Door to Hell – Not a natural volcanic crater rather a man-made hollow that has been burning since 1971; almost 45 years. Located in Derweze, Turkmenistan; once a part of Communist Russia, Door to Hell is a natural gas field which ultimately collapsed into a natural gas crater. The place is also referred as Darvaza Crater, Gate to Hell and the Crater of Fire.
The site was identified by the Russians during the early 70’s believing it to be rich in oil deposits. During operations, the technicians found huge natural gas deposits instead of oil. The resulting operations lead to collapse of the ground creating a huge crater. Fearing the release of dangerous toxic gas into the atmosphere, the crew set fire to the hollow thinking the gas would exhaust in a couple of weeks.
Instead, the fire has been continuously burning for decades with little insight about the volume of gas reserves even at present. During 2010, the president of Turkmenistan visited the site and ordered appropriate measures to check arrest its effect to nearby gas reserves as Oil and Natural Gas export form a major source of the country’s economy.
Being a popular tourist attraction, the crater attracts close to 10,000 tourists a year. Situated 260 km from the capital city of Ashgabat, the Door to Hell is in the middle of Karakum Desert with a diameter of 70 meters and a total area of 5,350 m2; almost the size of a football ground. The glowing area constitutes a width of 60 meters and a height of 20 meters. The surrounding desert area too is a famous for camping activities.