Sacred Temple of Chak Chak
Between mountains and plains there is a Zoroastrian temple on top of a mountain, in the middle of the solitude of the desert. Chak Chak is located 60 km from Yazd city, near Sharif Abad village in Ardakan, the second largest city in Yazd province. Through this desert landscape accompanied by a small purple and pink mountain range, at the end of a path decorated with wells (kariz) in the heart of the central desert of Iran, perched on the side of a cliff, this uninhabited town welcomes every year from June 14 to 18 to Zoroastrians around the world.
Legend, in Zoroastrian belief, attributes this place to Nikbanu, the second daughter of the last Sassanid ruler, Yazdgerd III. It is said that Nikbanú took refuge in this place from the attack of the invading Arab army in 640. The Sassanid Empire was the last imperial dynasty of Persia before the rise of Islam. They say that Nikbanú prayed to Ahura Mazda to protect her from her enemies, as she was afraid of being captured. In answer to her prayers, the mountain miraculously opened and sheltered her. The temple includes a cave with a still flowing spring at the top of the mountain overlooking the desert. Two spearmen appear in two large bronze doors at the entrance and in front of a sacred tree, which must have been the princess’s cane. Inside, a fire burns in the central altar and three candles are lit in a niche. Here, we can read Zoroastrian morals: good thoughts, good words, good deeds.
The reason for choosing the name Chak Chak (Pir-e-Sabz)
The name Chak Chak comes from the sound of flowing water in the cave. According to the legends, the drops of the water are tears of pain that the mountain sheds in memory of Nikbanu, or even her own tears of pain.
Several houses have been built on the cliffs below the sanctuary to accommodate the pilgrims. Also, there are five other sanctuaries, all of them located at the foot of a mountain and near a spring, Pir-e Naraki, Pir-e Banú Pars, Pir-e Narestán, Pir-e Herisht and the Seti Pir. (Pir means place of pilgrimage).
Zoroastrianism, dated to the 7th century BC, is the ancient Iranian religion that became the official religion under the Sassanid Empire, which ruled Persia for four centuries until the Arab conquest.
Zoroaster or Zarathustra, is the prophet and founder of Zoroastrianism. Ahura Mazda is the creator of everything and is the supreme and only God.
Farvahar is the guardian angel, the soul and the spirit, based on three fundamental principles: good thoughts, good words and good deeds.
The Avesta is the set of sacred texts in book form.
The four sacred elements are earth, water, air and fire, which symbolize the creation of the world. Zoroastrians respect fire as a divine symbol.
The fire temple, where Zoroastrians practice their rituals before fire, is considered a divine symbol and the source of purity. Therefore, it is a mistake to think that they are fire worshipers. Zoroastrians practice the world’s first monotheistic religion.
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The architecture of Chak Chak
The entrance of the cave is reached by many steps and it is worth climbing them to appreciate the distinguishable isolation of this place. Also, there is an old tree in the sanctuary that, according to Zoroastrian belief, from the point where Nikbanu’s cane touched the ground, this green tree, sacred to Zoroastrians, arose.
What is surprising is the emergence of this tree from a stone being a wonder of nature. The temple floor is covered with marble, the stone ceiling, and the walls are obscured by the burning fires in the sanctuary. In addition, the walls are decorated with images of large Zoroastrian figures.