Chak Chak: The Zoroastrian Pilgrimage

Chak Chak

There is one of the ancient places is the famous Zoroastrian pilgrimage center called Chak Chak, also known as Pir-e Sabz, which dates back to pre-Islamic preriod. Located near the city of Ardakan in Yazd Province, Chak Chak is revered for its spiritual values by the followers of the ancient Iranian religion. Chak chak is an extremely sacred place for Zoroastrians & is the most important Zoroastrian site in Iran, about 72km northwest of Yazd.

Chak Chak attracts thousands of pilgrims for an annual Zoroastrian festival between 14 and 18 June. Every year devoted Zoroastrians from all over Iran and even abroad find their way here to pay their respect. 

According to the legends the rock face opened up and offered refuge to the daughter of the last pre-Islamic ruler, from the encroaching Arab invaders. During the Arab invasion of Persia, Yazdgerd III was killed and so his family separated from each other and ran away from Yazd to find safety elsewhere. Somehow Nikbanou got to Chak Chak and since there was nothing but mountains and deserts to be seen, she weeped and prayed to Ahura Mazda for safety. Her prayers were answered and the mountain miraculously opened up to shelter her. Chak Chak, which in the Persian means ‘drip drip,’ contains an ever-dripping spring, said to be the mountain weeping in remembrance of Princess Nikbanu.

The interior of the Chak Chak temple is rather simple. There’s the dripping water, a painting of Ahura Mazda and of course the eternal flame, a none separable part of any Zoroastrianism holy place. There’s also a huge tree outside the temple known as Nikbanou’s cane. Other than that it’s really the spirit and back story that attracts visitors. Not to mention, the views from above the temple and the pin-drop silence of the desert is just divine!

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. In the cliffs below the shrine are several roofed pavilions constructed to accommodate pilgrims. The Temple cut into the cliff-side at the top has a wonderful brass door that is embossed with the likeness of Zoroaster.

The temple has an altar in which there are three oil-burning lights with a container of oil right beside them. In front of the altar, there is a set of trays combined in such a way as to look like a lotus flower from above and serves as a place to receive donations from pilgrims. There are also some window-like open spaces or holes within the cave over which huge branches of the nearby tree extends inside the temple and a small water fall that keeps the stage of the alter wet.

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