Sunday, April 4, 2010

Cheshmeh Ali

Chehsmeh Ali (چشمه علی), Ali Spring, or as it was originally known, Cheshmeh Ali Boolagh, is a recreational spot in Semnan province and is a year long attraction for both domestic and foreign tourists. It is approximately 30 kilometers from Damghan and enjoys mild weather while its tall trees add to its natural beauty. It is conveniently located on the highway connecting Tehran and Mashad and is thus a popular rest area for travelers going in either direction. While the structures at this location seem to date back to the Safavid era, however, it was most used during the Qajar era as it was utilized as a summer vacation spot for the Qajar Kings.  

Cheshmeh Ali, with its two springs supplying water at a rate of 600 liters per second, is the only permanent river in Damghan. Its source is from the Alborz Mountain and as a result of the high volume of the currents, two large pools have been constructed to regulate the flow and store fresh water. The depth of each of these pools ranges from 1.5 to 4 meters while they span an area of 4,500 square meters. Cheshmeh Ali irrigates many of the surrounding villages and fields on its path.  

Throughout history, due to its moderate temperatures and overall striving foliage and natural scenery, Cheshmeh Ali has not only caught the eye of tourists, but also that of Persian Kings. On each side of the main edifce at Cheshmeh Ali is one of the mentioned pools. This structure, predominantly used by Fathali Shah, consists of wooden columns, is two stories high and has a view to either side and thus, both pools. The Qajar Kings would often times sit in this area and enjoy their natural surroundings. It was constructed of a special mortar made of sand, clay, egg whites, lime, goat hair, and ashes in specific proportions, and was very resistant to water penetration and as a result has braved the elements after close to two centuries. South of the pools is Agha Mohammad Khan’s structure with its decorated walls. The entire complex also consists of a bath and a mosque although they are in an advanced deteriorating state.  

Local picnickers often times frequent Cheshmeh Ali where they can enjoy the view of this lonely Qajar pavilion amidst its willow trees and reflecting pools. The scenic contrasts en route to the location, such as the high snow-topped ridges, the dry rocky outcrops and the mud-walled plum orchards, add to the overall charm of a much recommended visit.  

Cheshmeh Ali has been registered as a national heritage site registered by Iran’s Cultural Heritage Department.

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