Gazakh

Gazakh is called Azerbaijan’s gateway to the west. It is the last population centre in the western direction. First visitors to the district are attracted by endless maize fields and numerous donkey carts. As donkeys can endure without water and are hard working and cheap animals, they are regarded as irreplaceable representatives of economic life. Along with that, Gazakh has historically been a centre of horse-breeding.

Another thing that draws attention is that people speak in high tones here. At first sight, it seems that two people are arguing rather than talking. Then it becomes clear that it is not customary to speak quietly here.

And finally, the most interesting and strangest word is actually a mode of address:

“Ölüm,”

The stress falls on the first syllable – the letter ö. They say ölüm at the beginning and at the end of every sentence, which makes their talk and dialect different.

Note

The distance between Baku and Gazakh is 465 km. It borders on Armenia and Georgia and covers the southern feet of the Great Caucasus and the northern slopes of the Small Caucasus. The Kura, Chogaz and Khramchay rivers flow through the territory of the district. The district is located on the left and right banks of the Agstafa (Oguztapa) River. Shamakhi-Qabala-Sheki-Ganja-Tabriz, Barda-Ganja-Tiflis, Darband-Shabran-Baku-Ganja-Iravan-Tabriz, Ganja-Siniq Korpu-Tiflis and Nakhichevan-Iravan-Tiflis caravan commercial routes used to pass through the district. Most of Gazakh and Agstafa is mainly lowland. Low mountains cover the southern and south-western parts of Gazakh. In this place, Mount Odundag is 1,300 metres high. Jeyranchol covers the northern and north-eastern parts of the district. The height of local hills reaches 600-800 metres here. Mineral resources include stones, clay, shells, sand and cement. The climate is moderate, hot and arid subtropical in the lowlands. In the mountains, the climate gets more moderate as the heights change.

GazakhLand of ashigs

Gazakh is known as the homeland of ashigs. It is home to such great poets as Molla Vali Vidadi, Molla Panah Vaqif, Mehdi Huseyn, Samad Vurgun, Huseyn Arif and Ismayil Shikhli. Samad Vurgun’s poem “Azerbaijan” is probably the only poem that all Azerbaijanis know by heart.

In Gazakh, not a single party is held without the saz. Everyone admires saz music here. Sometimes, such parties go on for hours. Some genres of oral folklore are actively used at Gazakh households and in the everyday lexicon. During conversations, when citing an example, praising someone and so on, they do so in a poetic way. Weddings in the western region cannot be held without ashigs. The most popular saz song is Yaniq Karam. When ashigs come together, they definitely begin a competition of words and phrases.

Ozan

Ozan is a title given to skilful poets and saz artists. Ozan was first mentioned in the epos Alp Ar Tunqa. Ozan became a type of performance in the early centuries of the first millennium BC. It is derived from the words Oguz and uz.

Ashig art

It is the most ancient type of national folklore. In the 11th-12th centuries, ashigs were professional story tellers who could tell various eposes. The Anatolian, Goycha, Tabriz and Shirvan ashig schools formed in that period. Ganjabasar was one of the centres of the Goycha ashig school. Historically, folklore has been quite common in this region and still retains its popularity. Even Islamic values failed to break these traditions. Ganjabasar which stretches along Shamkir, Tovuz, Gadabay, Gazakh and Agstafa and covers all areas around Ganja creates admiration for the saz and poetry in an ashig environment. It is very interesting to observe hostility and rivalry between various ashig schools and their desire to beat each other with the saz and poetry. The enthusiastic demonstration of skills by ashigs and their rapid responses to each other have become a historical tradition. Therefore, if you go to Gazakh and see someone sitting with a saz in their hands at a party, you should not be surprised.

Ashigs have their own peculiar uniforms and cloths. In the recent period, more and more ashigs prefer national cloths. The black boots, long trousers with hems folded into the boots, a long-sleeved shirt with a collar and buttons and the black belt resemble some sort of military uniform. They always wear cylinder hats. They say that in the past, ashigs encouraged soldiers before they went to fight and created a fighting spirit in them.

Front-line

Gazakh has a 168 km border with Armenia. Although one of internal tourist routes lies in this direction, it has been impossible to implement it due to the military situation. Since 1991, six villages of Gazakh District have been under Armenian occupation. The heavily battered villages of Yukhari Askipara, Ashagi Askipara, Mazan, Ayrimli and Kheyrimli, which are famed for their historical-archaeological monuments and natural reserves, are completely deserted. The village of Baganis Ayrim totally burnt down in 1991.

Baganis Ayrim

The village is located on the bank of the Chogaz River. Its previous name is Seyid Ayrim. The village was called so because the Seyidli families settled near the former village of Baganis in the past. There were 108 Seyid families in the early 19th century. The place name means the village of Ayrim near Baganis. The precise origin of the word Baganis is not known.

The terrible traces of the war can be seen from the heights in the front line village of Qushchu Ayrim. Gazakh also has other monuments of great historical value on the front line.

GazakhQizil Qaya

This mountain consists of reddish and brown rocky slabs and draws attention with its enormity, leaning against Mount Avey from the southwest. For this reason, it is called Qizilqaya (golden rock). There are legends about it. Barrows belonging to the Bronze Age have been discovered in a gorge called Barkin Agzi. Historians regard this place as the ruins of the ancient city of Khalkhal (Lala).

Ruins of Khalkhal (Lala)

The precise site of this historical city situated in the west of Caucasian Albania is not known. It is believed that it was situated around Qizilqaya. The Battle of Khalkhal is known in history. Under Sassanid King Yazdagird II, Zoroaster sent 700 priests to Albania in order to promote fire worshipping, but some time later, the local population could not stand violence, raised a revolt against foreigners and gained a victory near the city of Khalkhal which was the winter residency of Albanian kings. The Arab historian Hamdullah Qazvini recorded that the city of Khalkhal was situated 96 farsakhs (one farsakh is 6-7 km) from Baku. The leader of the Girdman principality, which was the last Albanian state, and the last leader of the Mehranid dynasty, Prince Javanshir and his wife are believed to have been buried here.

Place-name

It is believed to be a place named after the Atabay ruler Shamsaddin Eldaniz. It has several interpretations. One of them is that Qazaq is a Turkic tribe. The Qazaq tribe that settled here long before the Christian Era closely participated in the ethnogenesis of the Azerbaijani people. It is also believed that the place name is derived from the combination of the words qas and aq. It is very likely that a branch of this tribe, which spread from the western coast of the Caspian Sea to the west and to the south, expanded in the western part of Caucasian Albania. Qas is the surname of a union of tribes called Qaz and then Khaz (Khazars). In old Turkish, it means highness, greatness or mountain. Ag, experts believe, means a home or place and a rise. According to another theory, Gazakh means a mountain man. The Qases who lived in the mountains are also called mountain Qases.

GazakhGazakh people

The people of Gazakh are descendants of the first inhabitants of this area – the Qasaq tribe which hailed from the Qas (Khas) Turkic tribe. The ethnic composition is purely Turkic. Before the Christian Era, Oguz, Hun, Kipchak and Keng tribes and then, Khazar, Gazakh and Kosaq tribes migrated to this territory. As the Kengs mixed with the local tribes, the villages of Yukhari Salahli, Orta Salahli, Ashagi Salahli and Dash Salahli formed. Some Kengs migrated to Nakhichevan and Anatolia.

Place names related to Kengs emerged after this migration. Later, on their way back from Anatolia, these tribes settled in a territory inhabited by the Ayrim (el-rum) tribe. The residents of Baganis Ayrim and Qushchu Ayrim are their descendants. The Gazakhbayli tribal union, which emerged as the Khazar and Pecheneg Turkic tribes mixed with the local population, ruled the Gazakh region for a long time.

History

In 67 BC, after Rome’s failure in the Caucasus, the Roman Senate decided to send military a strong army led by the commander Pompey the Great to fight here. The 60,000 Albanian horsemen who met the enemy travelling on the Iravan-Diljan road started a battle of life and death at the foot of Mount Goyazan. The Roman army was defeated and was forced to leave the area. In 66 BC, Pompey launched another sudden attack on Albania. As he reached Agstafa, he met with the local army on the bank of the Kura River. After he crossed the river, a clash occurred in a place called Kambizena. This place is now called Qarayazi. Historical sources say that the Romans who were forced to cross the barren and arid Qarayazi plain took 10,000 bottles of water from the Kura on orders from Pompey.

It is believed that in Qarayazi, Pompey’s legions captured two local villagers and demanded that they guide them. As the villagers had no choice, they agreed and decided to lead the enemy army into impassable bushes. Having saved their own lives, the villagers were rewarded by the Albanian King Aruz and his brother Kozis.

In the 8th century, the military commander Marwan ibn Muhammad founded a settlement called Kasal. The Arab sources of that period called this place Qasak or Qazak and reported that it was a big settlement. The Gazakh sultanate was founded in the 15th century. Under the Safavids, this sultanate was subjugated by the Karabakh principality. The Gazakh sultanate whose rulers had a sultan’s title was ruled by three generations:

1. The Shikhlinski tribe called Gazakhli and AlGazakhli was the first ruler. As the tribe defected to the Ottomans under Turkish Sultan Ahmad III (1703-1730), the Safavids relieved the Gazakhli tribe from power when they retook the region.

2. When the Iranian military chief Subhanverdi was appointed in their stead, Gazakh was already subordinate to the Karabakh principality. After Nadir Khan proclaimed himself shah in 1736, the ruler of Karabakh, Ugurlu Khan Ziyad oglu, acted against Nadir. For this reason, when Nadir Shah ascended to the throne, he handed over the Gazakh, Borchali and Shamshaddil regions to the Georgian Kingdom of Kakheti in order to maintain his position and weaken the strong Ganja khan.

3. On orders from the Georgian King Irakli II, Panah Agha from the family of Kosa Mirzali Agha who ruled Salahli was appointed as a representative to the Gazakh sultanate. In 1752, the Gazakh sultanate was annexed by Haji Chalabi’s Sheki Khanate which had defeated Irakli II. After the death of the Sheki khan, the Gazakh khanate fell under the influence of Georgia again and was incorporated into Russia together with Western Georgia in 1801. The Gazakh sultanate was abolished in 1819 and became a county of the Yelizavetpol (Ganja) region later. In 1909, Gazakh was granted status as a city and was abolished as a county in 1929. Since 1930, it has been an independent district.

GazakhHistorical monuments

Gazakh has 112 monuments of global, national and local importance. The historical Israfil Agha bath, the Friday mosque and the seminary building in the district centre draw special attention.

Seminary (1910)

The first teachers’ seminary in Azerbaijan was opened in Gazakh. The building of the seminary was built in 1910. The two-storey tastefully decorated building which was built from burnt red bricks now houses a secondary school. When Firidun Kocharli relocated the Azerbaijani department of the Gori seminary here in 1918, he faced a lot of difficulties. A civil war was under way in Baku, and the situation was confusing. The delegation was dropped off the train at the Georgians’ demand and had to wait in Agstafa. A decision was made to keep the seminary in Gazakh until the situation stabilized in Baku. But where? At this moment, a resident of the village of Kosalar, millionaire Mashadi Ibrahim, handed over his personal two-storey house to the seminary. The Tatar department of the Gori teachers’ seminary trained 250 teachers from 1878 to 1918. These people made an unprecedented contribution to Azerbaijan’s public-political, scientific and cultural life in the late 19th and early 20th century. Some episodes of the film “Deli Kur” (1969) were shot at this seminary.

Shikhli human camp

1,023 archaeological items were found during excavations near the first village of Shikhli. The settlements of Uzundara, Chinqildara and Ajitapa were discovered here. The villages of Shikhli 1 and Shikhli 2 are situated on the Georgian border, and they are the homeland of Ismayil Shikhli, the Shikhlinski generation of prominent generals, one of legendary World War II guerrillas and Italy’s national hero Serafino and the classic of Azerbaijan’s ashig literature, Molla Vali Vidadi.

Khramchay

The real name of this river, which flows through Shikhli 2, is Ehram. It is a branch of the Kura. The Georgians call it Khramchay. Another name of the river is Tapadoy (Tavadoy). Khrami means “beating against the coast”: it means “a river flowing through a gorge” or “a deep mountain river”. The river really flows through a deep gorge over an extended period. There are two famous medieval monuments on the river.

GazakhSiniq Bridge (5th century)

It is believed that this bridge, which is intended for carts, phaetons, camels and mules, was built either under the Sassanids (3rd century) or during the time of Caucasian Albania (5th century). The stone crown of the bridge broke many years later. Since then, it has been called the Siniq Bridge (Broken Bridge). Some parts of the bridge which broke in the course of time are still intact. A forester’s house has been built on the remains of its foundation on the left bank, and it works as a canteen. As there is another bridge standing nearby, together they are called Qosha Bridge (Double Bridge).

Red Bridge (12th century)

The Red Bridge, which was built under Atabay ruler Muhammad Jahan Pahlavan in 1136-1225 at a distance of about 100 metres from the Siniq Bridge, has four spans. It was built between two hills on the Tapadoy River which joins the Kura. As it was built from burnt red bricks, it is called the Red Bridge. It is 165 metres in length and 12.4-4.3 metres in width. Caravans used to spend the night on vast pastures on the banks of the river. This historical monument which plays the role of a bridge between Georgia and Azerbaijan has now been declared a museum. The border checkpoint is also located here.

In the 17th century, it was refurbished and decorated by Shah Abbas. For its style, it is similar to old Ganja and Khudafarin bridges. There are interesting stories about them.

In the past, only the Siniq bridge spanned the Ehram River. Once a shah crossed the bridge, and on finding out that it was broken, he said that a new one must be built. Otherwise, it will be difficult to get to the other side.

On his way from Iran to Tbilisi in 1819, the writer and diplomat, Aleksandr Griboyedov, got off his horse here, stayed here for some time, watched the bridge and got additional information from his interpreter Shamshir bay. Later on, he stressed in a letter to his friend: “…In a desert covered with snow, we suddenly encountered a monument of architecture. Oh God, how beautiful it was! This four-arch bridge was built symmetrically and with extraordinary skill and taste.”

Goyazan

Residents of Gazakh regard it as “the centre of the world”. If you don’t believe, let’s measure it, they say.
Mount Goyazan visits the heaven

And it blocks the moon’s path at nights

This rhyme belongs to Samad Vurgun. He praised it so much that everyone thinks that Goyazan is a huge mountain. Those who visit it are always surprised.

Goyazan is the emblem of Gazakh. It is the biggest natural monument in the district and is 250 metres high. The rare geological monument of nature emerged as a result of a volcano eruption. It is located 20 km from the centre and 2 km to the left of the Chogaz River. It is not attached to any other mountain or hill. It is on its own. You can see the remains of a large settlement – Yeddiburjlu Fortress – at its foot. There is a cave and pastures in the mountain, and they are regarded as first human settlements. It is flatter than the summit. They say that when there were holidays and enemy threats in the past, a bonfire was made on the peak of the mountain.

Place-name

It is interpreted by Persian and Turkic words such as Kuhi Zanan (Women’s Mountain), Kuhi Azam (Great Mountain), Kuhi Azan (Azan Mountain), Goy Ozan (the blue ozan of the blue Turk), Koy Ozan (the village of Ozan) and Guy Azan (silencer of noise). There are legends and stories about every interpretation.

They say that the city fortress at the foot of the mountain was once devastated. Only a noble-looking old woman lived there. When the Sassanid army passed through the area, they investigated the situation and named the mountain Kuhi Zanan (Women’s Mountain).
Another theory says that foreigners admired this lonely and high mountain and named it Kuhi Azan, i.e. Mount Azan…

The most convincing explanation regarding the place name of Goyazan is a mountain that hits the sky.

One of the internal tourist routes to be opened in Gazakh is the direction of Khanliqlar-Damirchilar villages. The territory boasts several historical monuments of global and national importance and large water tanks. In general, the Gazakh-Agstafa area differs from other regions for its large number of water reservoirs.

GazakhDidevan tower (6th-7th centuries)

It is a watchtower. It is also called Dadaban – the father’s house. Until the middle of 20th century, the tower was a shrine. The watchtower was built in the first millennium BC and was part of a defensive system together with the Albanian temple on Mount Avey. This monument of defensive nature on the territory of the village of Khanliqlar is on the list of architectural monuments of national importance. Although it has different names and is interpreted differently, its interpretation as Dadaban – the father’s house – seems more convincing. Dadaban Tower is shaped like a truncated cone. It is 9-10 metres in height and 5-6 metres in diameter. The colour of the tower is black grey. When you look at it from afar, it looks like an Ottoman fez hat. It is also known as the “Koroglu barrel”. This name was given to the tower because it resembles a barrel. It is located on top of Mount Didevan on an ancient caravan route from Iravan to Gazakh. It was built from large pieces of rock.

The Gol restaurant in a lush area near the village of Damirchilar-Khanliqlar on the Armenian border has been famous since Soviet times. Some parts of the tower, located on the Iravan-Gazakh caravan route, were destroyed as a road was built to the abovementioned restaurant in the 1970s. There is a reason why the Didevan Tower, which belongs to the 6th-7th centuries, is known as the Koroglu tower among people. It is believed that Koroglu passed through this area during one of his journeys.

Baba Dervish

This antique settlement, located 2 km west of the city on the left bank of the Agstafa River, is a monument of global importance. It was a big city belonging to the Bronze Age. It has been repeatedly battered in various attacks and forays, and finally, it was destroyed by a strong earthquake. After its fall, its population moved to surrounding villages. Some time later, dervishes settled at the ruins of the ancient city. Legend has it that a dervish and his followers lived here in the past. According to dervish rules, marriage was forbidden. One day, a young dervish broke the rule. While travelling from one village to another, he fell in love with a girl and married her. For this reason, Baba Dervish put a curse on him. After this curse, the city was razed to the ground. As a result of archaeological excavations carried out in 1958-62, three cultural layers were discovered. A settlement dating to the 3rd-1st millennia BC, prayer rooms and tombstones were discovered. As a railway was built from Agstafa to Barkhudarli in the 1970s, this ancient and rich settlement was destroyed. There are three religious monuments and one sepulcher on the territory of Baba Dervish.

Seven Brothers

It is also called the seven stones. It is located on the south-western edge of the village of Damirchilar and at the end of the Qapaqli Gorge. These are stones attached to each other. The seven stones are believed to have been a single stone in the past. Two pieces broke off some time later. Visitors lit candles, put them on the stones and made wishes here. Some people sacrificed animals. There is an interesting legend about this place. In ancient times, enemies were planning an attack the area. People who learnt about this started a watch on the upper edge of the village seven by seven. When it came to seven brothers living in the village, they fell asleep while on duty. When they woke up, they realized that the enemy had surrounded them. They prayed to God asking him not to let the enemy capture them. After this prayer, a strong rain started to fall from the sky, the thunder struck, the people woke up, defended the village and the brothers turned into a stone. Since then, this place has been a shrine.

Inja Gorge

One of the tourist routes goes along this gorge. Inja is the name of a river. It is a place that has beautiful views and orchards. Its plains which start from the foot of the Gazakh mountains are covered with alpine grasslands. This is the Altuntakht summer pasture. The Inja Gorge is situated behind the pasture. Mount Qaraqoyunlu is situated in front of the gorge. The Inja Gorge is rich in historical monuments and includes four villages: Aslanbayli, Qaymaqli, Kamarli and Khanbagi.

Kamarli village

The village, which is situated on the edge of the Inja Gorge on the border, is surrounded by vegetation. There is an artificial lake here. The handover of the village’s Khanbagi historical forest to Armenians caused a scandal in 1984. Although several high-ranking officials were dismissed, the lands never came back. Khanbagi used to be a summer holiday destination belonging to aristocratic families.

Aslanbayli village

The most famous monument in the village is the sepulcher of Haji Mahmud Afandi, or in other words, the blue sepulcher.

Blue sepulcher (1896)

It is the hearth of Haji Afandi. People from Ganja to Gazakh say “I swear by the blue sepulcher” when they take the oath. Locals say that Haji Mahmud Afandi Qarani’s sepulcher is a well-known shrine in the Caucasus and even in Turkey. The sepulcher is located in the old graveyard of Aslanbayli on the left of the road stretching along the Inja River. It is behind a wide and strong fence. Two people have been buried in this blue and multi-pointed sepulcher. One of them is Seyid Yasin, a close associate and friend of Haji Mahmud Afandi. The sepulcher was built first in 1893 with Haji’s participation. According to his will, Haji Afandi was buried here after his death. Nigari, one of his followers, moved to Turkey later and died there. It is interesting that Haji Mahmud Afandi from Gazakh built a big mosque on the grave of his teacher Seyid Nigari in the Turkish city of Amasya. A plaque with the name of Haji Mahmud Qarani has been put up on the front side of the mosque. Haji Mahmud Afandi who was originally from Aslanbayli returned home after completing his religious education in Turkey 150 years ago. He was known for his hard work and kindness. The Aslanbayli village mosque was built on the highest hill of the village.

Sama dance

It is a dance performed only by residents of the village of Aslanbayli. It resembles a religious ritual or meditation. The Sama dance is performed during movlud days. Movlud is a free meal given in honour of a deceased person. On that day, they gather at the house of the dead man and eat together. They light candles on the table and offer prayers in honour of spirits. After the meal, they sit on their floor with their legs folded and recite philosophical poems in honour of the dead man’s spirit and the greatness of God. During this ceremony, men and women sit together unlike in Muslims ceremonies. Someone with a daf (drum) in their hands runs the ceremony. They recite melodic Aruz poems. Those who sit around repeat what he says and clap their hands. Gradually, the speed increases. At this moment, those sitting on the floor stand up and start to dance. This dance is very different from others. The dancers slowly raise their hands and turn around. It looks as though they were sliding into a trance. The Sama dance lasts several hours. It resembles the famous Semazen dance by students of Movlana Jalaladdin Rumi’s school in Turkey’s Konya Province. They say that these dances have the same roots.

Qim-qima

It is a genre of folklore typical of the village. These are small four-line poems recited like a lullaby. They are about family affairs. When they milk a cow, they praise it, or when they put a child to sleep, they say good words to the child, or recite those poems to kill time while weaving a carpet. This genre is called Qim-qima in Gazakh.

Gazakh carpets

It is one of Azerbaijan’s carpet schools and one of the most ancient types of art. A 15th century Gazakh carpet is kept in the oriental section of the Berlin Arts Museum and at Istanbul’s museum of Turkish and Islamic works. These carpets depict mythical animals and events, a phoenix and a dragon fighting. Researchers say that such Azerbaijani carpets which depict a fight between two opposite forces, evil and good, were in high demand in the world at the time, sold very quickly and were given as presents. Carpets like Dag Kasaman, Gazakhcha, Shikhli, Borchali, Qaymaqli and Agqoyunlu are very famous.

In the villages and in the city itself, several versions of original carpets called Gazakh-City are woven. It is very interesting that Gazakh carpets use the swastika as a decorative element. It is no accident that this pattern, which represents the sun, is used so actively. It is more than 4,000 years old. It used to have a symbolic meaning for tribes that inhabited this area and was used as a brand.

Aveydag (6th-7th centuries)

Aveydag is one of the peaks and a white-greyish ridge in the Small Caucasus Mountains located between Georgia and Gazakh District. It is 12 km away from the village of Dash Salahli. Entry is banned here as it is very close to the front line. There is an Albanian temple here. Christian temples were usually built on top of previous pagan temples. The word Aveydag allows us to assume that there was an Albanian lunar temple here. The place name is interpreted as a lunar house. In general, moon worshipping has been quite common among Turks since ancient times. Ancient Turks had the phrase Ay Tanqri (Moon God). The historian Q. Qeybullayev explains that the word Avey should actually be pronounced as Ayev (Ayevdag). V. Radlov recorded that Altaic Turks had a myth called Ay Moko (Strong Moon).

Avey Albanian temple (5th-6th centuries)

It is only one hour and 15 minutes’ walk. It is located on the southern peak of Mount Avey at a height of 920 metres. There is an old and narrow path leading here from the west. There is a wonderful view of the surroundings from the peak. The two-cell temple was built from Avey’s own stone. Archaeologists believe that throughout history, the Avey Temple has been properly restored three times, last time in 1838. When another building standing underneath the current one was studied, it became known that this building was built during the time of Caucasian Albania roughly in the 5th-6th centuries. A number of local and Georgian scientists believe that in the pre-Christian period, in the 4th century, it was a lunar temple. There are many monuments on Mount Avey and near Avey and Goyazan. For this reason, the Avey historical-cultural reserve was set up here in 1989. The sites of eight temples, two settlements, an ancient Albanian-Oguz graveyard, a defensive fence, the sites of two fortifications and about 30 artificial caves have been discovered in the southeast and west of Mount Avey. Damjili is also one of the main sites in the reserve.

Damjili

Samad Vurgun called this place the world’s eighth and Azerbaijan’s first wander. He would not let his guests go without treating them to Damjili water and kebab and to Dash Salahli khingal. With the onset of summer, all residents of Gazakh come here on holiday. It is the main holiday and picnic site in the district. This place is definitely shown to guests. A carpet from plants has been woven on the rock. Water dripping from it is drinkable. When you look up, you cannot see the peak. Clean and pure cold water is dripping from between these huge 1,000 metre high rocks and becomes a spring by collecting down below. Damjili used to be a shrine. Stone from Mount Avey was cut and used. The particularity of these rocks is that they keep the water cool and filter it.

Cave

The famous sites in Damjili include not just its pure and cool water, but also surrounding fortresses and caves that are regarded as ancient human settlements. In fact, this area is a historical monument of global importance left over from the primitive society. The Damjili cave stretches from the village of Dash Salahli to the Khramchay and is located in a place called Yataq in the southeast of Mount Avey under a lime rock. The cave covers an area of 360 square metres and is 17 metres in length. Traces belonging to the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze and Middle Ages have been found here. Aveydag is the biggest of the group of caves. It has a semi-circular shape and its front has been destroyed. Its height at the front is four metres. A hearth with a diameter of about two metres, traces of ashes and fragments of coal have been found in the cave. At the same time, more than 8,000 archaeological pieces, stone tools and bones of various animals were found during excavations.

Dash Salahli

There are four villages called Salahli in Gazakh: Yukhari (Upper), Ashagi (Lower), Orta (Middle) and Dash (Stone) Salahli. The village of Dash Salahi was named so because of natural white stone that is typical only of this place. Apart from the historical monuments we mentioned, this village is also famed for its khingal.

Khingal

The cooking of khingal is a big ceremony here. Two or three women come together to cook the khingal. One makes the dough, flattens it and slices it up. The leaves of khingal are either rhombic or quadrangular. Another person melts the qurut (dried milk). The qurut is soaked in water one day before, and then smashed inside the water. After it melts completely, they add onion to it. One more person prepares fried onions. The onion is cut into long and thin pieces and is fried with butter. After that, chicken is sliced up into small pieces and boiled in little water. After all this, water is boiled in a copper pan. All the dishes used for cooking the khingal are old copper dishes. The khingal is stirred and sifted with a copper skimmer. Then, the qurut, fried onions and pieces of chicken are placed on it. The way the khingal is cooked, placed on the dish and served, as well as its taste is different here. In order to understand this difference, you have to experience the whole ceremony.

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