“I tried to draw the eyebrow but ended up poking the Eye “– A prominent proverb used in the Mysterious Land of Fire – Azerbaijan.
Travel is far more than just seeing the sight, sampling local cuisines, and just having fun. The Adventure needs to be enjoyed; traveling should make an adventurer push one's limit, test oneself, and see the world for a new perspective.
The Mysterious Land of Fire is toiling hard to set up the country’s infrastructure to accommodate international tourists. Currently, the country is majorly dependent on the Oil & Gas reserves and the revenues generated from it but have realized, like many other oil-rich countries, that an alternative source of revenue needs to be planned and promoted. The country has taken huge steps forward; however, still, transportation, etc., outside the city capital is still difficult to get. The regions Sites of traveler interest still needs to be marketed to reach potential tourists.
• Total Population: 10M approx.
• Currency: AZN (MANAT)
• Currency value: USD 1= AZN 1.65 Approx.
• Language Spoken: Azeri & Russian predominantly. English in fragments.
The country identifies itself as a Muslim country; however, due to the ages influence of the Soviets, very few people are now actually practicing Muslims. You seldom hear the call to prayers since the country is largely secular. Unlike people in most Muslim countries, the people here possess a fondness to drinking much like the Russian neighbors. Nostrovia is their favorite word.
The locals have a liking for TEA. The tea is served with Jam flavored with thyme, lemon, mint & rosewater.
Qutub is almost like a traditional dish. Flat Bread stuffed with pumpkin, veggies, meat or herbs and then roasted.
The City is an interesting mix of old traditions & Contemporary new culture. The Old City with ancient mosques with Arabic architectural flavors, old narrow alleys with shops selling Rugs, Lamps & lanterns take you back in time. The Modern Baku expanded around the old city allows the tourist to gauge the transformation and the modern architectural brilliance along with providing chick shopping and culinary options. Baku is often likened to Dubai for the Outlandish Architecture and the appetite for gold. The Curvaceous Heyder Aliyev center designed by Zaha Hadid, The Socar Tower, and the Flame Skyscraper, which represents Azerbaijan's oil & gas reserves, are gems.
The streets are populated by outlets with familiar designer names like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Mango, Ferrari peeping out from every corner. The people are well dressed, and the cars are flashy. People have a liking for the Lada cars produced in Russian, and they own it in pride as a symbol of their past. Old Lada cars can be seen in the city as taxis mostly and outside the city as privately owned cars which can still drive you on roads which are not properly motorable too.
Sites & Spots to be visited in Baku –
Martyr Square – Highland Gardens for a panoramic view of the city – The Mini Venice with waterways that flow between shops, restaurants & entertainment venues. Many bridges and walkways around, but the best way to get around is by the Gondola – The Boulevard: A park beside the Caspian Sea – The Nizam Street for Shopping, street music, and culinary gastronomy experience. The Carpet Museum – The Heyder Aliyev Centre – The Auto Museum – The Old Town, seeing the maiden Tower and visit the Palace of the Shirvanshahs (It has found a place in the UNESCO world heritage sites).
The Nights in Baku are always young with Clubs and Pubs open till wee hours.
Visit the Historic Site of Absheron (30 mins from Baku) is highly recommended. The site includes the Zoroastrian Fire Temple (Ateshgah). Being part of the Silk route, this site is of equal importance for Hindus the traveler used to stop here and perform the prayers and rituals in ancient times. The traces can still be found in the chambers/rooms around the ateshgah. Statues of Ganpati & Shiv can be seen there too. Not far from the Ateshgah is the Yanardagh (Fire Mountain), where the fire has been burning for 1000s of years.
Other important cities of Interest are GABALA & GUBA, around 3 to 4 hours scenic drive from the capital city, nestled between mountains with lakes and forest around. The climate here is lower than the city, and there are many resorts and hotels around. Indian restaurants are also there.
For tourists, a stay of 4 to 6 days is recommended.
Explorers & adventurers can take more time and visit the historical towns of Simakhi, Saki & lahic. Some of which are more than 2000 years old. These villages can you the actual cultural experience where even people speak in a language different from the city inhabitants. Roads in some of these villages do not have proper transportation, and one may have to be on foot unless he is lucky to find a lift in the old LADA cars.
You can also read more about Azerbaijan, the top travel places on TBO Academy to plan your next travel.