Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Karaftoo Cave

Karaftoo Cave (غار کرفتو) is located in the western Iranian province of Kordestan, near the city of Divandarreh and about 72 kilometers east of Saghez. This cave had originally been under water during the second geological age (Mesozoic); little by little, troglodytes inhabited it and left their traces there. Karaftoo is a calcareous and natural cave, which has been changed in different areas to be suitable for human accommodation. The cut stones and the corridors are indicative of man’s manipulation in the cave. The cave entrance is located on a very beautiful wall, 25 meters above the ground and was very hard to access until stairs were put in place.  

Strategically, this area connects the ancient road from Syria and Iraq, leading through Iran to Afghanistan (on the Silk Road). It has four floors and its length is about 750 meters with several minor routes branch off from it. During human presence in the cave, a lot of transformation had been made such as the creation of the several rooms, corridors and halls. Some manmade windows are also still present. The Karaftoo Cave was also regarded as a temple. Engravings of animal, human and plants are visible on the wall of some of the rooms and have a religious concept. One of such alleged temples depicts the carved name of Hercules, the Greek God, on the wall accompanied by a horse rider hunting a deer which is believed to illustrate Goudarz the Parthian King.  

Khofashan (bats) Hall is one of the most beautiful parts of the Karaftoo cave which is now equipped with a lighting system so that tourists can easily view this part. The ceiling of the hall is covered by lime holes. There is a 40-meter long chasm in the hall where bats used to live for years; but now their dark shelter is lightened and is open to the visitors and tourists.  

In the wake of rehabilitating the Karaftoo cave, cleaning up and digging works of the inner and outer parts of the cave have been completed and building stone platforms outdoor has started. Meanwhile, a parking lot on the road leading to the cave is also under construction. An archeological site, sanitary wares, accommodation facilities, and ticket booth have been built. The outdoor area has been covered by cobblestones as well.  

Experts believe that this cave is worthy of being registered in the World Heritage List due to its Greek tablets and stunning architecture as well as being the dwelling place of men in the prehistoric times until the Ilkhanid era. Meanwhile, Karaftoo has already been registered in the National Cultural Heritage List. It has vast spaces and corridors and some effects of primitive human drawings have been also found here. 

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