TODAY.AZ / Society

Besh Barmag – the mystical mountain with 'five fingers' in Azerbaijan

26 August 2013 [11:20] - TODAY.AZ
Besh Barmag (Five Finger) is a 382m high hill situated along the Quba highway, just over one hour drive north-west from Baku, overlooking the Khizi Rayon and the Caspian Sea. It used to serve as a natural fortress protecting caravans traveling along the Silk Way route, and today it’s a popular tourist and pilgrimage destination.

Sacred mountain

Besh Barmag is a holly place and important pilgrimage site for people from all over Azerbaijan. At the foothill of the mountain there is a mosque where many vehicles stop to donate money, and on the way to the top there is another holly place where for a small donation pilgrims receive a personal blessing usually performed by whispering prayers and having their shoulders touched a few times with a stone. Most of the pilgrims are women who come to the shrine to ask the pre-Islamic deities for blessings for their families. On a few trees that grow along the path leading to the top tourists will see colorful stripes of cloth tied to its branches signifying prayers or wishes of the pilgrims, a common practice across Central Asia.

During the visit pilgrims gather in the picnic area close to the peak where they share tea and food. Sometimes the pilgrimage is celebrated by ritual lamb/sheep slaughter – an act meant to ensure God’s protection and blessing – which is later cooked over open fire.  This ritual is still common in rural areas of Azerbaijan.

Getting to the top

Besh Barmag  is particularly interesting on religious holidays, especially during Ramazan, when increased numbers of pilgrims visit the site. However, be prepared that on these occasions the site gets very crowded and the climb to the top might take more time than usual. Also, the path leading to the top of the rock consists of narrow and slippery stairs and ladders so make sure to wear appropriate shoes and avoid going there on rainy days.


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