Photos by Khosrow Khaleghi, Mehr News Agency
Isfahan's Sheikh Bahai bathhouse is on the verge of destruction. Years of utter neglect have taken their toll on this historic monument. Unless the responsible authorities act soon to restore this building and maintain it going forward, the future will be very gloomy for the bathhouse.
The bath of Sheikh Bahai is located in a small street named after him in the southern section of the old bazaar close to the Masjed-e-Jomeh.The bathroom derives its principal fame from the story that it was warmed by a single candle ,which was placed in a closed space and never needed renewing.
The most famous of these was a bath called Hammam-e-Bahai (the bath of Bahai). Regardless of the time of the year, the water in the bath was always lukewarm. In their curiosity to find out how it worked, the British destroyed the bath several centuries later. To their surprise, they discovered only a small candle burning below the water reservoir, which had somehow managed to keep the water temperature steady for over 250 years!
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 to his 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.
Sheikh Bahai was a noted philosopher and mathematician who worked for Shah Abbas I and who also designed the Sundial in the Royal Mosque which to this day accurately gives the time for mid-day prayers. An inscription over the doorway is all that identifies the building today.
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