A pit in the middle of the Karakum desert has been burning for 50 years and is ominously dubbed as the Gates Of Hell or Door to Hell by people in Turkmenistan. Known as the Darvaza Gas Crater, the pit's exact location is about 260 kilometres (160 mi) north of Ashgabat, the capital of the country. The name "Door to Hell" refers to the fire, boiling mud, and orange flames in the large crater, which has a diameter of 70 meters (230 ft). In an unlikely but rather amusing twist of events, the Turkmenistan President drove doughnuts around the pit in the month of August, to prove that he is not dead!
Scientists do not know when the pit started to exist. As per reports, a group of Soviet Geologists first saw it in 1971 and started drilling it, in the hopes of finding oil. However, it further collapsed under their feet and began to emit noxious gases. In order to contain the spread of the gases, the geologists set the pit on fire. Although it was initially believed to wear out in a few weeks, it continues to burn till this day.
There are other theories about the pit that the collapse into a crater happened in the 1960s, and the gases were not set on fire until the 1980s. But the beliefs are uncertain as there are no official records available of either the Soviet or Turkmen version of events. President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, visited the site and ordered that the hole should be closed in 2010. Later after 3 years in 2013, he declared the part of the Karakum Desert with the crater a nature reserve. Initially, Turkmenistan decided to take measures to limit the crater's influence on the development of other natural gas fields in the area. With this, the country announced plans to export natural gas across the world by 2030.
Read: Moroccans Feast, Light Up Sky On Shiite Holy Day