Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ali Sadr Cave

The Ali Sadr Cave (غار علی صدر) is the largest in the world, containing water and offering the use of canoes. This cave is located in the village of Ali Sadr and was inaugurated in the year 1967. In the hills where the Ali Sadr Cave is located, there are two other caves by the names of Soo Bashi and Sarab Caves. Historically, these caves were used by Safavid army as secure refugees. The water present in Ali Sadr Cave takes its source from that of the Sarab Cave. The Ali Sadr Cave comprises of a number of small and large 'halls' or spaces, in a maze like fashion, connected to each other by passages. The largest of such halls is called Freedom Hall while further along is the Wedding Room (or 1000 stalactites room). The Wedding Room has been used for special events in the past and is currently still accessible for tourists for an additional fee.  

Entering the cave one faces a relatively vast area and after passing through a wide path, there is a wharf. From there onward, boats are used for the excursion. Along the water canals, which are between 2 to 50 meters wide, there are a good number of labyrinthine halls. All the routes of this cave end in a vast central square called The Island. This square, which has an area of approximately 750 square meters, is located at the distance of 350 meters from the wharf from which all the branches originate. One of these branches, through which boats pass, has a length of 2.5 kilometers. In this particular branch, the roof, which has a height of 10 to 20 meters above the water level, is covered by calcium carbonate sediments. Stalactites in different colors double the beauties of this unique cave. Besides, the most astonishing stalagmites can also be found in this wonderful, marvelous cave. These are seen in the shape of cauliflowers, needles and umbrellas. Existence of elements such as copper, iron, and magnesium in the sediments of the cave has given the attractions various colors of red, brown, green, yellow and blue, exaggerating their beauties. Ali Sadr is the only yachting cave with waters so clear that one can see to a depth of 5 meters even in a dim light.  

Beside the natural significance of this unique phenomenon, it should be pointed out that the discovery of historical tools and works of art aging thousands of years, including jugs and pitchers, indicates that humans lived in this place since 12,000 years ago. Furthermore, the paintings of deer, gazelles and stags, the hunting scenes and the image of bow and arrow on the walls and passages of the exit section and prove the point that at the primitive historical ages and in the hunting era man was living in this cave.  


The age of this cave is 70 million years and now more than 16 kilometers of its water and land routs have been explored, yet not all the routs are known and the exploration is continuing. The efforts have been somehow successful and in some cases new passages and water routs with lengths of about 10 to 11 kilometers have been found, some of these canals have even led to dry land finally ending in a lake, after long winding paths.  

In 2001 rough engravings, dating back 7,000 years B.C., were discovered in stone walls of the cave. Experts of the Cultural Heritage Department of Hamedan Province based their rough estimate of the date of the engravings, i.e., from four to seven thousand years B.C., to the date when earliest cavemen are known to have started the rudimentals of an economy and social life. The primitive men who sketched the engravings are believed to have made them under cover of darkness. The engravings discovered depict the need of people living during the Stone Age to secure a good hunt, the experts further said. They include that of a primitive man with a bow in his hand as well another riding a horse and hunting animals such as deer. 


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