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The Well of Barhout: Yemen’s mysterious Well of Hell

3 min read

In the arid wastes of eastern Yemen lies a fascinating natural wonder called the Well of Barhout. Shrouded in mystery and folklore, this “million and millions” years old large hole in the ground said to be God’s most hated spot on Earth. Those who live near the hole believe anything that comes close to the “Hell Pit” will be sucked in without escape. According to a Yemeni legend, “extinct tongues fizz on cold nights” there, a reference to what might be lurking inside the hole.

Located in the eponymous valley, Barhout Well is 30 meters wide and thought to be anywhere between 100 and 250 meters deep. The depth is just pure estimation, as no one has been down to the bottom of it, also due the chilling legends and stories surrounding it.
Not even Yemeni scientists and explorers have been able to reach the bottom, as the low oxygen and strange odors emanating from the well forced them back to the surface.

“It’s very deep — we’ve never reached the bottom of this well, as there’s little oxygen and no ventilation,” Salah Babhair, director-general of Mahra’s geological survey and mineral resources authority, told in an interview. “We have gone to visit the area and entered the well, reaching more than 50-60 meters down into it. We noticed strange things inside. We also smelled something strange…It’s a mysterious situation.”

Some stories say the so called Well of Hell was created as a prison for demons, others that it’s a cursed gateway from which demons will one day crawl out and bring an end to the world. Some say that it was the Jinn who dug the deep hole for one of the kings of the Himyarites, who ruled this area in ancient times.
Of course, those are just stories, and at first glance this is just another regular sinkhole.
But then there’s the smell…

Those brave enough to approach or descend into the Well of Barhout reported a foul, almost unbearable smell which only fuels the supernatural stories associated with this place. One local by the name of Ammar Hashem Mohammed Osman wrote that he did his compulsory military service in a camp near the Well of Hell, and claims that the smell he experienced was the worst imaginable.

“There was an ordinary well dug to provide the military site with water. But when the pump started working for the first time to withdraw the water, a black liquid came out of the well like tar…The smell was unbearable… Bad smell like rotten eggs…I was nauseated by the severity of the smell,” Osman wrote. “I swear that I was unable to sleep from the smell of my clothes and my body odor after washing with that water.”

Osman is certain that the water well was connected to the same source that feeds the Well of Barhout, but until more research is done on the mysterious crater there is no way to know for sure.
In any case, not much can be seen from the edge of the well as sunlight doesn’t extend very far down inside and, apparently, videographers say it’s hard to capture anything when they shoot down inside. Still, despite the stench emanating from it, different types of birds are often seen flying in and out of the darkness. But with Yemen stuck in a devastating civil war and locals to scared to even speak about this place, let alone explore it, for fear of bad luck.
And thus the Well of Hell will definitely retain its mystical aura for a while longer.

Images from web – Google Research

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