We’ve previously reported here at Gadling on the intriguing, surreal and downright bizarre tourist attractions of the Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan. Now today comes further “fuel” for the country’s already odd reputation. Website English Russia is reporting on what local residents have dubbed the “Door to Hell” – a cavernous, flaming pit outside the small town of Darvaza which has been continuously burning for more than 35 years.
While Biblical alarmists might point to the “Door of Hell” as yet another sign of a coming apocalypse, the phenomenon apparently has a scientific explanation. According local residents, geologists were digging in the area for gas deposits and stumbled upon a huge underground cavern. The geologists apparently concluded the cavern was filled with poisonous gas, and decided (as any sane rational scientist might do) that they should light the cavern on fire to burn off the excess. The hole has been burning for more than 35 years since. Though there’s some debate on English Russia about whether this flaming pit is actually located in Uzbekistan, some further investigation confirms it is indeed in Turkmenistan.
Perhaps the “Door to Hell” won’t help put Turkmenistan back on your list of 1,000 Places to Visit Before You Die, but if you’re a Satanist, energy company executive or just plain curious, maybe it’s worth the long trek out to Central Asia.