The Fire Temple of Chak Chak that weeps for its princess.

Earlier this week I was reminded of a wonderfully tragical romantic episode of history when I was attaching the fabulous new BBC 4 show entitled The Art of Persia.  Towards the beginning of the programme they visited a spot that I have long wanted to visit near the Iranian city of Ardakan, a particularly holy Zoroastrian Fire Temple.

I may well do a post on Zoroastrianism one day as in some ways it is my favourite religion and founded by Zoroaster who has also been described as the father of ethics, the first rationalist and the first monotheist (having belief in just one God) as well as the first to articulate the notions of heaven and hell, judgment after death and free will.

Investiture-relief-of-Ardashir-I (2)

Investiture of Ardashir I, rock carving at Naqsh-e Rostam .The horseman on the right  represents Ahura Mazda (God) and you can see him with an eternal flame and handing over a symbol of power which in some ways is the origin of Halo’s which are used by other faiths.

Zoroastrianism is in many ways the first global religion that led the way and strongly influenced some of the more popular beliefs today.  If you don’t know much about Zoroastrianism then there is likely a very good reason for this.  Persia which largely but not wholly corresponds to modern day Iran found itself next to the rising Islamic empire that sprang out of Arabia and after consuming much of Egypt and the Levant headed east.

In fact an old Zoroastrian prediction stated that in centuries to come the then Persian Empire would fall and the ancient true religion would be all but abandoned and forgotten about.   It all came terribly true when the Persian Empire having suffered centuries of wars with Greeks and Romans were unfortunate to have a new ruler in the shape of Yazdegerd III just as the first Arab invasions started and Yazdegerd was only 10 years old.

Inevitably after many sieges and battles, Persia was overrun and Yazdegerd fled east. In Zoroastrian belief, Chak Chak is where Nikbanou, second daughter of  Yazdegerd was cornered by the invading Arab army. Fearing capture and dreadful repercussions Nikbanou prayed to Ahura Mazda (the creator)  to protect her from her enemies. In response to Nikbanou’s pleadings, the mountain miraculously opened up and sheltered her from the invaders.


The eternal flame

Inside the mountain is a grotto where there is a continuously dripping spring and it is said that the drips are the tears of grief that the mountain sheds in remembrance of Nikbanou and indeed the end of thousands of years of pre-Islamic Persia. Growing beside the holy spring is an immense and ancient tree said to be Nikbanou’s cane. Legend also has it that a petrified colourful cloth from Nikbanou was also visible in the rocks, although pilgrims have since removed it.

Most Fire Temples were converted to Mosques and over the centuries most Zoroastrians converted to Islam in Iran where sadly many still face persecution for following the original and wholly good beliefs of that ancient land with many others fleeing east to western India where a large community remain along with communities in neighbouring nations such as Azerbaijan and indeed multicultural cities like London.

Chak Chak serves as a pilgrimage point for pious Zoroastrians. Each year from June 14th-18th many thousands of Zoroastrians from Iran, India and other countries flock to the fire temple at Pir-e Sabz. Tradition has it that pilgrims are to stop riding the moment they catch sight of the temple and complete the last leg of their journey on foot.

The actual temple of Chak Chak is a man-made grotto sheltered by two large bronze doors. The shrine enclosure is floored with marble and its walls are darkened by fires kept eternally burning in the sanctuary with some Zoroastrian flames being thousands of years old .


The temple of Chak Chak or Drip-Drop as it is known in Farsi.

Hopefully I will get to visit one day 🙂 Iran/Persia has such a rich history and culture, it is full of these tales.  For another nice tradition you might like my ancient post on the Recording Angels.








About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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10 Responses to The Fire Temple of Chak Chak that weeps for its princess.

  1. This place looks beautiful and mystical. I love sacred spaces of all religions, there is something innately calming about being there and it’s difficult to leave them. I don’t know much about Zoroastrianism so another post would be interesting

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m the same, it doesn’t matter which religion it is and this one is such a beautiful story. One of the repeating themes of Persian history and culture is the bitter-sweet nature of it all. I will definitely look into writing one. In many ways I prefer the sacred places of ancient or forgotten religions or sites as you can often feel the connection that drew people to them in the first place. Every time I go to West Kennet Long Barrow, I stop for a few minutes looking across one of the most unexpectedly beautiful landscapes and immediately feel a connection to the people buried millennia ago. It’s so obvious as to why they came here and why the nearby streams and woods were deemed holy or magical.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. If you are interested….a video I made of a sacred space in Kyoto Japan 😉


  3. West Kennet Long Barrow I don’t know, I am looking it up and the history. Yes and a post on the bittersweet nature of these Persian sacred places would be cool to read as well.


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