 when geologists accidentally drilled into a huge underground cavern filled with natural gas. The cavern collapsed, leaving a crater about 230 feet in diameter. To keep from poisoning the local environment the geologists set fire to the huge amounts of natural gas seeping from the crater. They apparently thought the gas would burn off in a few days or weeks. Instead, the gas has been burning ever since and the leakage shows no signs of abating. No one has offered an estimate on the value of the gas which goes up in flames here each day. Natural gas is so plentiful in Turkmenistan that no one seems to care. 

The crater is in the middle of the Karakum Desert. There are no facilities in the area. Like the thirty or forty other tourists who spent the night there, I brought my own tent and vittles. There were people from Russia, Germany, Austria, Australia, Hungary, and other sundry locales. The people from Australia said they they had come to Turkmenistan specifically to see the crater. They had driven from Ashgabat that day and were returning there the next morning. 


There are other reputed Gates to Hell, including One In Turkey (this Turkey video also has views of Darwaza). Thanks to Snuggles in Richmond VA for bringing this video to my attention.
 View from Space: Darwaza, the Gate to Hell, is the small dark spot in the middle, not the larger gray area (click on photos for enlargements).
 The Darwaza Crater is about 230 feet in diameter
 Darwaza Crater
People on the edge of Darwaza Crater. On the downwind side the heat emanating from the crater is almost unbearable.
Darwaza Crater at night: Dante would have loved this place.
There are rumors that the cavern which the geologists inadvertedly drilled into was an extension of Agharti (also spelled Agharta), the underground Kingdom described by Marquis Alexandre Saint-Yves d’Alveydre and Ferdinand Ossendowski. The King of Agharti was reportedly none too pleased by this incursion into his domain and has been in a snit ever since. See the King of Agharti’s Predictions. His threat to return to the surface of the earth in 2012 was not fulfilled, however, and at this point in time the Darwaza-Agharti connection must be relegated to the realm of pure speculation.

No comments:

Post a Comment