How to reach the underworld? The Dallol sulfur fields in Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression may be one gateway. At least, the locals think so, and it doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination to see why they call it “the Devil’s Seat.”
But this depression of bubbling acid doesn’t lead you to a benign, Hades-ruled underworld. It’s hellish. And while I don’t normally go for photo-essays on this blog, the spectacular nature of this supposed gateway to hell made me bend the rules.
If diving through pools of sulfuric acid aren’t your preferred method for a cathonic journey, you can check out some of these other reputed underworld gateways:
Fengdu, China: Believed to be a way-station on the road to the afterlife, Fengdu became known as the Ghost City during the Eastern Han Dynasty. Later, a spectacular temple was erected there, depicting life in hell.
Mount Hekla, Iceland: Another active volcano, Mount Hekla began to be known as a gateway to hell after a particularly ferocious eruption in the 12th century.
Hieropolis, Turkey: If you make it to Hieropolis, be sure to visit the Plutonian, a site sacred to the Roman god of the underworld, Pluto. Recently, archaeologists discovered a portal here belching toxic fumes and matching ancient descriptions of this gateway to the underworld.
The Mayan Cenotes, Mexico: These underground waterways were believed to be pathways to Xibalba, the Mayan underworld, home of the nine lords of the night.
Mount Osore, Japan: A volcanic region located on Honshu Mountain, this volcano and reputed gateway translates to “fear mountain.”
Hellam Township, Pennsylvania: In the woods off Trout Road Run are the “seven gates of hell”, the reputed scene of an asylum fire.
About the Author
Other books in the Riga Hayworth series of urban fantasies include: The Metaphysical Detective, The Alchemical Detective, The Shamanic Detective, The Infernal Detective and The Elemental Detective. Kirsten is also the author of Steam and Sensibility, a steampunk novel of suspense. Its sequel: Of Mice and Mechanicals, will be available in March, 2015.
Find her at http://kirstenweiss.com and @KirstenWeiss