Sunday, December 27, 2009
Sheikh Bahai Public Bath
The Sheikh Bahai Public Bath is located in Isfahan in a small street named after him which leads northwest off of the southern section of the old bazaar close to the Masjed’e-Jomeh. The bath derives it principal fame from the story that they were heated by a single candle which never needed renewing. The English are widely credited with destroying this unlikely phenomenon.
This miracle of this bath was constructed under Sheik Bahai’s skilful supervision. The special feature of the bath was that the water in it used to be lukewarm in all seasons although there was no apparent heating arrangement there. The bath was providing warm water to the bathers, even during the peak of winter seasons for some 250 years. When the English arrived there during the period of Fath Ali Shah, they were very much surprised. Trying to understand the mechanism behind the bath’s heating system, they demolished the water reservoir of the bath and found that at the bottom of the structure only a small wax candle was burning.
The candle was rather larger than the ones we use on tables and the clay pipes which circulated the water became unusable many years ago. According Sheikh Bahai’s own instructions, the candle's fire would be put out once disclosed. This happened during the restoration and repair of the building and no one could make the system work again.
It is believed that the reason for the constant warm water was due to the particular construction of connecting pipes from the sewage system which enabled the extraction of energy in the form of gasses such as Methane which in turn manifested themselves as heat.
Numerous annexes were added to the public bath during the Safavid, Qajar and Pahlavi eras thus changing its actual form dramatically. Beginning in 2007, plans were underway to identify the historical strata of Isfahan’s famous Sheikh Bahai Public Bath so as to remove irrelevant annexes from the structure and bring it back to the original form of 400 years ago.