The world is both a weird and a wonderful place. From countless beautiful destinations to awe-inspiring sights and landscapes, Mother Nature can often surprise us and leave people who witness them stunned and stupefied!!
In the midst of Turkmenistan’s Karakum desert lays one such wonder. This breath-taking phenomenon will surely make you rub your eyes and gape in wonder!
The ‘Darvaza’ or the ‘Derweze’ gas crater is a fiery crater 70 meters wide and 30 meters deep. Situated near the village of Darvaza, Turkmenistan, the crater has been on fire for more than 40 years. It has been very aptly named as “Door To Hell” or “Gates of Hell” by the locals due to the fire, boiling mud and orange flames in the large crater which give the image of hell. It is one of Turkmenistan’s biggest tourist attractions, as the view of the flame burning in the desert is enchanting and captivating and can be seen from miles away.
Records of the origin of Turkmenistan’s Darvaza Crater are imprecise; however, the most widely accepted theory involves a Soviet expedition for gas exploration.
According to Turkmen geologist, Anatoly Bushmakin, the area was discovered as a large and sustainable oil and natural gas reserve. Hence in 1971, a group of Soviet engineers drilled the site to extract natural gas. But, shortly after they began drilling, the ground beneath it gave way and collapsed. This lead to the formation of a wide crater along with the release of poisonous fumes at an alarming rate.
The engineers feared a potential environmental catastrophe. They thought the best would be to burn off the poisonous gases, rather than using expensive equipment for its extraction. Thus, the hole was set alight, expecting that it would burn itself out in a matter of days. However, more than four decades later, the crater is still burning and hasn’t stopped since.
In April 2010, the president of Turkmenistan, Mr. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow visited Derweze. He ordered that the hole should be closed, in order to protect and allow future gas mining in the nearby areas. But since the ‘Door To Hell’ attracted many tourists and is an important source of income for the local economy, no action has been taken for its closure. It has been decided to keep the crater burning until the fire extinguishes naturally. However, as Turkmenistan is rich in natural gas, no one exactly knows for how long the crater will continue to burn.
The “Door To Hell” is different from the other natural sights in the world due to its peace and primitiveness. Since it is not fenced off, visitors can stand right at the edge of the crater. At night, the crater presents a beautiful sight and the entire sky is lit up by the light of the fire.
A wide cavern burning for more than four decades straight is definitely a sight to behold, and is surely one of the most bizarre places to visit before you die!