As you drive to Jalilabad, the salt-ridden lands of Salyan and Bilasuvar are replaced by prolific black soil. Potato, onion, grape and grain fields stretch as far as the eye can see. The produce picked from the fields is available right on the road.
In the 1980s, Jalilabad suddenly became popular as people started flowing in here from other districts and the capital. The main reason for the influx in the district bordering on Iran was the huge fair, also called the “flee market”. For Soviet people, fed up with empty shop windows and counters, the Jalilabad fair was a breathing hole.
The magnificent hill at the entrance to the district commands a wonderful view of Jalilabad. Resembling a small mountain, the three tops are the well-known Goytapa burial mounds. There is a legend about how the hills emerged. It is said that Nadir Shah, while returning from a march with his troops numbering hundreds of thousands of people, ordered his soldiers to fill a bag of soil each and pile them up. As a result, three hills emerged. They served to protect the Mughan plain. Archeological excavations carried out here revealed that there was an ancient town called Hamashara here. Its residents were magicians. They used grapes, pomegranates and ephed ra to make a drink called Haoma, which allegedly cured people of all diseases.
• Mughan plain
Jalilabad is also part of historical Mughan lands. A fragment of the Kura-Aras lowland is called the Mughan plain. In the north-west it is separated from the Mil plain by the Aras river and in the north-east and south-east from Shirvan by Kura. It stretches all the way to the Lankaran lowland, Salyan plain and the territory of Iran. Most of the plain is below ocean level. The archeological culture spread in the Mughan plain and Talysh mountains in the late bronze and early iron ages is described as Talysh-Mughan culture. According to ancient sources, there was a town called Mughan in Azerbaijan. Medieval Arab historians wrote that this town on the Caspian coast was located between two rivers, was two days away from Ardebil and was noted for its beauty and the hospitality of its people. The name of the Mughan plain and the region is related to the town.
Established in 1930, Jalilabad was for a long time called Hajili and Astrakhan- Bazar, while in 1967 it received its present name after Jalil Mammadguluzadeh. The distance to Baku is 210 km. The Bolgarchay, Misharchay, Injachay, Goytapachay rivers flow through Jalilabad. It is one of the country’s grape-growing centers. In the west it borders on Iran. Consisting largely of hills and lowlands, the district has 14.7 thousand hectares of forests. Some plains in its east are below sea level. It has a mild, semi-desert and dry climate.
Hamashara is always mentioned when the history of Jalilabad is described. This was an ancient town of fire-worshippers and the local elders call it HHamashara. 12th century geographer Hamdullah Gazvini visited the place and indicated that it was located on the seaside. Medieval historians wrote that Hamashara was surrounded by a magnificent fortress 3 m high. This is said to have been a Zoroastrian center with the main praying place. The name of Hamashara was given to the place in memory of Zoroaster and is considered holy. Hamashara was the center of Mughan. It was from here that the Arabs attacked Azerbaijan’s north. It is not by chance that this Zoroastrian center was kept under special control.
Mughan is believed to be a Turkish place-name. there are many legends about the geographical origin of the name. Some legends suggest that Mughan was a bold man, while others say it was a beautiful girl.
Greek historian and geographer Miletley Hecate, who lived in the 6th century B.C., wrote about a Muk tribe near the Aras river. Historians Herodotus and Strabo also mentioned a place called Mogan between the Kura and Aras rivers. The country between the Aras and the Caspian Sea was also called Mughan. Some of the Mughan plain was part of Albania, some of Atropatene. The geographical name of Mughan emerged in 393. The same-named town was established here after the 7th century, i.e. when the Huns arrived in Azerbaijan. Ancient sources suggest that Mughan was a beautiful town located between two rivers. During the times of Sassanid ruler Gubad, Mughan was supplied with water and improved, while in the times of Chinghis Khan and Nadir Shah it was looted and virtually ceased to exist. In middle ages, it was part of Safavid state and then of the Karabakh Khanate
| • Pirishib settlement
This is a settlement at the entrance to the district. Although it was recently renamed into Goytapa, it is still called Pirishib. After the occupation of Azerbaijani khanates in the 19th century, over 250,000 Russians were settled in the region. Therefore, there are many Russian village names here: Nikolayevka, Mikhaylovka, Petrovka, Astrakhanovka, Tatyanovka, Privolnoye, etc. The settlement, which used to house USSR border troops, was home to Russian officers. After the break-up of the USSR, many Russians left the place. The number of wooden (oak-tree) one-level houses built in the Russian style along the road has decreased over time. There is a 19th century Russian orthodox church in the settlement, but it doesn’t function any longer.
• Zoroastrian temples
There are barely noticeable stone remains of the temples. The Zoroastrian temple in the Bajirvan village is known as Pir-Hasan. It is a shrine. Another temple is in the Khanaya village. Belonging to the Eneolithic age, it was built of brick. There is a ram horn engraved on its walls, which was the subject of prayer. Despite being persecuted by the Arabs, Zoroastrianism survived for many years here. Local people still come to the cemetery on the last Wednesday before Nowruz, burn candles at the graves and place sweets on tombstones. This ritual has nothing to do with Islam.
• Gazan kiosk
This is the best-known historical monument in Jalilabad. The kiosk is located in the highest part of the district on the boundary with Yardimli. It is about 48 km from the center. Its roads are hardly passable. The kiosk represents a natural monument made of rocks. There are different theories about it. A book by Gazan Khan’s minister, Fazlullah Rashid, “Jame-et tavarikh”, describes Gazan Khan’s coming to Bilasuvar. He visited Hamashara, climbed to the top of the Talysh mountains and settled down there with his wife Bulag Khatun. After spending some time here, he set out to Tabriz. The kiosk was a place of rest for Gazan Khan in the summer, hence its name. Gazan Khan was the first ruler to adopt Islam. The names of places surrounding the kiosk are mentioned in the Dada Gorgud epos. The Arus village of Yardimli is 20 km from here. The Mughan zone is believed to have been a place where Gazan Khan hunted and rode horses.