The village of Chak Chak, also known as Pir-e Sabz, consists of a shrine perched beneath a towering cliff face in the desert of central Iran. It is the most sacred of the Zoroastrian mountain shrines. Located near the city of Ardakan in Yazd province, Chak Chak serves as a pilgrimage point for pious Zoroastrians. Each year from June 14-18 many thousands of Zoroastrians from Iran, India and other countries flock to the fire temple of Pir-e Sabz. Tradition has it that pilgrims are to stop the moment they see the sight of the temple and continue their journey on foot the rest of the way.
Meaning drop-drop in Persian, Chak Chak Zoroastrian is where Nikbanou, second daughter of the last pre-Islamic Persian ruler, the Sassanian Emperor Yazdegerd III of Persia, was cornered by the invading Arab army in 640 CE. Fearing capture Nikbanou prayed to Ahura Mazda to protect her from her enemies. In response to Nikbanou’s pleadings, the mountain miraculously opened up and sheltered her from the invaders.
Notable features of Chak Chak include the ever dripping spring located at the mountain. Legend has it that these drops are tears of grief that the mountain sheds in remembrance of Nikbanou. Growing beside the holy spring is an immense and ancient tree said to be Nikbanou’s cane. Legend also has it that a petrified colorful cloth from Nikbanou was also visible in the rocks although pilgrims have since taken this.
The actual temple of Chak Chak is a man-made grotto sheltered by two large bronze doors. The shrine enclosure is floored with marble and its walls are darkened by fires kept eternally burning in the sanctuary. In the cliffs below the shrine are several roofed pavilions constructed to accommodate pilgrims.