In Turkmenistan’s vast, hot Karakum Desert, there is a large hole 230 feet (70 meters) wide and 65 feet (20 meters) deep. This pit called the Gates of Hell has been burning for more than 50 years.
Hell’s Gate has become one of the popular tourist destinations in Turkmenistan. Check out the interesting facts as quoted from various sources, below.
- Evolving origin
According to Atlas Obscura, the Hell’s Gate hole is believed to have been created in 1971 when a Soviet drilling rig accidentally hit a large underground natural gas cavern. This caused the ground to collapse and the entire drilling tool to fall.
After perforating the gas bag, toxic smoke began to leak out at an alarming rate. To prevent a potential environmental catastrophe, the Soviets burned the pit considering that it would stop burning in a few weeks.
Decades later, and the fire pit is still burning. The Soviet drilling tools are believed to be still there somewhere, on the other side of Hell’s Gate.
- Surrounded by mystery
While many believe the blaze was caused by Soviet drilling tools, Canadian explorer George Kourounis examined the depths of the crater in 2013 and found that no one really knows how it started. According to local Turkmen geologists, the large crater formed in the 1960s, but only flared up in the 1980s.
3. Real name
Reported by Forbes, Monday (10/1/2022), this hole is officially named Shining of Karakum. The crater is also known as Darvaza Crater because it is not far from Darvaza village.
- Become a tourist destination
The uniqueness of Hell’s Gate has succeeded in making tourists from all over the world amazed. Not a few also traveled to the desert to witness the fire in the hole.
- Tour packages
Tour packages to the Gates of Hell are also presented on the Atlas Obscura page with prices starting from US$ 3,475 (Rp 49.7 million). This tour offers an adventure in Turkmenistan admiring Ashgabat’s towering white marble structures, exploring barren deserts and world-class gorges, and spending the night camping next to the flaming Gates of Hell.
The trip lasts 10 days to see Soviet relics, salty underground lakes, and Sufi shrines, and relax in the seaside town of Turkmenbashi. The main highlight is the desert nights spent sleeping beside a crater that has continued to burn for nearly 50 years.
6. Planned fire will be extinguished
The President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov ordered the fire to be extinguished in the pit near the village of Darvaza. This blackout is due to environmental and health reasons, as well as part of efforts to increase gas exports.
“We are losing a valuable natural resource, which we could benefit from significantly and use it to improve the well-being of our people,” the president said in a televised address. He also instructed officials to find a solution to extinguish the fire.