Central Asia, a bustling destination full of wonders, has always captivated human minds. But Turkmenistan, in particular, is a land full of contradictions and mysteries. 

I have been an active traveler since my early 20s, and after traveling to so many destinations around the world, I think I have found a place that’s meant just for me. The Door to Hell, or Darvaza Crater, lies in a remote area of Turkmenistan and is a consistently burning crater. 

Many adventurers had already been there, which worked in my favor. I ticked off the destination for my next travel. This article about Darvaza Crater is all that you need to know. So, let’s get started!

Where Will You Find The “Door To Hell?” Digging Out The Location

As you delve deeper into the Karakum Desert of Turkmenistan, you’ll find this extraordinary natural wonder. It is nestled very close to the Darvaza village and holds immense significance for the people residing there. The crater is 30 meters deep and 69 meters wide

When I visited this, I was fortunate enough to stroll through the Ahal Province, which boasts a natural gas field. It consists of the sixth largest reserves found across the world and will be completely worthwhile. If somebody is driving from Ashgabat, it will take more than 4 hours due to poor road conditions. 

What Does The Fiery Crater Look Like?

No matter how many days you dedicate to preparation, the experience will always be nerve-wracking. There’s fire everywhere; you could expect nothing but the heat hitting your face. Nothing feels more intimidating than standing on the edge and feeling everything present there. 

For obvious reasons, there was no darkness inside it. In fact, being around the flames for a prolonged time left me with an orange-hued vision. Everything within a mile or two’s radius looked orange. As you reach the pit floor, you discover this place where scientists conducted their experiments. 

Geological Importance Of The Site

As you become a part of this mission, it all boils down to one common ground- discovering its geological importance. The Door to Hell is a volatile place where scientists and soil observers can dig into the sand and collect some samples. 

Using a small hand shovel will help you dig out the top layer of soil, yet fire surrounds everywhere. Geologists have found tons of vents opening and closing everywhere. The soil emerging from the Darvaza Crater was examined, which later found the formation of bacteria on the crater floor. 

The high temperature and low nutrient levels of the soil enrich the bacteria. While human life is not possible here, some microbes find the environment suitable for thriving. People visiting this place have often compared the experience to being on Mars, where everything is just “orange.” 

Going Back In Time: History of the Darvaza Crater

Going Back In Time

In 1971, the Soviet Union Army practiced massive drills—I’m pretty sure the world knows enough about them. However, during this time, the army accidentally pushed an enormous underground cavern filled with natural gas. The ground collapsed, and the entire drilling rig fell inside. 

Due to an immense gas leak, venomous fumes started leaking quickly. However, the Soviets wanted to stop any potential ecological catastrophe, and they thought that the burning would eventually stop. But that’s not how it went further. 

Even after so many years, the fiery pit is blazing strongly, creating the door to hell. Very recently, in January 2022, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, the President, ordered Turkmenistan’s Government to put out the fire. At present, research is being done about putting the fire out. 

Folklore Interpretation Of The Site

All across Turkmenistan, I have found locals to be extremely friendly and moral. They cultivate modesty, truthfulness, and hospitality, which restore the faith in humanity. I remember stopping at a local shop, looking all pale and tired from the journey, and some middle-aged man offering me water.

Honestly, I have been to so many places in and out of India. Some people are amicable, while others are a bit hostile. But the culture that the Darvaza Crater boasts of is very interesting, and you would want to visit the place again and again. 

Tourism Around The Door To Hell

Tourism Around The Door To Hell

For starters, tourists have to consider a few factors before visiting the door to hell. The extreme temperature, along with safety hazards, might make it very challenging to thrive here. If you are someone who is intolerant of hot environments, think twice before visiting.

Recently, the Darvaza crater has become an unlikely tourist attraction because of its mesmerizing views. Photographers from all over the world visit this intriguing destination to experience something unique. Owing to its harsh environmental concerns and remote location, some adventurers find solace around the Darvaza Crater. 

However, tourism can certainly damage the natural beauty of the place. Some tourists have found the rooms unaccountable, while others share their worst nightmare of finding camels on the road. 

Helmut S from Bangkok writes- 

It took us 4.5 hours to reach 1 hour before sunset. Very few people were around there at that time. While driving 4.5 hours back to Ashgabat, the drivers have to be extremely careful since camels crossed the road…

Another solo tourist from Santa Fe penned down-

In my amazing month’s journey through Central Asia, Darvaza Gas Crater falls below the extraordinary category. In the middle of sandy tracks, we arrived at a natural wonder where darkness filled the sky. It was an amazing sight…

Visiting camps around the crater might attract many tourists who are willing to dig out the fiery display. The unearthly ambiance takes you to an experience you have “never felt” before. The spot might be too hot for camping, so make sure you carry the necessary equipment along!

What Does Scientific Research Have To Say?

What Does Scientific Research Have To Say_

Scientists in and around the Turkmengas state have shared their concerns about the Darvaza Crater. Berfimuhamedov had a fixation when it came to the “Door to Hell.” After giving his 15-year-long presidency in March, he shared his environmental concerns and how the gas is simply “wasted.” 

In June 2019, Irina Lurveya, the lab head at the Natural Gas Research Institute in Turkmenistan, reported a plan to put down the flames. The gas flow has been limited, and strategies were made in 2018. Furthermore, the proposal remains submitted to the relevant authorities, and they are planning to work on the positive side. 

Potential Implications For Astrobiology And Geology

Potential Implications For Astrobiology And Geology

The prevailing thought is that the Darvaza Gas Crater is a result of some army mishap. However, it doesn’t have to remain in that category forever. Not only does the heat make this place terrible for fauna and flora growth, but the air is also polluted. The land is barren, and weather conditions are completely unprecedented. 

Even if the spot is a great tourist spot, it can be sustained in the long run. Tourists would want to see anything unique, anything they haven’t seen before. But when it comes to the astrobiological aspect of the land, things are different. Without considering the long-term impacts, it would be difficult to bring in the change Berdymukhamedov demanded. 

Following this, the perpetual flames are inadvertently changing into a distinctive science laboratory. When attempting to access the natural gas reservoir, the enormous crater has caused problems, especially for releasing toxic gases. 

Other Attractions Worth Visiting In Turkmenistan

Apart from the Darvaza Crater, I also visited a few other destinations in Turkmenistan. The list began with the Independence Park, let’s have a look:

Independence Park

Independence Park is 140 hectares on the city’s southern outskirts. It surrounds it with groomed paths, marble stairs, and flowerbed porches. It is like visiting Vatican City, with furnished roads and nothing but clean stairs. 

Old Nisa

On my second day of the trip, I chose to discover Old Nisa, which is 18km away from Ashgabat. The place consists of old ruins of ancient Parthia or Nisa. If you want to explore a UNESCO-listed archaeological site, Old Nisa is the one to opt for. 

Concluding Words

Turkmenistan is a land of wonders, and when visiting this beautiful spot, you cannot miss the Door to Hell. However, there are various restrictions while visiting the Darvaza Crater. For example, tourists cannot bring dirty cars or anything that would simply add to the place’s unhygienic aspect. 

My personal experience in Turkmenistan was beyond words. It was like a country I’d never visited before. Whether you are in Ashgabat preparing for a Pimpenstein concert or staying back to the crater just to look at the stars, the experience is totally beyond words!

Mony Shah

With an adept skill of curating content on multiple genres, Mony has harnessed success as a Content Writer quickly. Find her sharing her profound thoughts and opinions on travel, lifestyle, and beauty, among other genres.

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