M A I N    P A G E                

H O L I N E S S                    

P I L G R I M A G E              

     Together with its holiness, “Ashabi-Kahf” was also the place to where people started to visit from the ancient years; despite the Soviet period’s serious prohibitions it was not able to bar the ways of muslim-turkic origin pilgrims’ coming to this place, to their sacred “Ashabi-Kahf” from Nakhchivan, and as well as from the other parts of Western Azerbaijan, especially from Daralayaz, Gara Kilsa, Zangazur.  The collected materials show that you can’t find any person out of muslim originated population in Nakhchivan, from Western Azerbaijan now called Armenia that at least once in their life had not counted their duty to visit to “Ashabi-Kahf”. Together with themselves the pilgrims usually were taking those Muslims as well, who were wishing to visit to “Ashabi-Kahf” but had not possibility to go there; it was also counted a very good act, savab.   

          There is a saying among the population that seven times’ pilgrimage to “Ashabi-Kahf” is equal to a pilgrimage made to Karbala, Hadj. That means who had not possibility to visit these places of worship, it was suffice to come here once in regular seven years and to reach savab. It is mostly recommendable to visit here with the whole family. There is not any age limit for this.    There is not exact time for this pilgrimage. You can visit here in any season of the year. But in order to wait that the sacrifices grow and become fat and due to other works related to the economy people mostly prefer to visit here on the last month of summer and in autumn, before the first snowfall.     People dealing with cattle breeding were choosing the first-born male animal (lamb or baby goat) as sacrifice and caring it with special approach. Its loss or death was not a good sign.    Up to the 60th of XX century the people have been visiting here mainly by horses, donkeys, hinnies and even camels. The relative pilgrims were usually gathering together to constitute a “gafila”. Those who entered into this gafila were called pilgrims. Gafila usually was headed by one of the old and religious men. There were also the persons in each gafila that was elderly and had not got possibility to take animal. That means if there was a person wishing to go to pilgrimage but had not got possibility those were usually also assisted by the people.    According to the belief existing among the folk, for pilgrims it was necessary to get washed before the pilgrimage.    

Depending on the distance the people were walking there during a day or several days. The pilgrims coming from the long distance were stopping and making rest in some points. This time they were eating the light food. The young people through the way led the sacrifices. If any of these sacrifices was running here and there the people used to say: “It doesn’t go voluntarily”. The sacrifice’s run away or loss at “Ashabi-Kahf” was considered a bad sign.     The pilgrims used to take some their necessary things with themselves, like food, wood, clothing, and pans for preparing food in it. The pilgrims coming from different side on their way close to worship place - springs fill their jugs with water. The remainder of the wood taken to “Ashabi-Kahf” was usually not taken back. They were piling it on one place to meet the possible arising needs of the others.   Going to “Ashabi-Kahf” by foot is counted very good act-savab. It becomes clear out of the collected materials that those pilgrims whose dreams have already been realized they have been visiting to 30-40 km of distance by foot or sometimes barefooted. Cleaning the ways from stones or some bushes from all four sides of “Ashabi-Kahf” was also reckoned a good act-savab. Also for easy orientation in the roads, there used to be the piled stones along the way after each 50-100 meters. Namely from here starts a belief to stone. According to the existing belief, if you called the name of your enemy and threw a stone to valley your enemy should fall in trouble. This belief is called as “don’t throw that person’s stone”.    Basing to the collected materials we can judge that the first beliefs related connected with worship place arose with stone, water and tree cults. Along the way around “Ashabi-Kahf” on the road, especially on the main road the people tighten a cut off part of different colors of fabrics, handkerchiefs on bushes and stones as a symbol of their “wishes”, “dreams”. In nowadays they also tighten fabrics on the bushes around road.    There are a lot of graves on the side of the roads, on the locations not reached to “Ashabi-Kahf” yet. Before the pilgrims used to worship these graves, that means they were simply making fatiha to their spirits and asking Almighty have mercy, and put on all their finery. It is unknown whom do these graves belong and how long do they stand here. The graveyard on the lower side belongs to Hachaparag village once located here.   

            According to the legend 100-120 meters from the cave, on the left side of the road there is shepherd’s dog –Gitmir’s burial place. In the legend it is shown that “after the dog was buried the shepherd had put his hand stick on its grave”. Later according to Islam there was put a five-finger symbol - beshbarmag there on the upper part.    Before worshiping the holies, some rituals are carried out and the brought animals are sacrificed. Before cutting the sacrifice they give water to it and read some sacrifice praying. In order not to pollute this place of worship there is made a separate place far from there for animal sacrificing on the right side of the road. Special people cut the sacrifice. But who knows to do it, perform it himself. We meet the cases when the animal owner puts his right hand on the right hand of the person who slaughters the animal. By the belief, it means as if the animal owner has slaughtered the animal himself.    After sacrificing the animal, people start worshiping. Let’s note that the usual entrance of the cave is situated on the right side from the current pavements. Because of thousand years’ entry and exit, it had turned the stones to become slippery. There have been created some kind of pavements from the stones sometimes before to make walking easier. Today’s pavement is situated on the lower part of the acute rocks.    The first mythical thing that the peoples encounter at the entrance is a small spring. It is surrounded with sharp cliffs and the spring.         The spring is filtered through a lot of layers, seems as a means of treatment. This is the only water source that once had been used by the inhabitants of the cave and later by pilgrims for thousand years.     This spring is situated on the down side of the worshipping place “Yeddi kimsene”. The worshipping place “Yeddi kimsene” is situated on the left side from “Ashabi-Kahf” under the rock cliff bent forward. It looks, as it is a refuge. According to the belief the seven holies had disappeared here resting their backs against the rocks. Four tracks are clearly seen on the wall. As if a man is resting against the cliff, the tracks are remaining. According to this belief these are the relics of backside of seven people who disappeared here. Each pilgrim meeting this scene kisses the tracks of the holies. Here, who knows how to perform Namaz they make it and pray. At the same time, there is a belief that the children with some diseases for a while stay and sleep here, etc.     After “Yeddi kimsene” next worshipping place inside the cave is related to Hz. Ali and to his horse Duldull. According to the legend once Hz. Ali made a pilgrimage here Duldull had jumped the rock lying on the left side to the rock on the right side and there had remained the tracks from his horse’s back legs as a hole. The people dream, take the small stones and throw it to those wholes situated approximately on 5-6 meters height level. Whose dream is accepted his stone remains there. As a rule, the people throw three stones.     Going further inside the cave you meet the trees and bushes on which the people have tightened the fabrics. The cave is increasing from inside, on the upside towards the left turn where is a mosque and “Jennet Baghi” there is a hole on the rock. Who has dreams they pass through that hole and three times goes round the rock. Mostly ill people, unfertile women and children perform this.    Worshipping in front of “Gara Dash” and “Damjikhana” is considered one of the essential moments. Before the people used to sacrifice money and put it to the next or upon the black stone. Considering “Gara Dash” to be holy they kiss it and fasten stones on it. Sometimes the ill people make a dream and sleep next to the black stone. It is said that some ill people were cured here.     The mosque is entered only by those people who perform Namaz and has got a sacrifice. On the part belonging of mosque to men there are two inscriptions. There exists a tradition to make a dream and sleep in the mosque.    “Damjikhana” is situated on the upside of mosque on some meters height. This location is in the shape of open saloon and there is usually falls water drop from the roof. It is interesting that not depending on the rainy and dry weather the drop never ceases here. In this moment you can make any kind of dream. That means the ill people and, as well as the people having some dreams can sit here. If a drop falls on you head or shoulder this is a sign that the dreams that you are making will be realized soon, but if it falls the lower parts of your body it is interpreted that your dreams will be realized relatively sometimes later; however the drop fall is a sign that your dreams are accepted.     In this worship place the highest moment is the place called “Jennet Baghi”. Before it was difficult to reach here. But now iron pavements have eased this work. This moment is cylindrical and surrounded by high cliffs from all sides; this is a moment where all your prayers are accepted. Here towards the direction where the sun rises there stretches a narrow passage through the cliffs. On the top side of the passage, on the rocks there is one daghdaghan tree. The people tighten fabrics on this tree by making dreams.    So it comes out that this is a worship place where people morally clean them and become closer to the God. People starting from the low side until the up side the worshipping place get isolated from the universal world. As if they enter into the sacred momentum, they start to recognize themselves as forgiven. Of course, this momentum is only for those who want to increase themselves and comprehend their integration with God. In the likely moments within a short time an intelligent person gets himself raised to the highest moments. A person physically worshipping feels himself spiritually to be in Paradise. So, the sacred people of time and their relatives had called this place “Jennet gapisi” (“a gate of paradise”-Transl.). In this case “Jennet Babi” has transferred into “Jennet Baghi”.    Preparation of food in “Ashabi-Kahf” is broadly spread. Some pilgrims perform Ehsan (Ehsan means: distribution of something free, usually food and drink-Transl.) here. Generally to feed others from prepared food is called a big Savab. There also exists a tradition of distributing food at home prepared up there. The tradition of rubbing home-taken sweets and bread against some moments, especially against “gara dash”, in “yeddi kimsene” and then their distribution is also broadly spread belief.    People also distribute meat of the sacrificed animal to their relatives, neighbors and poor people. Among the folk there is a saying: “A meat of the sacrificed animal should be distributed to at least seven homes”.    The materials collected prove that, the majority of pilgrims visiting here do not know the essence of the performed traditions and beliefs; they all say that all these are inherited from their ancestors. Approximately all beliefs are the spiritual treasure having a great deal of historical background living in blood memory of our nation, despite they have been carrying the Turkish passport through the stones period up to now in Nakhchivan and no religion has been able to change them. Namely, the parallel study of the genesis of these beliefs in integration with other Turkish people could play the role of main factor in the analysis of the problems related to “Ashabi-Kahf”.


S T O N E  C U L T               

W A T E R C U L T               

T R E E  C U L T                   

S O U R C E                          

P H O T O   G A L L E R Y